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EPCOT
Behind the Seeds
One-hour walking tour that goes behind the scenes of the Living with the Land attraction.  Visit 4 greenhouses and a fish farm to catch a glimpse of amazing plants, insects, and fish.   Suitable for all ages. Tour runs daily from about 10:30 til late afternoon.
Cost: $25 adult / $20 child
Cancellation Policy: 2 days
Ease of booking: Can often be booked same day
Backstage Magic
Seven-hour tour where you go behind the scenes all across Walt Disney World Resort—and learn what it takes to bring the magic to life.
Cost: $275/person
Ages: 12 and up
Cancellation Policy: 2 days
Ease of booking: Best booked as early as possible
Review/Overview:  This tour is a lengthy 7-hour backstage look into some of the often overlooked aspects at Walt Disney World. This is "what makes everything tick" and what guests do not normally get to see. Due to the "behind the scenes" nature of this tour, photos are not allowed to be taken except by the cast members at very specific portions of the tour itself so unfortunately I do not have many to share.
The tour began at 9am, with a check-in time of 8:45am, at the front gates of Epcot. For those of you that are not wanting to use a park pass for this experience, it is not required, because the check-in area is past the security check-point but before you actually enter the park itself.
Once we all received our lanyards and had our photos taken, the tour officially began! We started over at the American Pavilion and were able to get a very up-close/detailed look at how they are able to run the American Adventure show. We were also given different facts about the development of Epcot in general before moving to our next location, Textile Services.
Textile Services includes 3 massive warehouses where they handle ALL the laundry for the Walt Disney World property (both for cast members & guests). A staggering fact we learned was that if we wanted to do the same amount of laundry they do in a day at home, working 24 hours a day, it would take approximately 72 years to complete! YIKES, no thanks!! Once we had a photo taken we were then off to the next location, Creative Costuming.
Creative Costuming was actually one of my favorite parts of the tour simply because all those different outfits are so unique and beautiful. There are again multiple buildings for this department but if you have ever been on the Backlot Tour over at Hollywood Studios, this is just a very large scale version of that. We spent a good amount of time here before heading over to Whispering Canyon for a wonderful lunch. While there are disappointed guests that Whispering Canyon may have lower the volume on some of their louder antics, we still had a great time and even got to meet "Mickey Mouse".
After lunch was the Central Shops buildings and that was by far my husband's favorite part. These buildings are where they maintain, repair, and even sometimes create the amazing rides/attractions at the theme parks. It was a machine shop and so it was very loud and were required to wear safety glasses to walk around but even I loved getting to see some of those iconic ride vehicles up close and in various states of being worked on.
The tour concluded over at the Magic Kingdom and in the utilidor system "under" the park itself and a souvenir pin as a parting gift. This tour really opened our eyes to a lot of what happens behind the scenes and we loved every minute of it.
 
Animal Kingdom
Caring For Giants
All the proceeds for this tour go directly to the conservation fund that Disney then matches dollar for dollar. This is an hour long tour that takes you backstage to get up close and personal with the elephants.
Cost: $30/person
Ages: 4 and up
Cancellation Policy: 2 days
Ease of booking: Best booked as early as possible
Savor the Savanna: Evening Safari Experience
A portion of the proceeds for this tour go directly to the conservation fund that Disney then matches dollar for dollar. This is a two hour long tour that immerses your senses during a privately guided journey and explore the sights and sounds—and tastes—of Africa.
Cost: $169/person
Ages: 8 and up
Cancellation Policy: 2 days
Ease of booking: Best booked as early as possible
Review/Overview: This 2 hour experience began with a private safari ride with your tour and concluded with a delicious meal on the private boma located on the savanna. While getting some great information about the animals and viewing them out and about, before they head in for the night, you are met by one of the many zookeepers that are in charge of the animals. The zookeeper had a wealth of knowledge to share and spent a great deal of time answering any questions the tour group had. I focused my questions on Hurricane Irma and how the animals were handled during that frightening event. We were told that many of the animals were actually left out, as it was a natural event and they likely knew how to protect themselves better than anyone. One of the few animals that were actually secured in their barns were the crocodiles, shocking right?! This was simply due to the fact that they are excellent climbers and if a tree was uprooted and fell within their enclosure they could have climbed out and been let loose on the savanna bringing harm to other animals or even potentially themselves. In the end no animals were harmed or killed during Hurricane Irma and actually with so many downed trees and landscaping around the savanna they actually had tons of extra “enrichment” to enjoy, so they were happy.
After about 45 minutes or so you are brought to the boma to eat, drink, and view the animals. The food included various breads & nuts as an appetizer, followed by small tapas-like bites for the main course, and a small dessert to finish your meal. The meal also included unlimited beer, wine, and other beverages as part of the price. While this part of the tour was very enjoyable, as I LOVE to eat, I did find as it got darker and darker there were really no animals you could see (although they did provide night-vision binoculars you could use). We did spend a great deal of the meal chatting with the cast members and another couple and that was great but I wish there were more animals around once we arrived on the boma. Since they are wild animals tho, that is not within Disney’s control, and each tour could be different.
Once you are finished dining you are brought back to the entrance of Kilimanjaro’s Safari, where the tour began, and given stones to cast your vote on which animal you would like your portion of money to go to. Each tour member can select between 4 animals and there is definitely no right or wrong answer as each animal deserves part of the proceeds. Your parting gifts are conservation buttons as well and bamboo coasters that are very pretty and a great keepsake.
Overall we both enjoyed this experience but we agreed that we really enjoyed Wild Africa Trek more and would do that one again instead for our next trip. I recommend this option for adults and Wild Africa Trek would be the more “kid friendly” option between the two.
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