The Mickey Mouse Club, circa 1930
Don't get me wrong – I love castles and huggable characters and pixie dust. But I also love quirky stuff. And Walt Disney World is such a picture perfect place that it makes me love the glaringly different oddities here that much more.
So without further ado – here are my favorite creepy curiosities here at Disney World.
- River Country
Abandoned Slippery Slide Falls – Photo source: Wikipedia
I love a good abandoned property – especially one that was once the site of so many childhood memories. Granted you can't visit it to see it in person. And granted it's currently under demolition for a new Disney Vacation Club property after sitting untouched for 18 years. But the very existence of River Country's remains here on property after this waterpark closed back in 2001 fascinates me.
- Cinderella Fountain
This one is more of a curiosity than a high ranking item on the creepiness scale. It's said that the peasant Cinderella Fountain found just behind the castle in Fantasyland was fashioned so that she'd look to be a simple peasant to an adult – but appear instead to the wearing a crown to a young child looking at her from below. That said…a bit of an oddity here is that, at least to me, she isn't wearing her crown until I'm standing a my full grownup height. When I kneel down to child height, the crown is nowhere in sight. I don't know if this was a mistake or the story behind it simply wasn't on point – but it's a bit odd to me that she only has her crown if you're looking at her at the “adult” level.
- Pirates of the Caribbean
There are plenty of creepy things on Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction – even after the removal of the tied up mermaid skeleton and auctioning of the ladies. The attraction features everything from what can only be called a playful waterboarding scene to jailed pirates in a burning city. But perhaps creepiest of all is something that you can't see. True or not, as the story goes an Imagineer named George sadly passed away while working on the attraction before it opened. And now Cast Members are said to have to wish him a good morning and a good night to make sure that he doesn't cause mischief on the attraction.
Perhaps true, perhaps not. Perhaps validated, perhaps debunked. Sometimes I don't even care if these things are true because I'm just as delighted that the story has been told.
- Boardwalk's Nanny Chairs.
I love Disney's Boardwalk resort with all of my heart – and its embracing of all things creepy is one of the reasons why. These chairs sit on either side of the Boardwalk lobby's fireplace. Referred to as “Nanny Chairs,” they were found on 19th century carousels and allowed adults to sit while the children rode the carousel horses. These particular chairs were cast from molds of originals from the 1880s. The names of the Imagineers who made them are on their backs.
- Boardwalk's Pool
Have I mentioned that I love Disney's Boardwalk? The Luna Park Pool has bragging rights for the longest resort water slide on property. The wooden structure around it looks like an old school Coney Island roller coaster…but it makes this list because you exit out of the mouth of a clown that looks a heck of a lot like Pennywise to me. Don't ask my kids how many times they've rolled their eyes at my “We all float here…” joke when we're swimming at Boardwalk.
- Ashes. Lots of ashes.
Walt Disney World might be considered the ultimate escape from reality – and so they rightly go out of their way to keep the harsh realities of life out of the park experience.
That said, given how many happy memories are associated with this place, it's also no surprise that many people (try to) choose Disney as a final resting place for their loved ones' ashes. Lest you try to sprinkle Aunt May on Haunted Mansion, though – know that Disney is like anywhere else and can't allow cremated bits all over the place. So next time an attraction is closed for “technical difficulties,” know that unfortunately they might be needing to break out the HEPA vacuum again….
- Tower of Terror Ventriloquist Dummy.
No creepy Disney Stuff list would be complete without a shout out to the Tower of Terror. But while the building itself and lobby and pre-ride movie and attraction itself are all creepy as heck, nothing gets me more rattled than seeing this when my guard is back down and as I'm exiting into the gift shop.
Watch it carefully as you walk by…it might just follow you with its eyes……
- Japan's Tengu Statue.
Sometimes it's just that feeling of being unknowingly watched that gets you. Like when you've relaxing by the koi ponds and waterfalls of Japan's Katsura Grill in World Showcase and suddenly realize that you're not as alone as you thought you might be. Because the Tengu creature from Japanese folklore – once a part of the Spirited Beast exhibit in the Bijutsu-kan Gallery of this pavilion – has been repurposed since the Kawaii exhibit took over that space. Now you'll find him lurking in the forest behind Katsura's seating area. Called The Slayer of Vanity, this powerful birdlike spirit is said to play mischievous tricks on those who are vain and proud – so watch your selfies when you're in his presence….
- Mr. Toad's Tombstone.
A lot of people took it very hard when Mr. Toad's Wild Ride shut down to make way for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It's true that there's a lovely tribute to him on the new ride, as you can see him graciously handing over the deed to Owl.
But lest you comfort yourself with believing that Mr. Toad just moved on to greener ponds – walk a little farther through the park, into Liberty Square. And in the exit area of Haunted Mansion, you'll find an ominous addition to the pet cemetary above you head….
* * * * * * * *
Now that you've seen my list, I want to know yours! What are your favorite little oddities on Walt Disney World property?