Ep. 11 The Dark Side of Disney
What the fuck is up with Disney.
There is some serious spooky shit a-happening. From ghosts to secret societies, our beloved, walt Disney world has some stories to tell.
Now some other, not depressing (sort of ) stuff.
Is Disney himself still there?
Disney had a secret apartment built so that he and his family could stay on property without the chaos of guests knowing.
It can be found on the second floor of the fire station on Main Street USA, measuring no more than 500 square feet. Today, if you see it, there may be a light on inside. This is because Walt may still be hanging about. Rumor has it that one night, an employee came in to dust (as the apartment is still kept clean and tidy even though it’s no longer used) and turned off the lights when she left.
The light repeatedly turned on and off as she attempted to leave.
The housekeeper claimed to hear, in Walt’s otherworldly voice, “Don’t forget, I am still here.”
This story is still told to the fresh employees as some new hire info.
The ghost of a bearded gentleman is believed to sometimes sits next to riders on the space mountain attraction. The apparition is described as having reddish hair and face.
He’s supposedly the ghost of a deceased guest who died on the ride back in the '70s. He politely disappears before the end of the ride.
It is a very popular urban legend, that turned out to be true! In 1967, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride was nearly finished. Disney's famous Imagineers used real human bones to construct the scallywag skeletons when the attraction first opened in. The fake bones looked too fake, so Imagineers procured real ones from UCLA's medical school.
While later statements claim that the bones have since been replace by actual fake ones, many believe the skull and crossbones embedded in the headboard at the ride's beginning are still real, and the spirits who those bones belonged to, haunt the ride.
Disney employees have said for years that people regularly scatter the ashes of loved ones on the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and other places around the park. The Haunted Mansion is one of the most popular spots for honoring the dead. In 2007, a woman was seen pouring a powdery substance into the waters of the Pirates ride in Disneyland, but security could not find her afterwards.
In October 2018, Disney custodians from both parks confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that not only do people scatter their ashes at the park, but the practice is so popular that the maintenance staff has a code for it: HEPA cleanup, which refers to an air filter system that picks up ultrafine dust particles.
"The Haunted Mansion probably has so much human ashes in it that it’s not even funny," one custodian told the publication.
A small boy has been seen crying near the exit of the Haunted Mansion. When employees speak to him, he ignores them as if they aren’t there. Some believe he’s the ghost of a child whose ashes were scattered at the ride.
Secret societies? Sort of.
Have you ever heard of Club 33?
Hidden in plain sight is a unique and magical place where on can escape the crowds, sip on fancy cocktails, eat at a five-star restaurant, and hang out with celebrities. rumored members include Elton John and Tom Hanks. It's called Club 33, first opened in 1967, and is located inside the resort's New Orleans Square.
The slightly less exciting news? Membership of the club costs $12,000 a year, on top of a $25,000 initiation fee, and there's a 15 year waiting list.
While it first opened six months after Disney's death, Club 33 was in fact the brainchild of Walt himself, who envisaged it as a sort of VIP area for corporate sponsors and important guests. Many believe, however that the club is apart of an even bigger society. The illuminate. Or more likely, the freemasons, as it’s rumored Walt himself was one.
Now I’m going to tell you the craziest ways people have died at Disney. If you are not into the deaths and morbid stuff, skip ahead. Sorry Kenzie, Imma make you listen.
Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, Florida, in the United States so not technically Orlando.
The property, which covers nearly 25,000 acres, only half of which has been used, comprises four theme parks (consisting of Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney's Hollywood Studios), two water parks, twenty-seven themed resort hotels, nine non-Disney hotels, several golf courses, a camping resort, and other entertainment venues, including the outdoor shopping center Disney Springs.
And now for the juicy bits
Since 2001, Disney has been required to report incidents to state authorities. For example, from the first quarter of 2005 to the first quarter of 2006, Disney reported four deaths and nineteen injuries at its Florida parks.
The term incident refers to major injury, injuries, deaths, and significant crimes. While these incidents are required to be reported to regulatory authorities for investigation, attraction-related incidents usually fall into one of these following categories:
Negligence on the part of the park, either by ride operator or maintenance.
Caused by negligence on the part of the guest. This can be refusal to follow specific ride safety instructions, or deliberate intent to break park rules.
The result of a guest's known, or unknown, health issues.
Act of God or a generic accident (e.g. slipping and falling) that is not a direct result of an action on anyone's part.
On December 26, 2010, a 69-year-old man died after stepping in front of a moving Disney transportation bus in the parking lot of Disney's Port Orleans Resort.
On July 5, 2009, during a failed track switchover from the Epcot line onto the Magic Kingdom express line, Monorail Pink backed into Monorail Purple at the Transportation & Ticket Center station, killing the 21-year-old Monorail Purple pilot.
On June 12, 1982, a 1-year-old girl from Muscatine, Iowa, was killed when she fell from a tram in a parking lot.
You ready for a wild one?
On January 28, 2016, an Orlando-area attorney announced that he had been retained by a family involved in a biting incident at the park. According to the attorney, in October 2014, a snake fell out of a tree onto a group of guests in a public area of the theme park. The animal bit an 8-year-old boy that it landed on, causing the boy's grandmother to suffer cardiac arrest and die two days later.
On August 15, 2018, a 61-year-old worker died in an industrial accident near the park and the Coronado Springs resort. He was standing on a grate until he slipped and fell into a vat of grease.
It goes for the animals too
Initially, there were a number of animal deaths from disease, toxic exposure, maternal killings, and park vehicles.
On June 29, 2006, a 12-year-old boy visiting from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was found to be unresponsive after the ride came to an end. The victim had died as a result of a congenital heart defect.
Toy Story Mania!
In October 2014, a 64-year-old woman lost consciousness on the ride and died. The death was not believed to be related to the ride.
On November 21, 1984, a husband and wife, along with their 1-year-old daughter, were killed, and two other children were injured when the single-engine plane they were flying in crashed while attempting an emergency landing in the Epcot parking lot. The Piper aircraft was approaching an empty section of the parking lot when it clipped a light pole, shearing off the right wing, and crashed into several parked cars. The family was flying from Greer, South Carolina to Kissimmee, Florida for a vacation at Disney World.
On January 14, 1986, the bodies of a 33-year-old man and a woman were discovered floating in a retention pond after they drove their car down an embankment and into the water during a heavy rainstorm several days earlier. Authorities speculate that the two attempted to escape from the vehicle through the driver's side window as it sank into the six-feet deep water. The vehicle's lights and windshield wipers were found in the "on" position, leading authorities to believe that the driver lost visibility during a rainstorm, jumped a curb and slid down an embankment into the pond
On September 12, 1992, a 37-year-old man entered Epcot after park closing and brandished a shotgun at three security guards, demanding to see his ex-girlfriend who worked at the park. He fired four blasts at the guards and took two of them hostage in a restroom near the Journey Into Imagination pavilion. As Orange County sheriff's deputies surrounded the area, the man released his hostages and emerged from the restroom with the shotgun held to his chest. After exchanging words with deputies, he put the gun to his head and fired. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the Orlando Regional Medical Center. Investigators attributed his actions to a recent breakup with his long-time girlfriend.
On August 18, 2018, a person was found dead inside of a burning car near Disney's Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course at the park
On March 12, 2019, a worker died in an industrial incident behind the France Pavilion. No details are available on the cause of death, but it is believed he fell off of the roof of the upcoming attraction Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
On February 11, 2004, a 38-year-old employee named Javier Cruz dressed as Pluto, who had worked at the park for eight years, died at the Magic Kingdom when he was run over by the Beauty and the Beast float in the Share a Dream Come True Parade.
On August 6, 2009, Mark Priest, a 47-year-old employee playing the role of a pirate in the "Captain Jack's Pirate Tutorial" show slipped on a puddle on the stage and hit his head on a wall. He was taken to Florida Hospital Orlando with injuries including a broken vertebra in his neck and severe lacerations on his head that required 55 stitches. He died four days later due to complications from the fall.
In 2005, Walt Disney World reported 773 injuries to OSHA for employees portraying one of 270 different characters at the parks.
Of those injuries listed, 282 (roughly 36%) were related to costuming issues, such as costume weight affecting the head, neck, or shoulders.
49 injuries (6%) were specifically due to the costume head.
107 injuries (14%) were caused by park guests' interactions with the characters, where the guest hit, pushed, or otherwise hurt (intentionally or not) the costumed employee.
Other items in the report include skin rashes, bruises, sprains, or heat-related issues.
One change that Disney made to assist character performers was to change rules limiting the overall costume weight to be no more than 25% of the performer's body weight.
On November 12, 1992, an off-duty cast member fell off the ledge outside the Top of The World restaurant on the 15th floor of the Contemporary. The cast member had been sitting on the ledge when a swarm of wasps appeared. Trying to swat them away, the cast member lost his balance and fell to his death 11 stories below
Doubletree Guest Suites
On June 13, 2010, a dead body was discovered at the hotel. The manner of death was originally unknown, but was later declared a suicide