Backstage Magic Tour (Part One) – 2012 New Years Celebration in Walt Disney World


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.

Backstage Magic Tour Name Tag

Backstage Magic Tour Name Tag

 

EPCOT

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.

Fortwilderness Lodge

Fortwilderness Lodge

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.

Snow White Topiary

Snow White Topiary – Sneak peek of what we saw!

To be continued ….

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!

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