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“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...”
Review of Backstage Disney

Backstage Disney
Ranked #51 of 110 Tours in Orlando
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Attraction details
Owner description: A tour that gives you a look at what happens behind the scenes at Disney World.
Reviewed 16 August 2014

I went on the Backstage Disney tour with my 16 year old son. I went on the tour with my partner last year and enjoyed it enough to want to share it with my son this year. The minimum age for the tour is 16. (This requirement makes sense as the tour very quickly begins to pull back the curtains on Disney's magic.)
It is a seven-hour tour and begins at 8:45 am sharp. There were twenty-six total on the tour. There were two guides. The travel between the four parks and other stops takes place on a plush Disney Cruise tour bus. We met the group at the Customer Relations office in front of Epcot. We were quickly outfitted with badges and lanyards, safety glasses, and listening devices.
The tour begins at Epcot, but on the other side of the park, behind the American Pavilion. Because the largest part of the charm of this tour is in the "reveal" of the backstage magic, I choose not to go into detail about what is shared. However, I will touch upon a few highlights of our tour that seem to vary from the negative experiences of some of the other reviewers.
The backstage tour of the American Adventure was absolutely cool. We were led into the rear of the building as the morning "practice-run" was taking place. We were shown some intimate details of the audio-animatronics and as we were viewing the mechanics and technology, several of the stage pieces moved (mechanically) into our immediate area...needless to say-we were rubbing elbows with Mark Twain and Ben Franklin. Another reviewer mentioned repeatedly how few people/workers were visible...that was one of the most interesting elements of the tour--that most of Disney can run with very little intervention. In fact, we were told from the beginning, that the American Adventure show required exactly one person to operate. It is amazing that a "spectacular" like that show can be run with the push of a button.
Our tour did a condensed trip through Disney's horticultural area (we had an individual in a wheel chair that required an inordinate amount of time in boarding/disembarking the bus). But still got to see some amazing topiaries and full-grown trees all available for immediate placement into the parks. We had a terrific tour through "Costuming." Even my son was taken with the process and view of costuming thousands of characters in the parks. There were tons of very pleasant workers in this building and the things that they were cutting and sewing were quite interesting. We chatted with an actual castmember in Animal Kingdom and got some real insight into both working and enjoying Disney from her.
Our lunch was at Whispering Canyon and it was DELICIOUS. The food is served family style and comes to the table on large serving platters. Lots of meat (which my son loved) from pulled pork, to fried chicken, to beef sausages, to barbecued ribs. Mashed potatoes, baked beans, and the fixin's rounded out the meal. The wait staff at this restaurant is quite amusing and the place clearly caters to families. Dessert was a fruit cobbler in a giant skillet, topped with scoops and scoops of vanilla ice cream. As this restaurant would not normally be part of my Disney trip, it was great to experience it.
Then we were off to Central Shops where almost all of the Disney magic is manufactured. We saw parts to rides everywhere. My son loved this part of the tour. We saw the entire Astro Orbiter in pieces. We saw ridecars from virtually every section of the park being rehabbed. We saw animatronic animals from small deer to elephants to hippos being repaired and painted. We also saw a couple of the dwarfs from the new Mine ride being put together. There were two new boulders being fabricated for the Indiana Jones experience (you know the gigantic boulder that rolls down the hill just behind him...). Then off to the Magic Kingdom. Lots of cool stuff. Before we left Main Street, we caught the condensed "rain" version of the 3:00pm parade. It's the parade with all of the characters on a double-decker bus, and in covered vehicles. As the parade ended, we left Main Street, using a hidden utilidoor. The weather was very warm and it was quite humid as the tour guides gave us a bit of information about the underground tunnels that we were about to enter. As the guide spoke, all of the vehicles from the parade came around the corner. As they did, all of the characters were disrobing. I have NEVER seen anything comparable in my life. As the character heads were handed off to be stored in the backs of vans, the characters began to disrobe all about us. In just a few minutes every Disney character from Mickey to Chip n' Dale were regular folks dressed in shorts and t-shirts. It was surreal. Then we visited the "tunnels" learning that they are actually at ground level and that everything in the Magic Kingdom is above them. I won't share any of the details from the tunnels, but it was enough to keep my son and I enchanted for almost an hour.
Our tour guides were very seasoned Disney professionals and could answer almost any question. They explained from the get-go that they work from scripts, but that it was more fun to work from our interests and questions. They also advise that they can answer questions in three ways--"good question, I can answer that for you now....," "great question, I will try and find an answer for you before we finish...," and "excellent question, look at that topiary...," meaning that the answers to those questions concerned proprietary or secret information. The guides shared interesting personal experiences and internal company information.
I would love to go on this tour again. My second tour compared well to the first, but my son and I definitely got to see some things that one would NEVER get to see otherwise!

29  Thank LancerRehobothBeach
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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9 - 13 of 30 reviews

Reviewed 20 July 2014 via mobile

Is was very informative, totally enjoyed our tour, especially when we learned things we never about!

Thank Letsgomets05
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 April 2014

Lets start with the positive. Our tour guides were very sweet. I am certain they do not plan the tour, but show you around a pre-planned tour determined by Disney. Now for the tour itself... what a complete waste of $250/pp. There really was no behind the scenes, other than the fact that you entered from the "back side" of the buildings. I will give you a few of miserable highlights:

1. Epcot... park was closed. They brought us backstage of the American Adventure, where we stood in a semi-dark room for about 15-min staring at platforms of stage props. Then the stages moved forward and we could see the pully system. That's it, then we left. We walked to the front of the building where they showed us the new bathrooms and explained how they were built because of visitor surveys (so be sure to stop and talk to the survey takers next time you're in the park). Then they explained how the buildings are designed to look smaller than they actually are in order to represent real life. On the walk back to the bus, we got to see them pressure cleaning the walkways.

2. Tower of Terror - Now this is going to be cool....NOPE. We exit the bus, walk to the back of the building and then proceed to stand in front of the backup elevator cart (yep, the one they use in case another breaks down) for the next 10-min while our guide talks about how the seat belts stay locked due to an air lock system. Okay now, back to the bus. Oh, were you hoping to see the ins/outs of how the animation and functionality of the ride works. Sorry, that isn't part of the tour. We never even enter the building. Not a single person was working or seen anywhere in the vicinity.

3. Animal Kingdom - Okay, so now we will get to see some behind the scenes on the Animals or the inner workings of the Tree of Life.. NOPE. We entered warehouse that houses the parade vehicles, walked to the other end, turned around and came back out. We learned that they hide the speakers in various areas of the vehicles and that the pedals on the carts make the animals legs move. Once again, not a single person was to be found doing any work at all. With thousands of employees, we see not one in the same location we are touring... odd.

4. Costumes - We enter the building, the Receptionist picks up the phone and announces "tour is in the building". Wow, we must be getting something special if they are announcing us. NOPE... after 5-min in the lobby, we walk down a hallway that looks like any other office hallway, but this one had NO PEOPLE. We pass about 5 offices and not a single person in any of them. We turn the corner to find ONE lonely woman adding color to a dress on her computer, but she doesn't look up and doesn't make eye contact.. We learn from our tour guides that if Disney can't find the material they want to use, they make their own. We then move to the sewing room. There are about 8 people looking busy but not really doing anything. We are briskly walked past them and out a door on the other side. Again, this group of people don't look up and never make eye contact with us.

5. Painting & Repairs - a huge warehouse where the molds are made, the animations get their rubbery exteriors to look real and the items are painted. We enter the building and one man calls out on his radio "tour is in the building". Not sure if anyone else notices, but I then see about 10 employees move through a solid door and out of sight. We walked around the paint shop, the spray room, the mold room, the repair shop. It was a HUGE building and NOT ONE PERSON WORKING.... This is ridiculous. Oh,but we did play a guessing game to see who could figure out what attraction the parts went to. Ridiculous.

This couldn't have been any more disappointing. I could go on and on, but the entire tour was much of the same. Don't do it!!! Don't waste your money!!!

14  Thank Lotz2CnDo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 December 2013

With the cost of this tour I had expected more. I was one of 40 plus people on this tour which made it very difficult to really embrace the backstage experience. The two tour guides were great but getting 40 people on and off a bus and through each tour was very time consuming and often made it difficult for everyone to get the full experience.

On a side note, I wrote to Disney expressing my disappointment and the only response I have received was a canned response acknowledging my message. It has been a week. This has just added to my disappointment.

$200+ wasn't worth it.

5  Thank Sara L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 7 August 2013

As I Disney Fun, I must say, this experience is totally worth it. You get to see what happens behind the scene and live Disney with a different perspective!

Thank FC59
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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