Fun facts you may not know about Disney World

By Special to Newsday By Ian J. Stark

Visited by millions every year, Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, is explored frequently by guests, but not everything at the Magic Kingdom is as plain to see as the ears on Mickey’s head.Here are some facts you may not have known about "The Most Magical Place On Earth."...

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Visited by millions every year, Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, is explored frequently by guests, but not everything at the Magic Kingdom is as plain to see as the ears on Mickey’s head.

Here are some facts you may not have known about "The Most Magical Place On Earth."

Get a special hair cut at Harmony Barber Shop

Photo Credit: Disney Parks

Bringing the little ones to Disney World is likely to be a memorable experience -- and one way for the park to leave its mark on your kids is to get their first hair cuts there. Visit the Harmony Barber Shop to receive that special cut, which staff stylists say is a rite of passage for some guests. Hair decoration such as pixie dust and colored gel can be added to kids' 'dos as well, and the "Dapper Dans barber shop quartet" is known to occasionally drop by. Call ahead to make reservations.

A tribute to Mr. Toad

Photo Credit: David Wickham | @DisneyWicksey

The original "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" was an opening day attraction at the Magic Kingdom, but didn't make it into the 21st century, as it closed in the late 1990s and was replaced by "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh." However, a tad bit of the toad's legacy can be spotted in the pet cemetery of the Haunted Mansion, as a Mr. Toad statue stands quietly off in the back of the lot. (Lore holds that a hidden inscription on the statue reads "Here lies Toad, sad but true -- far less popular than Winnie the Pooh.") Another nod to Toad is in the Pooh ride itself, inside the "upside-down house scene," where a painting shows Mr. Toad handing the property's deed to Owl.

See water-painted images

Photo Credit: Disney Parks

It's not like being inside Disney World is a mysterious experience; branding and classic images are at every turn. But one way the park goes to unusual (but cool) lengths to keep Mickey on your mind involves water-painted images. Janitors use broomsticks to paint Mickey, Goofy and other characters' face on the pavement with water. The image evaporates quickly but faint traces of the faces can be spotted if you look carefully.


Sunglasses, phones and more at the Lost and Found

Photo Credit: Disney Parks

Perchance you lost a pair of sunglasses the last time you spent some time at Disney World? You're not alone: it's estimated that around 1.65 million pairs of shades have been lost there since 1971. Staffers also find over 3,500 digital cameras, 6,000 cellphones and 18,000 hats misplaced by guests every year. Among items lost and then claimed from Walt Disney World Lost and Found include a glass eye and a prosthetic leg.

The mystery of the Uptown Jewelry Store

Photo Credit: Charles B. Stovall

Pay attention for an offbeat park quirk as you stroll down Main Street; as you pass the Uptown Jewelry Store on its right side, look for a tiny nook with a couple of tables, chairs and park benches. A careful listen will reveal the sounds of someone teaching a tap dancing class. This mysterious audio bonus comes from a partially opened window marked as an (imaginary) space for singing and dancing lessons.

Autographs by Pixar greats at the Art of Animation resort

Photo Credit: Disney Parks

You'll almost certainly note the cells inside the main building at the Art of Animation resort, but take a close look at the chandelier -- the cells there are autographed by such instrumental Pixar people as John Lasseter (director of "Toy Story" and "Cars) and Pat Carroll (The voice of Ursula in "The Little Mermaid;" pictured).

Look for old-style crank-handle phone, 'Le Chapeau'

Photo Credit: David Wickham | @DisneyWicksey

The Chapeau Hat Shop on Main Street, U.S.A., is mainly there so one can find mouse ears and hats to wear. However, for a quick quirk, look for "Le Chapeau," an old-style crank-handle phone (pictured) lodged on the wall past the hat pins. Grab the receiver of this landline to listen in on a conversation between girl named Annie and her mother. The two chat about what they're thinking of buying, prices of items and even ways to appeal to the opposite sex before being interrupted by another person also listening in.

The 'Soarin' Around the World' attraction

Photo Credit: Disney Parks

The "Soarin' Around the World" attraction at Disney's Epcot may be a huge IMAX screen and construction, but the concept started small, as in really small. The model that ultimately led to its creation was made by Disney Imagineer Mark Sumner out of an old Erector Set and some twine. He still has that model in his possession.

Haunted Mansion at Disney World variations

Photo Credit: Disney Parks

Don't think if you visit the Haunted Mansion at Disney World (pictured) you're seeing the definitive version. Turns out the ride is different at five different resorts (Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland, in addition to the original DW).

Find the missing key at Muppet Vision 3-D attraction

Photo Credit:

Within the Muppet Vision 3-D attraction, there's a "ticket office," but the sign says it's closed. However, it also tells visitors that there's a key under the mat, and, sure enough, those bold enough to check will find a key.

'Be Our Guest' music experience

Photo Credit: Disney Parks

Music is a triple-experience at "Be Our Guest," as well -- while the same score plays in the West Wing, the Rose Gallery and the grand Ballroom, the style of music changes for each.

'Grey Stuff' at the Beauty and the Beast restaurant

Photo Credit: Disney Parks

When dining at the Beauty and the Beast restaurant, you can nosh in genuine Belle fashion by ordering "Grey Stuff" mentioned in the tune "Be Our Guest." It comes with pearls in a white chocolate "Chip" cup.