Note from Dutch: The below post is from Brian Perkins (@wdwpodreview). Thanks to Brian for the detailed write-up and taking the time to share. There were pictures with this originally, but I did not include them here.
As I was searching for value in a mid-round selection during the Fall 2014 MMOM Draft, I came across the Family Magic Tour at the Magic Kingdom. At first glance it seemed that this was a cheap option of a tour that really wouldn’t have much to it and really would just eat time from a touring plan. But as I looked closer I noticed that it had some perks to it and not only did I draft it, but I booked it for my trip in May 2015. Let me tell you how it played out.
I booked Disney’s Family Magic Tour for Friday May 22nd, long before I was paying enough attention to realize that it would be the 24 hour day. That proved to have an impact, positive and negative as it played out. The tour costs $34 per person, and with a Disney Visa cardholder benefit of 15% off I paid $28.90 per person for our family of 4, my wife and I with our 6 & 8 year old sons. The tour starts at 10:00am and you are asked to arrive at the Chamber of Commerce no later than 9:45. As you arrive, you are greeted by a Cast Member who has Peter Pan themed nametags prepared for you to identify that you are part of the tour. You are also offered a bottle of cold water for each member of your party. It is not exclusive to just your family, but the number of participants is limited. I am not sure what that number is, but I can say that there were no more than 20 people in our group. The tour leader arrives promptly at 10:00am and your journey begins. I am going to try to keep the review somewhat spoiler free, in case anyone looks to do it at some point in the future.
The premise is this… She had a tour all planned out to go count trash cans and ducks, but Donald Duck has changed that by hiding clues all over the Magic Kingdom and Mickey wants you to find them and solve the puzzle. So, beginning from the very front of the park, the clues begin to send you down Main Street USA and then out to the lands of the Magic Kingdom as you look for things like Bolt’s carrot toy, Rapunzel’s frying pan, and Tiana’s restaurant keys. Even the adults had some fun as we tried to recognize which part of the park the rhyming riddle is referring to. At some stops there is more of a challenge involved as the kids may have to put together a puzzle after finding the clue they were looking for. The journey does lead you to a few things that add value to it. You are told when you are booking the tour that the experience may vary and none of these are guaranteed. However, the typical tour involves a meet & greet with Peter Pan and a ride on Winnie the Pooh using the FastPass queue, before eventually ending with a Mickey Mouse meet & greet in Town Square. The whole experience takes right around 2 hours.
Our tour played out slightly different from the standard due to the 24 hour day. The guide was making a point to mention that this was special for the 24 hour event, which did make my boys at least feel a little more special. Also, due to the parade having an additional performance at noon, two things happened. First the negative, there was no Peter Pan at the location where we were supposed to meet him. I am assuming that this was because he was getting ready to be in the parade. The positive though was that we completed the tour and came out into Town Square right as the parade was coming off of Main Street and into the circle. Admittedly, most of that was luck, but it still played out pretty cool as we watched the parade from in front of Tony’s.
My family definitely enjoyed the tour and I feel that it did have value for the cost. However, that value may be relative. What is the value of adding additional FastPasses to your plan? Basically we got two additional FastPasses, one for riding Winnie the Pooh, and one for meeting Mickey. The Peter Pan meet and greet would definitely save time in line compared to what you may normally spend waiting to meet him. Comparing these experiences singularly to their counterparts outside of the tour seems like an immediate time savings, but you lose some of that as you complete the other tasks in the tour. Even that may balance out though. Let’s assume that Pooh and Mickey would each likely have at least a 30 minute standby time, and you could spend close to that waiting to meet Peter Pan. In the long run you may be adding a half hour to your plan, but gaining the experience of the tour and the memories that are made during it. And don’t forget that free bottle of Dasani, which saved you some cash. The repeatability of this tour may be in question. The value of the FastPasses would still be there, but losing the anticipation of what was going to happen next would probably decrease some of the overall entertainment value.
Overall in my opinion, the tour was very fun. The kids, and adults who don’t obsess about the parks, got to learn little tidbits about the park while having some fun and getting a unique experience. You also get that cool feeling of being part of a tour and having people stare at you while you get that preferred access to a ride and peek into spaces that they thought guests weren’t allowed in. Whereas I have wondered if some of the behind the scenes type tours may spoil the magic of the parks, this one definitely adds to it.