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Former Marine Escorts VIPs Through Disney World for $2.5K

Walt Disney World guests high five VIP Tour Guide at EPCOT
Credit: Disney

Disney Parks are growing so much that it’s virtually impossible to visit all of the attractions in one theme park in a day, let alone an entire campus of theme parks like Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort. Families who are willing to drop the price of admission are in for a whirlwind experience if they don’t plan some goals, make advanced reservations, and leave some room for error. So, who wouldn’t love a VIP tour guide while navigating the beast that is Disney World?

Main Street is busy in Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

Credit: Jason M Ramos/ Flickr

Walt Disney World offers its own tour guide VIP experience that was initially reserved for high-profile guests whose presence could disturb the natural flow of the parks. This service used to be complimentary and involved backdoor entrances and other exclusivity that preserved the magic for the aforementioned high-profile guests, as well as everyday parkgoers. That all changed one day when word of the Private VIP Tour service got out and changed things forever.

Now, Guests willing to shell out thousands of dollars for Disney VIP tour services can do so for an experience including a private vehicle, an expert tour guide, some Lightning Lane access, and more. It costs roughly $450 to $900 per hour, not including park admission.

VIP Tour Guide and Former Marine Saves the Disney Day

Enter: Michael Hewell. A former marine, lifelong Disney fanatic, and former Disney VIP guide, Hewell decided to start his own endeavor when, as Business Insider puts it, the “discreet service offered gratis” transformed into a “formulaic high-end experience.” Michael’s VIPs was born. His private tour guide service is intended to help families make the most of their Disney vacation and works on a word-of-mouth basis.

Michael Hewell runs a VIP Tour Guide business mostly servicing Walt Disney World Resort

Credit: David Steele

His professional history with Disney World started as a ride attendant at the Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion attraction, where his attitude and exemplary customer service skills were quickly noticed. After three years with Disney’s VIP relations department, Hewell was ready to use his love and encyclopedic knowledge of Walt Disney and the theme parks to create magic for families on his own terms.

Rates for Michael’s VIPs may seem high, starting at $2,500 for a group of eight people, but the Disney Resort VIP experience can start closer to $7,000 a day for a group of ten in peak season. While neither experience may be considered affordable by the average theme park guest, the difference in price is still palpable.

How Hewell Rivals A Disney VIP Tour

Michael Hewell adamantly ensures that he gets his clients the best Disney park experience without any line-cutting or nefarious practices. Because Michael’s VIPs doesn’t engage in traditional forms of advertising, usually, a travel agent or a referred client will reach out to Hewell directly. In reference to this practice, Hewell told Business Insider, “When you break into certain social circles, a certain private school, then you become the VIP service.”

A Disney VIP Tour Guide Experience could include Character Dining

Credit: Disney

Basically, Micahel Hewell and his team of 17 know exactly what they’re doing. They know the right dining experiences to attend to meet a character without waiting in line, what parks to visit on which days of the week, and what experiences may be worth a client’s time – plus, his connections help him book exclusive experiences. Luckily, most of his clients have the money to spend on such luxuries.

While Michael Hewell is primarily in the business of being a Disney World VIP guide, many clients request similar services at nearby Universal Studios, which has built up its Harry Potter attractions.

If you’re looking to spot Michael or one of his tour guides on Main Street, it’ll be unlikely. They strive to blend in with the park crowd and never display advertising of any kind while on the job.

Have you ever taken a VIP tour at Disney? Let us know your experience in the comments!

About Lana Porter

Lana has never lost a Disney Trivia night. Maybe it’s the hundreds of times she’s been to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, her love for Disney’s ’90’s era hand-animated musicals, or the fact that she’s often likened to cartoon characters, but Disney and its magic have a special place in her heart. Her favorite Disney experiences include the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, eating Mickey Bars on the PeopleMover, and crying during the Magic Kingdom fireworks show. One day she hopes to be chosen as the rebel spy on Star Tours. When Lana isn’t Park Hopping, she’s at home reading books of all topics, watching her favs on Disney+, or snuggling her two cats, which she swears are not named after Disney characters. She loves surprising people with her knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but admits she is still catching up with Star Wars. She is happy to combine her excitement for writing with her love for Disney-style storytelling and share what she can with the world!