is a utility corridor built underground or aboveground to carry utility lines such as electricity, water and sewer. Communications utilities like fiber optics
, cable television
cables are also sometimes carried. They are most common in very cold climates where direct burial below the frost line
is not feasible (like in Alaska
, where the frost line is more than eighteen feet below the surface and is frozen year round
. They are also built in places where the water table
is too high to bury water and sewer mains and where utility poles would be too unsightly or pose a danger (like in earthquake
prone San Francisco
). These tunnels range in size from just large enough to accommodate the utility being carried to very large tunnels that can also accommodate human and even vehicular traffic.
The largest and most famous utilidors are at Disney theme parks. They were first built for Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Florida. A smaller Utilidor system is built under the central section of Epcot's Future World, primarily beneath "Spaceship Earth" and "Innoventions".
The Utilidors are a part of Disney's "backstage" (behind-the-scenes) area. They allow Disney employees ("cast members") to perform day-to-day park operations, such as trash removal, out of the sight of guests.
Utilidors at Walt Disney World
According to modern legend, Walt Disney was bothered by the sight of a cowboy walking through Disneyland's Tomorrowland on his way to his post in Frontierland. He felt that such a sight was jarring, and detracted from the guest experience. When plans for the Magic Kingdom in Florida were being developed, engineers designed Utilidors to keep park operations out of guests' sight.
The Utilidors are beneath the Magic Kingdom, but they are not a basement; they are actually the ground level of the Magic Kingdom. The park is actually the second level. Parts of Fantasyland, including Cinderella's Castle, are at third-story-level (this is why the castle seems to loom so large as guests approach it via Main Street, USA). The ground's incline is so gradual that guests do not realize they are ascending to the second and third stories. The Magic Kingdom is built upon dirt which was removed from what is now the Seven Seas Lagoon.
The Utilidors are built on nine acres, and the floor plan resembles a wheel with spokes. The hub lies beneath Cinderella's castle; tunnels to all the other lands branch out from this central location. The walls of the tunnels are color-coded, to make it simple for cast members to tell which land they are in. The Utilidors can be accessed from a main tunnel entrance located behind Fantasyland, or through various unmarked doors located throughout the Magic Kingdom. All Magic Kingdom cast members park about one 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-operated vehicles that resemble golf carts, which cast members call "Pargo's". Gasoline-powered vehicles are not allowed in the Utilidors, with the exception of armored cash pickup trucks, and, in extreme emergencies, ambulances.
The Utilidors have been referred to as an "underground city," and with good reason. Its functions include:
- Waste removal: The Magic Kingdom uses an Automated Vacuum Collection system for waste removal. Sanitation crews remove trash from the park twenty-four hours a day, and dump it into AVAC system processors throughout the park. The trash then travels through pneumatic tubes to a central location where it is processed, compressed, and/or recycled.
- Electrical operations: The park's computer system, the Digital Animation Control Systems (DACS), is operated and monitored from control rooms in the Utilidors. This system monitors everything in the park, from sound systems to attractions, Audio-Animatronic figures to parades, fire prevention and security systems to cash registers.
- Deliveries and storage warehouses: All deliveries are received, processed, and stored at the Utilidors until use. This ensures that guests do not see delivery trucks pulling up at the Magic Kingdom's gate, nor do they see cast members carting merchandise through the park.
- Food service: The park's cooking and prep kitchens are housed in the Utilidors.
- Costuming: Until recently, the park's costuming department (for cast members and Audio-Animatronic figures) was located in the Utilidors. Over 1.2 million costumes were housed here, making it the largest operating wardrobe department in the world. However, in 2005, Disney replaced this facility with a larger location in the cast member parking lot.
- Cast member services: Separate locker rooms for men and women are located in the Utilidors, as well as cast member cafeterias. There is also a check cashing service, an employee hair salon called "Kingdom Kutters," rehearsal rooms, and administrative offices.