Family Magic Tour

by Sarah P., April 2003

While preparing for our recent vacation to Walt Disney World, I decided to research the Family Magic Tour to find out if it would be something my 10-year-old son (who happens to have high-functioning Autism) would be interested in.

I'm well aware that some people prefer to be surprised along the way, so I'll advise those people to NOT continue reading as THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD!!! On the other hand, there are some families where knowing exactly what to expect is not only helpful, but a necessity in order to prepare their child. My son was very excited to take the tour, but had a thousand questions and became very anxious until I found out (as much as possible) what to expect throughout the tour. For him, it didn't take away from the magic of the tour at all; it simply allowed him to relax and enjoy himself. So sprinkle a little pixie dust, and off we'll go......

I had read that they used to offer the Family Magic Tour at both 9:30 am and 11:30,with two different tour themes. When we called to book our tour for early April, they were only doing one 10:00 am tour.

My "family" consisted of my boyfriend, Chris, my son, Anthony and myself. We met near Town Hall in the Magic Kingdom to wait for our tour guide. There was only one other family signed up for our tour; a family of four with two young girls, approx. 4 and 6-years-old.

Our CM/tour guide, Jennifer, greeted us with a sad face and some "bad" news. She had been all prepared to take us on a fabulous tour of the benches and trashcans when she received a call from Mickey Mouse. He said that Captain Hook was very upset because Peter Pan was playing a game and stole his best, golden hook and was hiding it. Hook said that if he doesn't have his hook returned to him by 12 noon he would make the clouds rain (it happened to be a stormy day) and would reek havoc all over the Magic Kingdom!

Our job would be to use a special map that Peter Pan had left for us with 9 clues on it to try to find where the hook was hidden and return it to Captain Hook before noon. In order to begin, we all had to name the Disney character that we liked the best and then have "Mickey dust" sprinkled on us to help us on our way.

The two children who were old enough to read took turns reading the clues and following them to different locations throughout the MK. Rather than tell each clue and where it led us, I'll just tell you that we had to look for some secret and not so secret locations throughout MK by answering riddles and questions in each clue. At times, we had to skip, hop, jump, take giant steps, pretend to fly and crawl to our next location. We even walked backwards into Adventureland!

I think some of the grown-ups felt a little silly, but I had lots of fun, and so did the kids, despite the rain. Along the way, we even had the opportunity to ride the Tommorowland Transit Authority to help us look for the answer to one of our clues. We were also lucky enough to bump into Mickey himself and stop and say hello as we were walking through the Kingdom, but that's not a scheduled part of the tour.

Anthony and Peter PanAt the very end of the tour, we're led to a roped off area where we chanted a cadence that signalled some CMs to come out and keep the area private for us. As the children searched for the hook, out popped Peter Pan himself with the Captain's hook! The children were thrilled and Peter chatted with each of them and had his picture taken with them.

To reward us, he then offered to take us on his own ride, Peter Pan's Flight. We followed Peter (he walked with the children) and were let on through the handicap entrance with no wait. Because the two girls were so little, Peter was able to ride with all three children in one "ship" and rode the ride with them. (The grown-ups were allowed to ride too, but my boyfriend and I held back so that we could help my son when he returned.) Peter chatted with the children the whole ride! Afterwards, he stopped for one last picture and handed out certificates to each participating family for their help in finding the hook and saving the Magic Kingdom.

I have heard that the character at the end isn't always Peter Pan. Sometimes they have Belle or Alice pop out with the hook, and sometimes they offer choices as to which ride to ride as the reward. Either way, it was a wonderful experience for our family.

We were spending 8 days in the parks, and it was by far the highlight of my son's trip this year! He's already asked if he can do it again next year! It's well worth both the $25 per person cost, as well as the two hours you'll set aside from your day. Kudos to our tour guide, Jennifer. I'm guessing it was harder to do with only two families, three children, a cloudy day and off and on showers, but she managed to get into the spirit of things and create a magical day for us all!

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