We've all heard the rumors that no one has ever died at a Disney park because Disney has paid officials to refrain from declaring injured or ill people dead until they hit a hospital outside of Disney property. But it's not true. There are several incidents where the victims were reported to have died at the scene.
In June of both 1973 and 1983, 18-year-old boys drowned in the Rivers of America. Both had stayed in the area when they weren't supposed to - the incident in '73 occurred when a boy and his brother decided to stay in the park after closing and the '83 incident happened when a boy capsized a rubber emergency raft he had stolen from a cast-only section of the park.
In 1984, Dollie Young was riding the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland when her seatbelt became unbuckled. To this day, it's not known how Dollie fell out of her car, but she did. She fell to the track and was hit by another car, then caught under its wheels and dragged for a bit before the ride came to a stop. She was pronounced dead at the scene due to massive head and chest injuries.
And, of course, there was the infamous "America Sings" death of 1974. An employee named Debbi Stone was working as the hostess to the show one evening when her fellow cast members were alerted to the fact that she was missing. Some reports say they noticed at some point during the evening; other reports say a guest heard Debbi's screams and immediately told cast members. Either way, by the time she was found, Debbi had been crushed to death between a rotating theater wall and a permanent theater wall; she definitely didn't make it to a hospital first. Photo from Yesterland.
In 2007, a guest alerted cast members at the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction that she had seen another woman sprinkling some sort of a powdery substance into the water, and the Los Angeles Times reports that the ride was shut down the same year when a group of people managed to leave a pile of ashes in the Captain's Quarters section of the ride.
I’ve done it, and I bet a lot of you have done it as well: pausing and rewinding and going frame-by-frame to catch hidden messages or images in certain Disney films. Some of them are really there and some of them are just products of our active imaginations. Here’s the lowdown:
Aladdin does not tell children to take off their clothes in Aladdin. It’s a scene where “Prince Ali” is trying to get up to Princess Jasmine’s room to talk to her when he comes across her tiger, Rajah. The tiger growls at him menacingly, and Aladdin says, “C’mon… good kitty. Take off and go!” while shooing the feline away with his turban. The captioning supports this argument. However, the line is whispered and not enunciated well, and in addition, it seems to be edited poorly. Snopes http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/aladdin.asp says that the same bit of dialogue seems to have been inserted twice, so the whispered line is doubly garbled. Because it was so close on the heels of The Little Mermaid controversy, people heard what they wanted to.
Speaking of which, The Little Mermaid did not contain any sexual images on purpose. There were two issues that concerned the public: first, that artwork for the movie contained a phallic images as part of a castle in the background, and second, that the priest officiating over the wedding scene near the end of the movie seems to get an erection right in the middle of the ceremony. Neither is true, according to Snopes. The phallic image was unintentional and was not drawn in by a disgruntled employee who had recently gotten laid off (the artist didn’t even work for Disney) and the “erection” is actually the priest’s knees.
So what is true? Well, there’s definitely an image of a topless woman in the 1977 movie The Rescuers. And Disney fully admits it. In fact, the image – which is a photograph, not an animated bit, and was clearly intentionally placed in the movie – was basically pointed out to the public by Disney themselves. The image occurs so fast in two single, non-consecutive frames, that a viewer would have to know exactly where to pause the movie in order to even see it. The movie was recalled in 1999 after Disney discovered the image was there; they claimed it must have been inserted in post-production. Photo from Snopes.
One that’s maybe true: Jessica Rabbit going commando in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. There’s a scene in the movie where Jessica and Eddie Valiant are thrown from a car, causing her dress to flip up very briefly. It goes fast, but people who have slowed the movie to frame-by-frame say that the way the coloring was done suggests that mischievous animators may have drawn Jessica without any undergarments. However, the coloring, which is darker than the rest of Jessica’s skin, may also suggest underwear.
There are definitely more dark Disney tales – in fact, we could probably turn this into a series! What weird and/or disturbing rumors have you heard about the House of Mouse? Share in the comments, and maybe we’ll investigate for future posts.