8 Disney Secrets That Will Blow Your Mind
When you run a corporation as large as The Walt Disney Company, you must keep a few Disney secrets. Some aspects of the business cause discomfort among otherwise loyal fans.
Others are vaguely unsettling but wholly unstoppable. And a few pragmatic choices sound bad when described to others.
Disney’s right to hide this stuff, but the truth always reveals itself in the end. Here are eight Disney secrets that will blow your mind.
Disney Buildings Are Smaller Than You Think
You may have heard the term, forced perspective. It’s an old photography trick that causes objects to appear closer than they are. And it’s simple to explain.
When you’re standing near someone short but a taller person hovers in the background, which one appears larger?
The answer depends on the height difference and location of each of them, but you get the point. The shorter person seems bigger than they are when you stand nearer to them.
Disney’s employed this concept to magnify the size of its buildings. Nothing at Walt Disney World crosses the 200-feet threshold in height.
It’s because of federal and Florida laws involving air travel. Disney doesn’t want to position warning lights on the sides of their majestic structures, and so they must keep all buildings lower than 200 feet.
To cover up this surprising fact, Disney’s architects cause forced perspective with walking paths and line-of-sight visuals. You’ll swear that Cinderella Castle is a mighty skyscraper. In truth, it’s only 183 feet tall, which doesn’t qualify it as one of the 20 tallest buildings in Florida.
Disney Flags Are Unpatriotic
This example is a perfect demonstration of something sounding much worse than it is. Disney’s daily flag ceremonies embrace the patriotism that makes Americans proud. However, they’re a bit misleading.
Federal regulations state that any official American flag must fly at full- or half-mast when appropriate. The government determines the correct flying of a flag on a given day.
Disney has posted some flags in places where a cast member couldn’t easily change their positioning. For this reason, Disney has modified its stagnant flags on Main Street U.S.A. so that they look authentic from a distance. However, when you examine them carefully, you’ll notice some inaccurate details.
The main flag used during the daily Flag Retreat Ceremony is absolutely authentic, though. Disney would never act disrespectfully about such a service. Like I said, this secret sounds so much worse than it is.
Disney Is Where the Bodies Are Buried
This one’s gross, sorry. Some guests love Disney so much that they say that they want to get buried at the park. Some loved ones of the recently deceased take them at their word. You kind of want to stop reading this one, don’t you?
I’m sorry to say that more than a few ashes get scattered at Disney theme parks each month. Cast members have watched it happen enough that some are blasé about it.
They’ll simply call in the janitorial team to grab a broom and start sweeping up Aunt Mary. Yes, Haunted Mansion is especially susceptible to this weird phenomenon.
For Disney’s part, the earliest Imagineers had a cheeky sense of humor, too. Pirates of the Caribbean notoriously includes a real human skull in one of the set pieces.
I won’t tell you which one because I don’t want to ruin the ride for you.
The next time that you hear the Ghost Host talk about 999 Happy Haunts, you’ll appreciate that it’s kind of true…if a lowball estimate.
Disney Knows Where You Are
Okay, privacy worriers, this one will stress you out a bit, even though you really should have known it already. Your Magic Band is akin to a smartphone in that it comes with an automatic location reader.
Your cellphone provider faces legal requirements and also has pragmatic concerns about knowing the whereabouts of your phone. Anyone who has ever used Find My iPhone or a similar app understand this.
The RFID chip in your Magic Band is similarly location-cognizant. Disney knows where you are, and that’s a conscious choice on the company’s part.
Children do occasionally lose sight of their parents at theme parks.
Thanks to Magic Band technology, Disney can assist a child in locating its parent(s) or vice versa. So, the lack of privacy is a necessary evil.
Disney Messes with Your Nose
Have you seen the movie, Clueless? The protagonist, Cher, believes that she should always bake something before her date arrives.
She’s manipulating a potential boyfriend into believing that she cooks. And the smell of cookies will make the person hungry, too.
Disney knew that trick 30 years before Clueless came out. Over the years, the parks have dispensed fragrant aromas in certain parts of each themed land.
Sometimes, the goal is to remind guests of something happy like the smell of an orange grove.
Most of the time, the reason involves financial motivation. Disney’s trying to sell you on some of their snacks.
Cleverly, cast members will pump the smell of baked goods into the nearby streets, causing most guests to fantasize about sugary sweets. And it works. In fact, it works so well that I had to stop buying a certain kind of Disney candle because it kept making me hungry.
Disney Paints with Purpose
Disney manipulates your senses in other ways, too.
For example, they paint buildings and other landmarks in ways that are sure to grab your attention. Oddly, the reverse is true as well.
According to some estimates, Disney’s parks include more than 20,000 shades of paint, some of which the company invented on its own! The placement of specific colors will attract guests to walk that way.
Disney’s learned via decades of research that bright paints draw attention and create a kind of siren song effect. Guests naturally, almost subconsciously, follow the eye-popping colors to a new location.
I’m more fascinated by the inverse, though. Disney wants to hide some of its stuff in plain sight. For example, the entrance to Club 33 shouldn’t draw attention to a place where most park visitors can’t go.
To distract people away from this place, some enterprising Imagineer combined hunter green with a dull shade of gray. The output is a color called No-See-Um Green aka Go Away Green. Its express purpose is to look so bland that when people see it, they instinctively look away. This color is too dull for the human eye.
Disney Recycles Some of Their Audio-Animatronics
Audio-Animatronics dazzle park guests. These early edition robots mimic human behavior enough that they regularly freaked people out during their earliest usage in the 1960s. Unfortunately, these animatronics are also quite expensive to build.
Park officials are huge proponents of the “waste not, want not” philosophy. When an Audio-Animatronic is no longer necessary at one attraction, Disney will often move it somewhere else.
Two of the best examples are at Spaceship Earth and Splash Mountain. I’ve previously mentioned that Spaceship Earth is apparently the place where Hall of Presidents animatronics retire. Several of them have transferred over to scenes from the history of humanity.
Splash Mountain’s situation is more interesting. A former Disney attraction called America Sings involved many animal animatronics.
When that show closed permanently, Imagineers shipped the devices to the back of the park where Splash Mountain would reside. Then, they reprogrammed the critters to sing the music of Song of the South instead of the tunes they’d played in America Sings. Disney saved a ton of money on Splash Mountain by taking this approach.
Disney Ride-Times Are Wrong
This statement is true in multiple ways. For starters, some ride-times represent in-jokes. Whenever the wait-time at Haunted Mansion shows as 13 minutes, the attraction is a walk-on. You won’t have to wait any at all. It’s a silly play on superstition and the gothic nature of the ride.
All other Disney ride-times are wrong for a different reason. Disney doesn’t want the times to reflect an accurate wait. Instead, park officials display times that will either drive traffic toward or away from an attraction/section of the park.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. At some point, you’ve probably received a tag from a cast member when you enter the line. The Disney employee tells you to hand it to a different cast member at the front of the line.
Disney absolutely does use this information to calculate crowd capacity. They just don’t use it the way that you’d expect.
Disney prefers to lower your expectations. When you think you’ll wait in line for a half-hour, you’ll feel pleased if you only require 20 minutes to board the ride.
You’ll say something like, “Wow, that was a lot faster than I expected.” You’re happier.
Conversely, if the sign had indicated 10 minutes and you’d waited twice that long, you’d feel annoyed. Again, Disney is manipulating you a bit by using psychology. It’s a trick they employ to persuade you that you’re having a magical day at the Happiest Place on Earth.