Welcome back to the Keys to the Kingdom tour! If you haven’t read part one, go check it out here first.
At lunch we were given a literal key to the kingdom Pin! It’s now one of my most treasured souvenirs.
My absolute favorite and the first attraction finished for Walt Disney World came next, The Haunted Mansion. Standing next to the pet cemetery, hearing the history, details and familiar names such Yale Gracey, Marc Davis, Leota Toombs Thomas… It was so nice. (Read my Haunted Mansion post about it here) But the best part was when we walked up to the exit and into the “Servants Quarters” Cast Member hallway. It’s walls contain servants bells and keys of which I have heard about for years, but never actually seen with my own eyes. It took every fiber for me to not start crying with joy and amazement. That feeling of nostalgia and emotion is so overwhelming, yet the best in the world. I’m not really sure why exactly I am so attached to the Haunted Mansion, because when I first experienced it at a young age, I was freaked out and absolutely hated the attraction. Now I usually ride HM at least 5 times each trip and can recite the entire script from memory.
The wait in the hallway was only a couple of minutes for our personal stretching room. Because I happened to be at the front of the group, I ended up standing next to our guide Jordan in the queue for the Doom Buggies. We chatted about favorite details, the Museum of the Weird concepts (as well as the comic books based on them), paintings in the loading room, and the attraction itself. I was overjoyed with the experience of talking with someone else who understands the obscure things that most people I talk to have no clue about.
Back in Liberty Square, we stopped at the Liberty Tree to rest and talk about the largest living thing in WDW. The tree was Walt’s request because when designing Disneyland he wanted one, but surprise surprise they didn’t have room. horticulturist Bill Evans figured out how to move the southern Live Oak that was found about 8 miles west from its current location. This feat of moving a 38 ton tree was not an easy task. To this day, the Disney Horticulturist badge logo is of the tree in tribute to the task.
One of the most important things when creating Liberty Square, was historical accuracy. The window glass isn’t smooth, shutters are crooked (I’ll explain this soon!), and the women’s skirts are shorter if they are working outside. Inside the entrance to the Hall of Presidents is a real presidential seal. It’s such a big deal that Disney has to have special people cometo clean it! The Liberty Bell was cast from the same mold as the real Liberty Bell with the crack added in after.
Walking down towards the hub, Jordan asked one of my favorite questions to ask friends. How many bricks are in Cinderella Castle? …. Give up? Good because there are 0 bricks. The castle is actually made of fiberglass and cement with painted brick designs.
Something very interesting I learned was that all the waterways in the Magic Kingdom are connected. The castle “moat” (former home of the Swan Boats), Jungle Cruise, Rivers of America, Bay Lake, etc.
Now I personally can’t pick one favorite thing from the tour, but the next and final part is definitely high up on the list. For those who don’t know, the Utilidors are underground “Utility Corridors” beneath the Magic Kingdom. This is how Cast Members get land to land without having to walk in the wrong place in the wrong costume, as well as storage, offices, and more. This may sound really weird, but I could just feel the history down there. From decorations/displays on the walls, to the special radio station it was even more than I expected. Sad to say that the only character I saw down there was the Main Street Mayor (which was cool… but I was hoping for a fur character) but other than that my experience was incredible! Jordan walked us around showing the maps and lines of color for directions, and then talked one by one about these just amazing frame pictures. They included the history of the company such as: Walt, Roy, Lilian, and Edna in 1923, Snow White and Fantasia posters, Disneyland opening (aka Black Sunday,) EPCOT city model, construction of WDW, and opening of WDW in 1971. When talking about Walt’s untimely death, and Roy’s dedication to making his dream come true, I couldn’t help but shed a few tears as I continued writing my notes.
After the pictures were some glass cases. One with Imagineer pictures (Blaine Gibson, Marc Davis, John Hench, etc), one with props like Abraham Lincoln AA’s eyes, mouth, and beard, another with the “lost attractions” and the last with the current projects.
In closing, Jordan returned to talking of Walt. From 1928-1947 in the Mickey Mouse cartoons, Walt was the voice of Mickey. When Roy O. Disney did the park dedication on October 25th 1971, he was supposed to start at 10am. Well ten rolled around and there was no Roy to be seen. Walt was the showman, but Roy much preferred staying in the background. He eventually showed up all nervous. When he was about to start, he turned to the nearest Cast Member and asked for him to bring him Mickey Mouse. He said he needed Mickey because he needed his brother there with him. (Insert me attempting to hold back the tears here…) Whenever you see Mickey in the parks, remember that Mickey is now the voice of Walt and will continue his legacy forever.
If you haven’t experienced the Keys to the Kingdom tour yet, you need to book it for your next trip! They usually have 3 different tours each day (8:30am, 9:00am, and 9:30am) and it’s worth every penny. Just remember you must be 16 years old, and no photography is allowed on the tour. I gained so much inspiration, and a newfound level of appreciation for all of the incredible things in the most magical place on earth. These recaps are just a portion of all the incredible things you’ll learn in the 5 hours. Go experience it for yourself!
Please please please make sure you follow me on Twitter (@mouseuniversity), like on Facebook, and subscribe, because I will be posting live from the opening of the Magic Kingdom Seven Dwarfs Mine Train on Wednesday the 28th!