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The final instalment of our 2012 New Years Celebration Trip Report! If you are just joining us you can catch up by reading the previous Trip Reports.
For our final full day in Walt Disney World we wanted to visit all four parks in one day. We did the same thing on a previous trip. We call it our “Best Of” day where we ride all our favourite attractions one last time! Our day started at Animal Kingdom. It was the first time we’ve been there before it opened! Our first plan of attack was grabbing Fast Passes for Expedition Everest and wait in Standby. There was a mad rush of people but we got our Fast Passes after choosing the line where the machine decides to break down. We then hopped into Standby (while it was only 15 minutes) and got put on the very back row! You can really feel a lot of the drops by sitting in the back, it was awesome!
While there was still time before we could use our Fast Passes we walked over to Dinosaur and rode that one last time. Once we smuggled our dino friend back to the present it was time to use our Fast Passes for Expedition Everest.This time we asked if we could go in the front row. We had to wait a bit longer but it was well worth it!
That was all the time we had for but before we left we got our photos taken with Doug and Russel from UP! It took a bit longer than we hoped. We got up to the very front of the line then it was their break time. Had to wait an extra 15 minutes for them to return. But once they came back we got our fun pictures taken! There’s some resemblance between John and Russel, don’t you think?
Next on our “Best Of” was Hollywood Studios. As usual the Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania were completely gone by this point. Thankfully there were still some left for everything else! Grabbed Fast Passes for Rockin’ Roller Coaster. We were going to wait in Standby for Star Tours but a guest caught us just before getting in line and gave us two Fast Passes they couldn’t use. We thanked the generous stranger and went on our way to a Galaxy Far Far Away.
By now it was after 12pm and we were both pretty hungry! It was decided that we wanted to head to Pizza Planet for lunch. It was going to be busy no matter where we went. It’s a terrible idea to eat at peak times but at this point in the trip we didn’t mind.
On our way to Pizza Planet we passed two gentlemen that appeared to be filming. Being the polite Canadians that we are, we simply didn’t bother them. While passing, one of them asked to talk to me for a moment. Now normally anywhere else I’d tell the person no thank you since it’s usually for money or along those lines. Since this is Disney, how can I resist?
The gentlemen explained that they were filming a commercial that is going to be shown on TV throughout the Disney Resorts. They called it the “ABCs of Disney”. I was wearing my, now infamous, Duffy Ears and they said it was perfect for the letter D. They asked me to sit in a chair and say “D is for Duffy!” while pointing to my Duffy Ears. They also did a few shots with John having him say “The ABCs for Disney!”.
I have received more attention with my Duffy Ears than I like to admit. I was incredibly lucky to be chosen to be used for a commercial. Now who knows if they’ll actually use the portion they recorded but it’s still awesome none the less. So keep an eye out for the “ABCs of Disney” on the TV at any of the Walt Disney World Resorts! They never told us when it will be airing but I imagine some time this year! If you happen to see it please let me know!
After lunch we walked right over to The Muppets 3D and checked out a show that Phineas and Ferb were doing right down the street. We then made our way down to Rockin’ Roller Coasted and hopped into the Single Rider line. Our Fast Passes weren’t valid yet so we figured we’d do this while we were waiting. Met with a nice family from Chicago and it was their first time in Walt Disney World. Gave them a few tips and suggestions! It’s always a treat getting to share tips with strangers!
After that we headed on over to the Tower of Terror. This is the only attraction that I still get nervous about even though I’ve been on it multiple times. By the time we were finished it was time to ride Rockin’ Roller Coaster one last time!
We decided to try our luck and see if we could get a reservation for dinner at the 50s Prime Time Cafe. Lucked out and were able to get a table for 7pm! There was still two hours before dinner so we grabbed a Weezy-Breezy-Freezy (slush) and waited in line to get our photos with Buzz and Woody!
Before heading off to dinner we walked through One Man’s Dream and enjoyed all the photos and information about all the Disney Resorts around the world.
For dinner I had the Roast with Vanilla Coke and for dessert, cheesecake! The restaurant was full but we were put way in the back corner where it was nice and quiet! It was a fantastic meal to have for our final meal of the trip.
Before heading off to EPCOT we rode Tower of Terror one more time for good measure. Next up was EPCOT. We took the boat all the way there! Sadly by the time we reached EPCOT we noticed the time and we weren’t going to have enough time to do anything in EPCOT. We arrived at the World Showcase and took one final walk around before we headed to the entrance of the park to take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.
Arrived at the Magic Kingdom just in time for The Magic, Memories, and You! This was our first time this trip that we encounter an extremely rude guest. The Cast Members were asking everyone to move forward to make room for other guests. The lady in front of me refused to move so we moved past her because there was this huge gap in front of her and she refused to move. When we moved she grabbed my shoulder and said “Don’t stand there I’ve been waiting here for over an hour!”. I politely told her that the Cast Members asked us to move and that she wasn’t moving so I did. She muttered something under her breath but I wasn’t going to let her ruin our evening!
After “The Magic, Memories, and You!” and Wishes we went to ride our favourite attractions before park closing! The park was nearly empty, as a result we were given the option to ride Splash Mountain more than once. If it wasn’t cold and we weren’t wet it would have been a great idea. Big Thunder Mountain was right after and it’s by far my favourite attraction to do in the evening. Next was The Haunted Mansion and right after was Space Mountain! We were literally the last group to ride Space Mountain. It was weird to see literally no one behind you as the line in front of you is moving.
The park was now closed but we weren’t ready to go yet! It was the perfect opportunity to grab photos of Cinderella’s Castle lit up with icicles without the massive crowds. There was maybe a handful of guests doing the same as us. Captured a few great photos!
It was time to say “see you real soon” to the Magic Kingdom as we made our way down Main Street thinking about the magical trip we just experienced. I’m extremely happy to have been able to see all the Christmas decorations and celebrate new years at the place “Where Dreams Come True”.
That’s the end of our 2012 New Years Celebration Trip Report! It was a long one but we did it! Really hope that everyone enjoyed it and the next Trip Report I do is hopefully from Disneyland Paris! Thank you for reading.
This is our second half of the Backstage Magic Tour Trip Report! To those just joining you can read the first edition of the trip report! Also just as a warning I will be describing what we’ve seen on the tour which could reveal some of the magic. If you wish to not read this, that is understandable! You can read the other Trip Reports that pertain to our New Years Celebration 2012 Trip! Lets pick up where we left off!
Ever wonder where all the plants within the parks are grown? They do it right on property for a vast majority of the plants you see in the parks. One woman is in charge of it all and she does an amazing job! They were already in the process of growing the plants for the yearly Flower & Garden Festival in EPCOT.
They also grow all the topiaries you see in the parks, especially in EPCOT. They are built with wireframes and have their own watering system built right in so they stay nice and green while they are on display. We got to see where they were all kept when they are either being created or kept for the next event.
This was one of the rare places we were able to take photos since there were no strollers to be seen. There were many unfinished and in progress topiaries in the building. I managed to take a lot of photos of them.
Those topiaries that are not going to be used or are beyond repair are put into what they call the “graveyard”. They are put in the sun just outside the building and allow the moss and plants on the wireframes to turn into compost. It’s a bit eerie seeing what is clearly Disney characters sitting in the sun and slowly rotting away.
One of the more impressive Topiaries was Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars. They were fairly gigantic and extremely detailed. Sadly I did not get a photo of these guys.
The next stop on our tour was Central Shops. This is where Disney creates almost everything that is used in the parks. Vehicles for attractions, decor, character heads, animatronics, and almost anything else you can think of.
The main area of Central Shops is roughly 9 football fields long. This is where repairs, touch ups, and construction of new projects happen. It’s best describe as an assembly line. Where it goes in one end of the shop and comes out the other when it’s done.
Every imaginable trade is under this roof. Electricians, Plumbers, Mechanics, etc. You name it and there’s probably someone that does it.
In the main area we saw vehicles for Space Mountain, it’s a small world, Aladdin, elephants from Jungle Cruise, and other unknown pieces of attractions. Cast Members would either work on them in that spot or carry them off to one of the small shops.
We were shown a room where all the character heads are kept when they are being repaired or created. They didn’t allow us to go into the room but we got to peek through the window on the door. The heads were laying in such a way that we could only see the hole where your head would go. It was rather difficult to see what characters we were looking at. I did however manage to see the head of Winnie The Pooh sitting there, it’s as creepy as you think.
Next we got to see some animatronics that was in the process of being repaired. One of the baby elephants from the Jungle Cruise was being repainted as the water it was sitting in took it’s told on the poor guy. Carmen showed us that there is a lot of detail where guests will see the animal above water, but below the water line there isn’t much in terms of detail, since guests aren’t going to see that part. It had a simple coat of grey paint and looked rather plain.
Another animatronic we saw was one of the birds from the Enchanted Tiki Room. They were testing out some new technology to allow the birds to have more fluid movement. It was connected to a small box with various buttons on it. Pressing them in certain combinations would result in different movements. We got to play around with this and make the bird move around!
After Central Shops it was off to our last stop of the tour, the Magic Kingdom! We arrived just before the 3 o’clock parade “Celebrate A Dream Come True”. Our bus parked just behind City Hall and we went through one of the Cast Member entrances to Main Street. They had a spot reserved just for us right where the Parade begins. Carmen gave us a challenge to see if we can find the drivers inside the floats. I couldn’t see any because of the sun unfortunately.
Carmen explained to us how they keep the music in sync throughout the entire parade and keep it going as the parade moves down the street. As most people know there are speakers hidden throughout the park and these are used to have the over laying beat for the music. Some speakers are only used during parades and are reviled when it begins. An example are small windows on the buildings along Main Street will slide open and close when the parade is over.
Then there is music that comes from the floats themselves, with lyrics and sounds/dialogue from the characters. It’s done is such a way that it sounds like everything is coming right from the floats themselves. Also to keep all the floats in sync with each other there are small metal plates along the parade route that will trigger when it is to begin it’s loop over again.
It’s a little complicated but the result is an in sync and flawless sounding parade for all the guests to enjoy!
Once the parade had passed us we walked down Main Street and we were shown all the names that you can see if you look closely at the windows along Main Street. The names are of those that have contributed something extraordinary to the company. There are specific individuals who worked with Walt himself up there. There is even a window that is dedicated to all the Cast Members who make magic happen everyday!
Some time you are enjoying Main Street take a moment to look at the windows and take note of the names you see on them.
After walking down Main Street we went to the right and walked towards Tomorrowland, we then went backstage right by the washrooms before you entered into Tomorrowland. I noticed that just before going from backstage to onstage there are mirrors so Cast Members can check themselves one last time.
Next up was heading down into the Utilidors under the Magic Kingdom. This is how Cast Members get from one end of the park to the other in a reasonable amount of time. Also it ensures that you do not see a Cast Member who works in Tomorrowland walking through Adventureland. Walt wanted to ensure the guests immersion was not interrupted.
This is where they transport food, characters, Cast Members, trash, and supplies across the park without interrupting the guest experience. If you notice you will never see a Cast Member dragging a huge pile of garbage across the hub in front of the Castle or Mickey making his way through Fantasyland to get where he needs to go. They always just appear or disappear. Pay close attention to where you see characters head off to when they are going for tea next time!
The garbage shoot is a tube that runs along the ceiling and it’s a vacuum that sucks the garbage through to where it’s all kept. There are bicycles everywhere, these are used by Cast Members to get from one place to another rather quickly. You will also notice battery powered vehicles carrying supplies back and forth.
It was very surreal seeing all the different Cast Members in their costumes. Unfortunately we did not see any head or face characters in the tunnels. There were huge maps of the tunnels at every major “intersection”. I can see how one can easily become lost.
The Utilidors are actually built above ground level and the Magic Kingdom park is technically the second floor. The reason for this is since the area is mainly swamp and building anything below ground level would result in flooding.
That is it for our time at the Magic Kingdom and it was back to the bus to head back to EPCOT.
Back to EPCOT
Sadly this is where our tour ended. As a gift for being on the tour we were given a special collectible pin that you can only get from coming on the tour. We were told to make sure we don’t allow a 10 year told trade us for them in the parks.
We then spent the rest of our day in EPCOT taking in the attractions and beer! Tried MISSION: Space on the more intense side for the first time.
The entire tour was much more than I was expecting. Learning about how parts of the parks operate is completely fascinating. For me personally it didn’t take away from the magic but only enhanced it. The price tag is a little steep but if you are a huge Disney fan then it’s worth every penny, and who can say no to a collectible pin? I highly recommend this tour if you love learning how Disney creates some of their magic and wish to do something different for your next visit!
Thank you for reading and if you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them!
This trip we wanted to do an activity we have never down before. Backstage Magic Tour was one of those activities. It’s an all day tour which takes us to all four parks and we get to see the backstage areas. While we don’t get to see everything because that would take longer than a day, you get to see enough to make it worth the price tag of $229 per person. Also it’s a 16+ only tour, meaning no children are allowed.
As a warning this edition of our trip report will mention what we saw on the tour and will reveal some of the magic. You may wish to stop reading now if you do not want to spoil anything. You can always read the past editions of this trip report! This report will also be split into two parts.
During the tour we were told if we “did not see strollers” we were not allowed to take photos. With that there are not many photos with this trip report. But I did take photos when we were allowed.
Our day started off in EPCOT right after the bag check to the park. There were a total of 32 people on the tour. This is the max number of guests in one tour. We had two magnificent Cast Members as our tour guides, Carmen & Wayne. Both have been with the Disney Corporation for years. We all got special lanyards to indicate we were on the tour. Since I was wearing my now infamous Chip Lanyard, Carmen decided to call me “Chip” instead of Chris.
Once everyone was signed in and a quick washroom stop we were off to the bus! The first stop on the tour was EPCOT and the World Showcase. We drove around the backside of World Showcase and stopped right behind the American Pavilion. From the back you can see they don’t decorate the parts of the building the guests do not see. The back of the building was rather plain and uninteresting.
We got off the bus and walked from the back of the front of the pavilion where guests usually are. World Showcase was still not open and there were Cast Members working on all the plants in the area. Carmen was our tour guide since the groups were split into two. She was explaining how they built the building in the pavilion. It’s all about perspective. The building itself is actually five stories and it is built to appear as if it’s only three (since that’s how buildings were back then). By just glancing at the building and not paying much attention is appears the way they intend you to see it. But upon further investigation, if you take the time to look, you can see it’s all perspective. As you get closer to the building you can see the doors get much taller. Even someone who is well over 6 feet will feel short.
Next we got to go in behind The American Experience show. The entire show is on a rails system and all the “actors” and set pieces are on rails that move back and forth below the stage while the show is happening. It was smooth and made next to no noise. To the guests you can’t even tell the transitions are happening! If you’ve seen the show you know how big the stage is, imagine that but 5 times as big in the back! Now it was off to our next destination.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The first stop at Hollywood Studios was the Costume Department! You can see part of the department when you go on the Backlot Tour. We got to see concept art for a lot of the costumes while they are in the design phase. There were a few costumes on display from past shows such as the Tapestry of Nations that was in EPCOT.
We got to go through the area where they actually maintain, repair, alter, and sew the costumers. For the face and head character performers (the Cast Members who wear the heads and those that do not) they each get more than one outfit and are custom fitted to the performer. They are also outfitted with RFIDs to keep track of the costume.
Disney Princess performers can be “best friends” with other Disney Princesses. Meaning a performer can play more than one Disney Princess. One day they may be Cinderella then the next they are Belle. Of course the performer has to resemble the princess in some way in order to be best friends with more than one. If you a best friends with Princess Tiana, you are not going to be best friends with Ariel and vice versa.
They have a machine that will cut fabric in very specific and complicated patterns for the more elaborate designs. The design is inputted into the computer and then it will cut the fabric.
Next up was the Tower of Terror. We got to see how the attraction actually works. The elevators are not on rails when they are rolling across the floor in the beginning. There are sensors in the floor telling the elevator where to go and lets the computer know where it is. Once the elevator reaches the “drop” it is actually on a Dumbwaiter. When Imagineers were designing the ride they discovered by elevator manufactures that gravity does not pull elevators fast enough. This is why the attraction is actually using a dumbwaiter system. The elevator is actually pulled up and down to simulate the feeling of free fall.
Before heading off to the Animal Kingdom we got to use the restroom right by Rockin’ Roller coaster. Meaning we got to come from backstage to “onstage”. Which was a really neat feeling since the guests in the park really had no idea what we were doing!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom was our next stop. We were just outside of the park where they store the floats for Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade. It’s a long garage with each float one behind the other. The tires on all the vehicles are not inflated with air, they are inflated with some other substance. This is to ensure there are no flat tires while the vehicle is moving. One less thing to worry about while the parade is happening! Each of the vehicles have emergency escapes for the character performers in case they need to exit the vehicle. The character performers have to be lifted onto them.
The performers that are attached to the animals are completely harnessed in, because of this if the wind velocity is above a specific threshold they are not allowed to go out in the parade. Imagine a performer getting caught by high winds and crashing into guests? That wouldn’t be good at all.
Carmen showed up the cell tower that is in clear view of the Animal Kingdom and is dressed up to look like an actual tree. From far away you can’t tell but from where we were it’s obvious that it isn’t a tree.
Fort Wilderness Lodge – Lunch at Whispering Canyon Cafe
We were taken to the Whispering Canyon Cafe in Fort Wilderness Lodge for lunch. It was anything but whispering happening! Our server was named MT who was possibly the loudest, yet most hilarious, server I have ever had! She was an older woman and she claims she was the “cute one”.
It was a family style lunch with chicken, ribs, pulled pork, corn bread, potatoes, and baked beans. It was delicious and possibly one of the better lunches we’ve had on the trip! It was included in the price of the tour. While eating we got to know others on the tour with us. There was a group of teachers from Ontario, Canada and a couple from Alberta. Quite a bit of Canadians!
MT went around the table asking everyone what they did for a living. She poked fun at everyone at the table (playfully of course). Once she got to me and I told her I was a Software Developer all she said was “Finally someone with a real job!”.
Once everyone had their fingers cleaned from all the ribs it was back to the bus and off to the Horticulture area.
This concludes the first part of our Backstage Magic Tour Trip Report! The second half we will be visiting the Horticulture area, Central Shops, and the Utilidors at the Magic Kingdom! If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them!