With Disnerds all over the world patiently awaiting the release of Disney’s 2016 films, there seems no better time to take another look at several more disturbing secrets behind the Happiest Place on Earth, the canon of legendary films and the man who created them all: Disney.
From the seemingly shadowy to the outright sinister, we count down six more disturbing Disney secrets….
6. Suicide Mouse
Though the name suggests it was Mickey who met his untimely end, the story of ‘Suicide Mouse’ has a much darker story – one that has become a prominent internet legend in previous years.The disturbing ‘Suicide Mouse’ video is not only rumoured to disturb and distress those who watch it, but it has even been claimed to have caused the death of a film worker who watched it.
According to the urban legend, the film is a ‘lost’ black and white Mickey Mouse cartoon which on watching has a similar animation style to ‘Steamboat Willie’, however, the film is claimed to be a depiction of Mickey Mouse…in Hell.
The film opens with a rather mundane scene depicting Mickey walking across a stagnant city landscape with dull piano noises providing the background audio. After the repetitive scene has played out for two minutes, the screen goes black. Up until recently, it was believed that the cartoon ended there. However, a Disney employee who was sorting cartoons from the 1930s made the mistake of watching the cartoon through to the end.
While the employee was transferring the cartoon into digital copy he realised that the film was actually over 9 minutes long. In the sixth minute of the film, the cartoon suddenly reappears but the background piano noise has been replaced by a bloodcurdling scream. As the cry increases in volume, the picture distorts, with the city landscape warping and stretching across the frame. In the foreground, Mickey’s face appears to curve into a sinister smile before falling apart.
Nobody knows what happens in the film’s last 30 seconds, as only one person has seen the end footage and he did not live to tell the tale. According to eyewitness reports, after finishing the film the employee stumbled out of the film room incoherently slurring ‘real suffering is not known’ before grabbing the pistol of the nearest security guard and taking his own life. After his death, his notes were found in the office which provide the only information in existence as to what is contained in that last 30 seconds: "the sights of Hell bring its viewers back in".
See the film…if you dare.
Note: Though the original video is said to be 9:31 in duration, the above version cuts out at 9:01
5. Sexist Rejection Letter
A disturbing rejection letter made famous by Meryl Streep depicts the sexist environment that the company fostered in the earlier years of the animation company.
The 1938 letter (pictured above) was printed on impeccable Snow White stationery and was addressed to a woman - Mary Ford - who had applied for a position on the animation team at the company. The reasons outlined for Miss Ford’s dismissal are due to Disney’s exclusionary policies, as follows:
In the man’s world of the 1930s, Disney made a point of contributing to limiting the dreams of women everywhere by creating a rigid division of labor within the company and encouraging woman to pursue smaller ambitions, rather than those that men were eligible to apply for.
4. Walt Disney's Ghost
Disney fans have long entertained urban legends surrounding Walt and his continued presence on earth, but two prominent theories have managed to go the distance…
Firstly, fans believe that Walt’s presence continues to linger inside his Disneyland apartment. When you first enter the hallowed gates of The Happiest Place on Earth, you will see the firehouse to your immediate left before you reach Main Street, USA. It was in this quaint building that Disney resided with his family, and would light a lamp in the window of his second story apartment when he was home. Shortly after Walt’s death, the staff member in charge of cleaning Walt’s apartment one night, reported turning off the lamp on the way out of the apartment before locking up and leaving. When she got downstairs, she happened to look up and saw that the lamp was still on. Assuming she had made a mistake, she quickly returned upstairs and switched if off. However, when she got downstairs, the lamp was on again. Upon her return to the apartment for the second time, she switched the lamp off and waited inside when she heard the lamp click and flare back to life. Since the incident, Disneyland has kept the lamp on, claiming that it serves as a tribute to the park’s creator, but it may not be so much a matter of choice, as Walt’s ghostly refusal for his light to be dimmed. Cast members to this day report seeing a shadowy figure passing in front of the window, noises coming from inside the apartment and a continual feeling of being watched from the apartment whenever they are in the vicinity.
The second most famous claim to Walt’s ghost can be seen in a YouTube video which went viral in 2015. The park footage shows a dark, mysterious figure walking around Disneyland California after dark…and in case you were thinking that it was probably just one of the workers, think again. The man in the video glides through the park gates and even walks on water.
3. Club 33
Club 33 is not only hailed as being the most private, mysterious place in the Disney world, it is also one of the most secretive and unexplained locations on the planet.
Formerly known as ‘Walt Disney Club 33,’ is an exclusive society located in the heart of Disneyland’s New Orleans Square and is accessible only to its members. In order to become a member of this exclusive organisation, one must enter the 800 member waiting list (which at last count was estimated to be around a 14 year wait) and fork over a $25,000 initial fee in addition to a commitment to the annual dues of $11,000 required to maintain your membership standing.
In exchange for your fees you receive several things:
- An identification card
- A premier passport for yourself and three guests, valid at Disneyland and Walt Disney World
- The ability to have a drink at Disneyland, since Club 33 is the only location within the park that serves alcohol
- The company of a Disney cast escort throughout the park
- The chance to hang out with celebrities like Mickey Rooney and Mira Sorvino, who have both been spotted inside the club
Once you have selected to take up membership and your fees have been settled, you are able to access the club by pressing the buzzer on the door and speaking through the intercom which is concealed by a hidden panel in the doorway. Once inside you will be in the company of many of the famous Disney props that furnish the club including the glass telephone booth used in The Happiest Millionaire and a white marble table seen in Mary Poppins.
But what goes on inside the club? Nobody quite knows, because those who have been inside don’t discuss the activities they engaged in. The most popular theories are to do with freemasonry and brothel activity. The first is due to the club’s name – 33. Historians are divided as to whether the club was named after its address (33 Royal Street), the list of Disneyland’s 33 corporate sponsors at the time of opening or the 33rd degree – the highest level in Scottish Rite Freemasonry. The second theory has abounded since the club’s opening as Walt himself stated that he designed the club as a space where the park could entertain dignitaries such as Bobby Kennedy. It is rumoured the high class hookers were also invited to parties which hosted important people such as this.
2. Nazi Disney
Not much is more disturbing than Nazism, and even more disturbing is that in the height of Nazi Germany’s decision to action a ‘final solution’ to the ‘Jewish problem’ even Disney was engaging in Nazism.
1942 marks the release of Disney’s short animated film titled ‘Der Fuehrer’s Face’. The film follows Donald Duck who is working as a soldier dealing with Nazi food rations and enduring a rather laborious job in an artillery factory. Though the film was one in a long line of propaganda films released by The Walt Disney Company, it is often cited by fans as one of the ‘darker’ moments in Disney’s history because of its depiction of Donald Duck as a Nazi (though a reluctant one). Interestingly, it even scored itself an Academy Award, but was not publically released into the general market due to its controversial subject matters.
Disney is also claimed to have engaged in Nazism in 1994 with the release of The Lion King. The scene in the film where Scar has his moment in the musical limelight for his number ‘Be Prepared’ is rumoured to be directly inspired by footage from a 1935 Nazi propaganda film titled ‘Triumph of the Will.’ The hyenas depicted in the scene represent Nazi soldiers, while Scar, who is seated at the top of a cliff is said to represent Adolf Hitler, standing on the podium overlooking his troops.
1. Human Remains at Disneyland
While it is common knowledge that members of the public attempt to scatter the remains of their loved ones at Disneyland every year, our number one most disturbing Disney secret is the confirmation of human remains, resting within the park grounds. Disney officials have confirmed that there is a partial skeleton on display within the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ ride in New Orleans Square that once belonged to a live person.
In the 1960s, after Walt’s passing, Disneyland designers decided that the construction of the pirate themed ride did not look as authentic as it should have with the addition of the fake skeletons that adorned the displays inside the attraction. In attempting to resolve the situation, the Imagineers obtained human skeletal remains from the UCLA medical center which they felt provided a creepier, more convincing atmosphere.
While it is unclear when these bones were removed, they remained for some time, and were viewed as part of the ride before eventually being removed and replaced by fake skeletons. However, park workers have confirmed that not all of the bones were removed. The skull and crossbones which hang above the bed in the treasure room are still genuine human skeletal parts.
We think that housing a dead body within one of the rides, makes for a pretty eerie boat ride, and choosing to leave the parts there makes this disturbing Disney secret our number one on the list!
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