Disney World and its associated theme parks are famous for making kids’ dreams come true and giving adults a chance to relive their childhood. But visitors are so amazed by all the Disney magic that they often miss some well-kept secrets hidden in plain sight. With clandestine passageways, bizarre history, and a few skeletons in the closet, Disney keeps its strange reality well under wraps.
Disney World is famous for its dazzling parades, filled with princesses and fireworks. However, few know that there is just as much of a party happening beneath their feet! Disney has an underground tunnel system so that each character arrives in a section with perfect timing.
In Orlando’s Magic Kingdom, they built the first underground layer of the park sprawling over 392,040 square feet. Disney calls these tunnels “utilidors”. The costumed cast members travel through these utilidors via well-hidden staircases.
Disney’s underworld functions as more than a transportation system for Mickey; They also include holding cells for “disruptive” guests. Reportedly a few big celebrities have wound up in Disney Jail, including Blake Lively and even Iron Man’s own Robert Downey Jr. in his youth.
Disney World has strict rules for its character actors. The company trains them to sign autographs precisely like the characters. They cannot bring costumes home nor reveal their identities to anyone — they even have to claim they’re “friends” with the character if asked!
According to legend, Walt Disney once saw a cast member from Frontierland in Tomorrowland. An employee dressed as a cowboy wandered around robots and rockets disgruntled Disney. He felt this type of inconsistency broke the “magic” in his park.
The year 1991, marked Disney’s first Gay Days festival. In 1993, CB Irwin and partner Scott Jones formed Disney’s first LGBTQ workers’ alliance. In 2002, Disney hosted its first gay marriage. Perhaps it won’t be long before Disney creates an LGBTQ Princess?
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was one of Disneyland’s first attractions. Though, as time passed it was transformed into a Winnie the Pooh ride. As a tribute to the retired attraction, there’s a gravestone for J. Thaddeus Toad in the The Haunted Mansion cemetery.
Disney is so beloved that many people’s dying wish is to be at the park eternally. Employees have reportedly had to grind the Haunted Mansion to a halt because of guests’ attempts to dump their relatives ashes inside the ride.
Back in 2018, an animatronic named “Buzzy” was stolen from the abandoned Wonders of Life pavilion in EPCOT right from under Disney’s nose. But some people think Disney actually “stole” it from themselves to deter urban explorers from sneaking into the building.
The famous Pirates of the Caribbean ride earned its eerie reputation. Built in the 1960s, the ride was decorated with real human skeletons. Eventually, the park swapped the human bones for plastic, but former employees claim at least one real corpse was overlooked.
Their mascot may be a mouse, but there’s another creature lurking in the bushes that would love to get at Mickey — feral cats! The wild animals live inside the parks and help control pests. But they aren’t the only hidden “attraction” in the Magic Kingdom.
Disneyland Cats / Instagram
Thousands of Mickey Mice! The park intentionally places “Hidden Mickeys” into their architecture. The exact number remains unknown, yet ranges in the thousands. Many tourists enjoy this scavenger hunt. Once in a while, a tourist finds a new one to add to the map.
Disney employs a simple, brilliant method to hide utilidor stairways and not-so-magical parts of the park. Most won’t notice fences, garbage bins, and even administrative buildings. Here’s the trick: green paint. The color, “Go Away Green,” naturally diverts the eye. The shade’s formula is secret.
Eagle-eyed guests can sometimes spot a dragon used in some of Animal Kingdom’s signage, but why is it there? Back when Disney’s zoo-themed park was opening, there was originally going to be a section called “Beastly Kingdom” dedicated to fantasy creatures, but plans were scrapped.
The Magic Kingdom’s most iconic image is Cinderella’s Castle, but there’s more inside than people know. Besides a dazzling themed restaurant, there’s one magnificent hotel suite. Though, good luck booking the latter — only contest winners and VIPs are allowed to stay there.
Liberty Square is the only section of the park without a bathroom outside of the restaurants in order to make the architecture as historically accurate. One popular rumor has it that the brown pavement is a particularly gross nod to the sewage filled streets.
Disney may be accepting of the LGBT community now, but that wasn’t always the case. In the ’80s two gay men successfully sued Disney after they were kicked out of one of their new teen dance clubs. Their crime? Engaging in “Homosexual fast dancing”.
In 1973, Richard Nixon first tried to fight his impeachment over the Watergate scandal and delivered a famous speech. The speech, which was dubbed the “I Am Not A Crook” speech, was broadcasted from Disney’s Contemporary Resort Ballroom.
The Lost and Found section is also known as “The Bermuda Triangle of Sunglasses.” Every day, 200 pairs of sunglasses end up here. One employee reportedly witnessed a prosthetic leg and a glass eye floating around the lost and found!
In Disneyland’s New Orleans Square, there is a hidden club. While a trained eye could spot the speakeasy, Club 33 is private. Additionally there is a $10,000 entrance fee and an 18-year-long waiting list.
Disney keeps their parks incredibly clean by instructing all employees are required to pick up any trash laying around with a magical “swoop and scoop” motion. There are reportedly trash cans available every 30 steps to encourage proper litter disposal from guests.
The office you pass while waiting in line for the Indiana Jones Adventure ride is filled with relics from the movies; the troop transport truck outside is from the desert chase scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The park has only had three unscheduled closures throughout its history outside of the coronavirus pandemic. They include the day after JFK was assassinated, the day of the Northridge earthquake in 1994, and on September 11, 2001.
When the park first opened in 1955, tickets were just $1! It would cost an adult $3.50 to enter the park in 1971, $9.50 in 1981, $33 in 1991, $48 in 2001, and $85 in 2011. Today, admission to Disneyland costs between $97 and $135.
Disneyland / Instagram
There is a small basketball court hidden at the top of the Matterhorn. Strange yes, but at the time, there was an Anaheim city ordinance that prohibited structures from exceeding a certain height unless it was a sports facility.
Invisible Theme Park
It was only in 2012 that cast members were allowed to rock mustaches, beards, or goatees. All wanted facial hair must be be kept maintained, and hair must not be longer than a quarter of an inch in length.
Fans of the classic ride “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” were so upset when they heard the classic ride was closing, they clad themselves in green and staged a huge protest inside the park. Unfortunately, the ride would be closed in 1998.
Walt Disney constructed a secret apartment on the 2nd floor of the Main Street Firehouse where he would host his wife and children while staying in the parks. A lamp is always kept lit in the window now to represent his spirit.
Walt Disney loved the park so much, he’d often stand in line and wait with guests. He wanted his experience to mimic the guests’ so he could make sure there was enough magic and enjoyment in his theme park.
Disneyland sells about 2.8 million churros and more than 14,000 bowls of Charred Nebraska Corn Chowder every year. Every two days, Disneyland sells enough popcorn to create a 200-foot-high stack of kernels.
Disneyland / Instagram
There’s a myth that the purple and orange teacups on the Mad Tea Party ride spin the fastest. They all spin the same speed depending on the person spinning the cups.
Since Disneyland has opened in 1955, more than 84 million Mickey Mouse ears have been sold in the California theme park. This makes the mouse ear hats the most popular tourist souvenir of all time.
Today, Disneyland hosts more than 60 different rides and attractions for guests. On its opening day, Disneyland in California had only 18 rides and attractions. Just 13 original rides, like the Jungle Cruise, the Disneyland Railroad, and Peter Pan’s flight, still stand.
There’s a secret pet cemetery hidden behind the Haunted Mansion attraction. It used to only be visible to those using the wheelchair accessible entrance, but today, anyone can see it.
All the plants in Tomorrowland are edible! The Imagineers believe that in the future all free space will be used to grow food. so the garden in the park is filled with red kale, white kale, green sage, strawberry guava bushes, and some orange trees.
Details make Disneyland a special place, but seeing others enjoy the park makes it a truly special place. Disney characters love interacting with park guests, but even they have to draw the line somewhere.
Disney characters love interacting with park guests, but even they have to draw the line somewhere. For a true ladies’ man like Gaston, getting tied down in a marriage is the most beastly thing he could think of!
2. Donald Duck’s nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie always get into trouble, which is probably why Donald is so protective of these actual ducks. On the other hand, maybe he’s chasing them out of the park because they didn’t buy tickets.
3. You want to dress comfortably when you’re out and about in the Disney heat, but make sure you don’t wear anything that could lead to an awkward situation. Minnie surely loves all kinds of music, but even she doesn’t need to see a shirt covered in mouse skulls.
4. Disney is where dreams come true…unless another tourist gets in your way. This poor man realized he was blocking a photo session of a surprise proposal, but it was already too late. On the bright side, he gave the couple a goofy photo they would never forget.
Reddit / SpnkyHappy
5. Did Woody and Jessie get caught sleeping on the job? Not quite. The Toy Story characters were rumored to instantly drop on the ground if anybody shouted “Andy’s Coming!” but stopped after it became dangerous as more and more people kept doing it.
6. Dean Norris is best known for playing tough guys, so it’s nice to see him embracing his inner princess. The Breaking Bad actor shared this photo via Twitter and joked that he was auditioning to be the eighth dwarf. That actually sounds like a movie worth seeing!
7. The internet is filled with wacky photos from the top of Splash Mountain, but this one takes the (urinal) cake. These friends expertly posed as if the camera caught them during their morning bathroom routine. That’s a lot of props to carry around on vacation, but it was definitely worth it.
8. Beware of dog! Goofy was probably just palling around with this toddler, though this picture makes it look like he’s getting ready to swallow the kid whole! Either way, we can only hope Goofy remembered to chew a breath mint before picking up the kid.
9. Tigger loves attention, so much so that he won’t let anyone else’s face appear in a group photo. Hopefully, he’ll someday learn that the Hundred Acre Wood is large enough for more than one big personality.
10. Most kids are thrilled to meet their favorite Disney characters, but this girl can’t wait for Sleeping Beauty to beat it. Maybe she could’ve been a better sport, but then again, the princess shouldn’t be interrupting strangers’ breakfasts first thing in the morning.
11. Everybody knows Gaston failed to woo Belle, but here he is striking out for a second time. Even for cartoons, Tinder dates can go off the rails. Maybe he shouldn’t have turned down that engagement ring from earlier!
12. We’re all used to seeing Hollywood love triangles in the tabloids, but this takes it to the next level! We expect this kind of behavior from Donald Duck, but from Goofy? It’s almost enough to break your heart.
13. Don’t worry — no horrific accident occurred here. One Disney guest just saw a golden opportunity to pay homage to cartoon classics by placing his head under this vault. Though he wasn’t in any danger here, we can only hope that no nauseous visitors got sick on that walkway earlier in the day.
14. Disney World is full of surprises! Case in point: Cristina was over the moon once she finished her Disney race, but then her boyfriend topped that by proposing! However, one of their fellow racegoers looks like she was even more blown away than Cristina.
15. You can’t beat dad humor! Where other people would’ve just seen a magic lamp decoration, this father recognized a prime photo opportunity. Coincidentally, this picture depicts exactly how you feel after eating your way through every country in Epcot.
16. Every kid dreams of going to Disneyland, but there can be too much of a good thing. This little girl couldn’t even keep up the energy for a nice family photo. Somebody get that tired kid some sugar, STAT!
17. They say that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. However, the guys in the Chip and Dale costumes appear to be enjoying their jobs a little bit too much here. Don’t they know it’s rude to stare, especially when you’re wearing a mask with giant eyeballs?
18. It turns out that Disney characters aren’t happy to see everybody. For this Little Mermaid, spotting her arch-nemesis Ursula on a guest’s shirt was enough to take her voice away. Awkward moments like this happen even under the sea.
19. Every parent who brings their kids to Disney deserves a medal, but this dad clinched first place! When his daughter dressed as Ariel for the day, he did the right thing and cosplayed as the great King Triton. He really earned that crown!
20. Would you get excited if we told you that a celebrity was making eyes at you from across the room? What if we told you that the celebrity was Mickey Mouse? It has to be hard to resist his charms, especially when he’s wearing his finest gloves and bowtie.