Secret Travel: Spaces Hidden in 5 Famous Landmarks
Who doesn’t love the idea of secret travel? And what kid wouldn’t love to know a secret that no one else knows about? Well, prepare to blow their minds when you tell them about these secret travel spots: There are rooms hidden in some of the most famous places in the world. And these aren’t just staff-only areas. These are spaces that were supposed to be open to the public — but that visitors can’t set foot in. Until now. The team at Vibrant Doors has made it possible to explore five of these secret travel spots, from an ultra-exclusive club at Disneyland to the inside of the Statue of Liberty’s torch. Join us for a behind-the-scenes peek.
1/5 Secret Travel: Club 33 at Disneyland
What it is: Club 33 is a private members’ club located at several Disney parks — including Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, Disneyland Tokyo and Disneyland Shanghai — but the original is at Disneyland California.
The History: The idea for the original Club 33 was created by Walt Disney himself. When he built his first theme park, Disneyland, he thought Club 33 could be an area where he could entertain VIPs and his own family. Unfortunately, Disney died before he could see his idea come to life.
Fun Facts: Club 33 is so secret that execs from Disney deny that it even exists, but rumor has it that guests are greeted by a talking vulture named Alfred. There are supposedly two salons featuring bars and eating areas with exclusive menus and cocktails. (Attention, mom and dad, if it really exists, this is the only place in Disneyland that serves alcohol.) Naturally, there’s a secret entrance and exit.
How to Get In: No one really knows how to join Club 33, but if you can snag an invite, the fee supposedly starts at a cool $25,000 and can go up to $100,000 — just to join. On top of that, there’s an annual membership fee of anywhere between $12,500 and $30,000.
2/5 Secret Travel: Hall of Records at Mount Rushmore
What it is: South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a huge monument carved out of the mountainside. From the outside, visitors can gape at the 60-foot-high heads of legendary US presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. But surprise! Inside Lincoln’s head is a secret room called the Hall of Records.
The History: Mount Rushmore was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum and his son. Borglum intended Mount Rushmore to be a repository for important American documents and planned to crate a 100-foot-long hall lined with glass cabinets. The Constitution and Declaration of Independence were going to be housed there. However, Borglum died in 1941, and America got involved in World War II, so the vast hall was never completed.
Fun Facts: In 1998, Borglum’s vision was realized in part when a repository of records was installed in the floor of the hall and covered with a granite slab. The repository contains 16 enamel panels, inscribed with the story of Mount Rushmore.
How to Get In: Unfortunately, travelers can’t visit the Hall of Records, since it’s considered unsafe. But the hope is that sometime in the future, the records will be unearthed and visitors will get to have a closer look at this legendary monument to American history.
3/5: Secret Travel: The Torch at the Statue of Liberty
What it is: New York City’s Statue of Liberty is one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, and visitors can take a ferry to Liberty Island and even climb to the statue’s crown. But did you know that you used to be able to climb a narrow ladder hidden in her arm and stand inside the Statue of Liberty’s iconic torch?
The History: Unfortunately, during the First World War, a nearby explosion sent shrapnel into the arm holding the torch and it was deemed unsafe.
Fun Facts: The torch carried by today’s statue is not the original. It was replaced with a replica in 1985. But when a new museum opens this summer, you’ll be able to get an up-close-and-personal look at the original torch (in all its shrapnel- and weather-scarred glory).
How to Get In: These days, only maintenance workers can climb up into the torch to adjust the floodlights that are stationed there and help light up the famous statue.
4/5 Secret Travel: Love Lounge at Pixar Studios
What it is: It’s no secret that the creative minds at Pixar are behind some of the best family movies of all time: Toy Story, Up, Finding Nemo. Pixar is also the creator of a secret speakeasy in California that has hosted some of the most famous names in entertainment, sports and business.
The History: One day, Pixar animator Andrew Gordon discovered a small door in his office that led to an empty space created by the shape of the building and its air conditioning system. So he decided to decorate it with Christmas lights, lava lamps and leopard-print cushions and transformed the space into a private bar known as the Love Lounge.
Fun Facts: Pixar’s former owner Steve Jobs used to use Love Lounge to meditate. Eventually, Gordon moved offices and decide to create another secret bar called the Lucky 7 Lounge, which is hidden behind a bookshelf and slightly bigger than the original. It has a poker table, mini-bar and velvet couch, and it has hosted many a celebrity.
How to Get In: Try to befriend a member of the Disney family or a celeb. Or check out the graphic below.
5/5 Secret Travel: Secret Apartment in the Eiffel Tower
What it is: When he built the Eiffel Tower in 1889, architect Gustave Eiffel decided to create the most fabulous apartment on the planet. He built himself a secret apartment at the top of the Eiffel Tower with a view of Paris like none other. When Eiffel created this stunning apartment, wealthy Parisians were falling over themselves to rent the apartment out. But Eiffel never let them. Instead, he used the apartment to entertain prestigious and privileged guests like Thomas Edison.
The History: The Tower was initially intended as a temporary fixture and slated for demolition in 1909. Eiffel, understandably not wanting this to happen to his masterpiece, created the apartment to give the Tower a scientific purpose that would ultimately save it from destruction and shape the Paris skyline forever.
Fun Facts: In contrast to the exposed steel structure of the Eiffel Tower, the apartment has old-fashioned paisley wallpaper, wooden furniture and patterned carpets. The furnishings and decorations are largely unchanged since when it was built.
How to Get In: These days, visitors to the Eiffel Tower generally can’t go inside the apartment (although they do offer tours sometimes). But if you’ve got a ticket to the top, you can peer in through a window and check out the space, which is inhabited by a couple of mannequins of Eiffel and Edison.
By Laura Begley Bloom