Walt Disney World (WDW) began offering behind-the-scenes tours to their guests in the early 1990s. Planned by Disney Adult Discoveries and scheduled through what was then known as Disney University Seminar Productions (which would eventually become the Disney Institute), tours were offered to groups of guests, usually convention attendees, where they could see the park through a different perspective and learn some of the inner workings of WDW.
The Innovations In Action tour was the first WDW tour to ever offer guests a glimpse of what happened behind the scenes. Lasting about 3 hours, the tour included an introductory video and discussion, followed by a trip via motor coach (Disneyspeak for bus) through the south service area to see the tree farm and waste treatment plant. That was followed by a visit to the north service area to see the boat dock, laundry, and Central Shops. After that, guests would see the energy plant, phone company and the production center (the latter was where the parade floats were stored, and it also housed the end of the AVAC [Automated Vacuum Assisted Collection – the trash system for the Magic Kingdom)]). Following this, tour guests would be brought to backstage Main Street, then to onstage, then down to the hub, then down into the Utilidors, through costuming and DACS (the computer center), and finally out the tunnel and back to the bus.
A group of us who were “Theme Park/Disney” friends on the subscription-based Prodigy system had a get-together at WDW in December 1993. After over a year of planning, about 100 of the 300+ friends were able to make it down, and it was the first time most of us had ever met each other (it was also the first time Joe and I met each other, but that’s a whole other, non-travel story unto itself LOL). We called our get together “The Gathering” and we continued to have about 7 more “gatherings” at WDW during the 1990 and into the early 2000s (this was YEARS before Magic: The Gathering was a huge thing, and was even before Disney’s own Magical Gatherings and Grand Gatherings campaigns).
Because we had so many people at that first Gathering (we called it G1, for short. It was followed by G2, G3, etc.), we were eligible to take a “group” behind-the-scenes tour and we chose Innovations in Action. Being the self-proclaimed “videographer” of the group, I videotaped the entire tour. Well, as much as I could anyway – since some areas were considered “backstage,” there were some places where we weren’t allowed to have any sort of cameras out. But anything that I could videotape, I did!
This is my footage of Innovations in Action, with out tour guide, Jeff. I apologize for the quality of the video – it was only 1993, and videotaping has come a long, LONG way since then. Some parts of the video are harder to hear than others, due to background noise. The angle is also, I admit, a little weird, but that’s because I’m really, really short – now you’ll know what the world looks like from my vantage point ;-). But, of course, the video is chock full of info you may not have ever known about before. Enjoy!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary