We all love the magic that The Walt Disney Company creates on a daily basis. But haven’t you always wanted to go behind the scenes to see how it’s all done? Of course you have!
And, if you’re like me, you may even have taken the Keys to the Kingdom tour at Walt Disney World.
Keys to the Kingdom is just one of several fantastic tours that guests can take to learn insider secrets and see for themselves how the Magic Kingdom ticks. Yes, I said “many tours!” Disney has quite a few different tours, but none more popular than this one.
Today’s guest is Adam, a guide for Keys to the Kingdom.
JEFF: Tell us a bit about the tour and what you do.
ADAM: It’s pretty much a grand, five-hour, behind-the-scenes tour during which we share a wealth of information. I have a microphone, and everyone gets an earpiece to wear, so no matter where we are or how noisy it is, they can hear me.
I show guests how the magic happens! I take anywhere from 10-15 guests every morning on a guided tour of parts of the Magic Kingdom. We have a set ‘script’ which covers what facts to relate and where to go, but depending upon the group, I always change it around a bit.
JEFF: How did you get such a great job?
ADAM: I worked in Guest Services. I did that for a looooong time. It was lots of fun, though. First, I worked at the booth outside the turnstiles, then I was moved to City Hall on Main Street, U.S.A. To me, that was more fun. You just seem to be more ‘in the magic’ when you’re working on Main Street.
I was there for a few years, working daily with guests. Every so often, a spot as a tour guide would open up, and of course, everyone wanted it! You just have to know your stuff, and be very friendly and personable. They always pick the best person for the job, and I admit, the first time it definitely wasn’t me. Someone else got it. Of course, I was a little upset, but what can you do? Looking back, I know it wasn’t yet my time. But when I did get hired, it was fantastic. Definitely a dream come true.
JEFF: How do your tours differ depending upon the group?
ADAM: Well, it’s really up to the group, and the timing of the tour. Disney offers Keys to the Kingdom at three different times, always in the morning. They’re all essentially the same tour. They don’t mind if we go a little over the alloted five hours, or under, as long as we’re done by 2:00 PM. So, if you’re in the earliest tour group, and the guide and group are up to it, you generally have a little bit longer on the tour than you would if you took a later tour. I’ve taken out the first tour group before, and stayed with them until about 2:30 PM! It was great!
I did say we have a ‘script’, and they generally like us to stick to it. There are X, Y, and Z places that Disney wants us to absolutely hit during the tour, such as Main Street, behind Main Street, the Utilidor, certain attractions, and so forth. Every group gets to see those, no matter what.
But if we find ourselves with some extra time, I like to hit a few more attractions that usual. If we finish lunch early, even though it’s not on the schedule, I like to take my groups on the Haunted Mansion and sometimes even Pirates. And because everyone has their headpiece, they can hear me, no matter how far apart we may be on the rides. It gives me the chance to impart more Disney knowledge.
So, again, it really depends on the group. There are times when, after the set 5 hours, parts of the group are ready to leave, while others want more. I’d ‘unofficially’ take the ones who wanted more onward and let the others continue their day.
Slightly against the rules, sure, but I love my job, and I’m always happy to share my love of the park to people who want to listen.
If I could make a suggestion to your readers, ALWAYS try for the earliest tour. It’s the only one that lets you into the park BEFORE it opens and BEFORE rope drop. If you ever wanted to take photos of a very empty Main Street during daylight hours, this is the best opportunity to do so.
JEFF: What do you think is the guests’ favorite part of the tour?
ADAM: The utildor, without a doubt. Everyone seems to love it, for some reason. It’s a hallway, people! Seriously, this is the place people want to see the most. It’s just so built up, and they think it’s some fabulous place. We get down there, and they see it’s a long, grey hallway and they say “That’s it?!”
I think another favorite is the parade warehouse. It’s just what it sounds like – a warehouse FILLED with parade floats. That’s where floats not currently being used in a parade are stored and repaired. There is a lot of cool stuff back there, and stuff that has been retired for years, so it’s always fun to see them again. Sometimes the guys working on the floats will answer questions.
And one other favorite thing: we don’t have to wait on line for any rides. That’s my favorite part, personally!
JEFF: Who should take these tours?
ADAM: People who love Disney, of course. This is meant for Disney lovers to find out a little more. Even if you’re a Disney buff, come anyway. You’re bound to learn something, and you’ll get to see these places you’d never be able to see otherwise. But you need to be at least 16, because we don’t to ruin the magic for kids!
JEFF: This isn’t the only type of tour you do at the park, right? Tell me about your OTHER tour!
ADAM: When I’m not taking people on Keys to the Kingdom, I sometimes get assigned to do private tours. Often, it’s just a family, but other times, it’s a celebrity. Those are always super-fun. It’s a little different, obviously, as it’s a smaller group, and we don’t use head sets. We don’t have to follow any script for these tours, either. It’s entirely custom made for the guest, and we go where they want us to go, for as long as they want.
I’ve done quite a few celebrities (none of which I can name here, unfortunately), but I can tell you that each one was a delight, and I loved being able to make their day a little more magical!
JEFF: Do you have a favorite memory to share about a tour?
ADAM: Quite a few, actually, but I’ll start with an embarrassing one! I told you that everyone has an earpiece, and that I’m on a microphone? Well, around 11-12ish, we all have lunch at the Columbia Harbour house. On one of my very first tours, I had to use the restroom, so while everyone sat down to eat, I went. Of course, I completely forgot I had my microphone STILL ON! Fortunately, most guests had taken the ear piece off to eat, so I’m not entirely sure if anyone actually heard me pee… but still! I never forgot to turn it off during lunch again!
Also, just outside of that parade warehouse I mentioned earlier is another work area, where parts of attractions are sent for repairs. One time, they were working on one of the elephants from the Jungle Cruise – the one that sprays water. So here we are, chatting with the worker, and he says the hose is broken, and he’s trying to fix it. To demonstrate his point, he turns it on, and wouldn’t you know it… it worked! And of course, we’re all standing in FRONT of the thing. Needless to say, we got a little wet. But everyone laughed, and enjoyed it, so that was good!
Finally, the best compliment I ever had was when this poor girl was dragged by her boyfriend on the tour. He was obviously a Disney fan, but she didn’t share his enthusiasm. She looked miserable. But, as the tour went on, she really perked up. At the end, she came up to me and told me how much she really did dislike Disney, but the tour had turned her around, and she enjoyed everything she had learned. She thanked me profusely, and told me I turned her into a true Disney fan.
It was wonderful!
Thank you to Adam for taking us behind the magic!
Don’t forget come back each week to hear more of the magic directly From the Mouth of the Mouse.
And now for something completely different . . .
Many of you know that George Taylor and I are hosting a 30th anniversary celebration for Epcot. Unfortunately tickets have completely sold out. HOWEVER, some of MiceChat’s finest have created two new events with plenty of room for everyone . . . a FREE scavenger hunt at Epcot and a Food and Wine Festival event. We’d love to see you!
Epcot 30th Anniversary FREE MiceQuest – Sept 29, 2012
Join MiceChat’s Kevin Yee and the Communicore Weekly crew for a FREE fun-filled scavenger hunt game celebrating Epcot’s 30th Anniversary. The Quest, designed by Kevin Yee, is fun for the whole family and will take place on the Mexico side of World Showcase from 3:30pm until 6:30pm on September 29th, 2012. Create a team of 1-4 people, and compete for the title of biggest Epcot geek. Fun prizes will be awarded to the winning teams.
Sip and Nibble at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival – Sept 30, 2012
Enjoy a leisurely stroll around World Showcase with your favorite MiceChatters, sampling the food and wine offerings of Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival along the way. You will be given a lanyard with a marker attached so that you can record your progress as you tour the world of food and drink! Guests who desire to partake of the adult beverages will also be given a small glass to conveniently share “sips” during our journey. Come spend some quality time with other foodies and the best online Disney community on Earth! To reserve your place at this year’s Sip & Nibble event purchase your ticket today for just $3.99. Please click through for full event details.
If you are, or know, a Cast Member who would like to share some of their stories and possibly be featured right here on MiceChat, please email me at [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you!
You can read older columns of From The Mouth Of The Mouse here!
Jeff can help you plan your perfect Disney vacation with Fairy Godmother Travel! Call him at 732-278-7404 or email him at [email protected] for a free, no-obligation quote for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Aulani or Adventures By Disney.
Jeff also writes a MiceChat column titled The 626. We invite you to check it out!
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