There are few treasure troves of hidden secrets, inside jokes, and tributes more rich than Backstage Magic with Mickey Mouse, the meet and greet in the Town Square Theater of Main Street at the Magic Kingdom.
The references seem to never stop!
Right at the entrance, look for Walt Disney’s birth year, 1901, on the tile floor.
The same year is repeated in one painting in the FASTPASS queue.
Back in the main queue, watch for references to Fred and Ward. That would be Fred Moore and Ward Kimball, two animators who also star as themselves – very unusual – in a Disney cartoon named the Nifty Nineties, which fits the theme of this location.
S.A. Tilley refers to someone in the actual WDI publicity department.
Bill Justice was an animator with Disney. But his also created the giant mural of Disney characters which once graced this spot of the Main Street Theater, before it was remodeled for a meet-and-greet, and you can see his mural here in small format, rolled up.
A letter on the desk mentions the Nifty Nineties again, and also includes a Mr. Toad character plus the Toad car. This is a unique thing. After Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride closed in Fantasyland, one of the Toad cars was moved to the Main Street Theater. That car was removed again when the area was repurposed for a meet and greet, so the inclusion of a Toad car here now is the rare example of a TRIBUTE to something that was once a REMNANT.
Joyce Carlson was an Imagineer responsible for It’s a Small World in Orlando.
The four icons of the Disney parks are visible on this wall: a tree, a sorcerer hat, a globe, and a “castle” made up of book spines.
The globe includes a second-level tribute, in the form of Madame Leota, the Imagineer Leota Toombs/Thomas. The Haunted Mansion opened in Disneyland in 1969.
About Kevin Yee
If you like D-Tales, you’ll love Kevin Yee’s book Walt Disney World Hidden History (second edition, 2014). This softcover book tracks Disney “hidden history” — remnants of former attractions and tributes to Imagineers as well as other Disney officials — hiding in plain sight in the parks. There are over 300 entries in the book!
Whether tribute or remnant, each item discussed starts with something visible in today’s parks; the idea is that this is something you could visit and see with your own eyes, and then appreciate the historical thinking behind it. Since most visitors aren’t local, the book includes a photo of every item discussed so you’ll know what to look for.