Whether you’ve only seen The Lion King once or you head to Orlando twice a year to trade pins with your House of Mouse Meetup group, you’ve almost definitely heard some creepy Disney myths. From haunted parks to criminal employees to rumors about Walt himself, urban legends stick to Disney like flies to Pumbaa’s backside.
However, only some of these legends are actually true — and lucky for us, the internet exists to help us play sleuth and debunk them. Below, find 15 of our favorite creepy-as-hell Disney myths, debunked:
1. If you die on Disney property, they’ll rush you out of the park before you are legally declared dead.
FALSE: This rumor is tough to prove false, simply due to when emergency services do or do not legally declare death in certain jurisdictions — typically an ER doctor makes that call, and a recently deceased person isn’t going to see an ER doctor until they arrive at the hospital.
However, the New York Times and Los Angeles Times both have published stories that referenced declared deaths at Disney parks, so this (very dark) rumor is baseless.
2. Someone hanged themselves on It’s a Small World, and a guest caught it all on camera.
FALSE: Deaths at Disney are very well documented online, and nowhere can one find evidence of a suicide on Small World except on Reddit, Imgur, and in articles like this one. The photo of what appears to be a small hanging child in old-timey clothes is definitely creepy, but given that “It’s a Small World” is populated by animatronic small children in old-timey clothes who are definitely creepy, it’s very likely that this rumor is bunk.
3. A paraplegic man got stuck on It’s a Small World and had to listen to the song on loop for 30 minutes straight.
4. A welder died building Pirates of the Caribbean, and still haunts the ride today.
FALSE: There’s a persistent rumor that a welder named George died building “Pirates” in the ’70s and haunts its hallowed halls until this very day … but again, there’s no evidence that George ever lived or died, and the rumor is reportedly mostly spread by seasoned park employees trying to scare the newbies.
5. The Tower of Terror is haunted by a dead employee, too.
DEFINITELY FALSE: A Movie Pilot reporter who once worked as a bellhop at Walt Disney World’s (still open!) Tower claims that its employees never rode the Platform D elevator alone (doing so in all four elevator platforms was part of their nightly closing duties) because lights would flicker out, and a “dark, human-shaped” figure would be spotting lurking around. Rumor has it, this dark figure is the ghost of a bellhop who had a heart attack and died loading guests onto the ride … but again, this death isn’t documented, and the power of suggestion is a very real thing. Especially on a ride that’s all about ghosts.
6. There’s an abandoned theme park in Florida that is straight out of your nightmares.
TRUE: River Country, a water park that preceded Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach in Orlando, still exists in an area near the Magic Kingdom called Bay Lake. It operated from 1976 to 2001, and — along with Discovery Island — holds the honor of being one of two parks abandoned by Disney. And the photos guests regularly (illegally) take are definitely disturbing.
7. There’s an abandoned theme park in North Carolina that is straight out of your nightmares.
FALSE: This “Abandoned by Disney” Creepypasta about a ditched park called Mowgli’s Palace in Emerald Isle, North Carolina is a fun read, but no: the park never existed, and satanic Mickey Mouse mascots do not move by themselves or murder Donald Duck.
8. The personalities of the dwarf characters in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” represent the seven stages of cocaine addiction.
FALSE: Though cocaine users may experience sleepy, grumpy, bashful, sneezy, dopey, and happy symptoms throughout their high and eventual withdrawal — symptoms that may require a trip to the doc — cocaine was highly illegal and not a drug of choice (that honor went to alcohol) when the film was released in 1937. Also, there are no medically agreed upon “seven stages” of addiction.
9. Walt Disney left millions for the first man to ever become pregnant.
VERY FALSE: Disney’s death has long been the source of countless rumors, one of the most popular being that he left a sizable reward for the first man to ever successfully become pregnant or bear a child in his will. However, Disney’s will is available online, and, as expected, makes no mention of pregnant men.
10. The Haunted Mansion ride used to be so scary that a guest died of a heart attack.
FALSE: Nope. Haunted Mansion has pretty much always been as scary as it is right now.
So, uh, not very.
12. A woman was groped by one of the Three Little Pigs.
FALSE: In 1976, a woman reportedly sued Disney because one of the Three Little Pigs grabbed her chest and yelled “mommy!” Evidence of this happening does exist — it’s chronicled in the book Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland — but the case was thrown out when Disney’s lawyers revealed evidence that the Three Little Pig costumes at the time did not have moveable arms.
12. Winnie the Pooh and Tigger have attacked children.
HALF TRUE: In the late ’70s, an actor named Robert Hill was accused of intentionally hitting a little girl while wearing his Winnie the Pooh costume. The case was thrown out in court, after Hill showed up wearing his costume and proved to the jury that the costume’s arms were too low to the ground to slap someone of the girl’s height. Instead, Hill maintains that the girl was tugging on his costume, and he merely bumped into her while turning around.
His pal Tigger was similarly accused of intentionally hitting a 14-year-old boy in the head in 2007, in an incident that was caught on camera, but that too was thrown out when it was ruled that Tigger was acting in response to pain — the teen was pulling on the back of the costume, causing him to lose his breath.
13. Walt Disney was cryogenically frozen.
FALSE: Though Disney did love the science of the future, he was cremated and his grave can be found in Glendale, California.
14. There’s a “suicidemouse” video of Mickey from the ’30s that caused movie critic Leonard Maltin’s underling to kill himself after watching it, shouting “real suffering is not known” seven times as his final words.
FALSE: This story has not been officially disproven, but it also is absurd, peak internet, and basically reads as a combination of The Ring and Contact, with Leonard Maltin added for some legitimacy.
15. Vintage Disney character costumes are terrifying.