Do you ever find yourself stopping dead in your tracks as a scent wafts past your nose and you are held captive to the memories it suddenly resurrects? The power of smell is a force like no other, generating immediate reaction and able to instantaneously transport you to another time and place, and the Imagineers at Disney are well aware of this. I am always amazed at the dozens upon dozens of unique smells that simply scream, “DISNEY!” and can’t help but grin from ear to ear as the pleasant aroma elicits such fond memories. The Walt Disney World Company does a phenomenal job of incorporating distinctively powerful smells into various realms of their expansive property and they do it because they know that with just one whiff, they’ll have you at “Smell-O.” Here is a list of the top 10 most powerfully wonderful Disney aromas.
10. The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor at Main Street, USA
Pssst. Come closer. I’m going to share with you a not-so-secret secret. Did you know that Disney pumps irresistible scents into its streets to entice park goers? Take a stroll down Main Street, USA, in the Magic Kingdom and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about as these “Smellitzers” emit sensational scents which pull at you from every picture-perfect storefront. Your senses will dance with the aroma of freshly baked cookies from the bakery and your nose will twitch with excitement with a whiff of cotton candy from the confectionary. The Ice Cream Parlor certainly takes the cake—or rather, “ice cream”—for having the most mightily memorable scent. This blend of smells that I can only describe as “sweet vanilla waffles” will have you wandering inside for a scoop even if you aren’t hungry. Side note: Walk past Ghirardelli at Downtown Disney for a satisfyingly similar whiff!
9. The Water Rides
If the unusual yet pleasing smell of the rolling fog on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride doesn’t leave your nose begging for more then the smell of the water will. I’m not sure what magical potion Disney drops into the water (it can’t possibly be as simple as chlorine, can it?) within these rides but every one from the Small World to Splash Mountain to Mexico’s boat ride at Epcot emits a pleasingly potent and reminiscent scent. I’d be hard pressed to even begin to describe what it smells like. All I know is that I’m as giddy as Rapunzel outside her tower when I step onto those boats and take in a deep lungful.
8. The Resort Lobbies
If the beautifully ornate architecture isn’t grabby enough, each resort has a unique and distinct scent that from the moment you walk inside and it hits your nose you become instantly happier. I won’t even go into the psychology of it all and all the studies that back up that statement, but certain smells can be true powerful mood enhancers and the good ol’ folks at Disney know exactly which ones will have you feeling like you are “home.” Though I love most all the Disney Resort lobby scents, the ones that have had the most profound impact on me—triggering serious feelings of nostalgia and joy—are The Grand Floridian, The Yacht and Beach Club and, of course, The Polynesian. “Green clover and aloe” permeate the Beach Club lobby giving it that “seaside” feel, traces of tropical waters and citrus surround you as you walk inside the Polynesian, hints of floral fragrances like juniper and rosemary float by as you step inside The Grand Floridian. There is almost a cult-like obsession out there that has true Disney fanatics trying to recreate these scents in their own home and if you’ve experienced the fresh, seductive smells of these lobbies, you’ll completely understand why.
7. Rome burning inside Spaceship Earth
Yes, folks, this appealing scent has its very own Facebook fan page. This wood burning, smoky, barbeque-y aroma is certainly one of those Disney ride smells that stand out among the rest. The Imagineers at Epcot figured out a way to create an incredibly pleasing experience as you breathe in the smoldering ashes while moving through the Dark Ages on this ride, and if you’ve experienced it before it has likely seeped into the deepest confines of your memory, easily triggered by your next bonfire!
One of the most easily detectable scents to your nose is the buttery smell of freshly popped popcorn. This delicate and crunchy snack is almost just as pleasing to your nostrils as it is to your taste buds and as you walk past one of the many popcorn carts Disney has set up all over their theme parks it’s hard to resist a bag (or a bucket!). It’s the very first and very last thing I smell at The Magic Kingdom—the cart is located just inside the entrance past the train station tunnel— and I always find myself unintentionally drifting over to it. Some of the other competing scents as you walk around the parks include the smoky, savory smell of their famous turkey legs or the sweet aroma of the cinnamon-glazed roasted nuts and while these snacks are very popular, one whiff of Disney popcorn makes it a must-have for most! The aroma of this classic salty snack is alluring to both adults and kids alike, and that must-have-popcorn craving will hit you when you least expect it!
Oh, the magic is never so real as it is during this 3-D/4-D attraction at the Magic Kingdom. Your senses will skyrocket into overdrive as champagne corks seemingly explode towards you with a whoosh of air that holds the slightest hints of bubbly sweetness, and your stomach will undoubtedly grumble for a taste of that fictional pie as it spins right before your eyes and you breathe in the notes of warm apple and cinnamon. Empty stomachs be warned!
4. Grand Concourse Station at The Contemporary Resort
A collection of pleasing aromas collide at this 4th floor stop inside The Contemporary Resort where you can eat, shop, and leave via monorail. With two eateries, there’s a good chance you’ll notice the aroma of whatever delicious offerings they are currently serving up. There is also the monorail, which certainly has its own unique smell (I’m mostly talking about the OUTSIDE—we all know the inside can smell a little musty and offensive after a day of transporting sweaty park goers). I’m not certain that I can describe the smell of the monorail or even goes as far to say that it smells great, but the feelings of bliss that are associated with this “railway in the sky” that transports you to the “happiest place on earth” immediately present themselves when you breathe them in. All these smells as well as the fragrance they intentionally pump throughout this floor can be summed up in one word—happiness.
3. Disney Resort Toiletries
The other day I ran out of face wash and grabbed for my stash of mini hotel toiletries, fishing out one of the dozens of Disney Resort soaps and immediately lathering it between my hands with water. As soon as the bubbly suds swept over my face, a tear of nostalgia (no, I didn’t get soap in my eye) sprung free and there I was standing in my bathroom, wishing in the worst possible way that I was standing inside a Disney Resort bathroom at that moment. These freshly crisp smelling and very lightly fragranced toiletries instantly evoke Disney memories that will have you longing for your next Disney fix.
2. Karamell Kuche—Germany Pavilion
If you are even in the vicinity of the Germany pavilion inside Epcot’s World Showcase the deliciously hypnotic smell of caramel will lead you inside this “Caramel Kitchen.” Caramel popcorn, caramel apples, caramel chocolate—caramel EVERYTHING—is created inside this working kitchen and that deep, buttery aroma of freshly made caramel will have your mouths salivating in response. Stop inside this must-see treasure of an attraction and “drink” in the scrumptiously smelling sweets—your nose will thank me!
It is no wonder this is by far one of the most popular attractions at Disney World. Winds sweep over your face and the deep fragrance of orange blossoms, woodsy pine, and crisp, salty sea breezes envelop you and seduce your senses as each captivating scene plays before you in cinematic wonder. These scents stay with you long after you leave the park, and will have you hankering for a return visit the next time you slice open that juicy orange.