5 Memorable Myths About Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World has a fascinating history. From its inception to the present day, the resort is full of true stories every bit as fantastic as the fairy tales and legends it brings to life. However, the parks have also given rise to a spectacular number of legends, many of which are frequently treated like legitimate history. There are so many that it’s going to take us more than one week to explore them all!
1. The Singing Busts in the Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion graveyard is full of all manner of happy haunts and spirited spectres, but it is also home to a myth as reluctant to rest in peace as the mansion’s inhabitants. In fact, the story has been told so many times that there are variations on it going around. It involves the singing busts. One version suggests that all of the busts are modeled on Walt Disney’s face, but they have been distorted.
The myth has the air of believability about it, because Walt was known for his ability to perform. On one memorable occasion, he gathered his artists together and acted out the entirety of Snow White for them. He performed all the characters, adopted their voices, gestures, and facial expressions. So, it’s not unbelievable to think he made a series of cartoonish faces for the Haunted Mansion busts. It just isn’t true. You can tell it isn’t true with even a casual glance at the faces.
Another popular variation on the myth suggests that Walt is one of the busts, specifically the bust laying on its side. If you look at it, the face strongly resembles Walt, but it isn’t really him. It’s Thurl Ravenscroft.
For a look at the legendary career of Ravenscroft, check out:
So, just who are the singing busts? Their names and respective performers are Rolo Rumkin (Verne Rowe), Uncle Theodore (Thurl Ravenscroft), Cousin Algernon (Chuck Schroeder), Ned Nub (Jay Meyer), and Phineas P. Pock (Bob Ebright).
2. The Bride’s Ring
While we’re visiting the Haunted Mansion, let’s take a look at a myth that I really wish was true. It involves Constance Hatchaway, the black widow bride who lurks in the mansion’s attic. The story involves a small ring that was embedded in the cement outside the exit in the crypt area. The story went that the ring belonged to Constance, who flung it out the attic window. As it turns out, the ring was merely the result of a post which had been removed from the queue. Later development saw the removal of the ring altogether.
Fortunately for Constance fans everywhere, the story was so prevalent that in 2011, the Imagineers added an actual ring in the ground as part of the new interactive queue. (Can you find it?) Apparently, some myths can turn into reality at Walt Disney World!
For a bit more on Constance check out:
3. The Presidential Seal in the Hall of Presidents
The Hall of Presidents is home to another popular legend in the Magic Kingdom. It is said that the Seal of the President of the United States is on the carpet inside the Hall of Presidents. It’s also said that Disney was only allowed to use the seal by gaining permission through an Act of Congress. This particular myth is so prevalent that you might even hear it from a Cast Member in the parks!
It’s easy to understand its prevalence. since the seal sits in the Hall of Presidents it makes sense to assume that it is the Presidential Seal. It’s not. The seal you see is the Great Seal of the United States. The two are remarkably similar. In fact, the central design in the Seal of the President of the United States is based on that of the Great Seal of the United States. However, they are distinct from each other.
The second part of the myth is a bit harder to unpack. Was an Act of Congress required to use the Great Seal of the United States? We aren’t sure! Research (in the form of a call to no less than the Library of Congress!) found no documentation of such an act and it wasn’t even clear if it would be necessary. The matter didn’t get any clearer when we read the laws related to the use of the seal. So is that part of the legend true? Not likely, particularly since this bit of lore only seems to pop up on fan sites…but not in Disney’s own publications and guides.
For more on the Hall of Presidents check out:
4. The Contemporary Resort
One peculiar story about Walt Disney World involves the Contemporary Resort. It’s said that once upon a time the rooms in the resort could be pulled out like the drawers in a chest of drawers. Alas, today this is no longer possible because the building has settled over the years and the “drawers” stick.
I suspect that any engineers or architects who read the above myth may now be suffering from a tension headache as they attempt to explain everything wrong with it. The rooms of the hotel could never be pulled in and out at will, nor was that ever the plan.
It’s easy to see how this story came about. The hotel’s frame was built on-site, while the rooms were modular pre-made units. They were made off-site and put in place by crane. It was a unique method of construction, but not quite so fanciful as the myth would lead you to believe. The second part of the myth (that the rooms can no longer be pulled out because the overall structure has settled), seems like an attempt to explain away the fact that no rooms had actually been replaced…but the truth is that this was never a part of the construction plan. (And really, is that method of “remodeling” actually any easier…conceptually…than some new wallpaper and a couple of fresh throw pillows?).
For more on the Contemporary Resort, check out:
5. Walt Disney’s Final Resting Place
To be honest, I’m a little hesitant to write about this particular myth, but it seems so widespread that there’s simply no avoiding it. There’s a story that suggests that Walt was cryogenically frozen and placed under the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in Disneyland.
The origins of the story are a bit cloudy, but they could be tied to a 1967 article written in the tabloid newspaper The National Spotlight. Similar stories appeared in France in 1969 through a magazine called Ici Paris, and then again in the United States through a publication called The National Tattler. It became such a common story that his daughter Diane was forced to repudiate the story in 1972.
In reality, Walt’s final physical resting place is the Forest Lawn Cemetery, but in our hearts and imagination he’ll always be strolling down Main Street U.S.A. on his way to see his good friend Mickey.