People who are big fans of Disney know there are a lot of conspiracy theories surrounding the company. Whether it's the movies, the park, or the characters, it's no secret that there are a lot of myths and legends about the world of Disney. How many of them are true? Who knows. I've been hearing some since I was a kid and others I just started hearing recently, but they all sound like they could be true. Most of them, however, are really hard to say whether they're real or not. Whether they're real or made up, a lot of these will make any Disney lover say, "WHAAAAT?!" Hold onto your mouse ears and check out this list of 15 of the craziest Disney park urban legends and conspiracy theories.
15 The It's A Small World Dolls Move
The It's A Small World ride opened originally in 1966. Like other Disney attractions, it's not without its own conspiracy theories and creepy legends surrounding it. The weirdest one of all of them? That the dolls actually move. Yeah, not like during the show either— that's normal for Disney attractions. According to people who have worked at Disney and have been there after hours, the dolls will move around, switch positions, and even disappear. Obviously, a lot of people are pretty skeptical about whether or not this is legit or just made up to scare visitors, but it's pretty creepy either way, right?
So, next time you go to Disney and find yourself going through the iconic It's A Small World ride, keep your eyes on the dolls because you never know what they might do.
14 Walt Disney's Ghostly Lightswitch
If you've ever noticed that the light on the second floor of the Fire Station on Main Street is always on, there's a good reason for it. According to legend, Walt Disney himself haunts the location. An old employee said they were inside doing a little bit of final cleaning up and dusting and turned the light off in that room (which was Walt Disney's old apartment). They turned the lights off, walked out, and then noticed once they were outside that the light was back on. She went in and out turning them off and having them turn back on a few times and then claimed she heard a voice coming from inside the apartment that said, "Don't forget, I'm still here." Spooky, right?
Now, they leave the light on as a tribute to Walt... Or he just won't let them turn it off. Either way, he has a great view.
13 A Real Skeleton On Display?
The Pirates of the Caribbean ride is full of skeletons, but did you know that at least one might actually be real? Supposedly, back when it was first built, the imagineers at Disney felt like the decorative, fake skeletons that were sold for stuff like this just didn't look real enough. Of course, it was built in 1967 and there have been some incredible advances in special effects, makeup, and props in the past 50 years, but back then they just didn't quite cut it. The imagineers working on building the ride turned to the UCLA Medical Center to get some skeletons of the bodies that were donated to UCLA for scientific studies and used them to decorate the halls of the ride.
Some time later, new imagineers came and took them out and sent them back to be properly buried. With new technological advances, they were able to find fake skeletons that looked good enough for them. According to people who work at Disney, some of the old real skeletons remain. Particularly the skull and crossbones above the bed. Spooky!
12 The Truly Haunted Mansion
Along with being the home to a lot of conspiracy theories and spooky urban legends, Disney is the home to a lot of supposed hauntings. People who loved Disney in life have had a lot of family members come during the years and either try or possibly succeed to spread their ashes around the parks after death. Apparently, people are stopped from doing this mostly because it is giving the park quite a ghost problem.
This picture was taken by a Disney fan during the Haunted Mansion ride and posted to a Disney forum a few years ago. They said that the boy wasn't there when they were in line and that he wasn't there when she was taking the pictures, but when she looked at them later, he was in them looking back at her. AHH!
11 The River Country Music
One of the only two parks to ever close permanently, Disney's River Country was built and opened in 1976 but closed in 2001. The park closed each fall and then would reopen the next year in the spring, so it was normal for the park to be closing, but it never reopened. After the 9/11 attacks, tourism at the Disney parks felt a sharp decrease which caused other parks to shorten their hours and they chose to close River Country. A spokesperson said that if there was enough demand, the park would reopen. Unfortunately, there wasn't and the park was left abandoned.
According to people who have been to the site of the former River Country, they still play music loudly over their speakers. Whether or not this is true or why they do it, no one will ever know. People who have gone to the park and been caught have allegedly been banned for life from all Disney parks for trespassing.
10 Pirates Of The Caribbean's George
Along with maybe having a real skeleton or two, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride has a ghost of its own. According to a lot of Disney park cast members, there's a ghost named George that inhabits the ride. The legend says that when the ride was first being constructed, a construction worker named George died on set. Ever since then, people have heard mysterious footsteps and voices and had phone calls coming from the control room when no one was around. All of these things are occurrences that the other Disney employees attribute to George.
Although George isn't "officially" recognized by Disney, cast and crew members working on the ride have some superstitions. Each day, when they get there and when they leave, they tell George, "good morning" and "goodnight." A lot of them believe that if you don't, something bad will happen - like the ride will stop working or you'll have bad luck on your shift.
9 Walt's Illuminati Club
Disney's worst-kept secret opened in 1967 and has been serving the richest of the rich Disney patrons ever since. If you want to join, it'll cost you $25,000 a year for A membership, only after $50,000 in initiation fees. There, you can enjoy dinner in an exclusive club for $100. That sounds like a pretty low price for someone who's paying over $2,000 per month to be a member. Most people know about Club 33, it's not exactly a hidden secret about Disney. Everyone knows that it's an exclusive dining club that only the richest Disney visitors can join. But did you know Walt Disney may have started it as an Illuminati meeting place?
This is probably not true, but it's a conspiracy theory that's been circling Club 33 for some time. People think, since it's so expensive to join and so exclusive, that Walt made it for the Illuminati to join and have their meetings. The official story is that it was made as a VIP lounge for corporate sponsors to enjoy a private meal in a luxury setting.
8 A Ghost In The Tower
Can I just say, my favorite Disney Channel original movie was the Tower of Terror? All I wanted as a kid was to go to Disney so I could go on the ride based on it. The movie was heartbreaking, hilarious, and terrifying all at once. It was basically everything I wanted to watch as a kid and luckily, Disney Channel played it a lot. Although the ghosts in that movie were just made up, there is supposedly one real ghost that haunts the Tower of Terror ride at Disney.
According to the story, there was a bellhop working on Platform D who was helping riders onto the ride before it started. Then, he just suddenly died right there on the spot. Supposedly, he still haunts Platform D and no cast members who work on platforms A, B, or C will ride the ride together during maintenance runs because of it.
7 Mind Control Through Smell?
Have you ever noticed these little speaker-looking things around the parks? They're called Smellitzers and they shoot out scents into the air. People believe they're there to mind control people visiting the Disney parks. Whether it's to spend more money on food and souvenirs or to try to make them stay awake and alert so they'll stay at the park longer, people aren't really clear on what kind of mind control the park is trying to do. But they're certain that it's something in the air at Disney coming from those Smellitzers.
They're not wrong about that, there is something in the air. It is controlling the minds of tourists? Probably not. It puts out a scent that they associate with the area in order to make you associate it with that, too. Overall, it's to give you a more pleasant experience and remember the scents of Disney as cookies and cotton candy instead of sweat and sticky kids.
6 The Scary Seance Book
Anyone who is familiar with The Haunted Mansion will recognize the Seance Room. Displayed for all visitors to see is a big, old looking book. According to some Disney fanatics, that book used to be a real spell-book. People claim that weird things used to happen at the seance table, like hearing strange voices or things being moved around even though no one was in there at night. Like with the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, they wanted it to be really authentic looking and had purchased a real, antique spell-book in order to make it look totally real. After weird things kept happening and the book kept falling over or opening to different pages, they finally got rid of it and got a prop made for the room.
Another version of the story claims that a visitor was loudly mocking the idea of seances and the entire Haunted Mansion and then, when he got into that room, he fell and was severely injured. This claim, like the one about the spell-book, have never been proven, but they legends still circulate around between Disney lovers.
5 Refreshment Corner's Cursed Basement
Underneath Refreshment Corner, there's supposedly a storage basement. One conspiracy theory about the Disney parks is that this basement is cursed and all the employees who have ever gone down there died mysteriously shortly after. Finally, Disney had to shut that basement down and move all the storage they had down there somewhere else. Now, they deny even having a basement to the Refreshment Corner. People say that they heard this from someone they knew who used to work at Disney or they know someone who knows someone who worked there when they still used it. Basically, even the existence of the "cursed basement" is unproven, but it doesn't stop people from believing it exists. If it did exist but suddenly closed because of the curse, then it was for the best.
4 It's A Small World's Hanging Kid
This is probably one of the most famous conspiracy theories or urban legends about the Disney parks. This one claims that a family was on the It's a Small World ride when they were suddenly stopped and ushered off the ride. The mother of the family noticed a child hanging from the ceiling and immediately snapped a picture. This picture has circulated around the Internet for years with that story, occasionally with some variations. Sometimes it's a child who was killed and left hanging up there, other times it was a suicide of a Disney park employee, but it's always generally the same.
Supposedly, this has been debunked as being a hoax and none of the incidences reported at Disney or on this ride match this story at all. Does that stop people from believing it and spreading it? Nope, and it doesn't make it any less of a fun scary story to tell.
3 Debbie Stone
What happened to Deborah Gail "Debbie" Stone wasn't like the other urban legends surrounding Disney parks. While others featured a vague story that always started out something like, "I know someone who worked there and..." or "I totally heard this story from my friend who's brother's friend worked at the park and..." Instead, this is a real incident that happened on a ride in 1974. Just over a week after the America Sings ride opened, cast member Debbie Stone was crushed between two walls of the building. It's unclear whether she fell or was trying to jump to a different stage and mistimed the movement of the walls, but she was pronounced dead twenty minutes later at the start of the next show.
After the accident, the ride closed while the staff installed safety lights and remodeled so that the area would be safer for cast members, but the ride ultimately closed permanently in 1988.
2 The Hidden Basketball Court
This one is less of an urban legend and more of just a funny fact about the park. If you've ever wondered what's inside some of the attractions, then I've got one answer for you. In the very top of Matterhorn Mountain, in a small attic-like room, there's a basketball court. The room was put there as a place for the cast members who climb the mountain to rest between climbs. Eventually, someone brought a basketball hoop for them to entertain themselves between climbs. Cast members claim the basketball court is still there, but obviously since visitors can't go inside, we'll just have to take their word for it.
It kind of makes me wonder what else is hidden inside of and under buildings around the Disney parks. Maybe a soccer field underneath Cinderella's castle?
1 Walt Disney's Frozen Body
Like I imagine a lot of other people did, I grew up hearing Walt Disney had his body frozen and kept somewhere so that one day, if they found a cure for lung cancer, he would be thawed, cured, and brought back to life. Many people believed, since his family was incredibly secretive about his funeral service and where his body would be laid to rest, that this was the truth and that his body was actually hidden somewhere in one of the Disney parks for safe keeping. Creepy, right?
Unfortunately, this one is probably not true. Although it makes quite a cool Disney legend, he was cremated a few days after his death. His ashes are actually in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California and you can see his name on a stone there with the names of his family.