Nestled deep within the 11 Disney parks located worldwide, there are said to be secrets as yet unknown to mere mortal humans. There is rumored to be a regulation size basketball court hidden inside of the Matterhorn reserved expressly for cast members. Or how about Club 33? A rumored exclusive club with a whopping $100,000 membership fee and a 14-year waiting list. Do these things really exist? Are they real?
While all 11 worldwide Disney parks are unique with their own character and flair, there aren’t any secret passageways or hidden doors not accessible to every single guest who walks through a Disney entrance gate. This is not to say there still aren’t some well-hidden secrets known only to some. There are plenty of them. But now you’re about to become one of the chosen few who is also aware of their existence. At least some of them. We wouldn’t want to spoil all the fun.
Disneyland – Anaheim, California
The original Disneyland, where all of the magic we love today received its humble start, is a treasure trove full of secrets. They are scattered from one end of the park to the other. But don’t expect to locate them easily if you aren’t fully observant. If you aren’t you’ll join the many guests who stroll nonchalantly past them without a clue. But now you know better.
There are 14 attractions Disney has preserved since their grand opening in 1955. All 14 are historical goldmines, and upon closer examination, they will reveal a wealth of Disney nostalgia. Stop. Look. Discover.
If you take a ride on the Lilly Belle Presidential Train, which everyone should make a point of, grab a seat in the caboose which was once exclusively reserved for VIP’s and special guests only. Here’s the secret. The caboose offers the very best glimpse of the park in true nostalgic fashion, but don’t bother if you can’t get there early. Tickets sell out only minutes after the booth opens so if you’re a late sleeper with a heart intent on taking this must-do ride, change your habits for a day.
If you take the Jungle Cruise, another wildly popular excursion, make sure to ask the Captain for a map. You won’t get one unless you do and it’s suitable for framing.
Disney California Adventure
Making good use of every available space, this Disney Park was built in the old Disneyland parking lot and is loaded with nostalgic amusement type rides. There is no way to not have a blast.
This park is comprised of themed districts with the first one that you will see being Los Angeles during the 1920s. Paradise Pier is a must-see area, as it is filled with classic rides you and your family will love.
If you find yourself at Buena Vista Street, which is worth seeking out, keep a keen eye out for Molly or Milly. These cast members are roaming messengers in search of unwary individuals to share their messages of encouragement with. If they spot you wandering around, one of them could approach you. Let them. You’ll have a wonderful and unique souvenir not given to just anyone.
The Magic Kingdom is hands-down the most popular of all Disney parks. As such, there are lots of hidden goodies waiting to be discovered so always be looking around.
Perhaps the best secret jewel is at the Haunted Mansion. While other ride goers are fidgeting and slowly moving forward, you’ll be gawking at what is located just behind the entrance. Where not many can see, there is a frightening looking pet cemetery complete with inscribed tombstones. Viewers can almost feel the haunting vibes from sculpted animals lurking over their own graves. Tours of the cemetery are available upon request, if you want to see it all up close.
EPCOT is the entire world living harmoniously as one. Every single country is represented so it’s the closest thing to traveling on a world-journey without ever leaving Orlando.
BUT. There’s a secret few are aware of. Disney decided the only way their guests could properly enjoy visiting another country with the best experience available was to only hire a crew and cast from the respective countries of each location. This wasn’t an easy task considering some countries are smaller than Rhode Island. Now you are aware the accents you hear are not fake.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios was built as a way of preserving the famed Golden Age of motion pictures when movies still came wrapped around huge silver spools and were subject to break at any given moment. But it’s more about the glitz and the glamour of starlets wrapped in mink and male stars with slicked back “Dapper Dan” heads of hair accented with pencil-thin mustaches. Huge cars. Mansions. Lighting cigars with hundred-dollar bills.
Hidden Mickeys are everywhere you look, but you have to look. On the water tower, engraved in a walls bricks, trimmed in a hedge, hidden in mosaic in a sidewalk, and just about anywhere else you could think of, and a few you can’t. Make a game out of who in your group spots the most of them throughout the day. Most visitors are totally unaware of this spectacle.
Do not for any reason miss the Rock N’ Roll coaster. Hint: Everybody likes Aerosmith.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
If there is any animal a person can think of, there is a distinct possibility it can be found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There is no need for anyone to go on a wild safari in Africa when all they need do is fly into Orlando International Airport.
However, not every animal is living, because a large portion of the park has been dedicated to the prehistoric dinosaurs that are no longer roaming the Earth. In the DinoLand section which is related to all things prehistoric, you can see dinosaur fossils up close and even see what a real paleontological research building would look like. Something many visitors might realize? Some of the fossils are the real thing!
Hong Kong Disneyland
This might be the smallest Disney park in the world, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t unique features. This park has been completely covered in the color red, because it signifies good luck in the Chinese culture. The feng shui of the park is also noticeable from the time you enter the park until the time that you leave. The last feature that sets this park apart from all the rest is the Fantasy Gardens, as that is where the majority of the characters do their meet and greets within the on-site pavilion.
There is an Asian flair inside this Disney park, which is no surprise since it can be found within the capital of Japan. The food is the most strikingly unique feature at this theme park and the options are definitely different that what you would find at any of the others. A visit to Tokyo Disneyland must include a taste of the curry flavored popcorn, the gyoza sausage bun, and the cream cheese brownie.
For an added “wow” factor, visitors enter the park through the stunning World Bazaar. The Victorian-inspired architecture of this shopping, food and fun area features special effects and lighting. Look for the perfect view of Cinderella’s Castle framed in the arches of the weatherproof glass enclosure.
While you can now indulge in alcohol in many of the full-service restaurants at Disney parks around the world, you will not find alcohol served to the general public in any of them except Disneyland Paris. Since wine is such a part of the locals’ lives in this city and country, you will be able to grab a glass of your favorite wine in numerous spots around this park. There is only one Mickey Mouse wandering around Disneyland Paris at any given moment, so you and your children will never need to worry about whether or not you saw the real one. The best part about this park is that you can get a real haircut inside the barbershop from the 1900s.
Shanghai Disneyland Park
Shanghai’s Disneyland Park is the newest of all the Disney parks in the world and the difference can be felt and seen as soon as you walk through the entry gates. Instead of spotting Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, you will find yourself mesmerized with a castle that has been dedicated to every Disney princess. This is the tallest of all the Disney castles as well, so be prepared to stop and stare for a little longer than usual. You will love Jack Sparrow’s Treasure Cove, which is full of sunken ships and buried treasures waiting to be discovered. The TRON Lightcycle Power Run is another attraction that everyone must ride, as it features futuristic bikes and state of the art ride technology. A TRON attraction is in the works for Disney World, but won’t open until 2021.
As you can see, there are so many different features at each one of the Disney parks around the world! If you have only been to one, or never planned to go to any of them at all, you may want to think about changing your mind. After all, who can resist many of the above-mentioned features that will make you feel like a kid again?!