10 weird things you don't know about Disney theme parks

Secret Things You Don't Know About Disney World
Secret Things You Don't Know About Disney WorldPeter Ptschelinzew/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images / Today

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By Sasha Emmons

If you've been to Disney World or Disneyland, you know that the parks are impeccably planned and manicured. But pull back the curtain and a secret life emerges, full of fascinating spots rarely seen by the average visitor, backdoor goings-on the Disney brass don't want you to know, and cool insider facts that make even your zillionth visit more interesting. Here, we gather the top weird things you need to know about the Disney parks.

There's always a trash can nearby:
The plans for Walt Disney World (WDW) call for no spot in the park to be farther than 30 steps from a garbage receptacle, according to Disneytrivia.net. Easy access helps keep the park neat, as does its refusal to sell gum.

Look closely—the flags are fake:
In her book, The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World, author Susan Veness reveals via Business Insider that in order to avoid the hassle of raising and lowering many flags each day, all but one of the flags at Disney World are replicas. The only real deal is the one in the center courtyard.

"It's a Small World" music never stops: And you think it's stuck in your head after one ride? Think of the poor souls who clean the ride in the Orlando park night after night. According to Oddball Daily, it's too much trouble to shut off and reboot the sound system, so the park just leaves the cloying music playing on loop 24-7.

You can wake up Tinkerbell:
There are some amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences for kids if you know about them. According to Business Insider, the first person inside Tinkerbell's shop at WDW each morning is allowed to rouse the fairy from sleep.

There's a secret underground lair:
Where do cast members go to de-Mickey—and why is trash largely unseen at a place that hosts millions of visitors a year? The secret at Disney World is a nine-acre network of underground tunnels called utilidors, according to Business Insider, which house break rooms, garbage chutes and more.

There are Mickeys hidden everywhere:
If you look hard enough, you'll see the familiar Mickey silhouette in all sorts of unexpected places around all the Disney parks, from lace fabric to hub caps to imprints in the cement, according to HomeAway. No one's sure exactly how many secret Mickeys there are, but it's fun to see how many your kids can find.

There's a secret, members-only speakeasy: Heard of Club 33? Behind a door marked 33 Royal Street at Disneyland, there's apparently a secret members-only dinner club with a years-long waiting list and a hefty initiation fee, according to Oddball Daily. Former guests have included presidents, celebs and VIPs, who enjoy the only place in the park where you can score a cocktail.

The park has a natural solution to pest control: After closing each day at Disneyland, 200 feral cats are reportedly let loose to help get rid of rodents, according to HomeAway. During the day, they are kept hidden in special cat houses.

There's a secret basketball court: Few people get a chance to see it, but hidden insider the Matterhorn in Disneyland is a spot to shoot hoops. According to Mental Floss, when the ride was completed, the top third of the mountain was unused space. Disney employees voted to put in a mini basketball court.

Cinderella's castle is smaller than it appears: To make the iconic castle which anchors Disney World appear larger than life, the architects used some perspective tricks, according to Business Insider. The windows at the top are smaller, and the streets leading to it angled, to make the castle look like it's off in the far distance.

Mom of two Sasha Emmons is a writer and editor. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.