Disney Tours: Segway Around the World

The Segway Around the World tour has been on my Disney must-do list since the moment I learned of its existence.  I love Epcot and, especially, World Showcase, so the idea of being able to see it with a guide–and before the crowds arrive–really appealed to me.  And of course there’s the fun factor involved with riding a Segway.  I’d never ridden one but, well, the mall cops always look like they are having fun.

We met our tour guide–his name escapes me for reasons you are about to learn–at Guest Relations.  He was already riding his Segway, and it appeared to be a natural extension of his body.  This made me feel even more confident about the fact that I was sure to have no problem operating the device.

Does anyone out there know the word hubris?  If so, you’ll know what is coming next for me. 

Orientation

There were only four of us on the tour, so after some very brief introductions we were on our way to Innoventions for the safety video and Segway training.  Here begins the problem with a Segway tour.  It is very difficult–no, impossible–to take notes while riding such a vehicle.  Additionally, while I’m sure I could have done it, we were not permitted to take photos while riding, for obvious safety reasons.  Thus, with no note- or photo-taking ability, I felt very…uneasy.

Of course this is only an issue for people like me that have a constant need to take notes and photos.  I’m assuming–actually, I’m hoping–that most people are not as obsessive as I am, particularly while on vacation.

Melissa says: I understand why these are the rules, but I agree with Tracy. What good is a private tour of the pavilions if we can’t take photos? Clearly, our priorities are right in order. 

Truth be told, there was another reason I felt uneasy.  Very early on in the tour–I’d say maybe thirty seconds after leaving Innoventions–my Segway kind of ran away with me.  While I realize that a vehicle can’t really do something on its own–the way, say, a horse can–I really truly believe that for a brief period of time, this particular Segway was possessed with an almost Stephen-King-esque evil (if you’ve ever read Christine you get the idea).  It was not me or my Segway driving skills.  I swear.

Ok maybe it was me.

Melissa Sue, comfortable on her Segway.

But either way, that little incident made me something I usually am not–afraid.  Hesitant.  Cautious.  As Melissa Sue zipped around gleefully, I puttered towards the back of the group, barely going faster than if I was walking.  I was spooked, and it showed.

Melissa says: It was kind of weird. Of the two of us, I’m typically much more timid and slow-to-adapt. I was totally nervous during Orientation and even as we were learning how to get off and on the Segway. But once I started moving, I loved it! It’s so fun and futuristic. I almost felt like I was moving it with my mind!

But it was great to zoom around World Showcase, stopping at maybe every other country to hear a bit about some of its secrets.  Our tour guide–a different woman from the man who ‘trained’ us –seemed big on hidden Mickeys, and she pointed out several in each country we toured.  Of course, because of the fact that I couldn’t take notes, I don’t remember where these hidden Mickeys are–or really any of the other information we learned.

Hey kids out there–there’s a lesson to be learned here.  Your teachers are right.  Taking notes is important!

Melissa says: I remember one Hidden Mickey that she showed us on the left-most knight’s crown on top of the shop in Germany. It’s tiny, but it’s there. 

Perhaps the neatest thing about Segway Around the World was the ability to see World Showcase before it was open to the public.  I was excited about how beautiful it would be without all of those other people cluttering it up.  What I didn’t take into account was the added bonus of seeing the people that were there early in the morning–all of the cast members working to make sure that when it did open, it looked its best.  Because we were visiting a few days before the premiere of the Flower and Garden Festival, we also got to see many, many landscape designers building the various topiary displays around the park.  I have to say, the Disney nerd part of me was in heaven (even though the ‘self preservation’ part of me was still a little freaked out!)

Melissa says: I, too, am fascinated by what the landscapers do in Epcot! Last December, I had a great conversation with a Cast Member who was mulching the flowerbeds near Spaceship Earth. Their work is amazing. 

Clearly I had some fun! But holy unflattering photo!

I enjoyed the Segway Around the World tour–just not as much as I thought I would.  There were only four of us on the tour, and I kind of felt like that should have resulted in a more personalized tour.  But instead we scooted around, listening more than interacting.  Perhaps that was my fault–or the fault of all of us.  I suppose we could have asked more questions, but at that point I was just trying to remain upright.

Melissa says: I was really happy zipping around, so I wasn’t missing the interaction with our guides. There was so much to see! 

I also really wish there was more time for photo opportunities.  Not of us on the Segways–because really, the world doesn’t need more photos of me in a helmet–but of World Showcase itself.  I could have gotten so many great shots, especially of the early morning prep-work.  In my humble opinion, Disney needs to offer a photography around the world tour.

Hear that, Disney?  A Photography Around the World Tour.  It’s a good idea.  I’d be happy to design the tour for you, too.  Run it, even!

Melissa says: I might not be qualified to teach a photo safari in Epcot, but I certainly would pay for it! 

Additionally, there’s one other thing that should be mentioned about this tour–it is hard on your back.  I do have what I suppose one could consider a ‘bad back’.  For example, I’ve had a longer relationship with my chiropractor than I’ve had with my husband of six years.  But I usually disregard the ‘do not do this if you have back trouble’ warnings on rides (other than Space Mountain–take that one seriously, folks!)  Perhaps I should not have disregarded this warning.  Or perhaps I need to start doing yoga again, because really, I’m only 32.  I should be able to balance on a Segway for two hours and not be in pain afterwards.

Melissa says: My back is a hot mess (my chiropractor and acupuncturist agree!), but my feet were the problem for me! Standing still for so long without moving my feet was painful–much more painful than I would have thought. By the end of the tour, they were burning, and it took me some time to walk it off. 

Of  the two tours I did in WDW that week, the Keys to the Kingdom tour comes out on top–way on top.  But that’s because I’m a Disney nerd with an apparent fear of personal transportation devices.  As for the Segway itself–would I get on another in the future?  Full disclosure–I already have plans to do a tour in DC this coming weekend–which, when this is published, will already have happened.  So if you see a news story about someone dying on a Segway in our nation’s capitol over Easter weekend–that would be me!

Melissa says: I would do this again in a heartbeat! In fact, I’m currently trying to convince my husband to do the Wilderness Back Trail Adventure Segway tour at Fort Wilderness on our next anniversary trip!  

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