The Imagineers have put a lot of effort into making Disney World a magical place to explore. Here are some of the well thought out details, hidden magic and little known secrets of the Magic Kingdom.
Cinderella and Her Castle
Behind the castle sits a fountain with a statue of Cinderella. When a guest bows down to take a drink from the water fountain facing the statue they will see a crown from the backdrop sitting perfectly on Cinderella’s head.
Guests that stick around Magic Kingdom past closing time will be treated to the touching Kiss Goodnight Show on Cinderella Castle. This unadvertised, little-known show takes place roughly 30 minutes after the rides close. It features the original dedication speech given by Roy Disney at the grand opening of Magic Kingdom.
Within Cinderella Castle is a lavish royal suite, built in the space originally intended for Walt and his family. It can’t be booked or even toured. It is currently only available for VIPs, special guests and occasional contest winners.
Cinderella Castle stands at 189ft. One more foot and Disney would be required to place a blinking red light atop the castle due to aviation regulations.
The intricate mosaic inside Cinderella Castle is made up of over 300,000 pieces of glass. The wicked step sisters have tiles for their eyes that are ‘green’ with envy and ‘red’ with anger.
Real gold was used on the castle’s spires and on part of the mural inside.
The Sword in the Stone
Behind Cinderella Castle, just in front of the Golden Carousel, sits the Sword in the Stone. Most guests walk right by it.
But a few do notice and stop to give it a pull. Many fail and walk away. But every now and then one of the least likely among us becomes… King of England.
Main Street Flags
Main Street USA is a little slice of Americana. Above this idyllic small town setting you’ll find about a dozen American flags. One thing though, none of them have 50 stars!
Is this Disney just trying to be historically accurate? Nope. The real reason is that flags with less then 50 stars don’t count as real flags. Thus, they do not have to be taken down in poor weather or illuminated at night. A sharp eye will find these type of flags throughout WDW.
If fake flags offends your patriotic senses, take comfort in knowing a large flag, full of 50 stars waves over Town Square, right in the front of the park.
Each day at 5:00 pm a Flag Retreat ceremony takes place, including a live marching band, the Dapper Dans and an honorary veteran of the day. The veteran is included in the ceremony, presented the flag and given an official certificate and pin.
The honarary veteran used to be selected first come first serve but is now selected randomly.
Some hints: The selection usually takes place at opening near the park entrance. If the cast member making the selection doesn’t know you’re a veteran, they can’t pick you. And finally, it never hurts to ask, especially on behalf of an especially deserving veteran.
The windows above Main Street display names of men and women important to the development of Walt Disney World and the Disney family. For example one window lists “Elias Disney, Contractor” a reference to Walt’s dad, who built houses.
Off the first side street, listen closely under the windows advertising music lessons.
Main Street has a real working barber shop – great spot for baby’s first haircut.
If you see an old-timely, decorative phone on the wall in a store, it never hurts to pick it up and listen.
The water on the Jungle Cruise is dyed in order to make it appear much deeper than it actually is.
If the wait for Haunted mansion is 13 minutes – there is no wait.
The different music heard throughout the ride is actually the same song, “Grim Grinning Ghosts”, set to different tempos, instruments, vocals, etc.
The Stretching Room is the first thing guests see as they enter. There are actually two of these rooms. One fills while the other entertains and vice versa, in order to keep guests consistently flowing to the Doom Buggies.
The ‘stretching’ effect is created by raising the ceiling – at least in Disney World. In Disneyland the floor is lowered in order to get guests past the railroad that runs next door.
In the attic scene, there are 5 wedding portraits with the same bride but different grooms. She is wearing an additional string of pearls in each successive portrait, marking the order in which she’s
murdered married them.
Once you’ve seen all 5 of the dispatched husbands, the demonic bride turns to you, revealing a hatchet. Suddenly you meet your end as your Doom Buggy falls into a graveyard. From that point on, human characters look at you with scared expressions, and “other” ghosts are now fully visible to you. You’ve joined the deceased.
Vacation Planning Tip
If you’re flying to Disney World, take a good look at renting a car. The bus system in Disney World gets the job done, but is often the source of a lot of complaints. Many children simply run out of patience when standing in line for a half an hour just to get on a bus.
Orlando is a competitive market, so it pays to comparison shop. You can see the range of prices companies charge for different models at this site, so you know you’re not overpaying.
Remember – if you are staying at a Disney resort, parking is free at the theme parks.
Tony’s – Town Square
Goofy is sitting on a bench in front of Tony’s. If you sit next to him, and listen closely, you might hear him talking to you.
There are paw prints outlined by a heart in the pavement outside Tony’s, based on the restaurant from Lady and the Tramp.
Once inside, you can ask for an ‘autograph’ from both Lady and the Tramp.
If you can get one, a table near a window or on the patio is a memorable way to watch the parade circle the Town Square in front of Tony’s.
More Random Magic
Part of the original model for EPCOT can be seen in one of the tunnels of the PeopleMover in Tomorrowland.
There is a picture of Walt Disney in the daughter’s room on the 40’s stop of the Carousel of Progress.
In Owl’s house on the Winnie the Pooh ride, there is a picture of Mr.Toad handing over a deed to Owl. The ride is on the site of the former and notorious, Mr.Toad’s Wild Ride.
As you approach the main drop on Splash Mountain, a gopher pops out and shouts “F S U”! It was placed there by an Imagineer that just happened to be a Florida State alumni.
A high score of 999,999 on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin earns you a free ‘galactic superhero’ button. Here’s a few tips to max your score.
There are 13 lanterns – one for each original colony – hanging from the Liberty Tree, the giant Southern Live Oak in Liberty Square. In the Disney movie Johnny Tremain, colonists hang lanterns from the Liberty Tree in celebration of the Boston Tea Party.
In one of the upper windows in Liberty Square you’ll find 2 lanterns, warning you that the British are coming – and by sea.
Also in the windows of Liberty Square, look for a Minute Man’s rifle as well as a doll – used by colonists to let firefighters know a child lived there.
The addresses on the doors of the buildings in Liberty Square mark the year that architecture was popular. A “24” on the door means you’d find that style being built in 1724.
Columbia Harbor restaurant has two entrances. From the one in Fantasyland, the decor is British. From the one in Liberty Square, the decor is early American. The restaurant symbolizes crossing the Atlantic from Europe to America, from a land of castles and fairy tales to new, thriving colonies.
There are hundreds of hidden mickeys throughout Magic Kingdom. Here are a few easy, well known ones.
And a couple harder ones…
Hidden Mickeys can be pretty hard to spot on your own. Before you go, snag the Hidden Mickeys Field Guide. Even with the guide, it can take some time to discover them. Many are really well hidden!
When designing Disney World, Walt wanted a way to hide off duty workers and necessities like trash collection from the guests. Tunnels were suggested, but the high water table made it impractical. The solution was a huge, 3-story concrete and steel structure. The first floor houses walkways, utilities, kitchens, break rooms, storage and trash collection.
Guests arriving outside the park walk up a slight incline that takes them to the second floor of the superstructure which extends over parts of Main Street, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. When you’re in front of Cinderella Castle, you’re actually on the 3rd floor of a gigantic building!
Ever notice that to board Small World, you have to walk down ramps to the water? The ride is on the first floor, while the entrance is on the second.
Don’t bother recycling. Trash is collected via a network of pneumatic tubes that sucks garbage out of trash cans from below and speeds it off through the Utilidors to a centralized location where recyclable materials are sorted out, magically taking away the guilt of throwing a plastic bottle into a regular trashcan.
Guests can tour the Utildors. They are part of Disney World’s “Backstage Magic Tour” and the “Keys to the Kingdom Tour”. No Children under 16 are allowed though, the site of a beloved cartoon character walking around with a human head may be too much for their fragile little minds.
PUSH: The Talking Trash Can
Currently discontinued! Tweet #savePUSH to show your support to bring this magic back!
Some magic just doesn’t last. The items below were once well loved Magic Kingdom secrets, but have since been retired. The legend lives on though, as many people still pass them on and seek them out.
Waking Tinker Bell
Once upon a time, Tinker Bell used to sleep in a small dresser within a store in Fantasyland. The first child of the day that tapped on the dresser would “wake” her. Small lights would flash and fly around the room and the child would be presented with an official certificate. Tinker Bell could be then summoned the rest of the day by pressing a button, bringing on a similar light display.
The store that housed Tink’s dresser was revamped a few years ago and is now Castle Couture. Tink had to find a new place to crash.
Paintbrushes on Tom Sawyer Island
Castmembers used to hide paintbrushes, the kind used for whitewashing a fence, in various places on Tom Sawyer Island. Upon returning it to the raft driver, the guest would get a free fastpass for one of the nearby mountains. They no longer do this, likely due to a few guests simply valuing the paintbrush more then a fastpass. Oh well.
Tom Sawyer Island is practically hidden magic itself, though. Exploring it yields caves, hidden playgrounds and real ‘working’ guns at Fort Langhorn. The fort is named after Mark Twain whose real name was Samuel Langhorn Clemens.
TIP: Near the playground is a picnic table, perhaps the only place in Magic Kingdom you can comfortably enjoy a lunch you’ve packed for the park.
Says Bert: I know a man with a wooden leg named Smith.
Replies Uncle Albert: What’s the name of his other leg?
– Marry Poppins
And from that the Imagineers made a wooden leg, with the name Smith scrawled across it, and placed it in the ‘lost and found’ section of the Frontierland Railroad Station. It hasn’t been there for years, but is still widely mentioned as hidden magic.
Magic Kingdom is the most visited and most loved of all the Disney World Parks. Its also full of the most detail and hidden magic. An incredible amount of creativity and thinking has gone into nearly every detail of the park, making an observant and watchful eye easily rewarded. This is by no means the complete list. Feel free to send us anything you’ve found on your own vacations.
Want More Info on Disney World?
This site is full of the fun secrets about Disney World. But anyone who has ever been to Disney knows there are a ton of practical things you need to know to get the most out of your vacation. The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is hands down the best source for this info. Its over 800 pages long! It was invaluable when we started planning our first trips. Hope you find it as useful as well.