This spring, I did a VIP Tour Guide with a teenager. It was the BEST way to do the parks, hands down. So, this summer, we took that to the next level. Five teenagers, two adults, four parks, all thrill rides, six hours. We used the same tour guide, Buddy and it was AWESOME!
Buddy met us at Pandora in Animal Kingdom Park. We started off with Flight of Passage. This is by far, the best ride in all of Walt Disney World® Resort and the kids all loved it. We then headed to Expedition Everest and then Dinosaur. Buddy has a way of getting you to try new things. He has been doing this for over 20 years and when he explains it, it makes it less intimidating. I actually rode Everest for the first time in my life (with over 100 visits to the World).
We then got in the van (behind the scenes) and made our way to Hollywood Studios. When we pulled up, cast members from the Tour Guide team met us with waters and a basket full of snacks from chips, cookies, Kind bars. There was something for everyone and the kids were impressed with the service. One of them said, “this is like celebrity status. “
Once in Hollywood Studios, our group did Rockin Rollercoaster, not once, but twice. Then we headed over to Tower of Terror. I do not do Tower of Terror but was able to walk through with them and once we got to the entrance of the actual attraction, Buddy told a cast member and I took the chicken route. This was nice as I got to spend more time with the crew then if I had just waited at the exit.
We jumped back in the car and headed over to Magic Kingdom. The kids really liked seeing the back roads of the parks and the behind the scenes happenings, especially the construction of Tron, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ratatouille. I think this is definitely the age. I fear with the little guys, seeing all the behind the scenes will make the parks less magical but these guys really enjoyed it.
At Magic Kingdom, again, more snacks and water. For the teenage boys, this was taken advantage again. This made keeping on track easier as we didn’t need to stop to feed 5 teens.
We headed to Space Mountain where we rode it twice. Then on to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain. Buddy always suggests the wash and then the dry. Splash then Big Thunder. He even had ponchos for us so we wouldn’t get wet.
Once we rode Big Thunder, we headed back across the park to the van. Our last stop was Epcot and we were running short on time. We pulled up to the back of Soarin, rode it and then tried to make it over to Test Trac but it was closed due to weather. So, we ended in the back of the aquarium, to go see our favorite manatees one more time before heading to a steak dinner at Le Cellier and a much-needed glass of wine for the adults.
It was a fast six hours and it ran so smooth. Not only does the guide get you in and out of attractions in a quick and effective way, they also afford you the best ride experience by putting you in the part of the ride vehicle for most optimal effect. Whether that is the front on Rockin or the back on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, it really does make the ride the best. They also tell you where all the cameras are and can suggest fun poses. So much so, we have all the photos of everyone and I am going to make a fun photo book with just ride pics. Buddy is great with the history and fun unique facts about the parks which this age group found very interesting. If you have someone in your party, which we did, who loves finding hidden Mickeys, he knows ones I wasn’t aware of.
Tips we took away from our experience.
- Meet your guide at an attraction or at least a park so you are using the time the most efficiently.
- Communicate with your guide about any wishes. They really do try to accommodate it but are also there to guide you into having the very best experience. Our guys wanted to do Flight of Passage again and even with little wait time, the actual pre-show is so long, it would not be the best use of time. Whereas, Rockin and Space Mountain are much easier to ride more than once since the pre-show is little to nothing.
- Ask questions. Very few opportunities arise like this where you can ask a cast member questions like this. They are a wealth of information about park happenings and they have some GREAT stories.
- Remember, each attraction is different as the guides are at the mercy of the cast members working those attractions. Can you get on with little wait? Typically, yes but you may not be able to ride it again without going out and all the way back through again. Typically, it is based off wait times.
- I have always seen the benefit of VIP Tour Guides with parties traveling with little kids to cut down on time maneuvering the parks and an extra set of hands but the benefits for those with teens are just as beneficial.
- Tip your guide. 20% is customary. They do not ask for it but it is appreciated.
- Be prepared to do it again. Once you use a VIP Tour Guide, you will want to do it again and more than likely, your guide becomes a part of the tradition. We will always use Buddy if possible.
- Make sure to chronicle this very special time. The laughter, memories, and experiences you will have should be documented in photos.