How Walt Disney's death sparked rumor his body was frozen underneath Disneyland

Ashley Bautista December 6, 2022
How Walt Disney's death sparked rumor his body was frozen underneath Disneyland
Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images


Walt Disney (the genius behind Mickey Mouse) was rumored to have been cryogenically preserved inside a freezer under an attraction at Disneyland. Years after his death, the story has turned into a myth that appears to resurface now and again to pique our curiosity. But how did the idea of Walt Disney being frozen become such a widespread urban legend?

The story of the death of Walter Elias Disney goes beyond the silver screen after he touched the hearts of millions. Rumors circulated claiming his body had been frozen and laid underneath an attraction at Disneyland. The idea was that he could be brought back to life once science accomplished such advancements.

Walt Disney produced some of the greatest Hollywood hits and curated stories still beloved to this day. He became one of the world’s most famous storytellers, creating iconic characters such as Mickey Mouse.

The beloved American animator sadly passed away on December 15, 1966, from a “circulatory collapse”. Being a longtime smoker, his health had deteriorated and a month before his death, he was given the news he had lung cancer.

But how did the rumor Walt Disney’s body was frozen after his death began?

A long-lasting legacy and the creation of Mickey Mouse

Photo by Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Walt moved to California in the early 1920s with his brother Roy. Together, they created the Disney Brothers Studio where he developed the first sketch of the character Mickey Mouse in 1928.

Mickey Mouse became an instant hit, also voicing the animated character in the early years of its creation, Walt continued on with his passion. Disney Brothers Studio, which later became Walt Disney Productions, soon was known as one of the best motion-picture companies in the world.

Starting in a small studio in California, Walt’s legacy led to the creation of theme parks such as Disneyland and Walt Disney World. He also provided a whole entertainment experience which continues to this day, after his death.

As of December 2022, Walt still holds the record for most Academy Awards earned by one individual. He bagged a total of 22 out of 59 nominations.

His legacy has continued to be shown and adapted on television and the big screen. His successful theme parks in several countries keep receiving millions of visitors each year from around the world. They really are the happiest place on Earth.

Rumors Walt Disney’s body was frozen and placed underneath Disneyland

According to PBS, rumors began circulating weeks after Disney’s death on December 15, 1966. Walt spent his last days going back and forth from his studio to the hospital across the street.

An article in The National Spotlite wrote the journalist snuck into St Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank. They alleged he entered the storage room, where he claimed he saw the deceased body of Disney “suspended in a cryogenic metal cylinder” – frozen.

In another article published by the French magazine Ici Pris and the American magazine The National Taller, they claimed his body would be thawed in 1975.

The reports also alleged Disney was inside a freezer kept under the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland.

Other rumors included the spread of false reports made by former Disney employees about the “big freeze”.

Five decades later, there’s still no evidence Disney was frozen.

What happened to Walt Disney after his death?

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Walt Disney was cremated two days after his death. His ashes were kept in an urn and interred at the family’s mausoleum in the Forrest Lawn Cemetery of Glendale, California.

Only his wife and his daughters accompanied by their husbands and children attended the farewell ceremony.

Walt passed away before any of his last projects were completed. His brother Roy took full control of the Disney companies. Naturally, he made sure that all of his projects did his name and work ethic justice. The last film Disney personally worked on was The Jungle Book.

His two children, Diane and Walter, opened the Walt Disney Family Museum in 2009. Thousands of his sketches and works, as well as a rundown of his career and awards received, are on display for fans to see.

If you have been affected by this story, there are helplines and support organizations. In the US, contact Cancer Care at 800‑813‑HOPE (4673) or visit this link, [email protected]. You can also call the American Cancer Society on 1-800-227-234 or visit their website. In the UK, you can call 0808 800 6000 or visit Cancer Research UK, or Macmillan Cancer Support.

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Ashley Bautista is an Audience Content Writer at GRV Media writing across different sites such as Reality Titbit, HITC, and The Focus. Always keen to learn about celebrity news and the entertainment world, she loves turning these into stories to share with the readers. Graduating from Kingston University with a BA (Hons) in Journalism in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, she found herself Keeping Up With The Kardashians more than anything else. Fun fact, it has turned into Ashley’s favourite topic to talk about these days - that and the members of BLACKPINK.