It’s not just about skipping long lines in California or Florida. Here’s what to expect booking Disney VIP tours.
I had so many questions about hiring a VIP tour guide at Disney World.
- How do private tour companies differ from the official Disney tours?
- When are the services worth it?
- What is actually included?
- What is the cost of a Disney VIP tour?
- How much gratuity to pay your Disney VIP guide
Here’s my best effort at answering questions regarding Disney VIP tour guides you may be considering for your Disney World vacation, which is definitely the indulgent and desirable “Enchanted Extra” in Disney speak, or “Expensive Extra” in my speak.
Read on for Disney’s private tours, non-Disney private tours and when to use each. There’s a time and place for each kind. Looking for a Disneyland VIP guide? Read about our experience in California.
Different Types of Disney VIP Tours
I have used both private companies and the official tours from Disney. Disney World offers more options because there are more parks, more group VIP tours, and more unofficial tour companies in the market.
The most exclusive option is the Disney Private Premium VIP Tours where the “plaid vests” escort you around the park like a celebrity. You’ll use backstage areas to maximize your time park-hopping in less time and have access to all Lightning Lanes (the expedited priority line at rides) with your guide. It’s not truly front of the line access, but it’s close, and your wait times will be minimal.
If you plan to use a non-Disney tour company, stick with a company that has been around a few years and check their Trip Advisor reviews. We only book the best private companies for our clients that we use for our own families.
Be wary of any tour company that seems too good of a deal or whose promises include things like “Any ride you want” which indicates bending Disney’s rules or worse, exploiting Disney’s disability passes, the lowest of the low.
Disney VIP Tours Cost?
Disney World Private Premium VIP Tours cost significantly more than the non-Disney VIP tour companies.
The official Disney World Private Premium VIP Tours vary from $425 to $900 per hour with a seven-hour minimum. The dynamic pricing surges during three-day weekends and holidays. Best hourly rate is midweek outside of the high cost of Spring Break and Christmas season.
Disney allows guests to tour up to 10 continuous hours, and those hours beyond the first seven can be added while on your tour. You do not have to book your total hours in advance beyond the minimum seven. That brings the total Disney VIP tour cost between $2,800 to $4,200 for the experience, before gratuities.
Disney VIP Tour Tips and Gratuities
It is critical to incorporate your guide’s tip into your tour budget. A minimum of one hour’s rate should be given, and more if you can offer it. It is easy to bring cash, but most guides will share their Venmo account to make it easy to pay at the end of your tour since you cannot use a credit card.
VIP Tour Maximum Party Size?
All Disney VIP tours are designed for parties of no more than 10 people. Disney will require a second cast member guide for parties larger than 10. Infants, unfortunately, are included in that headcount of family members.
That second guide will stay close to the first group, but it offers a change for families to divide up by thrill level, too. Also, the 10 guests registered for the tour must be the same 10 guests throughout the tour. No changing family or friends within the parks allowed.
What is the Disneyland VIP tour cost?
Just like a Disney World VIP tour, here’s what to expect for a Disneyland VIP tour (Read our review of a tour from start to finish). They cost between $425 and $850 per hour with a 7 hour minimum. You can bring up to 10 people, including infants.
Non-Disney companies run from $200 to $350 per hour, typically with a six-hour minimum, bringing the total from $1200 to $2,500. The cost per hour for all companies varies due to the demand of the season.
The holiday week of Christmas and New Year’s Day is the busiest time of year. VIP services are most useful and in demand, so book early. The second busiest time is in March when Florida public schools are on Spring Break. Big states like Texas often share the same week, making it one of the toughest weeks to get hotel and dining reservations.
VIP Disney World Planning Services
Don’t stress, it’s a vacation. Luxe Recess is the leader in planning luxury Disney vacations, especially for those families who aren’t Disney die-hards. Read more about our services and fees. We’ll plan a five-star Orlando adventure for your family.
Disney World VIP Tour FAQs
What exactly does a Disney VIP tour guide do compared to a non-Disney guide?
This is where the experience differs between the official Disney VIP Tours and the non-Disney companies.
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Pre-Arrival and Dining Reservation Assistance
Disney’s Private Premium VIP Disney Tours only offers assistance for the day of your tour. They can assist with park tickets and reservations and dining, but they can only procure a dining reservation that was available on the public site. They also do not begin booking these until 9AM, and you could be booking your hard to get table as of 6AM that day.
Private companies will offer more hand holding in vacation planning, sometimes for an additional fee. This will include ticket booking, as well as park and dining reservations.
The day of your VIP Disney Tour
Your Disney guide can pick you up at your hotel or meet you inside the parks. I usually discuss the advantages of each option with my clients.
The Disney guides have access to all Lightning Lanes and can put you in the expedited lines to reduce wait time. The guides stay with you in line until you board the ride, so we would also get the first seats of each ride. Some rides have secret entrances that the Disney guides use at Magic Kingdom, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise!
When you are ready to move to the other parks, you can use backstage entrances where a VIP vehicle is yours for the duration of the tour. We were met with a snack basket by another guide outside our van to grab some chips.
After certain rides, our guide would meet us with bottles of water, Mickey bars, and Mickey pretzels. Not all guides do this, but the ones I request do. We did a 10-hour stint this summer in the crazy heat, and those snacks and waters made it physically possible.
People rarely book sit down meals during their tours. It’s a day for ordering quick service meals using the mobile app. There is a VIP fireworks viewing area for Magic Kingdom if you time your tour to conclude when the fireworks begin. I can help you map all of this out.
The Non-Disney VIP Experience
Our non-Disney guide introduced herself by phone and asked us about our ride priorities to create a loose plan for our tour. She offered to arrange private transportation or guide us on the best parking options.
Our non-Disney guide used her detailed knowledge of the rides, their duration, their wait time patterns, and locations to maximize our time so that we saw as much as possible. She asked what we had never done and weighed in one rides we should try at least once.
While she didn’t have Disney’s line access, there are definitely patterns to learn when you do this every day that gives you far greater expertise than a typical Disney park goer, even an enthusiast passholder.
In addition to a park plan, there are several concierge-type experiences that our guide offered. At each ride, she parked our strollers and waited for us with our stroller at the exit. She would go get waters, popcorn, or iced tea while we were on a ride and had them waiting for us.
Our VIP guide took pictures of us with her phone, and she extracted my camera from around my neck a few times so that we now have proof that I was actually at Disney World with my family, a wonderful perk for me that lasts long after the tour.
Towards the lunch hour, she took our orders, set us on rides, and then we met her at the Columbia Harbor House where she waited for us with our plates of salmon and broccoli at the table. My husband thought this service was worth its weight in gold.
The perks of a true Disney World expert
They were, of course, many moments where our guide’s park knowledge surpassed my own, and I loved it. On the Buzz Lightyear ride, we were playfully competitive shooting lasers at Zurg’s various targets.
She sat with me and showed me where to shoot my laser gun. By the time we had gone through the first room, she had maxed out the score at 999,999. Sit on the left side. Now I know. Lots of little insider tricks of hers made the rides more fun.
What if you already know the Disney parks really well?
There were many intangible perks to using a guide, too. I still found Disney VIP Tours different because I was able to enjoy the day without being the family navigator, planner, and boss. I could truly check out and not be in charge. This gave me the opportunity to let the experiences reach my own inner six-year-old much more easily. I smiled a lot more. Worth every penny.
Another benefit is how the dynamics shift when a neutral party is involved and in charge. If you are traveling in a group where more than one person wants to take charge, a tour guide smooths the tension. Especially for multi-generational trips where there may be too many cooks in the kitchen.
After we finished our day with our guide, we pulled into the Four Seasons Orlando, my daughter gave our guide a big hug, and I was so grateful to experience Magic Kingdom park in a way that felt like a real vacation for me.
When to splurge for Disney’s Premium Private VIP tours for ultimate backstage access
Ride access is more challenging now, and even the best Genie Plus users will adit it is harder now to get ride access. So if you are going to ride all of the new rides, ride all of the best rides, or try and combine more than one park in a day, you need a VIP tour.
With the Premium Private VIP tours, you are paying for their VIP Lightning Lane access for any ride (formerly the FastPass line) to avoid long waits. These Lightning Lanes are at most of the rides at all of the theme parks, especially guests’ favorite attractions.
Younger children’s energy will put a ceiling on the special access you have paid for, and some attractions offer no Lightning Lane, so you are still might wait in line for things, even with a VIP escort and the magic access they offer.
If you have small children and you are still traveling with strollers, I think the private guides can give parents a major perk of a much needed break leading the family around Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom with a pro. You’re tired. You deserve it. Make this the best day for all of you.
Which parks and attractions work best with Disney VIP guides?
Truthfully, all parks are on the table now given that Epcot, where guides didn’t use to visit, is now the hot park to take people on the latest Guardians of the Galaxy coaster. (It’s that good!)
Magic Kingdom’s number of rides and roller coasters puts it in its own league compared to the other Walt Disney World Resort parks. It has more Lightning Lane experiences than any other park, and the layout is vast and can be overwhelming for newbies. The timing of all the attractions and crowd formations is not easy to learn if you’ve only been a few times. And Hollywood Studios has many great rides and a very confusing layout, so I never suggest people visit their first time without a guide there, either.
In our four park whirlwind tour with our Disney guide, we got to ride the following rides. Rise of the Resistance, Smuggler’s Run, Star Tours, Flight of Passage, Toy Story Mania, Slinky Dog Dash, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Tower of Terror, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Kilimanjaro Safaris, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Expedition Everest, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, just to name a few.
If I were organizing a multi-generational family vacation to Disney World, I would also use the services of a VIP tour. To assign the leadership to a knowledgeable nonmember of the family keeps everyone happy.
People who go to Disney once and hate it simply don’t know what they were doing. It is a complicated trip. The goal is to have fun, and you’ll have a lot more fun and better memories when your kids aren’t seeing you stressed trying to figure out where to go or what to do when you don’t have a clue.
I would also book a tour if I dreaded the idea of going to Disney and wanted the “one and done” approach. Warning: I thought I was going to be one of those people, but several thousand dollars later, Disney has the last laugh.
Need an expert to take over the planning? We plan your Disney World vacations. I’ll share what VIP experiences are worth every penny and tell you what to skip.
Headed to Universal Studios? Check out why the Universal VIP Tours are worth every penny, and we book those, too!