The World of Disney World Smells

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Let’s face it, Disney is a smelly place.

In an effort to give you a fully immersive, all-five-senses experience, the Disney Imagineers have infused many of the attractions and environments with aromatics designed to enhance your park experience. Most guests find these scents enchanting or evocative, enhancing the park experience, while others, especially those with asthma or allergies to airborne particulates, may find them to problematic. So whether you’re scent sensitive or want to take a whiff of something wonderful, here’s a guidemap to the smells of Walt Disney World.

Rides/Attractions With Purposely Piped In Scents

Ahhh, the siren scent of fresh popped corn.

  • Stitch’s Great Escape, Magic Kingdom. That wacky alien Stitch belches chili dog, in your face.
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Magic Kingdom. Mmmmm, pie.
  • Soarin’, Epcot. Smell the pine forests and orange groves of California.
  • Spaceship Earth, Epcot. Rome burns, with burning scent.
  • Journey into Imagination, Epcot. I think that scent spinner thing is rigged, I get the skunk every time. :-)
  • Test Track, Epcot. Acidic, chemical smell in the Corrosion Testing room. Not sure if this will remain in the current ride rehab.
  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug, Animal Kingdom. There’s an accurately described stink bug on the program.
  • Kali River Rapids, Animal Kingdom. Burning logs have burning scent.

Rides/Attractions That Have a Scent Due to the Nature of the Experience

The Journey to Imagination ride stinks. Literally.

  • Walt Disney World Railroad, Magic Kingdom. Possible fuel or steam scents.
  • Main Street Horse-Drawn Trolley, Magic Kingdom. The horses may have some odiferous output.
  • Tomorrowland Speedway, Magic Kingdom. Fuel and smoke odors.
  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Fuel and smoke odors.
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Fuel and smoke odors.
  • Water rides, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, water parks. Rides/attractions which have an water component may have a damp or chemical scent. These include: Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, it’s a small world, Living with the Land, Maelstrom, Gran Fiesta Tour, Studio Backlot Tour, anything at the water parks.
  • Fireworks, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • Live animal areas, Animal Kingdom. They do what they can to keep odors to a minimum, but these are live animals.
  • Why do they even let Stitch eat chili dogs?

  • Campfires, Fort Wilderness and others. Possible smoke odors.

Food Areas

Of course any food service area has the potential to emit odors. These are some of the most noticeable.

  • Popcorn carts, located throughout the parks. The strongest scent is at the cart on the left, immediately after you enter the Magic Kingdom.
  • Candy shops, Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Downtown Disney, Boardwalk. The Main Street Confectionery and its sister sweets purveyors emit a decidedly sweet aroma.
  • Funnel cake/donut stands, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, water parks. The scent of fried dough wafting through the air. Nuff said.
  • Karamell-Küche, Epcot. This is what heaven smells like.
  • Bakeries, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Boardwalk. The Main Street Bakery and the entire France pavilion are permeated with the smell of butter and sugar.
  • Sniff the piney goodness of Soarin'.

  • Flame Tree Barbecue, Animal Kingdom. Strong scent of fire and roast meats.

Other Areas

  • Gingerbread House, Grand Floridian. During the holiday season, the giant gingerbread house periodically puffs gingerbread scent out of its chimney.
  • Flower & Garden Festival, Epcot. There are extra plantings at Epcot during this time. Many are scent heavy.
  • Perfume shops, Epcot. The England, France, and Norway pavilions all have perfume counters in their shops, with guests spritzing and sampling the various concoctions.
  • Incense sales areas, Epcot. Incense is sold and sometimes burned in the shops in the Mexico and China pavilions.
  • Basin bath shops, Grand Floridian, Downtown Disney. Sales area for scented soaps, lotions, etc.
  • Fuego by Sosa Cigars, Downtown Disney. It’s a smoking bar.
  • Spas. Scented products may be used.

So fellow sniffers, what have your scent experiences been at Walt Disney World? Do the smells enrich your theme park experience or have you had any adverse reactions to scented areas? Are there smelly spots that I’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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Posted on May 30, 2012

21 Responses to “The World of Disney World Smells”

  • Haha, great post. One of my Cast Member friends once pointed out the best fan page I’ve ever seen: you can Like “The Smell of Burning Rome on Spaceship Earth” on Facebook!

  • You forgot Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom – the Dino Institute’s Underground Research Facility (Rover load area) has a very distinct smell. Almost rubbery and musty, it smells amazing. Also, at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at the Studios, the Hollywood Tower Hotel’s lobby has a very old, musty smell. The library has a very strong smell of parchment and binding adhesive, mixed with hints of mothballs. Once in the boiler room, the smells change again to fit the surroundings.

  • I find that all of the resort food courts have a very unique smell. I can’t pinpoint what it is, but to me it just smells like a Disney food court.

    Re: Tough to be a Bug…when the stink bugs invaded the northeast a year or two ago, I knew instantly what they were as soon as I smelled them because of this 3D film!

    Finally, I find that the Alien scene in the Great Movie Ride has a very distinct smell. Since I can’t find that scent anywhere in nature, I am going to conclude that that is what aliens smell like.

    Fantastic post!

  • by Brian Jones on May 30, 2012, at 4:10 pm EDT

    At certain times of the, the swapy areas around WDW smell like….swamps.

  • I LOVE the Disney water smell! It appears in the water rides like you said but it ALSO shows up in the Polynesian lobby (my favorite and only Disney World hotel). I also used to be able to recognize the smell of the cleaning products they used in the Poly’s hallways but I think they changed products or something as they are no longer distinctive to me, scent-wise.

  • …the smell of star-gazer lilies ALWAYS takes me to the lobby of the Grand Floridian. ALWAYS.

  • I love the new flower scent that now permeates the Polynesian lobby. When I asked a CM, he said it was the scent of a flower native to Hawaii that has a really long name. Our January trip of this year was the first time I noticed the scent. It is such a lovely smell!

  • Or how about the apple cinnamon smell in the Christmas shoppe…MK. Favorite smell ever!!!

  • The old Poly lobby smell and the Monorail smell..

  • Anytime we want a trip down Pop Century’s Memory Lane, we just hitthe drive-thru at our new local Dairy Queen. My kids and I swear it smells exactly the same as walking through the doors of Pop’s Food Court. The cold air rushes out of the window just like at Pop and smells amazing.

  • I might be crazy, but the past few times I’ve been on the monorail, it really smells like a barn/hay/farm. Not terribly unpleasant … just odd :-)

  • The lobby of the Wilderness Lodge has a distinctive smell, can’t place it at the moment, guess I need to go back so I can report!

  • by Mrs. Norcross on May 31, 2012, at 3:16 pm EDT

    The park restrooms cleaning products have a nice, fresh scent. On my recent trip to WDW this past weekend, I found myself saying you can smell the restrooms as you approach them. Thankfully, it’s a clean fragrance!
    I wonder if it’s a commercially available scent, or one specifically designed for Disney Parks to enhance an othewise unavoidable stop?

  • The lobby where I work smells like The Land. Every time I open the window to help a customer I feel like I’m approaching Soarin’! Also, the shops in Morocco also have a very strong incense smell.

  • Thank you for this! I get migraines from oranges (even the smell) and did not know about Soarin’. Had to do an unscheduled mid-day return to the hotel to recover while hubby and daughter hit the hotel pool.
    For anyone in a similar orange situation, Whispering Canyon’s BBQ sauce has orange juice, but the chef was super nice and did my food with just the rub. Still yummy!

  • The Wilderness Lodge bathroom water has a distinct smell. I’m not sure if it is specific to the Wilderness Lodge or just Disney hotels in general. Kind of like a sulfur smell??? Anytime I turned the hot water faucet on I would smell it.

    • Orlando water in general has a distinct swampy smell. Does not taste bad, but does have an odor.

      Was in Hollywood Studios today, and the entire park smelled of overheating car…hot antifreeze. A bit sweet and chemical.

  • I have a friend; let’s call him “Jerry from Arizona.” Jerry is attracted to, and at the same time repulsed by, the odor of the shrubbery between the Marketplace Bus Stop and Downtown Disney at Disney World. He claims the odor has been there for several years. I’m seeking confirmation, that is, an olfactory witness who has also enjoyed or been repelled by said odor. Please help “Jerry from Arizona”, who is considered by many to be a high-functioning individual, by confirming his claim of the odor’s existence and duration. If it helps, “Jerry” is a DVC member.