In The Utilidors: Disney Underground

Every night, the fireworks explode above Cinderella Castle and the guests watching in awe might easily forget that they are actually standing on the second floor of the Magic Kingdom. Below their feet, a small city is hard at work making Disney Magic possible. The entrances to the utilidors are all around us as we travel through Magic Kingdom, but because we have no need to locate them, the doors blend seamlessly into the scenery.


In The Utilidors:  Disney UndergroundIn The Utilidors: Disney Underground


As legend has it, Walt Disney first developed the idea of building these utility corridors (or utilidors) after seeing an off-duty cowboy wandering through Tomorrowland at Disneyland. By creating this underground network of passageways, Disney had the opportunity to enhance the "show" element at Walt Disney World and to control the environment from all angles, an opportunity that carried a very big price tag. The estimated cost of constructing the Magic Kingdom was $4 million. With the addition of the utilidors, that cost rose to $9 million.


Disney's Utilidors Hide the Movements of Cast & CrewDisney's Utilidors Hide the Movements of Cast & Crew


Because of Florida's high water table, it would have been impossible to dig out a "basement" for the utilidors, so the only way to construct them was to build them at ground level and to elevate the public spaces of Magic Kingdom. To accomplish the illusion that Magic Kingdom exists at ground level, construction crews excavated eight million cubic yards of dirt from in front of the Magic Kingdom entrance and redistributed it atop the ground level utilidors. The resulting void created the 200 acre Seven Seas Lagoon and turned the five Magic Kingdom area resorts into "beachfront" property.

The utilidors are constructed along a circular path that roughly tracks just inside the perimeter of the park with a long hallway extending to the Frontierland/Adventuerland area. A long connecting hallway runs the length of Main Street, USA and extends behind the castle. The main entrance, located at the rear of Fantasyland, is large enough to accommodate an ambulance in case of emergency. This allows guests needing emergency medical treatment to be removed from the park quickly, insuring that the ill or injured guest receives the necessary treatment as quickly as possible and minimizing the disturbance to the other guests in the park. Can you imagine the chaos of trying to wheel an injured person down the middle of Main Street, USA on a stretcher?


Magic Kingdom Utilidor MapMagic Kingdom Utilidor Map


The utilidors also serve many practical, operational purposes. They facilitate trash collection and removal, merchandise distribution, and easy access for utility maintenance. They also offer all of the functions that a Cast Member may need while on the premises including a cafeteria, a salon/ barber shop, locker rooms, color coded walls and maps to help navigate the park from below, and a method of traversing the park quickly without having to yield to guests. To get a better view of the Utilidors and other fascinating backstage areas in person, consider taking the Keys to the Kingdom Tour at Magic Kingdom.

lindseym wrote on Wed, 10/15/2014 - 13:05:

lindseym's picture

I had taken a tour and was able to go in the utilidors. It was really neat to finally see them. I reccomend the Key to the Kingdom tour for this! Great tour!

Adam wrote on Wed, 10/15/2014 - 13:22:

Adam's picture

stairway # 5 to Legend of the Lion King? Where is that in MK?

Kristen K. wrote on Wed, 10/15/2014 - 17:12:

Kristen K.'s picture

Adam - That would be by what is now Philharmagic in Fantasyland

See this past article about the show!
http://www.wdwforgrownups.com/articles/looking-back-legend-lion-king

Drew wrote on Wed, 11/26/2014 - 20:46:

Drew's picture

What is the Character Zoo?

Jeff wrote on Mon, 10/26/2015 - 01:05:

Jeff's picture

I took the Keys to the Kingdom tour in 2000. Was an awesome experience.

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