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Disney Vacation Part 3 – The Tour of Magic Kingdom

I finally got some photos uploaded to make this post worth while late late last night (at least relative to this post). That said, I felt it would be a good time to blog about day 3 of the trip to Orlando. The days focus was a tour we had booked at the Magic Kingdom. It was a 5 to 6 hour tour, that was supposed to take you behind the scenes, through the park etc. We were booked for 9:00am, so we had to start early.

We arrive insanely early (in fact, almost a whole hour before the park opened… The express monorail wasn’t even running yet…), so we ended up standing outside the gates of the magic kingdom for a little while. It has been YEARS since I have gotten to the Magic Kingdom before it opened. I had forgotten that there is a little show they put on before you enter the park to welcome you in and to “start the magic”. I think Amber really enjoyed being able to see that, and it definitely was a great way to start the day.

We then proceeded to the tour start location. I could blog the entire tour, but this would be like a 10,000 word post, and I’m already tired. Let’s see if I can cover some of the highlights…

The Magic Kingdom is designed very much like a movie. The journey from the parking lot to the park is sort of like the trip to the movie theater. As you get closer to the theater doors, you normally see billboards, or other things designed to highlight the major attraction. There are quite a few things that does this, but the castle in the distance is probably the biggest one… You know the main character is there, but it’s not time for you to meet him/her yet. Upon entering the Magic Kingdom, the first thing you experience is the smell of popcorn. It’s always there, just to right of the main entrance. You then have main street. Main street represents the credits…. To enter and leave the park, you see those credits, in almost the exact same order you would at the start and end of a movie. The credits are shown on the windows of the shops, and each one has some unique meaning regarding the people who help build the park, or currently are running it, etc. Here’s one of the more famous ones:


After taking a walk down main street, we talked about the hub, and how it pulls people certain ways. Each direction has a sign or object (called “wienies”) that is designed to pull you into that portion of the park, the castle of course, being the biggest one :-). We also talked about  a little bit about the partner’s statue in the center of the park, and what it looks like if you look at it in profile… Also mentioned during this segment was some discussion of the force perspective used throughout the park to make things seem bigger than they are to guests (including the castle). And one last little tidbit: the color of the ground is not arbitrary either, the red used for pavement throughout the park is designed to make photos look better (developed by Kodak).

We then took a trip to Adventure Land, and cut in line at the jungle adventure ride. Our tour guide took over the boat if you will and gave us a unique trip through the jungle, pointing out some hidden Mickies, as well as talking about how the ride works (and why the water is intentionally dirty). From there we proceeded to Pirates of the Carribean, where again we sped through the line, and got a tour of the ride while riding the ride. We talked about how Pirates has been haunted since the park opened by a ghost named George (he was one of the builders who died while building the ride). The ghost has been known to cause the ride to break down and open doors… So much so, that they have added a “say Goodnight to George over the rides intercom” to the shutdown checklist for the ride. If the fail to do this, boats get stuck in the ride, and other various problems with the rides animetronics and systems are almost guaranteed to happen the next day.

From there, we took our first trip back stage, where we saw the parade float parking area, as well as how garbage leaves the park, and where the water for Splash Mountain is stored. Pretty cool to see where the magic all gets worked on :-). We also learned about Disney’s evacuation plans here… There are 3 different plans, depending on the crisis, that are in place should something occur.  Only plan A (the main plan to shut down the park early and get people out as fast as possible) has been executed according to our guide, and it was only executed once… On September 11th.  Plan B involves the main entrance being shut down… which would be a scary thought if they ever had to execute that plan…

We had lunch in independence square, where we learned about the river of poo running through this area of the park… And yes, it really is meant to be a historically accurate river of poo. Lunch was great, we got to ask some questions about other things, such as Discovery Cove (a park that is gone at Disney), and Body Wars (an area of Epcot that is no longer open). We also got to talk about the expansion that would be coming to the Magic Kingdom in 2011/2012. It’s being added to the back side of the park, where 20,000 leagues used to be. I managed to find a hole in their wall.. Here’s what it looks like so far (not much to see):


After lunch, we made our way to the Haunted Mansion, and learned about how parts of the ride work. We got to cut in line again (yay), and see sort of a back entrance. Amber even got to sit with the tour guide and have him point stuff out along the way…There’s a hidden Micky on the table in one part of the ride that actually isn’t supposed to be a hidden Micky… Everytime the imagineers come through and work on the ride, they restore the ride to what it should be, only to have the cast members put it back later. He also pointed out to us that Mr. Toad’s statue from Mr. Toad’s wild ride (a ride that has been replaced by Winnie the Pooh), is in the animal graveyard outside the mansion :-).  I tried to get a picture a little later of a picture in Pooh’s ride of Mr. Toad handing the deed to Mr. Owl. How touching :-).

From there, it was into the tunnels beneath the park. It’s not as exciting as one might think, but we did get to see how it connects throughout the park, and how the employees are able to move around. The tunnels were a solution to Walt’s Space Cowboy problem… I guess in Disneyland (where they don’t have the tunnels), there was a day where a cowboy from adventure land was trying to get to the staff parking lot. To get there, he cut through tomorrow land, where he ran into Walt himself, who asked what a cowboy was doing in his tomorrowland. Poor kid… but yeah, Walt didn’t want space cowboys in his park.

At that point the tour was pretty much over. There are a ton more facts that were shared with us over the 6 hour tour, but to type them all down would take… 6 hours. Needless to say, it was very cool, and probably the coolest “new” thing I did on the trip.

After the tour, we stayed in the Magic Kingdom, exploring the rest of the park. At one point in the day, we got caught in the “celebration” parade, which was basically a giant street party. Amber really got into it:


We stayed at the park until the park closed at 11:00pm. Basically a really long day. In fact, it was after 11:00 because we even did some shopping and watched the parade from a distance. We said our goodnight to Walt, and made our way back to the hotel.