Here’s how celebrities and diehard Disney fans navigate the parks stress-free.
alt Disney World Resort is full of premiums that make The Most Magical Place on Earth even more over-the-top, from club level at deluxe hotels to Disney’s elusive Club 33. But nothing is more high-end than a Disney World VIP tour. It’s a white (Mickey) glove service that cuts wait times, gives you unparalleled access to the most popular shows and attractions, and spoils you like a royal dignitary. Here’s everything you need to know about Disney World VIP tours, from the incredible perks to the real cost to the one question everyone always asks, “Is it really worth it?”
Think of VIP guided tours as a luxury add-on to park tickets. Admission is not included in the cost of private tours, and you have to make park reservations in advance for the parks you want to visit during your VIP tour. (So, if you want to park hop during your tour, you’d need to buy park hopper tickets.) One tour can accommodate up to 10 people, but the word tour doesn’t necessarily describe this experience. Yes, you have a tour guide for the day. But your tour isn’t a set tour of the parks. It’s totally customizable, changeable, and catered to your party’s wishes. There’s no set schedule. You essentially get insider access to the resort. Want to visit all four parks in one day? Done. Want to ride Space Mountain five times in a row? Done. A Disney World VIP tour is a curated experience to have your best day ever in the parks.
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How Much Is a Disney World VIP Tour?
The rate for a Disney World VIP tour just increased and ranges from $550 to $900…per hour. And there’s a minimum of seven hours to book a tour. So, the least-expensive Disney VIP tour is now $3,850. But remember: Up to 10 people can join one tour. If you’re splitting the bill with nine other folks, that’s $385 per person at the least-expensive rate. Of course, that would assume all ten people in your party are paying. Kids count toward the 10. Even toddlers. Even babies.
So, when is it the most budget-friendly? Looking at 2023 dates and rates so far, only one day in January had the $550 per hour rate left. February had none. Holidays, weekends, and anytime schools might be out, especially around long weekends where more people can travel, see the higher $900 per rate.
How Do You Book a VIP Tour?
Unlike park tickets, hotel reservations, or dining reservations, which can all be booked online or on the My Disney Experience app, you can only book a Disney World VIP tour by calling 407-560-4033. Disneyland has an email system, but Disney World is phone only. And if you’ve ever been personally victimized by the outrageous hold times for Disney World’s standard line, I’m here to tell you it’s a direct number just for tours and the wait times are low.
Like restaurants, you can book VIP tours up to 60 days in advance. But if you’re staying at one of Disney’s hotels, you can book 60 days before your resort stay. So, depending on how long your stay is, it could give you a couple of days head start compared to someone not staying on park property. For example, if you’ve booked a seven-night stay at Disney and you want your last day of the trip to be a VIP tour, you could book that date a week before others in the same 60-day time frame.
Let Mickey Take the Wheel
So, what makes this premium so beloved and bucket-list worthy for park fans? For starters, it’s that chauffeured 10-person passenger van. Disney World is massive. And park hopping around the resort eats up a lot of time, whether you’re waiting for the bus, the boat, the monorail, the Skyliner, or even rideshare. But with a Disney World VIP tour, you get to zip around and enjoy backstage drop offs with no big security lines, turnstile waits, or navigating endless parking lots. This is a clutch perk for the Magic Kingdom, where the parking lot is so far away from the actual park and requires an additional boat or monorail to get to the gates.
But know that the clock starts on your VIP hours as soon as your ride arrives. If you want to maximize your time in the parks with VIP status, you can also meet your guide at your park of choice.
Breeze Past the Crowds
Another big-time perk for a VIP tour is little-to-no wait on rides. I’ve seen folks tout this as no-wait or skip-the-line, but that’s not entirely true. Any attraction that has the new Lightning Lane (a fast pass-type line that’s an additional fee) is automatically included on a VIP tour. That’s rides, walk-through experiences, and character meet-and-greet attractions. And unlike Lightning Lane purchases, you can go again and again on nearly every ride (except the brand-new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance). You will have to wait in the Lightning Lane each time, but wait times are minimal compared to the standby queue.
Jump the Virtual Queue
And you also get to breeze past the virtual queue line. If you’re not familiar with Disney’s recent virtual queue system, it’s a lottery-style reservation that’s used to manage crowds for new attractions such as the new Guardians of the Galaxy coaster. But the booking process is kind of a frenzy as it opens up every morning at 7 a.m. on the Disney app, and boarding groups go faster than Cyber Monday deals. However, with a VIP tour, there’s no madness or worrying about when your boarding group time will be. You automatically get spots on a virtual queue ride. However, even this magic has limits. If you book multiple days of Disney World VIP tours, you can only skip the virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy once over your days of touring. Still, sleeping in for one morning and not worrying about a virtual queue on vacation is magic enough.
Best Seat in the House
Like rides, you can enjoy all the Lightning Lanes for show attractions on a VIP tour. And that is a huge perk for marquee shows such as “Festival of the Lion King” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Not only are you guaranteed a seat, you get a great one. VIP tours have the best seats, which often include being picked for audience participation.
In addition to shows, VIP tours enjoy a reserved viewing area for nighttime fireworks at the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. And that reason alone is why I would love to do a VIP tour. Waiting for the fireworks is such a thing now. People set up camp hours before the show starts to get a good spot. But if you’re on a VIP tour, you only need to show up 15 minutes prior. And the show itself doesn’t eat into your tour time. To enjoy the reserved viewing area, your tour has to end 15 minutes prior to the show time. So, it’s one last perk after your VIP hours are up–a kiss goodnight, as Disney likes to say.
Luxury Park Hoping
Hospitality and customer service at Disney World is known as “the Disney difference” in the tourism industry because there’s so much attention to detail, from free buttons for celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones to being “pixie dusted” for surprise hotel upgrades or attraction experiences. But a VIP tour is like being pixie dusted all day. Your tour guide is part personal assistant, always aiming to please and pamper. That could mean having water handy when you get off a long ride in the sun or surprising the group in the afternoon with Mickey ice cream bars. With service like this, don’t forget to tip your guide at the end of the day. It’s not required, but, in this writer’s opinion, Disney Cast Members are the real magic and go out of their way to make experiences even more special. If you’re wondering how much to tip for a Disney World VIP tour, 20 percent is a good rule of thumb.
Go Behind the Scenes
VIP tours can be a great option for wheelchair users, slow walkers, and others who can’t stand for long periods because there are tons of shortcuts for getting around the parks. And that’s because, on a VIP tour, you get to go backstage in areas typically off-limits for guests. There are very strict rules about being backstage: No video recording or photography. Still, it’s cool to see the behind-the-scenes magic, and the Disney touches that only Cast Members get to see.
Your VIP tour guide is basically a personal concierge. And that can come in handy when plans change. Or, rather, mother nature’s plans change. You could go into a VIP tour thinking you want to ride Expedition Everest all afternoon, but if a ride is down or Central Florida gets one of those infamous thunderstorms, your plans will need to shift. A VIP tour guide is trained to fix on the fly and troubleshoot with swaps. And they usually have some pull for dining, too. If you’ve been trying to get into a popular table service restaurant (I don’t think I’ll ever see the inside of Space 220. I’m beginning to think it doesn’t really exist.), the tour guide can always inquire. It’s not guaranteed, but they can typically make some magic happen.
Hangout With a Plaid
You’ve probably seen a Disney World VIP tour in the parks, especially if the group was walking around with a Cast Member dressed in a Mad Men-esque outfit and a plaid vest. The “plaids,” as park fans call them, have bucket-list, Disney milestone status because it’s synonymous with being a VIP. And being a plaid is an esteemed role within the company, as the costume is reserved for VIP tour guides and guest relations personnel–the people you talk to when a problem is escalated. As such, plaids have to know a lot about Disney. And one of the coolest perks of a VIP tour is learning Disney World trivia and having your guide point out design Easter eggs throughout the park.
Maximize the Magic
Full stop: This premium isn’t doable for most families and budgets. It’s the peak of mouse house luxury and allows you to do things that are nearly impossible for other park guests. And if you’re trying to teach your children patience, taking turns, sharing, or any other themes for an egalitarian society, this is not the activity for you. But a vacation at Disney World is typically an escape from reality–a place to celebrate and splurge when you can. And if you’re already budgeting Disney Genie+ for a week, you may find a VIP tour better fit your to-dos and must-sees. At its highest rate this year, Genie+ was $29 per person per day at Disney World. For ten people, that’s nearly $300 a day. Add an a la carte ride that’s not included in standard Genie+, and that could be an additional $15 a day per person. Park hop and add another a la carte ride, and you could easily spend $50+ per person per day. If you’re already budgeting a week or more of Genie+ or Genie+ and club level at a hotel, it may be more efficient to do it up in style with a blowout VIP tour day and then have other days by the pool at the resort with no theme park admission. It’s all a sliding scale. But make no mistake, a VIP tour will always be at the far end of that scale. At its highest rate for a full 14-hour park day at the Magic Kingdom, a tour would be $12,600.