The Disney Difference
Find out all about the secrets hidden in the rides at Disney World and what makes the Disney Parks special and different to other theme parks.
Disney parks have fabulous theming; Disney imagineers have incredible attention to detail and try so hard not to let real life intrude on your park experience. You will get great customer service; although there have been many debates in recent years about the decline in the service received, Disney Cast Members are well trained and have the ability to go the extra mile to give you memorable moments. Experience unique dining opportunities and delicious snacks - I particularly like these!
What really makes Disney special for me are all of the little secrets or hidden items that have been integrated into the attractions. This means you can visit again and again without fully experiencing everything on offer. You can also experience rides on many different levels - you can just enjoy the thrill of a roller coaster or you can be looking out for every Hidden Mickey!
These are some of my favourite ride secrets at Disney World. Please let me know if you have any others you're willing to share.
Some of my secrets are Hidden Mickeys. They are representations of Mickey Mouse that can be found all over the Disney Parks as well as the Resort Hotels and on merchandise and even in Disney films. Some are easy to spot others are much more subtle. They can be any size and take different forms. The classic Hidden Mickey is made up of three circles, (a face and two ears), but there are also profile Hidden Mickeys.
Find Out More About Hidden Mickeys
This is a great guide to help you spot Hidden Mickeys at Disney World. Although it's fun to find secrets on your own, sometimes you need a helping hand! Use this book once you have already spotted some Mickeys. I guarantee it will become additictive.
When riding the ferry boat or the monorail ask the Cast Members if they have any trading cards - they sometimes give them out and there are lots to collect.
As you enter the Magic Kingdom, Main Street runs slightly uphill. No problem to walk up when you're fresh entering the Park and much easier walking downhill for tired legs when you're exiting at the end of the day.
The entrance to the Magic Kingdom is actually at the second storey. There are "underground" utilidors at ground level. The earth in front of the Magic Kingdom was removed - this area is now the Seven Seas Lagoon.
To the right of the entrance on Main Street there is a bench with a Goofy statue. When you sit on the bench sometimes Goofy will start talking - terrified my young daughter the first time this happened to us!
If you are a veteran ask at City Hall first thing in the morning if you can participate in the evening Flag Retreat.
At the Disney Railroad ask if the conductor needs any help and you may get to be a Guest Conductor. You can wear the hat, shout "All Aboard and ring the bell! You'll also get a special Guest Conductor card to keep.
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Turn down the first side street on the right of Main Street and you'll see a sign in one of the upper windows which says "Voice Singing Private Lessons". If you listen carefully you'll be able to hear the singing lesson going on.
As you walk through the castle into Fantasy Land there is a Cinderella fountain on the left. If you stand in front of Cinderella and curtsey, a crown will appear on Cinderella's head.
One of the horses on inner ring of Prince Charming Regal Carrousel has a gold ribbon on its tail. This is supposed to be Cinderella's horse.
In front of the Carrousel is the Sword in the Stone. Occasionally a lucky prince or princess may be able to remove the sword.
At the end of Mickey's PhilharMagic Donald ends up stuck in the wall - you can see his tail feathers and his rear end in the theatre. Walk through the shop at the exit, look up and you'll see the rest of him!
In It's a Small World you can spot lots of Disney characters amongst the dolls. Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, Alice, Abu, Aladdin, Mushu and lots of others can be seen.
The ride building for the Winnie the Pooh ride used to house Mr Toad's Wild Ride. As you enter the first scene you can see a picture of Mr Toad handing over the deeds to Winnie the Pooh.
On Peter Pan's Flight, as you fly over London look at the cars one looks like Mickey's little red car.
Ask to pilot the Liberty Square Riverboat. You will be able to steer the boat, ring the bell and sound the horn. At the end you may receive a special pilot's certificate.
Chat to the Cast Member at the Enchanted Tiki Room and you may be asked to wake up the birds at the beginning of the show.
The Haunted Mansion has lots of secrets. In the pre-show area look when the lights go out and you will see a hanging body. If you wait until everyone has left you will hear spooky whispering voices and laughter.
The stretch rooms in Disneyland are real elevators and you are transported to another level to enter your Doom Buggy. At Disney World, the ride is all on one level so the ceiling moves up to create the illusion that you are moving.
On the back of one of the chairs is a Hidden Donald - now this one is disputed and not everyone agrees that this is a Hidden Donald or even if Hidden Donald's exist. What do you think?
In the dining room scene see if you can spot one of the place settings arranged into a Hidden Mickey.
As you exit your Doom Buggy the wall ahead of you isn't real brick - it's padded to ensure you're not injured if you trip and fall.
In the pet cemetery as you exit the ride you can see a stone Mr Toad - a tribute to the former Mr Toad's Wild ride attraction. The inscription reads "Here lies Mr. Toad. Sad but true. Much less profitable than Pooh".
Look up to the top windows of the Haunted Mansion at night. You may notice a light and the shadows of two people passing by.
The voice of Leota Toombs in the Crystal Ball scene of the Haunted Mansion is Eleanor Audley who is also the voice of Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty and Lady Tremaine in Cinderella.
During the Laughing Place scene on Splash Mountain a gopher pops out and shouts "FSU" (Florida State University).
Just before the last drop on Splash Mountain the opening you go through is a profile view Hidden Mickey.
Be careful of the camel in front of the Magic Carpets of Aladdin - he squirts water. Nearby, the tiki heads will also get you wet.
In the line for Pirates of the Caribbean there are two pirate skeletons playing chess - the game isn't finished because it is a constant stalemate.
In the beach scene at the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean one of the skeletons is wearing an old Jungle Cruise costume.
One of the pirates is an old Abraham Lincoln who was retired from the Hall of Presidents.
In the line for the Jungle Cruise there is a tarantula in the cage. If you put your hand nearby the spider will move and sometimes turn the cage over.
The Cruise boats have the names of rivers combined with the names of Disney Imagineers who worked on the ride, for example Amazon Annie and Nile Nellie.
Listen carefully to the dancing natives - one of them shouts "I love disco"!
The tail of the plane is the other half of the plane in the Casablanca scene of the Great Movie Ride. Look carefully and you'll spot a Hidden Mickey.
The Swiss Family Treehouse is the only attraction that has a non-US flag flying permanently.
In the Carousel of Progress there is a picture of Walt Disney in the daughter's room in the 1940s. It is on the upper left corner of the wall.
There are four Hidden Mickeys in the final Christmas scene of the Carousel of Progress; there is a plush Mickey peeking out from a present, a nutcracker on the fireplace, a pepper mill on the kitchen counter and a painting on the dining room wall.
The dog in the Carousel of Progress and the dog holding the keys in the Pirates of the Caribbean are both modelled after Walt's own dog.
If you wait in the Magic Kingdom 30 minutes to an hour after the park has officially closed you may be able to see the "kiss goodnight" from the castle.
In the Mission Space ride vehicle press all of the buttons as nearly all of them make something happen.
On Soarin', as the golf ball comes flying towards you look out for the Hidden Mickey. There is another Hidden Mickey in the fireworks in the final Disneyland scene.
In Epcot's World Showcase all of the pavilions have cast members from the host country. Go and say hello and they may teach you a few words of their language.
Walk through to the back of the Canada Pavilion to find an abandoned mine and a waterfall.
At the African Outpost in Epcot open the lids of the crates and see what happens.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
There are two "shows" within the Great Movie Ride - Gangsters and Cowboys. Ask if particularly want to see one or the other although at quiet times only one show may be operating. Look up at the high windows to the left in the Gangster scene and you'll see a Hidden Mickey profile.
The front half of the plane in the Casablanca scene has its other end in the Jungle Cruise. In the Indiana Jones scene some of the hieroglyphics feature Disney and Star Wars characters. These are very tricky to spot.
As you're entering the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular there is a well with a rope. The sign says "Do Not Pull Rope" - with the "Not" crossed out. Pull the rope and see what happens!
In Walt Disney One Man's Dream, the clock is stopped at the time that Walt Disney was pronounced to be dead.
In the line for Toy Story Mania talk to Mr Potato Head and sometimes he'll talk right back.
You can enter the Animal Kingdom through an entrance at the back of the Rainforest CafÃ© shop. At park opening this will often be quicker than using the main turnstiles and you will be waiting in a nice cool air conditioned shop.
On the Discovery Island Trails, look for a hidden, shaded rock. In the rock are small holes - look through to see animal carvings on the Tree of Life.
In the Dino Land Boneyard try to find the "xylobone". Behind the Jeep are a row of fossilised bones, knock on the bones and play a tune.
The rocks in the "Pride Rock" area of the Kilimanjaro Safari are air conditioned to encourage the lions to stay in the area so they can be viewed.