Is the Disney VIP Classics Tour Worth It?
Around the same time that I fell in love with the idea of taking the girls to Disney World this summer, I also learned about a relatively new VIP tour option in the Magic Kingdom that sounded perfect for our trip goals, stamina, and timeframe. If you aren't familiar, Disney World offers a variety of special tours ranging from full blown private VIP tours that are $400 - $600 per hour with a seven hour minimum to one hour $30 tours that show you how they care for the animals at Animal Kingdom. In other words, there is a wide variety of 'extras' you can add to your Disney days if you are so inclined.
While a full blown private Disney VIP tour would be amazing, we didn't have thousands of dollars to add to our budget to bring that dream to life. However, because our trip was so short, and our kids are still pretty little, we decided to pull the trigger on the Disney Classics VIP Tour both to enjoy it ourselves, and to hopefully help others determine if it might be the right fit for their family.
First, here are the official details about the tour that I am sure are subject to change. The Disney Classics VIP tour rings in at $199 per person for those ages 3+, and that does not include the cost of theme park admission. Thankfully, our still under three-year-old toddler was free both when getting into the park and on this tour. In fact, most families on our tour had an under three-year-old with them. The tour currently takes place on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at both 8:30AM and 1:30PM in the Magic Kingdom.
They advertise that you will receive special access into up to 10 classic Magic Kingdom attractions, which may include:
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Jungle Cruise
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- “it’s a small world”
- Peter Pan’s Flight
All of the attractions that you ride are free of height restrictions, so it is the perfect match for families with small children. Once we committed to spending the money for the tour, I got really excited since I had never done anything like that at Disney. I also really loved the idea that we didn't have to plan anything for that morning other than to just show up. It also meant that I got to use all of our FastPasses for ride reservations later that day without spending any of them on the 'classic' attractions in the morning.
Inside the Disney VIP Classics Tour
On the day of the tour, after taking the monorail from The Polynesian, we entered Magic Kingdom and checked in a little before 8:30AM at a desk set-up just outside of the Town Square Theater. Once we checked in for the tour we were told we still had 20 minutes or so to wander around Main Street, take pictures in front of the castle, and hit up Starbucks. Thank goodness!
Around 9AM everyone gathered back together at the tour check-in area, did our introductions, and we started our magical day. Not surprisingly, the three official tour guides, one coordinator, and one coordinator-in-training, were all insanely friendly, personable, and patient. That is not surprising given the level of customer service you can find in the Disney Parks, but what was surprising was that even after four hours in the July heat (when I looked and felt like a dying rat), none of them looked at all sweaty or rundown. This includes the one fabulous guide who was literally 9 months pregnant. I honestly have no idea how they pulled that off, but it was impressive. Disney magic, I guess.
Once our group of about 15 got started, the pace didn't stop. We began by watching the opening show in front of the castle. This is something I normally would skip in favor of riding attractions, but my toddler nearly lost her mind with joy at all of the princesses and characters coming out at once, so I'm actually really thankful they had us watch it.
When the brief opening show concluded, we beelined for the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh that already had a 20 minute wait at just after 9AM. Of course, with this tour you do not wait in the normal line. You enter generally enter into the FastPass line, though on some rides we didn't enter in the FastPass line but instead had "secret entrances" we got to utilize.
Next up was riding the teacups of the Mad Tea Party, then Dumbo the Flying Elephant, followed by Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid. At the time of day we rode some of the rides they had virtually no wait anyway, but regardless of the wait (or lack there of), we essentially waltzed right on every single one and had finished all of that before 10AM. It didn't take long for my oldest daughter to realize that on some of the rides the Disney guides would ride with her if she desired. She immediately became "best friends" with the guides and wanted to ride with them way more than she did with us!
The fast pace of the tour was great for getting things done, but became a bit of a problem as there was no time for a diaper change during the first four rides. Let's just say the little one drank too much liquid that morning for the physics of that equation to work out very well. My mom took her for an emergency clothing swap while the rest of us rode The Little Mermaid. Thankfully, after that ride we all headed into Gaston's Tavern where a private table and treats of cinnamon rolls and frozen LeFou's Brew awaited. It was fantastic to have a seat and (included) snacks in the air conditioning!
That break lasted about 15 minutes, and during that time my youngest daughter passed out cold.
We had her sleep in the stroller while I watched her, and the rest of the group moved on to It's a Small World. Probably because of how hot it was outside, her nap was short lived, and she was awake in time for us to join the group to ride on Peter Pan's Flight. By this point the normal wait for this ride was well over an hour if you didn't have a FastPass or weren't on a tour.
I will add that the tour guides offered to sit with her while I went on rides, and they were generally at the ready to do anything within reason to help you enjoy the rides. They tagged all the strollers on the tour with gold stars and they would sometimes even have them positioned ready at the rides' exits in order to save time and conserve energy.
After enjoying Peter Pan's Flight, we walked the short distance to Haunted Mansion where we entered via the 'servants' back entrance, which was pretty cool. I do want to mention that my seven-year-old was scared out of her creative mind on this ride, though my toddler did just fine.
Partly because of the heat, and partly because of the tears we endured on Haunted Mansion, we started to poop out a bit at this point. However, the tour still had two more rides to go, and for them we had to head over to Adventureland. There was an optional quick bathroom stop as we crossed the park to Adventureland, but when nobody took them up on the offer to stop, we headed directly to the next ride.
If I were to give some feedback on this tour, I would say that this is probably a really good time for a 'mandatory' second short break. Nobody wanted to be the one to make the group stop, but since almost everyone in the group had a young child in diapers, it wouldn't have been the worst idea to have a 5-10 minute break near the Baby Care Center so everyone could take care of various needs without missing out or stalling the others. Better yet, if they also had a bottle of cool water ready for each person on the tour on this short break, it would have also been appreciated as the bottles we packed from the hotel were already drained by 11:15AM.
None the less, we continued on slightly dehydrated and in need of a bathroom break to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, and then finally Jungle Cruise. It was close to noon at this point and scorchingly hot. Both of these rides were both at about an hour wait by this point if you didn't have a tour or FastPass. After we rode Jungle Cruise, I was sad our time on the tour was over, but also grateful to slow down the pace, rehydrate, and take a break.
From 9AM - 12PM we had gone on nine rides, had a snack in Gaston's Tavern, learned all sorts of fun facts from the guides, and watching the morning opening at Cinderella's Castle. At the formal conclusion of the tour we all said our goodbyes and then our family bee-lined it to the air conditioned Baby Care Center where we ran into some of the other families from the tour.
Is the Disney VIP Classics Tour Worth It?
So, was the Disney Classics Tour worth it? Not surprisingly, the answer is that it all depends. At $199 per person, it will be out of range for some families to even consider on top of all the other Disney expenses, and I totally understand that 100%. However, if you are considering adding another $199 per person ages 3+ to your day at the Magic Kingdom, I think the Disney Classics VIP Tour is a great and very low-stress way to experience up to 10 of the classic rides all before lunch, or after lunch if you chose the afternoon tour.
Now you could recreate at least 80% of this schedule by strategically using FastPasses and being thoughtful about your ride order, but then you would be out of pre-scheduled FastPasses for the rest of the day. But the tour wasn't just about not waiting in line. For me, what made the tour memorable and worth it for us was that someone else did all the planning and was there to make everything run smoothly. If you are the one in your family that typically fulfills that role, you may enjoy having someone else hold the reigns for a bit. It was also great for my older daughter to have the guides to talk with, and it was fun for all of us to learn some new and "hidden" facts about the rides.
While it was our fault for not changing the toddler right before the tour started, I do think that a short scheduled second break, complete with bottled water, before the final two rides would have been extraordinarily helpful, especially in the summer heat. If I were in charge of things, at the end of the tour it might be neat to include a parting gift, perhaps a tour specific Mickey pin, to bring a little magic to the conclusion and goodbyes.
Those are relatively minor things, and I do recommend the Disney Classics VIP Tour to families with young children who aren't going to have multiple days in the Magic Kingdom. With this tour you can experience most of the classic attractions in the morning, and still have the whole afternoon and evening to use your FastPasses for rides like Mine Train, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, character meet and greets, and more. We only had that one day in the Magic Kingdom on our trip, and thanks to the tour we were still able to do pretty much everything we wanted while still taking an afternoon nap back at the hotel.
A final warning if you do take a tour like this one and you have FastPasses loaded on your Magic Bands. If you are on a Disney tour and you scan your Magic Band for a ride with an eligible FastPass loaded, it will be used even if you are on a tour. An unnamed child of mine wasted her anytime-use FastPasses we had from taking the Disney Vacation Club tour while on this tour because she was scanning her Magic Band at every opportunity without anyone noticing until the final ride. Thankfully, we had already used one of her three anytime FastPasses before the tour started, but the remaining two she should have had available went poof like Cinderella's coach at midnight because she was scanning her band for fun on this tour. Oops.
While I can't foresee a need for us to take the Disney Classics Tour again, I could see us potentially doing the similar Day of Thrills Tour that focuses on roller coaster type rides in three parks when the girls are older. I also learned that a similar half-day Animal Kingdom-specific tour may be in the works, so keep an eye open for that.
Have you taken the Disney Classics VIP tour, or any other Disney VIP tour? What did you think? Was it worth it? Would you do it again?