Disney World has been making the world a little more magical for over 45 years. No matter how old you are, it’s one of the most exciting places you'll be able to visit. Guests have been vacationing here since 1971. That’s a long time, right?
With theme parks, resorts, restaurants, and rides, there’s plenty to do. And yes, you’re going to want to do it all.
Because it’s so massive, some of the smaller details are easy to overlook. But boy, are they worth finding. Did you know that there’s a secret tunnel system that runs under the Magic Kingdom? Have you tasted one of Disney’s most delectable secret desserts? Have you seen the alternate mini show that plays when Hollywood Studio’s firework show gets rained out?
Whether you’re a Disney guru or a first-time visitor, you’re going to want to read on. Disney World has a lot to offer and knowing its inside secrets will make your next visit ten times as fun.
Disney’s creators have always paid attention to detail. When Disney adds a few fine touches to their greatest attractions, your experience is made even better. Disney employees are always going above and beyond to make your visit a memorable one, and having a few secrets always helps.
Get ready to buckle up and scream like you’re on Space Mountain. This is one ride you won’t want to forget.
Here are 30 things Mickey and the gang have been hiding in Disney World:
Did you know there’s a gorgeous suite hidden away in Cinderella’s castle? Although guests aren’t allowed to book the room, it has become an incredibly popular talking point among them. Inspired by 17th-century French chateaus, the suite looks as if it could have come right out of a fairytale. With dark furnishings, warm titles, and stained glass, it is truly a sight to behold. Unfortunately, the only way you’ll ever get to stay in this beauty is by invitation or through winning a contest.
Disney has built a utilidor system under its theme parks, which is a fancy way of referring to its underground tunnels. It allows Disney cast members (its employees) to walk between different sections in the park quickly and easily without being seen. This is especially helpful for costumed characters. After all, it wouldn’t make sense for Mr. Incredible to walk between Tomorrowland and Frontierland, now, would it?
Furthermore, the tunnel system helps cast members with waste removal, deliveries, and food service. It keeps the behind-the-scenes stuff where guests won’t be bothered by it.
Disney World is notorious for hiding representations of Mickey Mouse throughout its theme parks. When something, such as three plates are perfectly lined up to look like a Mickey head, it's considered a Hidden Mickey. There have been over 1,000 recorded Hidden Mickeys throughout the Disney parks and resorts, but Disney World has never come out with an official list. That being said, many have tried to find them all, and guests can buy Hidden Mickey guides in the parks.
Some of the most delicious things hidden at Disney World are its secret menu items. Although they change frequently, and you’ll have to do some research to find out where you can currently get something special, Disney has had a long list of secret foods in the past. At Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café, for example, you could get a whopping $90 pile of nachos that could easily serve six to eight people. At the All-Star Movies Resort World Premiere food court, you can get a candied bacon cheeseburger with cinnamon buns in place of a hamburger bun.
One wildly popular ride in the Magic Kingdom is Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Guests sit on a ride vehicle with laser guns in front of them and try to shoot as many targets as possible. The goal is to get the highest score and of course, beat the person sitting next to you.
While you can max out at 999,999 points and be awarded a “Galactic Hero” sticker, many people don’t make it past 100,000. The trick is to aim for the secret targets. People across the internet have located them and are now sharing their strategies, so do a quick search and find out how you can win.
If you ever see a 13-minute wait outside of The Haunted Mansion or The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, you’ll be happy to know that there’s actually no line. You’ll be able to walk right on to whatever terrifying adventure awaits you.
The whole 13-minute thing is Disney’s fun way of keeping to the creepy theme of these rides.
While 13 is supposed to be an unlucky number, we think getting right onto our favorite rides is actually quite the opposite.
If you’ve ever wanted to try Coke products from around the world, now’s your chance.
Disney has a soda oasis tucked away in Future World at Epcot. It’s called Club Cool, and it’s the only place in Disney you’ll be able to sample soft drinks from Peru to Japan for free. While it has gained popularity in the last several years, all of this carbonated fun used to not even appear on the map.
It’s the perfect place to cool down after walking under the Florida sun for a little too long.
Who would have thought you could learn to surf at Disney World? As it turns out, you can.
With North America’s largest outdoor wave pool located in Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, catching some waves is certainly an option.
While you’ll have to make reservations in advance, Disney offers surf lessons for beginner and intermediate riders.
Experienced surfers can actually book surf sessions and get the wave pool to themselves and some friends before and after the park closes. Sounds like fun, right?
About 30 minutes after Magic Kingdom closes, while guests are still walking through shops and funneling out, a magical closing announcement plays through the park. It’s known as The Kiss Goodnight.
This around 2-minute-long goodbye to guests features a twinkling light display on the castle, a dreamy audio track, and some narration. It’s a way to wish guests a good evening while also tactfully reminding them that the park is closed and its employees are probably tired. Stay a little late to see it.
Located in Animal Kingdom usually between Africa and Asia, DiVine is a gorgeous vine-like woman who walks around and takes photos with guests. Her performances are about 20-minutes long, and they’re sure a sight to behold.
DiVine’s costume makes her look somewhat like a living tree, tall and elegant as she moves through the park. She’s so vine-like, she actually blends in with the foliage, and if you don’t stop, you might miss her. Keep an eye out. She’s fun to find.
Before The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh got placed in The Magic Kingdom, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride occupied that same spot. The original ride was based on Disney’s movie The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. While it may be gone now, there are tributes to it hidden in the park. Guests can spot a picture of Owl and Mr. Toad as well as one of Pooh and Moley, who is Mr. Toad’s sidekick in the ride. Mr. Toad’s statue can also be found in the Pet Cemetery outside the Haunted Mansion.
Epcot’s World Showcase currently houses eleven different countries around a giant lagoon starting with Mexico and ending with Canada. While it seems pretty jam-packed as it is, there’s actually space for eight more countries. How cool is that?
While it doesn’t seem Disney has any future plans to add more countries, it’s neat to know that this park has the ability to expand. Although the rumors of Spain and Brazil being added have been put on hold, we’re hopeful that several years down the road things might change.
If you’re too busy hopping around rides, it’s easy to miss.
Disney’s Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is an interactive game that guests can play throughout the park.
The game starts at the firehouse located in the front of the park and can take you anywhere within it. Guests are given trading cards and are sent to unlock Magic Portals with them. It’s a lot of fun, and the game can continue with each of your visits to the park.
Do you like Queen? Led Zeppelin? The Rolling Stones? Then you won’t want to miss British Revolution. This cover band plays 30-minute shows throughout the day in Epcot. If you walk a little deeper into the UK Pavilion, you might find them.
If you’d rather be laughing, check out Sergio’s show in Italy. This mime and juggler wows audiences with his talent and tricks.
Epcot has a lot of entertainment around the World Showcase. While none of it is highly advertised, it’s worth checking out to get a deeper look into other cultures.
If you check out Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café for lunch, you might be surprised to find a giant singing alien inside. This animatronic plays through a set of his original songs for guests who dine here. You can even get a sticker with his name, Sonny Eclipse, on it if you ask a cast member.
While the music gets repetitive if you’re left dining longer than his 27-minute show, it’s a cool think to check out if you haven’t before.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is terrifying, yes. After all, who wouldn’t be scared of plummeting down a 13-story elevator faster than freefall? That being said, Disney wants us to believe its scarier than it is. When you’re waiting in line or walking by, you can hear some loud screaming coming from the ride. As it turns out, these screams are actually fake. Some speakers have been strategically placed to make the ride look like its scaring guests far more than it actually is.
One of the more unique resorts at Disney World is Fort Wilderness. Although you could opt for a cabin, you can also pitch a tent and set up camp.
If you ever wanted to go camping at Disney World, now’s your chance.
In addition to the pools and campfires, you’ll also have the opportunity to go horseback riding and learn archery. It’s a totally different Disney experience when you’re out in the wild, so it’s worth a try. Plus there’s a boat that’ll take you right to the Magic Kingdom.
Fantasmic! is one of Disney’s best firework nighttime spectaculars. Located in Hollywood Studios, this show features fireworks, lights, water projections, and a full cast of characters. When bad weather prevents the show from going on though, Disney gives guests a unique experience. The alternate Taste of Fantasmic! show plays, which is a four-minute sample of the show backed by a different track. After waiting sometimes an hour only to have the full show rained out, it’s nice that Disney offers something small and special in its place.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios features a replica of the Chinese Theatre that actually exists in Los Angeles, California. If you get up close, you’ll find handprints in the cement outside of it from fictional characters and actual celebrities. Figures such as Robin Williams, Dick van Dyke, Kermit the Frog, Audrey Hepburn, and Carol Burnett have left their mark outside. While some celebrities made prints that never quite made it to this location, we’re sure glad there’s still a small bit of movie history immortalized at Disney.
Ever wondered why there’s a dragon hidden on the Animal Kingdom sign when outside of the Avatar-themed land and yeti on Expedition Everest, there isn’t anything mythical in the park? That’s because long ago, Disney had plans to add a land to the Animal Kingdom known as the Beastly Kingdom. If unicorns, sea monsters, and dragons are your thing, you would have loved this land that never actually got made.
Also referencing this scrapped idea is the unicorn parking lot.
Disney’s Pandora now occupies the original spot it was supposed to be built at.
Disney uses devices called Air Smellitizers all across its parks to make certain areas smell like certain things. Have you ever walked down Main Street, U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom and smelled cookies? That’s because Disney pumped a cookie scent onto the street.
The reason you smell honey on the Winnie the Pooh ride, grass on Soarin’, and sea air on Pirates of the Caribbean are all the same.
It’s a nice way to make your visit more immersive, huh?
When guests enter the Animal Kingdom, they are quickly greeted by the sight of a giant tree near the front of the park. This tree, known as the Tree of Life, is a 145-foot sculpture of a baobab tree with over 300 carvings of animals on it. While many know it took a lot of work to make, many don’t know it was actually made out of a refitted offshore drilling rig.
The inside of the tree houses a 3-D movie based on the Pixar film A Bug’s Life, so clearly the insides of oil-drilling platforms are pretty big.
Dinoland U.S.A. is Animal Kingdom’s fun, carnival-themed dinosaur world hidden away in the park. Winding through the park is an asphalt highway that circles through the attractions. The sign by the highway states that it is Diggs County US 498, which is actually a reference to Animal Kingdom’s opening.
The Animal Kingdom became a theme park 20 years ago, in April of 1998.
A similar reference can be found in the Dinosaur ride. A spray-painted, “SECTOR CTX-WDI-AK98” can be found on the wall. The numbers and letters after the last dash once again nod to Animal Kingdom’s opening.
While this experience has been discontinued for some time, Disney used to give guests an extra opportunity to score Fastpasses. While the system has gone through some changes, Fastpasses used to be paper tickets guests could use to skip the line on select rides.
Cast members used to hide paint brushes on Tom Sawyer Island at the Magic Kingdom at the start of the day.
Guests who turned in these paint brushes would be given a Fastpass. While Disney never gave a reason for discontinuing this tradition, we’re sure it was exciting while it lasted.
Also discontinued from Disney World is Push the Talking Trash Can. He was a robot trash can who entertained guests and had a whole bunch to say. While he might be gone, a talking trash can still exist at the Electric Umbrella restaurant in Epcot. This trash can doesn’t have a name, and he isn’t as interactive as Push was, but he’ll still say a few words when you dump your food inside of him.
While it’ll take some work, you can actually collect several transportation trading cards in Disney World. Disney cast members who work in transportation will sometimes have these cards on them, so you should go ahead and ask. While the looks of the cards have differed with each series, they usually feature a picture of some form of transportation (such as monorail or ferryboat) and a Disney character.
Between these and the Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom cards, you’ll have a lot of paper to trade!
Believe it or not, you can actually get a haircut in the Magic Kingdom. This is made possible at Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street U.S.A. If you don’t want to spend the $19, you can ask to get pixie dust in your hair. This is basically just a bunch of confetti. Who wouldn’t want to be decked out in sparkles?
Word has it that kids can also sometimes get pixie dust in their hair at select gift shops. Ask around, and maybe you’ll discover that it's a possibility!
Why send home a traditional postcard when you can mail a coconut to your best pals? Disney usually sells these shippable coconuts at the Caribbean Beach Resort, the Polynesian Resort, and near the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The price for one of these coconuts including priority shipping is around $20.
If you’ve ever wanted to surprise someone with the most tropical postcard they’ve ever received, now’s your chance.
It’s their problem to figure out what to do with it.
While it’s no secret that Disney offers some awesome miniature golf courses to its guests, many don’t know that one of Disney’s courses has set some records. At one time Golf Digest voted Disney’s Fantasia Fairways course to be the longest and most challenging mini golf course in the world. With lots of real golf course hazards like those ever-classic sand traps, it isn’t easy. That being said, it’s very fun. The whimsical Disney music that plays in the background makes it even better.
To close out the list, we’re taking you to one of our favorite overlooked spots in Disney World: Cinderella’s Wishing Well. Positioned somewhere between the castle and Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom, this little location is many times missed. With Cinderella’s mice and bird friends beautifully carved into it and lush foliage around it, this location is the perfect escape from the businesses of the rest of the theme park. It’s also the perfect spot for proposals, so keep your eye out!