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Disney’s Secret Utilidors
Walt Disney thought of everything when planning the future of his theme park empire. He didn’ t want to ruin the illusions of his magical fantasy by having cowboys from Frontier Land wandering through the futuristic Tomorrowland to reach their final destination. With guest experience always at the forefront of his mind, Walt had to find a way to get characters and cast members (staff to the likes of you and I) around the park totally undetected by guests.
The answer? Why underground corridors of course, today Known more famously as the Disney Utilidors. When plans for the Magic Kingdom were being devised, the idea of the Utilidors were born and were built on 9 acres of land. Today they resemble a giant wheel with the hub beneath Cinderella’ s Castle. From there, tunnels branch out to various areas of the parks with colour coded walls making it easy for cast members to navigate their way around and easily tell which land they are in. Cast members arrive for work then park around a mile away and are bussed in via the tunnels. Stores, dining areas and various attractions have direct access to the Utilidors below.
Although you would never know it, the Magic Kingdom is not at ground level but is actually built on top of 7 million cubic yards of earth excavated from an area today known as Seven Seas Lagoon, raising the whole area by almost 15 feet. The underground Utilidors are actually not underground at all, they are at ground level while the Magic Kingdom gently slopes so unsuspecting guests are ascending to second story level. Cinderella’ s Castle is at third story level - the reason it seems to loom so majestically over the rest of the park.
The Utilidors are the backbone of the daily functioning of the Magic Kingdom and from the vast tunnels waste removal is removed by the sanitation crew, daily deliveries are processed and stored and the parks entire cooking and food preparation is housed well below the footsteps of the happy squeals from above.
The Utilidors are also home to wardrobe, costuming, offices, employee cafeterias and locker rooms to name just a few more. Perhaps the most important operation of this underground city is the park’ s computing system, operated by the Digital Animation Control Systems (DACS). This is responsible for controlling virtually everything in the park to ensure things like the audio-animatronics characters are on cue for the respective attractions, stage doors open and close when they should and park lighting it optimized for peak performance. The DACS system monitors over 70, 000 functions a second!
Tours are available through Disney that show you the operations and take you into the tunnels. Anyone under the age of 16 is not permitted to attend the tours so as not to spoil the magic Walt Disney worked so hard to make.
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