In Disney theme parks, the utilidor system is a system of some of the world's largest utility tunnels, mainly for Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Florida. The utilidors, short for utility corridors, are a part of Disney's "backstage" (behind-the-scenes) area. They allow Disney employees ("cast members") to perform park support operations, such as trash removal, and for costumed characters to quickly reach their destinations on the surface out of the sight of guests to avoid ruining the illusion that is being created.
These tunnels were first built for Magic Kingdom. Smaller utilidor systems are built under the central section of Epcot's Future World, primarily beneath "Spaceship Earth" and "Innoventions," and formerly at Pleasure Island. Disneyland, in California, also has a small utilidor through Tomorrowland.
According to modern legend, Walt Disney was bothered by the sight of a cowboy walking through California Disneyland's Tomorrowland en route to his post in Frontierland. He felt that such a sight was jarring, and detracted from the guest experience. Since the California Disneyland was small, such a tunnel system could not be feasibly implemented. When the new Florida Disney park was being planned, engineers designed utilidors to keep park operations out of guests' sight.
The largest system of utilidors is beneath Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, but they are not a basement. Because of an elevated water table, most of these tunnels were actually built at ground level, and the Magic Kingdom was built above that. All the guests of the park see streets that are elevated by one story. Parts of Fantasyland, including the Cinderella Castle, are at third-story-level. The ground's incline is so gradual that guests tend not to realize they are ascending to the second and third stories. The Magic Kingdom is built upon soil which was removed from what is now the Seven Seas Lagoon.
The utilidors are built on 9 acres (36,000 m2), and the floor plan is a circle with a path down the middle; the tunnel walls are color-coded to make it simple for cast members to determine their location. The utilidors can be accessed from a main tunnel entrance located behind Fantasyland, or through unmarked doors throughout the Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom cast members park about 1 mile (1.6 km) away and are transported via a Disney bus to the tunnel. Some shops, restaurants and attractions have direct access to the utilidors.
Cast members navigate the tunnels on foot or in battery-powered vehicles that resemble golf carts. Gasoline-powered vehicles are not allowed in the utilidors, with the exception of armored cash pickup trucks and, in extreme emergencies, ambulances.
Guests are not allowed in the utilidors, unless they join the Keys to the Kingdom tour.