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15 Interesting Facts About Disney Theme Parks That You Probably Didn't Know

by Desirée O, Purple Clover

15 Interesting Facts About Disney Theme Parks That You Probably Didn't Know

Disneyland first started filling visitors’ days with fairy-tale-like magic on July 17, 1955, while Walt Disney World opened over a decade and a half later on October 1, 1971. Fuelled by film-inspired fantasies and offering thrilling rides while also featuring restaurants that boast all kinds of cuisine and shops full of souvenirs, you may think that you’ve seen and experienced nearly everything that the holiday destinations have to offer. However, there are plenty of specifics and tiny details that still might surprise and amaze you. Check out these 15 interesting facts about Disney theme parks that you probably didn’t know.

Disney’s Main Street Is Scented
When you walk into a Disney park, you’ll likely find yourself strolling down Main Street, U.S.A. The stretch of road that sits inside the park’s entrance is not only a treat for the eyes, but it’s also nice on the nose. That’s because Main Street is scented. Using a patented machine called a “Smellitzer,” the scent of vanilla is pumped into the area via vents along with occasional bursts of a popcorn aroma. However, around Christmas, they switch over to a seasonably suitable peppermint scent. According to Goodhousekeeping, the pleasants smells “not only ... help visitors have a sweet experience, but it helps mask the odor of trash and sweat.”

Fast Company explains that the “Smellitzer” is also used to produce “specific sweet, savory, or mundane smells to accompany various park attractions” in order to enhance each experience.

Disney Visitors Eat A Wild Amount Of Turkey
There are seemingly endless options when it comes to the delicious delights that are served up at Disney parks, but plenty of people like to devour turkey drumsticks. In fact, it’s estimated that hungry visitors at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort eat more than 1.6 million turkey drumsticks every year. That’s 2.5 million pounds!

Disney Parks Offer 'Extra Magic Hours'
If you can’t get enough of the Disney fun during your stay at one of the parks, then you should consider taking advantage of their “Extra Magic Hours” (and even the occasional “Extra Extra Magic Hours”). Disney World’s website explains that “guests of Disney Resort and other hotels can spend extra time in one of the theme parks each day, either before it opens or after it closes — so Guests can enjoy select attractions and experiences.” With the rides sometimes starting as early as 6 a.m. and continuing to operate until 2 or 3 a.m., visitors can enjoy extended adventures with the amusements without the crowds.

It Would Likely Take Your Entire Life To Stay In Every Disney World Hotel Room
Disney is constantly updating its parks’ hotels as well as opening additional accommodations, which means that there are plenty of places to stay overnight. In fact, according to Thrillist, it would take 68 years to stay in every hotel room at Disney World. And it turns out that there were supposed to be even more hotels, including one with a Venetian theme, a South Asian theme, and a Persian theme.

Disneyland Has Its Own Cats
Disneyland may be where Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck roam around, but it’s also the home to around 100 cats. The animals aren’t part of an attraction, but are instead feral residents that are “quietly fed, vaccinated, and neutered by Disney employees,” according to Vice.

Business Insider notes that Disney workers can also adopt the cats and Mike Fox, author of The Hidden Secrets & Stories of Walt Disney World, The Hidden Secrets & Stories of Disneyland, and Disneyland In-Depth, who’s also the founder of told BI that not only do the mice-catchers keep the park’s rodent population down, but “guests love them, and they even have their own fan pages.”

Disney Performers Aren’t Allowed To Reveal Who They Play
Disney parks are a magical place, especially for children who still believe that the costume-covered individuals who wander around are the real deal. And one of the ways Disney ensures that they don’t break the spell is to make sure that the performers who work as beloved fictional figures like Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, and Toy Story’s Woody don’t tell anyone what character they portray.

“We’re proud of the role characters play in guest experience,” said Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler, according to the National Post. “This is in line with our longstanding expectation for cast members to uphold character integrity.”

Missouri Almost Had Its Own Disney Park
The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean were originally meant to be rides that you enjoyed in St. Louis, which is where Disney originally intended to create his second park. “Before building his Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Walt Disney considered opening his second theme park in a slightly less tropical clime — St. Louis. A native son of Missouri, Disney drew up blueprints for a five-story indoor theme park, dubbed Riverfront Square, that would fill two city blocks,” explains “Planned attractions included re-creations of old St. Louis and New Orleans and rides inspired by the Lewis and Clark expedition, Davy Crockett and the nearby Meramec Caverns.”

Unfortunately, the park simply wasn’t meant to be and the “project ultimately collapsed in 1965 as development costs proved too high for the city and Disney began to turn his eyes to Florida for his next project.” However, they also point out that there’s a belief that “Disney’s insistence that Riverfront Square be free of beer also did in the project in Budweiser’s hometown.”

Disney Grows Its Own Fruits And Vegetables
If you’ve ever eaten fresh fruit or tasty vegetables in one Disney’s restaurants, then you’re likely nibbling on something that was grown at Epcot's Land Pavilion which is apparently responsible for 30 tons of produce each year.

If you’re interested in the innovative methods being used to grow so much food, then be sure to check out the Behind the Seeds tour which will give you a look at the Land Pavilion’s fish farm and four greenhouses. You can also see “gigantic fruits and vegetables and unusual crops from around the world” and “discover the latest plant-growing techniques, including hydroponics.”

There Are Tunnels Under The Magic Kingdom
As if the Magic Kingdom wasn’t whimsical enough, it turns out that there are tunnels under the beloved building. However, they’re not exactly private passages to an enchanted area, but are instead utility corridors where employees work and move behind the scenes. According to the Daily Mail, the tunnels — which were an idea that Walt Disney himself came up with — “are packed with offices, cafeterias, and a wardrobe department (including an impressive 136 costumes for Mickey alone). There's even a resident hairdresser.”

Walt Disney Had An Apartment At Disneyland
If you’re walking down Disneyland’s Main Street, then be sure to take a look up at the second floor of the fire department building. That’s where Walt Disney’s apartment is located. Built when the park was first constructed and used by the family whenever they wanted to visit, a lamp in the window was lit whenever he was in residence to signal employees of his presence. Nowadays, it’s still lit in honor of the beloved park’s late creator.

Walt Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller, offered a look at the space, explaining that the apartment was decorated by award-winning set designer Emil Currie, who worked on movies like Mary Poppins and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and was intended to be her parent’s “Victorian masterpiece.”

Four Babies Have Been Born At Disneyland
The first baby born at Disneyland was Teresa Salcedo who arrived on July 4, 1979, according to Gizmodo, who claim that there have been at least four babies delivered at the park.

The New York Times reported a second Disney baby back in 1984, writing, “Juan Manuel Granados came down from Disneyland’s Space Mountain ride Saturday to learn that his wife had given birth to a daughter in the park's first-aid station. His wife, Margarita, 20 years old, had been told that the park did not allow pregnant women on the ride. While she waited for her husband, Mrs. Granados began to have labor pains. Her husband's uncle, Miguel Coudillo, walked her to the first-aid station, where the baby was born, a park spokesman, Al Flores, said.”

However, Gizmodo also notes that there’s “a surprisingly popular misconception that any baby born in a Disney Park gets a lifetime pass.” While it would be a nice birthday perk, the rumor is “completely untrue.”

Walt Disney World Is The Largest Single-Site Employer In The Country
“According to our research, Walt Disney World is the largest single-site employer in the country,” said Kelly Frank, Disney World's director of employment, according to The Orlando Sentinel. That was back in 1998 when 50,000 employees worked at the park. Nowadays, that number is even bigger. As of July 2019, The Telegraph reported that there were “around 70,000 Cast Members at Walt Disney World in Florida.”

There Are Reportedly Real Bones In The Pirates Of The Caribbean Ride
When Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride was first built back in 1967, real human remains were acquired from UCLA Medical Center’s anatomy department and used to add authenticity to the attraction. While they were eventually replaced by fake bones — and the biological bits were “given a proper burial,” according to former Disney producer Jason Surrell’s book Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies (via Mental Floss) — there are rumors that some of the real skeletons stuck around.

There are various theories as to which of the bones may still be real, but some possibilities include two skulls that sit on an island that can be spotted after the second waterfall as well as a skull and crossbones that decorate a bed’s headboard.

Mickey Mouse Is Hidden All Over The Parks
Disney’s artists and “Imagineers” sneak Mickey Mouse’s image into the park’s design in various and adorably clever way. You can spot the character’s iconic round face and two circular ears in paintings and along walkways, arranged in stones, and carved into rocks, as well as among the leaves and made of metal.

The Beatles Broke Up At Disney’s Polynesian Resort
The Beatles were one of the most famous bands in history, however, you might not have known that when they called it quits, their official split happened at a Disney park. The late John Lennon was on holiday with his 11-year-old son at the end of 1974, along with the musician’s personal assistant (and girlfriend at the time) May Pang, who reportedly talked to the Orlando Sentinel newspaper in 2008 about the moment when Lennon received the documents that would legally end The Beatles, saying, “He finally picked up his pen and, in the unlikely backdrop of the Polynesian Village Hotel at Disney World, ended the greatest rock 'n' roll band in history by simply scrawling 'John Lennon' at the bottom of the page.”

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