16 Creepy Disney Myths That Might Just Be True
Disney is an absolute childhood staple. As kids, we watch all the Disney animated movies and beg to visit Disneyland at least once. Despite our dedication to the idea that Disneyland itself is “The Happiest Place On Earth,” the highly sought after park allegedly has some dark secrets hiding within its gates. We’ve compiled a list of the creepiest, strangest, and most bizarre myths and rumors surrounding Disney and its parks. We’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not you believe these creepy Disney myths to be true (despite the presence of some pretty indisputable evidence).
Being as large a corporation as Disney is, there’s a lot of room for dark rumors to lurk. From mysteriously abandoned parks to ghostly sightings on the most popular of rides, the truth seems to be stranger than fiction. You may never look at Disney and its parks the same way again.
There are countless forums filled with Disney conspiracies and urban legends, but be warned — should you choose to investigate, your childhood may be forever ruined, especially when you realize how dark some of those Disney movies really were. (Like, hello? We actually watch Clayton get hanged in Tarzan. Yikes!)
Strap into this wild ride, folks. We guarantee it’ll be a good one.
1. The “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride allegedly featured real skeletons.
The “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride in Disneyland is one of the OG classics.
Built in 1967, it was the last ride Walt Disney supervised the development of before his death, which means he must have helped make the decision for the ride to contain real human skeletons. Supposedly, the design team was disappointed by the “unconvincing” appearance of the fake skeletons on the market at the time, according to former Disney producer Jason Surrell per Atlas Obscura. So, the team sought help from their friends at the UCLA Medical Center and obtained a bunch of human skeletons.
The human skeletons were reportedly replaced with fake ones as prop technology improved; however, many recent employees of the park aren’t so sure.
2. Discovery Island is an actual ghost town.
For almost 20 years, Disney’s Discovery Island in Bay Lake, Florida, has sat completely abandoned, untouched by human life. The island is actually located inside Walt Disney World and was originally opened to the public in 1974 and called Treasure Island.
Due to low attendance, the company refurbished the island, introduced several exotic animals, and renamed it Discovery Island.
This version of the attraction did much better with park goers, but once Animal Kingdom came to fruition in 1998, Discovery Island lost boatloads of visitors and eventually closed in 1999.
Though completely abandoned, the lights on Discovery Island remained active between 1999 and 2008.
And in the two decades since its closure, only two people have explored the island (one of whom was promptly banned from all Disney Parks for trespassing), documenting bits and pieces of what was left behind in 1999.
Finally, in 2018, one explorer made his way to island and provided fans with a video documenting his adventure. The overgrowth and silence of the island is totally creepy, and the fact that all signs of human life are dated “1999” makes it feel like you’re witnessing the aftermath of an apocalypse.
3. There’s supposedly a secret tunnel system below Disney World.
Underneath Disney World lies an elaborate labyrinth of tunnels that is off limits to the general public.
These corridors (called utilidors) were specifically built for staff members to travel through the park without having to battle the crowds. They’re also used for costumed staff to travel from world to world without confusing park goers. They basically allow the park to keep the show running smoothly without breaking the magic veil of pretend.
4. Walt allegedly left posthumous instructions for his executives.
After Walt’s death in 1966, Disney executives were reportedly instructed to sit in assigned seats in the company screening room. They were then shown a short film that Walt had made before he died, in which he outlined expectations he had for each individual executive. He supposedly looked to where each executive was sitting and called on them by name, as if he were speaking to them from beyond the grave. Some aren’t convinced this ever happened, but it may just be another one of Disney’s well-kept secrets.
According to Snopes, this is most likely just one of many classic creepy Disney myths, as Walt’s brother Roy was actually the one put in charge of the company.
Plus Walt didn’t like to talk about death, so the likelihood that he made such a film is low.
5. Disney parks are rumored to use Smellitzers to control our behaviors.
It’s fact that Disneyland and Disney World have Smellitzers installed all over the parks. These vents deploy specific scents that give park goers a more enchanting experience. For example, the Smellitzers in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” rides omit damp, salty, old woody smells. And the “Haunted Mansion” smells dusty and mildewy. However, Disney may be using their Smellitzers to persuade park-goers to open their wallets and buy whatever smells good — popcorn, cotton candy, and other sweet treats.
It’s may seem harmless, but using Smellitzers could technically be considered a form of mind control.
6. “Space Mountain” is haunted.
People standing in line at Disneyland’s “Space Mountain” ride have reported seeing a ghostly figure standing next to them or even sitting in the seat next to them in the car. The figure, affectionately known as Mr. One Way, reportedly has reddish hair and a red complexion, and never makes it to the end of the ride.
7. The “Haunted Mansion” hearse is believed to have once carried a dead body.
Yup. And that body was supposedly that of Mormon leader Brigham Young. There’s no actual documentation that Young was carried from his funeral to his burial site in that exact hearse, but as this 2001 news report explains, there’s a fairly convincing paper trail that this exact hearse outside of Disneyland’s “Haunted Mansion” once carried Young.
8. Disneyland once had its own lingerie shop.
Once upon a time you could visit Mickey Mouse and then go buy a bra all in the same hour. Located right on Main Street, Hollywood Maxwell’s Intimate Apparel shop sold bras, underwear, and corsets when Disneyland first opened in 1955.
It didn’t last long.
Inside, the eerie Wizard of Bras mascot (pictured above) was there to greet women while they shopped, which may be the reason the apparel shop didn’t last long. The place was only open and operating for six months before Disney decided it was probably better off not offering bras and undies at a theme park.
9. River Country was mysteriously closed.
Originally opened in the 1970s, River Country was Walt Disney World’s first official water park, themed after Huckleberry Finn. The water park unexpectedly closed in 2001 after a successful season, leaving fans wondering what exactly went wrong. Although a child did die from an infection caused by a fresh-water amoeba in River Country’s water in 1980, the park closed due to being unable to keep up with competition and loss of profit.
The park has since stood abandoned at the back of Walt Disney World.
In 2016, the company finally fully drained the pools; however, the rest of the park remains abandoned and has been reclaimed by overgrowth. A new plan to put a hotel where River Country currently resides is rumored to be in the works, but Disney has yet to confirm if the plans are actually happening.
10. People spread ashes at Disney parks at least once a month.
In October 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that Disney custodians are constantly cleaning up after people who have spread their deceased loved one’s ashes in Disney parks. In fact, the phenomenon occurs so regularly (at least once a month), that custodians have a code name for the situation: a “HEPA cleanup,” which refers to the high-powered vacuum needed to properly clean up the ashes. Spreading ashes at Disney parks is illegal, and a Disney rep told the Journal that “this type of behavior is strictly prohibited and unlawful. Guests who attempt to do so will be escorted off property.”
11. Walt reportedly haunts Disneyland.
Walt Disney had his very own apartment above the fire station on Main Street in Disneyland. When he was home, Walt supposedly left a light on in the front window to let park goers know that he was there. When Walt passed away, the light in his apartment was turned off. But both park employees and frequent park goers have witnessed the light flick back on unexpectedly. A staff member once even heard a whisper stating, “I’m still here,” while cleaning the apartment. In order to keep Walt’s ghost happy, the light now remains on at all hours of the day.
12. People think Disney could be connected to the Illuminati.
There are a few pretty creepy Disney myths out there claiming that the Disney company is connected to the secret society-controlling group known as the Illuminati. Some believe that Disney films like Fantasia and Alice in Wonderland were created in partnership with the Illuminati to be used as mind-controlling mechanisms to convince young people that Illuminati practices are normal.
Others believe that the Illuminati owns Disney completely and works its imagery into the park designs as well as the media. The proof, shown in a video by Morty Mouse, is fairly convincing; however, we’ll plead the fifth on this one.
13. Apparently no one is allowed to die at a Disney park.
Although we know that deaths have taken place at Disney parks worldwide, rumor has it that no one is allowed to be declared dead until they’ve been removed from the park. As far as creepy Disney myths go, this rumor has been difficult to prove (or disprove) because Disney won’t talk about the technicalities of death in the parks.
But, according to some former Disney employees via Snopes, even if someone is absolutely dead in the middle of Main Street, the body must be taken off the property to be officially declared dead. However, reports from local news stations have declared individuals dead at the scene.
14. There’s something shady about Mowgli’s Palace.
A legendary creepypasta written by Christopher Howard Wolf, better known around the web as “Slimebeast,” enlightened us to the existence of an abandoned Disney theme park in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, called Mowgli’s Palace. Inspired by the Disney classic animated film The Jungle Book, Mowgli’s Palace is a tropical-themed park that was destined to fail.
It was despised by the locals, yet built anyway.
Employees were hired and the place was ready to go until the entire operation was suddenly shut down. As written by Slimebeast, Mowgli’s Palace was completely removed from Disney history and the locals won’t even talk about it.
Wolf reportedly located Mowgli’s Palace and investigated.
He found a graffiti-streaked theme park, completely overtaken by the forest. He saw the same phrase over and over again — “Abandoned by Disney.”
As Wolf made his way deeper into the abandoned property, he came across a room of Disney mascots. One such mascot costume was that of Mickey, except his colors were reversed, like a negative photo.
He then discovered a human skull inside the Donald Duck costume.
Of course, this is most likely just one of the more well-crafted creepy Disney myths. In fact, Bright Sun Films unearthed the true story behind Mowgli’s Palace in mini 2017 documentary. But… who’s to say that there isn’t *some* truth to Wolf’s story.
15. Disneyland could be plagued with lead.
In 1955, when Disneyland was first built, the dangers of using lead as a building material were not yet known. Therefore, many of the original structures in Disneyland contain lead, and you’ll notice signs around the park alerting park goers to this fact. These signs read, “WARNING: The Disneyland Resort contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.” That’s definitely not something you want to see at “The Happiest Place On Earth.”
16. Um… have you ever been on “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”?
“Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” is an incredibly dark ride at Disneyland that puts park goers in the perspective of Mr. Toad from The Wind in the Willows. Although the film was quite comical and upbeat, the ride has a completely different vibe.
Passengers on the track are chased by police officers as they run amok through London.
They are then ultimately sentenced to death, at which point they end up in Hell. One probably wouldn’t expect to find demons at Disneyland, but if you take a ride with Mr. Toad, demons is what you’ll get.