When we hear the word Disney, our minds automatically go to enchanted worlds filled with handsome princes, fairy-tale magic and catchy sing-a-long songs about true love. Even though the brand made our childhoods magical and will always have a special place in our hearts, it’s definitely far from perfect. Few people know that Disney has a whole other side that’s a lot less colorful and a lot creepier. Of course, Disney has brought us a lot of joy and we could never hate it, but that doesn’t mean we have to be in the dark about the things they keep out of the Disneyland brochure. The following 15 facts suggest that Disney isn’t really a company that’s too good to be true, their productions aren’t as good for little ones as we think, their theme parks aren’t really the happiest places on earth, and working for them would actually suck big time!
15 It’s Tough To Be A Disneyland Employee
If you were ever lucky enough to go to Disneyland as a child, there’s a good chance you looked around at the fairy-tale-like scenery and happy princesses walking around and decided that you were totally going to work there when you grew up. Count your blessings that that dream didn’t come true because the testimonies from past theme park employees suggest that working there would be the worst thing ever! Employees must be chipper at all times, which is a huge ask for people that have normal human emotions, and things are especially crappy if you’re working as a character. You’re never allowed to break character, can never say no to a park guest, are not allowed to sit down, and are not allowed to point at all using a single finger. Male employees were forbidden from having beards until 2012, and until 2001, employees even had to wear specific Disney underwear. What a headache!
14 Nazi Connection
Disney has been criticized for making a few inappropriate references to Nazis over the years. Back in the 1940s, when these sorts of issues were actually a huge problem in the world, Disney produced an animated movie called "Der Fuehrer’s Face" starring Donald Duck. In it, Donald has a nightmare in which he works in an artillery factory and is only given Nazi food rations to sustain him. Another Nazi connection that you’ve definitely seen but were probably too young to notice was in The Lion King when Scar is getting all his hyenas together and singing his villain’s song "Be Prepared." The hyenas march in an eerily straight and in-synch formation while Scar watches from a podium, and that’s because the scene was inspired by a Nazi propaganda film called Triumph of the Will! We know that Scar was the villain, but geez, were these references really necessary in a children’s movie?!
13 Cats Are Let Loose At Disneyland Every Night
Disney may want us to believe that Disneyland is a magical place from a storybook (and we so wish it were!), but sadly, it’s just another place on earth that suffers from the same realistic problems as every other location. One of these problems is rats, and since Disney obviously can’t have rodents running around during the day and scaring the guests, each night they reportedly set feral cats free on the grounds to hunt the rats. It’s not that we have a problem with them getting rid of the rats because we’re not that interested in having rats hanging around our feet while we’re waiting for a go on Splash Mountain. But the whole concept of wild cats roaming around at night doesn’t fit in with our pre-conceived notions of the happiest place on earth, not to mention all the killing that would be going on! What would Mickey say about that?
12 Disney Has Been Traditionally Favoring Genders
Disney has been around for a long time, so unsurprisingly in the early days, a few of their actions were discriminatory and unfair to women. Walt Disney was allegedly a firm believer in traditional gender roles, as most men of his time were, but this clearly came through in his motion pictures, which then went on to influence a whole world of little girls. Up until the recent princesses, all the Disney heroines were simply beautiful, gentle, submissive, and totally incapable of rescuing themselves. Don’t get us wrong, we love Snow White more than the next person, but you can’t believe that she’s a great role model. We’re glad young girls have more proactive heroines to admire these days! Disney was also discriminatory behind the scenes, and in the beginning, were totally uninterested in hiring women for important jobs. Animator Mary T. Ford was rejected for Disney’s animator’s training because of her gender. Tsk tsk.
11 The Lack Of Mothers In Disney Isn’t An Accident
It’s a common theme in Disney animated pictures for the protagonist to be motherless. We see this with Jasmine, Belle, Ariel and of course, Bambi. Heck, we even see it with Nemo! Some of the fairy tales were originally written that way, so you can’t blame Disney for them all, but some mothers were killed off on purpose. The story goes that Walt Disney’s own mother perished in a house fire which was caused by a faulty furnace, and he felt personally responsible because he bought her the house. So because of this trauma, he would not allow mothers to be included in most of his animations. There isn’t anything wrong with this per se—the poor guy was dealing with some issues! But it is interesting. And creepy. And not something you often hear. There have also been rumors that Disney was aiming to provoke anti-family values in children, but that’s only a theory!
10 Disney Places A High Value On Prettiness
Another extremely common theme in Disney works is that the heroine and her prince will always be beautiful, while the villain will always be ugly. Think of Ursula the sea witch compared with Ariel and Prince Eric, or the green-skinned Maleficent compared with Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip, and of course, the ugly step-sisters compared with Cinderella and Prince Charming. The exception is Snow White’s evil queen step-mother, who was beautiful at first, but then she turns into a scary old hag so that supports our point! Yes, it makes sense from a marketing point of view to have the protagonists be physically appealing, and Disney isn’t the only force in Hollywood who’s guilty of this. At the same time though, these ideals reinforce to children that being pretty equates to being good and being considered “ugly” equates to being bad. Now, we all know super well that isn’t the case at all!
9 There Are Secret Police At Walt Disney World
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something that Disney doesn’t talk openly about and would rather you didn’t know! Though it seems like there isn’t any security at Walt Disney World, there are secretly guards everywhere. They dress like regular people and do regular things so they blend in with all the guests until somebody does the wrong thing. It wouldn’t fit in with the tone of Disney World to have a stern-faced police force standing around the Magic Kingdom, so we can understand why they have to blend in. And to be honest, this only sucks if you’re planning on doing the wrong thing. We’re actually relieved that we can feel safe at Disney World knowing that if a dangerous situation arises, there are security guards around. But having said that, it’s unnerving to know that there are police walking around, and you don’t know who or where they are.
8 Disney Has A History Of Being Racist
If you look carefully at certain Disney animated films you can see that there are clearly a few racist portrayals going on. To name a few, Aladdin’s skin very subtly gets fairer as he transforms from poor street thief to prince and the opening song ‘Arabian Nights’ discusses how “barbaric” Arab culture is, the Native Americans in Peter Pan are totally stereotypical and only speak in broken jargon, and the hyenas in The Lion King are said to represent Latino and African-American gangs. But while these might not be obvious at first glance, the early Disney films have such racist portrayals of characters that it’s hard to believe they were even made! Song of the South, which was made in 1946, depicts African-Americans who are happy to be slaves living on a plantation, and the original Fantasia features Sunflower the centaur, who has oversized lips and is a servant to the white centaur. Yikes.
7 There’s A Secret Network Of Tunnels Beneath Disney World
Okay, so by now it’s clear that Disney is all about pretending that their theme parks are perfect in every way, so this next secret isn’t surprising. However, it’s no less creepy to hear! Beneath Walt Disney World in Florida, there lies a huge system of interconnected tunnels. These exist so Disney employees don’t ruin the magic of the park by doing the ordinary things they’ve got to do, like take out the garbage or even traveling between areas. The tunnels go on for about nine acres and employees even need vehicles to drive them around because the area is so ginormous. We get that the employees need space to do all that, but the secrecy of it is what makes it feel super weird. You know? We can handle the fact that the girl dressed as Minnie Mouse needs a sip of water because she’s actually an actress and not an oversized mouse.
6 There Was Nudity In 'The Rescuers'
Disney has publicly been in trouble for a few incidents in their children’s films that may have been accidents and may have been something else, and one of the biggest scandals was the nudity that appeared in The Rescuers. It only appears in two frames so it was hard to pick up in the first place, but a photo of a live topless woman does appear in a window as Bernard and Bianca are flying through New York. You have to wonder how an animator for a company like Disney makes a mistake like that! Of course, Disney recalled millions of the videos and had to re-release them with the “mistake” rectified. We’d feel better if this were a stand-alone thing, but stuff like this keeps popping up with Disney! There have been reports of suggestively shaped objects on the cover of The Little Mermaid video and inappropriate dialogue in Aladdin, among others.
5 Many Disney Employees Have Been Arrested For Crimes
While Disney wants us to believe that every single person working there is altruistic and genuine enough to align with their vision, the truth is that more than one Disney employee has turned out to be a bad apple. A number of people working for Disney have actually been arrested for terrible crimes, including crimes against children. Between 2006 and 2014 alone, at least 35 employees were charged with a number of crimes, and were definitely revealed to be the kind of people you don’t want your children to be exposed to! This isn’t Disney’s fault, and we’re sure that the interview processes there would be rigorous, to say the least. But it’s important to know that even a company of such prestige and whose essence is all about creating joy for children, can, unfortunately, suffer this kind of thing just like everybody else. We’re sure Disney doesn’t want us to know that, though!
4 Scar Appears As A Throw Rug In 'Hercules'
This is just terrible! Look, we know that Scar wasn’t a nice lion. He killed Mufasa and blamed Simba, then tried to have Simba killed, then made a total mess of the Pride Lands and slapped Sarabi, and finally, he tried to kill Simba himself. But we still don’t want to see him as a throw rug! We don’t want to see any Disney villain as a throw rug! And children especially don’t need to see that. The villains should either be locked up or get a taste of their own medicine or at least die off-screen. So when we noticed that Scar’s fate was to eventually be flayed and laid out as a rug and cloak for Hercules, we were kind of outraged! Like we said, it’s good that the villain didn’t get away with his crimes but we totally didn’t need to see him dead and skinned in another movie!
3 There Are Dead People In Disneyland
That’s right. Well, not the kind of dead people you’re thinking of, but at any given time at Disneyland, you can assume that around the Haunted Mansion attraction there are the scatterings of human ashes. This is because it’s the wish of so many people to have their final resting place in the happiest place on earth, and in the Haunted Mansion with the other supposed spirits. Of course, these ashes are vacuumed up at night, but if you’re there in the afternoon, what if you step in a pile of…human ash? Gross! There are camouflaged security guards whose job is to look out for people scattering what looks like dust, so you can imagine how frequently this happens. And there is also the other kind of dead people in the park, as the human skull sitting on the treasure room bed on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is real.
2 Walt Disney Liked To Watch His Guests
Talk about spine-chilling! In Disneyland which was the original theme park, a secret apartment exists which Walt Disney used to look at the guests walking past, who obviously had no idea. This hiding spot is on Main Street, on the second floor of the fire department. After Walt passed away, the company put a light in the window of the apartment to honor him. Okay, it was Walt’s park so he could have anything he wanted, and if he wanted a place to himself in his own theme park that’s fair enough. If he wanted to watch his own guests, that was up to him too. We guess it’s no different to company owners watching employees and customers on security cameras. But it’s just the fact that you think you’re at Disneyland having the time of your life, and you’re secretly being watched. Gosh, what is it with these people and secrets?
1 Many People Have Died At The Disney Parks
Coming in at the top of our list is the fact that although Disneyland and the associated parks are supposed to be places where all your dreams come true, they are sadly the places where many people have met their end. The first fatality occurred in the 1960s when a boy’s restraint became undone on the Matterhorn ride, and he fell out of the car. Since then, guests have died from things like being struck by flying debris from malfunctioning rides and drowning in the artificial rivers. Employees have also met untimely ends as they performed maintenance on the rides, became stuck beneath floats, and fell from great heights where they were performing their jobs. There have also been Disney deaths due to attacks from outsiders, such as stabbings after intense arguments. This doesn’t stop us from wanting to go to Disneyland, but we no longer believe it’s the happiest place on earth!