You may or may not know that there is a tunnel system that runs under Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Theme Park.
The story goes that Walt Disney was dissatisfied with the setup of Disneyland in California where cast members from one themed area had to walk through another themed area in costume to get to work and would look out of place.
He wanted to fix this when he built his Florida theme park. He envisioned a tunnel running under the park so a castmember in a Tomorrowland costume didn’t have to walk through Fantasyland. Deliveries could also be made through the tunnel keeping the inner workings behind the magic hidden from the guests.
Other articles that I’ve found on the internet love to refer to the tunnel as the Utilidor, while this sounds cool, no one who works there calls it by that name!
Perhaps Utilidor might have been the name for it on some original design drawings but I’d never heard of that term untill the advent of Disney sites on the internet.
During the three years I worked at WDW one of my office doors opened right into it. Everyone who works at the Magic Kingdom simply calls it the tunnel.
The tunnel wasn’t built as a tunnel in the traditional sense, it wasn’t dug out. Because the elevation in Florida is so low and the ocean so near the water table is very near the surface.
Digging as deep as would have been needed for the tunnel would have yielded trenches filled with water, which would continuously have to be kept dry for the life of the park. Instead the tunnel and lots of rooms off it were built at the original ground level, covered over and the Magic Kingdom was built on top of that. The tunnel isn’t level, in several areas it dips under the structures and waterways above.
The tunnel is a huge structure, at least 20 to 50 foot high in different areas, it is wide enough for a large truck to drive through with room to spare. It is always a hub of activity with castmembers walking to and from work or breaks, electric forklifts towing trains of carts with supplies destined for the various restaurants or retail locations, electric carts moving supplies or people to and fro, or maintenance workers on bicycles riding to a job. There are many castmembers who never set foot in the theme park, they spend their entire day in the areas off the tunnel such as, in kitchens, offices, stockrooms, computer areas, or cast support functions (wardrobe, barber, payroll).
Doors off the tunnel lead to elevators or stairs to the park above, castmember break rooms, kitchens, storerooms, offices, and ride machinery. Overhead you’ll see a huge amount of conduits and plumbing, everything needed to run the park. There is electrical wiring, hot, cold, and chilled water (for air-conditioning and refrigeration) piped in from a long distance behind the theme park; communications and ride control wiring; and the Avac system.
What’s the Avac system? While walking through Disney’s parks you’ll notice custodial castmembers with dust pans on long handles and little brooms sweeping up the small trash that inevitably makes it’s way to the ground.
The contents of these pans and other light trash from the trash cans in the park are taken to numerous backstage points around the park and dumped into what looks like a large trash can attached to the floor with a lid that seals. These are openings into the Automated Vacume Assisted Collection System
The trash falls down through a tube to the tunnel overhead area where it is stored temporarily. Periodically the Avac system “fires”, and the trash whooshes through large tubes through the whole tunnel complex to a backstage collection area, where regular garbage trucks pick it up. The Avac system operates much like a toilet but with air instead of water and on a huge scale.
Disney doesn’t allow photography in the tunnel so there aren’t a lot of pics out there, but if you do a Google image search for “Disney utilidor” you can find some pics, also there is a cast member map you can find on the net.
Fortunately there is one way you can experience the tunnel yourself in person, you’ll need to reserve ahead of time the Keys to the Kingdom Tour
a four and a half hour walking tour which spends some time in walking through the Main Street USA portion of the tunnel.
There is an additional fee for this tour on top of your regular Magic Kingdom admission and lunch is included. Tours begin at 0830, 0900, and 0930 in front of City Hall.
And this pic is near where I used to work in Tomorrowland.
If you look really close, you can see a silver walk-in freezer far ahead of the guy walking on the right side of the tunnel. My office door was across the tunnel from the freezer on the left.
I used to drive one of those yellow carts (Pargos) around the tunnel!
This MDT Post By: Steve Bell
Steve is the the Military Disney Tips Founder. He a retired U.S. Military Member who's been touring the Disney Parks since 1971! Steve's mission is to help military families with their Disney vacations in every way. Check out Steve's Bio.
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