Backstage MagicKeys to the KingdomBehind the SeedsSegway Around World Showcase
Personally, I like Backstage Magic is the best! Backstage Magic is about the same as Keys to the Kingdom, but includes DHS and EPCOT. You go to all of MK's greatest hits. However, you do not get to go on any rides. It just shows how the World actually works.
However, Behind the Seeds is also not to be missed since its for all ages and much more affordable.
Either way, all tours are worth it! They also CHECK IDs!
Interesting point, KJ. I could see how an academic could get frustrated at Disney. Research needs are plentiful at academic institutions but funding is often hard to come by. Corporate research funds are easy to come by but the needs of the researcher come second to the wants of the corporation. Thus, she probably wanted a position at a university where she could choose her research, but the funding was unavailable and therefore ended up at Epcot where funding is available but research topics are Disney-centric. Still, that doesn't give her the right to sneer at her employer.
Also, long ago we did Behind the Seeds and Gardens of the World, and while they were OK, we were not impressed enough to want to do them twice.
Now with that said I must say that we learned a valuable lesson on our last visit about 1-1/2 years ago. They do update and change the tours which we did not know, and were stupid enough not to ask! Check before you say "no" to repeating a tour to see if it has been updated.
We learned from the Backstage Safarai at AK. When we went the first time, soon after it was first offered, it was a VERY LONG WALKING TOUR. Again I was exhausted after about 5 hours, but it was wonderful. On our last visit, figuring it would not have changed, only my adult daughter went, and was I bummed! They have added a tram to relieve some of the walking and she said that I very easily could have done the tour. They also added a lot of interesting things. You can bet that next time I will be going!
On the last visit we also did a special VIP tour at AK Lodge (you have to stay at the Lodge) where we were with a small group in a safarai truck with the animal handlers and we rode around all over AK Lodge savannahs and then had a private dinner with wine at Jiko served by the head chef. THIS IS EXPENSIVE. CALL IT AN ADULT TREAT! Also, if you are not a fan of trying what I would term unusual and exotic food or you don't drink, I would say you should try to get this tour without the dinner. That's what we are going to do next time since I don't drink, and I am a peasant when it comes to food.
Most excellent tours at Epcot are the Aqua Seas and the Dolphins in Depth. Well worth every penny. They are expensive, but a lot of the money goes to research and upkeep of their very large acquarium. Do not expect to get to do more than touch the dolphins and give them a few signals. This is an on-going dolphin research project and not like Discovery Cove's more entertainment oriented dolphin swim where you get to be pulled by the dolphin through the water. Still it is a memory worth having and much less expensive than Discovery Cove.
We are going to Orlando this fall and doing Discovery Cove, and Universal. A shock! No Disney! Too much to see and do. I'll let you know about the Dolphin Enocounter there which is an additional fee. Discovery Cove is expensive, but everything in the park is paid for, including all your food and drink for the whole day, your parking, locker, sun screen, etc. They limit attendance to 1000 people a day so you are not packed one on top of each other either. Also, they only part that is limited on time is the Dolphin Encounter. Otherwise if you want to snorkel all day you can. You get to go to SeaWorld or someplace else for a day on the same ticket. I think it is well worth the money if you can plan ahead and afford it.
On any of the these tours definitely don't take any kids under teens, and then only if it is something they really want to do. Younger kids are going to look at this like going to a museum where all you do is look at stuff and read signs. They'll be bored in no time. If your older kids have an interest in something then for sure take them along. My only caveat is that of course how good your experience is has a lot to do with the person(s) that you draw as your guides. Be sure to answer their surveys truthfully at the end if you don't like a tour guide.
I am glad to see that there are many new tours we haven't tried yet! Can't wait. We saw the segways at Epcot, and those looked the way to go. Can you imagine if they would just rent a segway to get around the parks! I hate trying to get out of World Showcase though I love seeing it. It seems I always end up at the wrong time or place and have to walk all the way to the front of the park or around to one of the resorts to find a bus. Poor planning on my part, but no fun!
Love to see other folks opinions on tours!