Vote of the week: VIP tour and backstage experiences
Theme parks, of course, are in the business of making money. In addition to the regular admission ticket, souvenirs, etc., many parks offer VIP tours and backstage experiences, for an additional fee. From escorted tours through Disneyland to a day with a SeaWorld trainer, plenty of options are available.
Have you ever been on one? That is our vote of the week. For the purpose of this question, we are not counting paid "front of the line" passes, like Universal Express Plus and Flash Pass, where the park just sells you an extra ticket and points you on your way. We're talking about employee-escorted tours and the like.
If you have gone on one of these experiences, tell us about it (including how much you paid), in the comments. Was it worth it?
Best backstage experience ever: Griffon breakfast at BGE last year. Thank goodness we signed up for this event, because unfortunately it didn't last long. It was a great value for the money, considering the excellent buffet, the complimentary 6 x 8 photos, and of course all those rides on the mythical beast w/no wait and only a few other privileged ones in the park to share it with you!
Over the Memorial Day weekend my friend and I decided to do the VIP tour at Cedar Point. The cost of the tour is $400 each, which included entry to the park, parking, a few onride photos and your own tour guide for 8 hours of ride time. We could ride any coaster as many times as I wanted without having to queue. It was the best $400 I had ever spent at Cedar Point.
I took the 2 hour Animal Adventure at BGA where you also get the Safari ride included.
I took the behind the scenes tour at Disney's Animal Kingdom. It was a 4-hour tour, and included walking through the animal barns and backstage areas, as well as indoor sessions that cover the conservation and ecological efforts of DAK.
Backstage Tours :-
EPCOT, Backstage Magic
Did the 'Save the mammels at Sea World in Orlando. It was a very educational tour that showed the lengths AB goes to to save harmed or sick sealife. The group was 20 people. That is the most they would allow. At the end of the tour, they allow 5 people at a time to enter a caged area to feed exotic birds. I forget how much it cost, but it was really educational and fun.
The closest we've come to doing a VIP package was buying an Express Plus Pass at Universal Orlando and it was worth every dime. Although fairly expensive, depending on your party size, we'll definitely plan to "save up" just to have one of these experiences.
Contrary to a previous post, KTTK (Keys to the Kingdom) only provides back-door access to a few rides (2 or 3, depending on crowds and weather), but is remarkable in that you are led behind (and UNDER) the scenes through the Magic Kingdom for about 4 1/2 hours. Great Disney trivia, insider insights, and lunch are included. Not to be missed if you're a true Disneyphile! Ages 16 and older only (so as not to spoil the "Magic" for those who might still believe in it). Park admission and separate fee required.
We've done quite a few VIP tours/backstage experiences over the years, some that have changed or no longer exist.
Epcot Aqua Sea-When I first saw that I could dive in the tank, I knew that would be an upcoming splurge. It was even more fun than expected, and I was uncharacteristically showing off for the crowd, sneaking up on the restaurant patrons (thought about smuggling in a lobster bib and fork, but didn't want to be expelled ;-)).
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