How many times have you seen a family walking around Walt Disney World escorted by the Guest Services cast members in the plaid vests and wondered—who is that? Is that a celebrity? I mean who doesn’t want to feel like a VIP or a celebrity . . . whether it is your first visit to Walt Disney World or your 81st. A shout out to Walt Disney World’s amazing Cast Members who make everyone visiting the parks and resorts feel special and magical, it is safe to say that everyone comes away from their vacation feeling like they’ve been treated royally. But, there are some experiences you can add to your vacation that will make you feel like a celebrity. Here are 8 of those VIP experiences at Walt Disney World:
8. Wild Africa Trek
The Wild Africa Trek is a one-of-a-kind experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. For this special tour you go on a walking tour through the Gorilla Falls Trails and the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction with a guide. You will learn so much about all the African Animals on the attractions, but the experiences you have are what make this so unforgettable—and really make you feel like you are getting the celebrity treatment. You will feed the Hippos, cross the rope bridges over the Nile Crocodiles, have a special safari truck that stops to view animals, and enjoy an amazing snack meal in the hut overlooking the savanna. It is a breathtaking experience, and one that I highly recommend adding to your Animal Kingdom itinerary.
7. After Hours Events
One of my favorite times to experience the parks is at night—the glow of all the lights make them even more magical. And the best nighttime hours to spend in the parks are part of the After Hours events. These require a separate ticket purchase (not to be confused with Evening Extra Magic Hours that are complimentary for Disney resort guests), and allow in a limited number of people to the park. Currently Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom offer After Hours events, and Hollywood Studios has had them in the past. During these special events you can expect virtually no lines, and very short wait times on attractions. You also get all the bottled drinks (soft drinks and water) that you want, along with popcorn and ice cream novelties. I’ve done the After Hours event twice at Magic Kingdom and once at Hollywood Studios, and my favorite thing about the event is that you can walk around and no one else may be in sight depending on where you are in the park. It almost feels a little strange like you aren’t supposed to be there, but it is such a celebrity feeling like you’ve rented out the park for yourself and your closest 1000 friends (give or take). In the summer months Typhoon Lagoon waterpark offers a great after-hours events, H20 Glow Nights. This psychedelic nighttime party gives you great access to the parks slides and attractions, and a fun party atmosphere.
6. Backstage Magic Tour
While I love all of the guided tours I’ve taken at Walt Disney World, the Backstage Magic Tour takes the cake—and it really makes you feel like a celebrity VIP. The Backstage Magic tour is guided by two Adventures by Disney guides, so you know right off the bat you are going to be treated to exclusive access, wonderful storytelling, and lots of Disney magic! The tour itself could change based on access and availability, but on my recent experience we went backstage at the American Adventure, visited Creative Costuming & Central shops where they repair ride vehicles and audio-animatronics, we saw how Rivers of Light is produced, explored the famed Utilidoors at Magic Kingdom, and we were dined on a delicious lunch at the signature restaurant, Tiffins at Animal Kingdom. It is a 7 hour tour, but the time flies by, and you leave with such a great appreciation for all that goes in to operating Walt Disney World Resort, as well as all of the imaginative details that the Imagineers, Designers, and Creative Cast Members put into making our vacations an immersive experience.
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5. Ride in a Minnie Van
Walt Disney World resort offers many complimentary transportation options to get you from your resort to the parks, waterparks, and Disney Springs. Buses, monorails, boats, and gondolas are all waiting to whisk you away to your destination for the day. But, if you want to step it up a notch, and feel like a real celebrity, hire a “Minnie Van” to take you where you need to go. These adorable red and white polka dot cars are driven by Disney Cast Members, but you use the Lyft app to “call” one for pick up. The Minnie Vans are immaculately clean, have soundtracks playing geared to where you are, have knowledgeable drivers, and they have special access to some locations that other ride shares do not. Each time I use one I feel like a VIP.
4. Concierge Level
The deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World are a great experience for your resort stay, but if you want to feel like a true celebrity, book a concierge or club level room at one of these resorts. For a nightly premium you will gain access to several perks that regular rooms do not get. There is a Club Lounge that provides food and drink throughout the day. Breakfast might include pastries and a couple of hot dishes, snacks throughout the day, and heavy hors d’oeuvres in the evening, with soft drinks, beer, wine, cordials depending on the time of day. It is so convenient, and sometimes decadent feeling, just to walk down and grab a snack, or pick something up on your way back in from the parks. And I’ve been known to make a meal out of the evening offerings. You also have access to the amazing concierge staff who can assist you with various things during your vacation as needed, and prior to your trip you have the option to purchase extra FastPasses if you are staying Club Level. You even start out your trip as a VIP, normally you are escorted up to the lounge to a private area to check in. You even have to use your Magic Band on the elevator to access the exclusive club floor.
3. Fireworks Cruise
Watching one of Walt Disney World’s Fireworks shows is the perfect ending to an evening in the parks. But, if you want to do it like a celebrity, consider booking a fireworks cruise. At Epcot you depart from the Yacht Club marina, take a tour around Crescent Lake and the canal down toward Hollywood Studios before tying up under the France/UK bridge in the World Showcase Lagoon to watch the show so close you can feel it. At Magic Kingdom you can charter a pontoon boat from any of the deluxe marinas that will set anchor out in front of the train station and pipe in the music to enjoy the show. There are even ways to plus this experience by decorating the boat, or ordering food to be on board (every cruise includes drinks and snacks, but you can add actual food if you want). Or, the next level is to charter the Grand One Yacht from the Grand Floridian to watch the fireworks in absolute luxury. You should plan on making reservations for the cruises 180 days in advance, but they don’t always open the booking that early.
2. The Chef’s Table at Victoria & Alberts
There are now several signature restaurants that offer a chef’s table experience, but the cream of the crop is Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian resort. If you are a foodie, this VIP experience is the must-do for you, and it will truly make you feel like a celebrity. The meal is served at the kitchen and the chef caters the multi-course meal to your tastes—while at the same time challenging you to try new foods and presentations. You can also add an option wine pairing. The Chef’s Table at Victoria & Albert’s is a tough reservation to get, but if you can it is a culinary experience of a lifetime.
1. Private VIP Tour
The ultimate way to feel like a celebrity is to experience the parks like one—hiring a private VIP guide for the day. With a guide you are picked up at your resort and backdoored into the parks (you have a private bag check and ticket scan, and you are greeted with snacks and drinks). Once you are in the parks your VIP guide will take you wherever you wish utilizing the FastPass line for every attraction that offers it. While you tour the park they tell you trivia and point out details. Your guide could assist with dining or get you VIP viewing for evening fireworks shows. And, you can park hop (if you have an eligible ticket). I was able to experience the VIP Tour with my travel agency at a conference, and it was the most relaxing and easy-going day in the parks, yet we still rode so many attractions we lost count. And, yes, I did wonder if people were looking at us and trying to figure out if we were legit celebrities.
What are your favorite ways to feel like a VIP or a celebrity when you visit Walt Disney World?