Progress at Disney World Smells Terrible

Credit: Disney

There are many magical things about a vacation at the Walt Disney World Resort, not the least of which are the scents and smells inside the theme parks.

main street confectionery at disney world

Credit: Disney Parks

Smell is one of the best parts of a Walt Disney World vacation. Guests enjoy the scents and smells in the parks so much that they will spend big dollars to take their favorite resort scent home. Imagine bottling up the Confectionery smell and waking up to that deliciousness every morning! Disney has the science of smell down to fine art. They tantalize your olfactory receptors like a siren luring sailors to rocks. In this case, the rocks are your pocketbooks. They also go to great lengths to ensure that smells of a lesser variety are sufficient for the experience of these Guests. This could mean trash, restrooms, or any other foul odor you may experience in the real world (except for Tomorrowland Speedway). Trash cans are abundant, and restrooms are cleaned almost continuously. And just to ensure there isn’t a smelly slip-up, Disney utilizes scent generators throughout the parks and resorts to lure you into certain establishments (remember when we mentioned the Confectionery earlier?).

Our sense of smell plays a large role in our enjoyment of an environment and how we tend to remember that environment. This is why people scramble to different Etsy dealers to buy a bottle of the Grand Floridian lobby scent or spray their vehicle down with Haunted Mansion in a can. Smells are so strong that they can even invoke tastes or memories that we associate with them. I am taken back to the lobby at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort anytime I smell hibiscus or citrus. I just close my eyes, and suddenly, I’m there! If that doesn’t work, I just get in my car and drive there. Thankfully, living so close, I have that luxury.

Polynesian Village lobby

Credit: DisneyDining

But when visiting Walt Disney World so often, it becomes easier to recognize when things have changed. Smells are a big part of this! If I don’t smell turkey legs in Liberty Square, I notice it. The same goes for attraction scents such as the burning smell on Pirates of the Caribbean or oranges on Soarin’. Disney uses our sense of smell at these attractions to give us an experience we wouldn’t get from simply hopping on a roller coaster. They want to immerse you. But what happens when that backfires? What happens when one of your favorite attractions smells less pleasurable than you remember? What if it straight-up stinks?

Where’s That Smell Coming From?

Fab History: Round and Round With Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress

Credit: Disney

My last few visits to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World have been some of the best. As my children have gotten older, they love to explore hidden things in the parks that they may not have noticed as younger children. This includes hidden mickeys and exciting facts about almost anything. They love Disney history almost as much as I do. And for this reason, they love Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. I love the ride’s history, but I tend to love the memories of my kids singing “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” along with the show. Lately, however, the ride has lost some of its luster. In fact, it has become quite problematic.

The problem with smells is that they can invoke all sorts of things, including migraines. Stronger scents, such as gasoline, tobacco smoke, and so on, can ruin someone’s day. I am one of these people. Over-the-top aromas do a number on the ole noggin’ and leave me feeling sick. This is a problem loads of people endure. To be fair, it isn’t always the terrible smells that do it; sometimes, it can be delightful scents such as perfume or cologne. We aren’t here to talk about those smells, however.

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is old, as far as theme park rides go. The popular fan favorite opened at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World in the winter of 1975. Following a stint at the 1964 World’s Fair, the attraction made its way to Walt Disney World and became a collective must-do for many visitors. This includes me and my family.

What’s the Problem?


The ride has been updated over the years but has been able to keep that same charm that it had upon opening. This has undoubtedly led to its longevity in the park. But upon these most recent visits, we have noticed something increasingly different about the ride. The smell has been off, to put it nicely. And we aren’t the only ones to notice. Guests are complaining about the stench. It’s gotten unbearable for many.

The smell reminds me of a mixture of gasoline and urine, and it’s intense. Strong enough to send me running for the ibuprofen and a dark room for the rest of the day. Of course, we could just not ride it. But that isn’t the point, is it? It’s a tough ask for those who genuinely enjoy the old-school vibe of the ride. This is the main allure for us! We love Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. Our Magic Kingdom day isn’t complete without it. But the smell is seriously too much to handle.

What’s Next?

I’m unsure what is causing the issue, but as of this past weekend, it was still very potent in there. Maybe it’s because they have yet to run the air. Perhaps it’s a smell that’s always been there. I’m not sure, but one thing is certain: until it is handled, I (as well as many others) simply cannot enjoy the attraction for fear of migraines. In a time when Guests are complaining more than ever about the maintenance and upkeep in the parks, this isn’t surprising, but it’s still interesting that nothing has been done regarding the smell. I can’t be the only person who has struggled with it. I’m certain that at some point, the smell issue with be resolved, but until then, my family and I simply cannot enjoy the attraction.

About Michael Arnold

Michael is a father, husband, and an Army Veteran. Michael spends his weekends at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando checking out new merchandise and food. Michael is a graduate of the University of Alabama and has an education background in Public Health. You can find Michael riding Pirates of the Caribbean over and over again or binge watching new Marvel and Star Wars content. Han shot first. Thor is the strongest Avenger. Roll Tide and Wash Your Hands!