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Planning a Disney Vacation? Disney's Best Kept Secrets

Published on October 6, 2016 by SarahE

Disney's Best Kept Secrets to Help When Planning a Disney Vacation

You'll want to make the most of your time at the Most Magical Place on Earth when you’re planning a Disney Vacation.

You can't miss the rides, attractions, parades and general merriment. But you might miss the magical secrets if you don't know where to look.

There’s nothing like a little pre-trip planning to make you feel like you're in-the-know. We’re here to help you vacation like an insider. And you'll dazzle your family with your impressive knowledge!

Here are 10 of Disney's Best Kept Secrets:

1) Arrive early. Stay late.

When planning a Disney vacation, set your sights on getting to the Magic Kingdom early. You can enter before the posted opening time to have breakfast at Main Street Bakery, or just stroll along Main Street and enjoy the morning magic. The rest of the park remains closed, but Main Street is open and some stores open early, so you can take advantage of browsing in peace and quiet.

At the official opening time, Let the Magic Begin formally announces the Kingdom open to trumpeting fanfare and characters. The 5 minute show takes place on the Castle Forecourt Stage.

Check Magic Kingdom Park Hours and double check it's not an Extra Magic Hours day. This is when guests staying in Disney hotels are able to enter the park before opening times, meaning the Train Station Welcome Show is held earlier.

Stick around past closing time, too.
About a half an hour after the rides shut down, you’ll experience the unadvertised Kiss Goodnight Show, which features the original dedication of The Magic Kingdom given by Roy Disney, Walt’s brother, at the park’s grand opening in 1971. At the end, when Mickey says "See Ya Real Soon" you'll be able to watch the Castle gates start to close.

Not only do you get to see the Kiss Goodnight Show, but you also get awesome photo opportunities in a pretty deserted park AND no crowds or lines for the monorail or ferry back to the parking lot.
Unless of course it's a Holiday or extra busy time of year, then lots of others may stick around with you!

Both these shows are sure to be the perfect frame for your picture-perfect day, so be sure to try and fit them in when planning a Disney vacation.

2) The Sword and the Stone

It’s hiding in plain sight, just behind Cinderella’s Castle and in front of the Golden Carousel. The Sword is of course stuck rigid into the stone, but occasionally it will release for a chosen few. Try your hand at becoming the next King of England.

Who in your family has the magic touch?

3) “Try the grey stuff. It’s delicious!”

If you’re lucky enough to score dinner at the Be Our Guest Restaurant you should know that there’s a special dessert on the menu. Remember the song? Lumiere and Chip don’t lie. You can “ask the dishes.”

4) Main Street Flags

Main Street, U.S.A. in The Magic Kingdom is lined with American Flags. But if you look again you’ll notice that none of them are actually American Flags.

Planning a Disney Vacation - flags at Magic Kingdom

Do you have any idea what these Flags really are?

They’re all missing a star or stripe, and that’s because Disney can keep unofficial flags up around the clock.

Are you feeling unpatriotic now that you know Disney is working around official flag regulations? Don’t fear. There are genuine American flags in the parks, too, like the one in Town Square at The Magic Kingdom entrance. There’s a Flag Retreat there at 5pm every day, and as part of the festivities they honor veterans. Plus, those look-alike flags along Main Street serve another important purpose: disguising lightning rods that keep you and your fellow Magic Kingdom visitors safe from Florida’s stormy weather.

5) There are only three official Presidential Seals in all the land, and one of them is in The Hall of Presidents at The Magic Kingdom

Thanks to congressional approval!

Planning a Disney Vacation - Presidential Seal

Did you know the Presidential Seal in The Magic Kingdom is one of only 3 in all the land?!

Not going to make it to The Oval Office or the Liberty Bell anytime soon? Don’t miss your only other chance to see the real seal while you’re in The Magic Kingdom.

6) The Magic Kingdom is Actually on the Second Floor

Walt never wanted a visitor to see a Cast Member out of place, or operations like food truck deliveries and garbage disposal.

When they built the Magic Kingdom, Disney created an extensive tunnel system right under the Magic Kingdom.

Did you know there are almost 400,000 square feet of hidden tunnels below The Magic Kingdom?

Only they are not actually underground at all. When you arrive at The Magic Kingdom, you'll be so excited you will barely notice the incline as you walk towards the entrance.

Planning a Disney Vacation - Disney Utilidors

You'll barely notice as you walk up the incline towards the Magic Kingdom entrance

When you walk onto Main Street USA, you will have actually walked up to the second floor.

The whole operating nerve center of the park is booming with life in the Utilidors right below you.

There are hidden stairways leading to the hive of activity below where highly restricted zones include Mouseketeria, the Disney Cast Members cafeteria, Kingdom Cutters, the Cast Members hair salon to keep the 'Disney Look' and the Glow Room where all glowing park merchandise is stored.

It's well worth considering a Tour when you're planning a Disney vacation. If you are sixteen or older, you can tour the utilidor system on the “Backstage Magic Tour” or “Keys to the Kingdom Tour.”
Just be prepared to lose a little of the magic when you see your favorite Disney character half-dressed.

Hence the 16 or over rule, Walt would never let anything spoil the magic for children.

7) One of the best-kept secrets is Character Palooza in Hollywood Studios.

Speaking of Disney characters, there's an unannounced and unadvertised meet-and-greet (usually lasting around twenty minutes) with lots of different characters.

You’ll even see characters that you won’t see anywhere else in the parks!

Most recently the location has been at the park gates, but it may move at any time to keep crowds down. The best place to find a guide to the times and locations is with a subscription to Character Locator by Kenny The Pirate. If you're staying in one of our vacation homes, you'll already have a subscription included with your stay, so check it out!

 8) A 13-Minute Wait Time... Wait! There's No Wait At All!

If you see 13 Minutes posted as the wait time at the Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios, or The Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom, you're in luck! It means there's no wait at all.

Planning a Disney Vacation - 13 Minute Wait time

Don't walk by the 13 minute wait time!

So keep your fingers crossed for lucky number 13!

9) You Can See Tower of Terror from Morocco

Speaking of The Tower of Terror, have you ever noticed something about the tower’s architecture? Well, it’s visible from Epcot's Morocco Pavilion, so it was designed to blend in with the Moroccan Tower and skyline. 

Planning a Disney Vacation - Tower of Terror in Morocco

Can you see the Tower of Terror blending in with Morocco?

You can't see the Tower of Terror if you are in the Morocco Pavillion, but if you look across from Showcase Lagoon standing to the left of International Gateway you will clearly see it in the background. 

10) While you explore Animal Kingdom make it your mission to find DiVine

Hint: DiVine is a part-human and part-tree creature who’s usually gliding gracefully through the foliage at Animal Kingdom. When planning a Disney vacation, do include seeing DiVine in your plans!

Planning a Disney Vacation - DiVine at Animal Kingdom

Look carefully in the foliage for DiVine!

Did we spark more excitement about your trip yet? We hope so!

Want to know about Orlando beyond the parks? We’ve got you covered there, too. We’re your very own Orlando TripAdvisor. We're here to help you every step of the way in planning a Disney vacation.

Really, there’s more to see and do than you could fit into one trip. And that’s the beauty of Orlando. You can keep coming back to make new memories, even as you reminisce about the old.

Hope to see you here in sunny Orlando soon. 

Meet The Author
Our Florida journey began over 2 decades ago when we were searching for somewhere warm for winters. We discovered Florida was the perfect choice. We started spending every winter there and absolutely loved it. Orlando quickly became our permanent ‘winter home’. We were true Snowbirds! We decided to make our commitment a little more concrete in 2005 and bought our first vacation home – Serendipity at Indian Creek. We soon discovered we LOVED being in the hospitality world, so we decided to expand a little. We purchased Sleepy Hollow in 2010. Five years later we came across Serenity Lake House in 2015 and just had to have it to complete our portfolio. We now spend half the year on Disney’s doorstep in Orlando,. The rest of the time we're either in our second home in Scotland overlooking a beautiful Scottish Loch, or enjoying time with family in Cyprus. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it? Ours is served with Pixie Dust on top :)
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