Since discovering Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom has utilidors, I have been very interested in what exactly goes on down there. This area, known as the utilidors, is a series of tunnels that makes it possible for Cast Members to move between lands and across the park in an efficient, covert manner. Thanks to the utilidors, guests don’t watch dumpsters being rolled around the “on stage” park areas. Similarly, we never see a partially-dressed Princess or Buzz Lightyear walking from Adventureland to Tomorrowland. Here’s a list of 12 terrific facts you may not know about this incredible Utilidor system.
12. It’s actually not “underground”.
This is a hard fact to wrap your head around, to be sure. The utilidors are not underground at all; rather, they are truly the “ground floor” of the entire Magic Kingdom Park. The area that we enjoy was actually built as a second floor on top of the Utilidors. In fact, cast members who are bussed in to work at the Magic Kingdom enter the utilidors from parking lot level, just as you and I would enter a tunnel through a mountain in our cars.
11. You can visit them!
There are many backstage tours you can take at Walt Disney World, and a few actually give you a glimpse into the Utilidors. One such tour is the Keys to the Kingdom tour, an experience that takes guests into some “backstage” park areas, including a parade float storage area and the utilidors.
10. The entrances/exits are hidden in plain sight.
The utilidor system spans almost the entire Magic Kingdom, and there are many entrances and exits throughout the park hidden in plain sight. You have probably never noticed them, but once you begin to look for them you can see them in plain view. Generally, the doors are typical looking, unmarked doors. Each door is painted either to blend seamlessly into the land it is in, or it so completely drab that it is barely noticeable.
9. They play “regular” music down there- not Disney tunes!
When you’re in a Disney park, you’re completely immersed in the theming, right down the music playing everywhere (even in the restrooms). I was surprised to learn that in the Utilidors, they do NOT play Disney music. This space is considered a break space for Cast Members- a chance to “take off their heads”-literally- and feel human (rather than feeling like Chip, Goofy, or Donald Duck). For that reason, regular radio is played in this area.
8. The walls are painted to guide Cast Members.
Cast Members can find their ways through the Utilidors in two ways; by using a map, or by following the paint color system on the walls. As you begin walking under a new land, the color of the walls change, helping Cast Members find their way to the land they need to appear in.
7. Cast Members replenish their pins here.
Have you tried Pin Trading yet? If not- I highly recommend trying this enjoyable hobby. The caveat here is that many people purchase pin lots on eBay and some of these pins, though tradable in the parks, are called “scrappers”- they are of lesser quality. Cast members often find their lanyards full of scrappers or otherwise less-desirable pins, so they come to a location in the Utilidors to “refresh” their lanyards.
6. The Utilidor concept was borrowed from Walt Disney’s plans for EPCOT.
Epcot was conceived by Walt Disney as EPCOT: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. It was to be an actual city where residents would work, live, and play. One of Walt’s ideas was to create underground tunnels, allowing residents to pass through the city in a way that would help them avoid traffic. Although Epcot is not what Walt had intended, this idea was certainly useful in the construction of the Magic Kingdom.
5. The Utilidors are truly massive!
The tunnels run under nearly every area of the park, with the exception of the New Fantasyland area (formerly Toon Town). The tunnels span over 390,000 square feet.
4. The Command Center helps keep things moving- literally.
Also located under the Magic Kingdom is the Command Center, where a variety of fascinating things happen. Here, Disney controls all of its lighting, effects, computer, and security systems. Additionally, all of the animatronic figures in the park are controlled by the center. Cast Members on duty can even view park surveillance video and respond to situations as needed, or radio to an operator on a ride to dispatch additional boats or ride vehicles as the center detects increasing wait times for rides.
3. They’re large enough to allow vehicles to pass through.
Cast members may make their ways through the Utilidors on golf cart style vehicles with electric motors. Another very important vehicle type that enters the Utilidors? Armored cars, which are used to take cash safely out of the park.
2. Walt Disney wanted them built to keep cowboys out of Tomorrowland
According to legend, Walt Disney was bothered by the site of a cowboy Cast Member walking from Disneyland’s Tomorrowland to his post in Frontierland. He felt this was not appropriate in terms of theming and wanted this to be addressed in the creation of his new park, Walt Disney World.
1. Cast Members can get their hair cut here.
Kingdom Kutters, a Cast Member salon, is located in the Utilidors. Disney has certain policies about Cast Member appearance and grooming, and Kingdom Kutters helps assure that Cast members are looking their best.