25 Weird Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About Disney
by Nakita Mason | Updated 05 March 2020 | Posted in Family Holidays, Top Lists, USA
Whether we like to admit or not, all of us are Disney fans to some extent. From the insidious manner in which the songs stick in your head to the puzzling question of why so many Disney protagonists end up orphans, Disney has become a key part of our culture and we all spent some time in our childhood either waiting around for our Fairy Godmother or keeping a suspicious eye on our toys just in case.
So, it’s no surprise then that Disney World in Florida (as well as its sister parks) is one of the most popular destinations for a holiday, whether you have children or not.
The famous House of Mouse is home to rides, restaurants and well-known characters strolling around to meet and greet, but it’s also home to a tale or two that don’t come with songs and choreographed dancing…
Here we present the 25 weirdest Disney tales ever and we bet our bedknobs and broomsticks you haven’t heard of them all!
1: Mickey Mouse was born of treachery
There’s nothing like a little betrayal to set things off is there? Back in the very early days of Disney, Walt, feeling somewhat limited with his initial creations (which were a blend of live-action and animation known as the 'Alice comedies') decided to branch out. His journey led him to the American producer Charles Mintz. In order to stand out and appeal to Universal Pictures, (as recommended by Mintz) Walt Disney and co set about making something new and created the little-known character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
Oswald was indeed a lucky bunny and became a big hit with his audience. Mintz clearly saw the potential of the character and sneakily set about cutting Walt out of the deal with Universal Pictures and taking most of Walt’s old team with him.
Walt Disney, having lost his rights to his creation set about making a new one, and that little guy was Mickey Mouse, who is now one of the most recognizable characters to ever grace our screens.
Happily, in 2006 The Walt Disney Company reclaimed Oswald The Lucky Rabbit in a trade with NBC Universal, giving up sportscaster, Al Michaels in return.
2: You can’t buy gum at Disney World, so you won’t find it stuck to your shoe! You’re also never more than 30 steps from a bin
3: Walt Disney loathed beards and employees are still only allowed modest ones. Which calls into question how Jack Sparrow was ever allowed to be part of the gig...
4: Below Disney World, there's literally "a whole new wooooorrrld”
Below Disney world is indeed, a whole new world of tunnels that you can access through the so-called ‘Utilidors' if you work there that is. Desperate to not break the spell of the world he created, Walt Disney made the underground Disney in order to cater for all the things best left behind the scenes. Whether that was characters needing to get from one location to the next or having somewhere to store the vast amount of food needed, it all happens below Disney. If you're really keen you can even go on a tour of the Disney labyrinth and discover what magic looks like with its makeup off!
5: There are two specialist paint colours used in the parks which are chosen solely for distraction. Go Away Green and No See-um grey are both dull shades designed to make your eyes slide over certain objects or places
6: The EPCOT Park has a hidden meaning
The EPCOT of EPCOT park stands for ‘Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow’, and was dreamt up by Walt as a place where real people would live and work. In Walt's own words it would “never cease to be a living blueprint of the future, where people actually live a life they can’t find anywhere else”
7: It used to be cheap as chips
In 1971 an adult ticket to Disney World was $3.50. a junior ticket (for anyone between 12 and 17) cost only $2.50 and if you were a tyke between 3 and 11 it was a mere $1.00. Not a bad deal considering you got to enter the culmination of all your childhood hopes and dreams.
8: Toy Story characters used to react to a very particular trigger phrase
Rumour has it that you used to be able to shout: “Andy’s coming!” at Toy Story characters and they would drop to the floor, a practice that’s slowly ebbed in favour of the character replying “No, Andy's away at college!”
9: For the home of the great Mickey Mouse, there sure seem to be a lot of cats about, allegedly making their home there of their own accord but allowed to stay to keep the real mice population under control. Cue ‘The Circle of Life' music…
10: Nose stone left unturned
Is there anything Disney haven't thought of? If you've ever taken a walk around Disney World you may find that it's almost impossible to pass through the various sweet shops and food stalls, everything just smells much too good! Well, not trusting your nose to do its job properly, Disney World is home to what's known as Smellitizers. These gadgets pump out various smells at certain locations at the park, much like supermarkets send their bakery smells to the front of the shop to entice you in. Neat huh?
11: You can try the grey stuff (“it’s delicious, don’t believe us? Ask the dishes!”) at the notorious Be Our Guest Restaurant
12: You’ll notice some old-fashioned phones around the park, pick one up and you can eavesdrop on a conversation…
13: The Beatles officially broke up at the happiest place in the world!
Not only did their legendary band cut ties in a place where faces often hurt from smiling too much, but they also found themselves immortalised in the well-loved film The Jungle Book. Is there anything about those vultures that look familiar to you? Those shaggy haircuts perhaps? Turns out they were modelled after the Beatles signature look!
14: Mickey and Minnie dress to impress
You'd be excused for thinking that people parading around as giant mice wouldn't need much of a wardrobe, but as it turns out Mickey has over 136 different outfits, one of which is a scuba suit. Minnie, on the other hand, has over 100 garments including some fabulous ball gowns. Either way, these cartoons have more fashion-related items then we have hot dinners!
15: Allegedly, when a child becomes lost at Disney World, the staff will call in the problem as a ‘lost adult’. We guess no child can ever really be lost in a place coined the “happiest place on earth”
16: If the glove fits
Have you ever concerned yourself with just why some Disney Princesses wear those long elegant gloves? No, nor have we, but recently we discovered that those Princesses who do wear them (Belle, Cinderella, Tiana) do so to signify that they have married into royalty, while all those gloveless Princesses were born into it. So, next time you're dressing to impress you know what to do!
17: The erstwhile Mr. Toad Wild Ride was usurped by Winnie the Pooh who was deemed more popular despite many ‘save the toad' protests
18: If you look around you’ll find dozens of secret Mickey heads, on walls, in flower formations and even in lakes
19: The Sea Witch Ursula was inspired by a real person
It turns out that one of the best baddies you’ll find at Disney World (second only to Scar surely?) was based on a real person. Ursula, the sea witch was inspired by a gentleman called Harris Glenn Milstead, a singer, and actor who became a drag-queen, better known by his stage name: ‘Divine'. As Ursula has a wicked sense of humour and one of the greatest villain songs ever afforded a character, we feel this is a great legacy to have!
20: There used to be a Singing in the Rain umbrella that would rain on you once you stepped under it
22: Club 33 is a prestigious club you have to write into to join, has a dress code, and can cost up to $100,000 annually for a membership. Mickey sure knows how to look after the pennies!
23: On average 210 pairs of sunglasses are handed into Disney World lost property every day
But that's nothing, from the dawn of Disney World opening in 1971 it's believed that 1.65 million pairs of glasses have been handed in. More interesting still, according to the official Disney World site, there's also 6,000 phones, 18,000 hats, and 3,500 digital cameras handed in each year too. Among the many odd items to have been handed in over the years, the strangest among them is a glass eye, a prosthetic leg and a training potty. And no, these were not claimed by just the one individual.
24: Disney World’s ‘Discovery Island’ became home to the last of a now extinct species, the Dusky Seaside Sparrow
25: Disney World was created so that if you were in one area, you couldn't get a look at another, all designed by Disney to keep you immersed in each individual land
Have we coloured you intrigued? Are you eager for yet more weird and wonderful tales about Disney? Why not head to sunny Florida for your next holiday and let us know what you discover? When you aren’t playing detective and taking in the wonder of Walt Disney’s amazing legacy, there are plenty of beaches, bars, and bustling towns to explore too.
Lastly we’d also like to give special thanks to Rachel Nicole who provided us with the wonderful cover image.