Operating Disney's chain of hugely popular theme parks is a challenging undertaking. Each of the company's resorts employs tens of thousands of Cast Members, who work around-the-clock to ensure that attractions operate reliably, parks and hotels are clean and tidy and every guest has the broadest smile on their face possible. Over the last few months, we've published a series of articleslooking at the roles of Disney Cast Members. Sometimes, though, there's no substitute for actually stepping behind the scenes and hearing first-hand from Cast Members about how Disney's parks are run. Fortunately, Disney offers a range of tours that allow you to do just that. Here are 10 that are worth checking out!

10. Discover what's behind the magic of Disney's steam trains (Magic Kingdom)

Disney's The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour

Image © Disney

The Cast Members on the Disneyland Railroad were viewed by Walt Disney as so important that he employed them through his own company, Retlaw. He even personally autographed their paychecks, making working as a conductor or driver one of the most prestigious positions at the park. Of course, those days are long past, but working on the railroads that circle Disney's Magic Kingdom-style parks is still viewed as something of an honor. On Disney's The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour at the Magic Kingdom, you'll get an insider look at how the trains on the Walt Disney World Railroad operate. You'll join the railroad engineers before the park opens, as they prepare the trains for the day ahead. The tour includes a look at the backstage roundhouse, where the steam engines are stored and serviced. You'll also hear about why Walt had such a passion for steam trains, and get the chance to ride the rails around the park in a fully-restored antique freight train. More details, pricing and reservations

9. Walk in Walt's footsteps (Disneyland)

Walk in Walt's Disneyland Footsteps

Image © Disney

Only one of Disney's theme parks was personally overseen by Walt Disney himself during its construction - the original Disneyland in California. Walt was heavily involved in almost every aspect of the project, and that meant spending a lot of time at the park. Often, it even meant sleeping there. So he had an apartment constructed above the Fire Department building on Main Street, USA. Access to the apartment is limited to guests on the "Walk in Walt's Disneyland Footsteps" tour, which launched back in 2012. Focusing on Walt's life and work on Disneyland, it includes a look inside the apartment, a glance at the lobby of the exclusive Club 33 (although this is currently closed for renovation) and a private lunch on Main Street, USA.


You can't take photos in the apartment (there's a sneaky glimpse above), but a group photo is taken, so you'll have a memento of your visit. More details, pricing and reservations

8. Step into the world of cinema (Walt Disney Studios, Paris)

Walt Disney Studios Walt Disney Studios is widely regarded as Disney's worst theme park, given its lack of attractions and the fact that it is not really the major production center that it bills itself as. However, it does offer a relatively cheap, 90 minute tour that it worth considering. The guided tour focuses on the secrets of the world of cinema, Walt Disney's influence on it and the hidden nods and tributes that are scattered throughout the park. It also includes a look at how animated movies are produced and at the special effets of a "working" studio. More details, pricing and reservations

7. Go on a Backstage Safari (Disney's Animal Kingdom)

Backstage Safari

Image © Disney

Disney's Animal Kingdom is a unique Disney theme park in that it combines the company's traditional rides and attractions with enclosures for more than 1,500 animals. The Backstage Safari tour focuses on the challenges of caring for this vast number of exotic creatures. The tour includes a visit to the Animal Nutrition Center, where you'll learn how 3 tons of food are prepared and distributed every single day. You'll also visit a backstage animal-housing area, a state-of-the-start veterinary hospital and the Animal Programs Administration building (where you'll learn about the company's involvement in conservation programs). More details, pricing and reservations

6. Find out how Disney's horticulture teams cultivate the magic (Disneyland)

Cultivating the Magic
Image © Disney

More than 800 species of plants, native to 40 different countries, grow at the Disneyland Resort. That's a major transformation, given that the site was originally simply 260 acres of orange groves. The Jungle Cruise alone has developed its own ecosystem since the attraction opened in 1955, with trees creating a canopy that allows species of ground plants to thrive that otherwise would not grow at all in Southern California. You can find out more about the planning that went into creating the stories that are told in each of Disneyland's lands through horticulture by taking the Cultivating the Magic tour. You'll even pick up an exclusive collectible souvenir trading pin and an exclusive seed packet for your troubles. More details, pricing and reservations



I just took the Walking in Walt's Footsteps tour back in early Nov. Unfortunately Walt's apartment was being renovated so we didn't get to go see it. We did get to tour the Dream Suite though, which was cool. I had read, I think on one of these posts, that you got to go into the lobby of Club 33. While the new one is complete that was not the case. They pointed out the window to the place from in front of the French Market and that was all. It was an interesting tour but for Disney "nerds" like me, I already knew about 80% of the info they shared. I will try another tour someday though, it was fun.

DiveQuest at Living Seas is my favorite "backstage" tour. We've done it several times, and there's always more to see and learn. And the dive is a 10+.

I agree that some tours are OK to have for guests, but I certainly disagree wholeheartedly with 'utilidor' tours. I have been a former Disney cast member (on 2 different occasions). There is, and should be, an element of 'mystery' as to how Disney does some things in their operation. For some, this 'mystery' as to how these 'magical' things happen will always be special. It sure was for me. Fortunately, having worked there for 4 years (both in the park, and in Main Entrance Operations), the magic is still there for me. But I have to imagine that for some of those that take these tours, the lustre is somewhat lost. Yes, it's nice to know all you can about Disney. But can't there still be a bit of wonder about it all? Is Disney so desperate to make that extra dollar that they had to go this route? I'd bet if Walt were still around, there'd be NO way he'd let guests go down and tour everything. From what I hear, things (the changes they're making now) are really bringing things down. What a shame.

In reply to by Jeff Peterson (not verified)

I have been on this tour and am also a Cast Member. Actually you see very little of the utilidor and it is the last part of the tour. You have to be at least 16 years old also so the "magic" is not taken away from children. I took my grown daughter , who had been curious about "backstage" and she loved it.

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