- Dave Dixon offers private tours of
Disneyand universal theme parks in Orlando, Florida.
- Since 2009, he has hosted around 150 private tours per year to help families make the most of their trips.
- Here’s what her work looks like, told to freelance writer Jenny Powers.
I was born 11 days before
Growing up I was a Mickey Mouse Club Cardholder and at age 21 I officially became a Cast Member at Disney World Orlando. I’ve worked on everything from parade audience control to Magic Kingdom attractions.
Despite my departure in 1994 to pursue a career in IT, I often accompanied family and friends to the park and used my know-how to avoid the queues.
In 2009, after giving countless free tours over the years, I launched Magic towers
Armed with insider experience, I’ve helped families avoid long waits, maximize use of the FastPass service, and free up time for more trips. In 2010 the demand was so high that I started working full time and also trained my wife and brother to help. During the high season there are days when we are all in the parks organizing separate tours for families.
Until the pandemic, the key to navigating The Magic Kingdom was through the FastPass system, which allowed customers to reserve a time to access a popular amusement ride. Once I had mapped out a family’s route, I would run around the park with their magic bracelets securing quick passes while they were on rides.
When Disney World reopened, they suspended fast passes. As a result, I lost most of my business trips since the Magic Kingdom was my most requested property.
Before the pandemic, I was making 100-150 visits per year, charging $ 500 to $ 1,000 per day depending on group size, $ 1,500 for vacations, and $ 2,000 for the busiest day of the year – the New Year’s Eve. Our full-day tours typically last between eight and nine hours, starting when the park opens. Some people get tired halfway through and decide to quit sooner.
Disney may be called “the happiest place on earth”, but it’s pure hell on New Years Eve
The crowds and meltdowns got so extreme that I stopped offering tours that day. No money in the world is worth all this stress.
Some people think I’m just paid to ride all day long and that’s the furthest thing from the truth. In fact, it can be downright stressful. Families spend $ 20,000 to $ 30,000 traveling and it is my responsibility to make sure they have the best time possible. We need to be aware of lines, closures and disruptions, but also keep it to ourselves and work behind the scenes to make sure everything goes smoothly.
During peak season my wife, a 911 dispatcher, helps sometimes and she says it can be more stressful than her job, and she talks to people off the ledges.
If there’s one thing I took with me from my Disney training, it’s “never say no to a guest.” I have a choice: do I want to be a problem solver or a vacation troubleshooter? Maybe I should say ‘let’s see what we can do’, but that’s different from a flat no.
My job can be a lot of fun but I also see the not-so-nice side of people
I once got two minutes late to meet a group because the monorail broke down and the customer called me screaming, even though the park wasn’t even open yet. Then in the middle of our tour, she fired her nanny and the poor girl had to stay with us for the duration of the tour.
Another time I had a single dad with his 3 year old baby and toddler. The man would take his oldest child on the rides and let me hold his baby. On the third ride, someone called security because they thought I was trying to kidnap the baby because he kept crying. After that, the father realized that it was time to go home.
Then there was the tour where I had a celebrity and her family. Halfway through, the woman returned to the hotel with the nanny and the baby. When she returned, the park was at full capacity, so security turned the woman away. The guy went mad and had a temper tantrum, but there was nothing we could do. In the end, I had to take the remaining two kids on all the rides because their dad was too busy yelling on the phone that he didn’t want to be there.
These days I still offer tours to Universal Orlando Resort theme parks as they never worked with quick passes and to make up for the loss of income I recently started a site building business. Web.
Last fall DisneyWorld and I celebrated our 50th birthday and I can honestly say that we have been through a lot together.
This article was originally published in July 2021.