These are the Disney World mysteries we can’t stop thinking about!
Disney World is the most magical place on earth! But every now and then, we find ourselves wondering about the pixie dust behind the curtain. We managed to dig up answers to some of these puzzling questions, but others remain a magical mystery! Here are six burning questions we have about Disney World! If you can answer any of the mysteries, let us know!
Was River Country Closed Due to Brain-Eating Amoeba?
You may be familiar with Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, but have you heard of the first waterpark at Disney World — River Country? This waterpark was opened in 1976 in the area that Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge is currently being constructed.
River Country stuck around for 25 years. But, after closing for its scheduled annual winter refurbishment in November 2001, River Country never reopened its gates.
One of the most popular conspiracy theories behind the permanent closure is that the water park was infested with deadly, brain-eating amoebas. Most of the park’s water wasn’t chlorinated, rather it was primarily lake water sourced from the adjacent Bay Lake. Lake water like this can be found to harbor amoebas that, if they make their way into the body, can be deadly.
Unfortunately, an 11-year old boy did contract a fatal case of amoebic meningoencephalitis — allegedly from the lake, which likely encouraged the rumor. But, this occurred back in 1980, 21 years before the park closed. There were no further cases in the following years, so concern over amoebas was likely not the reason for the closure.
In fact, the most likely reason River Country was never reopened comes down to finances. The tourism industry was hit hard after the 9/11 terror attacks in New York City, and with the newly opened Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach Water Parks drawing in more guests, River Country probably just couldn’t generate enough traffic for Disney to keep the park open. And so, River Country faded into the sunset.
Are The Hall of Presidents…Presidents…Wearing Any Underwear?
Located in the Liberty Square area of Magic Kingdom, The Hall of Presidents is a classic Disney attraction. And for good reason! It comes from an idea created by Walt Disney himself — “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln,” which premiered at the New York World’s Fair in 1964.
The show stage features incredibly lifelike Audio-Animatronic versions of each of the presidents throughout American history. In fact, the figures are such accurate representations, we’ve often found ourselves wondering, “Are those guys wearing any underwear?”
We did some digging that turned up some incredible details about just how far Disney went to make sure the representations are true-to-life. In fact, the hairpieces and clothing for each president were custom made, with fabrics sewn and stitched to match popular styles in each of their eras — right down to the seams!
But, despite all of the info we could find about the attention to detail on the visible clothing worn by each president, we couldn’t find ANY mention of underwear! Is this to respect the privacy of the Audio-Animatronics? Or does that mean they’re going commando? This is one mystery that still remains.
Why Can’t We Live in Epcot Like Walt Originally Imagined?
EPCOT was one of Walt Disney’s most ambitious concepts. Walt originally envisioned EPCOT (which stood for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) as a Utopian city, focused on cutting edge technology and solving the common problems of urban living.
If you’ve taken a ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover in Magic Kingdom, you may have even seen the model of his Progress City concept! This is, in fact, the actual original model Walt looked over, which has been restored and maintained over the years.
So, since Walt envisioned EPCOT as a city, why can’t we rent an apartment inside Spaceship Earth? Or maybe get a cute 2 bedroom inside The Seas Pavilion? 🙂
Unfortunately, when Walt passed away in 1966, the company shifted focus away from EPCOT completely. Instead, executives concentrated their efforts on getting Walt Disney World up and running — which at the time meant completing construction on Magic Kingdom.
When Walt Disney World Resort did open, it was a groundbreaking location. Disney became a destination resort, establishing itself as “The Vacation Kingdom of the World.”
So, when Disney executives decided to revisit EPCOT in the mid-1970s, it made more financial sense to focus on theme parks, rather than big-picture cities. Walt was the biggest champion for the city concept, so without his ongoing influence over the project, EPCOT shifted into the theme park we know today.
But did you know Disney World is actually…its own city? Disney World had to create an infrastructure to finance production, so it actually has its own government, city council, utilities, fire department, and more. So while Walt’s true EPCOT never happened…he did end up inspiring a true Progress City. Check out this video to learn all about it!
Was Disney Trying to Traumatize us with the “Butt-Bug” Effect in It’s Tough to be a Bug??
Those of us who have been to a performance of the 4-D show It’s Tough to be a Bug in Disney’s Animal Kingdom are all too familiar with this effect!
After the final scene, the narrator (Flik!) asks us “honorary bugs” to remain seated while the “lice, bed bugs, maggots, and cockroaches exit first.” At that point, our seats begin to CRAWL underneath us as the other bugs make their way out of the theater!
The creepy-crawly sensation catches us off guard and can be really scary for both kids and adults! So why did Disney do that do us??
Well, apparently we have Imagineer Kevin Rafferty to thank for this effect! He said this about his reasoning behind the squirmy seats, “It’s always fun to leave our guests happy and laughing and getting a surprise that they totally didn’t expect. Just to bring it all home with a smile.” So, apparently, it’s meant to surprise us and make us…smile.
Rafferty tested out his creation by sitting in with an audience during the show. He said that after the bugs crawled past, a man who appeared to be in his 80s turned to his wife and said, “I don’t know what that was, but I want to do that again!” So, as scary as it may be to some of us…and our screaming kids…apparently the effect is having the intended outcome!
How Do We Manage to See so Many Animals on the Safari Every Time?
We love spotting all of our favorite animals on Kilimanjaro Safaris! We’ve seen giraffes walk right in front of our safari vehicle, lions snoozing on their own Pride Rock, and baby elephants (clumsily) playing with their family.
But, since these are actual animals, unlike our animatronic friends on Jungle Cruise, how do we get lucky enough to see soooo many animals every time??
Well, it turns out the animals of Kilimanjaro Safari grace us with their presence in exchange for some treats! Out on the savannah, Imagineers hang feeders and salt licks to encourage shy animals like giraffes, cattle, and gazelles, to come out and see us!
And those gorgeous lions lounging on the rocks? Imagineers created a system which pipes cool air out of these rock formations, which gives the lions a comfortable spot to soak up the sun while still in view for guests!
So, it isn’t luck after all! It turns out that Imagineers have given the animals a little extra incentive to hang out with us safari-goers!
That said, you will likely see a LOT more animals — and more active animals — if you ride Kilimanjaro Safaris in the early morning or the evening when it’s cooler outside in Central Florida. Even food can’t bring some of these guys out into the crazy hot weather!!
Does the Creepy Dummy on Tower of Terror Have a Backstory?
If you’re looking for a ride with an impressive amount of detail, Tower of Terror is a great place to start! The lobby and pre-show room are chock-full of Easter eggs, and we could spend hours trying to find them all!
But one piece of decor that reallllly catches our eye is the creepy ventriloquist dummy who is waiting for us just after the drop sequence. As spooky as he is, we’ve seen him so often that we started to wonder, “Hey little guy, what’s your name?”
Well, as it turns out, this little dummy does have a backstory that includes a name! Tower of Terror takes its inspiration from the television show The Twilight Zone. And even though the storyline of the ride was NOT taken directly from an episode of the show, there are plenty of details that pay homage to actual storylines from the program!
The ventriloquist dummy is inspired by the episode “Caesar and Me,” where a talking dummy named Caesar torments his owner.
To top it all off, Cast Members confirm the dummy’s name as well! A superstition among “bellhops” requires them to say hello and good night to Caesar every day, or else he’ll cause trouble around the building. As if he wasn’t creepy enough! So next time you’re “checking out” of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, be sure to say bye to Caesar! 😉
As huge Disney World fans, we find ourselves pondering a wide variety of questions about the parks. Sometimes we wonder what new and innovative ride technology they’ll use next or when they might open a new resort.
And other times we just really want to know if our favorite dummy has a name or what sort of undies our fav presidents are rocking! We can’t wait to hear what burning questions you want Disney to answer!
What burning questions do you have for Disney? Let us know in the comments!