We love Disney. An entire world devoted to the stuff of fantasy is something that grabbed ahold of us when we were kids and has never let us go. Now that we’re grown, we may know in our heads that it’s really some college student playing Mickey Mouse at Disneyland, or that Space Mountain is neither in space nor a mountain.
But still, we maintain a little bit of that sense of make-believe, where a small corner of our brain — the part that still knows the words to “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo” or cries at “Bambi” — holds on to the fantasy and refuses to let it go. To us, Disney represents a whole new world, and we darned sure don’t want to see it in a new realistic point of view.
So why, then, do we love hearing about all of Disney’s dirty laundry? Admit it, it’s so cool hearing about the shenanigans of the actors playing Disney characters. Or the details of how the various Disney rides work. We all love secrets, and Disney’s real-life secrets are almost as enticing as its fantasy world.
“It’s like why people are so curious about how a magician does his tricks; it’s so enchanting and captivating, you have to know what the secret is,” says David Koenig, author of five books about Disney’s famous theme parks, including “Mouse Tales: A Behind-The-Ears Look at Disneyland,” “Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World” and his most recent book, “The People v. Disneyland: How Lawsuits & Lawyers Transformed the Magic.”
Disney’s fantasy world is so pristine, it’s kinda fun to look for the seams. “Disney puts on such a great show and it’s so secretive about its inner workings and dirty laundry,” Koenig tells Yahoo Travel. “Everything is so perfect on stage in their show. Real life is not that way. You know there has to be more.”
There is — much more. Life at Disney can get messy and slightly disturbing. So Yahoo Travel talked to Koenig and some other Disneyland insiders to get some secrets Disney does not want you to know.
1Some people try to use a Disney theme park as a makeshift cemetery
It’s a problem you probably won’t hear Disney talking about too often. But because so many children of all ages love Disney, when they die, it’s not unheard of for grieving relatives to try to make a Disney theme park their loved one’s final resting place. Koenig tells of one couple who tried to do just that. “It was a family whose child loved the Haunted Mansion,” he says. “It was an ill child who passed away. So they were determined to leave a little bit of their child in the Haunted Mansion.”
Problem was, this was during the post-9/11 anthrax scare. “There were secret cameras all through that ride,” says Koenig, “so [security] detected someone throwing a powdery substance into the graveyard scene.” Koenig says park officials shut down the ride, evacuated everyone and brought in bio experts in full hazmat gear to check out the scene. “There are weird things going on in the Haunted Mansion when the hazmat crews are going in,” says Koenig. The hazmat team quickly determined the powdery substance was human remains.
That wasn’t a totally isolated incident. “It certainly had happened a couple of times before and a couple of times since [that incident],” says Koenig. “And the ironic thing is the folks who work the rides say the Haunted Mansion is so well ventilated that any remains you leave behind are probably going to end up in the air conditioning system anyway.”
Because of that, and because Disney doesn’t allow such park burials, it’s probably best to lay your loved one to rest somewhere else.