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As of January 1, 2019, we have closed our forums. This is a decision we did not come to lightly, but it is necessary. The software our forums run on is just too out-of-date and it poses a significant security risk. The server software itself must be updated, and it cannot be without removing the forums.

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Thank you to each of you who were a part of this community. You made it possible.

And a very special thank you to our Guides (moderators), past and present, who kept our forums a happy place to be. You are the glue that held everything together, and we are forever grateful to you. Thank you aliceinwdw, Caldercup, MrsM, WillCAD, Fortissimo, GingerJ, HiddenMickey, CRCrazy, Eeyoresmom, disneyknut, disneydani, Cam22, chezp, WDWfan, Luvsun, KMB733, rescuesk, OhToodles!, Colexis Mom, lfredsbo, HiddenMickey, DrDolphin, DopeyGirl, duck addict, Disneybine, PixieMichele, Sandra Bostwick, Eeyore Tattoo, DyanKJ130, Suzy Q'Disney, LilMarcieMouse, AllisonG, Belle*, Chrissi, Brant, DawnDenise, Crystalloubear, Disneymom9092, FanOfMickey, Goofy4Goofy, GoofyMom, Home4us123, iamgrumpy, ilovedisney247, Jennifer2003, Jenny Pooh, KrisLuvsDisney, Ladyt, Laughaholic88, LauraBelle Hime, Lilianna, LizardCop, Loobyoxlip, lukeandbrooksmom, marisag, michnash, MickeyMAC, OffKilter_Lynn, PamelaK, Poor_Eeyore, ripkensnana, RobDVC, SHEANA1226, Shell of the South, snoozin, Statelady01, Tara O'Hara, tigger22, Tink and Co., Tinkerbelz, WDWJAMBA, wdwlovers, Wendyismyname, whoSEZ, WildforWD, and WvuGrrrl. You made the magic.

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There are other changes as well.

Why? Well, the world has changed. And change with it, we must. The lyrics to "We Go On" for IllumiNations say it best:

We go on to the joy and through the tears
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Moving on with the current of the years.
We go on
Moving forward now as one
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Ever on with each rising sun.
To a new day, we go on.

It's time to move on and move forward.

PassPorter is a small business, and for many years it supported our family. But the world changed, print books took a backseat to the Internet, and for a long time now it has been unable to make ends meet. We've had to find new ways to support our family, which means new careers and less and less time available to devote to our first baby, PassPorter.

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Thank you, thank you, thank you for your amazing support over the years. Without you, there's no way us little guys could have made something like this happen and given the "big guys" a run for their money. PassPorter was consistently the #3 guidebook after the Unofficial and Official guides, which was really unheard of for such a small company to do. We ROCKED it thanks to you and your support and love!

If you miss us, you can still find some of us online. Sara started a new blog at DisneyParkPrincess.com -- I strongly urge you to visit and get on her mailing list. She IS the Disney park princess and knows Disney backward and forward. And I am blogging as well at JenniferMaker.com, which is a little craft blog I started a couple of years ago to make ends meet. You can see and hear me in my craft show at https://www.youtube.com/c/jennifermaker . Many PassPorter readers and fans are on Facebook, in groups they formed like the PassPorter Trip Reports and PassPorter Crafting Challenge (if you join, just let them know you read about it in the newsletter). And some of our most devoted community members started a forum of their own at Pixie Dust Lane and all are invited over.

So we encourage you to stay in touch with us and your fellow community members wherever works best for you!

Best wishes for a wonderful and magical new year!

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Old 07-22-2004, 09:33 PM   #1
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Behind The Backstage Tours

Where in the World can you pet a rhino, visit a VIP area, and go underneath the Magic Kingdom to see the famous utilidors? On one of the many backstage tours now offered by Disney.

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Old 07-22-2004, 09:34 PM   #2
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Re: Behind The Backstage Tours

So far, we have taken four backstage tours at Disney and plan to take more in the future. They offer a unique view of a place we all feel so familiar with, yet after every tour behind the scenes you will view the parks in a completely different light.

How many of you, who haven’t yet taken a backstage tour, can honestly say that in all your visits you noticed the writing in the windows along Main Street and that you know what it represents? Or did you realize that the plants you were admiring in many of the countries of the World Showcase are species which are native to that particular pavilion?

One of the beauties of Disney is that the Imagineers plan almost everything, yet most guests just don’t see it even though it’s right in front of them. This is where the backstage tours come in, opening up your eyes to the smallest of details.

Our fascination with the backstage tours began on our Christmas 2002 trip. We had already enquired about them during our trip two years earlier, but with only days left of our vacation, we had been unable to get a reservation at such late notice. This is something worth bearing in mind, as the number of tours offered each week is limited and their availability is now more widely advertised than ever. Places do fill up in advance and it’s possible to book many months ahead. For our May trip, we booked our tours four months beforehand and there have been reports of people already booking tours for trips this December.

The more popular tours, such as Keys to the Kingdom, are usually offered more than once a day but others, such as the Wild by Design tour at Animal Kingdom and Gardens of the World at Epcot, are only available a couple of days a week. If you’re particularly interested in a certain tour it’s worth checking whether you’ll be able to fit it into your schedule, before your days become filled with other magical plans.

But for those who might not instantly know which tour they want to take, how do you decide which one to take first? It’s worth considering going for a tour based in your favorite park, as it will give you a completely different perspective of it and will help you to appreciate it even more.

That was the method we adopted when selecting our first tour. Our favorite park is Epcot, which immediately reduced the number of options available. I suggested that perhaps we should concentrate on Future World, as we felt that there was more to learn here and it would be a fun experience particularly as reports we had read suggested that we would be taken on some of the rides. We incorrectly assumed that touring the gardens of World Showcase could be dull and a waste of our morning.

So what can you expect from a backstage tour? Each is unique but they do have some things in common. Let me first dispel a myth. Before setting off on our first tour I had read that they involved a lot of walking and left many people exhausted the next day, so I carefully scheduled our tour with nothing planned for the afternoon and flexible plans for the following day, just in case.

I was pleasantly surprised as we moved around Future World. There were regular restroom breaks and we were given plenty of opportunities to stop and sit down in the shade. On a number of occasions the nearest water fountain was also pointed out to us, in case we needed a drink. Neither of us felt exhausted at any point during the tour or afterwards and that experience has continued through our other tours. While we are certainly not super-fit, we do manage to get around Disney during our vacation but we don’t exercise a great deal at other times of the year, so I would expect most people to find the pace of the tours suited to their needs.

Only on one occasion, during our Gardens of the World tour, were we kept constantly on our feet and that, I have to admit, was partially our fault. Our guide had told us that we could stop as often as we liked for comfort breaks but we failed to take her up on her offer, assuming that breaks would be built in. We won’t make that mistake again in the future!

On some of the tours, such as Keys to the Kingdom and Undiscovered Future World, you will be able to experience some of the park’s attractions, but the ones selected do change from time to time so there’s no guarantee it will include your favorite. Keys to the Kingdom has featured the likes of the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise in the past, while in Undiscovered Future World, guests have been able to sample Test Track and Universe of Energy.

Some of the tours offered are completely “onstage”, but even then Disney can always throw in a surprise. When I booked Gardens of the World, the Cast Member kept repeating that there would be no visits behind the scenes, which I was perfectly happy with. Imagine my surprise when, at the end of the tour, our guide then took us backstage at Canada, so we were right in front of the building that will eventually house Soarin’!

Of course for most people who take the tours the unique selling point of them is the experiences I mentioned earlier, like seeing the VIP area at the Living Seas in Undiscovered Future World, going into the utilidors in Keys to the Kingdom or petting a rhino on the Backstage Safari tour. Disney is careful to state that they cannot always promise such experiences, perhaps with the exception of the visit to the utilidors (which is now an integral part of the Keys tour and is the main reason why kids under sixteen are not allowed to take part).

For many people though, their concern is that a peek behind the scenes may destroy the magic of what’s provided onstage. In our experience, nothing could be further from the truth. Admittedly it’s not a very magical feeling to pass through a “Cast Members Only” door straight into a car park with no Disney theming at all. There is no transition. Suddenly and abruptly you’re back in the real world with a bump, but while in that real world, you will see magic of a different kind -- the Cast Members going about their everyday jobs of creating magic for their guests and you will learn how they all work together to achieve that. After all, team at Disney means “together everyone achieves magic.”

Backstage tours are not cheap. The four we have taken so far have ranged in price from $49 to $65 per person. Some have included food, while others haven’t, but all have given us unique experiences and perspectives on the various parks. They have all surpassed our expectations and have provided us with so many fascinating facts that we now appreciate the magic that goes into creating Disney parks and Disney attractions all the more.

[You can get more information on backstage tours on pages 242-244 of PassPorter Walt Disney World 2004, where all tours with a “backstage peek” are clearly identified. Book your tour by calling 407-WDW-TOUR up to 90 days in advance.]

By Cheryl Pendry
Guest Columnist and PassPorter Message Board Guide
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Old 07-23-2004, 07:40 PM   #3
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Re: Behind The Backstage Tours

On the way to Donald's Breakfastosaurus, we were led by a CM who pointed out interesting things we never would have seen otherwise along the way. Does the Wild By Design tour do this? It talks about seeing the animal holding/feeding areas, which doesn't sound as interesting as a tour of the park.
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Old 08-04-2004, 11:34 AM   #4
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Re: Behind The Backstage Tours

I've taken (the now gone) Backstage Animation Tour as well as the Keys to the Kingdom Tour - both well worth the money! Especially Keys to the Kingdom - any die hard WDW fan will be giddy after seeing where they maintain the monorails, how the American Adventure works, and . . . the Utilidors!
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