If you’re a regular Guest of the – or even just a in general – then you’ve probably heard the “utilidor.” What’s more, you may know that the are a central part of at the . But what you may not know is that, as a visitor to the , you’ve encountered those yourself.
By walking on their ceiling! (And, if you really got into a show or parade, perhaps dancing on their ceiling – oh, what a feeling!)
If you’re curious to know more about this unique feature of the , then read on for a look into the literal underground.
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What is a utilidor?
The dictionary definition of a utilidor is “an aboveground insulated conduit used for general utility service, especially in arctic climates.” What does this have to do with a ?
Absolutely nothing. It’s just a cool utility corridors,” which are the utility that run underneath the (and through which many of the are routed). that Disney repurposed, standing in as a portmanteau for “
This massive – one of the largest systems of utility in the world, in fact – makes up the majority of the at the . are not allowed there unless they’re on a special behind-the-scenes Keys to the , and the look like exactly what they are – purpose-built industrial corridors. They lack the theming, immersive design, and “magic” of the on-stage areas of the because it would be wasteful to spend money on those things for areas that are not meant to be seen by the public.
Essentially, the provides the infrastructure that makes the on-stage magic work.
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What functions do the serve?
After Disneyland was opened, realized several things he would have done differently if he had the chance. In building , he was finally given that opportunity.
Perhaps apocryphally, one day at Disneyland Walt was dismayed to see a dressed as a cowboy walking through Tomorrowland in order to get to Frontierland. Frustrated at the breakage in the immersive environment, he sought a way for to travel completely unseen by .
The provide this opportunity at the . A huge number of doors in or near various attractions, stores, and restaurants lead to stairways that go down to the , allowing to duck in and out of various areas of the park as needed, without ever breaking with the theme of each area.
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However, beyond just providing a means for employees to get from place to place, the serve a number of other functions, including:
- Waste management – The automated vacuum collection (AVAC) system that is used at the to transport through pneumatic tubes runs through the .
- Computers & electrical systems – The control rooms for the computer systems that run and monitor the Park are housed in the .
- Deliveries & storage – When items like merchandise or food (or other necessities) are brought to the , they are delivered to – and stored in – the . That’s why you’ll never see a UPS truck on !
- Kitchens – The kitchens for the restaurants are located underneath them, in the . So hopefully the only rat you’ll ever find down there is Remy!
- Employee services – For is a workplace, and thus it requires the sorts of things a modern office complex would have. These can be found in the , with facilities ranging from restrooms and locker rooms to administrative offices and even a hair salon, “ !” The also formerly housed costuming for the , but this was moved to a larger facility in 2005., the
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How do the work?
You might wonder just how something as tremendous as this system of could exist in what is, essentially, the basement of the . What amazing feat of engineering did pull off to build a basement on what was originally swampland?
Well, the truth is that the aren’t the basement; the Park is just on the second floor!
As historian Richard E. Foglesong explains in Married to the Mouse: and Orlando, an in-depth history of the political and technical wrangling that went into building ,
Because so much of the property was wet, the park was built on a raised slab that was crisscrossed with that carried power and water lines and other utilities. The also let like Goofy and Mickey Mouse access their work locations without being seen with their “heads off,” a Disney no-no.
The , then, are actually the of the Park, with the attractions, shops, and restaurants on the second floor directly above those (which is still a pretty impressive feat of engineering in its own right)!
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This just goes to show the amount of hard work, forethought, and innovation that the and the Imagineers put into the creation and development of . In order to create a “kingdom” that runs smoothly, provides both efficiency and ease for , and prevents any break in the immersive and themed elements for , an entire was built on the second floor of a tremendous tract of swampland, above a giant system!
The next time you’re walking down U.S.A., think about all the work that’s going on beneath your feet so that you can feel inspired to look up and wish upon a star.