We booked this tour after taking the Keys To The Kingdom tour at Magic Kingdom. We did the Keys tour about 5 months ago. We entered Epcot prior to the park opening thru the International Gateway and had a leisurely walk to Guest Relations where we checked in and were given our name tags. Our total group size was 14. One person was being pushed in a wheelchair. They were able to access everything and had no problems keeping up with the group, nor was the group slowed down. The tour spent the first 15 - 20 minutes in Guest Relations using the photos behind the counter as a prompt for discussion. This portion was somewhat redundant from information in the Keys tour, and also subject to distraction as many people were coming into Guest Relations for information, DAS cards, etc.
From here we went outdoors and learned a few things about Spaceship Earth while sitting down. A sample similar to the material used to construct it was passed around with an picture card. Picture cards are used many times during this tour, which was nice. We went thru Guest Relations and saw the cast member pin trading department. We went thru Innoventions with a brief stop to talk about the Vision House and how it relates to Epcot, but we did not go through it. We walked past the Fountain of Nations and learned about it's origins and the designer, and were able to sit down here, too. I believe there were 3 restroom breaks during the tour, and one 15 minute break in the Land Pavilion. There is no lunch stop in this tour like there is in the Keys Tour.
We saw the VIP Lounge above the Seas and spent alot of time (too much) looking at the tanks there and talking about the fish. We did ride Soarin' and entered thru the back entrance, after learning about the murals outside of The Land Pavilion and going inside to hear more information. We were told a little about the filming of the Soarin' film, which was interesting. We saw the area where the 3D glasses are washed, and learned about the creation of Figment and how he was named. We also the HP Lounge at Mission Space (for HP staff, their families, and other specified associates), which is nice, but small. We were mildly amused at the levels of "security" to obtain access. Outside of Mission Space we learned about its history and the previous attraction that was there.
We spent some time looking at the mechanic's facilities for Test Track, and noting how the support beams sway when the cars come over. We also saw the Illuminations barges in their daytime parking spots at the marina and where the Friendships go for refurb. By this point we were feeling a little held captive by the tour and were ready for it to be over!
The most interesting thing was the cast building. The laundry/uniform area and system is pretty neat to see. We saw some princesses getting ready for their day as well and saw where they get their hair done.
We did not go into the Universe of Energy as some other tours did. I believe Soarin' replaced that in our tour. We finished in China, were told of the VIP viewing area in Italy, and received our pins. I believe we finished up at about 1:15. We were not offered a discount at Nine Dragons as others have reported. Our tour guide was polite, but did not have the enthusiasm that our Keys guide had. He was knowledgeable but spoke off script and would have to go back to start over if he got tripped up. He showed great and genuine concern for one person who had never been on Soarin' and had a fear of heights.
The tour was good, but we knew much of the information already from our own research and visits. At times it seemed to drag on a bit. We toured on an overcast day. If it is sunny, it would be a very hot tour. Is the tour worth it? Everyone would have to decide for themselves. We are glad we did it, and it was enjoyable, but it was a little too long for our liking and for what we saw. As with all tours, there is no photography in backstage areas. One person on our tour took a picture of ride vehicles in a maintenance bay and the guide turned off his microphone and addressed him in a friendly way.
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