Walt Disney World can be a daunting place. Spend a few minutes on one of the many forums and Facebook groups dedicated to the subject, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. We wanted to relax and enjoy our time in the Disney parks, safe in the knowledge that someone else was handling the planning, so we enlisted the services of World Class VIP. We were incredibly impressed with the service that they offered us, from their quick and helpful responses before our trip, to the personal service from our guide when we were in Orlando.
If you’re considering hiring a guide service in Orlando, here’s what you need to know:
Why we opted for a guide service:
- Planning days at Walt Disney World. These guys are the experts. They will take into account the size, dynamics and age of your group, and they will plan a bespoke itinerary that maximises your time in the parks. They understand the plethora of events that are taking place during any given week, so were able to suggest which parks we did on different days (for example, avoiding the days when Disney resort guests have ‘Early Magic Hours’ at the parks).
- Concierge service. World Class VIP were happy to make recommendations for other activities in Orlando, and to make dining reservations for us. It was so helpful to have regular contact before our trip and to have all of our questions answered.
- Being able to switch off and enjoy. I love planning holidays, and you’d think that a Disney trip would appeal to the spreadsheet-happy part of my character. However, it actually means that I can become totally obsessed with showtimes and fastpasses and map-reading, and I fail to stop and simply enjoy the experience. Having someone else ‘in charge’ of all of this meant that I could simply enjoy our amazing days in the parks.
- Extra pair of hands. When we were in the parks itself, it meant also having an extra pair of hands, help with pushing the buggy, taking photos, and even watching the kids while you go on a quick grown-up ride.
- Limited waiting time at Walt Disney World. Our guide from World Class VIP knew all of the tips and tricks to make the most of our time in the parks. We avoided all of the long queues that usually feature in a trip to these parks.
- Insider knowledge and information. Our guide had an intimate knowledge of the workings of the parks, and was full of interesting facts and information while we were there.
- Larger groups. We had already decided to use a guide service, but we were then delighted to learn that our relatives would be able to join us for a few days in Orlando. This meant that we would be a group of 8 people at the Disney parks. Without a guide, it would have been so much harder to plan the day, obtain decent fastpasses, and generally meet everyone’s needs.
- Plan some non-guide time if possible. We were fortunate to be able to visit each park twice, so we were able to return to the parks on our own. While we missed the ‘magic’ touch of our World Class VIP guide, it was also nice to just stroll around and soak up the atmosphere and repeat some attractions and try some new ones.
Selecting a guide service:
I knew that word of mouth would be key to finding a good guiding service. I did a search on some trusted UK facebook groups that have come up trumps for me in the past. A few names cropped up several times, so I checked their websites, Tripadvisor reviews, and sent out a few exploratory emails. World Class VIP were the quickest and most thorough in their initial responses, and we decided to give them a go.
Booking the guide service:
This was simple. Once we selected our dates, I completed an online form and received a booking confirmation from Shay Zarrilli, the owner of World Class VIP. Shay answered all of our questions about hotel and restaurant bookings, and we submitted a ‘ride list’ giving them an idea of our priorities. I bought our Disney passes and passed on our logins to ‘My Disney Experience’, which allowed them to book Fastpasses and dining reservations. The week before our trip, we were put in direct contact with O’Shea Boyce, our guide.
Our days with a guide:
We arranged to spend three days with a guide from World Class VIP, at Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. Each day we would meet O’Shea at the park entrance, and she would gently take charge! Our kids adored her. I’m fascinated by the inner workings of the Disney parks. O’Shea is a former cast member, so she had lots of interesting facts and information for us, without spoiling the magic of course. For example, did you know that cast members use tunnels underneath the parks to access the areas that they work in? That’s why you’ll only ever see cast members in costumes that are correct for their specific attraction/area of the park.
Here’s an outline of what we did each day – although, do note that it’s hard to do justice to the guide by simply listing rides and attractions. It’s much more about having someone who can take you by the hand and do all of the hard work, while you’re enjoying yourself:
Hollywood Studios (4 people):
Slinky Dog, Toy Story Mania, met Edna (from the Incredibles), Star Tours, Beauty and the Beast show, Lightning McQueen show, Little Mermaid show. Character lunch at Hollywood & Vine. Not able to go on Rock & Roller Coaster as it was shut, and we didn’t want to try the Tower of Terror.
Animal Kingdom (8 people):
Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, Kilimanjaro Safari, Lion King show, Nemo show. Character lunch at Tuskers.
Magic Kingdom (8 people):
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, It’s a Small World, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Peter Pan’s Flight, Little Mermaid, Dumbo, Teacups, Jungle River Cruise, and the afternoon parade. Character lunch at Crystal Palace. We saved Space Mountain for another day as only a few of us were keen, and the Speedway was closed.
We were delighted with our time with O’Shea from World Class VIP, and would happily recommend them if you’re looking to book a guide at Walt Disney World.