44 Amazing Things You Never Knew About Walt Disney World Mary Leavy ProTips You probably already know it’s supposed to be the happiest place on earth and that those Mickey Mouse-shaped popsicles taste so much better than some sort of store variation. But, there are so many lesser-known facts about the beloved parks that make up Walt Disney World. Check out these amazing facts about Disney’s Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios and you’re sure to have many a fact for your next dinner party! 1. Steam Engines Disneyland Railroad’s steam engines are actually fuels by used French fry oil! After being used for a few days in the kitchens throughout the theme parks, the oil is then converted to biodiesel to help the trains run smoothly. Packet of chips anyone? 2. The Beatles The super stars, the Beatles, signed the documents that would officially break the group up in 1974 at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. 3. Gas Lamps Ever noticed those quaint gas lamps along Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A? They really are 19th century artifacts and not reproduced replicas. Rumor has it they once lit up Baltimore’s streets. By the way, the street is loosely based on Marceline, Missouri, Walt Disney’s hometown. 4. Watch Out for the Hidden Basketball Court Yes, there really is a hidden basketball court that park employees are permitted to use on their breaks. Where is it? Right at the top of the oldest roller coaster in Disneyland, the Matterhorn. 5. Fly Dumbo, Fly The original version of the Dumbo ride had a mouse brandishing a whip to make it look as though he was trying to get the elephants to fly. Somewhat offensive, the whip has since been replaced with a magic feather. 6. Careful, There’s Kitties About To keep the inevitable mice at bay, Disneyland employees let hundreds of cats lose every night. True story! 7. Look Carefully at the Hall of Presidents Every single president you will find in the Hall of Presidents dons clothes that were made using the sewing and stitching methods of the particular president’s time. For instance, George Washington’s suit was actually hand-sewn as it would’ve been done in his time, but later president George W. Bush’s suit was put together with the help of a sewing machine. While you’re there, note how the Hall of Presidents actually originated as an audio-animatronic exhibition in 1964 at the New York World’s Fair. It was first known as Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. 8. Check Out the Tracks of These Rides Next time your hit the Dinosaur ride at Disney World and the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, look carefully – the track layouts are almost identical. 9. Sensors on the Pavements Who doesn’t love those Disney signature parades every day? Have you ever wondered how the floats stay in sync with one another and the music? There are tons of sensors embedded in the pavements to help keep them on track and moving along. 10. Did You Know About the Private Nightclub? Club 33 is a private nightclub cleverly hidden in New Orleans Square in Disneyland. Look out for the gray-green door close to the Blue Bayou restaurant. Reservations are a must, but there is a rather hefty $10,000 initiation fee and a, wait for it, 18-year waiting list! That’s a lot of money and a lot of waiting time! 11. Ever Notice How Characters Differ? Sure, you’ll always see the usual suspects around, but here’s an interesting fact: the characters on Disney World Orlando’s Splash Mountain are different from the ones in Disneyland. The singing animals in Orlando were actually repurposed from an earlier dismantled ride in an attempt to cut costs. Even Disney has to have a budget now and again. 12. The Magical Cinderella’s Castle Here’s a really interesting fact: Cinderella’s Castle isn’t really made of the stunning stone you see. It is really all fiberglass that Disney sought special permission to use all the way from government level. That’s because it doesn’t really meet building code. Oh, by the way, the castle looks massive right? That’s because it’s built on a very slight incline so that it sits higher than the rest of the park and looks bigger – so it’s a bit of an illusion. The castle is no doubt the centerpiece of the Magic Kingdom and boasts some 18 towers and no less than 13 gargoyles. 13. Richard Nixon’s Not a Crook Former president, Richard Nixon, famously proclaimed he was not a crook in a 1973 speech in the Disney Contemporary Resort ballroom. 14. The Magic of the Magic Kingdom The majority of the whimsical and wonderful Magic Kingdom sits on top of a hidden two-story building. What’s in the building? It’s full of break rooms and space for wardrobe changes for park technicians and cast. There are over 30 secret elevators and stairwells that connect the hidden building to the park. So that’s where Donald Duck has his lunchtime snooze! 15. Aluminum Roofs While the Magic Kingdom’s Enchanted Tiki Room roof looks Polynesian, it is really made with shredded aluminum so that it can withstand the elements. Located in Adventureland, the Tiki Room was once known as the Tropical Serenade and was sponsored by Florida Citrus Growers. 16. Long Waiting Times? It’s a Bit of a Ruse! According to cast members at Walt Disney World, staff tend to overshoot the wait time for rides by around five to ten minutes. Why? So that you’ll be just a little surprised when you don’t have to wait as long as expected. We wonder if this works during the main holiday seasons! 17. San Francisco? Just About The Walt Disney World Resort spreads over a huge 30,500 acres. That is almost the same size as San Francisco. Wow! 18. Back in the Day – Things Were So Much Cheaper When the Magic Kingdom Park first opened in October 1971, adults paid just $3.50 for admission. Can you just imagine paying that now for a full on day of thrills? 19. Speaking of Opening Day While we’re on the topic of opening day, did you know that the crowd at the Magic Kingdom park was approximately ten thousand people. Doesn’t sound like much, does it! 20. Ever Investigated the E-ticket Favorites? The main attractions for e-ticket holders at the Magic Kingdom include Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Country Bear Jamboree, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, It’s a Small World, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Hall of Presidents. 21. Annual Attendance at Magic Kingdom The estimated annual attendance at this one park alone is some 17,5 million people. Next in line is Epcot with 11 million, and then Disney’s Hollywood Studios with 9.9 million. The Animal Kingdom lies tie with Hollywood studios with 9.9 million people per year. 22. Not too Weightless in Space You know that infamous Spaceship Earth that lies at the entrance to Epcot? Not only does it stand some 180-feet, it also weighs something like 16 million pounds. 23. Have You Meet Trader Sam? If you’ve ever been on the Jungle Cruise you will have met Trader Sam – he’s the jolly hunter who pops up near the end of the ride. 24. Movie Characters for Rides When the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men’s Chest was released, the Magic Kingdom’s Pirates of the Caribbean attraction was renovated to add a few characters from the movie, including Hector Barbossa and Jack Sparrow. 25. Take a Good Look at The Tree of Life The next time you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, take a good, long look at The Tree of Life. It stands no less than 14 stories tall and 50 feet wide. It also boasts over 300 animal carvings. 26. Take Note of the Great Movie Ride Head to The Great Movie Ride when you’re next at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The ride is housed in an exact replica of Mann’s Chinese Theater. 27. Heading to Adventureland? Check Out the Treehouse The Swiss Family Treehouse is a massive 60-feet high and weighs some 200 tons. It is made of thousands of polyethylene leaves and concrete. 28. The Most Loveable Bear in the World Have you tried the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh? The ride, located in Fantasyland, actually sits on the site of the old Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. 29. Keen On an American Adventure? Head to the Epcot attraction, The American Adventure, and you’ll come across the “Spirits of America” statues. The statues represent Freedom, Compassion, Adventure, Independence, Heritage, Discovery, Tomorrow, Self-Reliance, Individualism, Knowledge, Innovation, and Pioneering. 30. The Largest Dinosaur Dino-Sue towers four stories over DinoLand U.S.A in the Animal Kingdom and is a replica of the largest ever Tyrannosaurus Rex. 31. We Can’t Not Mention Big Thunder Mountain The massive railroad found in Fronteirland features no less than six trains: U.B Bold, I.B. Hearty, I.M. Fearless, I.M. Brave, U.R. Courageous, and U.R. Daring. 32. It’s All Rock n Roll The Hollywood Studios attraction, Rock n Roller Coaster – Starring Aerosmith launches riders at a speed of 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds. Hold onto your hats! 33. Tom Sawyer Island Head over to this attraction, named after Mark Twain, to see the swinging suspension bridges that leads all the way to Fort Langhorne. 34. Never Seen the Liberty Bell? Now’s Your Chance If you’ve never seen the Liberty Bell up close, head to Liberty Square where there is an exact replica built from the same cast as the original bell in Philadelphia. 35. Take Not at Haunted Mansion As you exit Haunted Mansion, look out for the humorous crypts like Dustin T. Dust, I.M. Ready, Asher T. Ashes, Pearl E. Gates, and Rustin Peese. 36. Get Ready to Launch Head to Epcot’s The Mission: SPACE thrill ride, but don’t forget to grab your motion sickness bag. That’s how authentic the ride is. Speaking of Space, when Space Mountain opened in 1975, real astronauts, Jim Irwin, Gordon Cooper, and Scott Carpenter, were all present. 37. The Speedway Tomorrowland Speedway is one of the very first attractions at the Magic Kingdom Park, but did you know it used to be called the Grand Prix Raceway? 38. Guess Who Stars in an Epcot Film? Ever watched Captain EO? It’s a 3D film shown at Epcot. The film starts Anjelica Huston and Michael Jackson and was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. 39. There’s Even a Golf Tournament The Walt Disney World Open Invitational debuted in 1971 and the first champion was none other than legendary golfer, Jack Nicklaus. 40. Travelled on the PeopleMover? Have you ever travelled on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover? It didn’t always have this name, it was originally dubbed WEDway People Mover after Walter Elias Disney (WED). 41. How’s That Water Tower! That huge water tower that sits at Disney’s Hollywood Studios stands 189 feet tall and is actually known as the Earffel Tower. 42. Jungle Cruise Riverboats Head down to the Jungle Cruise riverboats and take a ride on Nile Nelly, Amazong Annie, Congo Connie, Bomolandi Bertha, Sankuru Sadie, Rutshuru Ruby, Volta Val, Ucvali Lolly, Mongala Millie, Kwango Kate, or Zambesi Zelda. 43. Splash Mountain Head over to Adventureland for the five-story thrill ride, Splash Mountain. Look forward to the free-fall plunge that sits at a whopping 45-degree angle into a splash pool. By the way, you’ll be going at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. 44. Country Bear Jamboree If you’ve visited this attraction you’ve no doubt seen the three talking heads. They’re known as Melvin, Max, and Buff!