Disney World: Truly Crazy

Magic Kingdom Tunnels

Today I went to Disney World for not the 1st, 5th or 25th time in my life. And it was, as always, totally expensive, and totally amazing.

I am not one of those crazy Disney people. I just so happened to grow up in Tampa, a mere 90 minutes away from the mouse. And so, we went several times a year, with visitors, group trips, and, when I was finally a high school senior, Grad Night. Now that I have young kids, I've started going again, only this time, from beach holidays.

On today's visit, my husband and I marveled at the efficiency of the operation. Within 30 minutes of driving into the parking lot, we were walking through the gates, and that was after a tram ride, ticket purchase, monorail ride and bag check. Despite the crowd streaming into Pinocchio's Haus for lunch, I was in and out with our meals in under 10 minutes. And somehow, we never saw anyone emptying the trash cans that were undoubtedly filling up by the hour.

I remember hearing urban legends about Disney World: there is basically a city underneath the park; employees aren't allowed to have facial hair; Mickey lectures teenagers who get caught getting stoned at the park.

Curious about what really goes on behind the perfect veneer of Disney World, I did a little research. My findings, in no particular order:

  1. Apparently, a lot of people try bringing alcohol and knives into the park.
  2. Staff members are taught to point with two fingers so as to not offend any international visitors. (The same article talks about what a nightmare it is to be a Disney employee.)
  3. Staff members aren't allowed to date.
  4. Indeed, Disney World is built on top of utilidors (or utility tunnels), which cover nine acres, and allow the staff to take care of deliveries and removals without being seen. They arrive at work through the utility tunnels, parking 1km away, then taking a bus inside. Within the tunnels, employees travel on golf carts to do their work, or head to the area where they actually work. You can take a tour of this area.

Something tells me this is only the tip of the iceberg...