This tour allows guests to have unprecedented access to backstage kitchens and working areas in Magic Kingdom and hear stories and food history of the parks from Chefs and Cast Members behind the production. Tastings of beloved menu items is a unique feature of this tour, and guests are even invited to “taste the future” by sampling an in-development item.
While tour options are greatly varied by location and topic, one way we can categorize them is that some offer onstage access around general public areas (i.e. The Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour), while many provide unique backstage access to rarely seen areas.
The Taste of Magic Kingdom Park VIP Tour is one that offers backstage access. And a rule for backstage access is that photography is prohibited in backstage areas. However, Disney does allow and encourage photo-taking in general public areas, so we’re sharing everything we can today so you can know what this tour involves in case it’s of interest to you! We will also be sharing facts we learned along the way, just as a spoiler-alert heads up in case you’d rather save those for your own tour.
Let the tour begin!
The tour — which Disney hopes to keep around 30-35 guests at a time — begins with check-in at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant on Main Street, U.S.A. Typically the start time is 9:00 AM for this three-hour tour.
Before you go, it’s important to know that guests are required to wear close-toed shoes on this tour, as it involves going into kitchen areas. They’re pretty serious about this, so — no flip flops! Coffee and tea are available for guests during the waiting time (an early arrival of 15 minutes prior to tour start is recommended).
And Mickey Cinnamon Rolls are available, too! As of press time, these treats are dressed up in Mardi Gras colored sprinkles.
However, our Guide suggested not finishing the entire large roll because there is a lot more food on the way…
Guests are also welcome to grab a bottle of water to carry along on the tour.
The official welcoming begins with two Cast Member Tour Guides sharing some favorite Disney food memories, recognizing how food continues to become more and more of an important part of a Disney vacation. (As we say here at the DFB, “food IS a theme park,” after all!)
It is fitting to start the tour at Tony’s Town Square since it was also open on the first day of Magic Kingdom park as Town Square Café, sponsored by Oscar Meyer with a focus on Walt’s favorite hearty midwestern fare.
After the welcome, it’s off too…
Heading down Main Street, U.S.A., the tour moves to Casey’s Corner, with a look at the small kitchen (where no pictures were permitted).
It only takes about 15 steps to cover the full kitchen ground, with typically 8 Cast Members working in that area. As it turns out, Disney was not anticipating the crowds that line up at Casey’s when the kitchen was designed, so much of the food is actually cooked in Tomorrowland Terrace.
We also learned that the featured Hot Dog of the Month has been very popular with guests, so those will be continuing for the foreseeable future.
Next, off to…
Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen
Time for a stop at the Jungle Skipper Canteen to start our time in Adventureland!
A discussion of the Skipper Canteen naturally involves some discussion of the Jungle Cruise, including how Walt originally had hoped to feature live animals in the attraction. We also dove a bit into the backstory of the Canteen, which you can read about in our first review of the spot.
This visit includes a stop in the kitchen as well, where we viewed the expo line and the screens that keep the operation going. Unlike Casey’s, the Canteen features a much larger kitchen, providing food for four other restaurants plus Adventureland food carts. You can also just spy a glimpse of the Liberty Tree Chandelier from the kitchen.
He shared that his favorite entrée at the Canteen is the Char Siu Pork, and you can rarely beat a recommendation from the chef!
He shared that creating Disney dishes is a very interactive process, working with several chefs across different levels for feedback and ideas. Also, Chefs move to different locations around Disney World to become acquainted with various cuisines. Chef Alfredo also answered guest questions.
And, hey, the next time you’re in the Canteen, be sure to at least walk by this special booth in the S.E.A. Room.
Here you’ll see some butterflies displayed from Lillian Disney’s collection!
(Just as a side note, this stop also includes the first restroom break on the tour, just over an hour in.)
It’s “Aloha” next to Aloha Isle, featuring a taste of the Magic Kingdom classic…
… Dole Whip!
You may recall when Aloha Isle and Sunshine Tree Terrace had a location swap several years ago.
Our Guides discussed how it was a necessary move to better accommodate the crowds in the area.
A stop at Tortuga Tavern includes a taste — and also some information — about another cult classic snack: the Jumbo Turkey Leg!
Thankfully, water bottles are also presented with the salty Tom’s Turkey.
The way it’s prepared with a salt grind and hickory is what leads many guests to mistake the tasty turkey for ham.
Fun fact: the Cast Members are not allowed to eat these onstage because there is not really a dignified way to do so!
A brief stroll through Frontierland leads to…
Liberty Square Popcorn Cart
The Liberty Square Popcorn Cart served up the iconic Disney Popcorn to tour guests.
Of course, it’s not just tour guests being served. We learned that the amount of popcorn served in Disney World in a year could fill 1.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools or the entire Tower of Terror!
With this volume of just one food item, it’s of interest to learn that there are 15,000 Food and Beverage Cast Members to keep things moving!
In Fantasyland, we were lead backstage to see the mouth of the Utilidors where Cast Members enter and food is delivered (just a reminder, this tour does not include access to the Utilidors). We ultimately arrived at the backstage door for Gaston’s Tavern and were served The Grey Stuff from Be Our Guest Restaurant!
The recipe for The Grey Stuff, by the way, is so secret that even the Cast Members don’t know it!
There was also a discussion for how Disney addresses food waste, stating that cooking and frying oils are used for fueling busses, and a lot of unused food is donated to Second Harvest.
Prince Eric’s Village Market
A visit to Prince Eric’s Village Market served up the Mermaid Donut to all participants. (Did you know that the candy pieces topping this very sweet confection are hand-painted?)
This particular treat led a to discussion of the importance of Instagram and making social media-friendly food.
Speaking of social media…
A stop at the famous Purple Wall gave guests the opportunity to pose with food-themed and social media-themed props.
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
There is a very brief stop outside of Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, where we were informed that it is one of the top three most efficient restaurants in the world.
And there is one more final stop…
Future of Flavors
A Flavor Lab is located behind Port Orleans Resort where in-development items are tested. And an item from the Lab is brought to guests on the final stop on the tour!
No pictures of the tasting of this in-development item were allowed at the tasting (which took place at Tomorrowland Terrace), nor are tour guests supposed to speak about it to protect the enjoyment of future guests. Tour participants are surveyed to share their thoughts on the item.
The new Taste of Magic Kingdom Park VIP Tour features, as noted, backstage access, tastes of iconic food items in the park, talented and thoughtful Cast Member Tour Guides, interesting tidbits of info, and more. However, we can’t help but thinking, unfortunately, that this one falls a little flat. We would’ve appreciated more details than were presented, and portions of the tour seemed to lull a bit (for example, we sat at Tortuga Tavern a little longer than perhaps necessary). We noticed this a few times throughout the tour.
It would also be nice to learn more about the actual processes in the kitchens. The focus was more on the expo line and kitchen screens, which we didn’t find as interesting as it would have been to learn more about what goes on behind-the-scenes.
Some more potential improvements? Headsets (which are provided on several Disney World tours, but not this one) would be a nice touch. Since the tour requires a fair bit of walking from location to location, it would be cool to hear some more stories and insights along the way.
All of the ingredients — no pun intended — are here for a great Tour. With more details on the current ways of doing things plus more digging into the food history of the parks, in addition to our other suggestions, the Taste of Magic Kingdom VIP Tour could live up to its full potential, and we hope it soon does!
The price for the Taste of Magic Kingdom Park VIP Tour is $99 per guest, plus tax. Park admission is required, but not included. Currently, the tour is offered on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and interested guests may book online or by calling (407) WDW-DINE. Note that guests must be at least 12 years old to participate, and you can find more information on our Taste of Magic Kingdom Park VIP Tour Page and the Disney World website.
Would you like to take the Taste of Magic Kingdom VIP Tour? Please let us know with a comment!