We are able to host our guests at any fun location in Central Florida. Walt Disney World remains the most popular vacation destination in the world, but we also enjoy hosting them at the ever-expanding Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure parks, SeaWorld, the Kennedy Space Center, water parks, the beaches, and even on shopping excursions.
"I learned and experienced a lot as a Walt Disney World VIP tour guide, guest relations host, and cast member trainer, and continue to expand my knowledge on a daily basis."
- Michael Hewell, owner
My love for Walt Disney World as an incredibly fun place to visit began when I visited the Magic Kingdom soon after it opened in 1971 at age 8. I remember being fascinated by the Jungle Cruise, and envious of the skippers who were able to pilot boats all day through the animal-filled jungles. Yes, I knew they weren’t real at that age, but it was still cool!
Many years later after serving in both the Navy and Marine Corps, I was accepted into Colorado College, an outstanding liberal arts college in Colorado Springs, Colorado. My sister, who I had barely seen for six years, was living in Orlando and working for Disney at the time and invited me to stay with her for the summer after my freshman year so that I could both have a job and visit her.
And where did Disney assign me based on my outgoing personality? The Jungle Cruise. Now I too cruised through the jungles of the world all day. I too looked at the audio-animatronic animals over and over again. I too told the same “entertaining” jokes for every boatload of guests. Life Lesson #263: “Be careful what you wish for.” ;-)
Even after nearly five years and a bachelor’s degree in Economics, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I settled into Orlando and began working for Disney full time knowing that something better would present itself. After several promising starts that could have lead to management positions within the company, a chance encounter with a world famous celebrity while I was working as a butler at the Haunted Mansion lead me to Guest Relations.
These are the hosts and hostesses that solve guest challenges, answer their questions on every possible topic, help with daily plans, make dining and dinner show reservations, sell and advise ticket options, and provide spieled guided tours for adults and families. It is from the four theme park guest relations departments that the Disney Special Activities (DSA) office auditions their VIP tour guides, and I was soon selected to join their staff.
During my years with Disney I hosted an extensive variety of guests, both ultra-famous and not, and enjoyed each and every one of them. However, I often caught myself reviewing aspects of our service I wished to change or provide differently and I wasn't in a position to do anything about it. These thoughts and opinions, as well as a personal desire to challenge my abilities, lead to the development of my own company, Michael's VIPs, in 1999.
At the time no such independent service existed. Anywhere. VIP Tours for families who were not celebrities, royals, or statesmen were just beginning to take off at the theme parks, and I was convinced I could provide a higher quality vacation experience for them. The greatest difference between the celebrity and non-celebrity service wasn’t the backdoor access to the rides that the famous visitors enjoyed, something they truly required to have any privacy and a good time with their family. Instead, it was the amount of preplanning and personal care that we provided for them.
Our non-celebrity tours were met with a handshake at the entrance of their chosen theme park, and their VIP Host was left with the task of maximizing their day by knowing where everything was and which attractions were the most appropriate for their party members. We received no “ride to ride” touring training or advice as we were supposed to pick that up on our own. Keep in mind that this was before Disney’s FASTPASS system existed as well. We waited in lines; too many of them for my comfort.
On my own time I began touring the parks looking for ways to make my touring time easier and better for my guests. I don’t like to wait and there’s always a better way! As a former operations cast member (Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, the Hall of Presidents, & Haunted Mansion) I had observed years before that there were days of the week when we were noticeably less crowded, as well as different times of the day depending on the hour or what was going on around us at the time. I knew that it had to be this way elsewhere around the Disney parks, and I was correct.
My many trial and error attempts to learn the crowd patterns, and how to best tour around them instead of through them, is what later empowered me to leave Disney and set out on my own. I also disliked telling my guests, even a Royal Princess whose family was estimated to be spending over $2 million a day at Walt Disney World, that I could only accompany them at Disney’s four theme parks and nowhere else. Orlando has tons more options, including the Universal Studios parks, and they are amazing places to visit!
Everyone on the Michael’s VIPs team knows how very important your family's vacation is to you. I hope the information on this page and our sample list of sincere Endorsements will assure you that you are in capable, trusted hands.
Michael's Life Lesson #4,147: "If you want to create something positive, believe in yourself and your abilities, and welcome others to help you make it a reality."
Thank you and God bless.