Filed under: Walt Disney World (FL)
There are many tours one can partake in at Walt Disney World. Out of all of them, the “Keep Moving Forward” Segway tour of Epcot was always the one that stood out to me. Unbeknownst to me, I was given a birthday present during my last trip and suddenly found myself a part of this tour.
This specific tour was new as of September 17, 2012, although it is just a slight remodel of an older tour. The “Keep Moving Forward” tour lasts 3 hours and includes breakfast and Segway training. The cost is $99 and it is available for ages 16 and up, although under 18s will need a signed waiver by a parent or guardian. A 15% discount is available for annual passholders or DVC members.
Onto the tour: Mine was the first tour of the morning, meeting at 8:30am at Epcot’s Guest Relations. After choosing our breakfast and signing a waiver that promised our first born child (sorry honey, it’s been fun, but you belong to Disney now), we were walked over to the Innoventions pavilion for Segway training.
Our group of 10 was led by two guides. The first was a Disney tour guide (or “plaid,” since they wear the plaid vests), and the second could only be described as the Segway police. Our Segway police was a very nice woman who takes Segway safety very seriously and makes sure you know it. Although no one in our group tested her threats, she made sure we all knew that it was her way or no way at all.
The majority of the Segway training session was led by the Segway police. It was started with a simple task of how to get on and off of a Segway, which is considerably trickier than it sounds. Segways are astounding machines that are well balanced and designed to react to your every move. That makes them highly versatile, but with a steep learning curve.
I was ultimately surprised by two things with the Segway themselves: The first was that it was pretty tough on the legs and feet and the second was that it was super easy to use once I relaxed a bit. As you may imagine, these two things were related. If I was tense and constantly pushing on the Segway with my feet it made my feet hurt and it made me constantly over correct. If I calmed down and stopped thinking about the machine under me, it was a lot easier…a lot easier.
Once the training was done we cruised (on our Segways) over to Sunshine Seasons in the Land pavilion for breakfast. The breakfast itself was fine with eggs, bacon, sausage, and potatoes, but nothing to get excited about. After the meal the tour started in earnest, moving us out of the crowd and into World Showcase.
What makes the early morning versions of this tour the best is the simple fact that World Showcase doesn’t open until 11am. This means that from the time you pass Norway (which is open for the Akershus breakfast) until 11am it is just you, your Segway, and a few maintenance personnel.
All members of this tour are fitted with personal earpieces so that the tour guide’s words are delivered directly into your head (although it is less creepy futuristic than I just made it sound). As you cruise past Mexico and Norway, the guide tells you interesting tidbits about both. The first stop is in China, where the guide…uh, guides everyone into the pavilion where we all stopped for a more in depth lesson on the Chinese architecture.
As we moved around World Showcase, the tour guide told us all sorts of facts about Epcot, World Showcase, and the individual countries. I won’t go into the specifics, but it was interesting to anyone even remotely curious about Epcot trivia. For me personally, I was told very little that I didn’t already know as I am an avid reader of Disney history. That said, there were still a few tidbits that I heard for the first time that day.
When we got over to Italy, after running a slalom around the posts of the “Doge’s Palace,” we were given a break alongside the lagoon. During that break, the guide took pictures of each participant mounted atop their regal steed. As I am sure you will agree, I still manage to look amazingly cool, even with the helmet.
As we continued around the lagoon, World Showcase began to open to all visitors. I cannot stress enough how much of a difference being in the early tour is. Having to weave around passersby as well as operate a Segway and try to listen to the guide in your earpiece is not even close to the same experience as having the promenade all to yourselves.
At the end of the tour we all received a limited edition “Keep Moving Forward” pin that is very nice. I do not have a picture of it because I somehow lost mine within the hour. My hope is that a pin collector stole it off of my camera bag in some sort of organized heist, because that sounds cooler than “I dropped it.”
I found the “Keep Moving Forward” tour to be a lot of fun, although riding a Segway is about 60% of that fun with being in an empty World Showcase making up another 30% (the remaining 10% is a combination of breakfast and waving at people). I would highly, highly recommend the earliest tour available and I would also recommend taking deep breaths when you first get on the Segway. It knows when you’re scared.