“Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” This iconic line from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs isn’t one that guests will be quoting when visiting Disney World. The Florida theme park is full of quirks, from the purple traffic signs all over the place to the fact that you’ll never see Disney employees point with two fingers. But over the years guests have noticed another strange feature: none of the bathrooms have mirrors over the sink. This isn’t so guests don’t try talking to the mirrors like the Evil Queen. But it is to have them avoid channeling another one of her qualities: vanity.
“Operators have found over the years, that if mirrors are placed above the restroom sinks, guests will tend to linger at the sinks which in turn will deter the flow of guests within the restroom,” says J. Daniel Jenkins, a theme park design consultant and a former Disney Imagineer. “At Disney and Universal theme parks, we now design guest restrooms to have a single, larger mirror near the entrance/exit to both the Men’s and Women’s restroom. Many of the existing, older guest restrooms have been retrofitted to accommodate this design standard.”
The lack of mirrors is also for people who may channel the more troublemaking qualities of Disney villains. According to Charlie Wissig, creative director of ITEC Entertainment, which plans and designs theme parks like Disney, mirrors can be easily vandalized since theme parks can’t put surveillance cameras in bathrooms. Mirrors also get dirty quickly and can be hard to keep clean and replace. Since theme parks aim to optimize guest experiences by keeping things neat and clean, it makes sense to eliminate these mirrors which can be easily smudged and broken.
Instead of having mirrors over the sink, many Disney guests have noticed instead there’s a full-length mirror by the door so people can check their appearance on their way out. So fear not—despite their scarcity, mirrors are not one of the everyday items banned from Disney parks.