How to Experience Orlando Theme Parks Like a VIP

Get exclusive access, skip the lines and go behind the scenes at Walt Disney World, Universal and SeaWorld.

A trip to Orlando is usually a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So why not go all out and treat yourself and your family like the VIP you are? You'll eliminate long wait times and pile on plenty of park perks. VIP tours and specialty upgrade packages are the ticket for less theme-park hassle and more amusement.

VIP Tours

Disney’s Ultimate Day of Thrills: Ideal for adventure-seekers ages 7 and up, this seven-hour, three-park tour (with private transportation and table-service lunch) guides you to magically-expedited experiences at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. $299.99 plus admission; 407.560.4033

SeaWorld’s Private VIP Tour: Enjoy seven hours at SeaWorld with an expert for front-of-the-line admittance to rides of your choice, reserved show seating, special access to animal interactions (like sea lion and stingray feeding zones), shark-side dining and preferred parking. $299 plus admission; 888.800.5447

Universal Orlando Resort Non-Private Tour: Receive eight hours of front-of-the-line entry to rides and attractions, behind-the-scenes looks at productions, valet parking, continental breakfast and lunch, reserved show seating and distinctive viewing areas for Universal’s Superstar Parade. $189.99 plus admission; 866.346.9350

Universal VIP tours
Skip all the lines on an 8-hour tour with Universal. (Courtesy Universal)

Exclusive Experiences

Walt Disney World Resort offers elite experiences for fun-seekers of all interests. You can, for example, hang ten with a professional surfer during a 2.5-hour private lesson at Typhoon Lagoon Water Park ($165; ages 8+), set sail on Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake aboard the luxurious 52-foot Grand 1 yacht ($553 per hour; up to 18 people) or share a meal over creative chatter with a Disney Imagineer ($37.27-68.15).

For Disney’s wildest tour, embark on the Wild Africa Trek (starting at $189; ages 8+), a three-hour VIP safari through secluded areas of Animal Kingdom’s Harambe Wildlife Reserve. Hike a rugged trail to discover an aviary of exotic birds and a hippopotamus pond spilling over with the ginormous, wide-mouthed mammals. Bravely cross the shaky rope bridge over chomping crocodiles. Then, ride aboard an open-air truck for ultimate up-close halts alongside giraffes, rhinos, elephants and other prairie animals. Recharge with an African-inspired feast; and remember every wild moment thanks to the tour’s complimentary photo service.

Animal Kingdom Walt Disney World
Go behind the scenes at Disney's Animal Kingdom on the Wild Africa Trek. (Courtesy Walt Disney World)

Dive deeper into aquatic adventures at Discovery Cove, the SeaWorld-owned all-inclusive day resort flooded with sea life and pristine beaches, with the Dolphin Swim Package (starting at $229; ages 6+). In addition to stellar amenities—like meals and snacks, water gear and access to The Grand Reef, Serenity Bay, Explorer’s Aviary and Wind-Away River—you can plunge into the Dolphin Lagoon for a 30-minute interactive session and feel the rush with an exciting dorsal-fin tow ride. Slip on a wet suit and dive helmet (SCUBA certification not required) for SeaVenture ($49 upgrade option; ages 10+), a 25-minute underwater walking excursion through a shark-corralled coral cavern. Drift by lobsters, rays and other unique sea creatures before feeding colorful fish. Or, soak up behind-the-scenes demonstrations through Trainer for a Day (starting at $428), a full-day opportunity overflowing with animal meet-and-greets, meals and, of course, marine mentoring.

SeaVenture Discovery Cove scubadiving Orlando, Florida
Get the feel for scubadiving with Discovery Cove's SeaVenture. (Courtesy SeaWorld Orlando)

Dying for killer treatment at Halloween Horror Nights, the nation’s premier Halloween event held annually at Universal Studios? Fear not, as the R.I.P. Tour rolls out the blood-red carpet with a 4.5-hour guided walking tour, plus VIP entry to all haunted houses, a commemorative credential, admission to the R.I.P. lounge, special access to select rides and valet parking. (Non-private starting at $159.99, private starting at $1,599 for up to 10 people; age 13+ recommended.) Or, for a daytime behind-the-scenes sneak peek, let the Unmasking the Horror Tour ($74.99-$119.99) shine a light on how Universal’s creative team dares to scare by transforming its vibrant park into a dark and deadly dungeon.

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando
Take the R.I.P. Tour during Halloween Horror Nights. (©Universal Studios)