When Walt Disney pitched the idea for a theme park, he intended to create an immersive experience that would outdo any of his films. Today, these parks are one of his most successful accomplishments. And, like a lot of traditional films these days, the parks are packed with fascinating trivia, history and references.
So follow the second star on the right, straight on till morning and come down the Disney Parks rabbit hole.
Let's get down to business.
1. Pirates Of The Caribbean Uses Actual Skeletons?!
The original Pirates of The Caribbean, one of the most iconic rides at the Disney parks has it's own very interesting history. In fact, it was the last ride personally supervised by Walt Disney himself. He died 3 months before it opened.
Apparently though, the iconic skeletons in the ride were originally made of actual human remains that were slowly replaced as fake skeleton technology improved. Some employees insist that there are still some actual skulls and human bones strewn amongst the ride.
2. Celebrities Who Worked In The Park.
While Disney can take responsibility for launching the careers of many recent superstars (Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, and Miley Cyrus to name a few), a number of celebrities got their start working at Disneyland including Steve Martin, who sold guidebooks and worked in the Magic shop for a summer, and Michelle Pfieffer who played Alice in the parades.
3. Disney's Dark Kingdom.
Ever thought that the traditional Disneyland was a bit too tame? Apparently some people behind the development of the parks thought the same when they drafted up plans for a villain-focused park.
Dubbed 'The Dark Kingdom', the park would feature areas dedicated to The Lion King's Scar and Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent. Personally, I think it would be super cool.
4. Hidden Mickeys.
Speaking of things hidden in Disney Rides, there are entire online communities dedicated to discovering 'Hidden Mickeys' throughout the parks. There are apparently tributes to the prolific mouse strewn amongst the rides in the form of the iconic silhouette.
If you're headed to one of the parks and looking for an extra thing to do while waiting in lines, hunting for these is always a fun way to pass the time.
5. Club 33.
Another secret hiding within the walls of Disney Parks is the existence of the exclusive Club 33. This set of private clubs may be well known now, but the origin of it is still unconfirmed. Some reports say that it's named after the address in New Orleans Square, but others claim it's named after the 33 corporate sponsors that helped build the original park.
The club has a 14-year waiting list for applications, with an initiation fee of $50,000 as well as $15,000 annual fees. Yikes!
The original entrance to Club 33, inconspicuously placed in the middle of Royal Street.
6. Winnie The Pooh vs. Mr. Toad.
The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh ride in the Magic Kingdom was commissioned to replace a similar ride based around Mr. Toad 1990, during a rise in the stuffed bear's popularity.
On the ride, you can find a photo of Mr. Toad handing over the deed to Owl from the 100 Acre Woods.
7. The original attractions.
Only 14 of the original attractions are still on the Disneyland grounds, including the Jungle Cruise, The Mad Tea Party and the Main Street Cinema.
8. Flag Lowering Ceremony.
Every day at 5:00pm, Disney World's Magic Kingdom has a flag lowering ceremony at the base of Main Street and every day they pick a Military Veteran to help observe this tradition. The selection process is unclear as of now, but it appears the guest is selected at random early on in the day.
9. Well Wishing.
If you've ever ridden the nightmare-fueled It's a Small World ride at any of the Disney locations, you might have noticed the amount of coins at the bottom of the water-based ride.
Although a common rumor is that this money goes to help children's charities, it's unfortunately not true. Removing the coins from the ride would involve shutting it down for extended periods of time so it hardly ever happens. However, when the ride undergoes severe maintenance the coins are taken and melted down into scrap metal.
On a lighter note, there are many places throughout the park where coins are dredged and donated to charities, such as Snow White's Wishing Well and the Discovery River in Animal Kingdom.
10. The smell of Norway.
The Norway Pavilion in Florida's EPCOT park is home to the unique scent Laila, which is sprayed there throughout the day to mimic the smell of fresh mountain air.
The perfume was created especially for the pavilion to help authenticate the little corner of EPCOT and hopefully to remind Norwegian visitors of home.
11. The AVAC system.
One of the more obscure things that sets Disney World apart from other theme parks is their unique garbage disposal system named AVAC. This system is a series of pneumatic tubes that send garbage to a spot in the park where garbage is sorted and disposed of.
In the original press release for the park, the team expressed hope that the system would catch on and spread to communities across the country. So far though, the only other place that's picked up this unique system is Roosevelt Island.
12. Lost and Found.
Thousands of items go missing every day in the park. Everything from Sunglasses to Hats and even Glass Eyes. It's estimated in Walt Disney World alone that staff members collect 6000 cell phones, 3500 Digital Cameras and 18,000 hats every year.
Since 1971, the iconic monorail at Walt Disney World has travelled roughly the distance to the moon and back 30 times.
14. EPCOT's Spaceship Earth.
The quintessential Spaceship Earth that acts as the centrepiece of EPCOT weighs about 16million pounds, which is about 3 times heavier than an actual spaceship at launch.
15. More on Epcot's sphere!
On the topic of EPCOT's giant sphere, did you know that water never actually drips off the gigantic structure following a rainstorm?
The 16 million pound golfball is designed so that water is funnelled into the structure and funnelled away.
16. Disney Department of Transport.
With the amount of buses operating in Florida's Walt Disney World, the park has a larger fleet of vehicles than the Los Angeles Department of Transport.
17. The Disney Ecosystem.
While you might already think that Disneyland is a unique place, you might be surprised to learn that it has it's own Ecosystem. The Jungle Cruise attraction's canopy is so dense and has been there for so many years that the surrounding area has created an atmosphere for ground plants that would be impossible any other place in California.
18. First Tubular-Steel Rollercoaster.
The typical Tubular-Steel rollercoasters you can find at pretty much any amusement park nowadays actually originated at Disneyland. The first Rollercoaster of this type was the Matterhorn Bobsled way back in 1959.
19. More Monorail!
Another important landmark was the Disneyland Monorail, which was the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.
We really should have more of those across the country...
20. Healthy Habits.
DisneyLand guests apparently consume 350,000 apples a year, which may sound like a lot, but compared to the 3.8 million churros the guests eat the number seems a tad...quaint.
21. Original Parking lot names.
The parking lots at Magic Kingdom help extend the magic beyond the park gates by applying Disney character names to the spaces themselves. Lots are named after heroes or villains like Rapunzel or Scar but this wasn't always the case.
However, they weren't numbered like traditional parking lots, they were named after Snow White's 7 dwarves. Or 6 rather, they neglected Doc because it might confuse people headed to the Ferry Docks.
22. A watchful eye.
The apartment over the Fire House on Main Street in Disneyland used to belong to Walt Disney himself. A light remains on in there always to remind park goers of his presence.
23. Cute Ducklings.
In 1984, for Donald Duck's 50th Birthday, Walt Disney World hatched 50 Peking Ducks in front of the Donald Duck mascot so they would imprint on him as their mother and follow him around the park.
After the parade, the ducks were divided into pairs and sent to zoos all around the country.
24. The sun never sets...
There was an old saying that existed when the British ruled a majority of the world: "The sun never sets on the British Empire."
This saying may no longer apply to the English rule, but it definitely applies to the empire built by Disney. With Theme Parks on opposite American Coasts, Europe and Asia, the sun literally never sets on the Disney Empire.