This past week, I did the Taste of the Magic Kingdom VIP tour at Walt Disney World. After I booked the tour, I read some of the reviews from previous guests and there were similar concerns in each review that I read. Then I found out that Disney had just revamped the tour with changes so I would be experiencing the new version. After comparing my experience to the reviews that I read of the first version, Disney definitely took feedback into consideration and make improvements.
SPOILER ALERT!! I am going through the tour with all the details of what I experienced.
CHECK IN: The tour is from 9 am to noon. You are asked to check in by 8:45 am at Tony's Town Square Restaurant. You receive a lanyard and have to sign a waiver. You are also required to wear closed toe shoes due to going into backstage areas during the tour.
You are seated in the front section of Tony's and there we met our three guides for the day. As we went through the day, there was always one guide in the front of the group, one guide in the back and one in the middle. This was helpful as we moved through the other park guests. We also were given headsets to wear so we could always hear the guides (this was not done in the past and was a concern mentioned in reviews that I read).
At the check in, we also got our first taste. It was actually more than a taste. It was a Mickey shaped cinnamon roll. They are available at the Starbucks location at the end of Main Street. There was also coffee and tea and bottled water to take with us.
While we were eating, the guides introduced themselves and asked for us to name our favorite food item or restaurant anywhere on property. There were lots of votes for Dole Whips as well as several different restaurants.
STOP #1 - Our first stop was Casey's Corner. This would be our first backstage area (which means no photos were allowed.) We walked through the kitchen area briefly. It is so small!! Only 8 cast members are allowed to work back there at once. If you have ever been to Casey's, you know how crowded it can get. The small kitchen is not able to handle the volume so most of the cooking is done in the kitchens for Tomorrowland Terrace and then transported through the utilidors under the Magic Kingdom. Final preparations happen in the kitchen at Casey's.
STOP #2 - Our next stop was Skipper's Canteen. We went into the kitchen here as well. It is much larger than Casey's. As we exited, there was a table set with a sample to take and then we were all seated in one of the dining spaces.
The sample plate had two items: Cachapas which was a braised pork over a corn cake and a Vegetable Curry Stew over rice. We also received a cup of Punch Line Punch which is a fruit and mango drink.
While we ate there, two chefs from the restaurant came out to speak with us and answer questions. They gave us some information about the menu at Skippers Canteen. One interesting piece of information was how they are able to customize just about any dish to your preference. The one chef has been working for Disney for 18 years. He was asked what the biggest change he has seen over the years. He said that it is food allergies. Not only the frequency of them but the complicated nature of them as well. He said they now design the menus to have elements that can be easily eliminated to accommodate allergies.
STOP #3 - After an opportunity for everyone to use the restrooms, we were off to Aloha Isle for the famous Dole Whip. Everyone received a sample of the traditional Dole Whip and they talked about some other options at that stand. One woman on our tour was so happy to learn that it is dairy free. She hadn't known that so she had never tried it in the past.
STOP #4 - Our next stop was Tortuga Tavern where we got to try a Turkey Leg. They had a full size Turkey leg for display and then we each received a cup with a generous size portion of the meat. We also received another bottle of water here.
The guides spoke about the rumors that it isn't really turkey. They confirmed that yes, it is actual turkey. It is brined and smoked which gives it a ham like taste.
STOP #5 - Diamond Horseshoe was our next location. It was not open yet, so we were able to sit inside. Our sample here was the Colony Salad which is on the menu at Liberty Tree Tavern. There was a chef here to speak to us as well. She is a chef at Liberty Tree, which shares the same kitchen at Diamond Horseshoe. She talked about how they like to change the menus but that guests have favorites which makes that challenging. She said the Colony salad was removed from the Liberty Tree menu and there was a revolution. It is now permanently on the menu.
STOP #6 - We walked into Fantasyland land and into a backstage area behind Pinnochio's counter service location. We ended up walking around the back side of Be Our Guest restaurant. We had a stop there to learn about the environmental efforts Disney is making to deal with waste. Disney donates food items that are consumable to local food banks. They are also learning out to use food scraps to make fuel. They are currently converting some of the waste to a fuel that is used by Disney buses.
As we exited from the backstage area, we got a cup of the Grey Stuff that is served at Be Our Guest restaurant. People say that it tastes like cookie and cream. The guides said they don't know the ingredients but have been told that it does not contain Oreos.
STOP #7 - Our next stop was Cosmic Ray's. We were able to walk through the kitchen area here as well. It is a big operation! Our guides said they do the same business in one day that the average McDonald's does in one week.
Our sample here was a newer item - a plant based sloppy joe. And more bottled water was available
STOP #8 - Our last stop was at Tomorrowland Terrace to try a new item that is not yet on any menu. We had survey forms to complete on what we thought of the item and the guides came around to ask some follow up questions as well. We were not allowed to take photos of the item.
This was the last stop on our tour. We had an opportunity to take photos in front of the popular purple wall with some props and the guides.
I really enjoyed the tour. It is a good combination of sweet and savory items. It is also a good combination of popular items and items that guests may not have tried yet. I have never considered the Mickey cinnamon bun before but it was so good that I made sure I had one for breakfast the next morning. On the other side, I have never had a turkey leg, as it just didn't appeal to me. And after tasting it, it still doesn't appeal to me.
If you do the tour, come hungry! It is a lot of food. I did not eat anything else until the evening that day. Also be prepared to walk. We basically walked around the entire park.
Currently, the tour takes place daily on Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The cost is $99 per person, plus tax. There were no discounts available for annual passholders. A valid theme park admission is required. There is an age requirement of 12 and older. You can book the tour they same way you make a dining reservation, either by phone or through your My Disney Experience account.
Today was our last day in Memphis. We had a 5 pm flight so we had some time to do a few things first.
We went to the Peabody hotel to have breakfast because we wanted to see the Peabody Ducks at 11 am.
So the story with the ducks is that in the 1930s the General Manager of the Peabody had a bit too much to drink with his friends and put live ducks in the fountain of the hotel. It because a tradition to have ducks there. Then in the 1940s, a gentleman who had been with the circus, said he could train the ducks to walk to and from the fountain daily.
So everyday at 11 am, the Duck Master rolls out the red carpet and takes the elevator to the roof where the ducks live. He brings them down the elevator and leads them on the red carpet to the fountain. At 5 pm, they make the return trip.
If you want to see this happen, you will want to start lining up about 30-45 minutes beforehand.
After this, we left Downtown Memphis to go to the Bass Pro Shop at the Pyramid. The Pyramid was supposed to be an event venue but it did not work out.
Bass Pro bought it and made it a huge store..and more. There is a hotel in there and several areas of live animals. There is a bowling alley and restaurant. There is also the "Lookout" where you take the largest free standing elevator up to the top to get a view of the city.
We took the elevator but unfortunately there was weather coming in and it was insanely windy. We were only out there a few minutes when a staff person said we needed to come inside and they closed the area.
We walked around and had lunch in their restaurant.
And that's a wrap on Memphis. We had a great trip. We weren't able to do everything but we did a lot!
I have been a huge Disney and travel fan since childhood. I love going to new places and, of course, heading to Disney as often as I can.