According to modern legend, Walt Disney was bothered by the sight of a cowboy walking through Disneyland's Tomorrowland enroute to his post in Frontierland. He felt that such a sight was jarring, and detracted from the guest experience. When the Florida park was being planned, 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 itself 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 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 users 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 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 "Pargos." 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", the functions of which 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: Deliveries are received, processed, and stored at the utilidors until use. This ensures that guests do not see delivery trucks, 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. 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.