There’s a beautiful scene when you first enter the building at Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean. An old pirate map, watched over by a talking parrot. A map of buried treasure, lost caves, and forgotten islands. And right at the edge of the map, the unexplored territory.
“Here There Be Monsters.”
When it comes to Walt Disney World, there are very few uncharted waters. Fans like us practically live at the parks. I personally go to the parks a couple times a week, and there are some who are even crazier than I am. I began to wonder if there exist any locations inside the parks that I have yet to visit.
Sometimes you hear about supposed fans who have never visited Tom Sawyer Island or something, despite dozens of visits. I find such things inexcusable. So I proposed a little challenge for myself. I wanted to see if I could find a hidden corner of Walt Disney World that I had never before set foot in. One a week in each of the four parks.
We have to think small in scope. I’m not going to suddenly stumble on any new attraction. I’ve seen them all a dozen times at least — even Playhouse Disney, which is extremely uncomfortable for a lone adult male waiting in line. But it can’t be too small in scale, like a park bench that I’ve never sat on. It’s got to be a legitimate room or place. Oh, and it has to be someplace all guests have access to. No backstage areas. No Future World corporate lounges. And since I’m technically allowed in only half the bathrooms, those can’t really count either.
Part of the problem is that if you’ve never been to a place, it’s hard to imagine yourself being there. There must be blind spots, but I’m rather blind to them. So this week I started with the park I thought would be the hardest (if I’m going to fail, I’d rather do it quickly).
I walked all over the Magic Kingdom and visited all my old haunts. The little courtyard tucked away at the entrance to Pirates. The recessed smoking area off to the right of Space Mountain. The overpass seating area of Columbia Harbor House. It took all evening, but I eventually did find someplace I’ve never set foot in.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Tomorrowland Speedway Grandstand.
Where is the Tomorrowland Speedway Grandstand?
For those of you unfamiliar with this little gem, it’s a waiting area for people who don’t want to ride the Tomorrowland Speedway with everyone else in their party. Like grandstands at real auto races, this one gives you a breathtaking view of a concrete loading zone, complete with authentic exhaust fumes and obnoxiously loud revving engine noise. Here you can curl up for a nap, breastfeed your infant, and catch up on your carbon monoxide poisoning, all in the comfort of what is usually baking Florida heat.
It is the most ridiculous waiting area ever devised. Not mobile enough to get yourself in and out of the tiny Tomorrowland Speedway cars? Just climb 10 concrete steps and stretch out on our gleaming aluminum benches for some quality downtime! I was fortunate to have my visit at night and it was miserable enough. I can imagine this place is pretty well intolerable in the middle of the afternoon.
The Tomorrowland Speedway Grandstand isn’t hidden. You walk right past it whenever you exit the ride. And there are even signs directing you to its location. But for whatever reason (such as the fact that I hate the Tomorrowland Speedway like France hates deodorant), I had never visited it before. And now I can cross it off my list. There were no monsters, but I kind of wish there were.
Next week, I’ll bring you another undiscovered territory, which I will then claim for king and country. In the meantime, what places in the parks have YOU never set foot in? Give me some details in the comments, I promise not to scoff at you.
And will you just go see Tom Sawyer Island, already? It’s not that bad!
This is part of a series of posts on unexplored theme park locations. You can read about our discoveries in the other parks by clicking the links below: