Whether you’re an Orlando regular or are completely new to the theme park scene, Walt Disney World is sure to keep you amazed. And as our guide shows, there’s a lot more to Mickey’s magic kingdom than first meets the eye. Read on, scribble down a few notes, and then wow your travel buddies with these 10 unusual facts about Disney World.
1) There are secret underground tunnels
Disney World is actually on the second floor – it’s built above ground and there are special tunnels beneath the ‘streets’ that workers use to get around the parks. These tunnels allow cast members and employees to move between different areas of the parks discretely and without ruining the illusion of a truly magical place.
2) Clever design keeps you from getting distracted
The Disney parks in Orlando have been designed so that when you’re exploring one ‘land’, you won’t be able to see the others. For example, Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom has trees and buildings to stop you from seeing Fantasyland. The square has also been designed with special distractions and noises – such as a water wheel – to stop you from looking elsewhere. The big idea is to give each area its own strong identity and feel.
3) Chewing gum is banned
To keep the sidewalks, benches and rides gunk free, Disney has a strict policy of not selling chewing gum onsite. However, gum isn’t actually banned from the parks so be sure to pack your own if you’d like to freshen up during your stay.
4) There are trash cans everywhere
It’s been said that you’re never more than 30 steps away from a trash can at Disney. Walt Disney himself made this rule after watching how long people held onto trash before dropping it on the floor – the conclusion was around 30 steps.
5) Hidden details abound
Look closely as you walk around the parks and the surrounding resorts and you’ll see thousands of Mickey Mouse logos hidden about the place. Spot them on paintings, railings and ornaments – even in the restaurants. It takes a good eye to notice them all. Additional hidden details also abound; look out for the real human skull on the Captain’s Quarter bed during the Pirates of Caribbean ride. If you want a neat tip for the Magic Kingdom, listen up: the purple tea cup spins fastest on the Mad Tea Party ride.
6) There is a secret suite inside Cinderella’s castle
In Cinderella’s castle at the Magic Kingdom park, there’s a secret suite which cannot be booked. Why, you ask? Well, it’s only used for promotional giveaways and special guests. Originally the apartment was constructed for Walt Disney and his family but it remained unfinished at the time of his death. In 2007, the suite was given a makeover, ready to use in competitions and for specially invited guests.
7) The Haunted Mansion is full of secrets
Even the line for the Haunted Mansion attraction is full of surprises. Keep your eyes peeled for the newly wedded bride in the torture room and even some human remains – it’s a spooky sight! Bizarrely, this ride has become known as a popular place for people to sprinkle their loved ones’ ashes (with or without permission from the parks).
8) ‘Smellitizers’ are found throughout the parks
Specially designed vents are used to pump artificial scents into the Disney parks, subtly influencing the feel of the place from one area to another. On Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, a mix of baked goods and vanilla is used, while a ‘salty sea air’ fragrance is used on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. There’s also a musty smell lingering in the Haunted Mansion.
9) There are secret entrances
Hollywood Studios and Epcot are actually much closer together than you may think. In fact, you’re able to walk to Hollywood Studios from Epcot by using a hidden rear entrance. This is found between the France and United Kingdom area in Epcot. The walkways lead from the Beach Club Boardwalk to Dolphin Resort and on to Hollywood Studios. There’s also a boat available if the walk is too long.
10) You can make it rain at Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios is full of tributes to classic movies. On the Great Movie ride, located in the Streets of America area, you can recreate an iconic scene from Singin’ in the Rain. Stand under your own umbrella like the famous Gene Kelly, then press the hidden black rubber pad on the sidewalk to make it rain.