Home » Treat Yourself to a VIP Day at the Disney Parks (For Less Than $12,000!)

Treat Yourself to a VIP Day at the Disney Parks (For Less Than $12,000!)

FastPass+ sign

By now, it’s no secret that Disney has plans to upcharge even its most spendthrift customers. For a mere $12,000, up to six guests can embark on the 12-hour World of Dreams VIP Tour with two private guides and enjoy front-of-line privileges at all attractions, complimentary transportation, three table-service meals, reserved seats for shows and fireworks, limited backstage access, and a tour of the famously inaccessible Cinderella Castle Suite.

The $1,000 hourly fee also covers any additional experiences guests may wish to have, like one of the 18+ tours Disney currently offers. More customizable options may be available to visitors in the future, though the nature of those has yet to be specified. The only thing that isn’t covered? Park admission, naturally, as well as any park-hopping privileges guests may require over the course of the day. (On the plus side, any additional World of Dreams VIP tour days can be reserved for $10,000 a day, a $2,000-per-day “discount.”)

As ludicrous as it sounds (shelling out another $1,047 on top of a $12,000 service fee? Permission to enter the Cinderella Castle Suite, but no chance to host a sleepover? Only three meals?!), someone’s bound to take Disney up on the new offering sooner or later. For the rest of us, however—the 99% who don’t have Mary Poppins-esque wallets—that doesn’t necessarily mean these kinds of perks are off-limits. While creating your own VIP day at the parks may require a little more creativity and planning, it’s entirely doable. Here are a couple of tips to get you started.

The perk: Front-of-the-line access.

FastPass+ sign

Image: Theme Park Tourist, Flickr (license)

The moderate VIP option: Hire a plaid. Granted, we’re playing fast and loose with the word “moderate” here. Hiring a plaid (that is, a Disney VIP tour guide) will run you at least $3,000-4,400 for a seven-hour, ten-person day at the parks, and as with the World of Dreams tour, that doesn’t include park admission. Still, barring foul weather and ride breakdowns, it’ll get you and your party access to just about every attraction with minimal wait times and the ability to ride your favorites over and over again—without using up precious limited FastPass+ booking slots. And if you happen to be planning a trip with friends or family, you may even consider splitting the cost for a slightly more palatable $300-400 per person.

The affordable VIP option: Schedule rides during “non-peak” hours of the day. There’s no such thing as free-of-charge front-of-the-line access at the Disney Parks, nor does that appear to be one of the key upgrades Disney has in the works this year. Even so, there are several tried-and-true methods for cutting down long lines. The first is to stay on top of your FastPass+ reservation window. If you’ve vacationed at Walt Disney World in the past, you probably already know that it’s wise to book FastPasses as soon as they become available (180 days in advance for on-property guests, 60 days for non-property guests).

While that’s a crucial first step, you also need to be mindful of the time of day during which you’ve scheduled the bulk of your rides, shows, parades, and nighttime entertainment. Looking for the shortest lines possible? Plan on assembling your crew at the parks by rope drop and make sure you snag your FastPasses as close to park opening as you can. Once you’ve used your initial three bookings, you’ll be free to make additional reservations, and may be lucky enough to continue doing so throughout the day. If that sounds too hectic, consider jumping in line for the most popular attractions very early in the morning and/or very late at night, when crowds are at their thinnest. You may also have more luck planning a trip during the middle of the week rather than waiting until the parks hit capacity on the weekends, though that logic won’t necessarily hold true during the summer (especially with Galaxy’s Edge set to premiere at Disney’s Hollywood Studios) or the fall and winter holidays.

The perk: Reserved seats for shows and fireworks.

Rivers of Light

Image: Chad Sparkes, Flickr (license)

The moderate VIP option: Purchase a ticket to a dessert party. Look, few things are better than taking in Happily Ever After over sparkling cider and s’mores (or hot chocolate and chocolate-dipped strawberries, coffee and toffee cake, you get the picture). It may be impossible to find a truly secluded spot to take in the spectacle of nighttime entertainment at the Disney Parks, but a semi-private dessert party is about as close to perfect as you can get. An adult ticket will run you about $69 per person, while kids can scoot on over to the hand-scooped ice cream section for $41 each. If that appeals to you more than grabbing a churro and rubbing elbows with thousands of fans in the middle of the Hub, it may be worth the price. Similarly-themed soirées are also available for Magic Kingdom’s Electrical Water Pageant ($75/adult, $45/child), Disney Hollywood Studios’ Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular ($79/adult, $45/child), Fantasmic! ($39/adult, $19/child), and Animal Kingdom’s Rivers of Light ($79/adult, $47/child), among others.

The affordable VIP option: Use a FastPass+ reservation to grab seats for the show. One caveat here: FastPass+ is not offered for all Disney Parks entertainment offerings, nor is it the best way to get the best seats for a show. For the latter, you’ll still have to show up fairly early—anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more—in order to secure the best vantage point from which to watch Happily Ever After, Festival of the Lion King, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, Rivers of Light, and so on.

The only time you should seriously consider using a FastPass+ reservation for a show or nighttime entertainment is when you’re traveling with a group that isn’t too keen on rides. The reason for this is pretty simple: You cannot acquire additional FastPass+ slots until you’ve used your first three. Using one to reserve a seat for the last showing of Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, say, means you’ll have to wait until the performance concludes before scoring your next FastPass—assuming any are left at that point. So, if your party doesn’t care for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster but would have major FOMO if they missed the 8:00 p.m. showing of Fantasmic!, feel free to use up a FastPass+ ticket on the show. And make sure you show up on time, too.

The perk: Backstage access.

Cast Member sign at the Magic Kingdom

Image: HarshLight, Flickr (license)

The moderate VIP option: Take a tour… or run a half-marathon. Thankfully, this doesn’t appear to be an experience that Disney insists on reserving for its more exclusive customers. In fact, there are plenty of decently-priced tours available for those who want to dive a bit deeper on their next visit to the parks. Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour, priced at $99/adult (admission not included), runs five hours and includes a tour of the underground Utilidor tunnels and a complimentary lunch at the Magic Kingdom. The seven-hour, $275/person Backstage Magic Tour, meanwhile, takes parkgoers behind-the-scenes at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, with pit stops in a couple of the company’s core departments. Of course, it’s difficult to say exactly how this will differ from the experience offered to World of Dreams tour participants, but it’s as informational and comprehensive as you could hope for otherwise.

Alternatively, you can sign up for a runDisney half-marathon and count on catching some backstage sights while huffing and puffing through Epcot in the early morning. If it’s the VIP experience you’re after, though, this wouldn’t be our top recommendation. It’s a unique experience better embraced for what it really is: a scenic backdrop for a grueling race.

The affordable VIP option: None. Sorry, but this is one experience Disney doesn’t dole out for free. That said, you don’t necessarily have to pay top-dollar to get a behind-the-scenes look at the parks. The above-mentioned tours barely scratch the surface of the add-on experiences Disney offers, among them Animal Kingdom’s $40/person Up Close with Rhinos encounter and $30/person Caring for Giants opportunity. For obvious reasons, these are also some of Disney’s most popular tours, so advanced reservations are both recommended and required.

The perk: Access to Cinderella Castle Suite.

Cinderella Castle Suite

Image: Disney

The moderate VIP option: None.

The affordable VIP option: None.

For now, it looks like any future visits to the jaw-dropping Cinderella Castle Suite will require curious parties to fork over a hefty entrance fee. Since Disney has made it all but impossible to rent their princess’s decked-out room, even for the rich and famous, it’ll take a stroke of fairy godmother-level luck to score any kind of VIP night in the castle. Still want to feel like royalty? Check out some of the most luxurious, wallet-depleting suites you can book at Walt Disney World.


The World of Dreams VIP Tour may be out of reach for most travelers heading to Orlando this year, and for understandable reasons, but that doesn’t mean that the average Disney fan has to miss out on some of its best perks, from shorter lines to comfortable seating and backstage access.

What DIY tips have you found useful for crafting your VIP day at Walt Disney World?