Disney World is a place of enchantment, fantasy, and wonder, but did you know all of the secrets and hidden truths that go make the Magical Kingdom the "Happiest Place on Earth?" Take a look at this list of some of Disney World's biggest secrets.
There is an endless list of reasons why Disney World and its sister parks are considered to be best of the best in terms of theme parks, but one of the biggest reasons is the fact that everything looks perfect every day the parks are open, no matter what happened the day before.
The reason? Well, each night, after the park closes and the guests go back to their hotel rooms or their homes, hundreds of cast members go through the park with a fine-tooth comb and fix any damage they see. Redditor flyguy727 explained that the cast members will do anything from clean, repair, trim, paint, and "everything else necessary to get the park ready for the next day."
"And when I say everything, I mean everything," they add. "There are some areas of the park that they repaint every single night just to make sure they are show ready for the next day."
It's rare to see anyone complain about the cleanliness of the Disney parks, and the armies of cast members have a little something to do with that.
When most people picture Disney World, one image comes to mind - Cinderella's Castle in the middle of the Magic Kingdom. From a distance, the castle looks as if it stretches for hundreds of feet into the air, but actually, it's nothing more than one of the world's most iconic optical illusion.
According to DisneyFanatic.com, the iconic tower is actually only 189 feet in height, but thanks to a trick on the eye, it looks far taller than it actually is:
"Spires soar and ornate turrets and royal blue rooftops lure your eyes to the top of the castle; by using forced perspective. Onlookers are optically fooled into 'seeing' a castle much higher than it really is. As the building becomes taller, the design proportions become smaller. With this method, the top spire is actually almost half of its' perceived size."
This forced perspective illustrates the level of creativity and ingenuity that went into the design of the castle and Disney World as a whole. When guests first step off the train station on Main Street, their eyes are immediately drawn to the "monstrous" size of the castle and its 27 towers, as Redditor hyena142 noted.
Anyone who has a distaste for a particularly chewy and troublesome candy will be a fan of this fact: you can't buy bubblegum at any Disney property.
According to Redditor MeteorCity, none of the parks under the Disney umbrella sell gum in any form as an attempt to keep people from spitting it out on the ground or putting old, chewed up gum under tables, benches, and other objects throughout the parks. Despite this, guests are allowed to bring gum into the park, so guests shouldn't worry if they forget to leave their stick of Juicy Fruit at home.
In a list of top secrets from the Magic Kingdom, a Mental Floss article reported that the no-gum policy is believed to have been implemented by the man behind the mouse himself:
"Supposedly this innovation came from Walt Disney himself, who wanted to make sure that his guests could enjoy their visits without getting gum stuck to their shoes."
During the day, thousands of guest and cast members (park employees) roam the snaking paths of Disneyland in Southern California, but at night, those paths - now darkened and a little less busy - are visited by the park's approximate 100 feral cats who call the "California Adventure" their home. Apparently, the cats have been roaming the theme park each night since its doors opened in the mid-50s.
One Redditor, who claimed to know about the phenomenon, explained that the park allows the cats to stay because they serve as a relatively cost-effective and safe form of pest control.
"After Disneyland closes, a ton of stray cats appear and roam the park," vnl728 said. "They even feed and care for them. Reason? Mice population control."
Although this might sound like some far-fetched conspiracy that one's oft to see on Reddit, this little fact is actually true, as Vice.com reported in 2014:
"The cats---former pets, strays, and other assorted felines roaming Southern California---have been in Disneyland basically since the amusement park opened in 1955."
According to the article, the cats first began roaming the park to pick up scraps of fallen food left by the park's guests throughout their stay, but over the years, the cats stayed around and started to take care of one of any amusement park's biggest problems -- rodents. Over the years, park staff started a trap, neuter, and release program with the assistance of local veterinarian groups to control the feline population.
The relationship has proven to be beneficial to all parties - the park doesn't have to worry about a rat/mouse infestation and the cats have a place to call home. And it seems that the park guests barely notice, and if they do, they probably think it's just part of the show.
Tom Sawyer Island is one of the original attractions in Disneyland, and like anything that old, there's going to be a few legends.
According to one of those legends, guests who find hidden paintbrushes on the island and return them to park staff will be gifted fast passes for them and their party to one of the rides in the park. Redditor JessicaRabid explained that while she has never found one of the illusive paintbrushes herself, she has reaped the benefit of being inquisitive on several occasions.
"I have never found a paintbrush, but on the way back from the island, I always ask the barge driver if all the paintbrushes were found that day and they always say yes," she explains. "Then, without fail, when everyone is unloading they call me over and present me with the passes. I don't think they go through the trouble of hiding the brushes anymore and just give the passes to people that mention the brushes."
With that being said, if guests can't find a paintbrush on their own on Tom Sawyer Island, it might not hurt to ask one of the Cast Members if all of the passes have been handed out that day.
With all of the hidden buildings, passageways, and imagery found throughout the Disney parks, it's should come as no surprise that there are a handful of private clubs at some of the world famous amusements parks. These clubs, referred to as the collective name of Club 33, are ultra-exclusive and often hidden from the regular visitor at the Disney properties in California, Shangai, and Tokyo.
Redditor CatzerzMcGee said these clubs are often the only places to purchase adult beverages and certain food items in some of the parks but don't count on obtaining membership anytime soon. While it's relatively easy to purchase a membership to any of the Disney parks, gaining access to Club 33 will cost prospective members an arm and a leg, and that's if you can't get on the "decade-plus-long waiting list for new members."
How exclusive is the club? Well, in order to get information from the official website, Club33Disneyland.com, people first have to become a member.
According to the unofficial DisneylandClub33 webpage, the club was first introduced at Disneyland as a way for the park's major investors and business partners to have a place to dine at a fancy restaurant during their stay. A history of the club found on the website states:
"[Walt Disney] realized that many dignitaries would be visiting the park and a more controlled, secure and elegant environment would be highly beneficial. With this in mind, the small club style restaurant began construction. Sadly, Walt passed away prior to its completion and the club had no name."
Guests can actually go behind the curtain and witness for themselves the inner workings at most of the Disney parks.
According to Redditor poxxy, "there's an actual tour you can book in Disney World that allows you to go behind the scenes to where they make the costumes, service the rides, and go through the tunnels (known as 'utilicorridors')."
During one of these tours, they went behind the Hall of Presidents to see how the ride worked. They explained that "all of the animatronics and hydraulics are run by a computer system that looks like it's right out of the '70s with banks of blinking lights and huge DASD (direct access storage device) drives."
As fun as the tours sound, Disney World typically only runs a few each week with each of the tours having a capacity of around 30-40 guests. Those lucky enough to go behind the scenes, however, are given a once-in-a-lifetime look at the daily operations of the world's most famous theme park.
People who have visited Disney often remark about the lengths the park goes to provide the utmost attention to detail as humanly possible. Whether it's the authentic decorations and customs in each of the countries featured in Epcot's World Showcase, the elaborate recreations of iconic Disney films, or the Cast Members who somehow never break character despite dealing with oppressive heat and long hours, nothing is half-done in the world of Disney.
According to Redditor darth_hotdog, this is because "Walt Disney didn't want people to break the illusion for children, and he thought it would be bad if a child overheard an employee say something like 'I'm the guy in the Mickey Mouse costume."
With that being said, Disney, and those who took over the park's planning and operation following his death wanted to treat the park more like a theater production rather than a carnival in an attempt to offer his guests with an escape from the real world for a few hours or a few days.
"It's a bit silly to think of the person who takes orders at a Disneyland burger place as a 'theater cast member playing a part,' but the parks do have amazing customer service most of the time," darth_hotdog explains.
When discussing their visits to Disney, guests tend to see the parks more like an escape or production rather than the typical amusement park or carnival, and that is by design.
The Cinderella fountain in Disney World is just one of the many attractions throughout the park that were designed to be looked at through the eyes of a child, and not just figuratively. Quite literally, in fact.
According to Redditor castillar, as people approach the fountain of the Disney princess, adults (or extremely tall children) often look at the statue and think that Cinderella looks rather drab in her peasant clothes, a slightly hidden face, and a crown above her head, but young children see something different entirely. That crown that seems to be floating in the air from one perspective seems to fall down and rest atop Cinderella's head when looked at by the eyes of a child.
"Now squat down and look up from the perspective of a young child: you'll see she's actually smiling, and the crown device in the fountain appears to be sitting on her head," castillar explains. "The parks are full of things like that that appear different from a child's perspective because Walt designed them with young children in mind."
People typically don't associate Disney World with earth-shattering cultural events, but nonetheless, the resort in Central Florida has played hosts to its fair share of iconic cultural milestones. We could go on and on about the key events in the history of the park, but there are two that seem to just stick out among the rest.
First, it's often forgotten that the Beatles officially broke up at Disney World. No, John and Paul didn't have some blowout fight waiting in line for Splash Kingdom, Ringo didn't get lost on Pirates of the Carribean, and George didn't quit the band to become the next Mickey, but the "Fab Four" officially disbanded at the famed Polynesian Resort.
When asked to share the most common secrets about the Disney parks, Redditor 31theories claimed that "the contract that legally dissolved the band" was signed by John Lennon during his stay at the Polynesian Resort across from Cinderella's castle.
According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Lennon was on Christmas vacation when he finally decided to sign the termination papers nearly five years after his former bandmates decided to call it quits:
"An Apple lawyer brought the mammoth contract for Lennon to sign at Disney World, where he was staying at the Polynesian Village Hotel. Thus, with the Magic Kingdom as his backdrop, he picked up his pen and officially finished off the Beatles right then and there. The date was Dec. 29, 1974."
And the breakup of the biggest band since sliced bread wasn't the only major thing to happen at Disney World in the 1970s. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Richard Nixon's infamous "I am not a crook" line came from a Q&A session at the Disney's Contemporary Resort more than a year earlier on Nov. 17, 1973.
Disney employees aren't treated like any other employee at any other company. No, they're Cast Members, at least in the eyes of Disney.
Redditor michaeldelgato explained that this name came about because "everyone is part of the 'show.'"
The Cast Members even have different designations, including "Furs" - characters that wear masks depicting any of the animals found in the many Disney franchises. This can be any character from the Fab Five to the Chipmunks, to Mickey and Minnie Mouse themselves.
The Cast Members (as well as their friends and family) are privy to any number of benefits throughout the park. This includes everything from access to secret stores where damaged merchandise, larger sizes of unsold stock, and retired items can be purchased for an unbelievable discount.
Disney World can be quite overwhelming for first-time guests (and even those who've visited dozens of times), but the park was designed that way. Walt Disney and those who helped him create the "Happiest Place on Earth" wanted the guests to feel like they were leaving their everyday lives and entering fully realized worlds of wonder.
That's why the designers inserted "sensory tickles" or abrupt changes to the pavement between the distinct sections of the park as a way to alert the guests and let them know that they were entering somewhere new and that they should take a minute to look at their surroundings. It's basically the designers' way of saying, "Hey! Look up because here's something you won't want to miss."
Redditor castillar explains that these "sensor tickles" are "there to startle you and make you look up and around, realizing that your surroundings have changed."
The parks also do this by giving each different parts of the park its own distinctive music with characteristics that meet the theme and tone of the particular world the designers are attempting to emulate.
In May 2017, Disney World introduced its guests to "Pandora: The World Of Avatar," which was inspired by the 2009 James Cameron blockbuster. Throughout the 12-acre themed section of the park, guests will find two attractions as well as decorations and pieces of art inspired by the movie (and its upcoming sequels).
A lot of the decorations and dwellings found in the section of the park are made from a specific type of vine that is invasive to much of the world. Redditor clegh20 explains that this type of vine "was polluting waterways in tropical parts of the world, and so keeping with the Animal Kingdom theme of conservation, the vines were harvested and dyed to later be used as decorations in Pandora, in the process clearing the waterways and helping remove the invasive species."
Instead of planting and cutting down vines (or wasting time and resources creating artificial foilage) just for the sake of making elaborate decorations, the designers of Pandora found a use for the invasive foliage and found a clever way to create one-of-a-kind works of art.