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The Bougiest Day at Disneyland: An Insider's Guide to VIP Tours with George



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Show Summary

Step behind the velvet rope with me and my good friend George, as we unveil the allure of Disneyland's VIP tours. – an experience usually whispered about among the elite and celebrity circles. George and I get candid about details of the cost and what is included in VIP tours, the etiquette of tipping, how to get the most out of your VIP day. 


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0:00 Intro

 

Show Transcript

Welcome to the ParkMagic podcast, your place for insider tips for your next Disneyland Adventure. Whether you're a first-timer or first-time-in-a-while visitor, we're here to unwrap the secrets to creating and simplifying your dream Disneyland vacation.


Robyn:
"Disneyland Famous" What is a VIP Tour?

Have you ever wanted to go to Disneyland just like Taylor Swift or Beyoncé? Well, today we're going to be talking about the way the rich and famous experience Disneyland that you can do as well, and have almost the same experience as them. we're talking about VIP tours, which is the booziest way to do Disneyland, but it is also fantastic. So, I have my friend and co-founder, George, here to talk to us a little bit about VIP.


George:

Okay, well, first of all, it's great to be back with you, Robyn. Hi, everyone out there. And I love talking about VIP tours, partly because they're really amazing things to do. But also because there's so much misinformation about them. It's kind of shrouded in secrecy. What the heck is one of these things? And what exactly do you do when you're on one? Well, I heard that this happens. But let's dispel all the myths and rumors, let's get down to the nitty-gritty of it. And let's talk about what it actually means to do a VIP tour in Disneyland.


The first thing that I want to say is, there have been a lot of things you can do at Disneyland that have the word tour in them. And so you may have heard about someone did a tour and someone else did a tour, it doesn't necessarily mean that they did the big fancy, expensive, bougie VIP tour. And just like most things in life, there's an economical version of stuff. And there's an even crazier, expensive version of stuff. But let's just quickly recap the different versions.


Back in the day, you could do something called "Walk in Walt's Footsteps," and there was a handful of other tours, I think they may have even called one of those things, the VIP tours. But what those group tours were was not a private individualized tour experience. It was a group tour. So just like you may have done, you know, on vacation in Europe or anywhere else, you stay in a group, you will have those little earpieces so you can hear the leader talk. And then the leader, who is wearing plaid like you may have seen in the park, takes you around and that cast member, your tour guide, will show you all the different things but it's always you stay together in a group and you travel as a group. If you experience any attractions, you experience them as a group, if you have a little dining, you dine as a group. And at the end of the tour, it's a few hours, you may have ridden some rides, you may have had a few snacks, but you did a group tour around Disneyland. And that's great.


The first thing I wanted to just make clear is for $100 or $200, you can join a group tour. And you can have kind of a VIP experience because you get to walk around with a plan and you get to see things that people don't normally see. And that experience only set you back a couple of $100. But that's not what we're talking about. Even though the word tour is in that, we're talking about something else. And what we're talking about is a private VIP tour. And the private VIP tour is a completely different animal, you don't pay per person you pay for, for up to 10 people, and but as your 10 people, so you're not going to be connected with random strangers, you can just choose up to nine more of your favorite folks to join you. And for this one price you pay by the hour. And since you're paying by the hour, it's up to you to decide how many hours you'd like to go. Now there's a minimum of seven hours, and there is an upper maximum, I believe it's 10, or maybe 12 hours. And frankly, you probably wouldn't want to go past that anyway, because in the seven hours, which is the minimum, you're probably going to ride every single thing you and your friends want to ride anyway. And plus going much further than the maximum wouldn't make sense anyway, because you and especially your tour guide, you just all gonna get tired of bouncing around the park.


Now the other thing I wanted to say is the price varies from $500 to $700 an hour and just figure for planning purposes figure it's going to cost about $600 an hour, however, on the busier days, it's going to be $700 an hour. And now on the less crowded day is going to be $500 an hour. So the price varies that way too. And for those 7 to 10 hours you can do whatever it is you want to do inside the park, the tour guide, he or she, the tour guide is sort of yours to say here's what I want to do. Let's do what I want to do. It's all going to be about me today. And your tour guide can take you to the rides. Your tour guide can take you to any other experiences but your tour guide cannot take you to like the backstage areas. You can't say well, I've always wanted to see what the dumpsters look like show me what those look like. No, no, that's not what we do not a skip the line situation. It is not a very front of the line situation. You know, you may have heard, or you may have just concluded that if I'm on a $6,000 experience, if I'm paying $600 an hour to be led around the park, when it comes my turn to get into the back of the line. I skip right to the front. And that unfortunately is not true. What happens is your tour guide gives you access to the lightning lane, but you're still gonna spend as you already know, about five or 10 minutes in the lightning lane. And so if that's something that you were expecting to do, you got to reset your expectations a little bit. Now that said, on a VIP tour, that is the fastest way to see Disneyland hands down, there is no faster or better way to see Disneyland than on a VIP tour. But you're going to stand in the lightning lanes. And mostly, that's great, mostly the lightning lanes are awesome. They're always better than the standby line. But just so you're aware, there may be a disability folks currently using the lightning lanes, there may be other folks who you know, just buy regular Genie through the lightning lanes, so there's all kinds of other people who may be in the lightning lane with you just make some friends have a good time. Definitely I won't empty the lightning Lane just for a VIP doer. The VIP Doer joins the lightning.


Robyn:
Ditch the Genie!

So, one of the nice things is you don't have to finagle with Genie Plus, and unlike Genie Plus, if you want to ride Space Mountain six times, your VIP tour will let you do that. I've done that before; you have to have a strong stomach to do it. But you can ride the same ride multiple times, which is one way that it does make it a little different.


George:

My A number one is this, and that is you might look at these prices and go, ‘OMG, you're kidding me. I'm already paying how much for tickets and the hotel and the flights and everything else, and you want me to add $6,000 to my vacation.’ But think about it this way. If you go, especially during your credit time, and you want to experience like all the park has to offer, you might have to spend three or four days to get it all in. And that's three or four days of you standing in the hour-long lines, you know, dealing with all the crowds. But add up the price, your hotel might be several $100 a night, the food that you're going to eat that day for being in the park, those days are going to be several $100, you know, blah, blah, blah, you add it all up. An alternative way to look at that is you could do a VIP tour and instead spend two days that cuts your hotel budget in half and cut your food budget in half that cuts all these other things in half, it might not seem as crazy as it sounds to spend $6,000 on a VIP tour experience because it means you can get it all done in much less time. So depending on how the math works out to what kind of hotel you're renting, you may be better off doing one hot and heavy hard day, instead of like for death marches all day long and the entire park. So that's my number one tip on why this sounds like a lot. But in reality, it might not be that much.


Robyn:

You're able to get so much more done. And there are some people who just can't take four or five days off, maybe their work is demanding. And this is the most that they're able to do. So this is a great way to do that. Especially if you're coming at peak times when hotels end up being the most expensive.


George:

These are wonderful human beings. They know a lot about Disney, they're friendly, they want to make sure you have a good time and just spending time with the tour guides. Never mind that you're in the happiest place on earth. And you're, you know, doing all these wonderful experiences and rides and what not. Just spending the day with wonderful people who are friendly and are just happy human beings that does your heart good. So I mean, the people, the experience, the fact that maybe in the long run, it saves you money so it's not as expensive as you might think. I think net net on net when you add it all up, this is a wonderful thing to do. Occasionally if you want to splurge, don't do it every trip to Disney but every now and then when you feel like splurging, this is a great way to. 


Dining and Snacking on A VIP Tour

The other thing is it's not unlimited, all you can eat everything. In fact, snacks are not included, food is not included, your tour guide can absolutely buy a bottle of water if you're thirsty, right, you know, so that's kind of included. But I would prefer for you to think that really nothing's included. Now however, what a lot of the tour guides do is they're very helpful when it comes to buying snacks for their guests. But the easiest thing to do in that case is they just have one of the guests hand over their credit card to their tour guide. And then when the tour guide needs to go buy something on behalf of their guests. And he or she will be happy to do that for you but they'll do it for you with your credit card because like food and snacks and everything is not automatically included.


Now, to that end, when it comes to restaurants and dining. That's another thing you need to be aware of is that you pay $600 an hour or whatever the rate is for your trip. And that keeps ticking even when you stop and sit down and have a nice meal. So perhaps you've got a nice reservation already. And remember, the tour guide can't magically do that for you. If you really want to eat at a restaurant and during your tour, you'll have to get the reservation yourself, they can't make that magically go away. But then during your sit-down restaurant, you're still paying $600 an hour. So what most tour guides recommend is during the course of your tour, whenever you're kind of on the clock, so to speak, maximize that by doing the rides, or doing the shows. The tour guide I should have mentioned this earlier, a tour guide also can get you reserved seating for the firework show and reserved seating for the parade. So you'd have to fight the crowds there and that's really great. But when it comes time to sitting down enjoying a nice, long, leisurely meal, it's best to schedule that at the end of your experience. And since you can control the start and stop times, perhaps you get started, you know, whatever in the morning and then by the time you end, end right when your reservation for dinner starts so you'll say goodbye to your tour guide. You know you will thank them for their wonderful day, you'll give them a tip and we'll talk more about that in a second and then they leave and you sit down to enjoy the rest of your meal together when you're off the clock.


Robyn:

I was actually having a glass of water at Pizza Planet, and when one of the tour guides was around looking for a place for their group to sit. So a lot of people will mobile order on their VIP tours and try to get something quick. So you know you're not having your $200 Blue Bayou dinner is not now $700. They don't even have like a pre-roped off area for you to sit. So the biggest thing is that you're getting expedited, not under the line, but expedited access to the attractions. But also, they have all these fun facts, they usually know things. They will help you customize and identify exactly what rides your family will like. And it can be a really magical experience.


George:

Yeah, the other thing is, since we're talking about snacks, mobile ordering is great. And don't get me wrong, I love mobile ordering. But when I'm on a tour, sometimes I think the vibe that works out better is ask your tour guide if they're willing to because you can't boss them around. But ask your tour guide if they're willing to while you're riding a ride because, you know, some tour guides like to ride with their guests. Other tour guides don't if you can imagine if this is your nine-to-five day job. If you're in the parks every single day helping people have fun, you might not want to ride Space Mountain every single day. So if your tour guide wants to take a break and join you at the exit of the ride while you go and experience the ride without them, that's fine. You know, please let them, don't boss them around. But if they're willing, you could ask your tour guide to go grab a nachos or a churro or you know, whatever they can grab in the park, even your tour guide may even use mobile order to do it. But whatever your tour guide does, if they're willing to grab you a snack while you're on the ride, you can really maximize your time because as you're coming off the ride, then your tour guide will have your snacks there and you can eat your snacks while you're walking to the next thing. That's a nice way to take advantage of your time.


Robyn:

It is really nice to be able to get off a ride and have a tasty little snack kind of ready and waiting for you. 


George:
Tipping Your Disneyland VIP Tour Guide

The other thing I want to make sure that we talk about before we do anything else about VIP tours and that is, you know the costs about, you know, five or $6,000. But let's talk about gratuities, tips. This is one of the things that sometimes makes people uncomfortable to discuss tips and so often it's hard to get like any hard cold facts about it. The Disney website often has some very like vague language like, you know, your gratuities are always accepted, but never mandatory, you know, blah, blah, blah. But the hard cold fact of it is a tour guide deserves to be tipped, because of their great service they're giving you the tip is generally expected to be in the range of about 10%. Even higher, maybe as high as 20% if the service is amazing, but of what the cost of the tour. And so when you're paying $5,000 a 10% tip on $5,000 of course $500. And people for whom those amounts are no big deal probably won't push back on that. But if this is something you're kind of reaching for saving up for if you're splurging, a $500 tip on top of a $5,000 tour is gonna sound excessive. But I want to let you know in kind of cold hard facts, that that's kind of the range that's happening out there. And so if you're wondering if you're under tipping your tour guide or over tipping your tour guide, let me tell you that $500 is about average $1,000, which would be 20%. Give or take of what the tour cost you would be a very generous tip that's at the very high, high end of the range. But unfortunately, like $100, which in other circumstances may be a very generous tip, if you were led on a tour of somewhere else, and tip your tour guide $100 That might be super generous, but in this context that actually is far below the average and of course naturally, someone who doesn't want to tip at all that's the worst because your tour guide really, really worked hard for you and so he or she will deserve that recognition. And then the one last thing I wanted to say about the tips and Robyn I'd love to hear your thoughts about tipping your guide. 


The one last thing I want to say is some people mistakenly think that their $6,000 that they paid goes to the tour guide and nothing could be further from the truth that goes right to Disney's bottom line. You know they're a for-profit company, they're doing this to make money. And so Disney keeps all that money and the tour guide is paid just an hourly rate like a regular cast member and so you know figure in the neighborhood of 20 bucks an hour or whatever it is, I don't really know and you know, I don't wouldn't ever ask a tour guide what they get paid but I do know that it's in the range of a normal cast member, maybe a little higher than your average cast member but still it is not anywhere close to the amount of money you pay. They don't see that at all. What they will see is a regular, kind of a low $20 an hour range.


Robyn:

It is an expensive day. But you know it is a really magical day and it can be really great especially if you're somebody that has the extra income and you're looking for kind of like a carefree, maybe you're the person that does all the planning on the trip you're really looking for somebody that kind of take the reigns and guide you through where you don't have to do maybe as much research into the rides. I know that my family has been able to do a VIP tour do the tour with a friend that has been really really amazing and one of like my favorite memories of all time is the time that we spent on those VIP Tours. The way that the the tour guide like interacted this was a Disney World but the way the tour guide interacted with my son and you know, got my son to ride a roller coaster for the first time. And my son was so enamored with this particular cast member that cast member had said, you know, if you try this roller coaster all by you and ice cream, and you know, so he tried the roller coaster, he got the ice cream. And then six months later, I'm cleaning up his room. I'm like, ‘Dude, how do you have trash from Disney World?’ In Europe, he had saved the ice cream wrapper. And he's like, ‘No, no, no, that's not trash. That's the ice cream from my from our tour guide.’ And so we actually now have that ice cream wrapper framed in his room. And it's one of his most treasured possessions. So while it was awesome, and it was amazing to get to see the shows and ride the rides, when he says that the cast members, the tour guides are doing a lot, they really do go out of their way to make magic, any way possible for your family, within some very tight constraints. But it really is a magical, wonderful day.


George:

Yes. And I'm glad you use that phrase, make magic, because all of us have had from time to time an amazing experience with a cast member or a guest relations cast member where someone goes out of their way to make a little magic for you. It's rare, but it does happen and when it happens, boy, it's delightful. You know, Disneyland, the Disney company likes to refer to that as surprise and delight when people are delighted by these little interactions and when you're experiencing Disney as a regular day guest, it's wonderful sometimes, you'll maybe have an occasion, one or two times where you get a little extra pixie dust sprinkle on you by a cast member, it’s just a delight. But this, this, if you're gonna splurge for this experience, this is a way to have pixie dust sprinkled on you continuously all day long. And so that makes it extra fun. 


But yeah, you touched on something that I think was really interesting. And that is kind of dovetails nicely into the why tipping is sort of a suggested range and not like some specific number. And that is when you get an amazing tour guide who just absolutely knocks it out of the park for you and elevates the experience beyond just getting you access to the lightning lanes, just elevates the experience in every way as bonding with your family and having a great time. Everybody wins, because that's what the tour guide wants to provide. That's what you, of course, want to receive from your tour guide and that's when it's totally appropriate to step up and be very generous with your tips to thank them for such a wonderful day.


Now, I'm definitely never gonna throw shade on Disney cast members at all. But I'm not saying, every tour guide is not the same and if you go ahead and do a VIP tour, you're gonna get assigned someone who could be A++, 10 out of 10, 11 out of 10, or you might get signed someone who is maybe a B+ player, you know, 9 out of 10, you're gonna have a wonderful day, no matter what, that person is gonna be friendly, and you get you into all the lightning lanes, but they just might not have that same spark. And so that's where it would be appropriate to adjust what you think is fair for gratuity at the end.


I'll tell you one quick story. And again, I'm not trying to throw shade in anybody. I'll tell you one quick story, we found ourselves at Disneyland last-minute trip. And all that regular tour guides have been or all the tours had been assigned all the regular tour guides who are normally tour guides have been assigned, no more tour guides in the end. So I looked at the guest relation folks, I'm like, ‘Look, it's kind of a special situation. We're only here in Anaheim for one day, I got friends with me, we've never seen Disney and I really got to show them a good time. It's really busy, it's gonna take us forever to do standby lines, are you sure you couldn't maybe reassign someone from another role and have them be a VIP tour guide for today and take us around the park.’ So they called around, and they found a guest relation person. Well, not very experienced and hadn't done many tours, but they called a guest relations person. And that cast member came on board as our VIP tour guide. And we had a fun time, no doubt about it. But it was clear that this person had never really done a VIP tour before didn't really know how they work. And so I almost felt like I was giving her the VIP tour around the park. And the reason I mentioned this story is just to say that look, you're gonna have a wonderful time and your tour guide is gonna be amazing. It's just like anything else. Sometimes when you go out to dinner, you have a fantastic server and sometimes your server’s just okay, so, you know, set your expectations accordingly. But what you're promised will actually be delivered. And that is lightning and access to every attraction and reserved seating for the fireworks and reserved seating for the parades if that's what you want to do. That's the deal and you will definitely get the deal.


Robyn:
Reserved Seating for Parades and Fireworks

I think one question I see a lot is, do I have to schedule if I want reserved seating for the fireworks or for the parade? Does that have to be during my VIP tour hours, or can I book it earlier in the day and then go see the, go to those, check into those reserved spots after my VIP tour is completed for the day?


George:

Well, what I do know for sure is, when your VIP tour is coming to an end, your tour guide can say goodbye to you as you begin that last thing on your own. And so the timing wouldn't really work out for a seven-hour tour to end during the parades. But you can tell your tour guide, yep, there's a lot of, there's a little bit of like planning ahead of time as you arrange the tour because, you know, they don't have a form right on the website where you can just put it in your cart and checkout; now you've got a tour. It's more like a kind of a manual process as you, you send an email, you know, your response back, and then they ask for your credit card info, blah, blah, blah, it's a little back and forth. So in that back and forth sort of pre-planning stages as you plan for your day, Disney will want you to communicate with them what activities you're interested in doing. And so you'll have to kind of indicate your proposed start time, proposed location, which Park would you like to start in, you know, where do you want to meet your tour guide? And then what do you intend on doing? What are your must-dos? So make sure your tour guide knows that you are going to do everything you want, but like, what are the ones that are really important to you? So they can help plan for that. And then the important thing is, where do you want your tour to end? And do you want to see the fireworks as part of that, of the breaks? And they will make all the arrangements so you can actually watch the fireworks right as you say goodbye to your tour guide, your tour guide will get you into the great viewing area that's reserved for you. And then you say goodbye to them and enjoy the fireworks, and then go home.


Robyn:

And I believe that's one of the only ways to sit down and watch the fireworks in front of the castle.


George:

Well, I've had my fair share of, I've been standing here for three hours, I'm going to sit when the fireworks start, sorry. I've sent my butt down right on the street there plenty of times, but the only way, the only way to have like the bougie folding chair and like sit down and relax and plus, you know, you think ‘Oh’.


Robyn:

The phrase bougie folding chairs is the one you get to use every day. 


George:

Well, fair enough. Fair enough.


Robyn:

No, but it is. It is a bougie thing to be able to sit in a full folding chair to watch the fireworks.


George:

Well, just like my bougie churro, you know, churros aren't bougie food for sure but when when when is handed to you as you step off a ride that is definitely the bougiest of churros. But yeah, if you think about it for a minute, it's like, Oh my god, last time I waited for fireworks, I was there for two hours, having a chair to sit down would be great.’ Well, the best news is, not only do you have a wonderful folding chair to sit on, and believe me is better than standing. You don't have to get there two hours ahead of time. You can get there five minutes before it starts and be like ‘Oh, hello, Mr. Lawrence’. 


Robyn:

Table for one?


George:

Yes! That's a delight. But yeah, in that, if you have any additional questions about well, we want to do this, we want to do that but we'd like our tour to end here, but still do that other thing. Those are all the questions you can ask in that kind of pre-planning stages as you're emailing back and forth with Disney and they're kind of putting the tour plan together for you.


Robyn:

And that's also a great user, you want to do that ahead of time and then also the day of the tour, you want to say like these are the things that I wanted to do. These are our priorities. And then the cast member will usually be like, ‘Alright, well let's do these first,’ or let you know, like they'll give you some, they'll kind of help you figure out how to organize that day. But if you can come in kind of knowing what you want to do or what you don't want to do, I feel like that's helpful. What are some other tips to get the most out of your VIP tour?


George:
Finding Your Disney VIP Tour Zen

Well, you know, I'm a real fan of talking about Disney's Zen, you know, your attitude and having a good positive attitude is really important. Now, it's hard to have a bad attitude when you're on a VIP tour because everything is about you, but every now and then something might happen where your tour guide might have to excuse him or herself for a moment and then step backstage to take care of some business, you know, they're still an employee and they're still required to take, you know, five-minute breaks every so often. I don't know how it works. But the point is, your tour guide may have to say, ‘Excuse me for just one moment, I'll be right back with you.’ If you feel like that's unfair or whatever, they can always tack on that time at the end of your tour. You haven't wasted anything, you know, they don't want you to feel unhappy. 


But one thing I do want to mention, it's a little silly, but one thing I do want to mention is your tour guide is probably very well known inside the parks. Other cast members probably love them. Other guests who have had them in the past, who may still be there in the park for the rest of their vacation, might see them again. So the person you're on tour with today, your guide, may have been somebody else's guide yesterday, and that family will absolutely want to come up to them and give them a big hug and say, ‘Oh, we had so much fun yesterday,’ and you might be thinking, ‘Hey, $600 an hour, clock is ticking. I'm not paying for social time.’ Relax, right? Let your tour guide say hi to their family because chances are the next day on your vacation, you're gonna see that same tour guide again, you're gonna want to go give them a big hug, and that family might think about giving you the evil eye because you're on the clock. So don't, don't let that, don't let that or any other delay ruin your day. If your tour encounters some kind of delay for whatever reason, you just simply ask, ‘Hey, look, you know, we spent 10 minutes doing this other thing, do you mind tacking 10 minutes onto the end?’ and that's fine. They want to make sure you feel good about it. 


And one last thing I want to say is, this will probably never happen, but if you have the world's worst experience, if everything, if the wheels just fall off of what's going on and everything goes sideways, you can always just go talk to the folks who run the VIP tour department and say, ‘Hey, we need to do it over,’ you know, or ‘You need to like somehow figure this out to make it fair because you know, this is a once in a lifetime thing for us. We didn't expect it to go south, but it went south. Can you help us out?’ and they will absolutely do whatever it takes to make sure you're happy. I'm not saying you'll get a freebie do-over, but they'll do something to make it right for you. Don't worry about that.


Robyn:

And I think one of, you know, when you're paying, you know, so much per hour, things like lots of bathroom stops that they can get some people a little frustrated. So I think before your trip, you're making sure that everybody you're going with knows that, you know, we want to use the bathroom before we meet the VIP tour guide, we want to try to if one person goes, let's all go. So we don't have to make a bunch of stops. And kind of the same thing around food and you can split up if necessary, but your tour guide can only be in one place at a time.


George:

Yeah, and you know, at $600 an hour, that's $10 a minute or every $100 every 10 minutes, $6 a minute, whatever it is. So even if you're on the group potty break, you know, go quick, 'cause the clock's ticking. It's just nice to whoever's gonna pay the bill to say, ‘Look, I appreciate the time. So I went extra fast. Thank you.’


Robyn:

So if we talked about meals and kind of maximizing that by maybe having your tour guide order and have it ready for you, talked about the shows, is there any other tips that we didn't hit so far?


George:
Land of Dreams Tour - VIP +++

There is something that you can buy your way into, and I'd love to talk about that for a second. If you want to be extra bougie and get a higher profile treatment without necessarily being Beyoncé or Taylor Swift, you can buy your way into that. 


Let's quickly talk about that for a second. It started in Disney World. And here in Disney World, they called it, and I say here because I'm happy to be sitting in Orlando at this moment. But here in Disney World, they called it World of Dreams Tour, the pandemic shut that down but Disneyland in Anaheim said, ‘Hey, that's a great idea. Instead of World of Dreams Tour, let's call ours Land of Dreams Tour’ and Land of Dreams Tours are up and running. 


So if you want to book a Land of Dreams Tour, it's a little bit different. And here's the differences, you can give up to six people, no more. So you can't have a party of ten but you can have up to a party of six. And it costs $14,000 flat fee for a 12-hour experience. So if you run the math, it is more expensive than the hourly rate of a VIP tour. But it's not like 10 times as much. It's a little more, but it is more. However, it's a 12-hour experience, cost you $14,000. You can have it up to six people. But that includes all the things that you're like, ‘Oh, well, the VIP tour is not as VIP as it sounds,’ meaning all your food's included, all your snacks are included, you actually have two tour guides that come along with you. So while one's hanging out with you, helping you get on the rides or whatever else you need help with, the other tour guide can run ahead and be planning whatever the next thing is, or getting your food or whatever. You don't need to make reservations for restaurants, they'll take care of all of that. Basically, it is the creme de la creme of the creme de la creme. And so if $14,000 is in your budget instead of the $6,000, then Land of Dreams Tour is the bougies of all the VIP tours. And if you do a little googling to Land on the Disneyland VIP tour page, you'll just see I kind of mentioned without any details at all, and I'm happy to kind of share the details with you so you understand. But that will give you skip the lightning Lane access.


And so let's kind of dig into what that means. On a regular VIP tour, still, it's fantastic but on a regular VIP tour, you will be asked to go through a lightning lane for every attraction that has a lightning link for better or for worse, if the lightning is backed up. That's it, is what it is, you will be asked to go through the line. If an attraction doesn't have a lightning lane, like Peter Pan or whatever, you approach the nearest merge point where you can join the line right before you board. And so if Peter Pan, for example, in Disneyland, you'll have to kind of wait there and when they're like,’Okay, hold the line while these people cut in,’ it's not really skipping the line. But since there isn't a lightning lane, you join the line right before you board. And so that's really nice. But on a Land of Dreams Tour, you get right to the boarding platform access or in through the exit. Sometimes they call it access where you basically skip the entire line and walk right up to the boarding platform and jump right in your next ride vehicle. So that is the creme de la creme of VIP tour. It's called land of dreams, you get everything you could possibly want and more. and that is the bougiest of the bougiest.


Robyn:

That sounds fantastic. Those are life goals right there.


George:

Yeah, right, exactly. But then again, if you think about it, you got to do this for 12 hours. I mean, you don't have to, you can leave early anytime you want, right, but you're gonna be there for 12 hours, lightning lanes are only going to take five minutes. So shaving an extra five minutes off of each attraction sounds great and all but like, what are you gonna do, do Disneyland twice? If you want to spend 12 hours getting to the front of every single line, hey, live your best life, but you'll probably be halfway through the day and go, ‘Wow, I've done it all twice. I've seen everything there is to see’


Robyn:

And at that price, you could go back to Disneyland every weekend for a month.


George:

Right? Yeah, yeah, exactly. Think about all the annual passes you could buy for you and your whole family and everything.


Robyn:

And that's the other thing your ticket is not included in your VIP tour as well.


George:

That’s exactly right. So, the last thing I want to say about Land of Dreams is, and I just want to finish this up, is Land of Dreams will also include access to any of the backstage areas that are interesting to show people. So, you will see Walt's apartment, you will see any of the other backstage things. And if you are going to do one of these, there's a lot of coordination involved. You indicate your interest, they reach out for payment, you give your planning details and kind of work out exactly what your day is going to be but that's something you don't have to be Beyoncé or Taylor Swift to do, you can just do that as a regular person, you just have to come up with 14 grand to do it.


But Robyn, you bring up a very interesting point, let's dig on that a little bit. This does not include your ticket to the park. Now, don't take that the wrong way. Don't think that they're like, you know, trying to add insult to injury. It just, it is what it is. The money you pay for your tour is for the expedited access, it's for the elevated experience, it's not to get in the front door and so don't expect that to be part of it. In fact, a good way to maximize your tour is to get inside the park yourself on your own tickets, wherever they happen to be. Do whatever you want to or that's low crowds or whatever you feel like doing in the early parts of the day, if you're a rope dropper, you know, do that and then once the park gets crowded, have that be the start time of your tour. Do the tour during the most crowded times of the day. And at the fireworks, say goodbye to your tour guide, enjoy the fireworks and that's a wonderful way to make the day.


But you bring up a good point. And that is, your Park Admission ticket is not included in the experience.


Robyn:
21 Royal Dinner Experience

If you wanted to have the bougiest day ever, you could start with a Land of Dreams Tour, do that for 12 hours, and then have dinner at 21 Royal which is, I think, it's a $14,000 for a dinner for 10 people I think. 


George:

Well, just like everything else, prices are subject to change. But the 21 Royal dinner experience is, you know, you can see details about it on the website. And I'm not sure if they even talk about it.


Robyn:

Well, we'll have a link in the show. If you want to put it up for your dream board.


George:

I think here's the reason why they don't ever talk about the prices on their landing pages on the design website. And it's kind of one of those, you know, if you have to ask moments, that really, this only makes sense for people who have the right amount of disposable income, for whom this is really not a stretch. So dropping 10 or $20,000, whatever it is, on a meal for you and your friends, if that's something that you would have to reach for, if that maybe if you, you know, that puts you in a financial pinch, oh, please don't do it. But don't mortgage your house to do any of these things. It's just not worth it. But but if you have an experience where you're in a situation where this is kind of within your budget and something you want to splurge for, yeah, by all means, these are really wonderful experiences. And you know, one of the things I wanted to mention about that kind of like your budget and budgeting and everything, you can still have a wonderful day without ever once doing a VIP tour. So don't think that like the world has passed you by or and you know, Robyn and I say life goals and sure it is a life goal but it's not like you're seeing a different Disneyland than a person on a VIP tour. It's the same awesome attraction. It's the same awesome parade. It's the same awesome firework. You're all seeing the same thing, it just kind of removes a lot of the line waiting from the situation, that's all, but you still see the same great product.


Robyn:
Best Time to Use a A VIP Tour

So I hope if you were considering the VIP tour, that this has been helpful. You know, there are so many luxurious experiences that Disneyland has to offer, including 21 Royal, which they have a video on their page. But for most people, that's pretty outside of the box. VIP tour is a really great way if you're kind of in that mid-range where you'd like to try something a little bit more elevated, or you have some disposable income and you're planning on coming. Like let's say the week of Christmas is the only time you can come, then that's where I think because you're able to kind of get all of those lightning lines out having to use Genie plus that you get the best value. So any parting tips on that, George?


George:
Splitting A VIP Tour with Strangers

Well, you made me think of one last thing. And that is, I have seen in Facebook groups and other places, people offering to split VIP tours. Because if you look at the fact that add up to 10 people, and you're paying $600, now you can really turn that into $60 an hour per person, if you like split it up. I've talked to plenty of tour guide friends of mine who have gone on, who have been the guide for these kind of like strangers who come together to meet for this and sometimes it works out okay but more often than not, the different groups that are coming together will have different priorities, some do have kids, others don't have kids. And when you're all in the same tour group together, you've kind of now dropped back down to the group tour experience. You know, you gotta go here for that but maybe those people don’t want to do that. 


Robyn:

I don’t want to ride the Mark Twain! 


George:

Right. Exactly. So that, I mean, if you really have to say, ‘Yep, did it,’ you know, ‘I did it, mission accomplished.’ That is a way that some people kind of work around the cost to kind of do it. It wouldn't be the same experience as having your own personalized tour guide. Now, that said, if you had a family that, you know, everybody wants to pool their resources, but you all get on the same page, you might have a wonderful, wonderful experience if everybody chips in. No one person has to pay the six grand, spreading it out that way might be nice. But, you know, please, it's kind of unfair to your tour guide to have the impossible constraints of these guys want to do something, we don't, those guys want to do something and they don't, you know, what's your tour guy going to do with it? How are they going to make people happy? They want to make magic for you. They want to sprinkle pixie dust. Please, please let them in. Don't put them in that awkward situation.


"Free" Souvenir!

And then there's one last thing I wanted to mention. And that is, most tour guides will have a little bag of goodies, some kind of little tchotchke to share with you at the end of the tour to kind of commemorate your experience. It could be that you get a little pin to put on your lapel, you know, just a Disney pin trading pin. Please don't trade it because they're super cool. But you may get a VIP tour pin, you may get some other little thing to recognize the experience. It may change over time, so it doesn't really matter what they're doing today; it might be different when you do it. But you will, at the end of the tour, you will get some kind of little "thank you for being on a tour with me today." And your guide will give you some kind of little remembrance to remember them by. And that's when it's appropriate to thank them and give them the gratuity, and off you go.


And then, even though like I said, some people are uncomfortable talking about tips just in straight up terms, every tour guide I know is perfectly happy to receive your gratuity with, you know, PayPal, Venmo, whatever it is that you do. And so if you don't happen to run to the ATM to grab a stack of $500 bills and carry them around in your pocket, if that's not how you live your life, just simply straight up ask your tour guide, ‘Hey, you know, I don't want to make this awkward or anything, but do you have a Venmo where I could, like, send you a little gratuity?’ And it won't be awkward at all; your tour guide will be very thankful because it's important to show your gratitude but electronically. Every tour guide I know will be happy to receive a gratuity electronically.


Robyn:
Book Your Tour Well in Advance

And then how far in advance do you usually book a VIP tour?


George:

As early as you can. And in fact, you know, the earlier you can predict your need to want to do one, the better, because they will sell out. There's only a certain number because there's only a certain number of cast members. Even though that one time I asked another cast member to be reassigned to be my tour guide, there's only a certain number before they fill up, both for staffing reasons, but also for like Park reasons. If you had 100 groups of 10 people all show up at the biggest, bestest ride ever, all at the same time, then, you know, like, how are they going to accommodate that?


And so actually, on busier days, they may ask your tour guides to kind of spread it out. And so like, we can ride Mickey Minnie's anytime you want. But since this is the first day it opened, I have to just let them know that we intend on coming at 11 o'clock. And like, ‘Well, some VIP tour if you tell me when I do the thing.’ That's just for park operations, situations and so.


But to answer your question, there's no availability shown on the website. Like I said, you can't put it in your cart and checkout online. But when you are given as the email address or phone number to call, just reach out to them and say, ‘Hey, I'm thinking about a tour, do you have availability on this date?’ And they will figure it out and get back to you and see if they do. But don't be surprised if you're gonna do a last-minute if they are all sold out and there's no availability.


Robyn:

If you have the budget, and you're considering, that's great. I would really encourage you to do it but only if you have the budget. Otherwise, the whole day might be ruined because you're feeling like you're setting money on fire every time you have to wait a couple of minutes. But it is a really great experience if you have the opportunity.


George:

Yep, and you know, now that we've sort of, I don't know, peek behind the veil or whatever of what these are all about. I hope if you ever see a VIP tour guide and their family enjoying a tour, you know, it's nothing wrong with saying hi, waving at a tour guide. But like don't slow down that tour guide by walking up and saying, ‘Excuse me, where's the bathroom?’ because they are trying to give that family their A game and they won't be rude to you but it might feel like they're being a little brusque if they sort of give you a very quick answer and then they kind of move along, that's because they're focused on, and they're not a regular Guest Relations cast member, even though confusingly, tour guides and Guest Relations cast members all wear plaid. So if you ever get the brush off, or a sort of a curt answer from a plaid, it could be that they're on a tour guide, and they need to stay focused on their family.


Robyn:

And it doesn't always mean that they're with somebody famous. It could be just George.


George:

I was, I was on a tour, my face happens to look a lot like Jack Black. It's just how my beard grows. And I was on a tour the other day and, you know, I don't fault the kid for thinking I was Jack Black, because I look a little bit like him and here I am on a tour, you know, it looks a little fancy. And he comes up and starts talking to me about how much he loves the different Jack Black movies and stuff and then it became clear to him that I wasn't Jack Black and it was a little bit awkward but, you know, we made the best of it. Yeah, chances are that person with the tour guide is just going to be a regular person enjoying their best Disney Day. It's not going to be a high-profile celebrity. But then again, that said, it might be, so there's no guarantees. It's not, because unless you are the highest of profiles, you'll be walking around right along the Lightning Lane lines in the crowds with everybody else.


Robyn:

Well, we hope this has been helpful if you've been trying to decide whether you're doing a VIP tour and you have a great day.


Thanks for listening to this episode of the ParkMagic podcast. For more tips and planning tools designed to help simplify your Disneyland adventure, visit ParkMagic.com. If you enjoyed today's episode and want to hear more tips, be sure to subscribe to the ParkMagic podcast. And don't forget to leave us a review. Your feedback helps us spread the magic even further. Leaving a review could also help you. Each month, we will be selecting one reviewer to win a one-hour planning session with Robyn. Winners will be announced at the end of the first episode of every month. Thanks for tuning in, and remember that we are here to help you have a less stressful and more magical trip to Disneyland.

 

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