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  • LOVE this site, you are SO much help. Can everyone give me something special to see, not typically known. For example, night sidewalk at Innoventions. What else? Thanks for your secrets :)
  • - Asked by Belinda from Mississippi on 8/30/2013
  • Hi Belinda,

    Wow, what a great question!  Looking for those off-the-typical-path sights at Walt Disney World is so much fun!

    Here is a good one.  Recently, we stayed at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. One day, when we were headed from the resort to the Magic Kingdom on a boat, my daughter pointed out a tree and said, "What's that?"  It was a tree with tons of white tennis shoes tied together and thrown up there!  It was the funniest thing!  I did a little checking online and discovered that this is the "shoe tree."  I do not really know the whole story as to what it means, but I have heard that it may have to do with retiring boat captains from the Walt Disney World boat fleet throwing their shoes up there on their last day of work.  Whatever the real story is, it is super fun to look for.  As you leave Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, look to the left, and the tree is over toward where the old River Country Water Park was.  I have also heard that at some times the shoes are removed, so do not be surprised if they are gone.  In any case, it is a fun boat ride with something special to look for!

    I hope that you have lots of fun looking for special and unique sights at Walt Disney World, Belinda!

  • Hi Belinda!

    I'm so glad that you wrote in with this creative question!

    With so many fabulous new attractions and areas opened in the past year, I'm so excited to tell you that I have a brand, new favourite little 'secret' over at Magic Kingdom to share with you! Oddly enough, I'm sending you over to a new restroom area in Fantasyland. This is no ordinary restroom though. It's easily one of the most magical and beautifully themed areas in all of Magic Kingdom! 

    Located between "it's a small world" and Haunted Mansion, the new Tangled Restroom area can easily be recognized from afar thanks to the gorgeous Rapunzel Tower. It's a great place for a bathroom break for the whole family - but it's so much more than that! Take some time to notice the details in the 'most wanted' posters on the walls, the gorgeous lanterns (particularly beautiful to see at night) ... and some very cleverly hidden treasures!

    Hidden throughout the area are 'Friends of Pascal.' My son loved hunting high and low for these camouflaged cuties and found all 10! Since Pascal's friends are chameleons, they can of course change colour and blend into their surroundings making them quite a challenge to find! Check window flower boxes, trees and down by the creek and under the bridge in the area to see how many you can find!

    If you have smart phones or other hand-held devices with you that are running low on battery, you'll find power outlets and USB ports disguised inside little doors in some 'tree trunks.' Nearby, barrel tables and stools provide ample seating the area. A perfect place for everyone to recharge a little! 

    I just love spending time in this new area - and I hope you'll enjoy it too Belinda!
    Wishing you a simply Magical time at Walt Disney World!


  • Hi, Belinda!

    What a great question! (And I love the Panelists' answers, too!)

    There are so many wonderful things to see and do in Walt Disney World; I'm still discovering hidden gems I hadn't noticed previously.

    Have you discovered Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom yet? This fun, interactive role-playing game will take you throughout Magic Kingdom as you attempt to help Merlin defeat Hades (who wants to make Magic Kingdom his new summer home.) Head to Magic Kingdom's Firehouse on Main Street, U.S.A. or behind Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square and sign up for the quest. You'll get a map, Sorcerer Key card and Spell Cards, all of which will lead you to magical portals that are tucked throughout Magic Kingdom; you may have walked right by a window dozens of times which, with the presence of a Sorcerer Key card, transforms into an magical, interactive portal.

    Check out the video some of the Moms Panelists made, explaining just how the quest works. Head to Disney Parks Moms Panel * Videos and then click on the tab entitled "Moms Movies!"; click on "Spells And Villains Are No Match For This Crew!" What a fantastic way to add yet one more layer of magic while touring Magic Kingdom. Best yet? It's included in the price of your park ticket! (Souvenirs, anyone...?)

    Have fun making your list of off-the-beaten path sights, Belinda! What a great trip that will be!

  • Hi Belinda!

    GREAT question! There are so many hidden gems at Walt Disney World that I never run out of new ones to find!

    I have two favorite spots to share with you. Both are tiny areas at Hollywood Studios which would be easily missed if you weren't on the lookout  for them.

    First, over by the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! you'll find a wooden pole structure over a construction site. A nearby sign instructs you: Warning! Do NOT Pull the Rope! Go ahead! Pull the rope! Enjoy the fun that results!

    Next, stroll over to the Streets of America and to New York. Look closely at the light poles and find one with an umbrella attached to it. Step on over onto the designated spot underneath and enjoy some Signing In The Rain! (Just one caveat: This one may be reduced during cold times of the year.)

    Hope these two spots hope you put a little more magic in your Hollywood Studios day! Enjoy!

  • Hi, Belinda!

    It really warms my heart that you are finding such helpful information here on the Moms Panel!

    My family discovered something rather amazing on our most recent visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park! We decided that we were going to stay there until the Park closed that evening since we'd never been there after the sun went down. As we walked over the bridge from DinoLand USA over to Discovery Island on our way to the exit, we just happened to look over at the trees above the water where there were hundreds of gorgeous white Ibis sleeping! The birds were nestled all throughout the branches of the trees and it was truly an unbelievable sight! The dim lights on the bridge reflected in such a way on their feathers that they were almost glowing! We just had to stop and stare for a little while because we seriously almost missed it! There were other families crossing the bridge along with us that stopped as well when they heard our excitement! I took a couple of pictures, but couldn't capture on camera how gorgeous of a sight it really was.

    Walt Disney World is such a magical place and you just never know what incredible sights might appear right before your eyes! Take your time and soak it all in!

    Wishing you a Pixie Dusted vacation!


  • Howdy and thanks so much for this fun question!! 

    One of experiences we love is the Flag Retreat at Magic Kingdom.  

    Currently, each day at 5:00 PM, Guests have the opportunity to gather around the flag pole in Main Street, U.S.A. and can pledge allegiance and hear patriotic songs as the United States flag is lowered.  A special Guest (typically military) is selected to participate in the ceremony.

    It's such a moving experience.  I'm completely sappy but I cry happy little tears each time I see it.  

    There are so many special things to do, see and experience while visiting Walt Disney World Resort!  Enjoy every magical moment of your vacation!  You never know when you might come across a special hidden treasure that stops you in your tracks and takes your breath away!!  That's the magic of Disney! 

  • What a fun question! My fellow panelists have offered some great suggestions so far, and I'm sure we'll come up with quite a list once everyone has chimed in.

    One of my favorite "secret" treasures is in Epcot. There are a few talking water fountains (or bubblers as we call them up north). There's one located next to Mouse Gear, and another one can be found next to the play fountain as you are walking from Future World to World Showcase. (A play fountain is one of those fountains where water sprays up from the ground.)

    There's also a talking trash can. I think it can be found in the Electric Umbrella restaurant.

    Have a magical vacation!

  • So my favorite little treat takes you off to the exotic islands of the South Pacific!

    At the Polynesian resort they have a few free activities that I think are both charming, and fun. They really transport you to another world, and when I am on vacation at Walt Disney World, being transported to other worlds is my favorite thing to do.

    In the afternoon I love when they start off with hula dancing lessons in the lobby. This occurs typically at 3:45 pm, and the staff makes it fun for both adults and kids alike to enjoy learning about this beautiful art form.

    Then at 6 pm they have a torch lighting ceremony that is great because it is both a wonderful ceremony, but also a great show.

    Finally, on some nights, they have a campfire sing-along on the beach. This is usually after the torch ceremony, but when it is a bit darker out. So of course times change by the season.

    If any of these interest you, contact the Polynesian when you get to Walt Disney World and ask for a schedule of times!

    Have a magical vacation!

  • Hi Belinda! My kids love searching for Hidden Mickeys in Walt Disney World, and a few years ago in Epcot we ran into Steve Barrett, who's authored several books on these concealed images of Mickey tucked away in unexpected spots at Disney. Steve showed us one of his favorite Hidden Mickeys in the Japan pavilion that day, and now my kids can't pass through Japan without running to confirm that this Hidden Mickey is still in place. In front of the Mitsukoshi store on the far right, you'll find a hole cut into the middle of some bushes. Look down into the hole, and you'll see a perfect silhouette of Mickey made out of three smooth round stones!

    While you're in Japan, check the Times Guide for the show schedule of another hidden gem, Miyuki the Candy Lady. Watching Miyuki shape dough into exquisite candy animals is totally mesmerizing! For a unique souvenir, head into the Mitsukoshi store to Pick a Pearl. After you choose an oyster from the tank, the castmembers perform a fun little ceremony before opening your oyster to reveal a pearl (or two!) inside. My daughter loves the thrill of trying to figure out which oyster will have the biggest pearl and then having her new treasure set in a charm or necklace to take home.

    Wishing you lots of special surprises on your next Walt Disney World vacation! 

  • Hi, Belinda!  As my kids have gotten older, we like finding off the beaten path sorts of things to do.  The girls like to spend a day or two away from the theme parks, relax by the pool, and explore the resorts.

    Something we discovered a few years back is totally free, really interesting, and involves one of our favorite topics - FOOD!  Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge does a 30 minute culinary tour that takes you into Boma and Jiko right at 4 PM, before the restaurants are in the dinner crush.  You'll learn about the art work in the restaurants, the story behind the decor, and you'll even have a sample of some of the things the restaurants are most famous for, like the soup at Boma or the Taste of Africa sampler at Jiko.  

    No reservations are needed for this tour - you just turn up at the podium at Boma at 4 PM.  The cost is free, and if you want to make it really interesting, ask your guide about their home.  My kids have gotten some really fascinating information about African culture this way.

    Another great free tour takes place at 9 AM at Wilderness Lodge.  The one hour tour gives you a glimpse into not only the architecture and inspiration of the resort, but also the American West.  It's a great tour.

    Both of these tours will give you things to see that you would probably not normally notice just walking through these resorts.  They are open to any guest, so you don't have to be staying at these resorts to enjoy the tours.  Just double check at the front desk of the resorts (which you can do by phone from your resort) to confirm the schedules, which are subject to change.  

  • Hi Belinda!

    What an amazingly fun question and I love reading the answers of all the panelists!

    My love of Disney runs deep. I love the history of Disney and I'm fascinated with all of the details the Imagineers put into the parks and resorts. They don't leave anything out! I love taking the behind the scene tours and reading all about Disney. There are so many things to tell but since I'm limited in space, I'll share one of my favorites at the Magic Kingdom.

    As you stroll down Main Street, U.S.A., take a look at the windows in the buildings. Most Guests walk past them paying them very little attention. The windows seem to be painted with the names of make believe shopkeepers.  But these are real names that belong to some of the greats of Disney Parks' history responsible for making Walt's vision become a reality. Every window holds a name with a story behind it that is key to the magic you're about to experience. There are strict guidelines on how a Cast Member's name can be added to a window with the first one being only on retirement. You can find books or even look up the windows on the internet before your trip so you'll know the stories ahead of time. I love taking pictures of them.

    While we're on the subject of Main Street, U.S.A., look at the height of the buildings. Upon first glance, they look like they are three stories tall, right?  Now look again. Thanks to "forced perspective" they only "appear" to be three stories tall. The second story isn't as tall as the first story and the third story is even smaller. Fun secrets the Imagineers use as part of their "show".

    Wishing you minnie magical memories :-) Allison V.

  • Hi Belinda!

    LOVE your question! If you enjoy pin trading, here's my little secret, when you arrive at the parks, stop by the stroller rental location and ask to see the secret pin trading stroller! It is amazing!  Disney has taken one of their rental strollers and have decked it all out with pins! If you visit Magic Kingdom, you will find a huge Mickey plush sitting in the stroller with his very own pin lanyard. Disney's Animal Kingdom features Minnie and Epcot has Duffy the Bear. When my kids saw it they went crazy with excitement! They were able to trade for some really great pins! Remember, you can only see it if you ask a castmember for it!

    Wishing you a great vacation!


  • Belinda, you have discovered one of the aspects that makes Walt Disney World so magical. The stunning attention to detail, fun surprises, and delightful secrets that help create unique experiences found no where else.

    Keep your eyes open and down in the Haunted Mansion queue and you might spy a wedding ring tossed from an attic window. Keep your eyes up in Disney's Hollywood Studios Pixar Place and you might catch sight of the dancing Luxo Jr. lamp. Maybe you'll notice the numbers on the Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station circus train cars in Fantasyland each match a year a WDW park opened. Check out the Coke coolers in the Outpost of Epcot's World Showcase for a surprise and peek under the rug in the Muppet Vision 3D line in HS to see if the "key under the mat" sign is true.

    Just like Ariel's treasure trove is bursting with human artifacts, Walt Disney World is brimming with delicious discoveries. Enjoy the adventure of finding a few fun ones!


  • Hi Belinda,

    What a fun question! In fact, I'm not sure where to begin because there are so many fun things to see and experience at Walt Disney World that don't appear on any of the guide maps.

    I'll try to narrow down my mile-long list to three of my favorite off-the-map experiences:

    #1 - PUSH

    PUSH is a talking trash can that wheels himself around Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom. If you see him, put your plans on hold for a few minutes and hang out. He's a feisty little guy who loves to crack jokes as he chats with guests.

    (I once saw PUSH help an unsuspecting guy propose to his girlfriend because he thought they were a cute couple!)

    #2 - DiVine

    When you're exploring Disney's Animal Kingdom, tread lightly on the walkways between Africa and Asia. If you notice some moving vines, you might be in the presence of DiVine - a personification of nature that roams the theme park. She blends in with the surrounding plant life, so keep your eyes peeled!

    #3 - Mr. Potato Head

    While you're waiting in line at Toy Story Midway Mania in Disney's Hollywood Studios, pay close attention to Mr. Potato Head as he entertains the guests in line. He sings...he tells jokes...and he can remove his ear! It's so cool!!

    Here's a little tip from your buddy Derek:

    If you're like me and marvel at the amazing level of detail at Walt Disney World, then I highly recommend the Dine with an Imagineer experience. I opted for the lunch at the Hollywood Brown Derby and got to eat with one of the Magic Kingdom's Art Directors. It was fascinating to hear his stories and get to know someone who is responsible for making Walt Disney World the place that I've loved so dearly for my whole life.

    I hope that helps and I hope you have an awesome time seeking out some of the many off-the-map experiences at Walt Disney World!

    Best regards,

  • Hi Belinda!  Thank you so much for asking this question - I was able to find out a few "hidden gems" from the answers of my fellow panelists!  How fun!

    My hidden gem is found at the Magic Kingdom.  When walking down Main Street U.S.A., heading toward Cinderella Castle, about half way down on the right you will come to a "corner".  Head down towards the tables and chairs that are set up there and have a seat.  While this is a great spot for a bit of quiet away from the crowds, listen carefully and you'll hear something that I think is really fun;  coming from one of the upstairs windows, you will hear a piano instructor and her student, and then you will hear a dance instructor teaching her students to tap dance.  It really sounds like you are eaves-dropping and it's fun to try and hear what the people are saying!

    It's the hidden details like this that make me fall in love with Walt Disney World each and every time I visit. I discover something new all the time and I hope you have fun checking out all of these hidden gems that we have given you!  Have a very magical trip Belinda!


  • Hi, Belinda!

    You've asked a GREAT question! There are so many hidden gems and little-known surprises to discover at Walt Disney World Resort! My fellow Disney Moms & Dads have already revealed many of the best among them, including some of my family's favorites: PUSH - the talking trash can in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom, DiVine, Auntie Kau'i at Disney's Polynesian Resort, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive game, and the special effects hidden throughout the theme parks. 

    Disney Mom Amanda A. shared a really fun family activity: searching for Hidden Mickeys in the theme parks and at the resort hotels. I would like to add that at many of the Disney World Resort hotels you can ask for a Hidden Mickey scavenger hunt at the Front Desk. Two of my favorite resorts for Hidden Mickey searches are Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney's Yacht Club and Beach Club. 

    Disney Mom Anna mentioned two complimentary resort tours: the culinary tour of Boma and Jiko at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and the art & architecture tour at Disney's Wilderness Lodge. 

    Disney's Art of Animation Resort is another resort hotel which hosts several complimentary activities that my family has enjoyed: 

     - a guided tour of the resort from 12:30-1:30 PM daily where you'll learn some fun facts and be treated to the amazing theming in each of the sections: Lion King, Cars, Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid;
     - a Disney Character Artist who teaches children to draw Disney characters (typically at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM)
     - specially designated Disney Pin Trading times at the Ink & Paint Shop located in Animation Hall

    I hope you have fun discovering all the hidden gems we've shared with you on your very next trip to Walt Disney World! 


  • Hi Belinda,

    You've been given some wonderful answers and I've had a difficult time narrowing down my favorite "hidden gems" too.

    Inside the Be Our Guest restaurant in New Fantasyland, you will find one of my new favorites. As you step inside the Beast's Castle and turn right there are "Knights in Shining Armor". If you are enjoying a quick service lunch, you will walk through this room on your way to place your order. If you are lucky enough to secure an Advanced Dining Reservation for dinner, you will pass through on your way out after visiting with the Beast. Take a moment to pause in front of the knights and listen carefully. You might just catch them snoring or throwing verbal jabs at each other. My 9 year old was laughing hysterically as one of them said that she might be one the one break the spell and another blew kisses to her. If you haven't taken the time to enjoy these knights, add it to your "must do" list!

    I love art, so another favorite of mine is to spend some time visiting the "Art of Disney" store at Downtown Disney. Several years ago my husband's favorite Disney character was Mr. Incredible. I had one of the Disney animators / artist's draw Mr. Incredible for him and write, "To My Mr. Incredible" on it. They colored it in and it is framed in our office now. If you have a family member with a favorite character, this is a fun one of a kind gift and it's very reasonable. I could spend hours just browsing all of the paintings and collectibles in that store.

    A final "something special" is a must have treat at Hollywood Studios. Tucked away in a little corner is a special place called "The Writer's Stop". This little shop has one of the most delicious treats: the carrot cake cookie. Now, I don't even like carrot cake and I think this gem is practically indescribable so if you are a fan, you'll think you've found heaven on earth. It's that good!

    Have a wonderful vacation,

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