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The Creepiest Stories and Legends From Disney Parks

Spookiest Things happened at Disney
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When the crypt doors creak and the tombstones quake, spooks come out for a swinging wake. Happy haunts materialize and being to socialize. Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize!

Walt Disney World Resort is known as The Most Magical Place on Earth, and Disneyland Resort is The Happiest Place on Earth. Guests enter the parks and leave the troubles of the real world behind them. In Disney, dreams come true, princesses are real, wishes are granted, and some of your favorite movies come to life.

Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom, Disney World

Credit: Disney

But not everything that happens at Disney is magical. Over the years, some truly spooky and dark things have happened. And I am not talking about when the villains and ghosts come out to play at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Oogie Boogie Bash. I am talking about hauntingly creepy things that have been reported by guests and cast members.

New Events Mickey's not-so-scary halloween party

Credit: Disney

Here are some of the creepiest things that happened at Disney Parks.

Walt Disney’s Ghost Haunts Disneyland

Disneyland Park is Walt’s theme park vision brought to life. The park opened in 1955 and Walt died just eleven years later. There have been many odd things that have happened at the parks. Disneyland Park does not allow smoking, but cast members have reported smelling smoke. While you might think, “Well, that’s because a guest is probably smoking.”

But, according to the cast members, the fresh smoke smell was in a backstage area — the backstage area where Walt used to sneak away to smoke.

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Multiple people have also claimed to see Walt Disney’s ghost roaming the park late at night. One paranormal investigator told SFGate that they were in the park after hours. While there, they saw a man standing outside the castle. The man smiled and waved at them.

“We saw a man standing just outside the castle, on the drawbridge. He smiled and waved,” she said, recognizing him as Walt. “He stayed for about 20 seconds then slowly disappeared. It was the second time the cast member friend [who had let her into the park after hours] had seen Walt at the park.”

Disneyland

Credit: Disney

Another guest claims that she has seen Walt in the park more than once. There is an apartment above the Disneyland Fire Station that Walt actually lived in while the park was being built. The woman, Anne Bees, has said that she has seen Walt there, standing next to the lamp that looks out onto Main Street, U.S.A.

She has also seen him, more than once, leaning against a lamppost by the theater where the show Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln takes place. In complete Walt fashion, he is often smoking a cigarette.

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln

Credit: Disney

An Imagineer Died Building Pirates of the Caribbean – Now He Haunts It

The legend of George the Ghost is one that continues to be told by Disney guests young and old. It is a sad tale that, over the years, has become a macabre Disney tale.

The story goes that George was a Disney Imagineer who was working on Pirates of the Caribbean at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort. One version of the story is that George was crushed by a falling beam. The other version is that he fell. Sadly, George dies, and Disney legend says that his ghost still haunts the popular and iconic attraction.

Pirates of the Caribbean Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

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Cast members have reported instances of seeing ghostly apparitions on the cameras that monitor the attraction. There have also been mysterious footsteps and phone calls in the control room when the room is empty. Cast members also say that every morning, they need to say “Good morning, George,” and each night, they say, “Good night, George.”

disneyland paris premier access pirates

Credit: Disney

Human Ashes Cover One of Disney’s Most Iconic Attractions

As weird and morbid as it might sound, hundreds of people dream of having their ashes spread at Disney. And their loved ones want to fulfill their last wishes. The best place to do that? In Disney’s most supernatural attraction, the Haunted Mansion, of course!

Haunted Mansion, Magic Kingdom

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Every year, dozens of people take the ashes of their loved ones and spread them at the attraction. While some dump the ashes in the flower beds or on the lawn, some people actually try to go a step further and leave the ashes INSIDE the ride.

Sadly, their loved ones won’t remain there for long.

Haunted Mansion

Credit: Disney

Disney doesn’t want guests to bring ashes to the parks at all, but, if they do, they’ll most likely end up in the trash. Disney cast members clean the Haunted Mansion on a regular basis. Part of that cleaning involves a thorough vacuum. That means that the ashes of your family member will most likely be vacuumed up and then discarded in the trash.

Haunted Mansion Hatbox Ghost

Credit: Disney

The Ghost of Dollie Young

Unfortunately, guests have passed away while on their Disney vacations. Disney cast members do everything they can to keep guests safe, but accidents can happen. Sometimes with fatal results. Some of the older accidents have become part of Disney’s haunted lore.

matterhorn-bobsleds ride

Credit: Disney

In 1984, a woman named Dolly Young boarded the quintessential Disneyland attraction, Matterhorn Bobsleds. News reports state that, at some point in the ride, Dolly’s seatbelt malfunctioned, and she fell out of the ride. She was then hit by an oncoming bobsled and killed. Disney cast members said that they checked her seatbelt before the bobsled left the station, so they do not know what happened.

Dollie Young Death Disneyland

Credit: eBay

Cast members claim that Dolly’s ghost haunts the area of the ride where she died. They claim that strange noises frequently emanate from the area, now called Dolly’s Dip.

Real Bones Were Once Found on the High Seas

This is a story Disneyland locals love to share with guests visiting for the first time. Over in Adventureland, guests can venture from the bayou to the tropics on Pirates of the Caribbean. When the attraction first opened in 1967, the ride featured dozens of REAL HUMAN BONES.

pirates of the caribbean closure

Credit: Disney

Walt had originally designed the ride to be a walk-through attraction. But, after some thinking, Walt and his Imagineers determined that more people would be able to enjoy it if they could ride through it on boats.

While Imagineers could create a lot of things, they struggled to recreate realistic-looking skeletons and human bones. Enter UCLA Medical Center. Disney Imagineers headed to Los Angeles and procured some bones for their new ride.

Pirates of the Caribbean Disneyland

Credit: Disney

As technology improved, Imagineers were able to create realistic skeletons, so they reportedly returned the bones to their countries of origin, and the bones were buried. However, there is still some debate and belief that real bones can be found throughout the attraction — mainly on the headboard of the bed in the Captain’s Quarters.

A Person Hanging From “it’s a small world”?

This one is one of the weirder Disney stories you may hear. According to the poster, who shared their story on IMGUR, their family was riding “it’s a small world” at Disneyland in 1999. Suddenly, a cast member came over the speaker system and said that all guests were being evacuated immediately. The cast member did not say why, but that is not unusual.

it's a small world

Credit: Disney

The poster said that, as they were being evacuated from their boat, their mother snapped a photo of the ceiling of the attraction. When the photos were developed, the results were shocking. It appeared that someone was hanging from the ceiling! The person looked too small to be an adult, and some believe that it was a child.

it's a small world hanging

Credit: IMGUR

It could be an animatronic, but why would it be hanging from the ceiling like that?

Space Mountain’s Extra Paranormal Rider

It seems that Disneyland may have all the ghosts, including one who resides at the classic Tomorrowland attraction, Space Mountain. We don’t know how this ghost story originated, but the ghost is known as Mr. One Way.

According to multiple reports from cast members and guests, Mr. One Way is a large man with red hair and a red face. If there is an empty seat available on a Space Mountain rocket, he will fill it. Guests who have allegedly seen him say that he is gone by the time the rocket gets back to the loading area.

Space Mountain Disneyland

Credit: Disney

Space Mountain ride vehicles are not the only place Mr. One Way has been spotted. Several Disneyland Resort cast members have claimed to have seen the ghostly apparition in the locker room.

Multiple Deaths at Abandoned Water Park

Almost every Walt Disney World fan knows that, in addition to its four theme parks, the Resort also has two water parks — Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. But did you know that there is a third water park that is sitting abandoned? And that multiple people died there?

River Country

Credit: Disney

In 1976, Disney World’s first water park opened. It was called River Country. River Country was located along the shores of Bay Lake, near Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. The water park was themed to look like an old-fashioned southern swimming hole. It remained in operation until 2001 when it was permanently closed.

Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

Credit: Disney

In the 25 years that River Country was open, multiple tragedies occurred. The first death happened in 1980 when an 11-year-old boy contracted an amoebic infection that reached his brain. Disney was not at fault for the boy’s condition, as those kinds of infections were not unheard of in the state. The amoebas were often found in freshwater lakes in warm weather states.

River Country

Credit: Disney

Then, two years later, a 14-year-old boy drowned after dropping into the water from the Whoop n’ Holler waterslide. The boy’s family sued Disney, claiming that Disney did not post signs saying how deep the water was. They also pointed out that multiple people had to be rescued from the water at the end of the slide every day. The family was awarded $375,000 in damages.

River Country

Credit: Disney/Yesterland

In 1989, a 13-year-old boy drowned while swimming in one of the theme park’s swimming pools. According to reports, he went under the water and no lifeguard noticed that he did not come back up. It was also alleged that Disney’s lifeguards did not properly perform CPR on the young boy. But those claims were never confirmed by Disney.

Chaos-Causing Doll at Tower of Terror

“We invite you, if you dare, to step aboard because in tonight’s episode you are the star. And this elevator travels directly to . . . The Twilight Zone.” 

For almost 30 years, guests visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios have discovered what lies beyond the fifth dimension when they travel on Tower of Terror. The haunted elevator takes guests on a terrifying series of lifts and sudden drops. However, the scariest part of the ride may come as the elevator ride comes to a stop.

Tower of Terror

Credit: Disney

As the elevator pulls forward, guests may notice one heck of a creepy ventriloquist’s doll. The doll is named Cesar. Cesar is the dummy featured in The Twilight Zone episode “Cesar and Me.” In the episode, Cesar talks to his ventriloquist, Jonathan. Jonathan is broke and Cesar convinces him to commit multiple burglaries. However, when he is caught, Jonathan tries to tell the police that Cesar convinced him to do it. They think that he is mad. Jonathan is taken away and Cesar appears to convince a young girl to kill her aunt.

Cesar doll Tower of Terror

Credit: Disneyana By Max

Cesar took joy in taunting Jonathan, and, according to cast members, if he doesn’t get the attention he wants, he will cause trouble at the attraction. If the cast members do not say good morning and good night to Cesar, strange things will start to happen.

Several Ghosts Haunt Tom Sawyer Island

While Disney and its cast members do everything they can to keep guests safe, they can’t stop people from being their own worst enemies. This is the case of several people who have drowned while trying to go to and from Tom Sawyer Island, which sits along the Rivers of America in Disneyland Park.

Rivers of America Disneyland

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In 1973, an 18-year-old boy and his 10-year-old brother hid in a restricted area on Tom Sawyer Island until the park closed. At some point in the night, the two decided to swim across the river and get back into Adventureland. However, the younger boy did not know how to swim, so he got onto his older brother’s back. Unfortunately, the teenager got tired and drowned trying to get across. His younger brother managed to stay afloat by doggy paddling until he was rescued by cast members.

tom sawyer island magic kingdom

Credit: Disney

Then, ten years later, two teenage boys attended Disneyland’s Grad Nite (now held at Disney California Adventure) to celebrate their high school graduation. During the event, they got intoxicated and stole an emergency rubber boat. They tried to take the boat from Tom Sawyer Island and ended up drowning.

Disneyland Grad Nite

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Now, Disneyland cast members cannot be sure whose ghosts are haunting Tom Sawyer Island. But there have multiple reports that cast members have seen someone staring at the shore from Tom Sawyer Island after the park has closed. There have also been multiple instances when cast members have heard children’s voices on the island when there were no guests on it.

Tom Sawyer Island Disneyland

Credit: Anna Fox, Flickr

The Plagues of Splash Mountain

In January 2023, Disney’s iconic attraction Splash Mountain closed in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort. Four months later, Disneyland’s version also closed. Both attractions are being transformed into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, which is set to open in late 2024.

Since the attraction has closed, there have been numerous incidents, making some believe that Disney’s ghosts don’t want Splash Mountain changed. One person said that her husband was working on the retheme at Disneyland and he thought the ride was haunted. He told his wife that fires randomly broke out, tooks went missing, and an explosion. He also said that the workers were having trouble moving even the lightest tools, they seemed to be stuck.

Tiana's Bayou Adventure

Credit: Disney

Many Disney park fans are not happy that Disney is changing a ride that they love so much, and it seems like the spirits may agree with them.

With the decades that Disney parks have been around, there are many more stories of possible ghost sightings and unexplainable occurrences. But these are the ones that top our list of the creepiest.

Did you know Disney had so many haunted happenings and spooky sightings? Which story creeps you out the most? Have you ever seen something paranormal during your magical vacation?

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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