I love Disney World! Yes I said it and I’m going to say it again:
I LOVE Disney World!
In fact I celebrated my 41st birthday on the Tomorrowland Terrace and was giddy as a school girl when Tinkerbell herself, in all her brightly lit magical magical-ness flew right over my head. I even think I felt some of her pixie dust land on my face. I tried to fly but I think I was too heavy from all the desserts I had just eaten. I’m quite sure I would have floated off right there otherwise.
One too many creme brulee’.
In my previous post I mentioned that Mr. Sweet Butter and myself took the opportunity to take a couple of tours offered at Disney World that WizKid wasn’t old enough to attend. Disney likes to make sure the magic stays alive for them younuns as long as possible.
I can’t say I preferred one over the other; both were unique and each provided the chance to go behind the scene and have some of those burning questions answered. Like:
“Is there really a whole city beneath Magic Kingdom complete with apartments, grocery stores and cool things like hover crafts?”
“Does Mickey Mouse live in in the Castle?”
“Is there a city in Space Mountain?”
“Where does all the trash go?”
The “Marceline to Magic Kingdom” tour however gave us wonderful insight into Walt Disney, his dreams and how his quiet brother Roy was key to helping make them all come true.
Thats Mr. Sweet Butter waiting for both the tour and me to finish snapping my pics. Both tours started on Main Street USA which just happens to be my absolute favorite part of the park. Oh sure Adventureland has tree houses and pirates and flying carpets and well….adventure; Fantasyland lets you fly over the moon, sail all the way around a small world or spin like mad in a tea cup. Then of course Tomorrowland takes you on a rocket to outer space and into the world of tomorrow.
But there’s just something about Main Street that makes me want to sit there all day and watch the people go by and see the parades in their musical array of color. Maybe it’s because it was closest to Walt’s heart and how it all began, way before it was “Disney”.
Main Street is the first thing you see when you enter the park, not “the castle”, and it was purposely designed this way. See all this time me and I’m sure many others never considered why there are two entrances on either side of the train station or why you can’t see the castle from outside Magic Kingdom. To be honest I get tunnel vision at the thought of balloons, popcorn, sweet treats, rides, Mickey, Minnie, Cinderella and the chance to spend every last penny I owned. Ok maybe not that but I never thought twice about that four dollar rice crispy Mickey head.
Come to find out Walt Disney and his company had no idea how to design or run an amusement park but what they did understand, probably better than anyone, was how to make and sell movies. So that’s how Magic Kingdom was designed.
You go to a movie and you can’t see anything yet, maybe the trailer, a few posters. What do you see when you walk through the gates on either side of the park; posters for some of the things that await you inside.
At the movie you never come in the center, you enter from the sides, just at Disney.
At the movie you pick up your popcorn and candy just as you enter. What’s just inside each of the two gateways to Magic Kingdom; a popcorn cart and The Confectionary.
Only then do you come around the corner and see the star of the show; the castle, regardless of what Disney you are at. then you walk down Main Street and are slowly immersed into the story.
In addition each of the five lands gradually transitions into the other as if a movie goer were moving from one film into another. The landscapes start to blend, the buildings gradually change style and the soundtracks fade until the whole story has changed completely. You are now in the center of the world biggest interactive film.
Main Street reminded Walt of his life in Marcelaine during the turn of the century when life was simple, neighbors knew each other, progress was being made by leaps and bounds. Because it was so special to Walt it is also very special to the company as a whole. If you’ve never done so or have never been to a Disney Park, make a point of slowing down and looking up at the windows on Main Street. You might be surprised at some of the things and names on the windows. Recognize anyone on this one?
Thought you might.
All of the names belong to someone who has or does work for Disney; someone special. From Walt and Roy themselves to artists, imagineers, friends and family; people who have made a significant impact on the world of Disney. They all have their own stories and you may be surprised by what you learn if you ask a cast member who some of those people are.
Main Street takes you straight to the heart of the film, the star and director themselves.
Cinderella’s Castle is amazing, there’s no doubt about it but what’s it’s not is tall, well at least not as tall as it looks. It reaches a mere 189 feet is all but with the magic of forced perspective it looks much taller. In fact the same magic is used at Hogwarts castle which actually makes it look much much taller than Cinderella’s sweet pad. In actuality the princess has it on the wizard by nearly 30 feet. Shocking huh?
How many stone blocks are in the castle?
None. It’s made completely of fiberglass. In fact because Walt wanted to make it out of fiberglass the whole park almost didn’t happen.
See them big bad villains at the Orange County zoning commission weren’t too keen on this Hollywood hot shot coming into town to put up a big old play ground with a castle in the center of it. So they were just looking for reasons to shut that cat down.
See Walt wanted to put the castle up before anything else in the park being as it would be seen for nearly two miles in any direction. Some advertisement. He wanted to build it of fiberglass, a relatively new material in 1966. But big bad zoning baddies said no. It was too much of a fire hazard.
Well that Disney man wasn’t about to be put off. He did what any boy being bullied would do…he called in his big brother Roy.
Roy marches up to the zoning villains and say, “what do we need to do to get this here castle built for my brothers park?”
Thinking they had the edge and Roy by the noose those dirty zoning villains smiled real slyly and told Roy, “You could always start your own zoning commission.”
Roy looked at them, thought for a minute and replied, “Alright”.
And that’s just what he did.
Walt Disney World became it’s own principality. They owned the land, their own utilities, their own post office (those mailboxes you see in Hollywood Studios…they’re real. Go ahead, mail a letter from one). They ran the show, even their own zoning commission.
That castle did get built and although Mickey doesn’t live in it, in 2010 they built a complete suite for Cinderella’s guests that even you could win a stay in.
Big bad villains lose again.
In addition to learning the history of the park we got to go back stage and see where all of the floats are housed.
We saw how the water for Splash Mountain is pumped in and cleaned every night.
We also learned about trash.
Yes garbage. For one, those covered trash cans that have the swinging door you have to push open to throw your trash in, yep the ones you see everywhere in the world; Walt invented them.
Also, there are a few dumping stations stationed around the park where cast members dump trash into and then all the trash is literally sucked away through huge tubes to a central garbage processing station where it’s magically dispensed of. Just imagine those air tubes at the bank drive through only a lot bigger, a lot stronger and a lot faster.
So where are the tubes? That perspective all depends on where you are in relation to them. If your on the street, they are below you but if you’re underground they’re above you.
Yes underground. Yes we went down there, to “the tunnels”. They are referred to as “the utilidors”.
So fact from fiction.
Fiction: they are only one level, not 2,3,4etc.
Fact: They do connect as one giant mole tunnel all the way around and through Magic Kingdom allowing a cast member travel to any part of the park relatively quickly.
Fiction: There are not hover craft but the utilidors are large enough for small fork lifts and large motor carts to drive through.
Fiction: there are not apartments or cities but there is a post office, beauty salon, barber shop and several other amenities that come in handy.
Fact: when you are in the utilidors all of the wiring, cables, piping, plumbing, phone wires and even the trash tubes for all of Magic Kingdom are over your head along the ceiling.
Yeah they’re pretty darn cool.
The Marceline tour allowed us to see Snow Whites Scary Adventure before the park opened and ride it twice; once with the lights off like any park goer would and a second time with the lights on and music off. Very different sides to the same ride.
Many people already know this but just in case you don’t, If you ride the People Mover in Tomorrowland, it takes you through Space Mountain. Right inside the entrance is a a model of a little city. This is a small portion of the model that Walt Disney had created for what we know as EPCOT. He envisioned the ultimate city of tomorrow where everything was practically perfect. He died before Magic Kingdom opened so without his guidance nobody knew how to bring EPCOT to reality as he had wanted it. So they did something new and created the EPCOT you see today.
So what about those two questions?
In what style is Cinderellas castle designed?
The answer is, 17th century France. Yes Cinderella was a little French girl.
Now about that statue of Walt and Mickey.
What is Walt pointing at?
The answer is many. It’s believed he’s telling Mickey that when Walt is gone Mickey shouldn’t worry about things. That as long as there’s hope, as long as someone has a dream and as long as people keep looking to the future everything will be ok; Mickey and his friends will always have their home.
It’s also believed that he’s telling Mickey if he should ever need anything he can turn to the man at the center of town square. He always took care of everything and always knew how to make Walt’s dreams come true, no matter how crazy or impossible they may have seemed.
You may have missed him but he’s there, sitting quietly and unobtrusive, happy to let his brother shine like a star in front if the castle. On a bench with Minnie by his side, is Roy. Be sure to say hi next time you stop in.
There was so much more to these tours but I can’t give everything away now.
Both tours are absolutely worth the time and extra money and Mr.Sweet Butter and I both recommend them. You really will learn something magical.
What? How many Mickeys are there at any one time?
I thought you’d ask that question.
Well that’s simple,
There is and can only ever be one Mickey Mouse.