PSSST… You know how we love sharing secrets with our readers here at DFB?
I mean, don’t tell anybody or anything , but we’ve got Secret Menu items that you have to be in-the-know to order. We’ve shared 52 SECRET things to do in Disney World. We’ve even let you in on 15 secret ways to navigate around the crowds in Disney World… because we’re friends, right? Well, today we’ve got 50 (!!!) of Disneyland’s BEST Hidden Secrets so you can impress your friends and family on your next visit. Because I’m about to let you in on another secret about these secrets…
They’re made for sharing. So let’s DIVE IN!
1 – 3: Sleeping Beauty Castle Secrets
Aaah, there’s nothing like the view of Sleeping Beauty Castle at the end of Main Street, U.S.A… but there’s more than just a pretty view here. The castle drawbridge, for instance, isn’t just for looks – it’s fully functional!
That said, the bridge has only been “publicly lowered” for guests “twice.” The first time was for was Disneyland’s official opening in 1955, and the second was for Fantasyland’s rededication in 1983.
But it doesn’t stop there… you can stroll inside! In the walls of Sleeping Beauty Castle lies a walk-through attraction that retells the story of Sleeping Beauty.
The walkways through the castle are dimly lit to show off the intricacies of the scenes and interactive features.
There’s still something hidden much deeper at the Castle. In 1995, a time capsule was buried at Sleeping Beauty Castle.
If you want to find out what’s inside, you’ll have to wait awhile. A placard reads “A time capsule, containing Disneyland memories, messages and milestones, lies beneath this spot. The Disneyland Time Capsule is dedicated to the children of the 21st century, who may unlock its contents on the 80th Anniversary of Disneyland: July 17th, 2035.”
4: The Mickey That Greets You at the Disneyland Train Station
It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it? I’m talking about Mickey Mouse made of flowers! He’s smiling at you from just inside the gates of Disneyland Park on the grass leading up to the train station.
This whimsical floral design is replanted SIX times a year, in order to spruce up the area and even dress it all up for the Holiday Season and Halloween Time!
5: Walt’s Apartment and Tribute
Walt Disney made himself at home in Disneyland in an apartment above the Disneyland Fire Department. When the park was being built, he didn’t want to miss a minute of his dream coming to fruition.
Walt would always turn a light on in front of his window so that workers would know when he was in the park. And that’s why you’ll see a light in the window that always stays lit in his memory (except when his family members are in the park, as a sign of respect).
6: Strange Lightbulb
Now here’s a great example of Walt Disney’s famous attention to detail… One of the lightbulbs at the Coca-Cola Refreshment Corner at the top of Main Street is painted half white and half red. As the story goes…
Walt Disney was walking through Disneyland one day and noticed two white bulbs right next to each other. He called a painter over and had him paint half of the second white bulb red to correct the pattern!
7: Walt’s Favorite Meal
Walt Disney was a man of simple tastes when it came to food. One of his favorite dishes was chili, and Carnation Cafe on Main Street, U.S.A. serves up his favorite recipe to this day (by the name of Walt’s Chili, of course)!
Obtained from Walt’s oldest daughter, Diane, and The Walt Disney Family Museum, the simple and savory recipe comes from the Disney family cook who was able to perfectly balance the mix of meat and beans for Walt.
8 – 11: King Arthur Carrousel Horses
There is more than meets the eye — literally — when it comes to the horses of the King Arthur Carrousel. There are 85 gorgeous horses featured on this classic attraction, BUT…
… only 72 horses are on the carrousel at any given time. Disney has shared that the horses use this little vacation time as an opportunity to be repaired, sanded, refinished, and repainted.
And every single one of those 85 horses is individually named!
Previously, guests could pick up the full list of their names from City Hall on Main Street, U.S.A., but that might not be the case for your next visit.
But let’s say you do find that complete list of names. We want to bring one in particular to your attention: JINGLES! She is the lead horse and can be identified by all those shiny golden bells.
Jingles was Walt Disney’s very own favorite horse on the Carrousel.
In 2008, Jingles received a makeover to celebrate Julie Andrews – the “Practically Perfect” Mary Poppins herself – and her 44 years of service to the Disney company. (Imagineers thought that dedicating the lead carrousel horse to the actress would be a fitting tribute since Mary Poppins had ridden a similar carousel horse in the film). That’s how Jingles got her current blue, pink, and gold color scheme, along with Julie Andrews’ initials and more Mary Poppins-themed features.
12 & 13: A Ride Inside a Ride
Did you know that a large portion of the Alice in Wonderland attraction (which opened in 1958) actually takes place on the second floor of ANOTHER classic Disneyland dark ride: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride! According to the D23 website, “Alice in Wonderland was Disneyland’s first two-level ride-through attraction.” But, due to “spatial constraints,” Alice had to be built on TOP of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
But wait, there’s more! When you board Alice in Wonderland, the temperatures seem normal at first… until you enter the room of the Card Soldiers. The you may notice quite the temperature change…
When your ride vehicle enters the playing card room of the Alice in Wonderland ride, you’re actually feeling the heat from the hell scene in Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride beneath you! Heat rises… it’s science, folks.
14: The Story Behind a Less-Than-Perfect Detail
Grabbing some Grey Stuff at Red Rose Taverne? After you polish off this famously “delicious!” dish and are getting ready to leave, look up at the glowing EXIT sign and you may notice things are a little off… off-center, that is. You see, when the restaurant was initially built (as the Pinocchio-themed Village Haus Restaurant, at the time), there was a design flaw that left the EXIT sign just a little too far to the right, and therefore uneven with the archway exits.
What’s an Imagineer to do? Well, Figaro (the cat from Pinocchio) was originally painted to lasso the sign, making it look like he was trying to pull it in the right direction. Then, when the Beauty and the Beast theming transformed this counter service restaurant in 2017, Sultan the Foot Stool replaced Figaro to take on the attempted shifting of the sign!
15: “We’re All Mad Here…”
If you stare into the mirror (the one up high with the caterpillar as a frame) in Fantasyland’s Mad Hatter shop long enough, you may notice something STARING BACK AT YOU: the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland!
He’ll slowly disappear every once in a while but don’t you worry… he’ll be back.
16: I Spy the Evil Queen
The Cheshire Cat isn’t the only one making appearances in Fantasyland…
If you watch the window above Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, you may just see the Evil Queen looking out every so often as she pulls aside the curtain (about every 20 seconds or so).
17: A Hidden… Basketball Court?!
Taking on the Matterhorn? Well, here’s a fun fact: tucked inside the Matterhorn Bobsleds, there is actually a quarter of a basketball court!
Walt Disney did not like to let any space go to waste, so he asked the Matterhorn climbers what they would like inside. When the vote was tallied, a basketball court was the end result! Cast Members can take breaks and have a little fun shooting hoops there.
18: Hidden Country Bears
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh opened in June of 1999 in Critter Country. The ride displaced the Country Bear Jamboree, but all was not lost…
Actual audio-animatronics for Max, Buff, and Melvin are inside the attraction and are visible if you look behind you to the right as you enter the “honey” room during the ride! Additional tributes to the Country Bears throughout Critter Country (formerly known as Bear Country) can be found at Hungry Bear Restaurant and above the land’s shops.
19 & 20: Haunting History
When paying a visit to the 999 Happy Haunts in the Haunted Mansion, you will see a gigantic spider web in the Grand Ballroom. If you look closely, you can see a HUGE bullet hole in the glass paneling. (It comes up fast, so keep your eyes peeled!)
It’s said that either a child with a BB gun or slingshot made the hole (or that a man with a shotgun created it when he thought he saw something strange…). In any case, the hole could not be repaired, and the glass was too expensive to replace. And so, spider web cover to the rescue, it was!
And since there’s always room for one more when it comes to secrets, here’s another!
The organ inside the Haunted Mansion is the very same one that’s seen inside the submarine Nautilus in the movie 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
21 & 22: Let’s Seek Some Pirate’s Treasure, Matey…
“But you have heard of me…” Aaah, yes! We’re talking here about Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean films AND the dark ride that inspired them.
After you ride Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland, be sure to swing by the Pieces of Eight storefront window. Among the pirate-y treasure here, we want to bring your attention to the voodoo doll lying on a barrel with a striking resemblance to our rum-loving Captain… but it’s not just ANY version of Captain Jack. According to the D23 website, THIS seems to be the Captain Jack from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – since the face paint on the doll is similar to the “face paint he wore when escaping the natives.”
While you’re at Pieces of Eight, keep your eyes peeled, too, for a white monkey dangling from the chandeliers above the registers.
Do you notice a resemblance to Jack the Monkey from the films? YES! You’ve spied him!
23 & 24: When You Wish Upon a SHOOTING Star… and More Pirates of the Caribbean Secrets
Quick, look! Did you see it??
Your eyes do not deceive you in the twilight bayou scene in Pirates of the Caribbean. There is indeed a shooting star… look above the trees and toward the ceiling for a chance of spotting it.
Now here’s something a little less whimsical: while on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride you’ll notice several skeleton props. What you may not know is that some of the original skeletons were REAL (and one still is).
When the ride first opened in 1967, skeletons from the UCLA Medical School were used, as opposed to props, since they looked more realistic (what with the fact that THEY WERE). These days, just one real skeleton remains (look for the skull on the headboard of the bed).
25: Keep an EAR Out
Staying in New Orleans Square, the land’s train station has something you need to keep an EAR out for, instead of an eye this time.
The clicking sound you hear is that of a telegraph typing out a message in Morse Code. The message? It translates to a portion of Walt Disney’s speech on the opening day of Disneyland: July 17, 1955!
26 – 33: Adding to Your Indiana Jones Adventure
We’re heading to another adventure now… Indiana Jones Adventure! This ride takes you on a winding, bumpy journey to escape the wrath of the temple god, Mara. An unstable bridge, a chamber of mummies, a GIANT BOULDER HURTLING YOUR WAY… all in a day for Indy, right? But there’s something a little less adventurous to note…
Your vehicle also drives over an old parking lot (though you’d never realize it if you didn’t already know. And now you do)! The area where The Indiana Jones Adventure now resides used to be part of the cast member parking lot, and not actually part of the park itself.
Did you know that the Temple of the Forbidden Eye contains over 2,000 replicated human skulls AND 2,129 sculpted, carved, painted or living representations of snakes, according to our friends over at AllEars.net?
Okay, c’mon… Say it with me, you know you want to… “Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?”
Sure, you may already be well aware that your ride on Indiana Jones Adventure is different each time (and that it’s based on which of the three doors — Youth, Riches, or Knowledge — that your jeep drives you through at the beginning of your adventure).
BUT! It’s much more than 3 simple options. The jeeps are preloaded with a “variety of movements” that have the potential of creating almost 160,000 different moving combinations!
Now, let’s discuss that queue. If it seems like walking through the queue for Indiana Jones takes as long as walking through the entire park… well, it’s because it is almost like that.
In fact, once you’re in the Spike Room, you’re actually walking underneath the Disneyland Railroad Tracks.
To keep that long line more interesting, there are several secrets to look out for! For instance, once you are inside the Temple and have made it through the cave (good job!), look out for the part of the line that resembles a bridge.
Then, look to your left for a unique-looking bamboo post. If you pull on it, the ceiling will drop just a bit!
As the line continues, you’ll come to an open room featuring a large obelisk in the middle. As you walk around it, you will notice a sign that says “Do not pull rope.” Do you know that just so happens to be Disney Code for PULL ON IT?!
You may hear someone inside speaking to you… (In fact, there is a similar gag near Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Adventure in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as you can see in the photo above.)
The Indiana Jones Adventure queue is SO LONG (“HOW? LONG? IS IT?”), that there is even a “secret” restroom along the way for any necessary moments.
Ok, Indy has one more for ya.. Behind the projector in the Indiana Jones Adventure queue is a sign featuring a picture of… Eeyore! The best way to see it is to go to the end of the projection room for the pre-show, then turn around to look for it. Still can’t see it? Ask a Cast Member. They often carry flashlights and can likely point it out.
34: The Story of the Banyan Tree
While you’re enjoying your Jungle Cruise, look for the large Banyan tree (it stands amidst the angry hippos). This tree was purchased from a home in Beverly Hills in early 1955. As the story goes, Harper Goff (Jungle Cruise designer), and Bill Evans (Disneyland’s chief landscaper), were looking for a tree to fill the background specifically in the hippo scene.
Goff and Evans would cruise (pardon the pun!) the streets of Beverly Hills on the lookout for trees for the park. One day, they discovered the perfect tree in the front yard of a house in Beverly Hills. Upon inquiry, they learned that the homeowner couldn’t stand that tree, saying they could have it if they removed the Banyan tree and planted something new. And that’s how the Banyan tree still has its Jungle Cruise home today.
35: Authentic Mining Equipment
Most of the mining equipment throughout the queue and attraction of Big Thunder Mountain is the REAL DEAL.
Imagineers searched swap meets, abandoned mines, and ghosts towns throughout Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, and Minnesota to find enough authentic equipment to fill the line and the ride!
36: Hidden Target on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Wanna know the secret to scoring MEGA POINTS on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters? It lies in the second room of the ride. At the space where Zurg stands and turns (revealing and concealing targets with his cape), there is a small “Z” on his chest that does not look like the other targets…. But it TOTALLY IS A TARGET.
And it’s worth 50,000 points!!! Fair warning: this target can be very difficult to hit (even if it looks like you squarely got it), and it only registers about half the time. But when the stars all align, the point payoff is GREAT.
37: The Disneyland Cats
It’s true: over 200 feral cats live in Disneyland park.
The felines are there to keep rodents away (though consider yourself lucky to encounter one of the cats as the majority are said to be nocturnal creatures).
38: The Little Man of Disneyland
The Little Man of Disneyland is named Patrick Begorra and he made his first appearance in one of the Disney Little Golden Books (which, according to Disney, was published in 1955 — the same year Disneyland opened). Who is Patrick? Why, he’s a leprechaun who, these days, spends his hours in a teeny tiny house at the base of a tree in Disneyland’s Adventureland.
You can even see it for yourself! Patrick’s home is near the entrance of Indiana Jones Adventure at the base of a tree trunk – it’s tangled within the roots. You’ll see an itty bitty door, a itty bitty window, an itty bitty smoke stack, and and itty bitty porch light. Home Sweet Home!
39: The Smellitizers!
Do you have a sudden craving for cookies the minute you set foot on Main Street, U.S.A? That probably has something to do with the Smellitizers. You see, different areas of the park smell like different things thanks to perfumes being sprayed out from Ye Olde Smellitizer (I added the Ye Olde , don’t mind me), with each area having its own unique scents to play on our senses.
Riding Pirates of the Caribbean? You might unknowingly get a whiff of sea salt in the air. Closer to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh? You guessed it — you may pick up on a honeyed aroma! Oh, and those cookies you crave walking down Main Street? Well, you’re going to smell freshly baked cookies… whether there are actual cookies in a nearby oven or not. During the holidays, you might smell peppermint candies being made, or pumpkin spices and candy corn near Halloween.
Disney California Adventure
40 – 43: WEB Slingers
Our first secret stop in Disney California Adventure is Avengers Campus where we’re checking out a tree. Well, THREE trees, actually. And while that may not sound like major secret material, allow me to explain… Just outside of the WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure ride building are three trees. But you’ll notice that the middle tree TOWERS over the other two. On either side of it, you’ll see a pipe leaking a mysterious green goo.
But that mystery is solved by a warning label DIRECTLY above the pipe that reads: CAUTION: GAMMA RADIATION. And it’s this sign that provides the clue for the gargantuan size of that tree. You see, Gamma radiation is what transformed Dr. Bruce Banner into the HULK. So I guess what we’re saying is… don’t make the tree angry. You won’t like it when it’s angry.
Once you enter the queue for WEB SLINGERS, you may find it hard to take in all the details. But we’d like to point a specific one out right here: it’s in the pre-room show. Here in the lab, Peter Parker is preparing for the big Open House to show off the latest WEB Slinger vehicles… but that’s not the only thing being worked on in this room. Check out the whiteboards to find science equations for how webs could be built and fully functional.
These equations are actual formulas! The math truly checks out! It’s not just for show, my friends… and you can trust me on that. (Okay, that’s SO not true — you can’t trust me on anything math-related. But you CAN trust those Disney Imagineers!)
Next, you’re gonna want to look for a lamp. I know… a LAMP? “You’re asking me to take the time to check out a LAMP in the WEB SLINGERS queue?” You bet I am… because the lamp on Peter Parker’s desk is (if I may steal a quote from Aladdin) “NO ORDINARY LAMP!!!”
It’s the iconic Pixar Luxo Lamp! Do you see it right next to Peter?
We’re still in the WEB SLINGERS queue for this last one… Keep your eyes peeled for Lucky Dog’s Pizza boxes. This is an in-universe a nod to Lucky the Dog, the pup Kate Bishop rescued in Hawkeye.
P.S. There’s also a Lucky Dog’s Pizza phone number displayed in the queue. If you dial it, it will indeed go through (though the automated voice message will tell you the line has been disconnected).
44: Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT!
Did you know that Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout! offers six different storyline experiences? Once you’re on the ride vehicle, you’ll be dropped into one of six different scenarios featuring Star-Lord, Groot, Gamora, Rocket, and Drax. Each of the scenarios features a different song from the ’70s or ’80s as you speed to the top of the tower and drop to the bottom.
Before all of that happens, though, as you enter the Collector’s Fortress, keep your eyes out for a nod to Cosmo the Spacedog as first seen in the Collector’s Fortress in the Guardians of the Galaxy! (Bad dog or good dog? )
45: An Exclusive Lounge
The Magic Key Terrace is located on a terrace above Wine Country Trattoria, and this relaxing little getaway is for Magic Key holders ONLY.
But guess what? If a Magic Key Holder is visiting with a non-passholder pal, they’re allowed to bring up to six guests along to chill for a bit, drink some wine or share an appetizer, and enjoy the awesome view of Cars Land. Speaking of Cars Land…
46 & 47: Cars Land Easter Eggs
Many of the ride vehicles in Cars Land have special license plates featuring the initials of Imagineers who helped this ride come to life.
According to an interview from Forbes.com, “The baby tractors [over at Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree]… also have letters that represent initials and birthdays of key contributors to the Cars Land project from Walt Disney Imagineering and Pixar Animation Studios.”
In 2015, Luigi’s Flying Tires closed up shop and was replaced with Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters just a year later. Now, with more recent additions like Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, we’re all more familiar with trackless rides these days.
But back in 2015, Luigi’s Rollicking Roadsters “dancing cars ride” came the FIRST-EVER “trackless vehicle tech to open at a Disney park in the US!”
48: Roastie Toasties!
What, you may ask, is a Roastie Toastie? Popcorn carts in the park have different characters attached to their popcorn turner. In Disneyland, these include everything from a yeti (near the Matterhorn Bobsleds) to the Rocketeer (in Tomorrowland) and even seasonal turners like Oogie Boogie (near Haunted Mansion Holiday) and Santa Claus (on Main Street). This tradition continues at Tokyo Disneyland, where my all-time favorite Roastie Toastie resides in Frontierland: Big Al!
In Disney California Adventure, we’ve spied Duke Caboom working his magic on Pixar Pier! Seriously, don’t miss your chance to seek out all of these truly charming details when you’re in Disneyland.
Just Outside the Parks
49 & 50: Sneaky Park Entrances
Sure, you can enter Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure from the iconic entrance gates, but there are other ways to get in (oh, umm… you still have to purchase a ticket and everything, but stay with me)…
If you catch a ride on the Disneyland Monorail, for instance, you’ll arrive right into the heart of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland!
But we’ve got TWO MORE secret entrances on top of that! Staying at the Grand Californian Hotel? Well, guess what…. then you’re actually staying IN Disney California Adventure. The resort exits out into Grizzly Peak: home of Soarin’ and Grizzly’s River Run to start your day with a flight or a SOAK!
And the newest Disney California Adventure entrance is part of Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel (soon to be Pixar Place Hotel!). This entrance leads guests into the park between Seaside Souvenirs and Corn Dog Castle in the Paradise Gardens area.
WHEW!! Ready for EVEN MORE Disneyland magic? Then check out our ULTIMATE Guide to Disneyland for 2023 in our DFBGuide YouTube Video right here…
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The post Disneyland’s 50 Best Hidden Secrets first appeared on the disney food blog.