No matter how old you are or which country you call home, we can all appreciate the perfected magical experience on offer at Disney World. It's a place where our favorite films and their characters come to life, bringing smiles to people of all ages while creating memories that will last a lifetime. At least, that's how it looks from the outside.
If we dig a little bit deeper, scour through history, and rattle the brains of a few staff members, an entirely different, and sometimes very dark side of Disney World comes to light.
Staff members are underpaid, rides have been closed to due serious injuries (or worse), the food is enough to send you straight to the ER, and, of course, a lot of the magic is nothing but a show.
20 Staff Are Forced To Smile
That's right, ladies and gentlemen - those magical smiles that you see on every staff member's face at Disney... well, they're entirely forced. Whether the staff like it or not, even if they're having a bad day or they've just found out that great aunt Judith has fallen ill, they're made to look cheery and delighted, 24/7.
19 The Food Is Terrible...
With a comprehensive list of artery-clogging, heart-attack-inducing, diabetes-inviting food on the Disney menu, the bottom line is that the options are terrible for you. Of course, Disney prefers you don't know that. Off the tap, here's just a few to watch out for: Butterfinger cupcakes, cheeseburger spring rolls, the entire deep-fried fish, and pretzels stuffed with cream cheese.
18 The Turkey Leg Is Even Worse
We've given the Disney park snacks a whack already, however, this particular dish (if you can call it that) deserves a mention of its own. Why? Well, because it slams on no less than 1136 calories to your waistline. That means if you have two of these on-the-go snacks, you'll be well over your daily recommended intake.
17 There's a Secret Club
Take a moment to think about all the hours you had to work in order to save up for a trip to Disney World. A lot, right? Well, multiply that by about 10,000 and then you just might have enough money to be able to join the elite, exclusive, Disney Club 33. Of course, just because you're rich doesn't mean you're a shoo-in to be accepted.
16 They Get Sued... A Lot
Yep, it's hard to fathom, but it's very, very true. Take August 18, 2010, for example— a 20-year-old man fell 25 feet and climbing over a barrier and losing his balance. What did he do? He sued Disney, of course. Then, in 2017, a construction worker suffered minor injuries while building a ride. As you can assume, he sued too. It's a rather frequent occurrence, in reality.
15 Their Disability Evacuation Procedures Aren't The Best
You'd expect that a conglomerate as large and famous as Disney World would be willing & able to accommodate every kind of guest, regardless of age, gender, race, or mobility status, right? Well, apparently not. In November of 2009, a quadriplegic was left stranded on It's A Small World for close to an hour, unable to manually evacuate the ride himself. A jury eventually awarded the man $8,000 for his trouble.
14 There's A Reason Why The PeopleMover Closed Down
If you thought that the injuries or evacuation procedures were something to worry about, then the PeopleMover is another deal altogether. Let's rewind back to August, 1967 - sadly, a 16-year-old boy from Hawthorne, California perished while attempting to hop between two moving PeopleMover cars. This remained very discreet, in true Disney fashion.
13 A Little Girl Lost A Finger... And Disney Didn't Care
We don't mean that this teenie tiny child dropped her finger in between the couch cushions, we're taking Saw movie-esque events, which absolutely nobody wants to see, let alone have to go through. This wasn't even on a ride, it was simply on a piece of playground equipment in the Fort Wilderness area.
12 Trash Must Be "Scooped"
While this one might not be as farfetched as the other secret elements of the Disney world, it is still something that the staff prefer guests to remain oblivious toward. As part of their job description, Disney workers are forced to pick up any piece of trash they see, anywhere. However, they can't bend down to do so.
11 People Have Lost Their Lives
To the majority of the world, Disney World is the happiest place on Earth, and the parks even market themselves as such. For a select few families, however, it's a place of utter despair. In addition to the PeopleMover incident, a number of other fatal accidents, both the fault of the guests and the park, have occurred over the years.
10 Staff Aren't Allowed To Hold Babies
This might seem rather peculiar at first glance, but when you think about it, it starts to make a bit of sense. The main reason is safety-related— when the staff is suited up in their head-to-toe costumes, they can't actually see anything. Aside from the potential of danger, nobody wants to see Tigger covered in baby puke, do they?
9 Employees Aren't Allowed To Point
As part of the complex web of bits and bobs that create the unmatched magical atmosphere of the Disney parks, management has actually forbidden their staff to point. If you're thinking that banning pointing sounds absolutely ridiculous and wondering why, the simple reason is that some people consider it rude.
8 Spreading Ashes
While something like this may not have ever come across our minds, the awkward reality is that it's completely true - people love Disney so much that they beg for their ashes to be spread across one of the various Disney theme parks. How does Disney feel about this? As you could probably expect, they're adamantly against it.
7 Free Disney Dollars When You Complain
Like the majority of large-scale companies out there, a few dollars to right a wrong makes not even the tiniest of dent in Disney's bank accounts. While they certainly don't want word of this to spread, if you have indeed been wronged in one way or another, they'd much rather pay a few bucks than have it escalate.
6 Friends And Family Must Be Kept In The Dark
What does Disney value highly? Family, of course! What do they value above that? Their privacy, and more importantly, all of their deep, dark trade secrets. As much as staff would love to talk about their day to mom and pop, they aren't even allowed to share which character they dressed up as, let alone post photos on social media.
5 Cast Members Must Never Remove Their Masks
Not only are Disney's cast members not allowed to tell families or friends which character they're playing, but they're also, under no circumstances whatsoever, allowed to remove their masks in public. It would ruin the illusion and the magic of Disney. Can you imagine seeing Buzz Lightyear without a head?!
4 Bad Behavior Means Being Put On A List
Just like Santa Claus at the North Pole, Mickey Mouse also keeps a naughty and nice list of all his Disney guests. For guests who are particularly difficult to deal with, who treated a staff member rudely or aggressively, you could find yourself on the 'never again' list. Of course, great behavior doesn't go unnoticed either.
3 They Get Paid Next To Nothing
Make no mistake, the lower level employees absolutely want you to know how unfairly paid they are. It's the management and fat cats calling the shots upstairs that are trying to keep it under wraps. Any guesses how much Snow White actually makes? Just shy of $11 an hour, according to GlassDoor.
2 There's An Abandoned Park
Photos of forgotten amusement parks all over the world give us the chills— think Chernobyl, for instance. Believe it or not, though, Disney has an abandoned theme park of its own. It was known as Discovery Island, but it had finally closed its doors back in 1999 after people began hunting the island's wildlife.
1 Being A Costumed Character Is Awful
Aside from the measly wages that could barely support a family, the life of a Disney character has plenty more downsides. Take, for instance, the searing heat inside the costumes. In the summer months, you can bet that they're working up a sweat in there unlike any other. Wouldn't Olaf melt?
Sources: Disney Tourist Blog, Disboards, The Gamer