50 Secrets Disney Park Employees Won't Tell You
Disney Parks are known as the happiest places on Earth, and to keep it that way, Disney will go to any lengths to make sure it always seems like nothing can go wrong at its parks. One of the biggest ways Disney accomplishes this is by hiding secrets from parkgoers.
However, as employees have come and gone from the parks, some of these secrets have been revealed. If you are interested in finding out some Disney Park secrets that employees won't tell you while at the park, read through this gallery and see if any of them surprise you.
A spot for dead relatives
While Disney theme parks don’t exactly come off as spots for dead relatives, you’d be surprised to learn that several guests have been caught discarding the ashes of relatives on park property, and apparently, The Haunted Mansion is their favorite spot for such macabre acts.
This is all shades of wrong as Disney certainly isn’t a burial spot, and cremated loved ones shouldn’t be discarded there regardless of whatever their dying wishes were. At the end of the day, these discarded remains typically get vacuumed up and disposed of by park employees.
Everywhere is secure
Apparently, keeping the magic alive and true for everyone on the premises is a big goal for Disney, so there are undercover officers everywhere you look even if you don’t know it.
Typically, only those that are aware of the occupation of these individuals can recognize them for being the undercover officers they are because they turn up dressed in regular tourist wear, looking very much like other regular park visitors with weird boots and shorts. They tend to blend in perfectly, and there’s enough of them to keep everything secure.
The victims of attacks
Scuffles actually break out more frequently than a lot of people realize, despite the best efforts of the staff and other onlookers. Unfortunately, it tends to be the costumed cast members that suffer the most beatdowns and attacks because for whatever reason, people direct their anger at them.
One character called Pluto was even attacked by an entire family that pushed him into a fountain, and the aftermath of the event was apparent backstage. Apparently, the reason Pluto suffered the attack is the family wanted a picture when it was time for his break.
Staff get fired for many reasons
Apparently, working at Disney comes with a lot of caveats because there are lots of things that get the staff fired. Getting a job at a Disney Park is no joke, with a handful of openings typically getting thousands of applications.
Yet, as hard as it is to get a job at Disney, keeping it is even harder because there’s a certain standard of conduct that the staff are expected to maintain at all times, and falling short of this comes with severe consequences. In one case, a staff member was fired because a piece of popcorn that they were eating fell on their shirt.
Staying in character is a must
Wearing a Disney costume is a lot harder than it looks because you’re supposed to stay in character come rain or sunshine. No matter what happens, anyone wearing a Disney costume must be prepared to stay in that character until it comes off.
The situation is so critical that an employee was once categorically told that if he were to start drowning while in a scuba instructor suit, he’d have to be removed from the scene before the costume would be removed. Not even CPR would be performed in that case.
Maintaining the magic with codes
The thing that Disney employees are trained to do is create a magical experience for guests, and in a bid to do this, they usually communicate with each other with codes. In order to not let guests freak out in emergency scenarios, they talk to each other with emergency code words.
They usually talk to each other using headsets in this scenario, and with these, they communicate things like medical situations with words like "balloon" for blood. It wouldn’t make any sense to a guest listening in, but the staff understand perfectly.
Water around rides
Apparently, the situation of the water surrounding rides gets so bad that you should reconsider taking rides sometimes. Besides being the spot where sneaky guests discard dead ones’ ashes, people also tend to vomit in these waters.
One time, a young visitor had a lot of pasta and marinara, and all of it was then thrown up into the Big Thunder Mountain’s entrance. Now, while all or most of his huge watery barf must have been cleaned up, some of the residues would have long slipped into the water.
Lines are serious affairs
You wouldn’t want to skip/jump any queues at Disney Parks because people get super serious about the lines there. Fights tend to break out frequently on these lines, especially among the people that had waited there for ages and it doesn’t even matter if it’s a sick kid jumping the line because no one wants to get cheated.
Guests tend to complain and say hateful things to each other when children get to skip to the front of the lines. At the end of the day though, these customers are handed nothing more than lifetime bans for their exclamations.
Not your baby, now!
The characters are there for customers to take pictures with apparently, yet they don’t want to hold your little ones for you while you’re all at it. Apparently, guests do ill-advised things like bringing their newborns to the parks and wanting the Disney characters to hold them while posing for pictures.
Yet, the act is one that is super uncomfortable for the people rocking these costumes because holding an infant safely is a lot harder in giant paws or gloves.
The hidden tunnels beneath
Did you know that beneath the bustling world of Disney Parks above there are countless hidden tunnels that lie underground, allowing the park employees to travel around park premises quickly?
The entire system is called the utilidor system, and it comprises some of the biggest utility tunnels in the world, with most of them being located in the Magic Kingdom park in Florida. Today, these make up some 9 acres of underworld tunnels that form a circle with spokes that head out in various directions.
Apparently, there’s a hidden salon that’s also secret and essentially off-limits for undiscerning guests. The place is called Kingdom Kutters, and it was built for cast members exclusively.
No one really knows where these secret salons are but a good guess would put their location somewhere in the underground tunnels of the park, and they’re there primarily for the cast members to get complimentary cuts. Not many have heard about guests getting cuts there because the place is that difficult to access for non-cast members.
The name tag tradition
Apparently, the use of name tags is a compulsory tradition for all cast members of Disney World. The cast members are compelled to always wear name tags, even if the name on it is just an alias.
Every single cast member’s uniform bears their name in the form of tags, and in the case of employees that lose theirs somehow, they’re then compelled to wear some kind of gender-neutral batch before they can be assigned new name tags to use.
One of the many things that keep the magic going at Disney World is the non-stop music as the music there literally never stops. It is typically magical music that gets blasted through the park speakers day and night.
The music never stops even when the cast members are concluding their shifts long after the park guests had departed. Now, we’re willing to bet that so much music gets tiring for some of the employees and guests, but there’s little anyone can do about it.
Here’s an unspoken rule for cast members that few park guests are aware of. Apparently, being immune to the pull of celebrities is part of the job because cast members are trained not to acknowledge celebrities, regardless of how much star power they wield.
Even when cast members are in the presence of super-famous individuals, they’re expected to stay in character and keep the magic going for as long as they can. They are completely prohibited from asking for photos or autographs from star guests.
"I don’t know" is prohibited for cast members
In addition to not being allowed to get star-struck, Disney World cast members also aren’t allowed to say "I Don’t Know." Whenever cast members get asked questions by guests, they’re expected to have answers for them, with no exceptions.
It is completely unacceptable for cast members to say "I don’t know" when strangers have queries. Regardless of how silly the question is or how unsure they are about their answers, cast members must always have something to say in response to queries.
The Twilight Zone is home to the famous Tower of Terror where guests are greeted by a spooky experience fraught with terrorizing screams. It turns out the screams we hear there, like most of the magical experiences, are all fake.
Most of the screams that are heard on the ground are played through speakers, and they’ve basically pre-recorded screams that aren’t exactly real. One way to verify that the screams are fake is the ones you hear there are all fake-sounding.
No bathrooms in there
In an ode to colonial times, and a more authentically spooky period, the Liberty Square in Magic Kingdom hosts no toilets for guests. In order to find a restroom, you actually have to walk all the way to another attraction location as that’s where you can get lucky with your search.
Technically, there are some restrooms in the Columbia Harbor House and the Liberty Tree Tavern but they’re also located so far back that they’re technically located in other lands in Disney Parks.
Secret tunnel for trash
In addition to secret passageways for staff to get around quickly, there’s also a secret tunnel for trash disposal. These tunnel ways help the employees keep the parks squeaky clean, and the whole system is called the state-of-the-art Automated Vacuum Assisted Collection System.
There’s actually a system of tunnels beneath that lie on the first floor, which differs from the second and third floors that are seen in the park. The AVACS are a series of connected tubes via which all the restaurants are connected to the main dump.
Can’t ever talk
The category of characters prohibited from ever talking are the full-costume characters. You might have gotten lost and were wondering if one of the characters could help you find your way to the Tower of Terror but you were surprised to see you couldn’t get a response.
It wasn’t anything you did wrong but simply the fact that the costumed characters are compelled to stay quiet while attending to guests. While anything goes backstage, there’s a strictly enforced rule that prevents costumed characters from communicating with guests.
Finding a friend of Ariel
The Disney employees that rank on top of the food chain are the ones that dress as characters, which are designated as C in the Disney world. One thing many people don’t realize is no one actually gets hired to be a princess.
Rather a team of directors gets together and holds big auditions where they get to find a friend of Ariel or a friend of Cinderella. These terms are both used to emphasize the fact that there are no real princesses, just the ones that people wear costumes to portray.
Demotion from princess to handler
Some things you can only know from within the walls of Disney World but lucky for you we have eyes everywhere. In the case of the employees that get enlisted to rock the princess costumes, not being able to fit into the costumes usually means getting demoted from princess to princess handler as the case may be.
In the case of an injury, like a broken leg or arm, any of which can hinder an employee from depicting their character convincingly, the employee will likely get demoted until they recover.
Becoming babies or trying to make them
We already know that children don’t make unaccompanied trips to Disney Theme Parks, which begs the question of what their parents are up to when all the child-centric fun happens. Well, it turns out the adults are usually busy trying to become babies or trying to make more babies.
It’s not unheard of for parents to simply leave their wards behind and disappear for moments in a bid to embrace their inner children. So what happens is the employees sometimes have to attend to children while their parents are busy doing other things.
Creatively reusing old ride elements
Many park-goers are unaware of Disney’s uncanny ability to reuse old ride elements like audio-animatronic figures and vehicles from phased-out rides. They actively and creatively do this to recreate magical experiences for park visitors.
For instance, Disney’s Splash Mountain became the new forte for the characters from America Sings after that got phased out, and the rides of the Maelstrom attraction were kept after it got replaced. According to reports, Disney’s Splash Mountain will soon be reimagined as The Princess and the Frog.
Liberty Square is actually historically accurate
Even though Liberty Square has some replicas of the Liberty Tree and Liberty Bell, the original Liberty Square at Magic Kingdom is a historically accurate attraction. It is actually a lot more original than it gets credit for.
In the colonial days, there were no modernized bathrooms so there isn’t any within Liberty Square either. The only place to find some modern bathrooms are the far-back regions of the Columbia Harbor House and Liberty Tree Tavern, and they’re far back enough that you get an authentic portrayal of the period.
Technically not American flags
There are flags on Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, and while a lot of them look like USA flags, they’re not technically American flags. Regulations dictate that traditional flags be raised, lowered, and flown at half-mast but in the case of these flags, they’re actually missing stars or stripes.
In addition to fulfilling obligations from regulations, these flags actually serve double duties by doubling as disguised lightning rod protectors that keep guests safe when the weather gets hazardous enough to pose a threat to them.
The family of the day practice
Apparently, Disney chooses a family of the day to open the Magic Kingdom every morning. This happens during the musical opening ceremony held every morning at the Magic Kingdom, the one fans know as the rope drop.
The practice is the Disney cast members select a special family to help them open the attraction every day. The selected family actually gets to go on a tour of Main Street before it opens, and when it finally does, they become the stars of the opening festivities.
The use of forced perspective
Disney World, like Disneyland, actually employs the use of forced perspective to give guests the impression that the buildings surrounding them are significantly bigger than they really are.
For instance, at the Cinderella Castle, the bricks at the building’s bottom are significantly bigger than the ones on top, and as a result, the castle looks taller than it really is. A similar technique is employed at the Beast Castle, which isn’t as tall as the Cinderella Castle, but then size optical illusions were channeled to make it look bigger.
Only special guests and contest winners
It turns out that there’s a secret suite concealed within the Cinderella Castle that was built for Walt Disney and his family. Unfortunately, he passed away quite sometime before Disney World opened, and the suite has since been reimagined as special accommodations for special guests.
These rooms feature Jacuzzi tubs, furniture from the 17th century, Cinderella mosaic floors built from 24-karat gold, and a clock that’s stuck at 11:59. However, the thing is booking a stay in these rooms is virtually impossible.
Pumping in the good scents
One of the lesser-known secrets about Disney World is that scents are constantly pumped into the parks as part of the magical experience meant to stick to the memories of park guests and get them to visit again as soon as possible.
For instance, Pirates of the Caribbean has a damp gunpowder scent while Main Street smells similar to freshly baked food. Smellitzer machines are used to pump in scents via concealed vents that guests may not see but can certainly smell.
Never really lost
In the Disney World parks, children are never really lost, especially when cast members are nearby. While it is possible for children to leave the sight of their parents/guardians in the park, they’re still in safe hands because cast members are trained to make the situation an adventure for the kids until they’re reunited with their parents.
The cast members act as though it is the parents, not the kids that are lost and need to be found; however, they do this to keep the child calm and prevent them from being spooked.
Hidden motifs all over
If you take a walk around Disney Parks, don’t be surprised to find several hidden Mickey motifs that have been subtly placed all over. There are countless hidden Mickeys around the parks but finding them might be a chore because they can be difficult to spot.
Once you do find them though, you’ll find that the head-and-ear-shaped motifs are a big part of the magical experience at the park. There are also other subtle details meant to keep the magic going, like the bolts in signs, the landscaping, and minor details in the artwork.
The scavenger hunts
Regular visitors to Disney World can shake up the experience significantly by going on scavenger hunts. These can be done at any time of the year, and the best part is they’re free to engage in.
For instance, in the infamous Fantasyland of Magic Kingdom, you can go on a search for Pascal, the Tangled chameleon, who you can search all around the themed restrooms for. Also, Animal Kingdom is littered with stands where young guests can earn badges by completing tasks that will help them become Wilderness Explorers.
Mailing letters from within
If you didn’t already know, the mailboxes on the Main Street of Magic Kingdom aren’t just there for aesthetic purposes. They are actually real mailboxes that work as intended so you can mail your letters.
Furthermore, these letters are collected by Disney cast members, who get them to United States Postal Service workers for efficient delivery. Visitors have the option of buying stamps at Disney World or bringing in some of their own; the City Hall is where to go to get exclusive postmarks.
Kids can do loads
As should be the case in parks centered around fun for kids and their parents, kids are allowed to run around play areas. There are lots of low-height height requirements in the parks, and kids are compelled to take breaks between rides.
Because young ones need to burn energy quickly, there are lots of zones where they can do just that at Disney World Parks; for one, there are the circus-themed indoor play areas where they can run around all day, and there’s also the space-themed play zone for younger and older kids.
Private photo sessions
Getting those perfect shots can be such a chore with hundreds of other tourists and guests constantly moving and playing behind you in the background. However, you can get all the perfect shots you want without any interference in the background by simply booking the private photo sessions that are offered at the theme parks.
Something like a 20-minute photo session will set you back $79, and a maximum of eight guests are covered for it, which is a reasonable ask for what you get. These private sessions are perfect for special occasions like reunions and birthdays.
Free souvenirs on offer
While there isn’t exactly a way to notch a free vacation at Disney World, you can actually head back home from your experience with a bunch of free souvenirs. The many guest services in the Disney Parks will allow you to walk away with a couple of free buttons that typically celebrate things like birthdays, anniversaries, and first visits.
Other things you can get for free are transportation trading cars to be used on the ferry, bus, or monorail. Cast members at the Animation Experience also hand out stickers.
Hopping on a Main Street ride
Getting around Disney World can be super-thrilling because there are a couple of super fun ways to get around the place, including the Monorail, the Skyliner, and a Minnie Van.
However, there’s also the super-exciting and colorful trolley, fire engine, or omnibus that you can hop on to enjoy a ride between the Cinderella Castle and Town Square. The ride is like being in a parade so you should enjoy every minute of it while keeping in mind that it is a first-come-first-serve type of arrangement.
The hand-chosen tree
Liberty Square is awesome and all but people don’t know that the tree that is there was specifically chosen by Walt Disney himself. The Liberty Square was inspired by and themed after colonial America so there’s the Liberty Bell and Liberty Tree which represents the first act of defiance against the colonialists in 1765.
After Walt Disney hand-picked the tree, it was transplanted roughly six miles from the place it originally lay on Disney property and placed in Liberty Square, where it has become very important to the park.
Free soda taste-testing at Epcot
Since the late 1990s, Club Cool has been a big part of the Epcot experience. However, it was recently moved into some new digs thanks to a long-running partnership with Coca-Cola. Thanks to that partnership, guests get to sample different sodas from faraway countries like the Dominican Republic and Korea.
The best part is no extra charge is required for this experience, and you get to discover the tastier sodas from across the globe for free. There’s the Beverly aperitif from Italy that is universally disliked but is also a rite of passage.
Full of Easter eggs
Easter Eggs are packed all around the length and breadth of Disney World, as long as you know how to find them. Things like the windows on Main Street that bear business names, and the trash cans in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge that have numbers painted on them have several backstories to them.
Likewise, the windows also bear the names of several men and women that have been influential to the Disney Company over the years, which are all part of the many things that have hidden meanings on the premises.
The flag retreat ceremony
There’s a daily flag retreat ceremony held in the Town Square of Magic Kingdom, where Disney pays tribute to US Military veterans with a flag retreat ceremony.
Usually, as part of the daily ceremony, a veteran is selected randomly, for the most part, to help with the lowering of the American flag while "God Bless America" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" play from the Main Street Philharmonic. You can catch the ceremony around 5 pm as the custom is to display the American flag from sunrise to sunset.
Grown-up versions of the treats
Because Disney World parks are meant to be magical for both young visitors and their parents, the parents can have grown-up versions of most Disney treats. Lots of the most famous treats at Disney have versions that are essentially spiked to give adults the kind of treats they should have after long hours in the theme parks.
All of these grown-up treats can be had at the parks themselves, Disney Springs, and the resort hotels; some of the options are Boozy caramel flight, Pineapple Dole Whip, and Boozy Baton Rouge Beignets.
Not meant to see other territories
Apparently, you’re not meant to see other attractions while you’re in one attraction because that’s how Walt Disney himself wanted it. While passing from land to land, you’re not meant to see the others.
For instance, if you’re in Fantasyland, you can’t see Liberty Square because there’s a bunch of buildings, trees, and a bunch of other distractions in the way of your sight. There’s also a ton of noise that’s intended to keep you from looking around and seeing other lands.
Laying out the red carpet for guests
Magic Kingdom is home to a walkway lined up in red because Walt Disney really wanted to lay out the red carpet for all guests. In addition to fulfilling Walt’s vision, the characters are also helped out significantly by the color as they watch for the cement to change color from backstage.
Whenever the color changes, they know that they must get in character before hopping onto the stage area, and the same thing plays out when it’s time to leave as they must stay in character even when they think no one’s looking.
The fact that employees are allowed to ride attractions while on duty is another lesser-known Disney World secret. The parks actually carry out ride tests via teams of Imagineers that are obligated to continuously test rides to ensure quality.
This is the case across every Disney theme park as the teams are enlisted to ensure that visitors get the thrills and fun they signed up for. Whenever it may be required, changes are made to the different experiences to heighten them.
The statue of different perspectives
The Cinderella fountain statue can be found right next to the Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom, and it is a statue that gives different perspectives when observed at different heights.
Adults typically find the statue a bit dull but getting down to about a child’s height will reveal Cinderella’s crown. The inspiration for this is seeing the truth in these situations sometimes requires the innocence and insufficient height of children, which are the points driven home by the fountain statue.
The camouflaged character
Animal Kingdom is home to a hidden, camouflaged character called Divine. Divine is a little-known street performer whose unique point lies in its green face paint, leaves, and vine appearance.
The character blends tremendously into the Animal Kingdom foliage thanks to the stilts she stands on, so missing her is quite easy for even the most observant guests. The best time to find her is in the afternoon when she usually lurks around the entrance to Animal Kingdom or the back path between Africa and Pandora.
The abandoned singing airport
Right before entering Magic Kingdom, you could make a right that will take you to a pavement strip where Disney World’s only airport on park property lies.
The abandoned runway was constructed in 1970, right before Disney World was officially opened, and it was only operational for about a year or two before it got shut down for good. The entire region is now used for backstage parking, and Disney fans like to call it the singing runway because there are some strategically-placed grooves in the pavement.
The chewing gum, straws, and balloons policy
In a bid to ensure that the parks remain squeaky clean, Disney World and Disneyland both prohibit the sale of chewing gum on park premises.
However, you can bring in some of your own even though you can’t buy any. Guests are also banned from bringing in plastic balloons and straws as these pose threats to the animals there. You also won’t find any straws or balloons on sale at the parks, the water parks, and the Animal Kingdom Lodge.