10 Disney Myths You’ve Believed for Too Long

by | Sep 12, 2023 | Disney History, Disneyland Parks, WDW Blog

These wild Disney “facts” are almost too crazy to be believable – and they are! Find out the truth to these popular myths below.

We’ve all heard plenty of Disney lore, from secret apartments built by Walt Disney in the theme parks to hidden hints and jokes from Imagineers hiding in popular Disney movies. But which myths are totally untrue, and which might actually have some truth to them? Well, we’re breaking down 10 of the most popular myths (ones you’ve likely heard for years!) about Disney’s theme parks, movies, characters, and more.

1. Walt Disney is Cryogenically Frozen

This is perhaps the most prevailing Disney myth of all time. It’s frequently said that Walt Disney, who died at age 65 on December 15, 1966, wanted to ensure his remains would be frozen – and that one day, when the technology was available, be unfrozen and reanimated. 

But contrary to this wild and wildly popular belief, Walt Disney never had his remains frozen. In fact, his family had him cremated just two days after he passed away and buried him at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California. 

So, how did this icy myth get started? According to Mental Floss, it likely originated from Bob Nelson back in 1972. Nelson, who was president of the Cryonics Society of California at that time, spoke with the Los Angeles Times and happened to mention Walt Disney. To Nelson’s credit, he did say that Walt wasn’t cryogenically frozen and remarked, “I personally have seen his ashes.”

However, Nelson also said that Walt Disney wanted to be frozen! This was nothing more than speculation, but Nelson noted that Walt Disney Studios had called him before Walt’s death and asked questions about cryogenics, from the process to the staff to the history of the process. So, although Nelson gave the world correct information, the sensational nature of his other remarks accidentally spun up one icy-cool myth that’s persisted for decades.

2. Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle Clock is Set to the Time Walt Died

Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Castle Clock

Look up between the arches, and you’ll see the Sleeping Beauty Castle chandelier clock. Photo by Brian Shih

If you’ve ever walked through Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park, you may have noticed an incredible and intricately designed chandelier clock hanging overhead. This clock, which sits right in the center of the two arches framing the entrance and exit of the castle’s walkway, is gorgeous – but it’s also long been the source of a Disney myth.

Take a close look at the chandelier clock, and you’ll notice the time is wrong. In fact, the clock is actually stopped. Many people assume that it’s stopped at the time Walt Disney died back in 1966. 

According to Disney Parks Blog, however, there’s no significance behind the time you see on the Sleeping Beauty Castle chandelier clock. The clock, which was added to the castle in 1996, doesn’t work simply because it never worked! There’s no significance to the numbers, the time you see on the clock, or any other details you might notice. It’s nothing but a beautiful accent piece.

3. No One Has Ever Died at Disneyland or Disney World

Nothing bad ever happens at a Disney theme park, right? Well, the happiest and most magical places on Earth might be incredible, but sometimes emergencies – and deaths – do happen. However, for some reason, it’s become a popular “fact” that no one has ever died at Disneyland or Disney World. The exact wording of this myth varies; some will say no one has ever died on Disney property at these resorts, while others claim Disney won’t allow anyone to be pronounced dead on property. No matter how it’s presented, though, one detail is certain: it’s not true

Deaths have happened at both U.S. resorts, though they are quite rare. And people have been declared dead on site, both at Disneyland and Disney World. For example, a plane crash in the EPCOT parking lot in 1984 resulted in two individuals being declared dead on site. Similarly, in 1985, someone was pronounced dead after being run over by a tour bus in the Disneyland parking lot.

So, while it’s not a common occurrence – and it’s always a tragedy when it does happen – deaths have taken place on Disney property, on both coasts. 

4. Toy Story Characters Drop to the Ground If Guests Yell “Andy’s Coming!”

Here’s a Disney myth that’s more recent (though it’s certainly circulated quickly!): Many people believe that if you shout “Andy’s coming!” when you see any of the characters from Toy Story in the theme parks, they’ll immediately drop to the ground. The idea is the real-life “toys” don’t want Andy to spot them wandering around, so they freeze and drop, just like in the Toy Story films themselves.

This myth went viral back in the early 2010s, thanks to a meme that explained it and showed an image of Woody, Jessie, and a Guest laying on the ground. It’s actually because it went viral that it’s now a myth – yep, that’s right, this myth was true at one time!

Before the “Andy’s coming!” trick went viral, characters did occasionally drop to the ground and pretend they were toys when Guests yelled this. However, because it spread like wildfire, the characters had to stop. It was becoming too frequent, and ultimately too unsafe for Cast Members, to continue. So, the “Andy’s calling!” fun is now nothing but a myth (and you won’t get a reaction if you try it in the parks).

5. Winnie the Pooh is a Male Character

Winnie the Pooh at Magic Kingdom Park

Photo by Judd Helms

If you’ve long thought Winne the Pooh, tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff, was male, we’ve got some surprising news for you. Winnie may have a masculine-sounding voice, but Disney’s beloved yellow bear is actually female!

According to Bustle, Pooh’s real-life backstory reveals the character’s gender: The story of Winnie the Pooh came from a black bear at the London Zoo named Winnie. The real Winnie, who was originally from Winnipeg, Canada and lived at the zoo, was a girl. 

Winnie’s story gets even more interesting, though. A soldier named Harry Colebourn actually gave Winnie to the London Zoo when he had to travel to France with his unit in the British Army. Once at the zoo, Winnie made a new best friend: a little boy named Christopher Robin who visited often and named his toy bear after her. Christopher’s father, A. A. Milne, noticed their special relationship, and the rest is literary and Disney history!

6. The Word “Sex” Appears in The Lion King

If you’ve long heard the myth that there’s a dirty little secret hiding in the animated scenes of Disney’s 1994 animated classic The Lion King, you definitely aren’t alone. This myth has been around for decades, and there are plenty of screenshots of “proof” floating around online. But here’s the deal: This myth is totally made up.

According to a HuffPost interview with Danny Sito, former Disney animator who worked on movies throughout the 1990s, there is no truth to the rumor that the word “sex” can be spotted onscreen during The Lion King. The scene in question – when Simba kicks up dust and it floats into the night sky overhead – does have a hidden message. The dust spells out “SFX”, making a subtle nod to the special effects team who worked on the film.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about those other innuendos or slightly inappropriate “Easter eggs” that have been rumored to appear in The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and other animated Disney classics, Sito says they’re all myths!

7. Snow White Was the First Animated Disney Movie

Have you heard that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 1937 was the first-ever animated film created by Disney? Well, that’s a myth! It’s not only not the first animated movie, but it’s also not the first feature-length animated movie from Disney.

This myth is likely nothing more than a pop culture mixup. Many people think that Snow White was the very first animated release ever, but Walt Disney himself acknowledged that it wasn’t even “the first feature-length cartoon by 20 years.” And when it comes to Disney history, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was actually the second animated film created.

The very first animated feature-length film from Disney was actually The Academy Award Review of Walt Disney Cartoons. That project was a collection of several previously released animated shorts, all linked together with new narration. Ironically, this “movie” was released solely to build excitement for the upcoming Snow White – and that’s what made it Walt Disney Animation’s very first animated feature.

8. Disney Didn’t Create the Word “Imagineer”

Imagineering Lab

Photo by Danny Shuster

The word Imagineer is synonymous with Disney, and plenty of us assume that Disney created it solely for its own use. After all, what other industry or company relies on Imagineers to dream up projects and possibilities, then bring them to life with that special Disney magic?

Well, the idea that Disney was the first to use the title of Imagineer is a myth! The word was actually coined back in the 1940s by Alcoa, a company that manufactured aluminum. Ironically, it was created to mean the exact same thing it does for Disney today: a blend of imagination and engineering. 

Disney didn’t even lay claim to the word “imagineering” until 1989, when the company finally filed for a trademark. In that filing, Disney claimed that it first used the word in 1962 – almost 20 years after Alcoa first used it!

9. Disney World Sits Under a Dome to Prevent Bad Weather

This myth sounds pretty unbelievable, and that’s because it is. However, there are many people who genuinely believe that Walt Disney World Resort sits underneath a huge dome. That dome, supposedly, keeps the parks, hotels, and even Disney Springs indoors to prevent inclement weather from affecting Guests.

However, if you’ve ever visited Disney World on a rainy day (or in the absolutely sweltering summer heat!), you know there’s no dome protecting the parks and larger resort. When weather strikes, it absolutely impacts Disney World, especially during hurricane season

10. Disney’s Turkey Legs Are Actually Made Out of Emu

Love a good turkey leg from Disney World or Disneyland? Well, according to some people, those aren’t actually turkey legs; they’re actually emu legs. That’s right: According to the internet (and one famous Disney voice), you’re supposedly munching on emu meat when you grab a turkey leg.

According to Snopes, however, this myth is absolutely false. Disney has addressed this oddball myth repeatedly over the years, telling the press (including multiple reporters from the Orlando Sentinel) that they are 100 percent turkey legs. But the myth persists, in part because so many people find it hard to believe that such gigantic turkey legs exist. 

Part of the reason this myth is so widespread is an interview Zachary Levi, the voice of Flynn Rider in Tangled, gave to Conan O’Brien on Conan back in 2017. Levi told O’Brien – and viewers around the world! – that his “friends that have worked for Disneyland” confirmed the turkey legs were really emu legs. Though this was totally untrue, it helped spread the emu rumor much, much farther. 

For more facts about Disney World, Disneyland, and Disney’s history in general, keep reading:

The History of Halloween in the Disney Parks

Posts by Heather Adams

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Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
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Authored by
Heather Adams

Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
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