For quite some time now, Disney Parks fans have been discussing the possibility of purchasing FastPasses to attractions and entertainment experiences. Rumors have circulated for years that this would be the next direction Disney would go in whether it be done directly by buying an allotment of passes or indirectly based on the hotel tier a guest reserves accommodations at. Now that FastPass+ has come to fruition, the conversation has died down…that is, until today, and I was immediately sucked in. (See the update at the bottom of this article)
In preparation for my annual trip to the west coast parks, I came across information about a tour called Welcome to Disneyland Resort. Because I enjoyed both A Walk in Walt’s Footsteps and the Backstage Magic trip from Adventures by Disney, I decided to check this out and was pleasantly surprised by what the 2 1/2 hour experience included:
- Two pre-selected attractions during the tour
- Two free FASTPASS attractions to enjoy after the tour
- Assistance with dining reservations for the day of your tour
- VIP viewing for Aladdin: The Musical or Mickey & the Magical Map
- A World of Color “FASTPASS” for the evening of your tour
- An exclusive collectible trading pin and lanyard
A guided tour of both parks sprinkled with trivia and tips, a ride on two attractions, VIP viewing for my favorite Disney stage show, a FastPass for World of Color, AND two extra FastPasses? At only $20 for Disney Vacation Club members (there are other discounts; see below), this was a steal. I was sold! The cost of the pin and lanyard alone would equal that amount. My mind was set.
It then dawned on me as to what was actually happening here. Other than the VIP viewing for Aladdin, I was most interested in this tour because I would not have to wait in line for five attractions. I was literally paying for FastPasses! This is something I never thought I’d do before and here I was throwing my credit card information into the metaphorical pocket of the Mouse House. Wow.
Was this so bad? Sure, it goes against the idea that Disney already vacuum-sucks a large amount of my paycheck every year (hello, I’m not called the DIS Shopping Queen for nothing), so why spend extra; but in reality, what’s wrong with it? For some, I guess there’s an ethical issue here. Why should we shell out more money on top of the already exorbitant ticket prices? Is it fair for those that can’t afford this? Would it be better served if such an option existed only for those staying at a Disney resort or a specific level of resort?
I have also been thinking about the main purpose of this experience; it is a tour after all. In reality, I’m not as enthusiastic about that component as I am about the attraction experiences that are included. While I am not an expert by any means, I do not consider myself a novice guest of Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure. I know perhaps a bit more than the basics from the many trips I have taken over the years, so do I really need a guided tour? Disney touts it as being for both first time guests and those who have visited in the past. Yet, do I really need assistance in making dining reservations or an introduction to the attractions and layout of the parks? Probably not. However, the opportunity to learn a few fun facts and trivia tidbits will be worth it along with a Cast Member welcome to my vacation.
This brings me to my next pondering: would I pay for something like this in Walt Disney World? That depends. If the new FastPass+ system did not exist, I think that this would be a great option, and perhaps that’s why we’re seeing it at Disneyland who does not have the same technology. With the ease and convenience of FastPass+ though, I would not pay the cost of the tour. You already get limited wait times with park admission and can personalize them yourself using the My Disney Experience app. With that being said, Walt Disney World has also recently added two additional tours that offer attraction access for those interested: The Ultimate Day for Young Families – A VIP Tour Experience and The Ultimate Day of Thrills – A VIP Tour Experience.
Okay, let’s take it a step further then and concentrate on Disneyland. Would I pay for something like this without the tour piece to the deal? I think the answer is a resounding yes. The cost is too good to be true especially for visitors like me who primarily visit the parks during peak seasons when the crowds and temperatures are at their highest. Having reduced wait times and VIP viewing of Aladdin is worth the cost.
In the end, I’m satisfied with my decision to purchase tickets to this tour. I think it will be a great refresher of the parks and way to begin my time at Disneyland Resort. With the added bonuses, it is that much more worth it. For those interested, the tour runs Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays at 10:30 a.m. with a capacity of 20 people per tour. Reservations can be made by calling (714) 781-8687 up to 30 days in advance. The cost is $25 unless you have Disney Vacation Club, Disney VISA, AAA, or an annual pass which brings it down to $20. Our Disneyland podcast did a review of this tour last June, which you can check out here.
What are your thoughts about the Welcome to Disneyland tour? Would you pay for FastPasses in either Disneyland or Walt Disney World? Should this be an option in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
A group of friends and I went on the Welcome to Disneyland Tour this past week. Our party was made up of all adults ranging in ages and familiarity with the west coast parks. Each person had visited Disneyland Resort before, but some had not for a few years. We went into this experience knowing that some of the tour would be information we already knew yet were excited about what it included in terms of FastPasses and VIP viewing.
We checked in just after 10 a.m. at Disneyland’s Tour Garden booth. This location is where all guided tours depart from; you can also see if there is any availability for a specific experience here as well. We were seated at outdoor tables and served cold water which was a nice surprise on such a warm day. California has been unusually humid and hot lately, so I was very grateful. We also received name badges and had a surprise visit by Alice and the Mad Hatter who saw that we were waiting for the tour to begin. They were a hoot!
The tour began promptly at 10:30 a.m. and took us to a variety of locations in both Disney California Adventure and Disneyland. While I do not want to give away all of the details of what we experienced, I will say that it did include a visit to both It’s Tough to be a Bug and Pirates of the Caribbean. FastPasses were given to us for World of Color, Soarin’, and Star Tours; we were then offered VIP viewing of either Aladdin: The Musical or Mickey & the Magical Map, as expected, which was wonderful, as well as a commemorative pin. Note that all of these offerings are subject to change and the attractions you are taken to during the tour itself could vary depending on your party’s demographic. We were joined by another family with children so that could have impacted it. Still, they were fun to see and do.
This tour is advertised as one for both new visitors and regulars. However, this is where we all found it lacking. It was definitely geared more towards those who have never visited the resort before and perhaps those who are even new to Disney Parks. Our tour guide offered to make a dining reservation for us, for example, along with explained how to use FastPass, BabySwap, etc. The trivia and information presented while walking around the parks was all common knowledge. This was a bit disappointing.
All in all, every person in our party agreed that this was an excellent way for first-time visitors to become familiar with the Disneyland Resort and what it has to offer. However, note that it is not an experience for guests who visit often. I thought it was a nice way to re-familiarize those who haven’t been to the parks in awhile with the layout of the land and all it has to offer especially at the start of a vacation. When considering the cost we paid ($20), everyone agreed that you do get your money’s worth despite the misleading advertising of the tour’s target audience. The FastPasses and VIP viewing were fantastic and worth every penny in the hot summer heat and crowds. Would it be something to do every trip? Definitely not – which wasn’t what I expected anyway.
I hope that this has helped you understand more of our experience on the tour. Thanks for reading!