10 Best Behind-the-Scenes Theme Park Experiences
There's more to theme parks than what comes with the admission ticket. Here are 10 behind-the-scenes tours that take you behind the magic at your favorite parks.
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Disney's Keys to the Kingdom Tour
If you’ve ever wanted to pull back the curtain to learn the secrets behind Disney’s Magic Kingdom, the Keys to the Kingdom Tour is about as close as you can get. Not surprisingly, this tour is for adults only (why spoil the magic for the littles). This five-hour tour offers backstage access to hidden areas, including the super-secret underground service tunnels (which is why you’ll never see Mickey in two places at once).
Star Wars Guided Tour
We may need to wait until 2019 for Star Wars Land to open up at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but for now guests can sign up for the seven-hour Star Wars Guided Tour for an all-access pass to all things Star Wars. Enjoy a screening of Star Wars: Path of the Jedi, Jedi Training, meet-and-greets with Chewbacca and Kylo Ren, a special dessert party (featuring “inter-stellar sweets,” of course) and reserved fireworks viewing.
Ultimate Disney Classics VIP Tour
For lovers of iconic Magic Kingdom rides, like Pirates of the Caribbean and Dumbo the Flying Elephant, the brand new Ultimate Disney Classics VIP Tour is for you. Not only will you receive VIP treatment over four hours, but you’ll enjoy better-than-FastPass+ access to classic rides. As in, no wait at all. This is ideal for those who want to spend less time in line, more time taking in the magic of Magic Kingdom.
Roller Coaster Insider Tour
If you’ve ever wanted to do a deep dive into the science and engineering behind roller coasters, sign up for the three-hour Roller Coaster Insider Tour at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. This tour takes guests behind-the-scenes before the park even opens for the day to learn why certain coasters are designed the way they are and how they reach top speeds. As a bonus, step out at the top of the Griffon for 360-degree views.
Behind the Seeds Tour
The Living with the Land ride at Epcot has long been a favorite, enabling guests to float along in a boat through the greenhouse to learn about the future of agriculture. The one-hour Behind the Seeds Tour goes one step further, taking guests into four greenhouses and a fish farm to educate them on new techniques to grow bigger and better fruits and vegetables. There’s even a ladybug release, helping to protect the plants.
LEGOLAND VIP Experience
There’s so much more to LEGO than simply attaching one brick to another brick. Sign up for the LEGOLAND VIP Experience and you’ll be escorted around the park to learn all the behind-the-scenes scoop on LEGO. Even better, get ready for an exclusive tour of the Model Shop (where all the magical LEGO creations begin) and build your own creations with an actual Master Builder.
“Walk in Walt's Disneyland Footsteps” Guided Tour
Guests who want to learn more about Walt Disney as a visionary should book a spot on the “Walk in Walt's Disneyland Footsteps” Guided Tour at Disneyland in California. Perfect for historians of all ages, this morning tour will take you back to a time when Disneyland was a mere idea to learn about the trials, tribulations, challenges and inspirations behind one of the most famous theme parks in the world.
SeaWorld Orlando Behind-The-Scenes Tour
Lovers of marine animals, like manatees and sea turtles, may want to sign up for the 75-minute SeaWorld Orlando Behind-The-Scenes Tour, during which the park’s animal experts discuss how they rescue and rehabilitate sea animals at SeaWorld. As a bonus, guests can interact with one of the adorable king penguins. Ten percent of the tour price goes to marine conservation projects. A tour with a purpose. Nice.
Wild Africa Trek
Lovers of Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom, will want to sign up for the three-hour Wild Africa Trek for a more in-depth look at the animals that make Animal Kingdom their home, like rhinos, giraffes and hippos. Step outside the Jeep for a guided walk along the grasslands and savanna. As a bonus, Disney photogs capture it all, so you won’t miss a moment of your journey across the Harambe Reserve.
Halloween Horror Nights Behind-The-Screams: Unmasking the Horror Tour
For horror enthusiasts, it’s a must to sign up for Halloween Horror Nights Behind-The-Screams: Unmasking the Horror Tour at Universal Orlando. Choose a two- or four-hour tour for a backstage look into how the design team brings the horrifically scary haunted houses to life, much to the delight of guests who revel in all things frightening and bone-chilling. As you can imagine, this tour is not for children under 13.