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15 Things That are Hidden Underground at Disney's Magic Kingdom

Cinderella Castle

Disney's Magic Kingdom is the most popular theme park in the world, having attracted some 17.5 million guests in 2012. The vast majority of those visitors are completely unaware that a hidden underground complex lies beneath their feet. Most Disney fans (and Theme Park Tourist readers) will know about the "Utilidor" tunnels that are located underneath the park - but even they may not realize the staggering scale and scope of this subterranean world.

Walt Disney planned to locate many of the roads and utilities at his never-built Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT) below ground, to avoid its residents having to deal with typical urban problems such as traffic and smog.

After Walt died, his successors failed to fully deliver on his dream of a futuristic city. But they did incorporate elements of it into the design of Walt Disney World - including the creation of the utilidors at its first theme park. The utilidors were among the first elements of the Magic Kingdom to be constructed, and are actually located at ground level (placing them lower would have caused many issues, due to the water table in the Orlando region). They were covered over using seven million cubic yards of earth that was excavated during the creation of the artifical Seven Seas Lagoon that is located in front of the park.

The underground tunnels span an incredible 392,040 square feet. They span most of the park, with the exception of the part of New Fantasyland that was previously Mickey's Toontown, as this was added as an expansion in 1988. You can get an impression of their scale by looking at the (possibly outdated) map below:

Utilidor map

A whole range of infrastructure and support functions are hidden away from guests' eyes in the utilidors. Here are 15 examples of things that Disney conceals so they don't spoil the fantasy world that it has so carefully constructed.

15. The "nerve center"

Pirates
Image © Disney

Located roughly underneath Cinderella Castle is the Digital Animation Control System, a computer system that monitors almost everything in the park. This includes lighting systems, stage curtains, fire protection systems, security systems and power systems. It also controls and sychronizes the movements of hundreds of audio-animatronic figures that feature in the park's attractions.

14. Cast Members

Legend has it that Walt Disney once spotted a cowboy from Frontierland wandering through Tomorrowland at Disneyland. He was incensed at this breaking of the "reality" of the futuristic land, and this is frequently cited as one of the motivations for the construction of the utilidors. Every day, the thousands of Cast Members that work at the Magic Kingdom park in a dedicated lot around a mile away from the entrance to the utilidors, catching a bus the rest of the way.

13. The Character Zoo

Mickey MouseUntil 2005, the entire costuming department for the Magic Kingdom was located in the utilidors, housing over 1.2 million outfits and dispensing them to Cast Members. Since then, the department has occupied a large building in the Cast Member parking lot. However, Mickey and the other characters still "live" in the Character Zoo, located underneath Fantasyland.

12. "Pargos"

UtilidorNaturally, Disney wants to keep the air in the utilidors as clean as possible - and that means keeping gas-powered vehicles to a minimum. Instead, Cast Members and goods can get be ferried around using golf cart-style electric vehicles that are known as "Pargos".

11. Cash

Cash One type of gas-powered vehicle that is allowed into the utilidors is the armored cars that come into pick up the mountains of cash generated by the park every day.

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There are 27 comments.

The pin room! My husband so wanted to do some personal trading there at the door to the room which houses the pin supply from which all cast members and stores get there supply that is traded with guests. From what our tour guide said, they have to account for pins and sign in and out what is switched.

Up above some of the buildings on Main Street West, there is office space used for managerial positions. Cast members of the Magic Kingdom will go there sometime for new holiday training. Also, only cast members that work in Magic Kingdom are allowed to get on the bus from the MK cast parking lot to the utilidors. Castmembers must scan their badges upon boarding and the light will turn green to board as long as they are scheduled a shift for that day. That means, no castmembers from Epcot or other locations on property can go walk around the utilidors. Not even MK employees on their days off can go there. There is also a computer lab down in have utilidors that is there primarily for job training. You must sign in at the front desk in order to use them. Just some little tidbits of the utilidors :)

Scanning badges must be pretty new. I worked at WDW until 2006. We never scanned our badges. We used to show them to a security person. When we would go to the park on our day off we would always park in the cast lot and take the bus, avoiding the crowds at the gates. Also, anyone who worked at the other parks could do that, too.

That's actually not true, the light turning green only means that you still work for the company and that you didn't leave/get termed and kept your ID. Any CM can go on the bus and the only time they're "strict" is during holiday time or when the park is supposed to be pretty full.

There's also a computer room and small library near the entrance of the tunnels. And there's a basilisk that lives in the AVAC. I heard it late one night when I was cleaning up after the fireworks.

I'm working on a fictional book based in the Magic Kingdom. Any chance you could describe the library to me? What does it look like? Any computers? Any reading chairs? Etc... anything going you remember would be helpful.

Thanks
Rachel

There are also cafeteria type things under and behind Main Street. You can see one of them when the bypass is open during the night parade and fireworks.

The glow room. all of the glow and flash merch sold on carts in the park at night is stored and prepared in a central area.

Do they still have the store that sells Disney park products that got opened on stage at a discount?

Yes, they do. But it's not in the utilidors, it's outside of MK Cast Parking.

Armored trucks don't drive in the tunnels. The do however park at the entrance and then walk to the cash room. The distance isn't that far.

The armored trucks did drive part way into the tunnel.

Yes I worked in the underground tunnels in 2011. I drove a pargo & a forklift and picked up lots of trash & recycling. There is a sense of community & loyalty among the underground Cast Members & they all work hard & take pride in their work.

My ex husband was a machinist & there was a full machine shop in the tunnels. He helped build Epcot, Tokyo Disney & maintain the rides!!

I loved being there!!! I was"friends" with Cinderella,Chip n Dale, and the mice..the training and warm up rooms are there also

I worked there around 92 93 and the armored trucks did drive all the way in the tunnel and would come about once an hour. Lot more cash flow back in the 90s.

Do not forget to mention the cold drips of "water" that randomly fell on you or the funky smells by the rabbit hole in Fantasyland. Oh, and that the floor was sticky sometimes...

The glow cage located in adventureland stores all the glow products used to brighten the parades at night, oh and don't forget about the hundreds if not thousands of squeeze breeze bottles being filled and stocked everyday by the cast members who are part of the glow team, so next time you see a glow person playing with toys onstage remember that there's plenty of work that goes into this operation to ensure that everyone gets their light up toys and fan misters just in time for the night spectaculars at Magic Kingdom.

Man that tunnel map bring back memories... I worked there for a few years. Never found the tunnels to be that exciting. They were interesting for about a month... then walking through them to my workplace got old fast.Especially since some areas smell like a landfill.

Does anyone know where exactly the Ultilidor tour takes the guests? I imagine not past the areas where there are foul smelling garbage compactors or AVAC outlets (Fontierland and Tomorrowland tunnels especially) lining the walls.

I took the keys to the kingdom tour which took us into the utilidoors. We went through the gate that the parades pass through to get out into the park and were able to enter the utilidoors that were to the left. If I remember correctly we took the elevator down we went along the hallway we weren't able to go into any of the rooms – we just walked through the hallways. I do remember seeing a huge bulletin board I guess you'd call it a framed something that had all of the pins on it. it was really cool. I don't remember smelling in landfills.

I'm a cast member and there are all the computer training rooms there where when you first start working you have to go under intensive computer training. There's the pin trading station, giant laundry room and the cafeteria is called the "Mousekateeria" Another fun fact is that the parking lot is separate from the tunnel so when we park there's a bus that takes us from the parking lot to the tunnel enterance.

Keys to The Kingdom tour takes you down the stairs that you get to through the back door of the emporium check out counter. And you come up on the other side near main street bakery.

we went for the first time in 1974. I was in the 4th grade so my memories are a little hazy. But my family said we have this on tape somewhere. We were outside a restaurant near It's A Small World, I believe. And Bill Hailey and the Comets came up on a stage that rose up from the ground. This made much more sense when we found out about the tunnels many years later. Can anyone confirm any info about this stage?

Recently took the Keys to the Kingdom tour. We entered the backstage in Frontierland where the parade comes out. We exited on to Main St by the firehouse. We also entered after our lunch by the restroom area by the Crystal Palace. We went underground via an elevator. Stayed strictly in the tunnel area, entered no rooms. We did not venture in to the tunnels that go under Frontierland as I understand from my son and future daughter in law who are current MK CMs that is where the 'smelliest part of the tunnels' are due to the AVAC system. Our tour guide confirmed that.

Security office is actually above uptown jeweler's

I danced in the Electrical Light Parade, was character trained and played Snow White in 1989. I loved working there and would sing Zippity Do Dah and skip down the hall from where we checked out our clothes for the day to wherever I worked that day. Loved it! We would even check out socks and tube shirts to go under our dresses. The dresses we would dance in for the ELP were 60lbs. There were 4 colors. The pink dress would smell the worst. They couldn't be washed because they had lights sewn in them. We would spray them with deodorizers and purfume. We would also pass deodorant around and spray each other's pits because we didn't trust anyone who said they did. We also had our own plexiglass makeup tray in the makeup department. One of my friends complained one night that someone took her false eyelashes. We had to wear long ones. She ran to check out new ones and got back just before we were supposed to walk to the "staging area" before we went to the "line up". She put them on and I used scissors and trimmed them for her. She didn't want them super long so I cut more than I was supposed to. I ended up cutting her real lashes. Didn't find that out until later that night. The staging area would have our dress skirts laid out on the floor. We would wiggle our legs in and our partner (the guys) would slip our bodice on. Someone would come around and zip us into the dresses and it would take 2 people to pull us to our feet. Then someone would reach under and turn our dress lights on for us. When we would dance and turn around, we would have to stop turning half way around. The weight of our dress would pull us the rest of the way around. As for the underground utilidors, they would smell and have lots of noise from the air filtration and tube systems. It was so much fun to work there. I got homesick though and left soon after becoming SW. Oh and the t-shirts/sweatshirts were navy blue with white big letters "WDW" on them. If we ever wore them off property, we were told to tell people it stood for "Winn Dixie Warehouse" if we were ever asked because we could get taken for ransom if someone thought we were from the Character Zoo.

We went down the stairs through the giftshop near Mickeys Philharmagic. We saw the door to the computer area, the cast member entrance, went under Cinderellas castle, saw the pin trading area, then saw all the photos, memorabilia on the walls. We came up near Main Street. Very cool tour. We also went backstage behind Splash Mountain. Saw the AVAC system and parade float storage areas.

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