Welcome to Part 2 of the Secret Floors in Buildings Across America Series!
This week we’re tackling two major tourist attractions that host millions of visitors each year. With so many visitors, it’s hard to believe that anything could remain hidden, but that’s exactly the case for both Disney World and Times Square.
What’s hiding at Disney World?
Let’s tackle the cartoon-dominated play land first! In a place as big as Disney World, there are bound to be things the general public isn’t privy to, but it was surprising to learn that an entire NETWORK of underground tunnels, rooms and staff areas are hiding beneath the tourist-packed streets of the Magic Kingdom. The staff consider this the first floor of the park, but most guests will never even know it exists.
Unless you work for Disney or research the park online, it’s unlikely you would ever come across the information. But as the story goes, Walt Disney himself made the decision to create the network of tunnels, rooms and floors beneath the park when he saw a character from one part of the park walking in another part. He felt the illusion would be ruined for children if they saw characters out of their element, acting like normal people so he decided that all staff would use the underground tunnels to move around the park when they had to do anything that was out of character.
Both the beloved Disney characters and the staff members alike use the tunnels for break rooms, to store and eat their lunch and to come and go throughout the park. I’ve gotta say that it’s an ingenious idea when your entire business model is built on childhood fantasies. The biggest driver of visitors, and therefore profits, are children so it’s important to keep the fantasy alive.
Next time you’re at Disney World without the kiddos, you can sign up for a tour of the hidden first floor of Disney and see what all the secrets are about. Just remember – no kids are allowed, lest the magic of the Magic Kingdom be spoiled.
What is hiding in Times Square?
While it’s cool to learn about a network of secret tunnels underneath Disney World, this next hidden place is a little less…hidden. We’re making our way from Florida up to New York – New York City to be exact. It’s understandable if you haven’t been to Disney, and you may have never been to New York City in person, but it’s unlikely that many people can say they haven’t ever seen the ball drop on New Year’s Eve in Times Square.
It’s a little piece of our American culture. The ball is covered in lights and crystals and weighs nearly twelve thousand pounds. It sits high atop a building in the middle of Times Square and all eyes are on it as the clock strikes midnight and ushers us into a new year. But you might be surprised to learn the very building the infamous ball it resting atop is hiding some secrets of it’s own.
The building is located at One Times Square and was built to house the New York Times offices in the early 1900’s. While the newspaper only occupied the building for 8 years, both Times Square and the building itself retained the “Times” in their names. The building has been sold numerous times throughout it’s history, but the most notable change was after the Lehman Brothers bought it in 1995.
The building had been renovated a handful of times during the preceding years, but Lehman Brothers saw an opportunity to cash in on an even bigger revenue stream. Billboards in several forms had been used during the building’s history, but for the first time they become the sole revenue stream for the building.
Rather than renovate the building and rent it to tenants – either commercial or residential, Lehman Brothers constructed a metal framework on the outside of the building and installed electronic and traditional billboards covering the majority of the outside square footage. Besides the Walgreens that occupies the first floor of the building and the New Year’s Eve ball on top of the building, it’s otherwise empty.
The revenue from the advertising is said to be 300%+ more lucrative than renting the space to tenants would be and One Times Square is considered to be the most valuable advertising space in the world now. But behind all the glittering and flashing lights and airbrushed models in advertisements hides an empty piece of history. it’s hard to imagine an entire building being hidden behind the massive amount of billboards covering it, but most of us have never given a second thought to what’s behind them.
The biggest question most conspiracy theorists are probably asking is what’s ACTUALLY going on inside the enormous skyscraper in the heart of Times Square. It seems like the perfect place to hide something mysterious behind the guise of advertising income. Or maybe it’s just a sad, old building that is no longer considered useful outside of it’s advertising value. Either way it’s interesting to learn about what’s hiding behind all the signs.