If you follow our instagram journey (and why wouldn’t you…so much fun going on over there at insta!), you know that it was my oldest son’s 13th birthday last week! To celebrate the shock and awe of having a teenager, I scheduled the Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour at Walt Disney World as a gift for my son, on his actual birthday. I scheduled this tour about four months early, and I recommend booking early to make sure you get a spot.
There are some things to know before you jump into booking. Guests must be 12 years old or older to attend. Disney says it is better suited for adults, which is probably true depending on your child’s interest in Disney history. On our tour, there were three teenagers, and they all seemed to enjoy it. Another thing to keep in mind is that there is a great deal of walking on the tour. I walk about 12-15 miles per week, and even I got a little tired! Tours are scheduled at 8 am, and you must be there 15 minutes early. The tour is $49, and annual passholder discounts do apply. For full details, be sure to check the Walt Disney World website.
When we arrived at Town Square Theater, we were given name tags and an audio earpiece. I wasn’t too excited about the earpiece, but it turned out to be very helpful in noisy areas of the park! The name tag was a wonderful souvenir and my son was thrilled to add it to his collection of Disney memorabilia.
This tour covers the path of Walt Disney from his childhood in Marceline, Missouri, all the way to the 1964 World’s Fair and the creation of Disneyland. To start the tour, we followed our wonderful tour guide Jenn down Main Street, as she explained the roots of Walt Disney’s life. We stopped by the castle and heard more about Walt’s early life, then walked into Liberty Square, before it was open to the general public. It’s always such a treat to be in an area of the park that is empty. To me, it feels the most magical when you are alone. This really isn’t because I hate crowds, it’s just because the park seems so full of wonder and possibility for the new day to come while it is still empty.
The Marceline to Magic Kingdom tour has a central theme of exploring the four attractions that Walt developed for the 1964 World’s Fair, and how they are all part of the Walt Disney World we know today. These four attractions are the Abraham Lincoln animatronic, It’s a Small World, Carousel of Progress, and Ford’s Magic Skyway. The first that we discussed was the Hall of Presidents, as the Abraham Lincoln animatronic from the World’s Fair was the precursor to this iconic attraction. This technology, which we take for granted at several different Walt Disney World attractions, was awe inspiring at the time of the 1964 World’s Fair. Walt was extremely proud of this, and had an enormous amount of pride in America. He even changed his birth certificate in order to be able to join the Army at the age of 17!
Next, we walked over to the Haunted Mansion. When I registered for this tour, I had no idea that we would be riding any attractions. So I was very pleasantly surprised when Jenn said we would actually be riding Haunted Mansion! We walked through the standby queue and Jenn described several little known secrets, such as the song that all the instruments play if done correctly and the murder mystery that the busts describe in clues. My son loved this part of the tour and is looking forward to standing in line again in the future to explore some more of these clues!
We then rode Haunted Mansion, all with Jenn’s voice in our ears through the earpiece we had been given earlier. This was one of my favorite aspects of the tour; to have little known memorabilia pointed out as we were actually riding. Since I have been going to Walt Disney World since I was a baby, there are many little things that I have wondered about for years. Lots of those questions were answered on this tour, plus we learned lots more little tidbits of information. We learned a lot about the history of the imagineers and those that designed the ride. It was incredibly interesting!
Next, we had the wonderful surprise of going backstage and behind the scenes! Although going behind the scenes was described as being part of the tour on the Walt Disney World website, I was absolutely shocked and amazed at what we were able to see. We actually went into the ballroom scene of the Haunted Mansion, and saw the animatronic ghosts right in front of our eyes. I won’t describe all of the secrets of how they make this magic happen, but if you want to find out, go on the Marceline to Magic Kingdom tour! This moment, where I was behind the scenes at a beloved childhood attraction, with my 13 year old firstborn child, was incredibly full circle. Just this moment alone was worth every penny.
After this, we walked through Fantasyland, stopped at the Carousel, and then also explored the beautiful mosaic inside Cinderella’s Castle. I was especially pleased to find out about the role of female imagineers like Dorothea Redmond, and her amazing contributions to the world of Walt Disney.
Next, we went over to the Winnie the Pooh ride, and talked about it’s start as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Before we rode, Jenn pointed our several places to find homages to Mr. Toad. She also talked about Walt’s devotion as a father, and how he created Winnie the Pooh for his daughters, and introduced the series to America for them. Winnie the Pooh is probably my favorite Disney character, and I was so happy to get the chance to ride this attraction with no wait!
Finally, we went over to Tomorrowland and discussed the similarities between the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover and the 1964 World’s Fair Ford’s Magic Skyway. We then went to the Carousel of Progress and had our own private theater. Jenn talked to us during the attraction and used a flashlight to point things out around the set. She reminded us how this attraction is the same physical set as the one that Walt Disney himself helped set up for the World’s Fair. This was a really wonderful reminder of how historic and iconic this attraction is, and parts of Walt Disney World are, in general.
This was the last stop on our three hour tour, and we were definitely sad that it was over. The time flew by, and we saw and experienced so many things that I never could have dreamed of doing. Jenn was a wonderful tour guide and had such a pleasant voice and way of sharing a great deal of information. I HIGHLY recommended this tour for any Walt Disney fans! To be honest, I really didn’t know much about Walt himself, or his life, but learned a great deal, and developed a much great appreciation for his life and contributions. Thank you Walt Disney for creating the Walt Disney World that I love!
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