We decided to take this Magic Kingdom tour on a November Disney visit. It’s one of the few things we haven’t done at Disney, and we really wanted to see Disney’s underground “Utilidor” system. The Magic Kingdom is actually built on raised ground, so most of the park is literally on the second floor. The lower level under the Magic Kingdom is where much of the behind the scenes work takes place. This tour takes guests below, into cast member only areas, and to areas within the park where you’ll hear behind the scenes stories and facts.
Our tour guide was delightful and had much to share. Much of the tour consisted of walking around the park and hearing stories about the development of Disney. We saw how much thought goes into every detail at Disney. We heard facts about Walt Disney and others who contributed to the creation of the Magic Kingdom.
We did go into the utilidors, however they were underwhelming. We literally walked through some wide corridors. That was it. We didn’t get to see anything else down there except a 3 minute video on how cast member clothing is laundered. We were not permitted to see any of the control rooms, or any other rooms. Just corridors.
We also saw parade floats in the warehouse. Lastly, we went on two rides (Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise) and didn’t have to wait in line.
Some of the facts we heard were new to us. One that I found particularly amusing was on the Jungle Cruise ride. At one point the boat passes by a bunch of audio-animatronics natives who angrily yell and wave spears at you. Our tour guide told us to listen carefully. One of the natives yells out “I love disco”. I had never picked up on that and found it kind of hilarious.
Was this tour absolutely fascinating and thrilling? Not so much. We saw less than I had hoped, but it was kind of interesting and pleasant. We’re glad we took the tour but wouldn’t call it a “must do” for most people, especially if you have limited time or funds. Having said that, as is always the case with anything Disney, I realize that there may be some who disagree and love that tour.
If you go, here’s some information to keep in mind:
Weather: The weather was a factor in choosing November, since we wished to avoid an outdoor tour during the warmer months. For the most part we were very comfortable. We had beautiful dry weather with clear skies and temperatures in the low 80’s. Still we found some parts of the tour a bit uncomfortably warm, since at times we had to stand on pavement in full sun to hear stories from our tour guide about the area we were in.
Columbia Harbour House was air conditioned, as were the utilidors, though they were still on the warmer side. We did go on a couple of rides (Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise), which were air conditioned.
For anyone who has difficulty with heat or being outside in the rain, we would absolutely recommend only taking this tour in the winter when temperatures are more mild, and there’s usually less chance of rain.
Time: The tour lasted 4 ½ hours, including lunch at Columbia Harbour House. We’re told it can last up to 5 hours. We were on our feet almost the entire time. There was a lot of walking involved.
Wheelchairs: One member of our party was on an ECV (electric convenience vehicle). The guide was very sensitive to her needs, guiding her to elevators when necessary. There were times when the group walked through crowds where she found it challenging to keep up. Though she lagged behind sometimes, she was able to catch up. However it was a relatively low crowd period. It may be very challenging to keep up with the tour during peak crowd times, or with a manual wheelchair.
Sound: We were each given a unit that clipped onto our clothing, with an attached ear piece that fits over the ear lobe. This permitted us to hear the tour guide, and the sound level was adjustable.
Bathrooms: There were a few pre-planned bathroom breaks, where the guide offered the group the chance to stop. I think if anyone had an urgent need, he could have stopped in different restroom locations that we passed. We were told that we would not be able to use the restrooms in the utilidors, so he gave us an opportunity to use a restroom just prior to entering the underground corridors. We were down there for perhaps ½ hour, give or take. Columbia Harbour House, where we had lunch, has restrooms.
Food: There were no snack stops during this tour. If you need to snack, bring your own that you can eat while walking.
Lunch was served at Columbia Harbour House, a quick service restaurant. Before the start of the tour, when we arrived at check-in, a cast member asked us to choose our meals from a picture and word menu. The meal was waiting for us at our pre-assigned seat at the restaurant when we arrived. We were taken to the upstairs dining room which was quite calm and cool, and a great environment to unwind in.
One member of our party required gluten free food. We had informed the reservation agent when we first made the reservation, but when we arrived at the check-in point in that morning, they didn’t have information on what foods were available that were gluten free. They offered us an ingredients book, but with gluten issues this is not enough information. It doesn’t address cross-contamination, or ingredients not easily recognizable such as chemical components. Also gluten free alternative foods that were available at this location were not listed. After a few minutes of discussion, we asked if there was anyone available who knew more that could help us. They did find someone to come out who was more knowledgeable, and we were able to choose a meal (Amy’s chicken tenders and a salad with no dressing).
Price at this writing: $74.00 per person (only people ages 16 and up can participate in this tour)
Phone: (407) WDW-TOUR or (407) 939-8687
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