Going to Walt Disney World has become increasingly complicated in recent years. Fans have frequently mentioned that between the new Theme Park reservations process, the Disney Genie suite including Genie+ and Lightning Lane, and everyday Park operational processes, planning and going to the Central Florida Disney Resort has become too convoluted for many fans. Some have even gone as far as to call the land that once fulfilled dreams a “dystopian nightmare.” But, it appears some fans have found a solution to make the Walt Disney World Resort more accessible to them—VIP tours. But these aren’t the ones Disney offers; fans opt to pay third-party businesses to take them on Disney tours.
Third-party VIP tours are a thriving business in Central Florida. While they’re certainly not explicitly encouraged by companies like Disney and Universal—considering they have their own tours, including the Disney Private VIP Tour with a VIP Tour Guide to help customize a Guest’s day—third-party businesses make these operators a lot of money. While some third-party businesses have been banned from Disney World for breaking the rules, most of them seem to be tolerated if not “actively encouraged,” per the Wall Street Journal. These companies were often started after the owner worked with Disney’s VIP services sector, gaining experience before starting their own tours.
One example is Michael’s VIPs’s owner, Michael, who started his one-person operation in 1999 after previously working at Disney’s VIP services. Michael’s VIPs has now grown to 18 employees. The stakes are high. Each new guide has to know the Parks inside and out, know what to do in inclement weather, and know how to make sure the VIPs still get to feel the Disney magic and live their Disney experience.
Victoria Phillips, the owner of White Glove Orlando Tours, shared, “We’re making Disney so much money by doing these tours.” She elaborated that her clients even pay for the ever-controversial Genie+ service to skip lines and have a smoother Disney Park experience.
This business has become so prolific that sometimes, Cast Members will even recognize specific guides. Making all the necessary reservations and itineraries can take months of planning; getting someone else to do it for you is easier.
Why third-party Disney World VIP Tours over Disney’s VIP services?
The answer to that is simple. Money.
Disney offers VIP services starting at $450/hour for six hours for a group of up to 10 Guests. Third-party services are markedly cheaper. Michael’s VIPs tours, for example, begin at $250/hr for a minimum of six hours with a limit of six people per group. This is, of course, in addition to the admission costs.
Considering the current state of Walt Disney World vacations and the reality of how difficult they are, it seems that these VIP tours are here to stay.