10 Crazy Things That Have Happened On Walt Disney World Property

Tigger at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World may be magical, but there are times when the magic isn’t quite as obvious as others. Accidents happen, and sometimes there are even deaths. Other times the magic dissipates a bit because someone is just plain stupid or selfish. Here are ten crazy things that have happened on Walt Disney World property. Some of them have happened more than once, and are so noted. Not all of these incidents have been officially documented. Some have been reported by Cast Members, others were witnessed by guests. Remember, when you visit Walt Disney World, don’t let your common sense stay at home. Follow the rules, and be careful. The welcome sign does not make people invincible. If you’ve seen something crazy happen at Walt Disney World, feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

10. Stroller Thefts

Stroller thefts are more common than you would expect at Walt Disney World. It is not really all that surprising, given the fact that countless families will leave strollers loaded with bags at the entrance to rides without thinking twice about it. Sometimes it is a bag that is left on the stroller that is stolen, others the entire vehicle is taken. Never leave valuables on your stroller. Don’t expect a nearby Cast Member to keep an eye on things for you, he won’t know what belongs to who. If your stroller is stolen, report it right away. There are eyes everywhere at Walt Disney World, and the quicker that you report the theft, the higher the chance that your items will be recovered.

9. Spreading Ashes

From time to time, someone will bring the ashes of a Disney-obsessed loved one and plan to scatter them on a favorite ride. The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Space Mountain seem to be three of the more popular rides to want to scatter the ashes on. The problem is, scattering ashes at Walt Disney World is not allowed. Even on a dark ride there are cameras that are constantly being watched, and when someone is observed scattering ashes the ride will be shut down. A special crew will then be brought in to clean things up. The loved one will not end up at the final destination that was hoped for.

8. Sneaking a Baby on a Ride

Height restrictions are in place for a reason, but people still try to beat them. One of the worst violations has to be when a couple carried a duffel bag onto Space Mountain. A Cast Member noticed that the bag was moving, and asked to see what was in it. Inside was the couple’s six month old baby. This story might be an urban legend, unfortunately it does sound plausible.

7. Two Deaths After Family Rides

The rules for many rides express that people with certain medical conditions should not ride. The thrill rides have a long list of warnings, but you wouldn’t expect a family ride to be a problem. In 2014, there were two deaths after riding what most people consider tame rides. In October of that year a 54 year old woman lost consciousness after riding Toy Story  Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. On Christmas Day, a 22 year old woman had a similar experience on It’s a Small World. Both women later died. The deaths were contributed to preexisting conditions, and nothing was found to be wrong with either ride.

6. Fire at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a fairly tame roller coaster. On November 1, 2014, it offered a different kind of thrill. The ride caught on fire! Burning embers from Wishes Nighttime Spectacular landed on the exterior of the ride and started a small fire. Video of the blaze went viral, which looked worse than it actually was. The fire was out in a matter of minutes. There was no report of injuries, and the ride reopened less than two hours later. There was no mechanical damage to the coaster.

5. Hiring the Disabled

Some people will go to extreme lengths to cut to the front of the line. One despicable practice included hiring a disabled person to visit with a group or a family, so that everyone could skip the lines. This went both ways, with ads running in various publications, offering services. The practice (and others who also took advantage of the system) became enough of a problem that Disney had to change some policies for guests with disabilities. The Disability Access Service was created because of people who abused the old system. Guests with disabilities now need to obtain an Access Card. Cast Members will give them a return time, instead of granting automatic front of the line privileges.

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4. Keep Your Hands Inside the Boat

On most rides at Walt Disney World you are told to “keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times”. On July 10, 2014, a man from the United Kingdom did not listen. He stuck his right hand outside of the boat while riding Pirates of the Caribbean. As a result, he lost the tips of his pinky and ring fingers. The ride was shut down and inspected, but no problems were found. It is rumored that part of the 2015 refurbishment of the ride was to prevent a repeat incident.

3. A Loaded Gun

In May of 2013, a grandmother was riding DINOSAUR with her grandson when she found something quite unexpected; a loaded .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol was on the ride’s seat. She immediately gave the weapon to a Cast Member. Minutes later, Angelo Lista returned to the ride to reclaim his gun. Lista had a concealed weapons permit and claimed to not know that he was not allowed to carry it into the park. He said that it fell out of his pocket on the turbulent ride. Lista was escorted out of the park, but the incident caused security measures to be reexamined. According to the Walt Disney World website, no “weapons of any kind” are permitted on Disney property.

2. Hostage Situation

In most situations, Walt Disney World is a relatively safe place. On June 29, 2000, that was not quite the case when a man grabbed his four year old son and a waiter. Bismark Rodriguez claimed to have several guns and a bomb at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. He and his wife were going through a divorce, and he wanted to be able to see his other children. Some of the rooms were evacuated, and guests played games in the lobby. They were not told what was going on. The standoff lasted for about 11 hours, and the hostages were released unharmed.

1. Tigger Punched a Teenager?

In January, 2007, a video was released that took the Internet by a storm. A family from New Hampshire was visiting Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) and taking a picture with Tigger. The father was recording the encounter. The family claims that Tigger punched 14 year old Jerry Monaco Jr. in the jaw. The teen’s father, Jerry Monaco Sr., claimed that his family did not want to receive any special compensation, he just wanted an apology from Michael J. Fedelem (the Cast Member in the Tigger costume). Monaco Jr. was later treated at a local hospital, and Fedelem was suspended as the incident was investigated. The public was overwhelmingly on the side of Tigger. In the video, Monaco Jr. could be seen reaching behind Tigger, and it appeared that he was messing with the costume in some way. Many people believed that the “punch” was really Fedelem moving so that the costume wouldn’t be unzipped, and that the hit was accidental. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office investigated, and no charges were filed.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.