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Behind the Magic of Florida Theme Parks
Chances are, if you have been to any Florida theme parks, you enjoyed the attractions, the rides and even stood next to some life-sized characters, but have you ever gotten a sneak peak behind the scenes? Imagine Disney tours where you can see the makeup rooms where regular people become the characters kids and adults know and love, feed the animals that you usually only see behind the glass, skip the two-hour line and jump on any ride you choose and get a glimpse at what it takes to create the magic that exists inside Florida theme parks every day. Whether you only have a few days and want to take the fast-track approach to visiting several Florida amusements parks or you are on a two-week vacation and looking for a unique way to enjoy a behind the scenes glimpse of theme parks, then Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, and Disney tours will take you to places you never knew existed and will not soon forget.

Disney Tours that Show You Disney World as You've Never Seen it Before

For a small investment of between $12 and $199 Walt Disney World offers a variety of Disney tours for a real insider look at what goes on behind the scenes in the Disney Parks. The most popular of the Disney tours, Backstage Magic, allows you to get a different perspective of everyone's favorite Florida theme parks. Discover the Disney secrets you've always wondered about with this fascinating tour that gives you a backstage look at the artistic, scientific and technical operations that go into creating the special effects, entertainment and attractions that are the foundation of Walt Disney World(R) Resort's Florida theme parks. You'll even get a sneak peek at the 1.5 miles of "utilidor" access tunnels beneath the park, designed so that the hustle and bustle going on behind-the-scenes was undetectable to visitors.

The adventure begins at Epcot(R) and stops backstage at Disney-MGM Studios and Magic Kingdom(R) Park. Don't worry that Disney tours will ruin the magic; they will only give you a deeper understanding of what it takes to create it, thereby enabling you to appreciate these Florida theme parks even more. At $199 per guest, attendees get a seven-hour tour, with lunch included at Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano. Please note that there is a minimum age of 16 required to participate in this tour, so it may not be the ideal tour for a Florida family vacation if you have younger children.

On the Keys to the Kingdom Disney tours, you'll enjoy stops backstage and at a variety of favorite attractions as you discover the remarkable history of the park and hear intriguing stories about Walt Disney, his visions, philosophies and amazing accomplishments. Available all week, this four and a half-hour walking tour of one of the most popular Florida theme parks takes guests in a full circle across the park, allowing visitors to unlock the door to the Magic Kingdom's secrets. Guests must be at least 16 years old to attend this tour as well.

Not feeling up to a seven-hour walking tour in the heat of summer? On the Around the World Disney tours at Epcot, guests can experience the World Showcase while cruising on a Segway. This tour enables guests to get in the driver's seat on their very own two-wheeled, one-person transportation device throughout World Showcase before the area opens to other guests. The Around the World tour is a two-hour experience that is available twice a day at 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. at $80 per person plus the cost of Epcot admission.

The Wild Side: Up Close and Personal with Plants and Animals at Florida Theme Parks

If the wilder side appeals to you, there are plenty of theme park and even Disney tours that give you a backstage pass to interact with animals and get a deeper understanding of what it takes to keep the plants and animals thriving at your favorite Florida theme parks.

If you're looking to get up close and personal and splash around with the animals, Epcot Center's DiveQuest is a three-hour tour for adults with an open-water Scuba certification that starts with a behind the scenes look at the operation of the Living Seas, followed by a 40-minute dive where you'll become a part of the exhibit. You'll swim amidst the colorful fish, sea turtles, sharks and 65 other species of marine life.

Disney tours are not the only backstage tours available at Florida theme parks. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay offers a two-hour, behind-the-scenes Animal Adventure Tour, which includes access to the park's animals, including the Budweiser Clydesdales, hippos, black rhinos and giraffes. The tour, open to kids ages 5 and older, combines a safari with an off-road truck tour, hosted by a Busch Gardens education specialist.

Have an aspiring animal trainer in the family? SeaWorld offers a Trainer for a Day program where guests can experience the thrill of shadowing SeaWorld animal trainers. From training techniques to food preparation, participants learn first hand how SeaWorld animal trainers care for this Florida theme park's living creatures day in and day out. The eight-hour program is limited to only three people per day and participants must be at least 13 years old. Cost to attend the program is $349 and includes a "Trainer for a Day" T-shirt, a waterproof disposable camera and lunch.

For Disney World guests with green thumbs, the Gardens of the World Showcase is a crowd favorite because it divulges the secrets of how gardeners manage to keep so many diverse plants - most imported from their homelands in Japan, England, and Norway - thriving in the steamy Florida climate. These three-hour Disney tours are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Conclusion

If you thought you had seen all that these Florida theme parks had to offer, now you may have a couple more tours to put on your "places to see" list. Disney tours and backstage opportunities at other parks will provide insight into the tireless efforts required behind-the-scenes to produce the magic that visitors enjoy every day. So, get backstage and get a new perspective on the Florida theme parks that we have all known and loved for years!
About the Author
Fraser Hannah spent eight years working as a freelance television production manager and researcher before leaving to join his family's business working with the elderly. He founded Traveling2Florida.com in 2003 after purchasing his own vacation home in Florida and being frustrated by the lack of vision shown by many of the existing vacation rental sites.
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