Last week I discussed the perks of feeling like a Disney Newbie. This revelation has proven to be quite uplifting and fun to think about. I get excited to learn about things I never knew existed and work them into our Disney park vacations. Today’s new and fun thing is the “Keys to the Kingdom” Tour of Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
To give you a little backdrop here, you should note that Walt Disney World offers a variety of extra excursions inside and outside of the parks to enjoy with loved ones at additional costs. Some of these private ticketed events and tours include the “Backstage Magic” tour at Epcot, “Starlight Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge,” and the many varieties of “Epcot Seas Adventures.” While I haven’t done any of the above-listed tours, I have to say that I haven’t done a special ticketed event yet that I didn’t love.
For mine and my husband Doug’s birthdays a few years back, we were gifted some of these amazing options and after reading up on them, we landed on the “Keys to the Kingdom” tour. It promised an inside look into our favorite Disney Park (Magic Kingdom). I am a lover of history, so I was super excited to be taken on this journey. The promises of learning historical facts, walking in the underground tunnels, and learning more about Uncle Walt was almost too much excitement for me to handle.
Our tour began at the front of MK at the base of Main Street, USA (this 5-hour excursion takes place all throughout the park and lunch is provided). Each tour has about 10 or so folks and each person gets their own headset connected to a sound pack. The tour guide talks through a mic connected to each person’s headset to ensure everyone can hear them clearly throughout the park. This also ensures the guides aren’t having to scream and constantly repeat themselves the whole time. It’s actually quite nice. If you’ve ever been on Main Street, USA at park open, you know it can be a little “cray.”
You start off sauntering your way down Main Street where your guide points out many hidden nuggets you would never have noticed before. If you HAVE seen them, maybe you didn’t know why there were there or what they meant. Either way, I was eager to hear more with every step we took. Along the way, we were given a ton of fun facts about the man behind the mouse, Walt Disney, of course. My mind was blown by the plethora of intentionality in each step of Walt Disney’s career and how Disneyland and WDW came to fruition. The man was a mastermind.
Seeing all of these places first hand and taking in all of the information is sort of the genius behind this tour. If I’m honest, I don’t remember the exact route we took throughout the park (I think they can all be a little different depending on how many tours are going on at the same time), but I do remember being in every “land” of the park with backstage access to certain areas.
On this tour, you get to experience a few attractions in ways you never did before (we got to do “The Haunted Mansion” and “The Enchanted Tiki Room”). Our lunch was provided, compliments of Casey’s Corner with a limited menu but the facts were endless. My favorite part was getting to see where they stored the Main Street Electrical Parade floats (sounds lame but stay with me).
Growing up, the Main Street Electrical Parade was my “jam” (that’s right kids with 90’s parents, write that down. “Jam”). All of my favorite parades in life happened at night (like our town’s Christmas parade) and this was no different. The music, the lights, the characters, the floats — I just can’t tell you how much I loved it. My heart broke a little when we read that the parade was being replaced at MK and completely moved to Disneyland (insert moment of silence here). It made me green with envy to see fellow Disney travelers posting pictures and videos of her when she debuted in Disneyland (if I can’t have her, NOBODY can). We just so happened to be at the park the week it was finishing up its stint at MK. The excitement on peoples faces was a reminder of my youth and all that was innocent in the world (I may or may not have shed a tear and poured out some Dole Whip Float on the ground in honor of our fallen friend).
My appreciation for this beloved parade grew even greater after learning what goes into putting it on each night. All the way down to the order in which each float is stored and security checked before each show, the details are insane. I will give you a little nugget about “the bacon float.” The last float in the parade is a large American flag float that says “to Honor America” on the front. This is the longest float WDW had and looks like long pieces of bacon thus giving it the name “the bacon float.” When cast members coordinate through walkie-talkies during the parade, this is what they call it for reference. She’s a beauty but she makes you want to eat some grits and eggs too!
The other cool thing people are always dying to know about is the underground utilidor. I’m sure you’ve heard all kinds of crazy rumors about Disney underground. My favorite is that Walt Disney’s body is locked away in some secret chamber (get real guys. He’s living on an island with Elvis and Tupac). Now, I must confess, in college I had a friend working for Disney one summer who snuck us down underground because we were so curious (shhhh, guys… don’t be a NARC, and write that word down too, kids). Having said that, I kind of already knew a little about the utilidor, but was really curious if there were hidden nuggets and fun facts. Then I realized, it’s Disney, so of course there were.
I won’t give away too much about it, you’ll have to take the tour for that, but I will say I give “mad props” to the cast members that have to use it every day to get to their respected posts. I would get lost “erry” day having to navigate that puppy. Needless to say, it didn’t disappoint.
Something you should know about this tour is that it would seem to be one that you can do once and be done, but I would argue you might get a different experience from doing it again. I would suspect they would do different attractions at different times and you might encounter different things going on underground etc…
All in all, I absolutely loved this experience. If you are like me, and want more in-depth information whilst you are walking through the park and getting to see some backstage areas, you will love it too! If you have already done this, I would love to hear about your own experience and your favorite part. Feel free to comment below and RIP, Main Street Electrical Parade.
For further information or to book this tour, go HERE!
Thank you to @apopkapete and @mickeys_photographer for the use of their photos in this post!