There are a LOT of resorts at Walt Disney World and many of them have special ‘secrets’ that you may not know about!
From big moments in U.S. and world history to fun facts, secret rooms, and hidden menus, there are some PRETTY interesting things going on at the Disney World hotels! See how many of these you already knew about — or check some of these things out next time you’re at the resorts.
Richard Nixon’s “I’m not a crook” speech took place at the Contemporary Resort!
Did you know that Disney World played a role in one of the most pivotal moments in American politics? In the midst of the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon delivered his now famous “I’m not a crook” speech from the Ballroom of the Americas in the Contemporary Resort.
Nixon flew to the resort from his vacation home in Key Biscayne, Florida, when he was pressured to respond in a question-and-answer forum to growing accusations. The speech took place on November 17, 1973, less than one year before his resignation.
If you happen to be walking past the Contemporary’s Convention Center on your next trip, remember an important piece of history took place on the second floor almost 50 years ago!
The Beatles officially broke up at The Polynesian!
Let’s shift now from American politics to global pop culture, where perhaps one of the BIGGEST moments in music history took place at The Polynesian Village Resort!
Although the band had shown signs of breaking up beginning in 1969, The Beatles were not officially dissolved until December 29, 1974. That was when John Lennon signed the legal documents in his hotel room at The Polynesian Village Resort, while he and his family were on Christmas holiday.
Disney hasn’t shared which room specifically he was staying in at the time, but it’s believed to be a ground floor, corner room in the Samoa Longhouse overlooking the Magic Kingdom (if you were curious!). So, between Nixon’s speech and the Beatles breaking up, there were two MAJOR moments in history that took place along the monorail resort line within 14 months of each other!
The Grand Floridian Gingerbread House is fed to honey bees!
The Gingerbread House that sits in the lobby of the Grand Floridian each year at Christmas is a massive feat of artistry and engineering. More than 1,000 pounds of honey is used in constructing the house, in addition to 6oo pounds of powdered sugar and 600 pounds of chocolate. That’s a lot of sweet stuff!
When the holiday season comes to an end, rather than toss the house into the trash, Disney actually repurposes all that gingerbread in an incredible way.
It goes to the Disney Tree Farm, where honey bees eat the honey off of the house!
Disney really IS all about the Circle of Life! Waste not!
You can learn ALL about the wildlife at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Even if you’re not staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can visit the resort and say hello to the incredible wildlife living there! The hotel lobby concierge has Wildlife Spotting Guides with pictures and information all about the animals of Animal Kingdom Lodge! Just ask a Cast Member in the lobby for a Spotting Guide and you’ll be all set to start spotting!
The best part is that this activity is completely free! There aren’t many places you can see zebras and giraffes without having to pay, so take advantage of Animal Kingdom Lodge and all it has to offer!
There’s a “hidden” bar at The Polynesian
If you find yourself at The Polynesian in search of a cocktail or two, there’s a “hidden” bar called Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. We say it’s hidden because it’s a little tricky to find if you don’t know where it actually is (and that’s by design)!
This fan favorite is found at the end of a long hallway off of the Main Lobby. If you hit Cap’t Cook’s, keep going til you find a rather unassuming door near the end of the hall.
Trader Sam’s will fill up quickly with people who DO know where to find it, so if you want a good spot to sit and relax, be sure to get there early (most days you’ll find a line of guests waiting in the hall to get in about an hour before opening!).
Once inside, you can sample a number of festive tiki-inspired drinks. But heads up — some of the drinks can trigger surprises in the bar. What sort of surprises? You’ll have to go to see! Oh, and if you happen to get a “sinking feeling” in the bar, it may not be all in your head — keep an eye on your chair! 😉
Animal Kingdom Lodge is basically a hidden museum
If you’re staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, you may not realize that you are surrounded by hundreds of pieces of African art and artifacts. In fact, Animal Kingdom Lodge has one of the largest collections of African art outside of the continent of Africa!
One of the standout pieces in this collection is a massive 16-foot tall Igbo Ijele mask in the rear of the lobby of Animal Kingdom Lodge. We definitely recommend you check the collection out next time you’re in the area! And remember, you don’t have to be staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge to see the collection — all guests are welcome to visit!
Disney’s Old Key West Resort has a SPECIAL tree
Old Key West is full of interesting Disney World history. Did you know that it was the first Disney World resort made for Disney Vacation Club members?
Next time you visit the resort, look out for the “family tree.” This special tree was planted at the start of the Disney Vacation Club in 1991, back when Old Key West was simply named the Disney Vacation Club Resort! It’s a symbol of the ever-growing DVC ‘family’ — as the family grows, so does the tree!
Those infamous “Nanny chairs” at BoardWalk Inn
This is one of our favorite weird secrets, while also being one of the most terrifying. 🙂 If you happen to find yourself in the lobby area of the BoardWalk Inn, you may come across the “nanny chairs.”
What are nanny chairs, you ask? Their origins are rooted in old-fashioned carousels and served as a place where nannies would sit as their charges rode the horses.
There are four of these chairs (that we know of) located throughout the BoardWalk and each bears the name of a child on the back. If you keep a close eye on them, you may notice that they like to “move around” the resort.
We aren’t pointing fingers here, but there’s definitely a chance these chairs are straight-up haunted. 😉
You can go horseback riding at Fort Wilderness
Did you know you can go horseback riding at Disney World? Fort Wilderness is the home of the Tri-Circle-D Ranch, where daily horseback riding tours set off and explore the areas of the Cabins and Campsites at Fort Wilderness Resort.
The ride lasts for 45 minutes and costs $55 per person. If you would prefer to just look at the horses instead, the ranch is open for guests to stroll through the stables and visit the wide array of horse breeds, including Appaloosas, Arabians, Belgians, Clydesdales, paint horses, Percherons, quarter horses, and Shetland ponies.
There’s a special 50th Anniversary scavenger hunt at a few Disney World resorts!
You can learn all about the history of Disney World while you explore some popular Disney hotels? Sign us up! You can find this Magic Kingdom attractions scavenger hunt at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. All you have to do is ask a Cast Member at the front desk of the resort and they’ll give you your clues!
The answers are scattered throughout the resorts, so make sure to save some time during your vacation to explore and learn some history!
Looking for even more fun hidden secrets about the Disney World resort hotels? Check out our video that features TWENTY fun facts and secrets, including some mentioned in this post, here:
What is your favorite hidden secret at the Disney World resort hotels? Let us know in the comments!