Behind the Secret Curtain: A Personal Disney VIP Tour Review

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It may seem like a dream. A shiny black SUV arrives at your Disney World hotel. Out steps a private Disney VIP tour guide, and soon you’re off on your own personal adventure through Disney World parks. No lines, no waiting and royal magical treatment fit for a prince or princess.

As a travel agent specializing in Disney vacations, it’s incumbent upon me to try as much as Disney has to offer firsthand, to help my clients plan the best Disney World vacation. So, when a friend offered me the chance to join her on a VIP tour of Disney World, I certainly wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity.

While a Disney VIP tour certainly sounds like an elite experience, you may wonder if it really lives up to travelers’ expectations, and more importantly, is it worth the cost? I’ll answer these questions and more as I delve into my recent experience in this Disney World VIP tour review.

What Is a Disney VIP Tour?

In case you’ve heard of a Disney VIP tour but aren’t quite certain what one entails, let’s start with the basics. A Disney VIP tour is a paid, premium experience at Disney World for travelers with deep pockets or anyone who would like a little extra vacation splurge.

Disney VIP tours are designed to whisk you out of the typical park experience into a more magical world where you wait in fewer lines, get access to Disney secrets, walk through backstage areas, and of course, wait in much shorter lines.

How Does a Disney VIP Tour Work?

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When embarking on a VIP tour to Disney World, you’ll be assigned your own personal tour guide, whose job it is to see that your visit to Disney parks is magical and filled with enchanted wonder. The Disney VIP tour experience includes:

  1. Private pick up at your hotel. Smaller groups can enjoy the comfort of a decked-out SUV. Larger groups will travel in a passenger van.
  2. Snacks and drinks upon pick up and throughout the day.
  3. Personal escort through the parks and onto rides.
  4. Personal service, including assistance with park planning and tips to make your day more enjoyable.

Parties of up to 10 guests may book a Disney VIP tour, though you could certainly make this a solo experience or include a party of a smaller size. VIP tours are booked for a minimum of 7 hours and a maximum of 10.

You’ll be charged an hourly rate and billed for the first 7 hours 2 days prior to your tour. You have up until that time to cancel, or you’ll be charged the equivalent of a 2-hour rate.

Once on the tour, you may add additional hours up to the maximum of ten hours. This flexibility is great for accommodating a full slate of plans without having to worry about running out of time. However, if you want to stick to a certain timeframe, your tour guide will offer guidance to keep your day on track.

A Disney World VIP Tour Review: Our Personal Experience

Since I’m offering an overview of my personal experience here, I’ll say one thing up front in this Disney World VIP tour review: It’s an exhausting experience. Fun and magical, yes, but plan on being very tired by the day’s end.

Here’s what we experienced on our VIP tour:

The Disney VIP Tour Hotel Pickup

Every Disney VIP tour includes personal pickup at your Disney hotel or any other location you choose. Our personal VIP tour began when our tour guide, the amazing Helen, pulled up in a white passenger van.

Since we were looking for a nice luxury SUV, we were a little surprised (and disappointed?) but had to be realistic. Our group consisted of 8 adults and 2 children. That’s 10 total passengers, and we just weren’t going to fit into even the largest SUV. And that was fine, since Helen’s engaging personality made it clear from the start that she was going to do everything she could to ensure we had the best day in the parks, regardless of how we got there.

Helen began by introducing herself and speaking with our party lead, Sandy. While I, as a travel agent, had booked the tour for our party, Sandy was the planner behind it. She told me the parks she wanted to visit when I booked the tour with Disney, so I was able to convey these details at that time. Helen spent a few minutes confirming these plans and then helped us all get loaded into the van, even pulling out a stool for easier step up into the interior.

Guests of a Disney World VIP tour get into the van during pickup at their hotel.
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Getting into our magical ride at the start of our Disney World VIP tour.

She chatted amiably with us throughout the drive to Hollywood Studios, our first park of the day. She offered little tidbits of information about the tour and little pieces of breaking news as she drove. It was hard to hear her in the back of the van, but we all appreciated her spirit and the bits of wisdom we were able to catch.

Arriving at Disney Hollywood Studios—Our First Park of the Day

If you’re thinking a Disney VIP tour guide is going to pull into the regular parking lot and drop you off at a magical location exclusive to tour guests, it gets better than that. Helen drove into a gated backstage area for our first stop, where several cast members were waiting.

They enthusiastically greeted us and offered us a selection of snacks. These included a variety of options for kids and adults alike, such as Mickey shaped Rice Krispie treats, Kind bars and potato chips. It’s not a meal by any definition, but we could take as many as we wanted.

An assortment of snacks passed out to guests on a Disney VIP tour.
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The first selection of snacks offered to us on our Disney VIP tour, but there were more to come.

Cast members also passed out pins for us to wear. These identified us as VIP tour guests, so we could have access to all of the included experiences. This will become particularly important later for gaining entry to expedited ride queues.

After taking care of the formalities and our stomachs, Helen escorted us into the park. This particular portal led us in beside the Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster queue, so we made that our first stop. Helen scanned her magic Disney VIP tour guide card at the entrance to the Lightning Lane and held up the line for all 10 of us to proceed.

Once at the next check point, she showed her badge again. The cast member in charge here held us until we could be the first into the pre-show area. Once we were waved in, Helen led us inside and made sure to position us in front of the doors that would open to the ride queue.

When the doors opened, she ushered us in, holding off other guests who may have pushed their way into our party, to ensure we were first out the door and into the queue. Here, she worked her magic again, speaking to the cast member in charge of row assignments and telling them in which rows she would like her party to be seated. Her goal was always to place us in the best spot to experience the attraction, and she always got her way.

One incredibly nice thing about a VIP tour, is that your guide will take care of all of your bags during the ride. Helen gathered up an armload of backpacks, waist packs and the like as each rider took their assigned row.

Sandy and I decided to opt out of this coaster, since we’d already ridden earlier in the week. We’ve found that over time, that Aerosmith’s wild limo ride is a little too much for our aging joints, so Helen accommodated us by leading us to a backstage waiting area at the exit. We chatted for a bit until the riders in our party returned and then we were off to our next adventure.

In general, you can expect your tour guide to bring you into each attraction through the Lightning Lane. In the case of our next ride, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, we skipped all queues to the ride and entered through a backstage access door. This entry point led us right outside the doors to the pre-show.

Since Helen was allowed to enter the preshow first, she positioned us in a prime location. Once the preshow ended and the gate to the queue opened, we were once again the first ones in line. While we did have to wait in the last portion of the queue for this ride, we did skip the wait in the Lightning Lane. All in, we probably only waited a minute or 2 before Helen was instructing the cast member to seat us in rows 6-9 since these were the best for experiencing the attraction.

One thing to note here during our Disney VIP tour review, is that your tour guide will not ride on the attractions with you. Instead, they will work behind the scenes to prepare for the next steps in the itinerary or to take care of other tasks dedicated to your comfort. In this instance, it was heading out into the park to get ice cold bottles of Smart Water for all of us.

A selection of bottled water offered to guests on a Disney World VIP tour.
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Ice cold Smart Water was the perfect ending to our ride on Mickey’s Runaway Railway.

For those who are unfamiliar with Disney parks, you generally have 2 options when it comes to bottled water: Dasani or Smart Water. While Dasani is definitely cheaper, the Smart Water has a more palatable taste to most guests. The fact that Helen chose the more expensive Smart Water for our morning refreshment just underscores the fact that Disney recognizes the premium expectations of guests who book a Disney VIP tour.

We finished up our time in Hollywood Studios with a visit to Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run, Star Wars Rise of the Resistance, 2 rides on Slinky Dog Dash and a final show down on Toy Story Midway Mania. I’m proud to say that I hit my trip high score during our VIP tour, though as usual, it really was not much to brag about.

Off to Magic Kingdom, Second Stop in Our Disney VIP Tour Review

To head off to Magic Kingdom, the next stop on our Disney VIP tour, we made our way back to our van. I was pleasantly surprised to find the AC already running and a completely cooled interior, thanks to the Disney pixies hiding somewhere in the dedicated backstage area.

Our arrival at Magic Kingdom was greeted by some very visible pixies who assisted us out of the van and enthusiastically passed out Disney Rice Krispie treats. This time, we could even choose from treats with chocolate covered ears or candy-coated toppings.

As we munched, Helen led us into another backstage passage. For anyone who has attended a holiday party at Disney, this will look familiar. It’s the same pathway to the right off Main Street USA just past the Confectionary, where you start your trick or treating during Halloween.

We began our Magic Kingdom VIP experience by taking this path toward Magic Kingdom’s newest ride, Tron Lightcycle Run. This attraction was running a virtual queue during our visit and also offering guests the option to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) experience. Since we were VIP for the day, she led us directly to the ILL lane and into the preshow.

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Our VIP tour guide, Helen, used a special pass to scan us into the LIghtning Lane queues on rides.

Since Helen took care of all of our bags and such, she told us not to stop at the lockers after the preshow and to head directly to the queue. This saved us a little time and put us ahead of the many guests who had to stop and stow their cargo before riding.

Understanding the Virtual Queue:  New rides at Disney World are usually operated with a virtual queue. Guests log into the My Disney Experience app at 7:00 am and are assigned a position to ride. You can keep tabs on where you are in the virtual queue using the app, and when it’s your time to ride, you’ll receive a push notification. You have one hour from that point to appear at the virtual queue entrance.

As we emerged from the ride, we found Helen overloaded with our bags as well as an armload of Mickey pretzels and churros. It seems the aim with a VIP tour is to give you a taste of each park. Since these are 2 of the most popular snacks in the Magic Kingdom, she wanted to make sure we had the chance to experience them.

Disney VIP tour guide passes out snacks to tour guests.
The amazing Helen passes out churros and Mickey pretzels following our ride on Tron Lightcycle Run.

As we ate, we walked over to 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. This was the first bottleneck in our Disney VIP tour review, and it was consistent with every other day we had spent at Magic Kingdom during the trip. This seems to be one ride where people are more than willing to pay the price for the Individual Lightning Lane, so the Lightning Lane queue was always very long, even for VIP tour guests. However, it went quickly with Helen escorting us to the second scan in point to ensure we got priority treatment here.

While we rode, Helen once again grabbed some water for us to wash down our snacks. We then headed over to the castle for a quick photo op and for some members of our party to grab an additional snack at Casey’s Corner. One thing that needs to be mentioned in any Disney VIP tour review is the fact that regular meals are not included. The previously mentioned snacks were all a part of the VIP experience, but if you choose to stop at Disney restaurants, you’ll need to make your own purchases.

With the number of snacks you are provided during a tour, it’s honestly hard to imagine wanting to eat. After munching on rice Krispie treats and churros or pretzels, we were provided a Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich or ice cream bar before getting back in the van and heading to EPCOT.

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And yet more snacks come out on the ride to EPCOT!

EPCOT, the Last Stop in our Disney VIP Tour Review

Our arrival at the EPCOT backstage area was similar to the previous stops mentioned in this Disney VIP tour review. We were greeted by cast members and offered more treats before Helen led us off to our next great adventure: Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

With this ride, we needed to fight our way to the ILL line like every other guest. If you haven’t experienced this attraction, I’ll explain.

The way the entrance is designed, there’s a bit of a bottle neck since there isn’t much room for guests to queue as they scan in for either the Lightning Lane or the virtual queue. Also, the Lightning Lane is poorly signed, leading many guests to try to scan in through the virtual queue instead of the correct point of entry. This leads to delays, as guests try repeatedly to get their card or MagicBand to work. The poor signage also has guests standing in front of the entry points, blocking access as they try to determine where they should be.

Since a VIP tour guide will never plow through guests inside the park, we had a bit of a delay to get to the scan point. It was nothing significant, but I mention it as part of the Disney VIP tour review for any guest who may be expecting to be whisked on and off rides away from all of the crowds.

Once inside the Lightning Lane queue, we were led directly to the pre-show. Helen accompanied us and again positioned us so we would have first access into the queue. This would have worked if some disrespectful guests hadn’t opened the door during the preshow experience. What transpired after was a stampede of guests, all thinking they had to leave the show.

Unfortunately, this is a new trend at this ride which we hope Disney finds a way to deter quickly. This happened 2 different times that we rode, as repeat guests tried to get to the ride faster by skipping the pre-show. If you’re ever so inclined, please be considerate of other guests and wait out the preshow. As Helen explained, by opening the doors, the guests shut down the preshow experience for the other riders in line, robbing new guests of the chance to understand the backstory so vital to the ride.

Disney resort collection 2

Once we found our way down to the ride, Helen as usual told the cast member in charge of seat assignments that she wanted her party to be placed in the front cars. If you haven’t been on the ride before, this is truly the best place to experience the attraction, so we were thrilled.

Following Cosmic Rewind, we planned to visit Frozen Ever After. However, since we had told Helen we wanted to keep the tour to 7 hours, she was always keeping track of time. After checking the wait for Frozen she let us know that we’d likely be over time if we wanted a second guide on Cosmic Rewind. Since Frozen is no match for EPCOT’s newest coaster, our group was happy to skip it.

That meant, we headed over to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Again, Sandy and I sat this one out to avoid motion sickness, so we had a chance to chat again with Helen. We talked about how tired we were and how we were dreading having to wait until our 7:00 reservation at Space 220 to eat and head back to the hotel.

This is where I think the biggest perk of a VIP tour can be experienced—dedicated attention. She offered to try to try to get us an earlier Advance Dining Reservation, while we took our last ride on Cosmic Rewind. Miracle worker that she is, she succeeded.

She met us at the exit to Cosmic Rewind and ushered us right to Space 220. We were a little late, so the restaurant had officially closed to new guests in order to prepare for the dinner rush, but she got us right in. We took one last final picture and headed to the turbo lift to dine in space.

Advantages of a Disney World VIP Tour

Disney World VIP tour pin in front of building in Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.
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While I mentioned several of the advantages of a VIP tour in the Disney VIP tour review above, it’s worth speaking to some of the perks in greater detail. While it may sound like a simple perk, the private transportation to the parks is actually a tremendous timesaver.

If you’ve ever used Disney’s complimentary transportation, you know that waiting for the next bus, boat or monorail can come with a wait mid-day when park hopping. You don’t have to worry about this with a Disney VIP tour, and since you use backstage entrances, you don’t have to scan in at the entrance to parks and make the trek past the entrance to the attractions. In most instances, you’ll be entering right into the heart of the magic.

Also, keep in mind that your VIP tour will transport you back to your hotel, a restaurant or anywhere you’d like to go on Disney property at the end of your tour. We had dinner reservations in the EPCOT park, so we simply ended our experience there. However, you may ask for a final round of transport to end your tour, saving you a lot of time and hassle when it comes to getting back to your hotel.

The second big perk of a Disney VIP tour is the access to the Lightning Lane, or in some cases, directly to the final ride queue. While the Lightning Lane will always provide faster access to attractions, the fact that your tour guide will ensure that you are always placed at the head of the line is another time saver, helping you to do more with your day and tour.

Aside from time-saving perks, the biggest advantage of the tour is the premium experience. Our tour guide was knowledgeable, personable and dedicated to ensuring that we had the most magical experience possible. The fact that she thought of little things, like taking all of our bags while we rode rides and anticipated our needs, provided the perfect touch.

While I can only speak personally to our tour guide, I have honestly never spoken to anyone, client or friend, who had a bad experience on a Disney VIP tour. The only complaint I’ve ever heard is how tiring a VIP tour is, mainly because you’re trying to fit so much into the time with your guide.

Disney vip tour final
Myself and some of our group posing for a final picture with our fabulous tour guide, Helen, in the lobby of the Space 220 restaurant.

How Much Is a Disney Private VIP Tour:

Disney VIP Tours are a premium experience with a star-quality price tag. You can expect to pay anywhere between $550 and $750 an hour for a VIP tour. Prices will vary depending on the day of the week and your dates of travel. In general, expect to pay more on weekends and around holidays. Keep in mind, that you will need to commit to a minimum 7-hour experience.

Is a Disney VIP Tour Worth It?

Whether a Disney VIP tour is worth it depends a lot on your vacation budget, how much you value the celebrity treatment and the $3,800 – $7,500 price tag. Since up to 10 people are allowed on each tour, guests with more limited budgets may split the cost across 2 or 3 families and find the experience more economical and magical.

On the other hand, guests with bigger budgets may enjoy several VIP tours during their trip. In speaking with Helen, she indicated that most people she works with will book a VIP tour for each park they visit, rather than hopping from park to park as I discussed in my Disney VIP tour review.

Taking this approach allows for a more leisurely pace. Guests may actually stop and dine at restaurants and still have time to enjoy each of the attractions, since waits in queue lines will be minimal.

On the other hand, if you’re thinking to book a VIP tour to completely avoid crowds, you may not find the experience worth the expense. There is a common misconception that a Disney VIP tour will take you from ride to ride via backstage passages, thereby avoiding park crowds completely. This isn’t the way a VIP tour works, nor do I think it’s completely desirable.

A Disney VIP tour guide will lead you through the parks, allowing you to experience all of the wonder you will find there. If you come across an impromptu character greeting, you can stop and enjoy the show. Every Disney park employs elaborate, realistic theming elements to take you different places and times. It would be a shame to miss this critical aspect of the experience in favor of tunneling through backstage areas just to avoid a few bottlenecks.

In truth, as we moved from place to place with our tour guide, I hardly noticed the other people in the parks at all. I was focused instead on the fun informational tidbits she provided or following her lead down different routes I might not have thought to take on my own.

How to Book a Disney VIP Tour

One of the most important things to understand when booking a Disney VIP tour is how to book. There are a number of third party companies that offer experiences they label as VIP, but there are only two ways to book the experience described in this Disney VIP tour review: directly through Disney by calling the tour booking line, or through a travel agent that specializes in Disney travel.

We’ve heard and read reviews where guests have had terrible experiences with third party guides. Part of the problem is access. Anyone not officially authorized by Disney will not have access to the backstage areas or Lightning Lane queues to help you make the most of your experience. If you want the VIP level treatement described in this review, be sure to book with a travel agent or call Disney yourself and book directly.

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Have questions about a Disney World VIP tour not answered here? Just ask!

Disney World VIP Tour FAQs

While I’ve covered most of the VIP experience in the Disney VIP tour review section, there are a few other questions that guests often have. I’ve taken a few moments to address those here:

Does a Disney VIP tour include food?

While multiple snacks a day are included in your Disney VIP tour, if you wish to eat at a Disney World restaurant or stop at a kiosk not included in the snacks provided, you will be required to make your own purchases.

Do Disney VIP tours skip lines?

Guests on Disney VIP tours will skip the regular queue on rides and attractions. They will access lines via the Lightning Lane. While there will be some wait for the attraction using this approach, wait times are minimal.

Is Disney VIP Tour priced per person?

Pricing for a Disney VIP tour is assessed hourly for a party of up to ten people.

Do Disney VIP tours sell out?

Yes, Disney VIP tours do sell out. When I spoke with our VIP tour guide about this, she told me that Disney does offer a waitlist for guests who aren’t able to secure a VIP tour booking, but can’t guarantee a spot will open up. She also mentioned that the waitlist had been closed for the last three weeks of December 2024. Because there were far too many people wanting tours, even the waitlist slots had filled up. The important point here is to book early!

When to book a Disney VIP tour?

Since Disney VIP tours do sell out, it’s important to book your tour as soon as you are able to do so. For guests of Disney World resort hotels, that’s 60 days prior to arrival at your resort hotel. All other guests are eligible to book 60 days before the date they wish to take a tour.

Do you tip Disney World VIP tour guide?

It is customary to tip your Disney World tour guide. While there is no recommended rate or percentage, most people indicate that they tip between $200-$500 a day. However, your tip should reflect the quality of the experience the knowledge and dedication of your tour guide.

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Mother daughter travel bloggers exploring the U.S.

We're Kat and Ali, a pair of mother-daughter travel bloggers exploring the U.S. We're sharing our experiences, tips and insights to help you more easily get out and explore the beautiful landscapes and places of this nation.


Kathleen Hesketh

Kathleen is a travel agent with Mickey World Travel, a platinum level Authorized Disney vacation planner, where she helps people discover the magic of a Disney vacation and other travel destinations. She is also the chief author and editor for Seconds to Go - a travel blog where she shares experiences from traveling the U.S. with her daughters. Kathleen has been a professional writer for more than a decade, helping businesses craft compelling content to advance organizational goals.

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