Pulling Back the Curtain at WDW by Jenn Romano

For our wedding anniversary this year, my husband and I decided to take the Backstage Magic tour that brings guests backstage at all four of the parks at Walt Disney World. The tour lasts all day, and we had a blast! We visited many locations on the tour, but our two favorite spots were the American Adventure and Central Shops.
We have viewed the American Adventure many times, but for the tour, we had the rare opportunity to go underneath the stage and see how all of the pieces of this show work. The show scenes are all in several giant lifts that safely and silently move them into place during the 28 minute show. We also learned that the films are projected via rear projection so that there is no need for a projector in the theater area. It was amazing to see how this attraction works. All of the animatronics are created with so much detail that it is hard to believe they are not real people. We learned that a third host for the show was considered. Mark Twain and Ben Franklin could have been joined by Will Rogers, but WDI discovered by polling guests that very few people knew who Will Rogers was. Therefore, WDI stuck with the two original hosts for the show. Also, all of the wigs that are made for the animatronics are actually made of real human hair! Our guide, Michael, also shared that Ben Franklin was the first animatronic ever to walk. In his scene with Thomas Jefferson, Mr. Franklin walks up stairs. Just to see all of these characters moving as well as the details in each scene was pretty amazing!

Our other favorite stop on the tour was Central Shops, which is located behind Magic Kingdom next to the railroad roundhouse. This giant building is where all of the magic happens! This building houses all of the projects that WDW is working at any given time. There are ride vehicles in various states of completion as well as animatronics and character costumes. There is an entire room devoted just to making signs for every park. We learned that two of the monorails were built at Central Shops, and all of the wood in the Grand Floridian lobby was assembled at Central Shops. Basically, if you enjoy seeing how things are made and how the magic is brought to life, then Central Shops is a place you should visit. This tour is the only way for non Central Shops cast members to be allowed admittance.

While the above two stops were our favorite, we did visit some other backstage locations at Creative Costuming in Hollywood Studios, the maintenance bay for the vehicles at Tower of Terror as well as the utilidors at Magic Kingdom. Lunch at the Whispering Canyon Cafe was provided as part of the experience. The tour started at 8:45 am, and it didn’t end until a little after 4:00 in the evening. We really enjoyed ourselves, and it was a fantastic wedding anniversary.

This day long tour is expensive; it costs over $200 a person, and photos are strictly prohibited in backstage areas. We felt it was worth the price for all that we were able to see during the day. Hopefully, we can take more of these types of specialty tours in the future! Until next time, have a magical day and keep moving forward!

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