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Strange Secret Entrance

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A Strange Secret Entrance is the hidden portal that you access by seemingly impossible means. When Alice first tells Bob about the Strange Secret Entrance and how it is reached, Bob (usually) doesn't believe what he's hearing until he sees Alice easily access this hidden area with the exact same method that she described to Bob.

He can't make his way in at first, even by copying Alice exactly. But eventually he will figure it out, and gain access to the portal and whatever strange thing lies behind the door. The portal may be a Bookcase Passage or a Secret Underground Passage and there may be a hidden switch or code word.

May involve passing through a Cool Gate. In video games, frequently overlaps with Developer's Room. Compare Secret Room.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Queen Millennia: One way of entry to Tsukuba Observatory looks like a giant boulder, while the shadow obscures the entrance tunnel.

    Comic Books 
  • Mortadelo y Filemón LOVE this trope. Any time the titular duo are called into the T.I.A., they'll use one of these. More often than not, they come in two flavors: they're either very inconvenient, humiliating or painful, or they defy the laws of physics (or even reality itself) for no reason other than Rule of Funny.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The entrance to Paula von Gunther's hidden Holliday College laboratory is disguised in a maintenance room full of plumbing. This usually keeps it well hidden but on one occasion two blindfolded students managed to stumble through, partially because the usual visual trick didn't apply to them.

    Film — Animated 
  • Megamind has Megamind's secret lair's entrance hidden by a hologram that makes the entrance looks like any other wall...and Minion screws it up by putting a welcome doormat where the entrance is because he keeps forgetting where it is and getting lost trying to get in.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the first Oh, God! movie, God meets the main character on the 27th floor... in a building with only 17.

  • Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves: The thieves' cavern only opens to the one who says the right password ("Open sesame!"). Ali Baba follows the thieves, hears the password, and helps himself to the loot. But when his brother forces him to tell him the secret and enters the cavern, the brother forgets the password, going through every grain and vegetable he can think of before the thieves return, somewhat miffed to find someone going through the fruits of their hard labor, and kill him.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia, Narnia is, at least in the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, accessed by walking through the wardrobe. Other ways to get in include trans-dimensionally-travelling magic rings, accidentally falling through a 2D painting and getting hit by a train.
  • In The Dreamside Road, the passageway to Sucora Cloud’s hidden room is located behind a wall of her family’s graveyard mausoleum.
  • The Harry Potter series has several into wizardspace:
    • Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters, a secret train platform between numbers 9 and 10, at the King's Cross railway station in London. Wizards and witches (but not muggles) can get to this hidden stop by walking through a certain brick pillar that separates Platform 9 from Platform 10. (At the real King's Cross, incidentally, the real platforms 9 and 10 are actually on opposite sides of the railway track — Rowling admitted later that she had got the station layout confused with Euston, where the two platforms do have a barrier between.)
    • Diagon Alley, whose most mundane entrance can be accessed by going through an inn (which seems to be enchanted to keep muggles from seeing it anyway) and tapping exactly the right spot on a brick wall with a wand.
    • The Room of Requirement in Hogwarts, which one accesses by walking past its door while consciously thinking of needing something. The room then supplies what you need.
    • There are two ways to enter the Ministry of Magic: one is an elevator disguised as a phone booth, the other is flushing yourself down a public toilet.
  • The eponymous location in The Secret of Platform 13 gives a good example.
  • Played with in Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series. Book three involves the search for a mysterious town called Crancularn which no one seems to know the way to; legend has it that the town moves from place to place, and even requires The Hero obtain a magic map from a village of fairies to find it. It later turns out the town doesn't move, only seems to because those looking for it believe it does; however to find it/be able to see it you still have to want to. Double Subverted, however, since when the heroes later flee the town they see it and its residents change into ghosts and demons, then fade away, though whether this was due to their own expectations, the fact they were leaving and thus didn't want to find it anymore, or an illusion created by an evil genie they'd just faced is never revealed.
  • In David Eddings' The Tamuli, the city of Cyrga is found this way, involving a long and detailed set of instructions from an oasis across the desert and culminating with finding the exact spot where an illusion conceals an entrance through the mountains by lining them up with the Pillars of Cyrgon.
  • The Toymaker's Apprentice: Christian takes Stefan to the clock maker's guild and the two of them get inside the janitor's closet at the back of a hallway. Christian closes the door from the inside, turns the knob, and pushes the lock, revealing that the closet is a secret elevator that takes them down to a massive underground area where the Master Clock of Nuremberg is located.
  • Wayside School is thirty stories tall, but of those thirty, they forgot to build the nineteenth. It does not exist, and its resident teacher Miss Zarves and her entire class are entirely imaginary. Nonetheless, a student ends up there by accident in one story.
  • The nearest door to Fairyland in The Wee Free Men is through a standing stone arch. At first glance, it looks normal, but Tiffany notices that it projects a slightly time-delayed image of the sky behind it; a passing bird takes several seconds to appear on the 'screen', and is briefly duplicated after the real bird leaves the space. Walking through the arch casually just puts her on the other side, so Tiffany closes her eyes and refuses to be fooled by the illusion, and makes it to Fairyland.
  • The Wheel of Time: The Eye of The World can only be found once by any person, with a single exception. It moves, but always within a specific, very dangerous region.
    • Similarly are the worlds of the Finn (Snake and Fox People) which are accessed through two doorways with eye-wrenching curvature. Or entering through the tower of Ghenjei, but that's more dangerous because the doors bind them to bargains and certain rules. The main characters have an argument when three of them come out of the door and are informed that at most one person should be inside and that one of them was using magic, which is a no-no.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Torchwood, the Hub could be entered by a lift next to the fountain in Roald Dahl Plass that was concealed by a perception filter. There was also a more mundane secret entrance in a tourism office.
  • Power Rangers has a couple:
    • The Dino Lab in Power Rangers: Dino Thunder has three known entrances, two of which qualify: The first is hidden in Reefside's underground cave network and opened by manipulating a dinosaur skeleton embedded in the wall nearby (pulling on its tooth or rib or something like that). The second is a passage in Dr. Oliver's house right above the lab, opened by similarly manipulating a scale skeleton model. (The third is the motorcycle entrance and is simply hidden in a rock face and opened remotely).
    • The base in Power Rangers Dino Charge is built underneath a dinosaur museum. The main way in is built into a pile of boxes near the loading dock with an open-mouthed model carnosaur head on top; to get in you twist one of the dino's teeth to open the passage and then slide down its throat.

    Video Games 
  • Some of the hidden levels in the Doom series were like this. For example, getting to one secret level required you to blow yourself off a ledge by firing your rocket launcher into a wall at point blank range.
  • Some Rocket Jump, sticky jump, dispenser jump, etc. locations in Team Fortress 2.
  • The 3D Grand Theft Auto games have at least one inaccessible area per game with a "You're not supposed to be able to get here" sign - areas which are still reachable, through very obtuse means.
    • San Andreas lampshades this in a way, by having a sign that reads "There are no Easter eggs here, go away" on top of a massive bridge, and in itself features a presumably unintentional version of this with the legendary "hidden interiors".
  • The aptly-named "Pyramid of the Forbidden" in Commander Keen episode 4, reached by going into the basement of the "Pyramid of the Moons" and coercing twelve inch-worms to come together, at which point they form a giant foot which transports Keen.
  • Duke Nukem 3D had some areas like this. One level had an area with the message "You're not supposed to be here" and later had "The Dopefish lives!" at the bottom of a pillar (though both are reachable without cheating by collecting the jetpack in the previous level), and an earlier level had a hidden area asking "How did you get here?".
  • Some secret levels in Donkey Kong Country are accessed by unintuitively jumping down "bottomless" pits into off-screen barrel cannons.note 
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: The Sallow Man's Volcano Lair is hidden behind a Hard Light illusion of a cave wall. To enter, the player character needs either to have a unique artifact of True Sight to dispel it or to win admittance by bringing the Sallow Man the head of his enemy.

    Web Comics 
  • The Sanity Circus: When Attley bumps - literally - into the shady figure that turns out to be Nimbus Owens, she knocks him off-balance and into a wall. And then through it. They both fall through, into his secret hideout hidden behind the hologram.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Many real-world Rapid Transit systems (usually the older ones) are sprinkled with abandoned platforms, stations, or even entire lines. They often must be reached through nondescript doors, hatches or even by walking through the tunnels themselves. Often these locations will be stuck in some sort of retro stasis reflecting the time period in which they were closed.
    • The New York City Subway has more disused and abandoned stations perhaps than any other. Chief among these is the City Hall Station which despite being the showcase station for the entire IRT, was closed in 1945 due to its 5-car loop configuration and then later hidden from public view due to post 9/11 terrorism concerns. Can be accessed by riding out of service 6 trains or by running through the tunnels.
    • The Toronto TTC has the infamous Lower Bay station that was closed due to changed service patterns. It shows up as a filming location in many movies and television shows.
    • PATH has the quirky Platform H at Newark Penn Station. This platform is located on a level above all the other main railroad tracks and only used by inbound PATH trains discharging passengers making connections at Newark Penn. Because Platform H is discharge only, most people, despite using it, have no idea how to get to it as they are always coming from it and there is no signage directing people there.
    • London Tube has several good real-life examples, some complete with WWII posters from the time they were used as bomb raid shelters. Well-documented website exists.

Alternative Title(s): Platform Nine And Three Quarters