Walt Disney World Keys to the Kingdom Tour
In planning our Walt Disney World trip, we decided to book the Keys to the Kingdom Tour at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom. We needed to book early, as a limited number of tickets are sold for the tours and we did not want to miss out.
Anticipation was building from the moment we booked the tickets until we arrived at park that morning. Before the park opened, we were directed to enter the park on the left side of the train station. It is amazing to walk in the park with so few people inside! Be sure to arrive earlier than they suggest to take a few photos looking up Main Street towards the Castle. It's quite a different sight to see when there very few people there.
It was recommended to arrive 15 minutes before the tour start time to check-in. Our tour check-in was at the desk inside the Town Square Theater, just inside the park. Two Guest Relations Representatives checked us in, assigning a personalized Keys to the Kingdom Tour Pin and a speaker in a black pouch that you hang around your neck. The ear piece simply hangs over your ear so that you can hear the tour guide as you walk through the park and underground (really not underground as the park was actually built as the second floor). They took our lunch order from a menu that consisted of several light meals (beverage, sandwiches and a salad with chicken). Bottles of water were available to take on the walking tour. The tour guide planned out restroom breaks along the 5 hour tour. With 20 people registered for our tour, we headed down Main Street like the Poppa and his ducklings.
Our tour guide, Kevin, introduced himself letting us know he started off working as an intern at Disney through Disney's College Program. He was hired after his internship and worked in several roles before he moved into Guest Relations.
Tucking into a side street off Main Street, Kevin shared the Disney's Four Keys that are the foundation to ensure a Great Guest Experience: Safety, Courtesy, Show and Efficiency. Throughout the tour Kevin shared how and why Cast Members live and breath these standards.
Kevin used the analogy of going to the movies to explain how all Disney Entertainment creates a wonderful experience for their guests. From the Tickets, the Popcorn, the Curtain, the Leading Lady, the Previews, the Opening Credits, and the Closing Credits, there is a reason for EVERYTHING! Even the positioning and scale of the buildings are constructed to envelop the guests, pulling them into the movie.
After criss-crossing our way through the park, we were escorted to the front of the line onto a Jungle Cruise Boat. Walt went on a jungle tour in the 30's and since then Walt's dream was to have a live animal attraction. Although the Jungle Cruise is not live, later the Animal Kingdom Park was opened to realize his dream.
As the tour continued, Kevin told us that the imagineers carefully planned the transition from one land to the next. The music fades out and the light posts change around the corner with different seating with the music building to complete the holistic feel of the next land. We made our way to the Haunted Mansion where we were brought through a secret entrance to the ride. I won't give away all the secrets they shared relating to the Haunted Mansion. Call your travel agent to book the tour to find out more!
Around 11:45am we headed to Tomorrow Land where we had our lunch in a roped off area. All of us were ready to sit down, and had 30 minutes to relax and eat lunch. The tour resumed at 12:15pm.
Our guide reiterated there is no photography or videos allowed back stage. We went back stage where performers were practicing the Christmas Parade route and had a chance to view some of the engineers working on the parade floats. The color and designs of the floats are amazing up close. There is so much you don't see when watching the parade on the side lines.
In the afternoon, the back stage tour took us down a Cast Member stairwell to enter the Utilidor Tunnel. The Cast Members were either on their way to or from work, on break, or getting ready to go on stage. We respected their time and did not impose (letting them pass by and not staring). The carts moving product and equipment throughout the tunnels would slow as they passed. As we walked the tunnels there were Christmas Decorations on pallets being prepared for display.
Walt Disney never had the opportunity to see the opening of Walt Disney World and during the opening ceremony, Roy leaned over and whispered to a representative asking him to bring Mickey Mouse Character to stand next to him. Roy always felt his brother Walt was right there with him when Mickey Mouse is next to him. I felt my eyes welling up. What a great ending to a wonderful tour.
After sharing more about Walt Disney and his brother Roy, Our tour guide shared some new things coming to Disney!
It is absolutely worth the money and your time! Are you ready for a little magic?
Sian Blackwell has had a lifelong love of Disney and travel. Sian can save you valuable time and money, along with offering you a personalized experience. She has helped countless friends plan their trips and is now a Vacation Specialist with Coasters & Castles Travel. Sian lives in MA with her husband and her chocolate Labrador puppy.
Independent Vacation Travel Specialist
Coasters & Castles Travel Inc.