The Magic Kingdom was Walt Disney World® Resort’s first park, opening in 1971. In every Disney park, the Disney Imagineers go to great lengths to transport the guest into the magic, but unfortunately many guests miss the details in their hurry to experience the attractions. Next time you’re in the Magic Kingdom, look around at the details. Here are some secrets about the Magic Kingdom for you to enjoy. Do you know any more?
An adult admission ticket to the Magic Kingdom when it opened was $3.50 and parking cost 50 cents. Back in the early days, you also had to buy tickets to ride the attractions. The tickets were called A tickets, B tickets, C tickets, D tickets, and E tickets. The E ticket was reserved for the most thrilling, popular or interesting rides (It’s a Small World and The Haunted Mansion). All-inclusive park tickets were first introduced in June of 1981. The coupon system was phased out during the summer of 1982.
When you enter the Magic Kingdom, you’re in Town Square. In the left corner is the fire station. Fire Station 71 is a nod to the park’s opening in 1971.
Be sure to look at the pavement outside Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. You will see the paw prints of both Lady and the Tramp – a special homage to the dogs in the classic Disney animated movie and the inspiration for the restaurant.
When walking along Main Street, USA, take a look at the names painted on the windows of the upper floor. Walt Disney’s window sits above the ice cream parlor, while his brother Roy’s is above the Main Street Confectionery.
As you climb the stairs to the Main Street Railroad Station, be sure to listen for an old-fashioned telegraph sending out a message. It’s a morse code version of Walt Disney’s opening day speech at Disneyland on July 17, 1955.
Take a close look at the Partners statue in front of Cinderella Castle. Walt Disney is wearing an Irish Claddagh ring on his right finger. His wife Lillian bought this for him on a trip to Ireland (Walt bought Lillian one, too).
The bricks on Cinderella Castle get smaller the higher up they go. This technique of “forced perspective” makes the castle appear larger, and has the added benefit of making fireworks that explode behind the castle look larger and more impressive, too. This technique is used through all the parks.
Tinker Bell flying over the Magic Kingdom is one of the most iconic parts of the firework shows each night, but it doesn’t happen with magic alone. Tink is given a hefty push from the window of Cinderella Castle, but if she’s not shoved hard enough, she won’t have enough momentum and will need to hand-over-hand her way towards the end. Cast members who audition for this part are said to need major upper body strength—turns out, they really do have to fly!
The park is designed so when you pass from land to land, you don’t see the other lands. If you are in Liberty Square, you can’t see Fantasyland because of trees, buildings, and other distractions. The noise keeps you from looking to your left and seeing the other lands. Even the pavement changes to match the new land.
Small pipes shoot the trash through the utilidors under the Magic Kingdom at 60 miles per hour.
If there are 2 lines and you can’t see the loading area from where you are, take the line to the left for a shorter wait.
You will rarely, if ever, see a Frontierland Cast Member walking around in Tomorrowland. Most Cast members arrive to work in their own clothes and then check in at costuming to pick up their costume. When going on breaks etc., they use the tunnel system under the Magic Kingdom (ground level, as most of you know) to travel between lands, as not to ruin the effect of each land.
The walkway in the Magic Kingdom is red because Walt wanted to lay out the “red carpet” for all his guests. This also helps the characters. They watch the color of the cement behind the scenes. When it changes color, they know that they have to be in character before they enter the onstage area. The same goes with leaving. As long as they are on that color, they must be in character even if it is behind the gates, just in case the gates are not closed and a child or anyone can look and see them. They are not allowed to take the costume off or be out of character. They don’t want anyone to see Mickey without his head.
The intricate and detailed 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.
On Prince Charming Regal Carousel, look for a horse that has a gold ribbon on its tail. This is Cinderella’s own royal stallion! The carousel used to be in Olympic Park in New Jersey until purchased by the Walt Disney Company in 1967.
The enormous Liberty Tree is a live oak tree, and commemorates the meeting place of the Sons of Liberty. It was transplanted from elsewhere on Walt Disney World property, is more than 135 years old and weighed around 35 tons when it was moved. 13 lanterns hang from it, representing the 13 original colonies.
Disney horticulturalists have grown over 500 oak trees from acorns of the Liberty Oak found in Liberty Square.
Liberty Square is faithful to its historical details. Look out for the brown “stream” flowing down the middle of the streets – in frontier times, this acted as a urine trough to catch waste from horses. There are no bathrooms located in the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square, in keeping with the time period of that area. Bathrooms were not used yet during the time period.
The shutters in Liberty Square sag. At the time of the Revolutionary War, colonists melted down hinges sold to them by the British to make shot for their weapons. Leather hinges were used in their place, resulting in sagging shutters. Disney’s “leather” hinges, ironically, are made of metal.
The murky color of the water in the Jungle Cruise and the Rivers of America is artificial. A biodegradable dye is used to create a natural look.
The Jungle Cruise is one of WDW’s most loved rides. Inside you can find different props that have been recycled from across the property. The spiders inside the temple are leftovers from Haunted Mansion and the monkeys foraging for gold were actually originally in Living With The Land at EPCOT. Trader Sam sports a bit of Disneyana as well, as his striped loincloth is pays homage to the original fabric lining the top of Jungle Cruise boats. The most surprising duplication, though, is the face of the explorer on the bottom of the totem pole. He’s being poked in the rear by a rhino horn, but the same character can be seen in The Haunted Mansion’s graveyard scene, complete with shaking knees and a pouty old pup nearby.
An imagineer named George was killed during the building of Pirates of the Caribbean. Cast members say his ghost still haunts the ride today. They make sure they say “goodnight George” before they shut down the ride each night as a superstition to prevent attraction break downs the next day.
When exiting the Pirates of the Caribbean, take a look at the “footprints” on the moving walkway. You’ll see single boot prints followed by a small circle – these belong to a peg-legged pirate.
If the wait for the Haunted Mansion is 13 minutes – there is no wait.
Technology used to make ghosts dance in the Haunted Mansion was also used to make “Finding Nemo” characters swim under water with the real fish found at Epcot’s The Seas.
At night, take a look at the upper-floor windows of the Haunted Mansion…you may just see a few playful spooks.
Take a look at the spires on the Haunted Mansion – each one is shaped like a chess piece.
In the ballroom scene of the Haunted Mansion, an old lady sits in a rocking chair. Doesn’t she look familiar? Of course she does – she’s the grandmother from the Carousel of Progress!
The metal palm trees close to Space Mountain in Tomorrowland fold up at night and open during the day and they collect solar energy.
As you enter Owl’s house on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, look out for a framed picture of Mr. Toad handing a deed to Owl. Controversially, the Winnie the Pooh ride replaced Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Take careful notice of the artwork throughout the ballroom at Be Our Guest restaurant. The snow outside the ornate windows was created from original movie animation cells, and the lifelike cherubs lining the ceiling mural have the faces of children of the Imagineers working on the project—as well as the Imagineers’ baby faces too!
Did you know when you are in the Magic Kingdom, you are really standing on the second or third floor of a massive utility structure? When designing the Magic Kingdom, 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, but the entrance is on the second.
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 up. 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.
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. Tom Sawyer Island is home to Fort Langhorn. The fort is named after Mark Twain whose real name was Samuel Langhorn Clemens.
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.
Do you know any Magic Kingdom secrets?
Don’t forget about these secrets at some of the other parks: