We could write books and books about the Walt Disney World Company and hundreds of people have, but like any great corporate empire, they are very, very secretive when it comes to how things operate and nothing is more true than how they take care of things at their theme parks.
It’s the dream of every kid to visit at least one of the Disney theme parks in the world and part of the draw is that they are like nothing else anywhere. Reality is suspended as employees (called cast members in Disney-speak) create an experience to last a lifetime. Of course, sometimes that experience is created with smoke, mirrors, duct tape and twine. Disney doesn’t want you to know about that and they don’t want their employees to let you know about that either.
Any company that has tens of thousands of employees over the decades is bound to have a few people who have an axe to grind, especially when there really isn’t a lot of discussion about how things are operated. You do it the Disney way or you don’t do it. So how to get Disney back? You take some pictures that will never show up in any visitor guides and hope they spread across the Internet. We’re here to help, sorry Mickey. Here are the Top 15 Unauthorized Disney Theme Park Photos
15. Heads Will Roll
There are a lot of things that make the Disney theme parks special, so therefore there are a ton of rules the cast members, from the guys who sweep the streets, to the people who make the meals to the people who let you on the rides, have to follow. Among the strictest rules are those for the employees who play characters. You’re never, ever allowed to talk if you have a mask/head and you’re never allowed to take that head off in front of people. There are horror stories online of workers being overcome by heat exhaustion and throwing up inside of their helmets because they knew if they took it off they’d be fired on the spot. We’d need to be paid quite a bit of money to run around in a sweaty, hot puke-filled helmet but whatever pays the bills.
14. Somebody’s Got a Woody
Here’s an interesting bit of trivia. Jessie, the Yodeling Cowgirl, best known as Woody’s girlfriend from the movies Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 has not been just once voice. Joan Cusack did Jessie’s speaking voice in the movies and while she did the yodeling in the third film, Mary Kay Bergman did it in the second. Sarah McLachlan provided the voice when Jessie was singing and when Cusack isn’t available, Kathryn Cressida does the voice for video games and software. Cusack doesn’t play Jessie at the theme parks, but apparently, one of the girls who does likes being bent over and introduced to Woody. True to form, like a true actress though, she stays in character, using only hand gestures, like a real Disney Cast Member. We’re hoping this was backstage and not at one of the character dinners, otherwise mom and dad would have had a lot of explaining to do.
13. When Mickey Needs a Smoke Break
If you’ve been to any of the Disney theme parks in the world, you know how crowded they can get, especially on hot summer days. Trying to get from one end of the park to the other in a hurry can be hard enough when you’re not dressed for snowstorm weather and people are asking you stop to take a picture every 15 feet. Walt Disney was smart enough to recognize this would be an issue, so he built a network of tunnels under the parks to allow cast members to easily get from one end to the other in full air-conditioned comfort without being bothered by irritating people wanting pictures with their slobbery children when Mickey or Goofy just needs a drag of his Marlboro Light. Can’t a mouse get some peace and quiet?
12. They Don’t Call It Flash Mountain for Nothing
This is one of the tamer photos of Flash, er Splash Mountain we can show you. Shortly after the ride was installed in Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and the park realized it could make a buck selling photos of the log flume as riders took the big final plunge, a certain group of park goers realized you could time the photos just perfectly to do certain, crazy things. Around this time, the Internet started getting popular and getting photos of your crew flashing on Splash Mountain became a thing for a while. Disney started clamping down quickly on the practice and makes sure nobody sees it when it happens these days, but the occasional photo still slips out, pun intended. This helps make it the Happiest Place on Earth for some guys, we’re guessing.
11. Nobody Tell Mickey What You Saw
In 2006, at Disneyland Paris, a bunch of characters were waiting to appear at some kind of event and were being held in a staging area. There were a couple of non-costumed employees there, but for the most part, everybody in this small area was wearing an iconic Disney character costume. Somebody had a video camera and in one of those instances of right-place-at-the-right-time, or if you’re a Disney executive, the exact opposite, what became known at “The Mouse Orgy” was filmed and despite its best efforts to keep it off YouTube, the viral video became an underground sensation. It’s not quite an orgy, but Minnie Mouse get familiar with Goofy, and then a snowman we didn’t realize was a Disney character and then Chip and Dale get involved. It’s mostly dry humping and mouse breast grabbing. It’s kind of surreal. You’ll read more about it later in this list.
10. Technically, It’s Not a Boat
If you’re ever at Disneyland and you’re on the Mark Twain Riverboat and a little kid is super excited when the captain blows the whistle and the paddle wheel starts turning and the giant boat starts heading down the river and they exclaim, “I’ve never been on a boat this big before!” we want you to look them right in the eye and say, “This isn’t a boat. This is stuck to a track under the water. The guy’s driving. He isn’t really doing anything but starting and stopping. He can’t steer the thing. He just sits there looking like he’s from Mississippi in 1879.” Actually, don’t. Let the kid have their fun, but no, as you can see in the photos, it’s not a real boat. It’s just a long 12-minute monorail ride around a giant fake swamp.
9. Which Seems More Mechanical?
Walt Disney was all about technology and the future. He dreamed about what the world was going to look like and he wanted a hand in developing it. Most people don’t realize it, but Epcot Center was supposed to be a look at what the future would be, with Epcot meaning Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and it was going to be a real working town. He died before he could ever see that vision and it became just another weird place with rides. One of the things that captivated his imagination was robots and he used them all over his parks from the Hall of Presidents to The Pirates of the Caribbean. But, much like the keep your helmet rule on for the characters, live people and the robots do not mix, but this worker, who looks like he’s from the late 1980s or early 1990s clearly didn’t get the memo. The audio-animatronics, as Walt liked to call them, are not your co-workers and they are not for taking pictures with.
8. Daddy! This Monorail is So….CRASH!!!!!
This isn’t so much an unauthorized photo as one that Disney will probably do anything in their power legally to make sure people don’t see that sometimes really bad things happen at their theme parks, including monorails crashing into each other. It was a cool futuristic way to move people from one way to another back in the day, but it’s just not cost effective, so most of the shuttling is done by bus these days, but they’ve had their fair share of accidents, too. The truth is, you’re not safe anywhere. Just ask that little kid who was hanging out at one of Disney’s lagoons in Florida after a day at the park when an alligator came up and ate him back in 2016. Don’t worry though, Disney put up signs, so it’s never going to happen again.
7. You’re Killing The Magic On So Many Levels
Let’s head back to the Pirates of the Caribbean for another one-two punch of killing the fantasy. Before it was a series of growingly mediocre movies starring Johnny Depp, it was another ride where you slowly drift through a world of robots telling a story of good vs. evil where filled with laughs and cutting edge for 1964 special effects. But, and you’ll know this if you’ve ever been on a TV or movie set, there is no point in having anything out of eyesight look special. Spending a dollar on something you won’t see, like a pirate’s pants, is a dollar wasted. As for this dude taking a break in bed, all we can say is that we hope this was after hours and not on his shift. Get these images out of your head if you’re visiting anytime soon.
6. Turn Off the Lights!
Disney World, unlike other theme parks like Six Flags or Busch Gardens was never built to be a park with “thrill” rides. Walt wanted to excite the mind, be it thinking about the future or entering a child’s storybook. It wasn’t about an adrenaline rush. That philosophy has changed over the decades, but back in the old days the only ride that gave people a real rush was Space Mountain. The idea was that you were in a spaceship that was blasting off and zooming around space. The effect is cool as you’re in a giant dark room with stars and planets around you as music pulsates and air rushes through your hair. Flip on the lights and you realize it’s just a warehouse that they really don’t have to worry about interior design. It’s amazing what a little darkness will do for an experience.
5. At Midnight, Cinderella Becomes Way More Fun
In the fairy tale of Cinderella, her fairy godmother warns her to be home by midnight or else all the lying she’s done to make Prince Charming think she’s something special will be revealed as a giant lie. It’s certainly a tale we all want our daughters learning at a young age. At midnight, she turns back into a woman who spends her day working on her knees…scrubbing floors, while her rotten stepsisters and stepmother treat her like dirt. Disney co-opted the story for themselves with the cartoon that’s pushing 80 years old and Cinderella has always been a big “real life” character at their parks for people to get pictures with. This backstage picture, supposedly taken at Disneyland Paris, is probably not protocol. It probably wouldn’t attract the right kind of Prince Charming, either.
4. This Is Just Weird
If Snow White were a sick, twisted animal, hellbent on getting revenge on those little people who made her life hell, the photo on the left may be what we would have got, with their heads as trophies behind her and a twinkle in her eye. Had she gone really crazy, we may have ended up with what we have on the left, all of Disney’s heads in a pile with nobody left to survey the damage because they’re all dead..all of them. In reality, the Snow White photo is one of a crop that showed up on the Internet about 10 years ago from backstage at Disneyland Paris and the one on the left is thought to be probably from after a big event like a Main Street Parade staging area. If an employee is found to have taken photos like this, it’s grounds for instant termination.
3. Technically, It’s Not a Boat, Part II
If you’re ever planning a trip to a Disney park, and want to know what to skip if it’s a hot day, or lines are long, or it’s a perfectly pleasant day and lines are non-existent, we urge you to forego the Jungle Cruise. It’s a horrible time capsule of outdated technology and bad storytelling. We can’t imagine it was ever a good time and we’ll admit to be duped into riding it more than once and always feeling like the alcoholic who falls off the wagon saying “never again” the moment we finish. It’s another boring robots-meet-monorail ride, this time through a jungle that merges scientific fantasy with blatant racism. Good times. Seriously, it’s horrible. If you’re going to wait this long for a ride, make it a good one. This is late 1950s Disney kitsch and not in a good way.
2. Menage a Trois, Disney Style
And now we’re back to the famous “Mouse Orgy” video of 2006. You can read a little more about it in the entry with the photos that show Minnie Mouse looking like she’s working a corner. So, after this short video of Disney-meet-Caligula hit the Internet, The Walt Disney Company claimed it took “appropriate action” against whoever the furry deviants were inside the outfits, but didn’t get into more details. While we can appreciate the fact that like most companies, Disney doesn’t comment on specific employee situations, we think to make all of those parents who were bringing their kids to Disneyland Paris comfortable, they might have been a little more specific. And maybe it’s just us, but if you go watch the video, isn’t the whole thing made a lot more creepy by the fact that there are a lot of people laughing and all of the characters have giant permanent grins on their faces?
1. As If This Ride Wasn’t Already Underwhelming Enough
The Matterhorn Bobsled is a rollercoaster at Disneyland in California that opened in 1959 and while it’s been allegedly refurbished multiple times it has never got better or more fun. It’s based on the mountain of the same name in the Swiss Alps and the “story” that goes with the ride is that the Abominable Snowman is out to get you. As you can see, it got this poor worker. It’s actually kind of funny when you realize he and another person had to climb to this point when the park was closed, either before or after their shift take the photo. In the other photo, those who have taken the ride will remember the ominous eyes of the Snowman. Not so ominous when the lights are on. The ride was refurbished in early 2015 with technology added to make the Snowman look more realistic and that he is actually in pursuit of you and not just a robot from before the Kennedy Administration.