THE NOT SO SECRET, DISNEY SECRETS YOU NEVER KNEW
Not only have I been to Disney Parks my entire life, but I’ve also had the distinct honor of working for the Mouse. Having Cinderella Castle as your “office” to report to and the Mouse as your boss is as magical as you would imagine. Speaking of magic, nobody does it better than Walt Disney World. But sometimes it’s what we don’t see that is most magical.
It is crazy to think I’ve been a Mouseketeer since birth. Literally, my parents took me to Walt Disney World when I was 11 days old and since then, the pixie dust has never faded. I was hooked, and today, we remain family passholders. You would also imagine that after going that long you would know, well, everything. But even decades later, there are things I haven’t tried, seen, or heard of, and every trip we get to experience something new.
DISNEY SECRETS, FUN FACTS, THINGS TO DISCOVER
I thought it would be fun to share a few not-so-common “secrets” and fun facts with you about Disney for your next visit.
Whether you’ve been to Disney thousands of times like our family or it is your first time, hopefully, you’ll discover something new for the whole family. (Personal disclosure: decide for yourself whether all or some of these are true.) Like for example, did you know on Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel, there is only one horse that has a gold ribbon on its tail? This horse is rumored to be Cinderella’s horse, next time look for it. True or not, you know your girl had to ride it.
- If you’ve been to Magic Kingdom, you’ve probably stopped by The Chapeau on Main Street, U.S.A. where you can buy any hat or Minnie ears and even personalize them. However, did you also know it is home to an old-fashioned, hand-cranked telephone? But this isn’t just any old prop. What many don’t realize is that if you pick up the phone, you will listen in on a secret conversation! Try it next time!
- Speaking of Main Street, U.S.A., next time you’re strolling into the park, look up. The shop windows on the second floor (not really shops), bare names that are a nod to Disney Imagineers.
- Make a pit stop by City Hall before leaving the park, there are a few free souvenirs you can ask for: (1) A recipe of your favorite dish served at any Disney Park so you can take some Magic home to your kitchen. (2) You can pick up a souvenir button like “My First Visit or “I’m celebrating …” (3) A fun activity to do with kids, ask for a list of the names of carousel horses at Cinderella’s castle (then try to find and name them).
- During one of my productions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I learned that it is actually the “most” humid park of them all due to all of the lush plants and vegetation. So if you’re planning to go in the warmer months, make sure to dress in light clothes. (Make sure to cool off on one of the water rides.)
- Tell me your age without telling me your age, do you remember the Mr. Toad attraction at Magic Kingdom? Okay, that used to be one of my all-time favorites. Now it’s known as The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (opened 1999). There are some hidden nods to our beloved Mr. Toad on the ride. One of my faves is a painting inside of Toad symbolically handing over the deed to Owl. See if you can spot it.
- I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked by Cinderella Fountain and never knew this! It is designed to look different from a child’s versus an adult’s perspective. If you bend down, to a child’s point of view, the mosaic behind Cinderella makes it look like she is wearing a crown.
(spotted any so far that you didn’t know of?)
7. Every day at 3 PM at the town square at Magic Kingdom, there is a flag ceremony. For this daily tradition, you will hear the pledge of allegiance and the beautiful trumpets, as the American flag is lowered and the philharmonic plays Star-Spangled Banner. It is truly moving as the Color Guard removes the flag from the staff and folds it while guests are encouraged to sing along to God Bless America. Every day, a special guest veteran is honored and handed the flag. The ceremony is a tribute of thanks to veterans for their service, sacrifice, and dedication to protecting our country. My husband is a former U.S. Marine, and I had to ask how the veterans are chosen. They are hand-picked upon the opening of the park.
8. I read this in one of my all-time favorite books, The Disney Way. As the story goes, cast members handed out free candy at the entrance and there were studies done on how long a guest would hold onto a piece of trash before dropping it on the ground. The average count was 30 steps, so for this reason, that’s exactly how far apart the trash cans are placed inside the Disney parks.
9. Sanaa is a quick-service restaurant inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village. I’m not going to tease you with how good their french toast with homemade whip cream is. But what is most awesome about this place, is that you can watch gazelles, zebras, giraffes, ostriches, and more as you dine right from your table. So even if you’re not staying at the amazing resort, you can still get a piece of the magic. Afterward, take a walk right into the Savanna. Okay not literally, but they have a super cool deck where you can get spectacular views of the animals.
10. Why send your in-laws a postcard, when you can send them an originally painted coconut from Walt Disney World? You can purchase a painted coconut, postage included from Plaza del Sol Caribe Bazaar by the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction inside Magic Kingdom, BouTiki at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, or Calypso Trading Post at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. They will handle the shipping to anywhere in the U.S.
11. Size matters. Disney uses forced perspective at all of its theme parks. It creates an optical illusion that makes an object appear farther away, closer, larger, or smaller than reality. One of the most notable examples of this is Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom. Disney used smaller bricks and windows that smaller toward the top of the castle to make it look farther away and taller than it really is. Still, she feels so majestic in all her beauty.
*Bonus FACT: Cinderella Castle is 189 ft tall when measured starting at water level. Florida requires that all buildings over 200 feet tall must be equipped with red lights to warn planes. Walt Disney believed that this would take away from the magic so Imagineers used forced perspective to make the castle appear far taller and more majestic than its actual 189 feet.
12. At Magic Kingdom, you’ll never see a Pirate in Tomorrowland, well not a Disney cast member at least. Cast members use an underground tunnel system to move around. Walt wanted it this way to not compromise the guest experience.
13. If you have to use the restroom, better go before you get to Liberty Square. In true form, Walt wanted to keep everything authentic, so when designing this area of Magic Kingdom, they took into account that Colonial America had no plumbing. The only place you’ll find bathrooms here is inside one of two restaurants (required by law).
Did you know EPCOT actually stands for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow?
14. EPCOT is my mom’s favorite park, ours too. Before Walt Disney passed away in 1966, his original plan for the East Coast expansion, called The Florida Project was to create a utopian city for about 20,000 residents. However, without Walt’s guidance, the Future World and the World Showcase were born. If you want to get a glimpse of his plans for his community of tomorrow, take a ride on Magic Kingdom’s PeopleMover, where the original model is on display.
15. Speaking of EPCOT, our Marcelo loves watching their attraction Soarin’ on YouTube, he is not yet the 40″ required height to ride. Something neat about Flight 5505 that you take on Soarin’, it’s actually a reference to the ride’s opening date, May 5th, 2005. (There are so many thought-out nods to key dates, cast members and more–that may require its own post.)
16. While it is my wish to one day spend the night at Cinderella Castle, it’s just not possible (for now, wink wink). You can, however, say your vows in front of the beautiful castle, and prize winners may even get to tour the suite, but no amount of money will buy an evening to sleep over. Even celebrities have tried and been denied. Maybe I can talk some Disney friends into giving Miami Mom Collective an inside look.
17. Ever notice how there isn’t a lot of gum stuck on rides, trees, etc.? That’s because they don’t sell it on the property, for this very reason.
18. Disney needed an Act of Congress. When Walt wanted to install the Seal of the United States in the Hall of Presidents, it actually took an act of Congress to approve it. The only three seals are in the Oval Office itself, in the hall the Liberty Bell is held, and in, you guessed it, Walt Disney World’s Hall of Presidents. (Kinda cool!)
19. The Haunted Mansion has a lot of “secrets” within itself. One that I never personally realized myself is that you “die” during the ride. At one point during the ride, your doom buggy turns backward and leans back while it descends a few feet. Supposedly, the ghosts have not acknowledged you being there before that point, but after you “die” you enter the party scene of ghosts and that’s when they greet and acknowledge you for the first time.
20. In Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square, there are 13 lanterns hanging in the 100+ year-old Liberty Tree. They represent the 13 original colonies.
COUNTING DOWN FOR DISNEY’S 50TH
There are so many more fun facts and “secrets,” it calls for our very own Miami Mom Collective Scavenger Hunt! Get ready for it, coming soon! Here is the last fun fact: the fire station on Main Street U.S.A. is aptly named: Station No. 71. A nod to the park opening in 1971. And with that, I’ll note that the 50th Anniversary is coming October 1st and WE WILL BE THERE! Our family has been registered since January of this year to be there on the day Disney officially celebrates 50 years. Oh, the fun it will be, I can’t wait to come back with all of our feedback for those of you planning to go. Until then, Have a Magical Day!