Thursday, February 16, 2017

Secrets of the Kingdom - Exploring the Magic in the Details

By Patricia Bednarofsky

There are so many wonderful and immersive experiences at Walt Disney World which include 4 theme parks, 2 water parks and the newly refurbished Disney Springs, formerly known as Downtown Disney. Not to mention, the ever evolving and expanding lands that keep us coming back for more year after year. The entire Walt Disney World Resort complex is brimming with activities to entice and delight any age. Disney has gone to great lengths to ensure when on Disney property at any given time you are transported away to another world. Disney takes you away from the woes of everyday life and into a land of pure Disney bliss. Underneath that beautiful façade is a deep rich history; each curve in the pavement and every color variation has a story. One magical place that particularly sticks out in my mind is the Magic Kingdom. Every window, building and sound has a specific purpose and meaning behind it. Even the juxtaposition of the lands within the Magic Kingdom are planned in a specific way to tell a story. And oh, what a fabulous story it is. Join us as we discuss the secrets of the Magic Kingdom and explore the magic in the details in today's new article...

We start at the bustling entrance to Main Street USA. As you pass under the Main Street station, you suddenly feel all your cares float away. A plaque hangs above that reads, “Here you leave today, and enter a world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.” What a wonderful sentiment, and it only provides a glimpse of the adventure that awaits ahead. Amidst all the excitement of Main Street, it is easy to become immersed in the sights and sounds. It all seems so real and so perfect. The magic of Main Street is accomplished by extensive engineering, planning and placement that blends seamlessly into one immersive experience. For example, break away from the excitement of Main Street for a moment, look up at the windows on the buildings....

Every single one of them has a business name and seems genuinely full of life. Each of the names represented on the windows of Main Street belong to influential Disney legends. X Atencio, who lent his voice and composed musical scores for many rides and films, has put up shop above the Main Street confectionery. Roy O. Disney also seems to have set up shop above the Main Street confectionery with his slogan reading “If we can Dream it, We can do it-Dreamers and Doers Development Co.” Last and most certainly not least, Walt Disney has one of his many windows above the Main Street train station reading, “Walt Disney World Railroad Office- Keeping Dreams on Track” with Walter E. Disney named as the Chief Engineer...

There are countless others that these windows pay homage to. Stop by and take a look next time you’re in town.

As you continue down Main Street, slowly but surely the architecture and music transition from nostalgic Americana, into something more regal as you approach Cinderella’s Castle. Fantasyland is obviously meant to represent everything from our childhood dreams and more, yet it also blends many different European architectural designs cohesively.

As you pass through Fantasyland notice the changing pavement and building architecture. You move from Cinderella’s medieval castle and faire to the more German architecture of Snow White and Pinocchio. As you venture out passed the gates of Cinderella’s kingdom you can see the quaint French town of Beauty and the Beast, the seaside castle of the Little Mermaid and Dumbo’s Circus. As you travel back towards Peter Pans Flight in London pay close attention as you cross under the archways between the Colombia Harbour House and Memento Mori. You have just symbolically discovered a new World. You have crossed over into Colonial America.

Many have supposed this area to be a representation of the explorers who left Europe and settled in America. It has never been verified, yet it most certainly seems to be planned this way. As you walk into Liberty Square there are historically accurate details abound. Look up at the shutters on the windows. They are purposefully hung leaning crookedly outward to provide an accurate representation of architecture in the 1700s.

In Colonial America leather straps were commonly used to secure window shutters. Overtime the leather would stretch causing the shutters to look a bit crooked. And yes, some of the windows do contain bubbly glass panes. This is no mistake. Again, it is a representation of seed glass which was common during this time period. As you continue on towards the Hall of Presidents notice the architecture slowly changing from early 1700s to the 1800s. One gem that often goes unnoticed actually resides within the Hall of Presidents. The Presidential seal is displayed only in two places, inside the White House and in the Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World.

As you walk past the Hall of Presidents the buildings begin to flow into an Old West type town. You have just symbolically moved westward to find the new frontier, hence the name Frontierland.

As you pass through Frontierland notice the buildings slowly progressing to a more Spanish style architecture. Suddenly the music moves from a slow relaxed western tune to something much more exotic. You are entering the unknown as an explorer as you leave the West behind in search of new worlds in Adventureland.

The architecture in Adventureland is very interesting as it seamlessly switches from Spanish, to Polynesian, to Middle Eastern. There are countless hidden secrets throughout Adventureland. One of the most fascinating is the least obvious, and resides inside the Pirates of the Caribbean. Epic music plays as your enter the queue and you board your sea faring ship. You pass by Captain Barbosa and his terror of the seven seas, the Black Pearl. Suddenly out of nowhere, you plunge down a small hill in the darkness only to find yourself appearing in the middle of a ferocious battle. Cannon blasts light up the night sky and stray cannon balls plunge into the murky water around you. Most would assume the small hill before this scene is to build up the excitement for the theatrics ahead. While it does work extremely well with the theatrics, it also serves another very important purpose. Without this drop the Pirates of the Caribbean would never function in its current location. Pirates of the Caribbean was an afterthought at the Magic Kingdom. Instead, there were plans for a ride called the Western River Expedition, meant to mimic a boat ride along the Mississippi. After Walt Disney World’s grand opening, the public kept inquiring, “Where is the Pirates ride?!” There was such a high demand for the attraction that the Western River Expedition was scrapped and Pirates of the Caribbean was slated to be built. But where? It obviously couldn’t go in Frontierland, so Imagineers had to find a space that was suitable in Adventureland. At this time, the Walt Disney World Railroad already had a track running around the Magic Kingdom. So, Disney Imagineers designed the Pirates of the Caribbean track to work harmoniously with the already operating Walt Disney World railroad. This was accomplished by engineering the Pirates of the Caribbean track to pass underneath the Walt Disney World Railroad.

What appears to be a small drop for fun to the rider, actually serves a much more important purpose.  The small drop is what allows the Pirates of the Caribbean track to pass under the Walt Disney World train track and into the main show building. It is fascinating how Imagineers were able make this ride a reality despite limited space. The best part is, we never would have known.

Upon leaving Adventureland, there is a gleaming beacon of light straight ahead in the distance, symbolizing everything we strive for in the future; Tomorrowland. These lands within the Magic Kingdom are laid out in a way that tells a beautiful story of discovery and bravery. Subconsciously, maybe this is why these lands somehow blend perfectly together in our minds. It just seems right to have Fantasyland next to Liberty Square, and so on. It is all carefully planned so we can feel completely immersed in the magic. Many of these symbols and back stories go unnoticed, but in reality they are what makes the experience so real and magical. This attention to minute details is how the Walt Disney Company has been making dreams come true in their Parks for many years. This commitment Walt Disney and his team made many years ago, to provide only the best, is what keeps the Disney dream alive today, tomorrow, and for years to come.


From a young age Patricia Bednarofsky has been a devoted Disney Fan. She currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA with her beautiful family. She is a proud wife and mother of two that lives a crazy whirlwind life as a full time manager in the cosmetic industry. Despite her busy schedule, she always finds time every evening to unwind by endlessly researching anything she can find on Walt Disney and his magnificent dreams. She has a passion for discovering hidden secrets throughout the Parks, and is infatuated with understanding the complex construction of attractions. Those impeccable details that go unnoticed by most are what drives her to research more and more. Patricia has always dreamed of working for the Disney Company in some way or another. In fact, her first project in college was an in depth analysis on the creation of the Haunted Mansion, and it was a hit with the entire department. Along with her love for everything Disney, her passions also include writing, singing and dancing. She loves to create and to share information with people.  As an eternal optimist, it is her goal to brighten the day of everyone she meets. Patricia considers it an honor to serve the public and to have a chance to make an impact on others’ lives with kindness. She believes a smile and kind words can change the world, and greatly admires the Walt Disney Company for their equal philosophy. She credits her positive outlook on life to her loving parents, who always inspired her to be brave, kindhearted, and humble. Patricia and her family go to Walt Disney World yearly and have visited in almost every season. Their dream is to one day see Tokyo Disney, and to move near Orlando, Florida to be closer to the Disney magic they love so dearly.

You can find all of Patricia's articles here.

1 comment:

  1. A very well written article! I have been to Disney in 15 years and this article somehow made me remember the little magical details that I'd forgotten. Can't wait for more articles!