Everything We Know About Walt Disney World’s Secret Tunnels

The theme parks of Walt Disney World have no shortage of urban legends centered on their inner workings. Some have little grounding in reality, such as the popular theory that Walt Disney’s remains were cryogenically frozen and kept on Disneyland property in hopes that future technology could reanimate him. While such claims are completely baseless, there are secret qualities to the parks that guests, by design, never realize are right beneath them (via AllEars). As was the case for Rome’s Colosseum, Disney World’s secret tunnels are what keep it running.

These pathways, called “Utilidors,” were one of the first things built during the construction of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. They ensured that cast members and workers could change costumes, move to different locations, and perform maintenance without being seen by guests, as Disney felt such sights would spoil their experience. It was an excellent idea relative to his sensibilities with one major problem: While an underground tunnel network for such a purpose may seem logical, Disney World is in Florida. Just as most Florida homes and properties have no basements due to the high water table, tunnels like these would almost certainly flood if dug underground (via RJ Builders, Inc.).

Disney World's underground tunnels are not underground

In order to have their tunnel network while also abiding by Florida’s geography, the engineers decided to make them the “first floor” of the park. According to All That’s Interesting, Walt Disney enlisted the help of General William Potter of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make this a reality. Previously, Potter helped drain and clear the initial swampland within the property, making him an ideal choice for the task (via Tampa Bay Times). 

While having the tunnels be the ground-level of the park was relatively straightforward (albeit laborious, having needed 7 million yards of soil to cover them), their concealment was of comparable importance. For Disney, it simply wouldn’t do for guests to know they were not at ground level. To this end, the park entrance was made to be a long incline. Much like the forced perspective used to make Disney castles look larger, this created the illusion that park-goers were walking along level ground and not up what was essentially a one-story building (via Orlando Insider Vacations). 

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