Walt Disney’s goal was to build a park that was never complete. He wanted to create a space where people could come back to over and over again. Imagineers put so much time and effort into creating an immersive storytelling experience. Every detail is intentional and part of what makes the Disney experience as amazing as it is.
I don’t know about you, but every time I go to Disney I notice something new. It’s as if every trip is like peeling off a new layer of detail. I especially love the trips into the parks when there isn’t much on the to do list. It gives me time to sit back and soak in the details.
Each park has so many details beneath the surface – some more obvious than others. Walk through Magic Kingdom with me as I show you some of my favorites!
As you start your way down turn-of-the-century Main Street U.S.A., look over at the windows. If you notice, these windows are placed closer to the ground than normal. Walt Disney did this on purpose in Disneyland – he wanted the windows low enough so children would be able to peer into the windows. When Magic Kingdom was built, the Imagineers brought this same concept to the new park.
Center Street Theming
Halfway down Main Street U.S.A there is a little off-shoot called Center Street. This is a quieter corner that most people just walk right past, but is truly one of my favorite spots. Next time you are at Magic Kingdom, grab a Starbucks coffee from the Main Street Bakery and head here. Sit at a table and take in the details of the ambiance.
Up on the second floor of these buildings you will find windows that say “Voice & Singing, Music & Dance Lessons,” etc. If you notice, a couple of the windows are cracked open. This is partially for show, since in the turn-of-the-century there was no air conditioning, windows were often open. It also is functional as there are speakers inside of these windows. If you listen closely, you may hear voice and dance lessons every once in a while.
So while it may seem like a quiet, unassuming corner, it is still a part of the overall story of Main Street U.S.A.!
Working our way clockwise around Magic Kingdom, head down the Liberty Square Bridge and over to the Liberty Tree on the left. This tree is inspired by the original Liberty Tree in Boston which served as a gathering place for the Sons of Liberty around the Boston Tea Party.
There are 13 lanterns hanging from various branches of the tree, illuminating the area at night. Each lantern represents one of the original 13 colonies. Next to the tree you will find the Liberty Bell (made from the original cast), surrounded by 13 flags. Each flag represents each of the original 13 states.
Black Wreath on Haunted Mansion Door
I could spend an hour talking about the Haunted Mansion and the layers of detailed storytelling it provides us. But one of my favorites, and I find most often missed, is the front door of the mansion. Now, this isn’t the door you walk in. Guests enter through the “second entrance” of the mansion, with the servants’ entrance at the exit of the attraction.
Hanging on the door is a black wreath. It is said that in the 1700s that a black wreath would be hung on the door to show that a family is in mourning. Even before you get to the attraction, details like this show that you are entering an area a little more somber than the rest of the park.
Haunted Mansion Pet Cemetery
As you exit the Haunted Mansion, look to the left and you will find a cemetery dedicated to pets. Right in the center is a statue of Mr. Toad. This pays homage to the opening-day classic dark ride Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, located where Many of Adventures of Winnie the Pooh stands today. I was so sad to see this attraction go, but thankfully you can still experience it at Disneyland.
Mr. Toad in Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
There is another nod to our friend Thaddeus Toad in his old residence. Hop into a hunny pot and take a ride into the pages of the book. As you enter the second scene of Winnie the Pooh, Mr. Owl’s house, look left and behind you. There is a portrait of Mr. Toad handing a deed over to Mr. Owl.
Cinderella Crown in Fantasyland
Just behind Cinderella Castle is a water fountain, featuring Cinderella herself in her peasant clothing. Behind her is a background of vines and a crown. From a grown up’s perspective, the grown may just look like a decoration in the back. But if you kneel down to a child’s perspective, you will see that the crown sits atop Cinderella’s head. A little hidden foreshadow for how Cindy’s story will unfold.
Carousel of Progress Voices
Arguably one of the most underrated attractions in all of Walt Disney World is the Carousel of Progress. This ride has so much meaning, mostly because it is the only attraction in all of Walt Disney World that Walt actually touched and worked on. This debuted in the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, moved to Disneyland shortly, and then was moved to Magic Kingdom in 1975.
If you listen closely, you might recognize some voices. The main character, John is voiced by Jean Shepherd. He is also the narrator of the classic Christmas film A Christmas Story. The original voice of John was Rex Allen, who is the voice of Grandpa in the final scene of the ride. Bugs Bunny also makes an appearance – Uncle Orville is voiced by Mel Blanc, the original voice of that famous bunny.
Funny thing – Mel Blanc was originally cast to voice Gideon in the 1940s animated Disney classic, Pinocchio. The creators ultimately chose to cut all of Gideon’s dialogue and made him mute, so all Blanc contributed were his hiccups. He then went on to voice famous characters for Warner Brothers. Uncle Orville is Blanc’s only speaking role in all of Disney’s IP.
Have you noticed these details before? Next time you are at Magic Kingdom, see if you can spot something new! You never know what you will find that may have always been hidden in plain sight.