Odd Disney Ride Facts You Probably Didn’t Know
The rides at Walt Disney World are wild and wonderful. Some of them are also quirky. They have odd histories and characteristics, some of which you might not even know! Today, let’s highlight a few Disney oddities. Here are six strange but true facts about Disney attractions.
Four out of Five Doctors Agree…
Have you ever had a kidney stone? I’m told that they’re excruciating, and I suspect that I’ll find out one day soon. All three of my siblings have had one. They’ve all lamented the searing pain that draws out over an extended period of time as they wait for the stone to finally pass. You’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with Disney attractions, right?
Well, according to the October of 2016 edition of The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, a Disney ride is a great way to pass a kidney stone. No, I don’t mean all of them. To the contrary, a team of medical scientists performed research on several rides to prove the point. Only one is likely to trigger a (warning: medical jargon ahead): “calyceal renal calculi passage using a functional pyelocalyceal renal model.”
What’s the ride? If you ever want to pass a kidney stone, you should head straight to Frontierland and get on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The bumpy tracks will relieve your suffering. I know that this sounds ridiculous, but you can read the scientific proof here.
It Wasn’t a Popular Ride
Have you ever taken a survey at a Disney park? My guess is yes. I know that from personal experience, we generally get asked at least twice per park visit. Especially when we leave in the afternoon, cast members stand by the exit and request our feedback on our park visits.
Why is this important? One of the regular questions on these surveys is whether we enjoyed our time in the parks. Who would say no to that, right? Amazingly, it does happen. In fact, one of the oddest phenomena at Magic Kingdom involves one of its least-loved attractions.
Stitch’s Great Escape! isn’t even a permanent offering at the park these days. Disney allegedly closed it for good once already, but then they opened it for a couple of peak crowd seasons to siphon off some of the park traffic. Even this idea was kind of dangerous. While Disney is cagey with the details, cast members have leaked a fascinating tidbit over the years.
Park surveys almost uniformly indicate that guests are happier when Stitch’s Great Escape! is closed! Yes, I know that this sounds crazy, but there’s apparently a metric ton of big data supporting the philosophy, enough of it that Disney feels pretty comfortable keeping the attraction closed most of the year. They’re willingly not opening a functional part of Tomorrowland because of these surveys. They believe that people who ride Stitch’s Great Escape! have a worse time than guests who don’t! So, you know, maybe skip it if the opportunity arises.
The (Not) Living Definition of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Disney’s Haunted Mansion is basically, “Bring out your dead!” as a theme park attraction. It’s a celebration of the macabre, and the “you could be one of us” inferences start almost the moment the Ghost Host begins to narrate. He points out that, “There’s always my way,” which involves a ceiling and some rope. And he adds that while the mansion has 999 happy haunts, “there’s room for a thousand.” Then, he asks for volunteers. It’s satire, right?
Not everyone thinks so. One of the dirty secrets (figuratively AND literally) of the Haunted Mansion is that some people want to spend eternity here. They make deathbed requests to have their ashes dumped on the attraction, and their family members sometimes honor these morbid wishes. Yes, many more than 999 happy haunts inhabit the Haunted Mansion.
I can even let you in on a little secret about the attraction. Disney stocks special HEPA vacuums to clean up the ashes. They’re industrial strength ones because the cremation process sometimes leaves some…other, bonier parts. Whenever you hear a cast member say the word “HEPA”, consider it a strong sign that you should come back to Haunted Mansion later!
By the way, since the introduction of supernatural mythology to Pirates of the Caribbean, HEPA clean-ups are a fact of life for cast members at that attraction, too. Ladies and gentlemen, PLEASE keep your ashes to yourself.
Business negotiations are an everyday part of life for The Walt Disney Company. The Parks & Resorts division has engaged in some fascinating and prolonged financial battles over the years. Oftentimes, they get their way. On occasion, even Disney has to accept defeat. You might say that they can’t always get what they want, but they get what they need.
Consider the situation with Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Disney planned the ride long before they signed up a musical act to associate their band brand with it. The musical act in question is arguably the biggest one of all-time, the Rolling Stones. Disney reached out to none other than Mick Jagger and Keith Richards with their idea.
Believe it or not, the most famous members of the Rolling Stones loved the idea. They just didn’t love the offer that Disney made. Jagger and Richards countered with a high-seven figure annual rate in exchange for the usage of the band’s likeness and music on the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
Disney executives felt like they’d have to go waaaay over budget to meet the band’s terms. So, they began to look for similarly famous musical groups with less stringent financial requirements. And that’s why the name of the ride includes the words “Starring Aerosmith.” Knowing this story, I’ll always feel bummed that I can’t sing along to Tumbling Dice as I make my way down the tracks.
The Perils of Corporate Sponsorship
When you’re in a restaurant and see the colors red, white, and yellow, what do you presume? You’re looking at condiments, right? And those colors represent ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard. When you’re at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, however, seeing red, white, and yellow shouldn’t mean the same…well, unless you’re at Restaurantosaurus. Since you’re not going to be eating dinosaur, you’d expect some other interpretation for the colors.
At DINOSAUR, you’d be wrong.
When Disney created what was then known as Countdown to Extinction in 1998, they used their standard business strategy. They sought out a corporate sponsor for the ride to offset some of the construction expenses. Their unlikely partner for a time travel ride about the history of dinosaurs was…McDonald’s?!
Yes, the Happy Meal folks joined the Happiest Place on Earth folks in an unlikely but suiting marriage. The only problem was the attraction, which had nothing to do with the Golden Arches. Why Disney signed on remains something of a mystery, but Imagineers loved the thought.
As a tribute to their new partners, cast members painted three of their pipes in the colors of red, yellow, and white to symbolize fast food condiments. They even took the premise a step further. When you see these pipes near the boarding area for DINOSAUR, follow them until you see writing. You’re looking at the chemical formulas for ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise! Imagineers have a terrific sense of humor.
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