When you hear “Disney World Vacation” do you think beloved, memory making, nostalgic destination or sweat-inducing, parental nightmare? As a lifelong Disney fan and dedicated park-goer, I truly believe that with a little advance planning and know-how, it actually can be the Happiest Place on Earth. I am often asked if we use a Disney VIP guide service in the Parks. We have done Disney both with and without a guide over the years, and it really depends on what you’re looking for. For those of you planning a trip to Disney World and trying to decide whether it is worth it to hire a Disney VIP Guide, read below for my tips and tricks for making the most of your family’s Disney vacation and when to hire a Disney VIP guide and when not to hire a guide.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Disney VIP Guide?
When we do use a guide, we use the official Disney Private VIP Tour Guides. These are the only guides that you book directly through the Parks, and are actually Cast Members employed by Disney. You pay by the hour, for up to ten people, with a seven hour minimum. The cost for a private VIP tour ranges from $425 to $750 per hour depending on the season and the price does not include at the cost of park admission. Let’s be honest, it is expensive and indulgent, but there are reasons why it could be worth it for you to hire a Disney VIP Guide.
6 Reasons to Hire a Disney VIP Guide
Here are 6 reasons when it is worth it to hire a Disney VIP Guide.
If you have limited time
Using a Disney guide is all about efficiency. If you buy a Park Hopper pass, you can experience multiple Parks in one day. Your Disney guide brings you in and out of side entrances so you skip the long walks to enter the Parks, drives you through more direct private back roads, and is a pro at navigating throughout the Parks.
If you want to skip the lines
Being with a Disney guide gives you an automatic Fast Pass entry to any ride, and often you can even skip the Fast Pass line (although this depends on the creativity of your guide and is not guaranteed). Again, efficiency.
If you want a concierge service or need an extra helper
Your Disney guide acts as a concierge, Mother’s Helper, sherpa, and family mediator. They will hold your purse, park your stroller, go on a snack run, ride with an extra child, take family pictures, and settle disputes on which ride to go on next. Sometimes, that alone is priceless.
If you want an expert in Disney Park knowledge and insider tricks
Your Disney guide is a veritable font of Disney lore, and will keep your family entertained with trivia and facts, as well as secret knowledge. Want to know how to improve your score on the Buzz Lightyear ride? Do you know where to find the Hidden Mickeys? Your Disney guide does.
If you want a behind the scenes look
Disney guides take you through cast member entrances and exits and through private backlot areas. If you’re a die-hard Disney fan like me, seeing behind the curtain is a true once in a lifetime experience.
If you want someone else to make the decisions
This is a big one for me. As a total Type-A personality, the only way I can truly relax and enjoy a day at Disney is to put someone else in charge. The guide becomes the planner and navigator, and I’m just along for the ride.
Again, using a guide isn’t necessary and is expensive, but it can be worth it.
How to Maximize Your Time with Your Disney VIP Guide
Here are some ways you can maximize your Disney VIP Guide service experience and minimize the cost.
Meet your guide at your first attraction
While your Disney VIP guide will happily pick you up at your hotel and chauffeur you to the Parks, remember that you are paying by the hour. Arranging your own transportation is less efficient but more cost-effective.
Have a game plan in advance
Spend some time on the Disney website and make a list of everything that you want to do in each Park. This way you don’t waste your guide time planning.
Eat quicker meals
Again, you’re paying by the hour. Opt for quick service meals over character restaurants.
Travel with a group
A private tour includes up to ten people so going with another family and splitting costs can help.
Get a Park Hopper pass
Get a Park Hopper pass so that your Disney guide can take you to multiple Parks. When we go, we book a guide for one day, and we manage to knock out every ride we want to do at all four Parks. While it’s a long and pricey day, we only buy one day of Park tickets, which helps to offset the cost. And added bonus, then we have the rest of the vacation to relax at the hotel!
Reasons Not to Hire a Disney VIP Guide
As great as it is to use a guide, there are some instances when I would not recommend it.
Don’t Use a Disney Guide if it’s Your First Time at Disney World
I don’t recommend using a Disney VIP guide if it’s your family’s first time at Disney World, or if you want the full Disney experience. Using a Disney guide provides a bit of a stripped-down, sanitized version, and is not indicative of the true Disney adventure. While it’s great to enter the Magic Kingdom through a more efficient side door, you skip the iconic Main Street entirely, and the same is true for the other Parks. Similarly, while no one enjoys waiting in line, there is something to be said for all of the ride details that have been incorporated into the lines themselves, so that for some rides, the wait time is part of ride experience itself.
Don’t Use a Disney Guide if you have time to devote a full day at each park
Another instance in which I wouldn’t hire a guide is if you want a more leisurely experience and have the time to devote one full day to each park. In this situation, the Fast Pass system will work just fine for your needs and a guide is just an unnecessary expense.
When to Book Your Disney VIP Guide
If you do decide to book a guide, do so the required 180 days in advance as they do book up, especially over school holidays.
What To Pack for Disney
When packing for Disney, comfortable shoes make the top of the list. You will be walking, a lot. Also, dress in layers. Depending on when you go, it can often differ by ten to fifteen degrees between daytime and sunset. I always bring a pack of disposable ponchos for the water rides, especially if you are there in the cooler months. They sell branded ones in the park, but they are more expensive and never convenient when you need them. Buy in advance from Amazon, and get enough for each person per water ride so you can dispose of them as you go.
And don’t forget the Mouse merchandise! A number of designers have done Disney collaborations in the past year, including Betsy Johnson, Coach, and Vera Wang that are available online and in the Park shops, and Etsy is also a great source. I have a pair of Missoni special edition Minnie Mouse ears that I bought years ago that are a prized possession and I wear every time.
Disney Wait In Line Toys
Disney Trading Pins
Lastly, Disney has a property-wide pin trading system, so buying a few official Disney pins at the start of your trip can make for a fun experience as your kids seek and trade with other Disney cast members throughout your stay.
Where to Stay in Disney World
While many people opt for the classic Disney-themed properties, my favorite is actually the Four Seasons Orlando. We have been going since it opened, and I wouldn’t stay anywhere else. True, it is not on the monorail system and not Disney-themed, but that’s why I like it. It feels like a true vacation, independent of the Parks. There is only so much Mickey that I can take, and after a full day at the Parks, it’s nice to have a break from the Mouse. Full disclosure, the hotel is such a good vacation on its own that we actually planned a trip there one year and didn’t even go to Disney! Crazy, I know. But there is so much to do onsite that you could easily be tempted not to even leave the property. There is a tranquil adults pool, a five acre kids paradise water park (with water slide, lazy river, and zero-entry pools), a video game room, a playground, and a climbing wall. There is a Tom Fazio-designed golf course and a full gym with complimentary fitness classes. There is also a complimentary Kids for All Seasons camp for ages 4-12 with organized activities throughout the day and family poolside movies on Saturday nights.
If you are looking for a Disney experience during your stay, they have that covered too. There is a twice-weekly “Character Breakfast with Goofy and his Friends” that allows your kids to meet Goofy, Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto in the comfort of your hotel. They even provide a photographer to capture the moment and a link to complimentary digital pictures. Definitely take advantage of this as you can then skip these lengthy and crowded meet and greets in the Parks. Best to make reservations in advance as this books up, and is well worth it. Also, if you book a Park View Room you will be able to watch the nightly Magic Kingdom Fireworks show from your own balcony. It’s worth noting that you can also view the show from Capa, the 17th floor restaurant, so if you only want to watch the show once then do this instead of paying up for a premium room. The hotel also offers a private shuttle service to and from all of the Parks, and you can purchase Park tickets onsite.
Wishing you all a magical day and a mouse-tastic trip!
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Joanna is the Content Creator behind My Candid Closet, an instagram feed following her detail-obsessed, chronically overdressed day to day life and travels featuring collaborations with fashion and lifestyle brands. She is a passionate mother, a voracious reader, an over zealous coffee table book collection and has a weakness for pink peonies and anything with a monogram. A former Public Relations Executive, Joanna started her Instagram feed to document her own personal style and share her favorite tips and finds. Instagram: @mycandidcloset
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