MUST READ: My FULL Disney Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review

Photo prop golden key for Disney Keys to the Kingdom tour

If you’re looking for a Disney Keys to the Kingdom review, you are DEFINITELY in the right place because I can’t stop talking about this tour!

On a kid-free Disney vacation with my husband, I finally got to check off a Walt Disney World bucket list item I’ve had for quite a while now: going on one of Disney World’s behind-the-scenes tours. 

And not just any behind-the-scenes tour…the Keys to the Kingdom tour! The one where you get to see Disney’s secret tunnels, go “backstage” at Disney World, and learn all about the details that went into creating the Magic Kingdom theme park. 

SPOILER ALERT: I will be going into detail about what we did and saw on the Keys to the Kingdom tour, but I won’t give away ALL of info we learned. I mean, you have to save something for the tour!

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Disney Keys to the Kingdom Tour: The Basics

What does the Keys to the Kingdom tour include?

  • A 5-hour walking tour around the Magic Kingdom, backstage areas, and utilidors (AKA the Magic Kingdom underground tunnels)
  • TONS of facts about the history of the Magic Kingdom, as well Walt Disney himself 
  • Lunch at one of the quick-service restaurants
  • A Keys to the Kingdom tour keepsake

What is the Disney Keys to the Kingdom tour price?

At the time of writing this post, the Keys to the Kingdom tour cost ranges from $129-$149 per person (before tax). 

Disney Vacation Club members and Annual Passholders get a 15% discount (so I was pretty excited about that!).

It’s good to note that the cost of the tour does NOT include park admission. So, in order to take the tour, you will need to purchase a park ticket in addition to the cost of the tour itself. 

Front entrance of Magic Kingdom featuring the train station with flowers in the shape of Mickey underneath

Is there a Disney Keys to the Kingdom tour age requirement?

There is! And for good reason. 

In order to preserve the magic for younger guests, you must be 16 years old or older to go on Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom tour.

How do you book the Keys to the Kingdom tour?

This Disney behind-the-scenes tour is an “Enchanting Extra.” 

That means you can book it through My Disney Experience beginning at 12:00 AM 60 days prior to your check-in date if you’re staying on Disney World property and 60 days prior to the tour date if you’re staying off property. 

When we took the tour, there were 4 available times to choose from: 8:00 AM, 8:30 AM, 9:00 AM, and 9:30 AM. 

How many people are in a group during the Magic Kingdom Keys to the Kingdom tour?

During our tour, we had a group of 20 people plus the Cast Member who was guiding the tour. 

How can you hear your tour guide with how busy the Magic Kingdom is?

Each member of the group was provided with their own listening device. You could change the volume as needed throughout the tour based on how loud your surroundings were. 

The tour guide carries extra listening devices in case anyone needs a replacement throughout the tour. 

There were a couple of instances in which my listening device lost connection, but it quickly came back on each time without needing a replacement. 

Girl smiling with Keys to the Kingdom name tag and listening device, ready to start the tour at Magic Kingdom

How long do you spend in the Disney World underground tunnels and Magic Kingdom backstage areas during the tour?

Of the 5-hour tour, we spent about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours in the Disney underground tunnel or backstage areas. 

Can you take pictures during the Disney World Keys to the Kingdom tour?

On our tour, photos and videos were allowed when we were in areas where other guests were allowed. However, they were not permitted in any backstage areas, including the utilidors. 

We did have access to our phones throughout the tour, though. So, if anyone needed to book a Lightning Lane or take an important call, they could do so. They just needed to give our tour guide a heads up. 

Is this Magic Kingdom tour customizable?

The Keys to the Kingdom tour is not customizable. But while each tour guide has to talk about certain key points, they’re also able to add in their own stories and experiences. 

One family in our tour group said that they’ve been on the Keys to the Kingdom tour in the past and felt as if the two tours were MUCH different. 

Will the Keys to the Kingdom tour still be held if it rains?

This tour takes place rain or shine! So pack accordingly.

Want to know EXACTLY what to pack for your upcoming Disney World trip?

Snag a free printable Disney World packing checklist by clicking the button below. (And how do I know it’s EXACTLY what you need? Well, it’s the list I personally use, so it’s been through plenty of trial and error.)

Disney Keys to the Kingdom Tour Highlights

Now, let’s go over alllll the details about this amazing Keys to the Kingdom tour! 

Ok, ok…maybe not ALL the details. I mean, I don’t want to give away everything you’ll learn about on the tour.

But, we’ll touch on the main flow of the tour and what to expect. That way, by the end of this article, you’ll know if this is this Disney World behind-the-scenes tour for you!

Keys to the Kingdom Tour Check-In

We booked the 8:00 AM Keys to the Kingdom tour thinking they might let us into the park a bit early since it states to make sure you’re at check-in 15 minutes prior to your tour time. I mean, how cool would it be to see an empty Magic Kingdom?!

Well, that backfired because they didn’t let us in early…ha! (BUT I was still happy we booked the very first tour of the day, and I’ll explain why in a bit.)

When we arrived to the entrance of the park, we were met by a small crowd of fellow park goers, who were ready to go for Early Entry into the park. 

We were let into the park with the other guests right around 8:00 AM and went straight to Town Square Theater to check in for the tour. 

We saw the check-in podium to our left as soon as we entered the theater. We told them our names, showed them our IDs, and were given our listening devices, name tags, and a bottle of water. 

We then placed our lunch order, so it would be ready to go later on during our tour. And we waited briefly for the rest of our group to check in. 

Meeting Our Tour Guide

Once everyone was ready, we got to meet our tour guide for the day. And I’m obviously biased, but she was just the BEST. (I’m sure they all are, though…it’s Disney World, after all!)

Our tour guide started working at Disney World during her time in the college program. Her first role at Disney? To be “great friends with” Mickey Mouse (along with 13 other characters!). 

Wait, you’re telling me Mickey Mouse is giving me a tour of the Magic Kingdom?! To say I was excited is an understatement.

Keys to the Kingdom tour guide looking down Main Street from the train station at Magic Kingdom

Because of the special role she had and the fact that your tour guide will sprinkle in some of their own stories in addition to the information they’re required to share, we got to learn a lot about what it’s like to play a character at Disney. Such a cool bonus!

She also let us know that we were welcome to ask any questions throughout the tour that we wanted, but there were “on stage questions” and “backstage questions.” 

On stage questions were the type of questions that could be answered in the park around other guests. And backstage questions were questions that could only be answered behind-the-scenes. 

If anyone asked a backstage question in the park, she said she would give a fun, Disney-themed answer. But she would be happy to come back around to the question once we were backstage or in the utilidors. 

The Start of the Tour

Our tour started out along Main Street, U.S.A., where our tour guide first took us to the train station to talk about why the entrance to Magic Kingdom is set up the way it is. 

After that, we made our way down Main Street and stopped at one of the quieter side streets. 

Quiet side street at Magic Kingdom, right off of Main Street

There we went over the history behind all the names on the windows along Main Street, as well as how and why Walt Disney kept this Florida theme park a secret for so long and who eventually leaked the secret. 

We also learned about how the buildings (including Cinderella’s Castle) were designed to look taller than they actually are and why the castle was built at a very specific height.

Adventureland

Continuing on, we started heading over to Adventureland.  But (here’s the reason I was so happy we booked the first tour of the day), the park hadn’t officially opened yet. 

So, we got to sneak right past the huge crowd of people waiting to “rope drop” Adventureland, and enjoy that area for a bit with absolutely no other guests!

Crowd of people standing outside the entrance to Adventureland at Magic Kingdom waiting to start their morning once the park opens

After chatting about how each land is so immersive with it’s design (down to the gradual change in landscaping between lands) and how Disney is able to maintain those areas (the thatched roof on the Tiki Room is actually metal!), we headed over the Jungle Cruise.

Riding on the Jungle Cruise

When we arrived to the Jungle Cruise, we veered off the left toward the exit of the ride just as the crowd of rope droppers were rushing to get in line. 

There was a boat waiting for us at the exit, and we actually got to go on the very first ride of the day! But this Jungle Cruise ride was a litttttle different than normal. 

Although we had a Skipper on board, our tour guide was the one that took over the mic. While she still gave us some good ol’ dad jokes, we also learned a ton about the ins and outs of how the ride works, Walt’s vision for the ride, and how that vision changed over time. 

At the end of the ride, our tour guide pointed out that Disney is great at getting you to look where they want you to! Instead of looking left toward the dock like the Skippers suggest, she had us look over to the right, where we got a glimpse of a backstage area. Yes, you can see backstage from the ride!

Oh, and where do the jokes come from? The Cast Members are given a very long “menu” of jokes, but they can also put their own spin on the jokes as well. 

As we exited the boat, the Skipper took over the mic for one joke before our ride was over: 

“As my mom said on my 18th birthday! For 18 years, I’ve loved you like a daughter. Now you’re going to have to pack up and get out!”

Riding on Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom during a Disney behind-the-scenes tour

Backstage

Ooooh, it’s the moment we’ve been waiting for! After our ride on the Jungle Cruise, we walked toward Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. 

But instead of turning right into Frontierland, we turn left toward the nondescript gate where the parade starts. 

Before heading backstage, we were strongly (in a nice way, of course!) reminded that no photos or videos are allowed in backstage areas

As we went behind the gate, our tour guide pointed out a yellow line on the ground.  This was a “sight line” for the parade. That way, the Cast Members know when they can potentially be seen by guests – and when they need to make sure they’re performance ready!

We continued to walk a little further and came to a gate decorated to look like wooden logs. Our tour guide warned us, “Things are about to look very different.”

We rounded the gate, and sure enough! The area all of a sudden looked like a big warehouse. Even the back side of the gate wasn’t decorated.  

While we were backstage, we got to see a bunch of the parade floats up close, including Maleficent, the holiday floats, and the Electrical Water Pageant floats! We learned about how the Cast Members drive the floats and all sorts of safety features the floats have. 

Beyond the floats, we saw extra or broken equipment, the garbage disposal system for the entire park (all the garbage gets taken through a huge pipe at 35 MPH to a collection system!), and the backside of Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Couple standing in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom with no crowds in the background

As we were walking around, we ran into a Mr. Incredible, Timon, and Stitch “not acting like themselves” (AKA walking while carrying their head!).

Once we were away from the hustle and bustle in the backstage area, our tour guide pointed out how quiet it is backstage. You literally can’t hear anything from the park. 

Lunch

Once we were back onstage, it was about lunch time!

Since our tour started so early, we also had a bit of an early lunch right around 10:30 AM. 

On our Keys to the Kingdom tour, lunch was Columbia Harbour House (which I was pumped about!), but I’ve also heard of people eating at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe during the tour. 

Our lunches were all ready to go and set out at the tables when we got there. As a little surprise, we each got a cupcake in addition to the meal we ordered. 

Next to our lunch was a place card with our names. And inside the place was a small keepsake–a Keys to the Kingdom pin!

We had about 30 minutes to eat and use the restroom before the tour started back up. 

Liberty Square

After lunch, we took a short walk through Liberty Square, and our tour guide pointed out why things were designed in this area the way they were. 

She then gave us the inside scoop on all the details that went into creating the Haunted Mansion before asking us if we’d like to ride it. 

Of COURSE, our answer was yes! And we got to skip the standby queue and enter the ride through the VIP entrance. 

Riding on Haunted Mansion

While on the ride, our tour guide turned off the listening devices. So, unlike Jungle Cruise, we didn’t have any commentary. 

We still had plenty to be on the lookout for, though, since she had gone over a lot of fun facts leading up to the ride. 

Afterwards, we met back in the courtyard at the exit of the ride and continued on. 

Haunted Mansion at Disney World with sign that says Exit Only

Fantasyland

We didn’t spend much time in Fantasyland at all.  Pretty much just to take a bathroom break and get to the entrance we took down to the utiladors. 

While in Fantasyland, our tour guide reminded us once again that absolutely no photos or videos would be allowed during the Disney underground tour portion. 

Disney Utiladors

Alright, now it’s time for the highlight of this Magic Kingdom tour – the “underground” tunnels!

I put underground in quotes because we learned that these Disney tunnels are actually located at ground level.  The leftover dirt from Seven Seas Lagoon (right outside of the Magic Kingdom) was then placed on top of the tunnels, making the part of the theme park that we all enjoy the second floor!

Very similar to the backstage area we saw earlier, the second we entered the utilidors, we were in a whole different world.

It’s very…concrete…in the Magic Kingdom underground area. While it didn’t seem very “magical,” it was still very cool to see the inner workings of this system.  

The main purpose of the utilidors is to make sure the Cast Members have a way to move about the Magic Kingdom without breaking theme. Walt Disney didn’t want guests to see a Cast Member in a Tomorrowland costume galavanting through Frontierland, for example. 

But beyond this, there is so much more that happens down there!

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As soon as we made our way down the stairs, we got a glimpse of the Magic Kingdom utilidor map. The tunnels make their way all around the park and are filled with all sorts of facilities including offices, rehearsal rooms, and food courts. 

We were lucky enough to be able to walk through the room where costume repairs occur. In the room, we saw several of each princess dress, as well as plenty of other costumes. 

As we walked through the utilidors, we saw SO many Cast Members and plenty of characters “not acting like themselves” again. Cinderella, Jasmine, and Peter Pan in leisure wear just to name a few!

While a Cinderella suite tour isn’t included in the Keys to the Kingdom tour, we found ourselves standing right underneath Cinderella’s Castle at one point. And as we were learning all about the castle, we got a front-row view of all the princesses taking the elevator from the utilidors up to Cinderella’s Royal Table character breakfast. 

Up close photo of Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom in Disney World with a bright blue sky and white clouds behind it

Backstage

After walking through the utilidor that is situated directly underneath Main Street, U.S.A., we went back upstairs and found ourselves in the backstage area that opens up at times as an overflow area when there are high crowds. 

This is a pathway I’ve taken a couple of times over the years either after fireworks or when checking into Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

While we were in that area, we got to see where Tinkerbell lands after she flies during the nightly fireworks. We also got to learn all about what goes into her flight each night and the safety measures taken. 

Olive green gate at the Magic Kingdom that says Cast Members Only

End of Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour

We ended the tour right where we started, at Town Square Theater. We returned our listening devices, then we were free to go about our day. 

We had booked an Individual Lightning Lane for TRON that matched up perfectly to enjoy the ride right after the tour. 

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Is this Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Disney World Worth It?

Not to be dramatic, but I truly think this Disney World tour is some of the best money I’ve ever spent on a Disney trip! So, yes…I can easily say the Keys to the Kingdom tour is worth it.

If this was your first visit to Disney World, I’d recommend taking in all the magic “onstage” before signing up for a backstage tour. But being such a huge Disney parks fan, this was right up my alley. 

It was the perfect mix of history, fun facts, and a behind-the-scenes look at something I’ve always been curious about. Plus the fact that it includes lunch and riding on two attractions is a huge bonus and makes the value that much better. 

Keys to the Kingdom tour guide leading our group through Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom

One question I got on Instagram when I posted about my experience was, “Did the tour ruin the magic for you?”

This might sound a little crazy, but I actually think it brought the magic back for me as an adult! 

All the details I learned during the tour really made me appreciate all that went into creating the park. Plus seeing the passion and commitment of the Cast Members and all that goes into the day-to-day operations was thoroughly impressive.  

Final Thoughts: Disney Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review

I would HIGHLY recommend this tour to anyone who’s had it on their radar. It doesn’t disappoint!

This was one of those things that I was thinking about non-stop during our countdown to Disney. I was so happy that it lived up to what I thought it would be!

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