Over the years, some pretty creepy stuff has come out about the Walt Disney Company and Disney Parks. From elaborate conspiracy theories to ghoulish ghost stories, repeatedly retold myths to the occasional strange-but-true facts that have been embellished beyond recognition from their former formats, there is no shortage of the ever-growing collaborative of Disney lore and legends. Some folks genuinely have difficulty distinguishing the facts from the fabrications and, therefore, continue inadvertently feeding the rumor mill to this day. Here are the top 10 tales that get retold time and again from Disney’s lengthy collection of urban legends.
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Walt Disney’s Frozen Remains
Let’s start with what is perhaps the most ridiculous yet consistently repeated rumor even to this day. I am, of course, referring to that one about Walt Disney’s remains having been cryogenically frozen. Some accounts even say that his body is stored within some secret location underneath Disneyland’s own Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Others claim it is housed underneath the Disney World equivalent. Then others claim he is under Sleeping Beauty Castle, and so on and so forth. Even worse, a few former Disney Cast Members have notoriously gotten in on the act of spreading the myth to gullible Guests over the years.
It is no secret that Walt Disney was fascinated by the future. So, this is perhaps the basis for such rumors—the idea that someday the dead may be brought back to life.
Strangely, the urban legend continues today, even though many now know better. Two days after Walt Disney’s untimely death on December 15, 1966, he was cremated. His ashes were interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Visitors today can even see a marked burial plot on location.
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Walt Disney’s Final Instructions
Frozen falsehoods aren’t the only urban legend myths surrounding Walt Disney’s death. Again, the fact that Disney was known to be such a visionary of the future sparked another one about him having created a final video to be viewed by employees in the event of his death. As the story goes, following his death, Disney’s chief executives were escorted to a company screening room where they were given assigned seats and then were shown a film in which Walt Disney spoke to each one by name (all the while looking toward the seat of who was being addressed) and outlined what he expected of each person within the next five years.
The idea that Walt Disney would have made such a film is highly unlikely and uncharacteristic of his personal nature. He was not one to have pondered his pending death, as evidenced by the fact that he died with so many irons still in the fire.
Whether or not you believe in ghosts in the traditional sense, it’s undeniable that the spirit of Walt Disney lives on at Disneyland Park. But for those who do like specter specials, there is a unique legend associated with the lamp that Disney was known to keep within his private apartment quarters on Main Street, U.S.A.
When Walt Disney was in his private apartment above the fire station, he always kept the lamp in his front window overlooking the Park lighted, signaling his presence. When he left, the lamp was obviously extinguished.
After Walt passed, the general consensus was that the light would never again be turned on. But as the story goes, a Cast Member once tasked with cleaning the apartment found the light on. Believing it to have been turned on in error, it was quickly extinguished. But again, the light was found to be on. Some accounts even say a voice was heard in the room saying, “I’m still here.”
Whether there is any truth to this story, the outcome remains the same. Now the light is always kept on to signify Walt Disney’s permanent presence. Of course, there are circumstances when the light is briefly turned on. And recent accounts also denote that the original lamp has since been replaced. But the sentiment remains, as does the fact that there is always a brightly glowing light for onlooking Park goers to speculate about.
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Real Skeletons in Pirates of the Caribbean
Now that you know Walt’s cryogenic remains aren’t here, let’s talk about those who are—or at least used to be. That’s right, Disneyland’s original Pirates of the Caribbean attraction did, in fact, originally feature genuine, real-life skeletal bones. The bones were provided by UCLA Medical Center and placed around various locations throughout the attraction.
The morbid incorporation of actual human remains came from the Walt Disney Company’s perpetual strides toward perfection and authenticity. The technology of the day just wasn’t up to par in producing realistic enough faux skeletons. Fortunately, that is no longer the case, and Disney has since replaced the real bones with realistic farce ones. However, there is reportedly at least one skull that is still the real deal. You’ll find it in the Captain’s Quarters on the headboard behind the “dead man” skeleton in bed with the magnifying glass and map. Some sources say there are other real bones still present in addition.
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Disney World’s Haunted Pirates of the Caribbean
Not to be outdone, the Disney World version of Pirates of the Caribbean isn’t without its own macabre myths. It, apparently, is haunted by a ghost named George. The tale has many variations, but the basics are all the same. A construction worker named George, tasked with helping build the Pirates of the Caribbean at Magic Kingdom Park, suffered a fatal accident during the construction process. Now, as the story goes, his ghost haunts the attraction.
George is most infamous for wreaking havoc on the attraction, causing the ride to malfunction. He does this more often when Disney Cast Members forget to greet him first thing in the morning or wish him a good night before leaving for the evening.
This may explain why Pirates of the Caribbean is always breaking down at the most inconvenient times. And superstitious Cast Members all agree that since making an effort to acknowledge George, such instances have improved somewhat. But the question remains whether a ghost named George is truly haunting the site. Historical records show nothing confirming that there was ever a construction worker named George who died on location here.
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Haunted Mansion Hearse Hearsay
It is a confirmed fact that the hearse outside the Walt Disney World version of the Haunted Mansion was the same one used in the 1965 film The Sons of Katie Elder. According to legend, however, the Disneyland version of the Haunted Mansion also has a pretty impressive hearse on its premises. A rumor sparked from a 2001 news report has many people convinced that this hearse was once used to transport the body of Mormon leader Brigham Young. However, this widely accepted myth has been debunked, as Young’s funeral and burial were well-documented accounts. After Young passed away in Lion House on August 29, 1877, his body was carried on a platform by clerks and employees to the Tabernacle for his funeral. His casket was then hand-carried by pallbearers to his final resting spot. No hearses were involved.
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Disney Parks are Cremation Havens
The previously mentioned skeletons aren’t the only remains to have ever graced the grounds of a Disney Park. Over the years, there have been several attempts by Guests to scatter the cremated ashes of loved ones throughout various locations at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. The most popular place for doing so is within both Haunted Mansion attractions, although many other Disney venues have also served as the site of honor.
But Disney is aware of the issue and firmly states that they will immediately clean up and vacuum the scattered ashes when a Guest is caught in the act. And sadly, there have been many instances where this exact scenario has played out.
A Cat Crew Controls Rodents
Over the years, many random cats have been observed hanging about Disneyland Park in the wee hours. Rumor has it that back in its earliest years, cats were deliberately released into Disneyland Park as a clever means of controlling the rodent population. If that were true, then this growing army of rogue felines gladly continues to miss the mark where Mickey and Minnie are concerned. Fortunately, it isn’t true—at least not the part about the cats being brought in for such a purpose. But the reality is that there are, in fact, stray cats that have been making their homes within the range of “the happiest place on Earth” throughout the decades.
Most of Disneyland’s feral cats never interact with Guests and are only active at night. Disney does not encourage contact, but neither are they of a mind to evict the kitty vagabonds. Instead, they’ve been quietly seeing to the cats’ needs, feeding them, and spaying/neutering them when necessary. The cats are even considered honorary Cast Members on “rodent patrol”—a humorous callout that only fuels longstanding rumors.
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An Abandoned Disney Resort in North Carolina
The Walt Disney Company is forever teeming with new ideas. So naturally, not all of their tentative theme park plans and Disney Resort concepts have come to fruition over the years. The scrapped Mineral King Ski Resort concept is a perfect example of a vision that never was to be. And as the records show, there were even a couple of documented instances where they eventually halted once-thriving operations, like Disney’s River Country Water Park and Disney’s original Discovery Island, both at Walt Disney World Resort. There’s also that almost-forgotten Bahamian attempt at a private island back when Disney partnered with Premier Cruise Line (The Big Red Boat) in the 1980s.
While all of the aforementioned examples have credible historical verification, one falsified urban legend circling the Internet today tells of Disney’s former Mowgli’s Palace. The story here is that back in the 1990s, Disney attempted to open a Resort themed after the 1967 animated film The Jungle Book near Emerald Island in North Carolina. Despite a lot of community backlash and all-around controversy, the Resort eventually opened but was short-lived and then shuttered suddenly under mysterious, undisclosed circumstances. Furthermore, all records of it ever having existed have been altogether erased.
Things take a turn for the supernatural at that point, so I will stop right there. There is absolutely no factual basis for Mowgli’s Palace ever having been conceptualized, let alone built here or anywhere else. All accounts for it can be traced back to a viral online Creepypasta titled “Abandoned by Disney.”
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Disney Resorts Use Mind-Control Tactics
This may sound like a sinister accusation, but in a way, it’s all true. The Walt Disney Company does, in fact, use several forms of mind-control on Guests visiting the various Disney Parks. From constructing edifices using forced perspective to utilizing “Smellitizers” as a means to entice Guests into spending more money on delicious food, these are all unassuming yet clever tactics Disney is known for incorporating. Benign as they may be, they still constitute mind control.
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Hundreds (if not thousands) of other Disney myths and rumors are running rampant at any given time. From cynical speculations, like those unconvincing Illuminati connections, to more lighthearted lore that’s fun to theorize over, despite everything, one time-tested testament has always been proven true. And that is the fact that, for better or worse, Disney is always on everybody’s mind.