With the school year ending and temperatures rising, vacations are on the brain. And for many families, that means a trip to a Disney park.
If you’ve ever been to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, or Disneyland in Anaheim, California, you know the entire visit can be quite the production, from the “cast members” (Disney speak for employees) to the rides to the tiniest Disney-centric details surrounding you. We rounded up some secrets and fun facts about the parks to make your visit even more interesting. Check them out below.
You can actually stay in Cinderella’s castle ― but only if you’re lucky
These special accommodations at Disney World are what the company calls the Cinderella Castle Suite, and it’s typically reserved for contest winners or other special occasions. It’s just as fancy as Cinderella would like it, with its stained glass, lavish furnishings and fabrics, and a mirror that turns into a television. You can sneak a peek on the Disney Parks site.
There’s a reason cast members point with two fingers
Keen visitors will notice cast members typically point with two fingers instead of the usual one. Walt Disney smoked cigarettes, resulting in photos taken of the entertainment mogul pointing to various attractions at the park with two fingers and a cigarette in between them. Tom Hanks, who portrayed Disney in the 2013 film “Saving Mr. Banks,” noted the detail in an interview on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Some photos even have the cigarette airbrushed out in an attempt to separate the company from smoking.
Pictorial Parade via Getty Images
Walt Disney was a heavy smoker, and there’s a theory that his habit inspired the signature “Disney point.”
In an interview with HuffPost in 2015, a Disney employee, who requested to remain anonymous, confirmed that the two-finger point “is part of our training upon being hired in,” and that employees are told it’s both a gesture that is considered less rude than the usual point and an homage to Disney.
Epcot represents Disney’s desire to explore the future
Epcot at Disney World is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. It represents Disney’s vision for a functioning city that relied on continuous innovation and exploration of the future, which never came to fruition before he died in 1966. Instead, his company paid homage to its visionary by building a park with futuristic attractions.
You can now keep an eye out for a female pirate on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride
This month, Disneyland reopened its “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride with a new buccaneer: a woman. Disney describes Redd as a “pirate who’s just pillaged the town’s rum supply.” She’ll also be an actual character walking around to visit with guests.
Digital First Media Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images via Getty Images
Changes to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride at Disneyland include a new female character named Redd.
Disney changed the ride’s auction scene, too, which formerly conveyed tied-up women waiting to be sold as brides. As reported by The Orange County Register, the red-headed woman from the old auction scene is now Redd, and the auction is now focused on goods to be sold, not women.
There are “hidden Mickeys” throughout the parks
Of course, the iconic shape of the Mickey Mouse head is frequently seen in the parks’ decorations and food, but there are several more strategically placed throughout the attractions. Some are easy enough for a Disney rookie to spot, and others are a bit tougher to find. There are sites and social media accounts dedicated to this fun hunt that can sometimes make the long lines a bit more bearable.
Some visitors get around the “no costume” rule in a clever way (and you can, too!)
The Disney World and Disneyland sites clearly state that guests 14 years and older aren’t allowed to wear costumes. Since the Disney magic isn’t just for kids, older visitors have worked their way around this rule through “Disneybounding,” which means putting together an outfit that’s inspired by a character, mainly through color coordination and accessories.
Cast members use secret tunnels beneath the parks
In an interview with Business Insider, Mike Fox, the author of several books about Disney park secrets, said that cast members use underground “utilidors” to move about the Magic Kingdom and Epcot at Disney World and that Disneyland features a smaller, similar system.
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For more efficient travel away from the guests, cast members sometimes use “utilidors” under the parks.
“It’s nothing that Disney’s trying to hide from people, it’s just a very efficient tool for maintaining the story,” Fox told Business Insider of the feature.
The singing busts in the Haunted Mansion have names
Their names are Rollo Rumkin, Uncle Theodore, Cousin Algernon, Ned Nub and Phineas P. Pock. Because “Yo Ho Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me)” was such a hit for visitors on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, Disney decided to give the Haunted Mansion a signature tune as well.
There’s a barber shop in the Magic Kingdom
Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is designated with a classic striped barber pole. According to the park’s site, “little ones can even enjoy the special ‘My First Haircut’ package, which includes commemorative Mickey Ears and a certificate.”
You can actually order the “Grey Stuff” from “Beauty and the Beast”
In the 1991 film “Beauty and the Beast,” Lumiere sings during “Be Our Guest” that Belle should “try the grey stuff, it’s delicious.” The restaurant known as Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland also encourages guests to give it a try. On the menu, the dish is described as “Chocolate Shell, Cookie Crème topped with Lumiere’s special ‘Grey Stuff.’”
The Mickey Mouse floral portrait that welcomes you to Disneyland was done in less than a week
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According to the Disney Parks blog, more than 3,600 annuals make up the Mickey Mouse floral portrait at Disneyland.
Less than a week before Disneyland’s opening day in 1955, horticulturist Jack Evans received a memo from Joe Fowler, a retired admiral whom Disney personally asked to help with the park, that read, “When are you going to plant Mickey Mouse in the entrance? Looks to me like the time is getting pretty late.”
Luckily, the floral project was ready in time. In 2014, the Disney Parks blog informed fans that more than 3,600 annuals make up the mouse’s happy expression.
Julie Andrews has a carousel horse at Disneyland dedicated to her
In 2008, acting legend Julie Andrews, who portrayed Mary Poppins in the Disney classic film of the same name, had a horse from Disneyland’s King Arthur Carrousel dedicated to her. It is the lead horse named Jingles. Another fun fact? The horses are in a galloping position and painted white because of a request from Disney himself.
Disneyland is home to a bunch of cats, and the internet loves them
In 2015, a Disney rep confirmed to The Los Angeles Times that its parks in Anaheim have a feline presence, but wouldn’t comment further about the creatures. There’s a site dedicated to the furry friends, which are said to help with rodents scurrying around the parks, and the Cats of Disneyland Instagram account currently has more than 64,000 followers.
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