Disney parks have always had a bit of mystery to them, and that’s done on purpose. Using terminology from the concept of “putting on a show,” the areas that customers (called “guests”) can see is called “on stage” and anything that’s behind the scenes or areas that guests can’t otherwise see, is called “backstage.” For decades, only Disney employees (called “cast members” [CMs]) could go and see backstage or views that guests would never have access to, but over time, things (read: rules, adherence to same, and technology) have changed and, for better or for worse, guests can see stuff like this:
Walt Disney World (WDW) began offering behind-the-scenes tours to their guests in the early 1990s. Planned by Disney Adult Discoveries and scheduled through what was then known as Disney University Seminar Productions (which would eventually become the Disney Institute), tours were offered to groups of guests, usually convention attendees, where they could see the park through a different perspective and learn some of the inner workings of WDW.
The Innovations In Action tour was the first WDW tour to ever offer guests a glimpse of what happened behind the scenes. Lasting about 3 hours, the tour included an introductory video and discussion, followed by a trip via motor coach (Disneyspeak for bus) through the south service area to see the tree farm and waste treatment plant. That was followed by a visit to the north service area to see the boat dock, laundry, and Central Shops. After that, guests would see the energy plant, phone company and the production center (the latter was where the parade floats were stored, and it also housed the end of the AVAC [Automated Vacuum Assisted Collection – the trash system for the Magic Kingdom)]). Following this, tour guests would be brought to backstage Main Street, then to onstage, then down to the hub, then down into the Utilidors, through costuming and DACS (the computer center), and finally out the tunnel and back to the bus.