I was a Disney Imagineer for 8 years. Here are 9 little-known facts about the parks.



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There are a lot of fun facts about the rides and designs at the Disney parks. Charles Sykes/AP

There’s a version of Dumbo the Flying Elephant at all six Disney properties, but one has a special mechanism.

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The ride exists around the world. Marjie Lambert/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Dumbo the Flying Elephant is the only ride that exists at all six Disney properties around the world.

But the ride at Magic Kingdom in Florida is the only one with “dueling Dumbos” (two carousels that operate side-by-side).

The rumors are true – there are “tunnels” under Magic Kingdom and Epcot, but they’re not actually underground.

Street view of Magic Kingdom and Cinderella Castle at Disney World.

A view of Main Street USA and Cinderella Castle at Disney World. Charles Sykes/AP

There are “utilidors” located underneath Magic Kingdom and Epcot that consist of full roadway and walkway infrastructures.

But they aren’t technically tunnels because they’re not actually located underground. They form the ground floor of the property, and the actual park is on the second floor.

The utilidors have multiple purposes, including covertly moving around park employees, characters, waste, food, and merchandise. They’re also used for emergency purposes.

Visitors can even get a behind-the-scenes look at the utilidor system if they sign up for Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom tour. When it’s available, the five-hour tour costs $99, but it’s worth it if you love learning about Disney secrets.

Disney World’s property in Florida isn’t just made up of theme parks and hotels.

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There are conserved wetlands beyond the theme parks. John Raoux/AP

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, is home to thousands of acres of wetlands beyond the theme parks.

The area is protected by a wildlife-management-conservation easement.

Walt Disney originally envisioned Epcot as a fully functioning utopian city.


Epcot could’ve been more than just a theme park. David Roark/Disney Parks

Epcot, or Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, wasn’t originally going to be just a theme park. Walt Disney intended to build an actual community that incorporated urban-planning methods and embodied an ideal way of life.

The plans included a futuristic approach to living, commerce, transportation, and recreation. To make it even more futuristic, Walt envisioned it all being housed inside an air-conditioned dome.

A few months into the process, Walt died, and the plans for Epcot eventually changed.

The tallest Disney castle in the world is located in China.

This image shows Disneyland and night while people look at lights behind the castle.

Shanghai Disneyland is home to Enchanted Storybook Castle. Hu Chengwei/Getty Images

Out of the six Disney castles around the world, Shanghai’s Enchanted Storybook Castle, which opened in 2016, is the tallest at about 197 feet.

The shortest one is the original Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in California, which is 77 feet tall.

Disneyland wasn’t originally supposed to be located in Anaheim, California.

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The park was almost much closer to Los Angeles. Gabriella Sorrento

In the 1950s, Walt originally proposed for Disneyland to be located in Burbank, California, about 36 miles northwest of where it ended up in Anaheim.

As the vision of Disneyland grew, Walt set his sights on a larger plot of land, which was the main reason for the move.

The park opened on July 17, 1955, and the resort expanded to include Disney California Adventure Park in 2001.

Imagineers consulted with feng-shui experts when they designed Hong Kong Disneyland.

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The view from behind the castle at Hong Kong Disneyland. AP Photo/Kin Cheung

While planning and designing Hong Kong Disneyland, Imagineers consulted with feng-shui masters and experts. The ancient Chinese practice focuses on creating spaces that achieve balance with the natural world.

The Imagineers wanted to ensure that there was a sense of harmony in their designs, so when you’re strolling through the park, know that every building and walkway was placed with a bigger purpose in mind.

All of Disneyland’s opening-day rides are still operating 66 years later.

A photo shows the revamped Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland.

Jungle Cruise has been revamped over the years, but it’s still around. Allen J. Schaben/Getty Images

Guests can travel back in time by hopping on the attractions that debuted when Disneyland first opened in 1955.

The original rides — which are all still operating today — are Jungle Cruise, Storybook Land Canal Boats, Mark Twain Riverboat, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Mad Tea Party, Peter Pan’s Flight, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, King Arthur Carrousel, Autopia, and Disneyland Railroad.

Tourists used to have to purchase “E” tickets to ride the most popular attractions, and the term is still used today.

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The new rides in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge are “E”-ticket attractions. Kim Renfro/INSIDER

Between 1955 to 1982, guests at Disneyland and, later, Disney World had to purchase separate tickets for each attraction they wanted to ride. By the late 1950s, the rides were broken up into five tiers — A, B, C, D, and E — based on their popularity.

“E”-ticket rides were the most coveted attractions, and although Disney got rid of the system, the term is still used to refer to the major, top-tier attractions at the parks.

Today rides like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway would be considered “E”-ticket attractions.

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