Find out the secret behind our epic Disney adventure.
I've been to Walt Disney World 14 times with my husband, Jason, and at least one of our two kids. Despite our experience at maximizing FastPasses+ (our friends consider us Disney experts), we've never been brave enough to tackle all the parks in a day. All that changed last month during our fifteenth visit as a family.
Chevrolet invited us to experience some special events at Walt Disney World. We went behind-the-scenes of Test Track, a ride sponsored by the company that happens to be one of our family favorites. We test-drove the new Chevrolet Traverse, a mid-size SUV. And here's where our epic day came in: Chevy set us up with a Disney VIP Tour Guide. We didn't realize it at the time, but there are several tour guide options that anyone can book. They're expensive, for sure. But I think guides are especially helpful if you can only be at Disney for a day (and some of the guides' expense would be offset by purchasing 1 day tickets rather than, say, 4-day ones) or are traveling with grandparents who want to see the joy of their grandkids on the rides but have trouble getting around.
We met up with our guide, Tom, at Animal Kingdom, where we had just rode the Rivers of Light (nice) and Flights of Passage (amazing!) as part of our event. We told Tom that we wanted to ride Expedition Everest, so he drove us closer. The guides get you on rides fast using the FastPass+ line so there is only a short wait, if any. While we traveled around, Tom gave us fun facts and lots of backstory to the rides. Example: When developing the Asia part of the park at Animal Kingdom, the Imagineers embedded in Nepal with the Sherpas and learned about the legend of the Yeti. The legend was so good that they decided to build a ride around it. All of the gear in the queue is actual equipment that was taken up on Everest. The photos of the Sherpas are actual Sherpas in Nepal! We rode Expedition Everest twice; Tom recommended we try it sitting in the way back, curling our bodies forward when the ride goes backward for a really cool sensation of tumbling. It worked!
After a quick spin on Primeval Whirl in Dinoland, we dipped out a side gate and drove over to Hollywood Studios. When we arrived into the backstage area, someone hopped out of a white van and handed us cold water and snacks. Crazy! This is a great part of the guided experience, especially on a hot Florida day. Our magic side entrance was near Rock 'n' Roller Coaster so we rode that, Toy Story Mania, and had meet-and-greets with Chewbacca and Kylo-Ren. After Star Tours, we had to stop for slushies.
Guides will also go on rides you don't want to ride (or can't ride) with your children. Here's where I thank Tom for taking our kids on Tower of Terror. Guides can also problem-solve tough family matters. After arriving at Magic Kingdom and riding Space Mountain, Tom masterfully negotiated so my daughter could hunt for the shirt she wanted, I could use the restroom, and my husband and son could grab a burger at the same time. Then we did Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Thunder Mountain Rail Road and, because we'd never done it, The Haunted Mansion.
We needed to freshen up for the evening, so he drove us to our resort and waited while we did a quick change. We still had time to squeeze in one more ride at Epcot before dinner—Test Track, and got escorted to the backstage area behind Japan, right on time for dinner.
Our whirlwind trip came to a close with a guide to the airport—this time in the form of the built-in navigation in the Chevy Traverse, which our hosts had preset to take us to our destination. (In a new survey, two out of three parents say traffic is the most stressful part of a family road trip.) Our drive to the airport was a hi-tech and smooth transition from the theme parks, where we could recharge our devices, make all of the right turns, and guide ourselves back to reality.