by Kevin Klose
Our next stop on the tour was the Disney-MGM Studios. We were driven back stage, to the low “bungalow” type building seen on the Backstage Tour attraction, the one with the tram car that takes you through Catastrophe Canyon.
We stopped at one of the building and were taken inside the Costuming department. Upon entering, the receptionist made and announcement letting everyone in the building know that the tour was there. We were curios if this was a way to let them know to clean off their desks or to “look busy”. She explained that it was really to let Cast members who may be in the building for costume fittings know that there were guests arriving. This way they were not caught in their undergarments.
In the lobby were three small replicas of the dresses that the princesss “brides” wear in the Share A Dream Come True parade. It was interesting to see the amount of detail that goes into each outfit. This idea keeps coming up throughout this tour. Disney’s attention to detail is amazing. The amount of work that goes into each Princess’ undergarments is incredible given that guests never see this part of the costume. The other interesting thing about these replicas is that they are what is known as a “half size” model. Every individual piece of the costume is exactly half the size of it’s full size counterpart. If the costume was taken apart and the measurements doubled, you would be able to create a full size Princess costume.
Our next stop on this tour was unexpected. It was a computer area where costume patterns are designed and / or duplicated for future use. We were able to watch the fascinating process of recreating on of Imagineer Mary Blair’s original designs for the “it’s a small world” attraction at the Magic Kingdom. This is a painstaking process used to insure that during a repaid or a rehab, that the new piece is identical to the original. Again, the detail that goes into the process is mind boggling.
We were taken in to the actual costuming area. While we toured, 2 or 3 dozen seamstresses and whatever the male version of seamstresses are called, were working creating beautiful costumes. We were told that the majority of costumes for all Disney venues worldwide are created at Walt Disney World including the character costumes. One of the interesting facts given was that the majority of fabrics and color dyes used are trademarked. Yes, it’s true, that bright yellow used for parking lot attendants is a trademarked color. You can’t buy it. Don’t know about you….but I find that a relief.
As we continued our tour of the Costuming area, we got to see and hear the most interesting things. One of the most fascinating….we were shown this enormous table that actually cuts and labels pattern pieces from a roll of material. When creating costumes for a large group of cast members, the table/machine is programmed with all of the various sizes. A large roll of fabric, similar in size to a roll of carpet, is fed into the machine. The fabric is pulled out onto the table and plastic sheeting is pulled over the fabric to create a vacuum. The fabric is then precision cut down to the smallest detail and labeled. These pieces are bundled and distributed to the seamstresses. This is done so that each and every costume is identical accept for size.
At this point in the day, it was getting to be lunch time. As our restaurant of choice was Mamma Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, we walked across the park to the restaurant.
The Backstage Magic Tour is limited to 20 participants. There were 12 of us on our particular day.
We were seated at a table set for 12 and while you are free to order your drink of choice (alcohol is extra), the rest of the meal is served family style. The opening course is a large salad of field greens with a light vinaigrette and crumbled cheese. The second course is an assortment of flat bread pizzas. Ours were plain cheese and a pepperoni and onion mix. The main entrees were a pasta with seafood fra diavolo, a pasta with chicken, artichokes and an Alfredo sauce and finally a grill chicken with assorted grilled veggies.. The first pasta was rather spicy and contained seafood. I was told that if there were any dietary restrictions, alterations could be made in advance. The finale to our great meal was a dessert selection. Several trays of desserts were brought out. Each tray contained the four most popular desserts from the menu. For twelve people, there were three dessert trays. Our luncheon was delicious and there was an abundance of food served. This lunch is included in the price of the tour, as well as you gratuity.
Stuffed and ready to relax for a few minutes, we were taken out a back door and magically, our tour buss was right there and ready to take us to our next destination,
We were on our way to the Magic Kingdom.
End of part two.