Although many don't know it, The Magic Kingdom offers several walking tours that can guests can experience for an additional cost. The Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour, the shortest tour available at 3 hours, costs $49 per person, ages 12 and up. The tour is offered daily at 8 AM, and guests are asked to arrive at least 15 minutes early for check-in at Town Square Theater; unfortunately, since Disney has moved the Welcome Show from the train station to in front of Cinderella castle, all guests are allowed in the park around 7:45 AM, so the advantage of getting to enter the park before the rest of the crowds with a tour reservation is now gone. Boo.
If you want to hear what Disney has to say about the tour, you can read about it here. If you want to hear what I have to say about the tour...well, here you go.
The tour starts off in the courtyard off to the side of Town Square Theater, where your tour guide will introduce himself or herself and give some general rules. Like, keep up. It then proceeds down Main Street, where you will learn about Walt's early life in Marceline, Missouri, and how it was a major influence for the design of Main Street. We discovered some new details about Main Street we had never heard before, and before we knew it, that part of the tour was done.
After a brisk meander down Main Street, the tour heads to Liberty Square, where your tour guide will give some interesting perspectives on the details of the various lands around Magic Kingdom as well as the Hall of Presidents attraction.
My favorite part of the tour follows: The Haunted Mansion. A large bulk of time is spent in the que, where your guide will point out things even the biggest HM fan may not know. There are so many details to check out, most people never notice them. The guide talks quite a bit about the Imagineers behind the ride and where their different influences can been seen. The collection of busts that hold clues to a murder mystery was my favorite. And the Captain's tomb. And the Imagineer headstones. And getting VIP access onto the ride. And everything else.
When we took our tour, it was the 45th Anniversary of the opening of the park, so we took a 20 minute detour at this point to watch the presentation, which we were all grateful for. Then we were off to the very best part of the tour. I won't spoil it entirely, because it's a behind-the-magic experience, but if you're a Haunted Mansion fan, you're definitely going to want to see this.
The time backstage is followed by some time in Fantasyland, again looking at details in design, and some really interesting background on more of Walt's life and influence found throughout the park. The tour continues with VIP access onto Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, where your guide will provide some really interesting commentary on the ride, Walt's original influence on it for the World's Fair, and the changes that have been made to it over time.
And finally, the tour ends outside the Carousel of Progress with a really touching speech from your guide about Walt's life and how it has touched all of us with the magic he left behind. It's a bit of a tear-jerker, really.
If you are in any way interested in Walt's life and his influence on the park, or if you are just a really big Haunted Mansion fan, I highly recommend checking this tour out. I definitely think it is worth it for the price, something that definitely cannot be said about everything that can be purchased at Walt Disney World. If you have a few hours of unscheduled time and are looking for something unique to experience, this tour is a great option. The 3-hour length is totally doable, although make sure you eat a good breakfast beforehand. Listening to someone give details on Walt Disney's life for 3 hours is a lot less exciting if you're so hungry you're considering snatching the pretzel out of an unsuspecting passerby's hands. Just a tip.