Walt Disney World has a ton of fun details packed into its nearly 28,000 acres, and most fans know about many of them — the Utilidors underneath the Magic Kingdom and the many Hidden Mickeys throughout the parks, just to name a few. But did you know that there's a secret behind the rooms at Disney's Contemporary and Polynesian resorts, why Gertie the Dinosaur is so important or how Disney makes sure animals come out for viewing on the Kilimanjaro Safari? The following facts might amaze your fellow Disney-loving friends — and maybe even yourself!
1. Flying the flag
When you walk into the Magic Kingdom, you're transported back in time to an idyllic small town that's dotted with American flags on top of many of its buildings. But if you look closely at those small flags, you'll notice that something is off about them: not a single one has 50 stars! There are a couple of reasons why each flag is missing stars — first, each of the poles that holds the flags are lightning rods, so if lightning strikes, an official American flag won't be harmed, and second, since they're not technically American flags, they don't need to follow traditional flag etiquette. They don't have to be lowered to half-staff when an occasion calls for it and they don't need to be taken down or lit up at night. Flags with 48 stars can also be found on Disney's boats for the same reasons. An official American flag can still be found at the Magic Kingdom, in Town Square, and this one is taken down at night.
2. Say "Cheese"
If you've ever wondered why your Disney PhotoPass pictures can't be stored on Disney's servers forever, you may not know that there's a pretty good reason for that. Disney photographers take about 100,000 to 200,000 snapshots of guests per day at Walt Disney World. And that figure doesn't even include all of the pictures taken on rides! PhotoPass pictures stay in a guest's account for 45 days after they were taken, but a one-time 15-day extension can be purchased. Disney doesn't offer any other extensions or any options for permanent storage.
3. Gertie the great
You may have stopped for ice cream, or you may have simply wondered why a giant dinosaur gets a prominent place at Disney's Hollywood Studios, but the fact is that if Gertie didn't exist, Mickey Mouse may not have existed. "Gertie the Dinosaur" was one of the first animated films ever made, and Walt Disney was inspired by the movie's life-like movements and the way the film inspired its audience to feel empathy for an animated character. Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction honors the movie along with one of its taglines: “Gertie — She’s a scream.” Next time you're at Hollywood Studios, you can honor her yourself by picking up a waffle cone.
4. "Wait" for it
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the Haunted Mansion are full of spooky surprises, but one that they both share can be found before you even step foot into each ride's queue. If you see a wait time of 13 minutes listed, that's actually lucky for you — it means that there's no real wait at all and you can usually walk on the rides. Because both rides are so popular, it can be a challenge to actually see this chilling "wait time" listed, but you may be able to catch it early in the morning or late at night — if you dare.
5. Super safari
The Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom wouldn't be too much fun if you didn't get to see many animals on your journey, so Disney put some creature comforts in place to ensure that the beasts love to come out and play. You're likely to see a lion or two on Pride Rock, and that's because chilled air is piped through tiny holes on the ledge to entice the animals to hang out and pose for photos. Food is also hidden in trees, as well as behind logs and rocks, so animals will come up close to the safari vehicles. At the end of the night, the animals don't keep roaming the safari, though. They must sleep in their pens, and to get them in there, their trainers conditioned each species to respond to a certain sound. When they hear it, they go to them, like magic.
6. The eyes have it
The intricate murals in Cinderella Castle are made up of hundreds of thousands of pieces of cut glass in over 500 colors, but many fans rush on by the murals to head to their favorite attractions. The next time you find yourself in the archway, however, you may want to pay special attention to Cinderella's wicked stepsisters. One has eyes that are literally green with envy and the other's are red with anger as they watch Cinderella try on the glass slipper. You'll also find sterling silver and 14-karat gold adorning many of the tiles, and some of them are as tiny as the head of a tack.
7. Modular living
The rooms at two of Disney's most popular hotels weren't built in a traditional way. Instead of being constructed from the ground up, the frames for the Disney's Contemporary and Polynesian resorts were built on site but the rooms were built off-site and were slid into the hotel by crane, kind of like dresser drawers. Some people believe that this was so the rooms could be easily slid back out and refurbished in the future, but that's not the case.
8. Loved and lost
If you've ever lost something at a Disney park, you're nowhere near alone. Every day, about 200 pairs of sunglasses are turned into the Lost and Found, and that adds up to nearly 2 million since 1971! Each year, more than 18,000 hats, 7,500 autograph books, 6,000 cell phones and 3,500 digital cameras are also turned in. And what were the most unusual items ever found? A full-size color television, a prosthetic leg, a glass eye and a potty trainer. (The leg, eye and potty trainer were claimed by their owners; the TV is thought to have come from a camper in a park's parking lot).
Did you find these Disney details surprising?
Source: Theme Park Tourist
Banner Photo Credit: Hamilton Pytluk