8 Things You May Not Know About Disney Parks

There are plenty of surprises to discover at Walt Disney World and Disneyland—even for Disney veterans.

Happy family eating marshmallows by a bonfire

by NEA Member Benefits

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If you’ve been to a Disney theme park, you’ve already been dazzled by details like the glittering storybook mosaic inside Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom or the sweeping savanna dotted with realistic (yet faux) baobab trees and termite mounds at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But whether this is your first trip to a Disney park or your 21st, you might find these little-known facts enlightening.

1. Embrace the unknown on the Tower of Terror. If you’d like to know in advance how many frightening 13-floor drops you’ll experience on the 199-foot-tall Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you’re out of luck. More than a decade ago, ride engineers placed computers in control of random drop sequences. So be prepared for two, three or even more drops on the ride.

2. Spot a five-legged goat. As your monorail train purrs along the track to enter the cavernous Disney’s Contemporary Resort, hop off at the concourse to view the towering tiled murals created by legendary Disney artist Mary Blair. A fanciful western scene features several goats high atop mountain cliffs. Look closely, though, and you’ll see that one of the stylized blue goats features something unexpected—five legs!

3. Score big on Toy Story Midway Mania! The Disney fan-site blogosphere bursts with tips on how to beat your seatmate on the ride-’n’-shoot Toy Story Midway Mania! attraction at Hollywood Studios in Florida and Disney California Adventure Park. Here’s a key tip from Disney Every Day: Ride solo for a higher score. And a tip from Guide2WDW suggests aiming your air cannon briefly on the Pie Throw Practice but save your muscle power for big-point targets.

4. Chat with Crush from “Finding Nemo.” Sure, you can watch lots of Disney film clips tailored to shows and attractions at all the parks. But did you know that Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot allows your kids to converse in real time with the animated sea turtle from the Disney-Pixar film, “Finding Nemo?” It features technology that syncs Crush’s mouth movements with a hidden actor’s conversation with a child in the audience.

5. Enjoy free campfire fun. Disney resort guests and theme-park day guests can join in the Fort Wilderness campfire experience and Disney movie screenings under the stars—free of charge. Bring your own s’mores ingredients (or Disney will sell them to you, along with a roasting stick).

6. Experience multiple Star Tours scenarios. Not all R2-D2 and C-3PO fans realize that you can enjoy multiple “Star Wars” experiences at Star Tours: The Adventures Continue in Hollywood Studios. More than 50 ride scenarios are programmed into the attraction’s motion-simulator vehicles, so you never know when you might clash with Darth Vader, battle Boba Fett or team up with a Wookiee. Looking for the wildest ride? Sit in the rear of the 40-passenger Starspeeder 1000!

7. Watch new and old technology come together in Magic Kingdom. At the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train family coaster in Magic Kingdom Park, you’ll experience a state-of-the-art, newly patented train car that sways from side to side as it runs along the track. But when your train enters the gem-studded mine, you’ll encounter nearly century-old technology as you see large shadows of the dwarfs marching along the track. These shadows were created using an age-old technique called rotoscoping, in which movements of live-action figures are filmed and then traced onto animation cels, frame by frame. This allowed the designers to borrow the shadow images from the original 1937 animated film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

8. See Mickey’s many outfits. Most people associate Mickey Mouse with his classic red, black and yellow duds. But the “Big Cheese” actually owns more than 130 sets of clothing, some of which are on display at Disney Parks—if you know where and when to look. During the annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (March-May), you might spot the iconic Disney character in his farmer’s hat and jeans. For the park’s annual Food & Wine Festival, he’s been known to don a chef’s hat and apron. And at Adventurers Outpost in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Mickey sports safari wear.

Can’t get enough Disney? Check out ways to make the most of your next Disney vacation.

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