Today’s topic on the blog is something that is exclusive to cast members, and that I was lucky enough to take part in—backstage tours! You can go on a backstage tour one of two ways: you can enter raffles on the hub and be randomly selected, or your work location will have sign up sheets (that fill up quickly!) and you can go with your coworkers. I was lucky enough to have 4 tours offered at my location during my program (I honestly have no idea why my roommate’s locations didn’t offer any!) and I was able to go on three of them, Expedition Everest, Rockin’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror! They all happened super early in the morning before the parks opened, and I often had to work a shift later that day, or late the night before, but honestly it was totally worth it!
The first tour that I did was Expedition Everest. Well, kinda. We got to the park and we all headed to the ride. When we got there, we were told that we wouldn’t be able to do the tour that day, because it was colder than usual and they had to run the ride so that the track would be warm for when guests arrived. (And obviously they can’t give a tour with the ride running!) So with some consolation fast passes in hand, we turned around and went back home. Now a lot of people would say that doesn’t count. But I did get to see the loading area of the cars AND the coolest part was being in the parks with no one else there. Furthermore, because Animal Kingdom is part zoo, I was able to see and hear the animals wake up for the day, and honestly I thought that was super fun and fascinating.
The next tour I went on was Rockin’ Roller Coaster! When we got there, one of the cast members led us from the queue, to the cast member area’s, and finally to the actual track of the ride. The tour guide told us all about the hidden Mickey’s and other cool things that the Imagineer’s included in the different aspects of the ride. Also, fun fact: If any of you have ridden the ride, I have touched the giant pink doughnut that you ride through towards the end! After learning about the history and facts of the ride, we were able to ride it a few times, one time without music and with the lights on! It is a completely different experience like that! After the tour was finished, it was right at park open, so my coworkers and I, sprinted over to Tower of Terror, and got to be the first ones to ride it, in a basically empty elevator, (other then there was one other random guy in the back! Lol) it was such a neat experience.
And finally, for my favorite tour, Tower of Terror! One of the really amazing things about our tour was that we did it on Friday the 13th, which is like, THE day to ride Tower of Terror. The cast members get totally into it, and it’s seriously the best. We once again we able to go through the queue, and get some insight on some of the artifacts that you would never get to know with a swarm of other guests around or not having a ToT expert explain things to you. We then went and saw the cast member areas, and we learned the secrets to how some of the visual effects are made. We saw different parts of the ride and were able to go beyond the red-velvet rope, in the lobby. Some people might say that learning the secrets ruins the magic, but honestly, it’s the complete opposite! It made me appreciate the attention to detail and the thought, time, and effort that went into every aspect of the ride. After the tour we once again were able to ride the attraction multiple times, and again, one time with the lights on. We took our knowledge from the previous tour and hurried to make it to other attractions as the park opened. Some of my coworkers went to Toy Story Mania, but the majority of us ran to Rockin’ Roller Coaster.
Making these memories with my coworkers, gaining insight into these infamous attractions, and getting to do something that most people won’t get to do in their lifetimes, made for some of my most cherished moments during my college program. So all in all, if you have the opportunity to go on a backstage tour, take it! You’ll be able to look back on it, no matter how early you have to get up, and be glad that you did.