5 Reasons to Take a Disney VIP Tour (and 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t)

When I was on a press trip last summer with Visit Florida, I had a chance to take one of the Disney VIP tours. As someone that has only been to Disney World twice in my life, taking a Disney VIP tour was eye opening. I had heard of private VIP tours of Disney, but didn’t realize you could take an officially sanctioned Disney World VIP tour. While the experience was very special, I also had mixed feelings afterward, so I wanted to share both the pros and the cons.

Private Disney VIP Tours

But first, let me lay out the details in case, like me, you aren’t familiar with Disney VIP tours. Disney World private VIP tours can accommodate up to 10 guests. The tour can be custom designed to focus on the rides and the parks that you want to experience. Private Disney VIP tours cost anywhere from $400-600 per hour, depending on the season, and have a minimum commitment of seven continuous hours. This does not include the required park admission. Private premium VIP tours are popular and it is recommended to book up to 180 days in advance of your visit by calling (407) 560-4033.

There are also group VIP tours with pre-set itineraries such as the Ultimate Day of Thrills or the Disney Classics tour. These tours are offered at specific days of the week and times of the day for $199-399 per person for a four to seven hour tour (park admission not included.)Disney VIP tours - Animal Kingdom Tree of Life

Why You Should Book a Disney VIP Tour

So now let’s look at reasons why to take a VIP tour of Disney World.

You have limited time. If you have limited time to spend in the parks, the best way to maximize that time, especially if you aren’t a Disney planning pro, is to have a VIP tour. Your guide will talk to you about your “must dos” and understand the types of rides and attractions you like best. For example, are you a thrill seeker or thrill avoider? They can also take into account the ages and sizes of any children in your party to focus on the rides that everyone can enjoy.

Disney VIP guides can zip you in and out of attractions and parks in the most efficient ways possible. In seven hours, we hit three of the four parks. We were able to squeeze in the brand-new Soarin’ ride in Epcot (and almost hit Frozen Ever After but it closed right before we got there); Star Wars Launch Bay in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror; and still spend a few hours enjoying a gourmet dinner, Jungle Book Show, and multiple trips on Everest.

Skip the line. Part of maximizing your time and having a VIP experience is the ability to skip the line. To be clear, a VIP tour gives you access to the FastPass line. You can’t actually skip that line, but you can go back into that line over and over if you really like a ride and you don’t have to deal with navigating the Fast Pass+ system. But in addition to having a guide to create an efficient itinerary and route you quickly through the crowds, getting access to the Fast Pass lane saves a ton of time and avoids all the whining and fussing that comes with waiting in long lines.Disney VIP tour - Star Wars Launch Bay

Go behind the scenes. When I was in business school, we read a lot of case studies about the magic of Disney marketing. From the time I learned about the secret tunnels and entrances that allowed the cast members and characters to magically appear where they are needed, I was curious what Disney World was like behind the scenes. One of my favorite parts of our VIP tour was getting to go in and out of cast entrances. You rarely get a peek behind that curtain but using employee roads, parking and entrances allows you to quickly get to exactly the attraction you want to visit. Many of the features of a VIP tour are about convenience and efficiency, but this truly is something you can’t do on your own.

VIP treatment. I greatly enjoyed some of the stories our guide shared about the celebrities and dignitaries she has guided through Disney. But there were times when our VIP guide gave the sort of concierge service that luxury travelers greatly appreciate. For example, we were there in June and the temperatures were well above 90 degrees. Imagine how happy we were to disembark off of the safari ride in Animal Kingdom to see our guide standing there with bottles of cold water. Or, when one of our group lost her phone and while we watched the Jungle Book show, our guide searched it down from where it had fallen out during a ride on Everest. Plus, our reservations at Tiffins and VIP seating at the show weren’t too shabby either.

Families traveling together. If you are two families traveling together, you can share that fee and on a per person basis, maybe it becomes a bit more palatable. The trick will be getting everyone to agree on what to do. But the nice part of that is you can hand the decision making over to the guide and tell the kids you need to follow the schedule they developed — taking you off the hot seat.Disney World VIP tours

Are Disney VIP Tours Worth It?

There are also a few good reasons why you may not want to take a Disney VIP tour.

Price. Price is the obvious con to a VIP tour of Disney World. Not many families have a spare $2800-$4200 (plus tickets) to drop on a VIP tour. But hey, if you want to have the experience of a lifetime, maybe it is worth a splurge.Disney VIP tour of Animal Kingdom

Not an authentic experience. What may not be as obvious is what a different experience you have when on a VIP tour. Instead of experiencing the magic of walking through the gates or seeing the Castle for the first time, you are whisked behind the scenes directly to the ride you want to visit. I had never been to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and even though I got to hug Chewie and had my chance to ride Tower of Terror, I have absolutely no idea what the park looks like.

Likewise, I hadn’t been to Epcot in over 30 years but our power walk from the side entrance to Frozen and then in the back way to Soarin’ left me with no sense of how much has changed or stayed the same. So if you are fluent in the language of Disney, you’ve had your Disney “firsts” and you just want to get the most out of a short visit — then by all means book a Disney VIP tour. But I really wouldn’t recommend it for your kids’ first Disney experience. It was just a little too surgical. And I know that it was designed that way to maximize four writers’ time to see the latest attractions but still, you can’t fit it all in without some of those shortcuts.

Teaching privilege. The other thing that kind of rubbed me the wrong way is something that I struggle with often as we get to travel and experience things that many families will never get a chance to see. And that is providing my child with a privileged experience that is unattainable for most of her peers. If that is the only way that a child experiences the world, it would be easy to become entitled and to expect those opportunities to always be available to them. I work hard to make sure that when we are getting a special experience, my daughter knows it and she knows that we have either saved for that splurge, or it is a perk of the hard work and very long nights that I’m putting in in exchange. I want her to know that if she wants the occasional special experience in her life, she’ll need to work hard to have the ability to save for those experiences.

I think there is something quite educational and rewarding about a traditional Disney experience — complete with lines and crowds. But once you have been there and done that and just want to see what is new or find a fun way to celebrate a special occasion, a Disney VIP tour really can be a magical experience. Just make sure the kids don’t expect that type of experience every time.

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Note: My VIP tour was hosted by Disney as part of a press trip with Visit Florida. All opinions are my own.

2 Comments on “5 Reasons to Take a Disney VIP Tour (and 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t)

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  1. I appreciate your honesty with this review. I think We travel writers too often forget to reality check experiences like this and don’t acknowledge that many people can’t afford VIP/luxury travel, at least not all of the time. The truth is if we were traveling on our own dime most of us couldn’t afford them either.

      Thanks Eileen, I appreciate it. Even if money is no object (which for most it isn’t) there are still real reasons why it may not be the best choice, or at least not every time.

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