I would just like the preface this post by apologizing. I know I have completely lacked posting recently and have barely even told anyone about this internship as a whole. It has been an amazing journey so far, but with that being said, it has been a lot of hard work. I mainly work 6 days a week with some long hours, so it makes balancing work life with other aspects a little difficult at the moment. But I am trying my best and would really like to continue posting when I can! So lets talk about VIP.
So how exactly did I get to this level of Disney Plaid? I know I explained my story of how I ended up here, but I know many of you are probably wondering what the application process was like and what this job actually entails. What exactly is Disney Plaid for all you non-Disneyholics out there? What even is a VIP Tour Guide in Disney? Who are the VIPs? Don’t worry guys, all your questions will be answered so lets dive right on in.
Lets start with the basics here for all you Disney noobs out there. What exactly is a VIP Tour guide and what exactly is Disney Plaid? Disney Plaid is a specific costume that is worn by VIP Tour and Guest Relations Cast Members within both Disney World and Disneyland parks. This plaid is almost like a staple in the parks. It’s a statement, an icon in a way.
If you’re seen walking around the parks in plaid, people most of the time will assume you have all the answers. Which in some cases can be correct, Guest Relations Cast Members are highly trained in handling most problems that a guest could run into during their stay. I give them props for their calm demeanor and knowledge about different aspects of property, even when interacting with a very unhappy guests. But, with that being said, I am not Guest Relations.
We may wear the same costume, but as a VIP Tour Guide our job is significantly different. We aren’t based in the parks, yes we go to the parks for various tours, but we actually have a separate location where we clock in and clock out to start our day. From there we go to our daily location depending on what we are doing that day. We also aren’t trained or have the power to handle certain guest problems, such as ticket issues or FastPass+ problems.
Instead, were basically like the human FastPasses in a way. We are knowledgable of the parks but in a different kind of way. We know all of the parks like the back of our hand, we can help you find almost any bathroom, attraction, place to eat based off your preferences, etc. We know a lot of history about certain attractions or areas, but overall we’re here to cater to your specific wants. As VIP tour guides, we aim to make every guests on our tours feel special. Yes, these guests do pay a separate touring fee that varies based on the packages they purchase, but in doing so they get a luxury Disney experience like no other.
So what exactly do I do as an intern with VIP tours? A couple different things. First and foremost, I am not trained in private tours. These tours are single family tours with a tour guide that will build a group’s itinerary for the day based on the guests’ preferences. From there, the guide will then bring them throughout the parks, into almost any FastPass entrance, and even drive you to various other parks within a certain amount of scheduled time.
As you can expect, these tours are MUCH pricier than what I do. I instead, am trained on group tours. In VIP we have four ‘Ultimate” tours that can hold groups of up to 50 during certain times. Most tours involve two to four guides depending on the group size. This is great because I love working with my fellow interns. The four tours include a Night of Adventures in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, A Classics tour in Magic Kingdom, a day of Thrills where you park hop from Magic Kingdom to Epcot and then Hollywood Studios, and lastly our newest tour: Taste of the Magic Kingdom Park VIP Tour (our first food only tour!).
These four tours have one set price per person instead of private tours that are rated hourly. We also have a set schedule of rides we will be going on and times of the day when these tours are hosted whereas privates could be any time anywhere.
I absolutely love doing these group tours because it still gives you plenty of opportunity to personalize them based off the guests in your group. If some are interested in Park history, then I get to share all of my favorite fun facts. If some have younger kids, it’s an amazing experience to watch the tour through their eyes and hear their opinions on everything magical. It allows me to make personal connections with each and every member of the tour group. Many even come back for tours in the following days and remember me by name! Some take photos with me at the end of the day to remember the tour for years to come. It really makes you feel special and know you made an amazing experience for these families.
Besides tours, I also have three other key shifts. Valet, where we stand at the VIP entrances to the parks and greet guides who arrive with their private tours. We welcome them to the park their arriving at, scan their magic bands and offer them water or food in most cases. We then park the guides company vehicle so their tours day isn’t delayed. These can be long days, but when you’re with a great valet team it can be a day of laughing and fun!
DOT shifts are shifts where I become a driver for a private tour guide who may have reached their driving hour limitation for either the day or the week. Due to the Department of Transportation, it’s important that we abide by their driving rules when it comes to our 15-passenger vans. This means we have drivers on hand to take over so no ones tour is affected due to their guides driving limitations.
Lastly, some days I am Tour Admin. This means I actually don’t wear my plaid for the day, and instead arrive in business casual to work. For those days, I am administering the group tours themselves. This means basically all the behind the scenes work. I conduct the tour check-ins, welcome everyone to the tour, and then go off to the locations that the tour will be stopping at prior to when they arrive. We do this to ensure that the tour runs smoothly for not only the guests partaking in it, but also the tour guides. This usually mainly includes running to food locations that the tours are set to stop at, and make sure their food is prepared, plated, and ready for when they all arrive so no time is lost prepping.
Well there you have it guys. That’s what being a Real VIP intern is like! It’s an amazing experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I hope to find more time to get into more detail about the internship and hopefully I will be able to soon. But for now I will leave you guys with this brief overview! Now, it’s time for me to go to work!