I visited Orlando last week for my family’s first trip to the Disney World and Universal Studios theme parks. Our trip was the perfect opportunity for me to check out the new Four Seasons Orlando for my clients (see my blog post about the Four Seasons Orlando here:) http://www.kgouldtravel.com/blog/four-seasons-orlando/ and also enjoy the parks with my children.
Because I’m a luxury travel advisor and have been sending clients to Orlando for years, I already knew the key to navigating Disney World and Universal Studios – hiring a private guide. As soon as my reservation at the Four Seasons Orlando was finalized, I booked a guide from a trusted partner to escort my family through the Magic Kingdom and the two Universal Studios parks over the course of two days.
To say this service is WORTH EVERY PENNY is an understatement. All of the guides I work with are Disney and Universal gurus – most of them have either worked or performed in the parks, and all know the parks inside and out. They’re not inexpensive (current rate is $150/hr), but the experience they deliver is priceless and well worth the investment.
Once my guide request had been confirmed, I was sent a online questionnaire to provide my guide with details about my family, our interests, which attractions we most wanted to see, etc. From there, our park tickets were purchased, dining reservations were made, and Fast Pass times began to be organized – all on my behalf. No stress for me, as I knew all of the details were being handled!
The day before arrival, my guide David called to reconfirm our plans and set up a meeting point the following morning. The next day, he escorted us into the park before everyone else, taking us immediately to the current hottest ride in the Magic Kingdom, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. We were literally the first group of the day to ride it, and by the time we got off a few minutes later, the line to get on was over an hour long.
The rest of the day followed this same pattern – our guide leading us from one attraction to the next, never waiting in a line more than 5 minutes long due to his mastery of the Fast Pass system. He shared interesting facts about the park and the things we were seeing all along the way – wonderful insider knowledge only an expert would have. By the time the day was over, we’d circumvented the entire park and seen truly almost everything in the Magic Kingdom. It was an amazing experience for the whole family.
We met our guide the next morning at Universal for another day of adventure. My children are big Harry Potter fans, so they were particularly excited to see Hogsmeade and the newly opened Diagon Alley, with a famous ride on the Hogwarts Express between the two. The Harry Potter parks are so fantastic that it’s difficult to do them justice in a blog post. The attention to detail is mind-boggling, and I can honestly say that my husband and I enjoyed the experience just as much as our children.
Our guide helped the children secure wands and took them to every spot in the parks where they could try them out and experience the thrill of casting a magical spell. We were escorted to all of the rides and when everyone had had enough of Harry Potter, our guide managed to get us on virtually every popular ride across the two Universal Studios parks. Again, we never waited in a line for more than a few minutes, as he’d secured Fast Passes along the way, sometimes making real-time changes depending on the flow of the crowds.
Hiring a private guide is a time saver and a game changer – I couldn’t imagine it any other way.