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Today we’re exploring some of the backstories of your favorite Disney World attractions to give you new insight into these unique attractions! Read below to learn the in-depth and magical stories that explain how and why these attractions opened to guests!
1. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
There is a legend about Big Thunder Mountain. The story begins in the little town of Rainbow Ridge in the 1800s, the time of the gold rush. When gold was discovered, miners constructed a rail system to transport the gold. Unbeknownst to the settlers, the mountain was cursed by the spirit of Big Thunder. The spirits caused earthquakes and floods, destroying the mines and causing residents to flee
The town became deserted, until years later, when explorers found trains speeding through the mines, with no passengers inside. Now the railroad is opened for thrill seekers who are willing to ride these possessed carts….At their own risk.
2. Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
There’s a lot of history behind Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. After the wedding, Cinderella and Prince Charming moved into Cinderella Castle. The Prince decided that he wanted to enter jousting tournaments, but needed a little practice.
So, in some spare land near the castle, he built a contraption that would help him train. It was a circular platform that held carved horses, big enough to ride on. A trainee would sit on a wooden horse while the platform spun, allowing him to practice ring-spearing, one of the popular tournament events. In this event, a knight rides his horse as fast as he can and attempts to use his lance to spear a small ring hanging from a tree branch. The ring-spearing event was known as “carrousel.”
Soon, everyone in the village noticed the Prince’s “new toy.” To give everyone a chance to experience it, Prince Charming built another carrousel nearer to the Castle. The new carrousel was made to fit the splendor of the Castle Courtyard, by decorating the horses with golden helmets and shields, flowers, and medallions. All the villagers are invited to take a spin on the carrousel and enjoy a taste of the royal life.
The adventure begins in Asia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as guests join the Expedition Everest team and embark on a trek through Anandapur. The trail leads visitors to the village of Serka Zong, which means “fortress of the chasm.” In the early years, the Royal Anandapur Tea Company shipped its tea by train from Serka Zong through the Forbidden Mountain pass, but the railroad was closed after a series of mysterious accidents, rumored to be from the hand of the Yeti.
Today, the village of Serka Zong is thriving and has moved beyond its tragic past, largely thanks to the efforts of local entrepreneurs. In spite of the local opposition, the Himalayan Escapes, Tours and Expeditions company has partially refurbished the railway and now offers transportation through the Forbidden Mountain for adventurers to the base camp at Mt. Everest.
4. dinoland, USA
This is easily the most multi-layered, advanced narratives Imagineering has ever told. Here’s a condensed version!
The Dino Institute is a scientific research center for paleontologists. The scientists are on a breakthrough of a major discovery that involves going back in time to the age of the dinosaurs using a Time Rover. The Institute has an intern program, and some of the college kids make extra cash by managing a nearby restaurant, which some of them also live in.
Chester and Hester are two local entrepreneurs not affiliated with the Institute, and they have a zany sense of humor. When the Institute started attracting tourists, they saw a chance to make some big bucks. So, they renovated their sleepy gas station into a gift shop and opened a roadside attraction called Dino-Rama! that directly mocks the findings of the Institute. It’s everything you’d ever want in a tourist trap, but it drives the scientists nuts. And so goes the ongoing feud between who has the final say in Dinoland USA.
5. tree of Life
Once upon a time, no vegetation would grow on Discovery Island. There were no trees, no shrubs, no flowers, nothing. It was a barren piece of land. Then, one day, a tiny ant planted a seed and made a wish. He asked for a tree to grow – a tree large enough to provide shelter for all the animals. Magically, the ant’s wish came true and a tree began to grow — and it kept growing until there was room beneath its limbs for all the animals from A (ants) to Z (zebras). And as the tree continued to reach for the heavens, the images of all the animals that took shelter beneath its shade appeared on its trunk, roots, and branches.
6. Tower of Terror
The Hollywood Tower Hotel was a 12-story tower built within view of the famous Hollywood sign in the Hollywood hills. It was a typical upscale 1930s hotel, with bold geometric shapes and a slightly Southwestern design. The top floor housed a first-class restaurant and dance hall, the Tip-Top Lounge.
On Halloween night in 1939, the main elevators were out of order. Five people with very different backgrounds boarded a maintenance elevator in the Tip-Top club, bound for lower floors. Sally Shine was a child star before Shirley Temple graced the movie scene, with more than 20 short films to her name. Emmeline Partridge was Sally’s nanny; she was very protective of her, keeping fans at bay. Caroline Crosson was a glamorous aspiring actress, and Gilbert London was one of her many male admirers. The fifth and final unlucky passenger was Dewey Todd, Jr. Although his father, Dewey Todd, Sr. built the Hollywood Tower Hotel, the junior Dewey worked as a bellhop, perhaps to work his way up in his father’s business.
At some time during the short ride, lightning hit the hotel just where the elevator shaft was located, causing the elevator to plunge down uncontrollably. All the occupants of the elevator were killed on impact. Hotel management removed the bodies in secret, to avoid the prying eyes of reporters, and Dewey Todd, Sr. immediately closed the doors of the hotel. It’s said that the ghosts of all five passengers still haunt the property to this day.
7. Toy Story Land
Guests have been shrunk down to the size of Andy’s toys and walk into his backyard. Andy has been called away, leaving both the guests and the toys to their own devices.
A Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster was constructed by Andy using his Mega Coaster Play Kit. Woody, Jessie, Buzz, and other characters are roaming the backyard freely. Andy even used his lunchbox that he received in the original Toy Story movie (2:45 minutes in) for a restaurant! The restaurant is his lunchbox set on its side and propped open with a gigantic thermos and a green stick from Andy’s tinker Toy Set. The chairs and tables are made out of notes from Andy’s mom, wrappers from Baybel cheeses, and little paper umbrellas from summertime drinks.
8. Blizzard Beach
When a freak snowstorm hit Central Florida it left behind a winter wonderland. A ski resort was built in the new snow-laden tropical paradise. Soon, the sub tropical sun melted all the snow and the ski resort closed. That is, until an alligator was spotted surfing down a dry snow slope! The former ski resort was turned into a water park complete with slides, creeks, bobsledding, and more!