An Inside Look: Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour

by Carrie McLaren with no comments

During my recent solo trip to Walt Disney World, I was able to cross off a massive bucket list item. I’ve talked about it for years and thanks to a gracious gift from Santa Claus, I was given the opportunity to take the Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom backstage tour at Magic Kingdom Park.

This informative five-hour tour focuses on what it takes to keep the park running, a look backstage and yes – even a tour of the park’s famed underground tunnels known as the Utilidors.

Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom Park
Upon check-in at the Chamber of Commerce building in Town Square, I was given my name tag, a handy headphones contraption and asked to choose from a variety of lunch options at the Columbia Harbor House.

The tour begin with an introduction of Disney’s Keys to Excellence – Safety, Courtesy, Show and Efficiency. We were asked to point out things we saw throughout the tour that met those core keys.

As we made our way down Main Street. U.S.A., our guide pointed out the names seen in the store windows and the stories associated with the people – castmembers, family members and Imagineers – instilled in Disney legacies each day. I’ve passed those names thousands of times, but it was nice to slow down and take a closer look at them.

Let’s Ride

Next up, it was time to go for a ride and learn about Disney Magic.  The Jungle Cruise and the Haunted Mansion are my two favorites at the Magic Kingdom, it was fascinating to learn insider tips and hidden items throughout each ride. Our guide used to be a Jungle Cruise Skipper, so during our ride – she pointed out things along the way, including the Bottom-less Hippos and the fact that skippers wash the elephants once a week. (Who knew?!)

Before entering the Haunted Mansion, our guide gave us tips of what to look for – and where to look for them – including Hidden Mickeys and even a Hidden Donald. We entered the back hallway and climbed aboard a Doombuggy – and at the end our castmember guide was there to greet us and answer questions – and I had a lot!

Festival of Fantasy Parade

 The Backstage Parade

Just beyond Splash Mountain, we stepped behind the ‘line’ and went backstage to see where the parade floats live and receive daily maintenance. Since it was early January, we saw a few of the Christmas parade floats, many of the Main Street Electrical Parade floats and the new Festival of Fantasy floats. I was secretly squealing inside as I have a special love for Disney parades.

It was here that I also saw a character without his head. I kept my head down and tried to mentally block it from my mind. It wasn’t nearly as shocking as I was expecting, but just something I’d prefer not to have seen. (And yes, I was warned and prepared ahead of time.)

Disney's Keys to the Kingdom Badge

The Utilidors

What many don’t know is that the Magic Kingdom is really on the second floor of the park. Underneath the park is an underground tunnel system that truly looks like a basement of hallways, known as the Utilidors. It is where the magic comes to life each day.

I don’t want to spoil the magic, but I’ll say this – it was fascinating to see what it takes for the park to run smoothly each day. From the pin station where castmembers replenish or swap out their trading pins to the color-coded hallways distinguishing the lands of the park, it’s a world like you’ve never seen.

Disney Quote at Train Station

Important Things to Know

** No cameras or cell phone cameras. Save yourself the extra baggage and leave it at your resort or secured in your bag. No exceptions.

** Wear good walking shoes. While your guide takes breaks to sit down and talk about the park, the majority of the five-hours you’ll be walking the park. Comfort is key, not fashion.

** You must be at least 16 years old to be a part of this tour. There are things backstage that could spoil the magic – for little ones… and some adults too.

** You must have valid park admission for the day of the tour. So, yes – you are paying for a park pass and then also the tour – but it’s worth it!

** If you’re a passholder, be sure to ask about discounts when you book the tour. I saved a considerable amount of money – and every little bit counts when it comes to Disney!

Minnie Mouse in a Parade at Walt Disney World
And if you’ve made it this far in my story – thank you! There was just too much great stuff to share, I wanted to document it for you, but also for myself. It was great to relive the day I finally crossed a major item off of my Disney bucket list.

If you have the opportunity to take this tour – do it. If you have a love for the parks, this tour is an eye-opener in the everyday workings and I’ll never see the parks in the same way again. And I mean that in the best way. It’s possible I may love the parks even more now!

Have you done the Keys to the Kingdom Tour? 

 

** Thanks to Santa Claus for giving me a Disney gift card for Christmas. I used it to treat myself to this tour. **

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