Orlando Mythbusters

by David Roberts, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Aug 26th 2010 06:12 PM

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Orlando Mythbusters

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Many of the urban myths surrounding Orlando, Florida are related to Orlando's largest and most famous "resident," Disney World. Growing up in Orlando, I heard all of these rumors. While some of them are really wild, most are untrue, but all are a part of Orlando's colorful urban lore and legend. Here are some Orlando mythbusters refuting the most prolific urban legends in the area.


1. Walt Disney, knowing he was dying of cancer, had cryogenic tanks placed in the heart of Cinderella's Castle where he lies frozen, awaiting a cure for the cancer that killed him.

This is one of the most pervasive urban myths in Orlando. There is no doubt that Walt was one of the most ground-breaking inventors of all time when it came to animatronics and new technologies. An interest in cryogenics would be a natural part of his curiosity about technology, but mythbusters in Orlando have never been able to verify his investment in a cryogenics lab. Disney employees have been poking around in Cinderella's Castle since the opening of the Magic Kingdom in the early 1970s and have never found any evidence to support this urban legend. Upon his death, Walt Disney was cremated and buried in a cemetery in California.

2. The Space Mountain ride at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom Theme Park once decapitated a rider who stood up during a ride.

Even some of the cast members at the Magic Kingdom believe this one. The story goes that a guest stood up on the Space Mountain ride in fear of his life and had his head severed by a low-hanging metal ridge. This is the story that teachers told students on field trips to the Magic Kingdom and, believe me, we listened. Is this myth true? Not exactly.

First, a person standing up on a ride moving upwards of 40 mph, rocketing around curves and plunging down hills would be a rather incredible feat. Is it true that a head was decapitated? Yes! According to one of the top Disney researchers, before Space Mountain was opened to the public, a rather unfortunate crash-test dummy bounced out of the seat and had his head knocked clean off. The trainees below got the fright of their life when the head landed and rolled towards them. There is no doubt that the unlucky crash-test dummy was the start of this Orlando urban myth.

3. The first three Disney theme parks opened on October 1st to commemorate the date that Walt Disney was dishonorably discharged from the Army.

Rumor has it that the reason Walt Disney was discharged from the army was for drawing cartoon characters on an Army truck. Furthermore, Disney was supposedly quite proud of the dishonorable discharge. Is this urban myth true? No. First of all, Walt Disney never served in the Army because he was too young to enlist during World War I. He did volunteer for the American Ambulance Corps for the Red Cross, but he was not dishonorably discharged. Secondly, Disney-MGM Studios, as the park was known then, opened on May 1st, not October 1st.

4. Expansion of the monorail system to cover other areas of Disney property would cost more than $1,000,000 per mile.

Anyone who has ever visited Walt Disney World has more than likely experienced the smooth ride of the monorails that link three of the resorts to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and other locations on Disney property. Even with this fast, quiet and pollution-free ride, Disney still employs the use of large diesel buses and other vehicles. Many people wonder why the monorails have not been expanded to include all areas of Disney. The standard answer is that the expansion would cost $1,000,000 per mile. Is this myth true? No. The truth is that it would cost much more than that. A similar system built in Las Vegas cost almost $700,000,000 for just over four miles of track. A monorail expansion would be great, but it is not in the company's immediate plans.

5. There is a secret members-only club located under the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

According to urban legends, the secret members-only club is the only place in the park to obtain liquor. Is this myth true? Partially. There is a secret Disney club called Club 33, but it is located in Disneyland in California, not in Disneyworld in Orlando. Mythbusters believe rumors of the real secret club were extended to Orlando.

Although the majority of Orlando urban myths are related to Disney, there are some that are not. Read a few below.

6. A Connecticut senator called a travel agent to complain about his Orlando hotel room. The complaint? He couldn't see the ocean from his room's balcony.


The travel agent explained that, although the senator may have requested an ocean-view room, seeing the ocean from Orlando was impossible because Orlando wasn't close to any ocean. The senator reportedly replied, "Don't tell me that, I looked at the map and Florida is a very thin state." Is this myth true? No. Is this myth funny? Absolutely.

7. The Skunk Ape, or Swamp Ape, resides in the Florida marshes.

Those who have sighted Florida's version of Bigfoot claim that the creature is extremely hairy with huge feet and an overpowering odor of skunk. There are multiple groups and websites specifically dedicated to the collection of evidence proving the existence of Florida's Bigfoot. There are even plaster casts of tracks, photos and many eyewitness accounts. Is this myth true? While there has never been any direct evidence of the existence of such a creature, it hasn't been disproved yet either!

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