We've mentioned before how Disney parks aren't strictly rainbows and tri-circled sunshine. While you and your family are waiting in lines and posting Facebook pictures to brag about how much fun you're having, there are secrets hiding all around you.
If you know where to look, you can find ...
#5. The Underground Kingdom
As you walk through the gates of Disney World, you're probably so overwhelmed by the magic of childhood that you don't notice that you're walking up an ever-so-slight incline. That incline is there because you're on the roof of a ground-level tunnel system -- and you're one story in the air. By the time you reach Cinderella Castle, you've actually made it up to a third-story level. That's because Disney World was built on top of a huge series of tunnels and rooms called utility corridors, or Utilidors.
In case you ever wondered what the Death Star would be like if it were 400 percent more whimsical.
Shortly after Disneyland opened, Walt Disney realized that it looked kind of odd when he had cowboys walking through Tomorrowland and astronauts walking through a Renaissance fair. When it came time to build Disney World, he wasn't having none of that shit. Before any of the park pavement went down and before any of the rides went up, Disney had a series of tunnels, dressing rooms and secret doors built first. And everything else went on top.
Kingdom Keepers Wiki
"Disney World is finally complete, the culmination of my life's work oh shit we forgot to build air holes!"
But the fact that you're walking on top of a secret city isn't even the sinister part. If you've ever been to a Disney park, one thing will stand out: It's clean. Thousands and thousands of people are all around you, most of them kids, and there is zero trash on the ground. No sticky gum residue, no used condoms or old panties to be seen anywhere. Everything is clean. Have you guessed why? Because people are popping up out of the ground to clean that shit up, like mole people, quickly disappearing back into their subterranean kingdom with you none the wiser. The only way to figure out where they're coming from is to casually dump a purse full of fingernail clippings on the ground and stand aside to watch what happens.
Now, if you're into totally ruining everything, you can tour the tunnels for a fee. But only if you're 16 or older, because the last thing 14-year-olds need is something else to be cynical about. Just know that you're in for seeing a half-dressed Mickey flirting it up with Ariel while the Mad Hatter pays for his tuna salad in the cafeteria.
"Hey Dopey, can I bum a smoke?"
#4. The Secret Clubs
Imagine you're enjoying a day with your family at Disneyland and you find yourself at New Orleans Square. As you and your kids argue over which attraction is the New Orleansiest, you notice a nondescript door next to the Blue Bayou Restaurant. That in itself is no big deal ... you see doors all over the Disney kingdoms. It's probably a facade.
Or a place where children are taken from unattended strollers down to the Utilidors, ne'er to be seen again.
But then you see someone walk up to the door, all stealthy-like, remove a secret panel and press a buzzer. A voice from the interior of the door wants to know the name of the sneaky person and the number in his party. Then the door opens and the person disappears. He's a member of a secret club you'll never ever be invited to join. Club 33.
When Walt Disney designed his park, he realized that his teeny-tiny apartment on Main Street wouldn't be large or roach-free enough to host big-time visitors. So in addition to building a second apartment for himself and his family above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, he also commissioned a secret VIP lounge for entertaining dignitaries and celebrities. As for the name of the secret club, you could say it was simply the street address on the door, 33 Royal Street. Or you could count up the number of original sponsors that made Disneyland happen and do the conspiratorial math. (It was 33. There were 33 sponsors.)
Disneyland Club 33
"Pay millions of dollars to sponsor a club that only like a hundred people will ever see!"
So how exclusive is this club? Membership is rumored at 500 people. Total. In the world. Sure, you can submit a written application to get on the waiting list, the same list that often goes years without bumping anyone up. But just know that if, by some miracle of the Lord of Disney, you're moved to the top of the list, you should be ready to shell out $25,000 initially, then $10,000 a year for the privilege of just getting in the door.
Once inside the club, as if that will ever happen, you'll find yourself in a restaurant in line with turn-of-the-century French decor, except that the rooms are decorated with actual props and concept art from Disney movies. And antiques selected by Mrs. Disney herself. If, on the other hand, you live the rest of your years as a regular schmuck like the rest of us, just know that people are secretly partying in secret rooms at Disneyland. Oh, and at the California Adventure Park, too. Same deal. You're not invited.
"Care for some of Jesus Christ's private shiraz, or perhaps a Velociraptor steak?"
Another place you should never expect to visit is the suite in Cinderella Castle at Disney World. Originally intended as (yet another) living space for Walt, the 650-square-foot apartment wasn't finished when Walt died, so it was never actually occupied. Fast forward to 2007 and the Disney company had the amazing idea of refurbishing the suite and granting overnight access to random guests. People. Got to live. In. Cinderella Castle. Overnight.
Once you've banged there, the Mile High Club just seems so lame.
The secret suite is only accessed by a hidden elevator that leads to the fourth floor of the castle. And you can get a reservation by calling 1-800-NOPE. You can't stay there. Jonas Brothers can stay there. But you can't.
#3. Scent-Based Mind Control
Visit any Disney park and you'll find your senses immersed in a world of joy and wonder. Gone are the traffic noises of Anaheim and the swamp stink of Florida. Everything is pleasant here, because Disney has your very sensations under lock and key. Music massages your ear holes while the clean, bright streets make you nostalgic for a time that never actually existed. At the top of the list of sinister ways the park is shaping your experience is the Smellitzer, a patented scent generator that makes sure you're smelling exactly what they want you to smell.
"Smell the glove, hu-ha!"
If you're riding Pirates of the Caribbean, you might unknowingly get a whiff of sea salt in the air. Or at Spaceship Earth, you'll smell barbeque as a diorama of Rome burns before your eyes. The Haunted Mansion smells musty and earthy, so you won't forget that there's a graveyard right outside the attraction. And Soarin' Over California pumps a faint citrus smell at you as you fly over simulated orange groves.
Just in case you're thinking that those odors are built into the rides, they're not. The Smellitzer uses a series of pumps and vents to launch the smells 200 feet at just the right second. And then an exhaust system sucks the odor out of the room before it interferes with your next sensory experience.
This also explains why no one ever seems to fart at Disney.
Oh, and the odor-pumper isn't just limited to immersing you in the rides, either. Walk down Main Street, USA, and you're going to smell freshly baked cookies, whether there are cookies in the oven or not, thanks to the Smellitzer. During the holidays, you might smell peppermint candies being made, or pumpkin spices near Halloween. On Father's Day, you should expect to smell bad cologne and disappointment.