#2. The Oil Rig Inside a Nature Attraction
Disney World's Animal Kingdom park isn't just a glorified zoo, it's an entire park dedicated to animal conservation. In addition to riding attractions and watching shows, guests can observe endangered animals like elephants and rhinos. In fact, the first white rhino born in Uganda since 1982 came from an animal that was born at the Animal Kingdom. Good job, Disney. You're saving the world, just like Captain EO said you would.
Before all that world-changing got started, however, the Animal Kingdom needed a centerpiece, an icon that would symbolize the park's mission. Behold! The 14-story, 50-foot-wide sculpted work of art, the Tree of Life.
Isn't that the tree that Hexxus was trapped in?
And just so you never ever forget that the Animal Kingdom is 100 percent about the animals, the bark of the tree explicitly reminds you, over 300 times.
It's like being bukkaked with nature.
But here's the catch: The whole thing is constructed from an offshore oil-drilling platform. Which is like secretly using an animal carcass to symbolize your vegan restaurant, except not really, since that sounds like something PETA would totally do.
So how did it happen that the one Disney park dedicated to preserving the earth's animals and resources used an instrument that is associated with endangering animals all over the world? The answer is in the tree itself. Designers knew that they wanted a sculpture that didn't just look like a tree, but acted like a tree. It would have to bend and sway in the wind, and also be strong enough to handle Florida's hurricanes. But instead of a root system anchoring the whole thing to the ground, this tree was going to house a 430-seat theater.
So, the story goes that one of the engineers was watching a documentary on offshore drilling when he realized that an oil platform would be perfect for the Tree of Life: It had a wide base for a theater, a narrow center for a trunk and a wide topside that could support flexible branches. Like this:
The designer only knew about trees from an uncle's whispered tales of life before Disney sealed Epcot.
Long story short: The Animal Kingdom bought themselves an oil rig and built a tree around it. The video below shows time lapse footage of the whole process:
Which explains why all ocean life has snubbed their invitation to the Animal Kingdom party.
#1. Hidden Mickeys and Other ... Things
We all know that the entire Disney empire was built on the backs of undocumented laborers and a falsetto-voiced mouse. What you probably didn't know was that when Walt and the team dreamed up Epcot, they initially planned that the whole place would be Mickeyless. Not because they had grown to loathe Walt's most horrible creation, though no one would have blamed them if they had, but because Epcot was supposed to be some kind of future utopia, not another fantasy land for children. In other words, how would adults take Epcot's science-based speculations of a world run by animatronics seriously if a talking rodent was standing alongside them? They wouldn't. So there were only three places at Epcot where you could find Mickey's familiar silhouette: name tags, merchandise price tags and manhole covers (the implication we guess was that Mickey had been banished to the sewers).
There was only one problem. For some Imaginengineerers, a Disney park without Mickey Mouse would be like a face without eyebrows: grotesque. So they sneaked hidden Mickey Mouse ears all over the damn place out of spite. So, for example, while riding the Spaceship Earth attraction that presents the history of human communication, you probably wouldn't have noticed these scrolls forming the shape of Mickey's head:
In those scrolls lie the secret to permanently banishing him from our realm.
And you probably wouldn't have seen the paint rings left by the artists in the Renaissance section:
But there they are, plain as day. Here's one at the Canada pavilion:
Each one also symbolizes a person who was killed for defying Walt.
See it? It's painted blue, under the arm.
Eventually, even the designers in the Mickey-sanctioned parks wanted to get in on the fun, so hidden Mickeys started popping up everywhere. At least a thousand hidden Mickeys have been reported throughout the parks, and the people who are actually looking for them are nuts. They've written books and devoted websites to the world's least rewarding scavenger hunt.
By the way, Mickey isn't the only creature lurking in the shadows of the park. Every now and then a new ride will replace an old favorite, but Imagineers don't want to pretend that the old one never existed. So they'll leave a remnant as a quiet nod to times gone by. It sounds sweet until you're on the New Winnie the Pooh ride and turn around to see three mounted animal heads staring lifelessly into the dark abyss.
"Liberate tutemet ... ex inferis ..."
It turns out that the new Winnie the Pooh ride replaced the old Country Bear Jamboree, and Max, Buff and Melvin were too beloved for the dump. So they were placed in a spot that you'd have to literally turn around in your seat to view. Look at their faces. They're going to eat you.
You can send Gabriel an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his friends' band The Ranks here
For more easter eggs that will make you crap your drawers, check out 10 Mind-Blowing Easter Eggs Hidden in Famous Albums and 7 Creepy Video Game Easter Eggs You'll Wish Were Never Found.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 5 Famous Movie Sets That Might Be in Your Neighborhood.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover where the best spots for mooning Disney security cameras are.
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