On a recent trip to Disney World over Labor Day weekend, I was overwhelmed—not by a sense of childhood nostalgia, not with the fairytale atmosphere or super-clean park streets—but with the aroma of cinnamon rolls. At 9 AM on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, dense clouds of sugary air assaulted my nose (in the best possible way) from every direction. Only one shop in the park sold the treats, yet is seemed as if I’d walked into the world’s biggest bakery. I had eaten breakfast less than thirty minutes ago and suddenly a hot sticky bun was all I could think about.
My friend, a former Disney employee and thus privy to many magical secrets, explained my sudden craving. “They pump scents through the ventilation system,” she said. I doubted there would be air conditioning in an outdoor park, and suddenly wondered if the speakers sprinkling cheerful music into the crowds also sprinkled something…extra.
The next day, right outside the dinosaur ride at Animal Kingdom, the smell of smoky, barbequed meat settled on my clothing like strong perfume. After moving two feet away from the entrance, however, the smell was gone. About a half mile away from the ride, a long line snaked around a single food vendor: giant turkey legs. I guess Disney decided we should indulge our inner carnivore.
I personally resented being bombarded with so many manufactured smells, almost like being drugged against my will. But park-goers love this multi-sensory experience: a spider that spits watery webs on you from above, a dancing berry cobbler that flambés on screen and fills your nose with fruit. I much prefer the real thing.
The next time you head to your kitchen, really smell what’s cooking. Caramelized onions, toasted nuts, or even a flavorful chicken broth give off incredible aromas that will allow you to enjoy their taste even more. An added bonus: they don’t come from a bottle.