Last Updated on March 16, 2022 by Jim Ferri
At Disney World many things are carefully staged to provide the best customer experience. I’ve been taken behind the scenes at Disney and I can tell you it goes well beyond the “many”…
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
By Jim Ferri
Most of us realize that at Walt Disney World many things are carefully staged to provide the best customer experience. I’ve been taken behind the scenes at Disney and I can tell you it goes well beyond the “many” — everything you hear, touch or smell at WDW is carefully controlled.
The entire complex, in fact, is actually built 16 feet above ground, atop 8.5 million cubic yards of imported dirt, with tunnels below connecting all areas of the mega-Magic Kingdom. These tunnels contain the business end of the park — the utilities, 9 acres of warehouses stocked with foods and merchandise, offices filled with people ensuring your magic moments. It takes about 60,000 “cast members” to keep everything humming and running above and below ground and they all enter this subterranean mini-city via three-dozen hidden access points.
Behind the Scenes at Disney World: Where Did That Music Come From?
One thing you realize once you’re inside the tunnels is that all background music is decidedly non-Disney. “After all,” my guide told me, “how many hours can you listen to ‘It’s a Small World?’ ” He also told me “absolutely no photos.”
When I was behind the scenes at Disney World, walking through the tunnels I couldn’t help but notice the large pipes hanging from the ceilings. They are vacuum pipes that whisk garbage out to a landfill at 65mph, he told me, as he then took me over to the other end of the odoriferous spectrum to see the “Air Smellitizer,” a small machine that wafts the aroma of baking cookies up onto the street outside the cookie shop above. All this was only the beginning of the Illusion.
As we later walked along Fantasyland’s Main Street, probably the most-visited optical illusion in the world, he showed me how the street was constructed on a scale to make Cinderella’s Castle look a considerable distance away. The distance really isn’t all that far — it’s just that every building on Main Street gets progressively smaller as you walk along it, providing the illusion of distance when you’re at the far end.
The Illusions of Cinderella’s Castle
It’s the same with the castle itself — he pointed out how each row of its building blocks is smaller in size as they rise up, giving the illusion of greater height. That little railing at the top is actually a foot shorter than most people think. I was seeing everything behind the scenes at Disney World and was amazed at the lengths the Disney team had gone to, to ensure the perfect experience for its guests.
But it’s not just illusion at work here. Disney spent years researching everything imaginable to give adults the feeling that while in the Magic Kingdom their children and grandchildren are in safest place in the world — the reason everything is so clean and sanitized.
This research, for example, showed that if people have to walk more than about 40 feet to find a garbage can, they tend to drop their refuse on the ground. That’s why no two garbage cans in WDW are more than 27 paces apart. Take my word for it; I checked it out several times.
On some nights WDW closes early for mega-corporate events and on those occasions more than just “It’s a Small World” disappears. Disney’s daytime persona metamorphoses into a great party atmosphere with another world of characters that, it’s safe to guess, Walt never imagined. When you see the beer, wine and liquor flowing at these adult parties at times it’s hard to imagine you’re actually still in Disney World.
vin fiscella says
that was a very nice and informative article.i had no idea of the 65mph garbage disposal.
Vinny Fiscella from Rocky Point N.Y.
Dick & Dorothy Hoban says
Enjoyed the article. Since we are going to Africa in 2 weeks, I was interested in the first article also but when I clicked on “read the rest…” I got a CAN’T FIND THE PAGE message.