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.....