A meticulous attention to detail is part of the reason why Disney theme parks are the most magical places on earth. Every moment of the Disney experience has been curated to a T. Some of these details have escaped even the biggest Mickey fan, however. Here are four things you likely never knew existed in these dream parks.
A Talking Goofy Statue
Visit any Disney park and you'll be greeted by characters from the company's most popular flicks. Whether you first meet Belle from "The Beauty and the Beast" or Minnie Mouse herself, it won't be long before you're snapping picks with a character from the big screen.
Characters aren't the only elements plucked from the silver screen; at Main Street, U.S.A., in Magic Kingdom, you'll find shops similar to the ones you see in "Lady and the Tramp." Head over to "Tony's," the Italian restaurant where the dogs share a spaghetti dinner in the movie, and you'll see a life-sized statue of Goofy outside, looking dapper in a top hat and purple jacket. Take a seat next to him, and you may just hear him say something to you.
Faster Teacups in Fantasyland
Sure, Disneyland is more about classic stories and celebrated characters than adrenaline-pumping rides. However, if you're a Disney fan who craves the best of both worlds, you may just find it in the most unlikely of places: the Mad Tea Party.
The Mad Tea Party in the Fantasyland neighborhood is based on the Mad Hatter's whimsical "Unbirthday Party" from "Alice in Wonderland." Here, you'll be able to enjoy a ride in one of 18 larger-than-life teacups. The giant teacups spin and twirl on three turntables mounted on a larger turntable. During the ride, you can adjust the speed of your teacup by turning the wheel in the center of the cup. What many guests don't know, however, is that the teacups aren't created equal in terms of speed. Some are equipped for faster spinning.
So, how do you know which teacup to choose? Many say the solid purple teacup is the fastest, while the pink teacups with multicolored hearts are the slowest.
An Opulent Cinderella Castle Suite
Cinderella's Castle isn't just an iconic backdrop for Disney World's nightly fireworks displays. In addition to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (where kids can transform into knights and princesses) and Cinderella's Royal Table restaurant, the castle is also home to an exclusive suite.
Cinderella's Castle Suite is everything you'd expect from fairy-tale accommodations in a Disney castle. It's decorated in a 17th-century French style with ornately carved marble, wood décor, and pixie-dusted floors. You'll see elegant chandeliers and lavish draperies throughout. Meanwhile, stained glass windows grace the bathroom, where a porcelain tub looks up at a perfectly "starry" ceiling.
Yet, the suite doesn't eschew modern conveniences amidst its medieval grandeur. From flat-screen TVs to an elevator, the suite is the pinnacle of comfort and class, outranking even the most expensive hotels in the country.
Think you'd like to book a stay here? Don't get your hopes up: so far, the suite has been available only by invitation or as part of a sweepstakes prize. In summer 2019, one of the prizes for ESPN's annual charity fundraiser was a night's stay in the suite for four guests. So, be sure to look out for similar sweepstakes competitions in 2020. If you do get lucky — or if your fairy godmother is really on her game — you'll be part of a very select group to enjoy the Disney experience of a lifetime.
An Abandoned Water Park
River Country was a functional water park in Walt Disney World from 1976 until 2001. Surprisingly, the park wasn't demolished when it closed, so you can still see the rides and structures as they once stood — albeit in a decaying and overgrown state — on the shores of Bay Lake, southeast of Magic Kingdom.
In its heyday, River Country resembled an old-fashioned swimming hole, so its attractions had a wild, rustic feel to them. They ranged from the water slides of Whoop 'n' Holler Hollow to the man-made, sandy-bottom lake of Bay Cove. When it opened, River Country was the first Disney water park of its kind. However, it was later eclipsed in size and attractions by Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach Water Parks.
After being vacant for nearly two decades, demolition finally began last year in parts of the former park. Disney is building a new nature-inspired resort on the site called Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Resort. The holiday destination is slated to open to the public this year and feature 900 hotel rooms and villas. So, if you want to see the final remnants of River Country, you'll need to head to Orlando soon. However, be forewarned: reporter Seph Lawless (who photographs abandoned structures) was banned from the site after taking pictures of the Disney park.