23 amazing facts you never knew about Disney World

It's where dreams are made!

Mickey Mouse

by Empire Online |
Updated on

Fans of Walt Disney's films will be ever-grateful to Disney's film company for creating places that they can go and really immerse themselves in joy. We are, of course, talking about the various Disney World and Disneylands that exist all over the world.

There are six Disney resorts across the globe: Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan, Disneyland Paris or Euro Disney in France, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and Shanghai Disney Resort in China.

If you're planning on visiting any of the above - or just really love the world of Disney - you'll enjoy the interesting and lesser-known facts about the parks that we've collected purely for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

  1. Disneyland, California, was built in the early 1950s, opening in 1955. Anxious to be on site as much as possible, Walt built an apartment for his family above the 'Fire Department' on Main Street. A lamp in the window signalled to staff that he was in residence, and this is now always alight in his honour. Awww.
  1. Disney World, Florida, opened in 1971, long after the original Disneyland in California. Walt was unsettled by the sight of costumed characters having to run through the 'wrong' lands to get to their allotted spots, spoiling the magic at the first site. He came up with an elaborate tunnel system which runs beneath Disney World, and allows actors to put on their costumes and appear in the appropriate land without shattering the illusion. The entire park is built on a gentle incline to accommodate these.
  1. The rules for those playing theme park characters include never using the word 'no' (not sure that would stand up in court), never breaking character or sitting down and never pointing out a direction with a single finger, which is considered rude.
  1. Like an action star in Cuban heels, some of the architecture at Disneyland has had a helping hand to appear taller. Its design uses 'forced perspective', so while Sleeping Beauty's castle may seem to rise up into the clouds, thanks to painted bricks that get smaller towards the top, it's actually a relatively titchy 189ft tall.
SLeeping Beauty cAstle
©© Getty Images
  1. The theme parks use a patented 'Smellitzer' device designed to pump certain scents around. Whether it's a waft of sea salt in Pirates of the Caribbean, or vanilla in Main Street, your senses are constantly being played.
  1. Main Street is based on 1910 America, while Tomorrowland was designed to represent 1986 - both were chosen because they were Halley's Comet years.
  1. If you're into exclusivity, and already a paid-up Club 33 member, why not try a night in Cinderella's castle in Florida? A swish 650ft apartment can be accessed by a secret lift, but unless you're Hollywood royalty it's unlikely you'll be given directions, and no amount of money can buy your way in.
  1. Apparently, if you send Mickey and Minnie Mouse an invitation to your wedding they'll send you back an autographed photo and a 'Just Married' badge. If you send Cinderella and Prince Charming an invitation, you'll get an autographed congratulatory certificate.
  1. Disney World flew its flags at half-mast on the day Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died. Jobs was Disney's largest single shareholder (7 percent) and was on the board of directors. Cars features a white racing car with the Apple logo, and the number '84', which refers to the year the first Apple computer was released.
Car Mac
©Cars © Disney
  1. While a million and one kids have lost their minds at Disney World, adults have misplaced an estimated 1.65 million pairs of glasses since 1971. Every year, the park finds an average of 6,000 cellphones, 3,500 digital cameras and 18,000 hats.
  1. It would take 68 years to sleep in every single room at Disney World. That's a lot of pillow mints.
  1. The Disney World resort is about the same size as San Francisco.
  1. Disney World was evacuated on September 11, 2001 in just 30 minutes, as staff feared it might become another terrorist target. They then worked through the night to erect the Fourth of July decorations, so it could reopen the following day with an air of national solidarity.
  1. Walt Disney's attention to detail was legendary. He placed the bins at Disney World 25 steps away from the hot dog stall, as this was how long it took him to eat a hot dog.
  1. With about 78 million sold, Mickey Mouse ears are one of the most popular souvenirs from Disneyland. Names can be embroidered on the back, but you can't get the name of a famous person, sports team, corporation, or personal business.
High School Musical star Ashley Tisdale wearing Mickey Mouse ears
©High School Musical star Ashley Tisdale wearing Mickey Mouse ears © Getty Images
  1. Disney built a miniature railroad in his backyard called the Carolwood Pacific Railroad. It had 2,615 feet of track, including trestles, loops, overpasses, and even a tunnel (after his wife vetoed his suggestion that he put a train through her flower beds).
  1. Pogo sticks are forbidden at Disneyland. Not so magical now, is it?
  1. On a trip to Disneyland Paris, George Lucas decided to film the Star Wars attraction during a ride - something that is against the rules. An oblivious member of staff (or perhaps a Star Wars hater) tried to have him removed.
  1. Disneyland employees only have their first names featured on workplace badges, because Walt hated being called 'Mr Disney'.
  1. Back in 2004, the company auctioned (for charity) the chance to name a gravestone at the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland. The winner, Cary Sharp, paid $37,400 on eBay to become the attraction's 1,000th ghost. Each to their own.
Disney World's Haunted Mansion
©Disney World's Haunted Mansion © Getty Images
  1. When the Pirates of the Caribbean ride opened in 1967, the only fake skeletons available to Disneyland designers were rather naff, so they used real skeletons (previously employed for medical research) from UCLA's Medical Center.
  1. Animal Kingdom scientists at the Disney World safari park have carried out pioneering studies into elephant vocalisations. Some of them travelled to Kenya to see Dumbo in the wild, and were involved in the discovery of a brand new call: an alert related to bees.
  1. The horses that pull the streetcars along Main Street in Disneyland have rubber-soled shoes, officially to protect their legs, but with the added benefit of lending a distinct 'clip clop' sound to carriage-based jaunts.

So there you have it!

READ: Which actors voiced your favourite Disney characters?


Disney character voices - stacked

Scott Weinger and Aladdin from Aladdin1 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Scott Weinger

Scott Weinger voiced the lead character of Aladdin (1992).

Linda Larkin and Princess Jasmine from Aladdin2 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Linda Larkin

Linda Larkin voiced the character of Princess Jasmine in Aladdin (1992).

Kelly MacDonald and Merida from Brave3 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Kelly MacDonald

Kelly MacDonald played the lead character of Merida, the daughter of Scottish King Fergus in Brave (2012).

Billy Connolly and King Fergus in Brave4 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Billy Connolly

Billy Connolly played King Fergus in Brave (2012). He also voiced Ben and Joe Baker in Pocahontas (1995).

Albert Brooks and Marlin from Finding Nemo and Finding Dory5 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Albert Brooks

Albert Brooks played Marlin in Finding Nemo (2003) and reprised in the role in Finding Dory (2016).

Ellen DeGeneres and Dory from Finding Nemo and Finding Dory6 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres played the fish Dory, who was Nemo's sidekick in the first film. But, the fish didn't need to wait too long (well, 13 years) until she got her own film, Finding Dory (2016).

Idina Menzel and Queen Elsa from Frozen7 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Idina Menzel

Idina Menzel played Queen Elsa in Frozen (2013). She is set to reprise her role in Frozen 2 (2019).

Kristen Bell and Elsa from Frozen8 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Kristen Bell

Kristen Bell played Elsa's sister Anna in Frozen (2013). Kristen will reprise her role in Frozen 2 (2019).

Matthew Broderick and Simba from The Lion King9 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Matthew Broderick

Matthew Broderick played Simba in the 1994 version of The Lion King and reprised the role in The Lion King 2 (1998) and The Lion King 3 (2004).

Moria Kelly and Nala from The Lion King10 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Moira Kelly

Moira Kelly played Nala in The Lion King (1994), The Lion King 2 (1998) and The Lion King 3 (2004).

Auli'i Cravalho and Moana from Moana11 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Auli'i Cravalho

18-year-old Auli'i Cravalho took on the role of Moana (2016).

Dwayne Johnson and Maui from Moana12 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Dwayne Johnson

Dwayne Johnson played Maui in Moana (2016).

Jodi Benson and Ariel from The Little Mermaid13 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Jodi Benson

Jodi Benson was cast as Ariel in The Little Mermaid (1989).

Christopher Daniel Barnes and Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid14 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Christopher Daniel Barnes

Christopher Daniel Barnes played Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid (1989).

John Goodman and Sully from Monsters Inc15 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

John Goodman

John Goodman played Sully in Monsters Inc (2001) and reprised his role in the film's prequel Monster University (2013).

Billy Crystal and Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc16 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Billy Crystal

Billy Crystal played fan favourite Mike Wazowski in both Monsters Inc films.

Mandy Moore and Rapunzel from Tangled17 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Mandy Moore

Mandy Moore played the lead role of Rapunzel in Tangled (2010).

Zachary Levi and Flynn Rider from Tangled18 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Zachary Levi

Zachary Levi played Flynn Rider in Tangled (2010).

Tony Goldwyn and Tarzan from Tarzan19 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Tony Goldwyn

Tony Goldwyn voiced Tarzan (1999).

Minnie Driver and Jane Porter from Tarzan20 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Minnie Driver

Minnie Driver voiced Jane Porter in Tarzan (1999).

Irene Bedard and Pocahontas from Pocahontas21 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Irene Bedard

Irene Bedard played the title character of Pocahontas (1995).

Mel Gibson and Captain John Smith from Pocahontas22 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson played Captain John Smith, the love interest of Pocahontas (1995).

Anika Noni Rose and Princess Tiana from Princess and the Frog23 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Anika Noni Rose

Anika Noni Rose played Princess Tiana in Princess and the Frog (2009).

Bruno Campos and Prince Naveen from Princess and the Frog24 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Bruno Campos

Bruno Campos played Tiana's love interest Prince Naveen (2009).

John C. Reilly and Ralph from Wreck-It Ralph25 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

John C. Reilly

John C. Reilly playing the title character Ralph in Wreck-It Ralph. John went on to voice the character in the second film: Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018).

Sarah Silverman and Vanellope von Schewwtz from Wreck-It Ralph26 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman voices Vanellope von Schweetz in both Wreck-It Ralph films.

Tom Hanks and Tim Allen and Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story27 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Tom Hanks and Tim Allen

Tom Hanks plays Woody in Toy Story (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999), Toy Story 3 (2010) and Toy Story 4 (2019).Tim Allen plays Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999), Toy Story 3 (2010) and Toy Story 4 (2019).

Robby Benson and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast28 of 29
CREDIT: Robby Benson voiced the Beast u00a9 Getty/Disney

Robby Benson

Robby Benson played the Beast/Prince Adam in Beauty and the Beast (1991).

Paige Ou2019Hara and Belle from Beauty and the Beast29 of 29
CREDIT: u00a9 Getty/Disney

Paige O’Hara

Paige O'Hara played Belle in Beauty and the Beast (1991).

This article originally appeared on Empire Online.

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