A Behind-the-Scenes Walt Disney World tour I wish existed – DePaoli on DeParks

by Jeff DePaoli

If you’re a repeat visitor to Walt Disney World, a different and fun thing to do is take one of the many behind-the-scenes tours that are normally offered. I’ve taken several of them through the years and it’s always been such a fun experience learning more about a place where I like to spend my leisure time. The tours offered range drastically in price and theme, so there’s bound to be something for everyone. As much as I love the tours available, there is one topic I would love to see offered, and that’s a look behind-the-scenes of the productions at Walt Disney World

walt disney world

I’m a huge fan of theatre, live entertainment and productions of all kinds. In fact, the live entertainment at the Disney Parks is my favorite part of visiting. If you enjoy the various shows as well, just imagine a tour that would bounce you around, showing you how one production from each park is run. The following is my dream scenario.

Let’s begin at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with a look at “Finding Nemo – The Musical,” which has been running at the Theater in the Wild since 2007. Other than not having a live orchestra and a shorter runtime, this show truly has a similar production value to something you would see on a Broadway stage. The sets, the costumes, the flying work and everything else it takes to put this musical together makes for an above and beyond theme park show.

“Finding Nemo – The Musical” utilizes Ia lot of puppetry on many different scales. I would love to see all of the puppets up-close and perhaps even get to experience using one of them myself. Although I know this would never happen, I wouldn’t mind hopping in one of those flying rigs.

Full Festival of Fantasy Parade at Disney's Magic Kingdom - Debut

After we’ve found Nemo, the tour could head on over to Magic Kingdom to watch as they prep the “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade” for that day’s performance.  It would be interesting to see where all of the floats and costumes are stored when they’re not being used.

But let’s face it: the star of this behind the scenes moment would have to be the steampunk Maleficent dragon. I very much enjoy this parade as a whole, but this fire-breathing dragon is what really makes it stand out from the rest. I would love to hear from a pyrotechnician about the mechanics of this particular float. It would also be interesting just to hear about the logistics of having a parade travel through the park every day. I’m sure there are lots of little things needed to be done on-stage that the general guest never even thinks about.

walt disney world

As we head into our next park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, let’s grab some lunch at PizzeRizzo before heading to our next show; if there’s any gang of performers who know about putting on a live show, it’s The Muppets. After lunch, there are a bunch of different shows to choose from here, like “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!” or “Voyage of the Little Mermaid,” but the show I would like to explore behind the scenes most is “Fantasmic!”

“Fantasmic!” is arguably the greatest nighttime spectacular ever created by The Walt Disney Company. It has everything a Disney fan could want: favorite characters, memorable music, massive special effects, lasers, pyrotechnics and more. To actually step on that stage, go below the stage, go backstage and perhaps even take one of the barges out into the water would be an absolute joy. I feel like “Fantasmic!” has so much going on that this could truly be its own behind-the-scenes tour if they wanted, but alas, it’s time for us to move on to our final park.

At Epcot, the show I would suggest here is unlike the ones we’ve experienced earlier in the day. This one has no live performers, and the cast is made up entirely of Audio-Animatronic figures – The American Adventure in World Showcase. Going behind the scenes of this show has previously been part of one of the tours already offered at Epcot, but it’s such a unique production that I feel it’s the best choice for this particular tour in my mind, as well.

I consider The American Adventure to be one of the greatest stage shows ever produced. I’m a huge fan and have been lucky enough to visit under the stage and see the grid of characters waiting to take their places above. I believe anyone who is taking part in a behind-the-scenes tour about Disney Parks shows and productions would be enthralled by the happenings below the stage.

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue FULL SHOW - Fort Wilderness Campgrounds - Walt Disney World, Florida

It’s been a long day already, hopping around to each Walt Disney World theme park, visiting one production after another, but why stop now? Let’s put the icing on the cake (or the whipping on the strawberry shortcake) and step backstage at one of the longest running dinner shows in American history: Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. After learning about the show’s history and seeing some of the backstage action, it would then be time to take our seats and enjoy the revue before parting ways. I don’t know about you, but that overall experience would become one of my favorite Walt Disney World memories.

If Disney were to ever create some sort of program where you could submit an idea for a Disney Parks tour (like the Lego Ideas program), this is the one I would submit. What do you think? Would you want to take this tour?

What is a tour that you would like to see created for guests visiting Walt Disney World? Leave a comment and let me know.

Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com.


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Louise Herrick November 7, 2020 - 10:41 am

If that came available I’d do it! I’ve done Keys to the Kingdom which was awesome & makes the magic even more magical. I’ve also done behind the scenes tours at Disneyland California & Disneyland Paris. If anyone wants a good tour that’s free, the culinary tour of Jiko & Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge is interesting too. When it finishes, African drummers play to announce the opening of the restaurants. You also get free food samples in both restaurants!

Jeff DePaoli November 30, 2020 - 5:22 pm

Great tip! Thanks for sharing and for reading.

Rick Nelson November 28, 2020 - 10:00 am

Great tour ideas Jeff! I would totally sign up for that behind the scenes tour. Have been on the Keys to the Kingdom tour and thought it was incredible. The live performances are also my favorite part of the Disney parks and to see the backstage workings of those shows would be beyond magical!

Jeff DePaoli November 30, 2020 - 5:22 pm

Thanks for reading, Rick!


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