What could be better than living and breathing Disney every day during your program as a Cast Member? How about some Cast Member Perks! Becoming a Cast Member definitely has its list of positives, and one of them is referred to as Backstage Magic! As you go through training, you will be taught how to use “The Hub” or basically Disney’s computer system. This allows you access to many of the perks available to you, including Backstage Magic. Every month or couple of weeks, Disney hosts tours that are for Cast Members only; these tours include walkthroughs of classic Disney attractions, as well as behind the scenes look at some well known performances within the parks. Accessibility to join a backstage tour varies throughout the year. Sometimes tours are available by work location, sometimes you can just sign up for one and go, or sometimes you have to add your name into a lottery system and hope for the best! This is done because, well, what Cast Member wouldn’t want to get a close up look at their favorite attraction??
During my program there was a few touring opportunities. I knew of friends who signed up for a backstage tour of Fantasmic!, a backstage tour of the Tower of Terror, some who won a lottery and received first look access to Pandora, and some who even got to meet the cast as well as see the props from The Festival of the Lion King! As for me, it had always been a dream of mine to get a backstage tour of the Haunted Mansion. The Haunted Mansion has always been one of my favorite attractions out of all the Disney Parks and I definitely love the spookier side of things! Before my program started, I watched countless vlogs where CPs got the chance to go behind the scenes of the ride and I knew a backstage tour was at the top of my Disney bucket list.
So throughout my program I would check Backstage Magic often, hoping for the chance to get into my dream tour. For most of my four months in Florida, there was no availability for the Haunted Mansion. It actually wasn’t until the last two weeks of my program that some Disney Magic decided to come my way. I was randomly on one of my 15 minute breaks from work and just happened to check my phone. As soon as I looked (since my phone was on silent so I wouldn’t have known otherwise) I received a message from my coworker group chat. One of my friends from the chat said that she just signed up for a backstage Haunted Mansion tour and there was only a few spots left. Let me tell you all… I had never ran so fast to the closest computer in my life. I’m sure fellow Cast Members were very confused when they saw my frantic face. Let me also tell you this… I got THE LAST SPOT on the tour. You try telling me that isn’t a magical Disney moment! I almost couldn’t contain my excitement! My top bucket list adventure was finally going to become a reality! It was truly an amazing way to end my program!
A few days later, I woke up at the crack of dawn because most of these tours happen before the park opens to the public. This is due to the obvious fact that the ride cannot be operating while we walk through it. Once my friend Abby and I got backstage we were then escorted to the behind the scenes area of the ride! We were instructed to put on reflective vests to ensure that security could see all of us from the monitors. We were then met by our Ghost Host! Unfortunately I don’t remember his name (I have a strong feeling it was Drew), either way he was a great host! He brought us into the loading area and explained to us the safety precautions that must be followed throughout the entirety of the ride (wouldn’t want to be the 1,000th addition). He then led us through the attraction with the lights on! None of the sound effects or props had been switched on yet either which I have to say almost enhanced the eeriness of the situation.
Throughout the tour, our Ghost Host (who I still think is named Drew) would stop us to point out details that imagineers created to add that special Disney touch, facts about the history of the ride, or show how something was done/created. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience and like I said before, my tour Ghost Host was so knowledgable about the ride that it really did enhance the entire experience! He also allowed members of the tour to ask questions either about the ride or what it’s like working for it. Of course the ultimate question came up right as the tour started: is the ride actually haunted? Our Ghost Host explained that it is up to us to decide, but he himself believes it is and even told us a small ghostly experience he had while working one day. Of course after that remark, lets just say I made sure I wasn’t in the back of the pack.
About halfway through our tour, the rides sound effects and moving props were turned on. This wasn’t the best thing for a girl who is still afraid of the heads that pop up in the graveyard room (Especially when your tour guide decides to stop next to one to explain something). Once we finished with the actual walkthrough of the ride, we were then allowed to see how the stretching room works as well as be the first riders of the day! This was cool because since we were allowed on before the ride was open to guests, we were allowed to take flash photos! Don’t worry the ghosts who are sensitive to bright light were okay with it. Due to Disney rules, I don’t believe I can post any of the photos I took during the ride through (which is kinda good because with my phone they came out blurry anyways). But I can show you the awesome certificate I got for being an “Honorary Caretaker” for the day! I can also show you the photo my friend Abby and I took in the main entrance! I’ll post the pictures below.
Overall I would say the tour last around 2 hours and by the time we were finished the park had just opened to the public! It was definitely all I had hoped it would be and let me just EMPHASIZE the point that EVERYONE SHOULD TRY AND DO AT LEAST ONE BACKSTAGE TOUR ON THEIR PROGRAM. You absolutely won’t regret it!!
That’s all for now!