You might know the Disney Parks as places where families can get together to ride rollercoasters; experience their favorite moments from Star Wars or Marvel; and even munch on Mickey-shaped treats. But there’s a whole other side to the Disney Parks that prides itself on enhanced experiences, VIP treatment, and a look behind the scenes at the Disney parks and resorts. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like royalty at Walt Disney World or Disneyland, these VIP experiences are definitely worth the extra money.
High above New Orleans Square at Disneyland Park lies a secret living space that was at one time envisioned to be a private residence for Walt and Lillian Disney. This exclusive space now features a dining experience that seats 12 guests, costs a whopping $15,000, and serves an elegant seven-course meal with wine pairings. Each night starts with a cocktail hour—complete with signature drinks and hors d'oeuvres—in the courtyard of 21 Royal. After dinner, your group will be shown to the private balcony, where you will be treated to coffee and more libations as you watch New Orleans Square's nightly "Fantasmic!" performance.
Near Magic Kingdom is a resort community for people who want to actually reside at Walt Disney World and live the high life all the time. Made up of eight neighborhoods, Golden Oak boasts a group of luxury mansions (the average house is well into the millions). Everyone who lives here is entitled to benefits like private park transportation and exclusive events. When hunger strikes, Golden Oak residents can have a personal chef cook for them in their home, or make a reservation at Markham's, a private dining restaurant in the community.
Get a Private VIP Tour Guide
For the group that wants to get the most out of their Disneyland or Walt Disney World vacation, signing up for a private VIP tour is the only way to go. Each tour guide is specifically trained to make your day as special as possible, allowing you to skip the lines an unlimited number of times and giving you priority access to parades, fireworks, and dining reservations. Your guide will even drive you to and from whatever park you want and take you through some shortcuts. Pricing starts at $425 an hour, with a seven-hour daily minimum and up to 10 guests in a group.
Become a Member at Club 33
This members-only club operates at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, and it comes with a lot of perks. The $30,000-plus initiation fee includes exclusive access to Club 33 lounges and restaurants, FastPasses galore, annual passes, special events, and a club-only concierge service. Disneyland’s Club 33 supposedly has a years-long waiting list for those wanting to join, but Walt Disney World is actively looking for new members.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is known for its touch of elegance and class. One way to experience the VIP lifestyle is to rent the Grand 1 Yacht from the resort for a cruise around Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. The yacht can accommodate up to 18 people—but if you want an even more luxurious experience, invite no more than 16 friends so you can have a butler who will handle your every whim and fancy. The Grand 1 allows for private dining as well as a spectacular view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks, with synchronized music right on board.
Dine at Chef’s Tables
Even though you can get your fill of chicken nuggets and churros at Disney Parks, there’s also quite a few high-end dining experiences to be had on both coasts in the form of chef’s table dining.
At Walt Disney World, the AAA 5-Diamond award-winning restaurant Victoria & Albert’s curates a menu to conform to your taste, while Takumi-Tei at Epcot has an exclusive room dedicated to fine dining that’s distinctly Japanese. Deep in the bowels of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, you can book a private cooking and dining combo unlike anything else offered in the parks. Or, enjoy a private wine tasting led by Master Sommelier George Miliotes at Disney Springs. And anyone can drive through Golden Oak and dine at Markham’s with the Delicious Disney: A Chef Series experience.
Don’t forget Disneyland, where you can sit at the chef’s counter at Napa Rose and see the kitchen come to life.