REVIEW: New Taste of the Magic Kingdom VIP Tour Is Mostly Stale
Today marked the first “public” offering of the Taste of the Magic Kingdom VIP Tour. It officially started yesterday, but the first one was pre-sold to Golden Oak residents and Club 33 members, which is pretty much how everything at Walt Disney World goes now. Anyway, here’s how Disney describes the offering:
Discover how food memories are made as you taste your way through the kitchens of Magic Kingdom park. Remember the first time you tried the Dole Whip? Or maybe you eat a turkey leg every time you come to the park? Food is an essential part of the Walt Disney World vacation experience.
On this brand-new, 3-hour experience, you’ll:
Uncover the Magic Behind the Meals
Hear stories from the brilliant chefs and dedicated Cast Members that bring creative and delicious meals to life each day at Magic Kingdom park. From the rich food history of Disney parks to the “Imagineering” of new menu items, you’ll be immersed in culinary magic!
Enjoy unprecedented access to backstage kitchens and working areas that have never before been shared with Guests. See what goes into the production of serving millions of Guests each year and interact with the creative experts behind these memorable meal experiences.
Delight in Delicious Tastings
Along the way, tuck into curated tastings of some of the most beloved menu items at Magic Kingdom park. Be sure to bring an appetite—an incredible assortment of sweet and savory flavors awaits!
Taste the Future
Help Disney culinary artists create the next generation of Magic Kingdom park food by sampling an item that is still in development.
You can relax and savor the experience because your VIP Guides will take care of everything.
Price: $99 per person, plus tax (valid admission is required for each park and not included in the price of this experience)
Dates: This experience is currently offered on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
Reservations: Book online – or call (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463
The tour begins with check-in at the podium at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. Once checked-in, guests are welcomed into the restaurant to enjoy a Mickey Mouse cinnamon roll from Main Street Bakery, coffee, and a bottled water for the road. You then wait for the tour to truly begin at 9:15am. The roll is sizable and there its lots more to eat, so pace yourself if you’re doing this.
Most snacks on the tour are ones we have reviewed, so click the link on each item name if you want our thoughts on that particular offering.
Tour guides are then introduced, telling personal tales of their Magic Kingdom food memories. They then ask guests to tell their favorite (and even perhaps negative) food memories from the park. One guest recounted never being able to find the cheeseburger spring rolls, while another revealed that she forced her family to eat the quarter pound teriyaki burger at the long-since-closed Adventureland Verandah Restaurant (now Skipper Canteen and Club 33 – Captain’s Quarters). This woman’s story of dragging her family to eat these at the start of every trip was the highlight of the entire event for me, personally. We chose not to share our more memorable reviews of new items and menus at Magic Kingdom, many of which are catalogued for the world to see on this site anyway.
The group then leaves Tony’s and journeys down Main Street, U.S.A. The next stop is Casey’s Corner. We finally get there after the group becomes separated or stops completely a few times. We hear a bit about the establishment and are then invited to take a very short walk through the tiny kitchen. Keep in mind that photos and video are not allowed in backstage areas on the tour, including kitchens. You might wonder why the kitchen is so small for a location that serves so many guests. Well, that’s because the hot dogs are made in the kitchen behind Tomorrowland Terrace and then transported via the underground Utilidors to Casey’s, where they are then assembled.
The tour travels on to Adventureland next, stopping at the Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen. I was pretty excited as it’s no secret this is my favorite restaurant in the park, for both food and atmosphere. We are taken inside, given a brief overview of the restaurant’s backstory, and then get to enter the kitchen. This kitchen services Skipper Canteen, Liberty Tree Tavern, Club 33 – Captain’s Quarters, and The Diamond Horseshoe. Our guides didn’t mention Horseshoe at all, so I asked if that was also operating out of this kitchen. She responded with “when it is open, but that’s not often.” The Diamond Horseshoe has been a daily operating table service restaurant since March 2016. This kind of misinformation continued through the tour. I understand that I probably know more than most people about Disney World, and I’m not saying a tour guide must devote their life to knowing every factoid, but distributing accurate information is pretty important. I really hate to bring this up as the guides were very sweet and I feel like a jerk bringing this up, but I think it’s the expectation of a guided tour that you are with an expert of some sort. Maybe my expectations are unrealistic.
There’s also a lot of little details that tied into things mentioned by guides that the tour just passes by. There is so much cool stuff on the walls at Skipper Canteen alone. A brief mention of some more of the props would go a long way. Also, I think it would be a fantastic addition if they allowed guests on the tour to open the “secret entrance” to the S.E.A. room through the bookcase, since we walk through there anyhow. The restaurant is closed to regular guests at this point in the morning, so why not?
After the brief kitchen tour, which is pretty impressive honestly considering it’s one kitchen for a lot of fairly large restaurants, we come out and are given buffalo chicken spring rolls from the nearby cart and the Schweitzer Slush served at Skipper Canteen. We then get to hear from a chef at the park and ask questions.
Following this are two quick food stops: one for a small cup of Dole Whip from Aloha Isle, and another for a bite of turkey leg at Tortuga Tavern. Bottled water was offered to wash down the turkey leg.
The guides also mentioned rumors over the years that the turkey legs were perhaps from a larger bird such as an Emu, but assured us they are just acquired from large, male turkeys and what you most often eat elsewhere is a female turkey leg. Either way, I still think they’re gross.
The stop at Tortuga Tavern does come with some historical backstory and a reference to El Pirata Y El Perico, the former location name, but they didn’t bother to mention to sign for the old restaurant hidden in the rafters. The tour literally walked underneath it. Little mentions like this would add so much more.
The tour then walks through Frontierland to Liberty Square for a small sample of popcorn.
After that, it’s on to Fantasyland, where we pass backstage to see the loading docks where food arrives at the bakery below the Be Our Guests Restaurant. We also get a glimpse at the back of the buildings that hold The Haunted Mansion, “it’s a small world”, Pinocchio Village Haus, and Be Our Guest. After an odd backstage stop where the guide explains what Disney does with food waste (a positive given a multitude of bloggers who throw away full dishes) and corporate initiatives to donate meals, we then emerge in Belle’s Village and are handed a small cup with The Grey Stuff from the popular table service establishment. This felt more special than most of the other foods we tried simply because it is much harder to obtain.
Guides then bring the group down to road to Prince Eric’s Village Market where each guest gets a full Mermaid Donut. I can at least say you won’t leave hungry from this tour.
It’s then on to the Purple Wall for pictures with props that look like Magic Kingdom snacks and such. Why? Who knows.
The tour ends with a seating at Tomorrowland Terrace to try a dish not yet available at the parks. This supposedly will rotate as chefs in the Disney Flavor Lab near Port Orleans come up with new creations. We got to try an asian spring roll and noodle salad. Photos weren’t allowed as the item is still being tested.
We were asked to fill out a brief survey about the times we tried.
The tour concludes here and guests are free to leave after a brief farewell from the guides.
In short, I can’t imagine a scenario where this is worth $99 a guest. The food and drink included can probably be roughly valued around $25-30 (including bottled waters). The two brief kitchen tours are cool, and the short chef Q&A is on the right track, but the overall experience isn’t amazing. Outside of the Grey Stuff, you could easily acquire all of these items in the park with little-to-no wait on a typical day. The taste test with a new item at the end is a nice touch as well, but it’s all just not enough for me to recommend this. You could easily do your own Magic Kingdom food tour and learn just as much talking to your server or Cast Members at the locations. How this took 5 years to develop is beyond me. With some likely easily instituted changes, it could be something cool, but as of right now, don’t bother.