Disney, The Urban Myths – True or false?
I have never heard of a company to rival the Walt Disney Companies’ position in urban mythology. Legends of cryogenics, phallic castles, Eisner’s telephone number abound on the internet and in ‘common knowledge’. In this article I’d like to look at a few of the more popular myths.
I am not enough of a historian nor Disney expert to give any categorical answer to any of these urban legends, and as such I cannot support, sustain, or give any credence to any of these ideas.
Disney on Ice – The cryogenics story:
The Myth: Walt Disney is recorded as having died two on December 15, 1966 following the collapse his circulatory system as a result of his lung cancer – however in recent times there have been rumours circulating that Disney had arranged for his body to be frozen.
“Everyone knows Walt Disney is stored in a deep-freeze somewhere, under Disneyland's "Pirates of the Caribbean" waiting for the day when science can repair the damage to his body and bring 'Uncle Walt' back to life.”
When I was younger I was fascinated by this story. Marc Eliot's 1993 ‘biography’, Walt Disney - Hollywood's Dark Prince which came out while I was working for the company stirred up a lot of interest in the subject just as Robert Mosley's book, Disney's World had done a few years before. Unfortunately both books are largely discredited now – there were just too many factual errors unsupported allegations. Researching this rumor I found the report on Snopes.com to be a more rounded view of the story.
It is not to say that the myth is busted, but to be honest I would strongly doubt it – take a second to look at the worst case scenario – imagine the law suits if Walt came back, every business deal done by Walt’s inheritors would be called into question. The WDC would be spending the next two centauries in court…
Erecting Castles – The movie poster story:
The Myth: A disgruntled Disney artist who had just been told he had been laid off, as part of his last job repainted a turret or two of King Tritons Castle as phalluses. Nobody noticed and the reworking and used the image to promote the Little Mermaid for years without noticing.
For quite a while this artwork, which was also used for the VHS release of the Little Mermaid, hung as a poster outside the Disney Store at Disneyland Resort Paris. Having seen it every day, and having the anomaly pointed out to me I can assure you the story in that respect is true – the poster does exist.
As for the disgruntled employee taking his issues out on Disney - Wikipedia has the following to say;
In the film, King Triton lives in a castle of gold, along with his daughters. The castle is displayed in the artwork for the cover for the Classics VHS cassette when the film was first released on video. Close examination of the artwork, as well as the film, shows an oddly shaped structure on the castle, closely resembling a penis. Many have alleged that the artwork is an intentional act by a disgruntled animator. However, Disney, and the actual person who designed the cover, both insist it was an accident, resulting from a late night rush job to finish the cover artwork. The questionable object does not appear on the cover of the second releasing of the movie
Hmmmm. Call me Mr Sceptic but for the original poster still to be on display four years after the film’s release, for the company to be aware of it’s reputation and not to have removed it from display… I personally am not 1005 sure I buy that story.
Toilet Humour – The Eisner’s Phone number story:
The Myth: In a scene from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Bob Hoskins steps into a Toon Town men's room. Graffiti on the wall reads "For a good time, call Allyson Wonderland", with the phrase "The Best Is Yet to Be" appearing underneath it. Allegedly, Disney chairman Michael Eisner's phone number replaces the latter phrase for one frame. Although the "Allyson Wonderland" graffiti is clearly visible on laserdisc, Eisner's phone number is not. If the phone number was in the film originally (as rumor has it was), it was removed before the VHS or DVD of the movie were made available.
In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a movie full of interesting little stories – did Jessica Rabbits underwear fall off in a car crash? For example – you can Google that one for yourself… a momentary flash of Eisner’s phone number wouldn’t surprise me too much.