The Wonderful Smells of Disney World

Welcome to Walt Disney World!
Welcome to sweet smelling Walt Disney World!

If you’re a cast member working at Disney World, or a frequent guest of the parks, you know what people mean when they talk about that “Disney smell”.

Orlando, Florida!
Welcome to Orlando, Florida!

It actually starts when you arrive at Orlando airport and walk outside for the first time.  Florida smells like Florida…it has a sweetly fragrant scent due to all the blooming flowers and trees.  Many returning tourists pause for a moment when they walk outside the terminal and just take a deep breath of sweet Florida air.  Ahhh, breathe it in…

Even more special, there is just something about the way the all the parks, attractions and Disney resorts smell…all so good! Long ago, Disney realized that if the parks smelled good and unique, you’d remember it long after your vacation was over. And, more importantly, you’ll remember how good you felt at the time.

Did you know that Disney World pumps irresistible scents onto its lobbies and streets to entice park goers? There are strategically placed devices called “smellitizers” dispersed throughout the resort and they emit pleasing scents throughout the day and night.

Best Disney Smells!

Ask any cast member to name where a particular scent is associated with and we can all pass this test with flying colors!

1. The Smell of Burning Wood

Ahhh...the smell of Rome burning...
Hmmm…the smell of Rome burning…

That would be the smoky smell of burning embers from the Rome burning diorama while riding Spaceship Earth.  Just before that scene, as you’re loading onto the ride, you smell the smoldering ashes from cave-dwelling prehistoric man discovering fire.

2. The Smell of the Water Rides


Guests say that you could line up bottles of water with scents from the fog from Pirates of the Caribbean, the indoor water rides (It’s a Small World, Splash Mountain, the Three Caberos ride), and the Kali River Rapids, and they could correctly associate the water’s scent with the attraction.  And, they would be right.

3. The Smell of the Disney Resort Lobbies

The Grand Floridian
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

This is not a hard one at all.  In fact, the fragrances are so specific that you can actually buy candles online with the scent of each resort.  For example, the Polynesian Resort lobby smells vaguely “Hawaiian” with floral and wood notes.  The Yacht and Beach Club smells of “seashore”, but not in a bad way, more like a fresh salty sea breeze.

The Grand Floridian lobby smells of “rich money” to me, except when the Grand Floridian Gingerbread House is up in the lobby during the holidays.  Then, of course, it smells strongly of freshly-baked gingerbread.

Grand Floridian Gingerbread House.
When the Gingerbread House goes up at the GF in November, the whole Grand Atrium smells like gingerbread cookies!

4. The Smell of Caramel Popcorn Cooking at Karamell Kuche in Epcot Germany

Making a fresh batch of warm caramel popcorn.

My ICP friend from Germany worked in this sweet shop making the caramel popcorn with Werther’s Original Caramels all day.  In fact, he was kind enough to share the secret recipe with me. (Of course, the recipe makes a huge batch!)

On one of my last days at the DCP program, I stopped in to say good-bye to him and him made a Magical Moment for me by bagging up a small bag of caramel popcorn that he had just finished making.  It was delicious!

Every time I smell the caramel on my Starbucks caramel latte, I always think of him and the sweet Karamell Kuche shop at Epcot.

5. The Spa Scent of Disney Resort Soaps and Toiletries

soap (2)
Disney Resort toiletries smell wonderful!

If you’ve stayed at any of the properties onsite, you know this scent!  I call this smell “rich spa”.  It’s so wonderful a scent that guests often pause while washing their hands and just smell the fragrant bubbles.

6.  The Special Holiday Parade Scents

And love these guys too!
Dancing reindeer on Main Street USA with the delicious scent of baking sugar cookies filling the air during the holidays!

If you’ve ever had the chance to go to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in the fall, you know that the ‘Boo To You’ parade smells just like candy corn.

And, if you’ve been on Main Street USA during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party during the holidays, you’ve noticed the smell of sugar cookies baking and also the scent of peppermint candy canes is in the air!

7.  The Scent of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 7.48.59 PM
Sniff, sniff….Tarzan likes the smell of my sunscreen!

The number one smell that I associate with DAK is probably not the one you’re thinking of!  No, it’s not the smell of animals and animal manure!

After working at DAK through every season now, I would have to say that the smell I most associate with my workplace is: sunscreen!

Working at the front of DAK, it seems like every guest that gets off the trams coming in from the parking lots pauses and literally hoses down themselves and their children with sunscreen.  And, not just the lotion kind that comes in bottles.  Over the past few years, aerosol spray sunscreen has become very popular.  They spray clouds of it in the air like it’s free!

By 9am every day, the vaguely coconut smell of sunscreen fills the plaza in front of the entrance turnstiles.  It’s a smell I’ll always associate with DAK! 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 7.48.02 PM
Spending my day off back at the Animal Kingdom.  Yes, I’m wearing my SPF 50 sunscreen!

And, finally, a smell that is no more and that we miss a lot….

8. The Smell of Oranges on Soarin’

Flying high over the orange groves.
Flying high over the orange groves.  You could feel the wind in your face and smell the scent of oranges from the orange groves below.

While flying high above orange groves in Soarin’, you were surrounded by the smell of freshly squeezed oranges.  It was the scent we most identified with Disney World!  We miss it!

But, Soarin’ Around the World has all new scents that we’re sure we will come to love!

Two Disney Sisters
Two Disney Sisters

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

   by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins

Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???

We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

We’ve included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney. Available now at in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on  Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale


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