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by Fancy Free Diva

I knew I wanted to do something special on our recent trip to Walt Disney World. There would be nine of us in all: my sister, her husband, their two kids, my husband, our two kids, my mom, and myself. We were going to be spending 15 days at Walt Disney World, which is amazing in and of itself, but I really wanted this trip to be extra magical.

I started planning months and months ahead of time, and I used occasions like birthdays and Christmases to give gifts that would enhance our trips. Ok, so maybe they were more like I.O.U.’s. The Christmas before our trip, I sat down at my computer and created a special invitation to print out and put under the tree, and on Christmas morning, my family all found out that we would be participating in Disney’s Family Magic Tour at the Magic Kingdom, one of the few tours available to individuals of all ages, including my 2-month-old son who would be traveling with us.

Diva Tip: I have used the I.O.U. strategy a number of times. I created fancy pink invitations gifting my daughter and nieces with makeovers at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and I surprised my family with eye patches and a treasure map to help them find their way to the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Cruise. This strategy is a great way to give the people you love moments and memories instead of things.

On the day of our tour, after a hearty breakfast of cinnamon rolls and Lefou’s Brew at Gaston’s Tavern, we converged on the Chamber of Commerce, right at the start of Main Street USA, for our 10am start time. After posing for a photo in the matching shirts I had made for the occasion, we went inside.

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The whole Fancy Free family!

Once we had checked in, we were given generic stick-on name badges and bottles of water. (Note: at the time of our trip, Disney had discontinued the use of pin backed nametags and Peter Pan themed name badges.) Because of the size of our party, only two other people joined us. (Note: Disney does combine families and groups for this tour, so be prepared to make some new friends if your crew is not large enough.  They do seem to cap the size of the group at approximately 12, though, so it’s still pretty elite and intimate.)

Diva Tip: It’s a good idea to take a restroom break before your tour begins. There’s a break at the halfway mark, too, but take the opportunity to go at the beginning so that you don’t have to interrupt the fun later!

Bonus Diva Tip: The Disney Diva herself reviewed this tour back in 2012, calling it a “must-do.”  I definitely agree with her, but a few things have changed since then.  Read on for an updated view of what this tour has to offer you and your family!

Soon, we were greeted by our tour guide and tasked with solving a mystery. I don’t want to give too much away here, but it involved several Disney characters and some missing items that we would need to help locate. The items were hidden throughout the park, and each was accompanied by a clue that needed to be deciphered in order to lead us to our next stop. I don’t think I can express just how much fun this was!

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One of the Fancy Free Nieces reads a clue

Our tour guide did a phenomenal job parceling out the tasks to all of the little ones in our group so that no one felt too left out. Each child got a turn to try to read the clue, make guesses, and hold the objects we found. Even the grown-ups had to join in!

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Fancy Free Husband found the keys! (Well, in all honesty, he was the only one of us who could reach them!)

Along the way, we visited the Harmony Barber Shop, stopped along Main Street USA, and took a detour by the payphones (I didn’t even know they still had these!). But that’s not all! We got a surprise front-of-the-line pass to ride the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh to find a clue hidden on the ride, too! This was such a surprise, and it’s a ride that all of us enjoy a lot.

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Hooray! We got to skip the line for this ride!

In addition to the extra special magic of front-of-the-line access to a popular attraction, we also got some help from Peter Pan! Yes, the boy from Neverland swooped in to help us find Captain Hook’s hook and pose for photos. He even taught us all how to crow!

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Peter Pan helps us solve clues, too

Diva Tip: Between the special access to the ride (which will save you a FastPass) and the character meet-and-greets, this tour is a potential time-saver for you and your family. The whole tour (including the snack break) took us 2 hours. When you factor in the time for one ride and two character meet-and-greets, this tour is definitely worth it – and so much more fun than waiting in line!

About halfway through the tour, we stopped for a little break near the Cheshire Café. I used the break as an opportunity to savor one of the cake cups – mmmmm! If you’ve ever thought that your cupcake didn’t have enough frosting, the cake cups solve that problem in layers. I highly recommend them! (Note: Snacks are not provided as part of the tour, so you can bring your own, or do what I did and buy one!)

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You’ve GOT to try the cake cups here! They’re delicious, and they’ll disappear quickly and most unexpectedly – just like the Cheshire Cat himself!

After that much needed snack break, we continued on our quest, puzzling out clues and traipsing through the park, magical objects in hand.

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One of the Fancy Free Nieces found the racing flag we were looking for!

As we moved across the park, our tour guide was really amazing. She had us all (yes, all of us, even the grown-ups) making animal noises and playing follow-the-leader with silly walks. It was great fun. And, yes, people did look at us, but we were clearly part of a group, and that added to the special magic – we were doing something amazing that the others in the crowd weren’t in on. It was like a secret club.

Diva Tip: We waited until the last day of the trip to take this tour, wanting to end the vacation on a high note. However, if you’re a first-time vacationer to the Magic Kingdom, you may want to start your vacation with this tour because it will do a terrific job of orienting you to the layout of the Magic Kingdom, which will make for far less crisscrossing later in your trip!

Over the course of our quest, we collected things like Rapunzel’s favorite frying pan, Captain Hook’s hook, a racing flag, some keys, and more. We put together a puzzle (literally) and solved rhyming riddles (some of which were not easy and required some solid Disney knowledge), making our way toward the final destination.

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They’re putting all of the pieces together to solve the mystery!

At the end of our tour, we were required to turn all of the items we had found into the Big Boss as proof that we had solved the mystery. Yep. We were brought before the Big Cheese himself, the talking Mickey Mouse in the Town Square Theatre. In another front-of-the-line bump, we shared the evidence of our journey with Mickey, who congratulated us on a job well done.

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Our entire Family Magic Tour group

Note: This was probably one of the best character meet and greet situations I have ever been in. We spent a good 15 minutes with Mickey, and he took time to interact with each person in our party. It was a level of individualized attention that really blew me away.

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These little ones brought a lot of the real magic to this tour!

Unlike other Disney tours, which can be super pricey, this tour is really affordable. At the time of publication, the Family Magic Tour cost $39 per person. As with park tickets, children 2 and under are free, but everyone in your party must have admission to the Magic Kingdom to participate. The tour itself takes approximately 2 hours, and it does include a lot of walking. ECV’s and wheelchairs can be accommodated, though.   You can book your Family Magic Tour by calling (407) WDW-TOUR up to 180 days in advance, or you could contact Patricia with All for Dreams Travel to plan your vacation for you! Either way, I can’t recommend this experience enough. It’s a really amazing way to add some special magic and make some incredible family memories on your next trip to Walt Disney World.

 

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Hi! I'm Stephanie, aka the Fancy Free Diva. I'm a mom from Maine, and when I'm not in the classroom teaching irony using clips from Frozen and Mulan, I can be found playing with my own kids and planning our next Disney trip. I'm an Annual Passholder at WDW and a DVC member, and on cold winter nights I'm usually dreaming about summer vacation when I can take my family back to Florida and be fancy free!