Today was the Disney celebration of Emily's birthday. We started off with Backstage Tales at Animal Kingdom. Here's our review of that experience.
Booking and Arrival
I booked by calling 407-WDW-TOUR about two weeks ago. Today was my first choice of day, so I can't say what availability looked like. The only note about this experience is that my call was a total of 45 minutes, about 35 of which were spent on hold (but that Disney hold music is great). The price for two came out to $191.70.
The tour stars at 7:30 AM and it's suggested you arrive at Animal Kingdom at 7:15. The club level concierge suggested we leave between 6:45 and 7 to be safe. They also gave us a taxi voucher for the ride from Animal Kingdom Lodge. I can't say whether this was a tour perk or a club level perk, but I'd be interested to know! We left at about 6:55 and arrived at about 7:05.
The area outside the park was pretty empty, so the staff quickly identified us as tour guests and asked us to wait. Nothing really happened until about 7:25 when we got our earpieces and name tags and signed the waivers.
I obviously want to avoid spoiling too much, but the tour comprises three main chunks. You start with walking through the park, primarily Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. Your guide provides a variety of factoids along the way. We were able to get a good amount of time seeing the gorillas. This segment also includes a stop in the aviary to feed the birds.
The second segment takes you backstage to see some of the operational aspects of animal care like food preparation and the vet. We had a snack while a cast member gave a presentation on Disney's partnership with GRACE.
Our final segment involved some closer encounters, with backstage looks at the invertebrates and the white rhinos. The rhinos were really great. It was interesting to see them interacting with each other and their keeper. The tour ends after about 4 hours.
While it wasn't as good as Keys to the Kingdom (review coming soon), we found Backstage Tales to be worth the cost. If you haven't seen backstage Disney, you're really in for a treat. If you have, you'll still get plenty of of learning about Animal Kingdom and the animals themselves.