What it’s like to be a VIP at Walt Disney World

Kristine Tarbert
Senior Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
I didn't miss out on meeting any of my favourites. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle

Ever wondered what it’s like for Angelina Jolie and her kids when they decide to spend a day at Walt Disney World? Well, I had the incredible opportunity to find out exactly that and I’m going to admit, it’s probably ruined Disney for me forever.

But before you hate on me for that, let me explain what I mean.

If I ever have the luck to be able to get back to Disney World or Disneyland in my lifetime, there is no way it will come even remotely close to the experience of being a VIP. Basically, I had such an amazing time, that I don’t think I will ever be able to top it. EVER!

Ready for a day as a VIP at Walt Disney World. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle

Celebrity spotting at Walt Disney World

It’s no secret celebs are regularly spotted hanging out at any of the Disney theme parks around the world, including Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

With its four theme parks, two water parks and 33 resorts to choose from, there is plenty to see and do. And if you’re someone like Hollywood actor Matt Damon, singer and actress Hilary Duff, pop queen Mariah Carey, or even any of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, then you wouldn’t spend too much time mixing it with the regular folk.

That’s where the Disney VIP tours come in.

Disney VIP Tours originally began with the Disneyland Resort Ambassador program—started by Walt Disney himself to make the trip truly unforgettable.

But while skipping queues and having the best seats at all the shows is an incredible perk of being a VIP, it’s not the only part of the Disney VIP tour that stood out.

And it’s all thanks to the incredible guys you see in tartan and navy who lead the stars through the park - Disney’s VIP guides. Our guide was David or as we affectionally called him ‘Aussie Dave’ - because he was indeed originally from Brisbane.

His knowledge and love for Disney and everything it stands for was obvious from the moment he picked our little group up from the Disney Beach Club Resort at 8:30am sharp.

The VIP Program

Our crew with our incredible VIP tour guide Aussie Dave. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle

First up we headed to Disney’s Animal Kingdom where we were treated to a quick and painless side entrance away from the crowds into Pandora – the World of Avatar.

We then ticked off trying a pineapple dole whip ice cream, attended the Festival of the Lion King show (amazing!), did the Kilimanjaro Safari, rode the Kali River Rapids, had a Mickey pretzel, and rode the Expedition Everest rollercoaster - twice - all before lunch.

We spent the second half of the day ticking off some highlights in Magic Kingdom, which included meeting Mickey Mouse and Minnie in their celebratory 90th birthday outfits.

Just hanging out with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle

And it doesn’t stop there

The tour really gives you the opportunity to see behind the magic and learn about things like the secret tunnels and entrances that allow cast members and characters to magically appear where they are needed.

Getting to go in and out of those cast entrances was one of my favourite things on the tour - sorry no photos allowed! You rarely get a peek behind that curtain but using employee roads, parking and entrances allows you to quickly get to exactly the attraction you want to visit.

Many of the features of a VIP tour are about convenience and efficiency, but this truly is something you can’t do on your own.

In terms of skipping lines, the VIP tour gives you access to all the FastPass+ lines with no limit and no need to book in advance. Normally Disney Resort hotel guests can book in up to 3 FastPass+ attractions per park per day 60 days in advance of their trip, and non-hotel guests can book in 30 days in advance.

If the guides are needed to make up the minimum numbers, they will ride the attractions with you, which meant for Toy Story Mania I bagged the spot with Dave who was of course an expert and knew all the tricks, giving our car the winning score.

Dave was also full of some of the best stories, like that time he had Keith Richards’ daughter on a VIP tour and she had so much fun she then invited Dave and his wife to be VIPs at the Rolling Stones concert in town.

He truly made the experience even better than I think it would normally be. He went above and beyond for not only our group, but anyone in the park. Whether it was people stopping him to ask for directions, or him jumping in to help queue controllers get the lines moving quicker.

We averaged over 25k steps each day, covered pretty much every attraction across all the four theme parks, caught the best shows, and always left with full bellies and sore feet. But a huge smile on our faces.

Me at the very front of Expedition Everest because Dave put us there. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle

Is it worth the money?

Now if you’re wondering ‘but how much do I have to shell out to be treated like a celebrity for a day?’ that is the one downside.

It definitely seems like one of those maybe-one-day-when-we-win-the-lottery types of bucket list items, but when you truly consider everything you get out of it, a number of families would agree it can be worth it.

The tour requires you to have purchased park tickets separately and is priced anywhere from $349USD to $425USD ($630AUD) per hour depending on the type of service and the season. And that is for a minimum of six hours.

But you can book the tour for a group of up to 10 people and the price doesn’t change, so the costs can be split between each person.

All you have to do then is agree on a ‘To Do’ list.

The Walt Disney World 4-1-1

You might think you know everything there is to now about Disney World, but even as someone who has been lucky enough to visit a Disney park before, there were still some surprising facts about Walt Disney World I found out during the trip.

Covering nearly 40 square miles (104 square kilometres), Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, is about the size of San Francisco, or two times the size of Manhattan island.

Of the nearly 25,000 acres, a third is designated as conservation land.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the largest of the four theme parks covering a total of 500 acres. It’s so big, that the other three parks (Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, EPCOT) can all fit inside it.

So you can imagine it takes a lot of time just to get around to see everything.

And not only is it big, but more than 70,000 cast members help create the magic Walt Disney World making it the largest single-site employer in the United States.

Yahoo Lifestyle was a guest of Walt Disney World.

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