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10 Unexpected (but Really Great) Things at Disney World

The World Showcase Lagoon during IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.

Disney World near Orlando, Florida, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state and in the entire United States. A place as large and old as Disney World has many secrets that have developed over the years. Read on to find out more.

1. Disney World is a self-governing city

When Walt Disney was building the Disney World Resort, Orlando and Osceola Counties were unable to afford it, so Disney World ended up becoming its own autonomous tax district. Disney World could theoretically even secede from the United States and become an independent city-state. This, of course, is unlikely to happen, but it would give a whole new meaning to the term “Magic Kingdom”.

Crowds rush through the castle on Disneyland’s opening day in 1955.

2. Secret to not waiting in line for your next ride

If you find a paintbrush in Tom Sawyer’s Island, turn it into a park employee. The paintbrush allows you to receive a free fast pass for one ride so you can skip the queue.

3. Riverboats and Lakes

Disney has some surprising things that the park doesn’t actively advertise that helps keep an air of discovery and delight among the park’s visitors. There are also some trompe l’oeil illusions that most guests don’t notice.

The popular Mark Twain River Boat ride allows guests to enter the pilot’s cabin where the ship’s captain pilots the boat. There is a secret code the boat employees will give you that lets you gain access to the cabin.

That lake by the Fantasmic attraction looks deep, right? Not really. The Disney architect wizards have carefully crafted the lake’s appearance so that you think so. In actuality, the lake is only two feet deep.

Mark Twain Riverboat at Disneyland.

4. Disney World is actually on the second floor

Visitors to Disney World should be aware that beneath the glittering resort with its parks, hotels, restaurants, car centers and theme park rides is a vast under city of tunnels, which connect all parts of Disney World together. In these tunnels lurk dark creatures, trolls, goblins and nameless things which are so old they have long since been forgotten. Okay not actually, but it is true there is a vast labyrinth of tunnels beneath Disney World.

These tunnels are used for garbage disposal, deliveries and for the movement of cast members and employees. These tunnels, called utilidors, are used so the illusion of the Magic Kingdom is not broken.

If, for example, one of the Disney Princesses accidentally found herself in Tomorrowland or a robot from Tomorrowland was spotted in Adventureland, that would disrupt the atmosphere. It would also disrupt the mood if there were garbage trucks and delivery trucks making their way through the parks. These tunnels essentially allow someone to more easily enter the fantasy world that is Disney without interruptions.

5. Forced perspective is used to make the Cinderella Castle at Disney World appear taller

Cinderella’s Castle is not actually as tall as it looks. It was deliberately built in a way that deceives the eye into thinking it is more enormous than its actual size. Forced perspective is where the scale of a structure changes with distance from the viewer to give an illusion of greater size.

In the case of Cinderella’s Castle, the bricks, windows and other architectural elements appear to be life size close to the ground, but as the height of the building increases, the scale decreases. At the top of the castle, the scale is about half-life size.

Cinderella Castle, the icon of Magic Kingdom

6. The apartments and offices on Main Street are not real rooms

In a case similar to Cinderella’s Castle, the apartments and offices on Main Street are also an illusion. The rooms are, in fact, only two to four feet deep. It is all to give the appearance that one is in a large city, while saving the costs of building an actual city.

Disney fans should be glad that Disney World is trying to cut costs with illusions. It makes tickets less expensive.

7. The names on the gravestones at the Haunted Mansion are of real people who work or have worked for Disney

This may sound creepy, but the tombstones at the Haunted Mansion are engraved with the names of real employees of Disney World. These people were mostly art directors, imagineers and other creative personnel tasked with designing the original mansion. Their legacies are now forever engraved on these tombstones. Disney World can be commended for wanting to honor its contributors, though engraving their names on tombstones near a haunted house is kind of creepy, especially if they were still alive at the time.

The World Showcase Lagoon during IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.

8. Disney World has one of the only three large presidential seals in the United States

In the Hall of Presidents, there is a carpet with the presidential seal of the United States woven into it. The presidential seal is not an easy seal to get permission to use. There are only two other places where the presidential seal is used as a floor decoration. One of those places is where the Liberty Bell is located in Philadelphia, and the other is the Oval Office at the White House. Walt Disney actually had to go to Congress to get permission to use the presidential seal.

9. Chemicals are pumped into the air at Disney World to make the park smell like vanilla

Disney wants to make sure that its visitors thoroughly enjoy their experience. They want to ensure the Disney realm is pleasing to the eyes, the ears, the touch of the skin and yes, to the nose. Disney World actually pumps chemicals into the air across Disney World to give it a vanilla smell. In addition to revealing that in some dystopian future Disney World could be used to gas out political enemies of the state, it ensures the park is sweet smelling.

Disneyland Railroad Engine 2.

10. Cinderella’s Castle is designed to withstand a hurricane

Disney World, being in Florida, is in hurricane country. Thus, some of its larger buildings were built with hurricanes in mind. One of these buildings is Cinderella’s Castle which was designed to withstand the winds that would be prevalent during a hurricane. If a hurricane is ever headed directly for Disney World, guests will know the perfect building in which to take shelter.

Have you noticed any of these surprises during your Disney vacation? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and check out Awesome Facts About Australia.

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