10 Unbelievably Weird Facts About Disney Parks (Slideshow)
September 26, 2016
The ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ is also one of the weirdest places thanks to these 10 odd facts
A Whole New World… Under Your Feet
You’re familiar with Tomorrowland, Adventureland, and Fantasyland, but allow us to tell you about a land with which you’re unfamiliar — and it’s been right under your feet the whole time. Disney World has an extensive, 9-acre system of underground utility corridors (or “utilidors”) than run the length of the Magic Kingdom in all directions. These help cast members or other employees travel to and from different parts of the park undetected, and some corridors are so long that motorized carts need to be used to ferry the workers around. In emergencies, ambulances can also access the passageways.
Some fans love Disney so much that they want the parks to be their final resting place, which has led to many people dumping the ashes of loved ones on the Haunted Mansion ride.
In fact, employees are specifically trained to be on the lookout for this particular activity (as it’s illegal to dump ashes on private property without written permission… and also, gross). Still, many folks find it worth the risk — despite the fact that the ashes will likely be vacuumed up at the end of the day anyway.
Frequent guests of Disneyland have probably noticed the presence of stray cats around the park (there’s even a website devoted to these particular felines) — a problem that has yet to be solved for one simple reason: Disney doesn’t want it solved.
Despite all the pro-mouse sentiment associated with Mickey and Minnie, Disney is dedicated to eradicating the park of its large population of mice and rats. Thus, the presence of cats (some estimates say there are around 200 in all) is not actually a problem — it’s a solution!
If your first visit to Disney World took place prior to the year 2000, you maybe have noticed that two sections of the park that existed then are no longer accessible: Discovery Island and River Country. The areas closed in 1999 and 2001, respectively, and were the only two parks in Disney history to close permanently. However, neither was demolished. Eerily, they both still exist, albeit with ample deterioration, excessive plant life overgrowth, and probably haunted by the ghosts of guests and employees who died on park property.
Life After the Presidency
When Disney makes updates to its parks, the old parts and machinery aren’t always thrown out, and instead are sometimes repurposed elsewhere on the property. One of the most interesting examples of this involves The Hall of Presidents attraction, which has been in operation in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom since 1971, but has needed numerous updates throughout its 45-year history. Consequently, some of the old “robot” presidents have been moved to other roles on other rides — specifically Epcot’s Spaceship Earth. President James Buchanan now plays Johannes Gutenberg, while Andrew Jackson is one of his assistants. Additionally, President Taft is an Egyptian priest, Teddy Roosevelt is a Roman senator, Zachary Taylor is a centurion, John Adams is a monk, John Tyler is a Turk, Franklin Pierce is a scholar, and Dwight D. Eisenhower is a mandolin player.
No Bones About It
When Disney’s Imagineers were struggling to design realistic-looking skeletons on the new Pirates of the Caribbean ride, they enlisted the help of UCLA Medical Center, who provided them with actual human skeletons for decoration. Of course, this wouldn’t be allowed today… or would it? The remains were eventually replaced with dummies, but employee rumors suggest that one skull — specifically the one hanging above the bed of the skeleton looking through a magnifying glass — is still 100 percent real. And if you can’t trust someone who works on a fake pirate ride, then who can you trust?
Although the Matterhorn Bobsled ride’s enormous mountain isn’t quite as large as it seems (like many attractions in Disney Parks, the attraction uses forced perspective to look larger), there’s still a lot of empty space inside, and Disneyland didn’t let it go to waste. In addition to housing an employee break room, there’s also a basketball hoop on a half-court located within the mountain for employees to use in their free time. The idea admittedly seems a little far-fetched (it was just a rumor for years), but thankfully there are now photos to prove it.
Rich With History
In addition to all the famous developments and events related to rides and attractions at Disneyland and Disney World, a few historical happenings occurred on the property that few people realize. For instance, were you aware that Doritos were first made at Disneyland? Using surplus tortillas, the Disney-owned Casa de Fritos cut up, fried, and seasoned the new snack in the 1960s — several years before its nationwide release in 1966. President Nixon’s famous “I am not a crook” speech? It was given at a press conference held on Nov. 17, 1973, at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort. And when John Lennon signed a document officially dissolving the Beatles on Dec. 29, 1974, he did so while on vacation at Disney World’s Polynesian Hotel.
The Great Disney Smoke-In
On August 6, 1970, on the 25th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, the Youth International Party (nicknamed “Yippies”) planned an invasion of Disneyland to protest the ongoing war in Vietnam, Disney’s dress code (which was actually relaxed just prior to the event), and Bank of America’s sponsorship of the park. According to distributed fliers, the day’s activities would include a “Black Panther Hot Breakfast” at Aunt Jemima’s Pancake House, a rally to liberate Minnie Mouse in front of Fantasyland, and an infiltration of Tom Sawyer’s island for a smoke-in and festival, among other events. Disney and Anaheim prepared for 200,000 protesters, but only 300 showed up and generally just caused a ruckus around the park, smoking weed on rides, climbing the Chicken of the Sea pirate ship, and interrupting the Disneyland Marching Band. By the time the Tom Sawyer smoke-in occurred, Disneyland announced it would be closing early for only the second time ever. In the end, there were only about 18 arrests — mostly for trespassing.
When Fantasy Becomes Reality
In 1955, when Disneyland first opened, the Adventureland Jungle Cruise ride was one of the main attractions — and it’s still open today! However, an interesting thing happened in those 61 years: The jungle became real. Seriously. After 55 years of growth and care, the manmade jungle was declared “real” and complete with its own ecosystem. For instance, the trees have naturally transformed into a canopy that regulates temperature, allowing plants that typically could not survive in Southern California to flourish and grow.