Backstage tours are a fun way to see a side of Walt Disney World that most people never get to witness. The sheer volume of people, things and processes required to run an operation of that magnitude is truly mind-boggling, and even the most run-of-the-mill tour is sure to be packed with memories.
If luck is with you, however, you might just see some things that are unique, funny, or even just plain weird...
1. Ben Franklin naked
The Backstage Studio Tour covers a lot of ground, visiting backstage areas in all four gated theme parks. The tour goes behind the scenes at Epcot’s American Adventure, and it just so happened that technicians were working on the Ben Franklin animatronic during our visit. Our tour guide stopped dead in his tracks as he rounded the corner, causing all eight of us to bump into him and each other. One lady peeked over his shoulder and shouted, “He’s naked!” We all burst into laughter and moved closer for a better look.
While you might not happen to catch Ben Franklin, the number and complexity of audio-animatronics at Walt Disney World give you a reasonably good chance of seeing at least one being repaired or tweaked during your visit. The clear plastic bodies and complicated inner workings look sort of retro-science fiction, a sharp contrast to the highly detailed and period-appropriate parts that you normally see.
2. A Princess smoking
While the parks restrict smoking only to a few designated areas, the truth is that many Cast Members have backgrounds in entertainment, restaurants, or both. A high percentage of people in these fields are smokers, and Walt Disney World provides numerous places backstage for them to indulge.
Although you are not likely to see a fully decked out princess holding a cigarette (Disney Princess, of course, simply do not behave that way!), you just might catch a Cast Member with her makeup and hair fully done, wearing some costume pieces over a pair of shorts, grabbing a quick smoke before heading onstage.
3. Props and sets in transition
As you might imagine, transitioning between rides, shows or parades takes quite a bit of time and effort. Walt Disney World is always changing things around, making minor tweaks to existing attractions, dismantling older rides and building brand-new things to do. Consequently, there are always piles of props and set pieces sitting around backstage. Keep your eyes peeled while on your tour, as you might even catch a glimpse of prototype ride vehicles or parade floats that have not yet been officially announced to the public.