Since I was a kid, my all time favorite place in the universe has been Disney World. No matter how many times I visit, there is always something new to do and to discover — including so many little known details about the park that make it that much more impressive... if all those rides and all that amazing food wasn't impressive enough on its own! Finding new things to love about this incredible place is what keeps me coming back time after time, and there are so many awesome secrets that the casual traveler might not realize on their own.
Here are 15 well kept secrets about Disney World that will make anyone's visit to the most magical place on earth just that much more fun. It's impossible to fit them all into one trip, but isn't that just the best excuse to plan the next visit?
15 You Can Get A Real Hair Cut On Main Street
If you're traveling with a baby or a toddler, this is something you're not going to want to miss! As soon as you walk into the Magic Kingdom and you're facing the castle, there's a barber shop on the left side of Main Street. They actually cut hair at the Harmony Barber Shop, and they will make your kiddo's first haircut extra special with Mickey ears and a certificate. Plus, while you're there, there's a good chance you'll get serenaded by the Dapper Dans, Disney's own barber shop quartet.
Visiting as an adult or with big kids? Don't worry, the barber shop can still be magical for you, too. Stop in and request a little pixie dust, and you'll get some of Tinkerbell's special sparkles to wear in your hair. Even in my late twenties, I still can't resist it. What?! Everyone's a kid at Disney World!
14 There's An Underground World Beneath Your Feet
If you ever wondered how Disney's employees (called cast members) manage to move around such a huge park like the Magic Kingdom so quickly, here's your answer. Disney uses a system of underground tunnels called the Utilidors, which allow cast members to travel from land to land without being seen — or without being caught wearing their costume in the wrong land, which is a serious no no.
Curious to see what those tunnels actually look like? Now, guests get the chance to visit! You can take the Keys to the Kingdom tour, which not only takes you down into the Utilidors but also offers up lots of fun facts about the park itself. Tickets are a little bit steep, but totally worth it... and can be purchased at the Disney World website.
13 There Are Hidden Mickeys Everywhere
Lines at Disney can get really long, but if you're looking for an easy way to entertain yourself while you're waiting, here it is. A lot of people don't realize that in all four parks, they're surrounded by hidden Mickey Mouse shapes and outlines virtually everywhere they go, and it's really fun to point them out and find new ones. The architecture at Disney is really impressive, and this is just one reason why.
For me, I have the most fun trying to spot them myself, but if you're looking for an easier way to see the hidden Mickeys for yourself, there are books that can help you find all of them, and some of them are even sold in the parks if you're looking for a last minute cheat sheet.
12 The Windows On Main Street Tell A Story
Remember how I said Disney architecture is impressive? Here's more proof. When you're walking down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, it's hard not to get distracted by how epic Cinderella Castle is. But if you have time to stop and smell the roses, you definitely should... and look up! The names on the windows of the shops are people who worked on the park, as if it were the credits rolling before you find yourself in one of the funnest movies ever.
It's also a good opportunity to smell the delicious scents from the candy store and the ice cream shop which are actually pumped in to entice people to go in and eat everything. Personally, I can attest that it works. Calories don't count at Disney, guys.
11 The Haunted Mansion Wedding Ring
Next time you ride the Haunted Mansion, take your time when you're exiting. Remember the axe-wielding bride you met in the attic? The legend goes that she chopped off her future husband's head before the wedding and then tossed her ring out the window. And if you pay very careful attention to the pavement on your way out, you can see the ring embedded in the cement. I told you Disney knows how to do details!
Plus, there are a lot of other really awesome things to see outside of the mansion, too, like the pet cemetery and the old hearse. It's easy to lose hours marveling over every little thing, so if you feel like you need to ride it twice, go right ahead! The line usually moves pretty fast!
10 Two Words: Fuel Rods
This is a recent addition to Disney World, and one that I officially cannot live without. Phone battery dies fast while you're at Disney, between all the photos and videos you'll take and the text messages you'll send to your friends and family members trying to figure out where they went when they got lost in the crowd. Now there's a solution, and it's called Fuel Rod machines.
Now, you can visit these vending machines (which are now all over all four parks and Disney Springs), pay $30 for a portable charging kit, and every time your charger is low, you stick it back in the machine and get a fully charged new one, free of charge. Refresh Instagram all you want while you're in line for Space Mountain. The future is here!
9 The Pavement Is Always Changing
When you're not too busy looking up at the details of the Main Street windows, look down as you're walking from land to land in the rest of the Magic Kingdom. The pavement changes depending on where you are. Example? Near the Ariel's Undersea Adventure, the ride themed to The Little Mermaid, you'll see lots of shells embedded in the ground. But when you're in Liberty Square, there's a huge brown streak down the sidewalk, representing the sewage that was drained through the streets in colonial America. Gross!
No matter what you're doing or where you're going, there's always something to look at by your feet. Just maybe be careful while you're walking so you don't bump into other people, and you'll be all set.
8 Grab A Button On Your Way Into The Park
Disney World offers totally free celebration buttons at all four theme parks and their hotels, and there's one for practically any occasion — birthdays, anniversaries, and even a more general "I'm celebrating!" button that could apply to absolutely anything. Grab a button and join the fun, and there's a good chance some perks could be in it for you, like a free dessert at dinner in honor of your birthday. Why miss out on that?!
Don't expect anything but a good time, though, and you'll be in for happy surprises. It's always nice when cast members congratulate you on your latest accomplishments when you walk by... and when they call you Princess. I told you, everyone is a kid at Disney. Don't judge me!
7 This Awesome Location For Fireworks & Parade Viewing
One thing I don't love about Disney: The crowds. At all times of the year, there are people everywhere, and it only gets worse when it's time for the nightly fireworks show or the afternoon parade. Fortunately, there's a solution to dodging the masses and getting an excellent view! Head up to the train station in the front of the park early to stake out a great spot, and you have a full, totally unobstructed view of the parade as it heads down Main Street and the best way to see the fireworks over the castle at night from the perfect distance.
Also, it affords you a major plus: While people make a mass exodus from the park after the fireworks, you've got a great vantage point to grab a bench and people watch until the crowds die down. And after a long day on your feet, there's nothing better than that!
6 The Peoplemover
If you need a break from the hot weather or just feel like getting off your feet for awhile, Tomorrowland's Peoplemover is for you! You'll go on a tour of the land, plus a quick trip inside Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, which means a cool blast of air conditioning that is desperately needed on those hot Florida days. It also offers up some absolutely gorgeous views of Tomorrowland and the castle, so make sure you keep your camera ready.
And as a bonus? Most people don't mess with this attraction because of the more exciting, higher draw rides in the park, so there's almost never a line and once in awhile, cast members will even let you stay on for another trip or two if you want. By the time you're off, you'll be refreshed and ready for the next adventure.
5 There Are Hidden Chameleons, Too
Anyone who's a fan of Tangled will be obsessed with the Rapunzel-themed bathrooms in Fantasyland. Between the tower and the lanterns, it's an absolutely gorgeous spot to sit down and hang out, even if you don't need to use the facilities. But there's another way to spend your time while you're there, and if you love the idea of hidden Mickeys, you're going to love this, too.
Remember Pascal, Rapunzel's pet chameleon in the movie? He's hidden in different places all over the restroom area, so it's a fun way to waste some time while you're waiting to use your next Fastpass... or if you have a kiddo who needs to be entertained while the rest of the group takes on a coaster.
4 And Scavenger Hunts In Epcot
If you're having a blast hunting for stuff, the fun doesn't have to end. During certain times of the year, Epcot's World Showcase hosts scavenger hunts as you make your way from country to country — and there's even a prize at the end! The maps can be purchased for pretty cheap (under $10) and come with stickers to attach as complete it. You don't even need to be a kid to do it, and as an adult I've had a blast completing the hunt plenty of times.
Traditionally, the Easter egg hunt is the big one, and in the spring, you can find all kinds of giant Disney-themed eggs hidden in each country. And during this year's International Festival of the Arts, Figment was hiding in famous works of art everywhere. It's so fun, especially if you visit often and the shops and restaurants are old hat to you.
3 There Are Dole Whips With Actual Rum Inside
If you like a good cocktail, you're going to love this one! One of the classic Disney World treats is a Dole Whip — AKA pineapple soft serve — and it's an absolute must anytime you visit. However, you can also find it in adult form with rum, which totally takes it to the next level. I mean, what's better than a cup of icy pineapple goodness plus rum? I'll answer that one for you: nothing.
Epcot usually offers it during its annual Flower & Garden festival, but you can actually get it year round at Animal Kingdom. It's served with either white rum or coconut rum, and it's to die for either way, especially on those sweltering summer days. Can't go wrong here! If you like frozen, fruity drinks, this might be your new favorite.
2 You Can Trade With Actual Jawas
If there are any Star Wars fans in your group, you're not going to want to miss Hollywood Studios, and not just because the Stormtroopers regularly patrol the area, having hilarious interactions with guests (although that's definitely a good reason, too). If you visit the Star Wars Launch Bay, you can go into a replica of the cantina from the movies, where at least two Jawas will be waiting for you, glowing eyes and all.
If you go speak with them, they're usually happy to make a trade (just like in the movies!) especially if you've brought them something super shiny — just remember they can't take money. And in my experience, they're always all too happy to pose for a selfie, too, which makes for an awesome memory.
1 Stay Late At The Magic Kingdom For Amazing Photos
If you wait out the crowds at the end of the day, you'll be treated to a couple of surprises. One? The castle's Kiss Goodnight, which I don't want to spoil for you, but it's a magical combination of music and lights you won't want to miss. And two? The chance to take photos in a totally empty park, as long as you're willing to stay up past your bedtime and wait for the crowds to shuffle out.
You might be totally exhausted and ready to hit the sack at the end of a long day of fun (and churros) but if you stick it out, you'll get some magical photos that you get to keep forever. Besides, hearing a completely silent Main Street isn't something a lot of people get to experience, and it's a pretty cool thing!