Dirty little secrets Disney doesn’t want you to know

We love Disney. An entire world devoted to the stuff of fantasy is something that grabbed ahold of us when we were kids and has never let us go. Now that we’re grown, we may know in our heads that it’s really some college student playing Mickey Mouse at Disneyland, or that Space Mountain is neither in space nor a mountain.

But still, we maintain a little bit of that sense of make-believe, where a small corner of our brain — the part that still knows the words to “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo” or cries at “Bambi” — holds on to the fantasy and refuses to let it go. To us, Disney represents a whole new world, and we darned sure don’t want to see it in a new realistic point of view.

So why, then, do we love hearing about all of Disney’s dirty laundry? Admit it, it’s so cool hearing about the shenanigans of the actors playing Disney characters. Or the details of how the various Disney rides work. We all love secrets, and Disney’s real-life secrets are almost as enticing as its fantasy world.

“It’s like why people are so curious about how a magician does his tricks; it’s so enchanting and captivating, you have to know what the secret is,” says David Koenig, author of five books about Disney’s famous theme parks, including “Mouse Tales: A Behind-The-Ears Look at Disneyland,” “Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World” and his most recent book, “The People v. Disneyland: How Lawsuits & Lawyers Transformed the Magic.”

Disney’s fantasy world is so pristine, it’s kinda fun to look for the seams. “Disney puts on such a great show and it’s so secretive about its inner workings and dirty laundry,” Koenig tells Yahoo Travel. “Everything is so perfect on stage in their show. Real life is not that way. You know there has to be more.”

There is — much more. Life at Disney can get messy and slightly disturbing. So Yahoo Travel talked to Koenig and some other Disneyland insiders to get some secrets Disney does not want you to know.

4Why the waterways are so green


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If you’ve traversed the Disneyland waterways like the Rivers of America, the Storybook Land canals or the Jungle Cruise river, you’ve noticed the water is colored green. Is that some kind of special effect or, worse, a sign that the water is really, really dirty? Nope, it’s just an effort to preserve some Disney magic; Koenig says the water is dyed green intentionally.

“In the days of Walt Disney, he wanted you to believe you were on a 19th-century steamship or paddle wheeler,” explains Koenig, “that these were actual real free-floating boats. Not that they were riding on a track. By dyeing the water green, you can’t see the track.”

As an added bonus, the green water also keeps you from seeing the junk that ends up … um, “Under the Sea.”

“Once every couple of years they’ll drain these rivers to do maintenance and clear out all the things that have been dropped in there,” Koenig says. “They’ve found some amazing things: wheelchairs, mechanized scooters, trash cans, hundreds of cameras, large strollers — anything you could imagine they would find at the bottom of these rivers.”

So far, though, no singing crabs.