The Magic Kingdom is a truly magical place, full of fairytale fun and adventurous antics.
Yet beneath the main walkways of the Most Magical Place on Earth, lies a dark secret that only a few curious Disney Guests have ever seen!
By dark, we mean dimly lit rather than evil, this is the Magic Kingdom after all!
Below the streets and attractions of the park, there’s a whole network of underground walkways that connect almost every part of the Magic Kingdom to one another.
The Utilidor – The Magic Kingdom’s Underworld!
From way back in the late 60s, as the Magic Kingdom was created, the Imagineers had a beautiful trick up their sleeves to keep the streets and walkways of the Magic Kingdom as clear for guests as possible. The underground network of walkways, called the Utilidor.
The concept was simple; keep those guests away from the business of making the theme park tick!
The Utilidor is a wonderful way to get in and out, around and about the entire theme park without ever bumping into the people that were paying to see the magic!
One theory for the bold design stems from Walt apparently seeing a fully costumed cowboy strolling through Tomorrowland in Disneyland California. He was disappointed that visitors saw this juxtaposition and ensured that the MAgic Kingdom had to be better!
Cast members make their way around in the cool air conditioned spaces of the circular route. Free to pop up in a store, restaurant of service area as required.
The walls of the Utilidor are color coded to reflect the area of the parks above ground to allow easy navigation for cast members as they make their way to their next place of work.
Transportation inside the closed spaces are normally limited to foot, cycles and electric carts (Pargos).
The bulk of the park’s garbage is propelled through pressurised tubes inside the Utilidors.
Much better to hide the trash removal process than drag it through the streets in carts.
Restaurant and shop supplies are drafted in too, making the park tick smoothly whether it is crowded or not.
Large restaurants even have their main kitchens down in the Utilidor, with prep kitchens up above at the regular theme park levels.
Heaven forbid, if an emergency occurs, exits appear from nowhere if ever needed.
The Utilidor can act as a means to swiftly remove a sick guest for urgent medical attention.
The no doubt costly to construct Utilidor must have paid itself back hundreds of times in efficiency terms for the Disney parks operators.
Other features of the ‘underworld’ of the Magic Kingdom include countless wardrobes filled with thousands of costumes, administration offices, electronic control rooms for the park’s audio systems and animatronics, rehearsal rooms, a hair salon (Kingdom Kutters) for cast members and there’s even a huge restaurant for Cast Members!
The Magic Kingdom’s Utilidor – A Secret to be kept!
As we wrote the article for Disney’s Utilidor, we had planned to link to some websites with images of the underground wonder. As we learned more, we quickly realised that Disney strictly forbid any form of video and photography of the hidden walkway.
In the true Disney spirit, we decided to leave it down to you whether to seek out any images for yourselves. While we would naturally understand that you probably will, we rather hope that you choose not to encourage those that risk life bans or worse by sneaking around Disney property illegally!
That might seem a little mean spirited, but the lovely atmosphere of the park would change really quickly if more people attempted to sneak backstage with cameras!
Anyway, for now, try and resist and read on!
The Disney Utilidor is a story of Stories!
The marvellous part of the Utilidor is that this underground wonderland is actually at ground level.
Thanks to the region’s water table, a true underground Utilidor would have flooded continually, rendering it useless.
The answer for the Imagineers was simple: build the Magic Kingdom as a two storey construction!
The structure of the Utilidor was created first above ground level, then followed by the top storey that included the pavements, streets, sidewalks and attractions.
The remaining problem was to hide the ground floor from guests and Disney achieved this by back filling the construction site with the hundreds of thousands of tons of earth excavated to create the 14ft deep man made Seven Seas Lagoon. Soil was also taken from the adjoining natural Bay Lake.
The greatest evidence of the illusion can be seen by standing at the landing area of the Ferry Boat and looking towards the entrance area beneath the railroad.
You will see a steady rise in the height of the land, compared to the shoreline of the lagoon.
Cast members actually view Cinderella’s Castle and the higher ground of Fantasyland to be on the 3rd Floor of the Magic Kingdom!
Are there any other Disney World Parks with Utilidors?
No, not entirely.
The Magic Kingdom is the only Disney Park with such an extensive array of hidden tunnel ways.
Epcot does have a lesser system that’s hidden beneath the American Adventure, but we couldn’t really consider that as a Utilidor, more a feature of the building perhaps.
How can guests take a look at the Utilidor?
Believe it or not, you can learn more about the Magic Kingdom’s inner secrets including the Utilidor!
Despite all of the restrictions on photography, dozens of guests a day, visit the Utilidor as part of Disney’s special tours programs.
The ‘5 hour’ Keys to the Kingdom Tour
is available for $74-$79 and is perfect for inquisitive guests that want to explore more behind the magic of the Magic Kingdom!
This very detailed tour is much more for Disney enthusiasts than casual park visitors!
Note that children under 16 are not permitted on the tour, ‘just in case they see more than one Mickey at the same time!’