One of the things we enjoyed the most on our recent Disney World trip occurred on the last day, and was something new for us. We took the Undiscovered Future World tour at Epcot. Having previously done the Keys to the Kingdom tour at Magic Kingdom, as well as the Behind the Seeds tour at Epcot, we have found that there is lots of fascinating information shared “behind the scenes”, and so we now try to do a new tour every couple of visits, as the budget will allow.
If you have never had the opportunity to take any of the great tours at Walt Disney World, let me just say that the 3 that we have taken are well worth the cost. Having said that though, it is important to know that there IS a cost, and some of the tours are not cheap. And the cost for most is in addition to park admission (so be sure to ask when reserving to be prepared). But there is a huge variety in the Disney tours, as to subject, length, and cost, so there really is something for nearly everyone. Especially for folks who travel to Disney regularly, tours are a great way to learn some new things and make your visits even more fun!
So, if you want to take a tour on your next Disney World vacation, what do you need to know?
First, you will want to see what tours are available. The Disney World website offers a basic description of each, along with the cost, length, and age restrictions. (And a number of tours do have age restrictions on them: for those that go “behind stage”, you have to be old enough to be ok with what you will see….or potentially not see, if you get my drift…. ) I also found Allears.net to be helpful for additional information, reviews, and details like the fact that some tours offer discounts to Disney Visa cardholders, Annual Passholders, DVC members and more. (Note that her prices are not current, however: for up-to-date pricing refer to the Disney World website, or ask when calling to reserve).
Some things to think about as you decide on a tour are the weather forecast (many are outside, and you might want to consider, for example, a forecast of temps in the 40s when you book a Segway Tour), time of day and day(s) of week offered, and again, age restrictions.
Once you know which one you want to do, call 1-407-WDW-TOUR to make your reservation. Note that you will be paying in advance, however there is typically a 48 hour advance notice for cancellation to receive a full refund. Make note of what time you need to check in, and where: typically check-in will be 15 minutes or so before the tour starts. Inquire also about early admittance to the park, if your tour is at one of the parks, as many start before the park is officially open. Similar to early admittance for a character breakfast, you typically will enter at one designated turnstile, after giving the castmember your name.
And speaking of early admittance be sure to allow plenty of time, if using Disney transportation, to get from your resort to the park.
So, let’s talk about the tour that we took. The Undiscovered Future World tour is offered Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9 a.m. We were asked to check in at Guest Relations (left of Spaceship Earth) by 8:45, so in order to make certain we were not late, we were at our bus stop at Saratoga Springs at 8.
Once we signed in, we were given headphones so that we could better hear our guide as we toured the parks. I’m not a big headphones fan, but these were comfortable to wear, and really helpful, especially as we walked around outside. And when inside and not needed, we had the option to turn them off if we wished.
As to the Tour itself, well it was 4 hours long…and included lots of walking, as we visited nearly all of Future World. So comfortable shoes were definitely a must!
Our guide first started with a history of Walt Disney himself, and then gave the background and initial plans for Epcot. And then we began visiting most of the pavilions, where he offered a great deal of interesting background information, and details, many of which I am embarrassed to say that I just never really noticed before. For example:
- There are two “sides” to Future World and they are color-coordinated, with the walkways, signage, even the benches being either blue on one side or green on the other. This was specifically designed to help in providing guests directions: rather than saying “east” or “west” (which no one can figure out anyway), folks are simply directed to the “blue” or “green” side.
- The balloons in the Land Pavilion actually depict the 4 seasons (hence the name of the eatery “Sunshine Seasons”), and the 4 sections of Sunshine Seasons eatery actually are color-themed to each season. Take a look at the details for the “Autumn” section (notice the color scheme and fall leaves pattern on the table?):
- The mosaic that you see as you enter the Land pavilion depicts the layers of the earth.
- And so much more!! In fact, one major thing that I will always remember from this tour was to always “look up and look down” because pretty much everything you see is there for a reason. And those reasons are usually pretty cool!
We also had the chance to go “backstage” a few times as well, to see behind the magic, and that part is just as interesting. For example, we visited where the costumes are kept, we saw some of the animatronic figures in the Universe of Energy pavilion, toured the shop where the Test Track vehicles are serviced, and finished the tour where the Illuminations barge was being prepared for that night’s fireworks extravaganza.
And then at the end, we each received a pin.