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  1. #1

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    Summer's Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review*SPOILERS*

    I have to say this was DEFINITELY the highlight of my trip, my mother told me that I was on a "Disney High" for the rest of the day after I took it. Wasn't allowed to bring my camera because of the back stage areas we went but I will try and relay everything I remember from the tour, it was so much information but I couldn't get enough!

    Keys To The Kingdom Tour Review:

    I arrived Saturday morning to the Magic Kingdom turnstiles, was ushered to the far right to go in because the park wasn't open yet. Explained that I was there for the Keys Tour and they let me go through. I walked over to "Package Pickup" and was greeted by a really friendly CM who gave me my badge.




    He told me to help myself to a water bottle or I could have some of the fresh coffee they had brewing on the table. Inside my head I'm going, "Now THIS is Disney service." While I was waiting another gentleman came out from behind the "wall" and said his name was Matthew and that he would be our tour guide. I said, "Good, you look like a really perky person." He just kind of laughed (and probably thought I was nuts) and handed me the hearing device they give to all the people on the tour. LOVED that thing, had a hard time getting it over my ear though. LOL

    So I waited outside and a few more people showed up, we had about 8 total in our group and Matthew came outside and went, " Is everybody ready!!?!?" After a collective, "Yeah!" We walked out onto Main Street where he gave us a brief lowdown of where and what we would be doing that day.

    After the brief introduction, turns out he's from Fort Wayne, IN which is close to were I was born, we headed down Main Street and stopped at that first side street that leads back to a dead end. He mentioned (bless that man) that he would be stopping in as many shaded areas he could find for us through out the tour. He spoke a little about how Walt wanted it to seem like you were entering a movie when you enter the park. You put your ticket in the turnstiles to get in, the curtain is the Railroad Station and as you walk under the Railroad station it starts to open up and reveil the movie, which is Cinderellas Castle.

    Some of the things he pointed out here:

    1. You actually walk up a hill to get to Cinderella's castle. The reason for this is "forced perception" which is also something that is used on the buildings on Main Street. They are all made to look taller than they really are.
    2. The flagpoles and the little black rods sticking up on top of the buildings are actually lightning rods. Florida is the lightning capital of the US so these are installed for the safety of everyone.
    3. The names in the windows all represent people who have impacted the creation of WDW in some fashion or form.
    4. The sidewalk is colored differently from the road to help people with perception.
    5. There is a 3 foot wall between the Main Street facades and there are actual offices behind those walls upstairs. He pointed out Security, the Managers Offices and one other but I can't remember.
    6. People of the world are mainly right people, meaning they always tend to gravitate to the right so sometimes in the slower times of the year they won't open Adventureland until 10am because while there will be a 20 minute wait for Space Mountain, the Jungle Cruise Skippers have nothing to do.
    7. Matthew mentioned that they might be coming out with a new twist on the FastPass System, he told us what but because he asked, I won't mention what it is here but I will say I think its a great idea.

    After that enlightening conversation we headed over to Adventureland where Matthew told us we would be going on the Jungle Cruise in our own private boat! Here are some of the interesting tidbits about this ride.

    1. In the winter in Florida (oxymoron, I know) the weather sometimes gets to cold for the tropical jungle that is required for this ride. So hidden through out the ride are heaters that blow warm air on the trees and plants whenever they need it.
    2. The hippos in the water are only made enough for the surface of the water, so basically its just a bunch of halves.
    3. The ride is technically NOT on a track but there are two poles that extend down that glide along and there are rubber tires in the water to keep them from going to far to one side, which allows the boat movement but also keeps them on a standard course.
    4. Jungle Cruise was one of the original attractions when MK opened in 1971 and at the time it was revolutionary.
    5. The movement of the animals are controlled by spurts of air that cause them quick, but brief movements where ever neccessary.
    6. Chief Na me (the shrunken head merchant) got his name because when they handed out the script to the skippers they didn't have a name for him at the time so in the space that the name was supposed to go they put "Name" and when they practiced, they pronounced it Namay so they kept it.

    After the Jungle Cruise we took a "biological" break and Matthew showed us a public restroom that even I never knew about. It is located on the back side of Pecos Bill Tavern, across from PoTC. After we all got back together we walked towards Splash Mountain. Now this is where it started to get extra special for me. Have you ever been walking in the park and you look at a door, a walkway, anything and wonder, "Where does that go? I want to go back there!"

    The road where the parade starts/ends right next to Splash Mountain is where we went next. He walked over to the gated area, clicked on the gate and said, "Walk right in" I have to tell you, through out this entire tour on the outside I was calm, interested and smiled a lot. On the inside I was all, "OMG! REALLY!?? I NEVER KNEW!! THAT'S SO FU&*ING COOL! WE GET TO GO WHERE OMG..OMG!!!"

    So we walk back and stop at this diagonal yellow line where he explained that it represented where people in Frontierland can start to see you, so you should be in character at that point. The only exception he said was the costumed characters had to always stay in character because people riding Splash Mountain after the splash down can see you and they have to always be moving so people don't think they are a statue. I thought that was weird but good to know! About that time the train was going by and Matthew was really funny and told us that no matter who people are they will always wave on a train and sure enough as soon as the train came around he told us all to wave and a lot of people on the train waved back.

    So after the train passed we walked down this walkway and there was a very loud two story building to our right. Matthew explained that it was the AVAC system. (Don't ask me what that stands for) Basically, MK is required by law to recycle a certain percentage of their garbage. So the janitors when they empty a trash can, goes to one of the AVAC locations and puts on rubber gloves and sorts through the trash for anything they can recycle. The rest goes into this barrel like structure that has locations in different areas of the parks and it takes it at about 35MPH to this two story trash compactor, which is then compacted down and taken to one of the two power plants that Disney owns. So in essence they recycle 100% of their garbage. I thought that was really great.

    He then went to detail about colors and why certain buildings are the color they are. Disney researched and found that certain colors get looked over completely by people so if there is a building that they don't want people to see that may be visible from say, the train, they will paint it that color and most people will never notice it.

    Then we proceeded down to a warehouse building that was in front of us. Now Matthew said we couldn't go inside but you could see what was housed in the building from where we were standing, the parade floats. He gave us a run down of how it all comes together, how its driven, when the actors get there and what happens just in case one of the floats break down. My favorite part was when he told me that Cinderella's and Mickeys costume is put into the globe before hand and the actors literally climb in and then put them on. He said Cinderella comes there in only her top, bloomers and the shoes and then puts the skirt on once she gets in. Just picturing that in my head makes me laugh.

    About that time he walked us behind Splash Mountain to the reservoir that is used for the ride. I was amazed how much it took to run this ride. Here are the interesting facts about this ride I wasn't aware of:

    1. The reservoir is about 8ft deep, after the rides closes, they drain the water into the reservoir and it becomes 16ft deep.
    2. There is a net in place to catch anything that shouldn't be going through the ride, like..hats, bottles etc..
    3. Because people tend to open their mouths when they go down the dip, legally Disney has to make the water drinkable should anyone get any in their mouth. So yes you CAN drink the Splash Mountain water but I mean really, would you want to?

    From there we could also see the buildings that house Pirates of the Carribean, there are two buildings and its HUGE! I know in my head logically it is a large ride, but to see the buildings from the outside, it looks like you could probably fit a football field in there.

    After that portion we headed back up to Adventureland, since we had some time to kill until our lunch at the Columbia House at 11, Matthew was kind enough to take us on Haunted Mansion, his second favorite ride. However, as we were walking through Adventure land he stopped us to explain about the music that gets pumped into the park of each land. Here is what I learned:

    1. There are speakers at the edge of each land, one speaker plays whatever music you are going to and the other speaker plays the music from the land you are coming from.
    2. The very next set of speakers no matter what direction you are walking, is playing that lands music at full blast.
    3. The music is all in the same key to also keep the transition running smoothly.

    Matthew also pointed out the only "visible" camera that is pointed directly at the Adventureland exit to go back stage.

    As we came up to the Haunted Mansion, he stopped us out front to let us in on some interesting trivia regarding the HM. Here is what I remember:

    1. The Imagineer who designed the outside of the building did not leave his mark as a hidden mickey, but made the tops of the building as chess pieces.
    2. There is an "unofficial" hidden mickey in the ballroom scene. If you look on the table, there are a set of dishes in the shape of mickey, placed that way by CM's.
    3. Madame Leota was voiced by the woman who did Malificent. (I'm horrible with names, I'm sure someone here knows. )
    4. There is a hidden mickey in the graveyard scene. If you look into the crypt to the right of the opera singer, the grim reaper is inside, holding mickey in his hand in the air.
    5. The woman whose face appears at the end of the ride saying, "Hurrry baaack" was used as the face for Madame Leota, originally it was supposed to be her voice they used but they didn't like the way it turned out so the woman who did Malificent stepped in. However, it is her original voice as the woman at the end.

    When we went to go on the ride, Matthew lead us through another door I had been DYING to go through but never have. There is a servants quarters door as you leave the exit and I have always wondered where it went and I see CM's going through it all the time. Turns out its for handicap people who can't stand in a queue and its a connector from the exit to the first room of the ride. That's how the CM's get through to meet the people coming into the mansion. Matthew also had to hit a button on the wall so we would be counted, since we didn't go through the turnstiles.

    After that we went on the ride and other than Madame Leota wasn't working. (Another CM I spoke with mentioned later that the ride should be shut down when a "101"?? (Not sure if I said that right) stops working on a ride. Matthew let them know about it and then we walked to the Columbia House for lunch.

    We were told we had "private dining" and were ushered inside and upstairs to a roped off area. We were greeted by another CM, sorry I can't remember his name, who was very nice. He called me by name and showed me where I was to sit. When I sat down there was this name tag there along with my food.



    He then told us that underneath our place card was a special gift for taking the tour.






    Short of squealing like a little girl, I quickly removed the pin and put it on my lanyard.

    To be continued.....

  2. #2

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    Cool Re: Summer's Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review*SPOILERS*

    What an awesome experience! Thanks for sharing, Summer!! How awesome.
    Quote Originally Posted by aashee View Post
    We are 100% grade A Disney Dorks.

  3. #3

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    Re: Summer's Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review*SPOILERS*

    Quote Originally Posted by SummerInFL
    I have to say this was DEFINITELY the highlight of my trip
    More than meeting me???

  4. #4

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    Re: Summer's Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review*SPOILERS*

    So after lunch we stopped in Liberty Square. Matthew had some interesting info to share about this land.

    1. The brown winding walk way represents the river of poo that used to exist in the old days. As people didn't have toilets the bed pans were dumped out of the window, onto the street, creating this river of waste. How nice, they dedicated that huh? LOL
    2. The Liberty Bell was an actual cast from the original mold that made the REAL Liberty Bell.
    3. The Bell was the LAST one to be made from the mold because when Disney shipped it back to Philladelphia they broke the mold.
    4. The shudders represent class distinction in the old days. When the war started, poor people were asked to give the metal that holds up the shutters, forcing them to use leather straps in their place. As a result the rich who didn't have to give up anything had straight shutters and over time, the poorer people had shutters that were crotched.
    5. There is no working plumbing in Liberty Square. He stated that the bathrooms in the Columbia are techinically in the back of the building which is in Fantasyland.

    Will finish the rest tomorrow, have work in the morning. Still need to go back stage!

    To be continued...

  5. #5

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    Re: Summer's Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review*SPOILERS*

    Quote Originally Posted by TDLFAN
    More than meeting me???
    That was last weekend, I'm talking about this weekend TDLFan.

  6. #6

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    Re: Summer's Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review*SPOILERS*

    I got to go on this tour my last trip and I LOVED it...although you're doing a much more complete review of it nice job. Glad you had a great time!



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    Re: Summer's Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review*SPOILERS*

    Oh man, this was awsome!!! and to think I was not going to read this because I thought it had somethign to do with that game you all play. Summer how did you get in on this tour? I am in awww and shock!!
    This was so interesting and exciting. thank you, you did an awsome job, now finish darling I have to pee and can not tear my self away!!!

  8. #8

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    Re: Summer's Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review*SPOILERS*

    Sounds like a fun tour, how much did it set you back again??

  9. #9

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    Re: Summer's Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review*SPOILERS*

    Quote Originally Posted by figment1986
    Sounds like a fun tour, how much did it set you back again??
    I get an AP discount so it was only 51.00 bucks. Which for what it gives you, including lunch, I thought it was a FABULOUS deal.

    Okay...on with the rest of my report!

    We headed over and stopped behind the Christmas shop in MK and he told us some stories about the castle. Here is the most interesting things I heard:

    1. There are no bricks in the castle. (Knew that one, but at least I answered it. )
    2. They are currently refurbishing what was "supposed" to be Walt's Apartment but it has currently been used for the cast of Cinderellabration to change into their costumes.
    3. Starting next year they will have it remodeled and will be picking a "random" family in the park to spend the night, in the castle. (I was drooling at this point.)
    4. There are four levels to the castle. First, is the walk through. Second, is the restuarant. Third, is the storage room aka apartment and Fourth is the tower where Tinkerbell flies down from. (Learned a lot about Tink, but more on that later. )

    After there we headed back towards Main Street where he talked about the quickest way to get out of the park, through the shops and that we wouldn't be stopping for merchandising break.

    We stopped in the princess store portion of the Emporium and walked to this set of double doors in the back. This is where he stated there is that 3foot wall that keeps up the illusion behind every wall on Main Street. So we all walked into the small space, closed the door he goes, "Ladies and Gentleman, a parking lot." And that's pretty much all we saw. I was amazed at how close everything was in the back ground. The Jungle Cruise buts up right behind the Main Street entrance. We then headed over to an entrance of a stair well, Matthew pointed out one of the AVAC locations he discussed earlier and down we went into the Utilidor. You go in there thinking that it's going to be this exotic wonderland of underground tunnels and such...no, not really. LOL

    We walked into this first hallway that had signs up for the CM's convenience, Tomorrowland this way, Fantasyland that way. He stopped us in this area and told us some interesting facts, which I will share below.

    1. Magic Kingdom was built from the ground up. Since about 10ft down in Florida you hit water, they first built the Utilidor and then took all the dirt from what is now Bay Lake and built Magic Kingdom on top of it.
    2. They have a pin replenishment station for all the CM's to get pins in the morning.
    3. They must always have 12 pieces of flair, I mean pins.
    4. There are arcade games in the CM break room, I thought that was neat.
    5. CM's have to park REALLLLLY far away from the park and they get bused in.
    6. They are allowed to take out 5 costumes at any given time, they can either take them home or pick out a new one every day. However, if picking one out every day is what they choose, they might not get the size they want.
    7. The costumes are checked out to the CM using a badge with a bar code.
    8. They can either clean their own clothes or bring them in and Disney will do it for them. Bring 5 in, take 5 home but no more than 5 is allowed at any time.
    9. We were shown a picture of the first group of CM's from opening day in 1971. They just held the retirement party from the one person who still worked there, last week. She is 85 years old and was a greeter, sorry I don't remember her name. Would have loved to meet her though!
    10. Some people have golf carts they drive from place to place under ground.
    11. We were shown some photos and some movie posters, some that have never been released to the public, mainly the aerial photograph of MK, they don't want to ruin the magic.


    After that we walked over to the Tomorrowland/Main Street area, which is where he gave some interesting facts about Tinkerbell.

    1. She can't be any taller than 4ft 1 or weigh anymore than 95lbs.
    2. Her and one techinician climbs the 4 flights of stairs to the top of the tower.
    3. The trip from the top of the castle to top of the Noodle Station where she lands takes approx 30 seconds.
    4. Right before she lands, she curls herself into a ball once she is out of view and there are two guys with a mattress that slow her decent just enough that she stops herself at the padded wall at the very end.
    5. The harness which weighs I believe about 65 lbs, once Tink is connected to the wire, her feet no longer touch the ground. It's then the technicians job to push her out the window, once it is time for her flight.
    6. Should she not get enough of a push and gets stuck on the wire mid flight (Matthew states it has happened twice since he's been there in 6 years) Tink has to turn off all her lights and equipment and manually pull herself to the bottom.
    7. For that 30 second flight and everything leading up to it before and after, the stunt person gets paid for 8 hours of work, hazard pay, stunt pay and a few other things I can't remember he said. Who wouldn't love that job huh? LOL


    He then lead us out onto Main Street and walked us over to the Roy statue. Now I forgot out stop first thing in the tour where he discussed the gentleman who made the statues of Walt and Mickey. So here are some facts that I missed and some information regarding the Roy Statue.

    1. Walt has a mickey ring on his right finger.
    2. The statue of Walt is 6ft tall whereas Walt was only 5ft 10.
    3. Walt has his hand outstretched and he is pointing down Main Street towards his brother Roy whose statue is sitting on the bench with Minnie. The sculptures reasons for this was this, "See Mickey, down at the end of Main Street you will find your friends, because no matter where you go in the park, your friends and family are always with you."

    I thought that was a brilliant end to the tour and we handed in our ear pieces and I ran to Guest Relations and filled in a compliment card on Matthew, he was funny, enlightening, he keep me enthralled until the very end and I could really he tell how much he just loved Disney.

    This was by far my favorite thing I have ever done since I started going to the parks in 1979, I was worried it would ruin the magic but it only made me appreciate exactly what the CM's go through every day to make everyone's day more magical. I have a new found respect for CM's and I will personally enjoy the parks more because of this tour.

  10. #10

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    Re: Summer's Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review*SPOILERS*

    Great review of the tour Summer. It sounds like it has stayed pretty much the same since I did it in 2004.

    Just one thing in case people are thinking of doing this....the tour guides do not consistently hand out the hearing device. We did the tour in early December, so that may be why our group wasn't given them.

    Also...the rides you get on can vary. I got the Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion on my tour. Sometimes Pirates of the Caribbean is done as well.
    Amanda
    Just remember without a well written Disney Villain, there would be no point in the Heroes and the Princesses. Have you hugged a Disney Villain today?

  11. #11

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    Re: Summer's Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review*SPOILERS*

    What a great tour! What were the hearing devices used for exactly?

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    Re: Summer's Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review*SPOILERS*

    Quote Originally Posted by mikelan6
    What a great tour! What were the hearing devices used for exactly?
    Since the tour stops at frequent places IN the park, to make sure that everyone can hear the tour guide and for them to be able to keep their voices, they give out the ear pieces. Matthew said that he would lose his voice on occasion until they started handing them out. He also stated though that there is sometimes up to 30 people per tour, so you can imagine that everyone wants to hear.

  13. #13

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    Re: Summer's Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review*SPOILERS*

    I KNEW you would love this tour! Thanks for the trip report! Everyone should do this once. We did it in December and I would do it again in a heartbeat! The tour guides are awesome!

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    Re: Summer's Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review*SPOILERS*

    Quote Originally Posted by SummerInFL
    I "biological" break and Matthew showed us a public restroom that even I never knew about. It is located on the back side of Pecos Bill Tavern, across from PoTC.
    Great one...when it is open.

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    Wink Re: Summer's Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review*SPOILERS*

    Quote Originally Posted by tloolgb
    Great one...when it is open.
    Oh no... we found a secret Restroom at WDW!!!!

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