You can’t mutter the word “Disney” without images of glittery princesses, magical spells, and amusement parks full of intricately themed rides fluttering through your mind. Walt Disney knew how to entice wide-eyed kids and tap into adults’ inner children. However, just because his name is synonymous with “wholesome” doesn’t mean his entire career was just that. In fact, he threw one of wildest parties any movie studio ever saw, and some of the events that unfolded throughout the evening were anything but family friendly.

Walt Disney was well-aware that all of the people working at his studios were constantly under pressure to crank out work. Even though his team was super talented, Walt’s first feature drained them of energy.

Disney History Institute

Walt’s animators created several short cartoons over the years, but the first feature-length full color animated film ever created was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The production was grueling, and the team would soon learn just how exhausting such a big project could be.

Bettmann / Getty Images

Nobody had ever produced a film like Snow White before, and employees would often work 80-hour work weeks in their rush to get this massive undertaking finished. So after the project was finally done, Walt planned a massive event to celebrate their success.

FilmPublicityArchive / Getty Images

After much debate on the proper location for such an elegant — and well-earned — gathering, Walt settled on the luxurious Norconian Resort in Norco, California. He then sent a letter detailing the party to the employees written in a way that was undeniably “Walt.”

Disney History Institute

In it, he fleshed out the type of activities that would occur. At first it looked like nothing but a day of family-friendly activities, and employees with inter-office marriages couldn’t bring along guests. But a recommendation from Walt suggested some less squeaky-clean fun.

Disney History Institute

He advised people who planned on boozing heavily to bring Bromo-Seltzer, a popular remedy for hangovers. People were excited to party hard, but they also expected Walt to provide them with something else for all their hard work on the animated hit.

Disney History Institute

Rumors swirled that due to the success of Snow White, all of the animators would receive fat bonuses at the end of the night. This created a tangible buzz of excitement from the moment people began arriving, and it would soon cause a problem.

Disney History Institute

But the day would start innocently enough. There was a plethora of field activities and sporting events, including races of different kinds, as well as golf tournaments. Trophies were even awarded to the winning participants throughout the day.

Fred Morley / Getty Images

Ted Sears, a Disney Studio storyteller, took the stage after everyone filed back indoors for dinner and handed out the “Walt’s Field Day” trophies. It was at this point people thought Walt would bring up the bonuses they had been waiting for.

Disney History Institute

Everyone loudly applauded as Walt greeted the room of smiling employees and was ready to cheer with excitement once word got out they were getting a hefty chunk of change. However, Walt never mentioned bonuses.

Disney History Institute

Attendees were ticked off, especially the younger employees who had no experience working as hard as they did on Snow White. This led workers to believe that the party was their “bonus.” If that was the case, they were going to get their money’s worth.

Bettmann / Getty Images

Most of the employees immediately hit the bar hard, getting nice and drunk. If Walt wasn’t going to give them a real bonus, they would make sure he’d regret it by draining the open bar.

Disney History Institute

As the dance floor opened up after the awards ceremony, it seemed more like people were letting their anger out than actually having a good time. Plus, all the booze fueled the animators’ hidden inhibitions that were previously kept at bay.

Disney History Institute

As one animator stated of the liquor consumption: “By the end of the first evening, something snapped. There was a lot of booze there, and it was evident.” People were raring to get wild, and things began to get embarrassing.

Disney History Institute

At one point an employee called in a policeman to hassle Walt as a joke. But according to Animator Ward Kimball, “Walt was so drunk himself that he kept arguing with the policeman and telling him he was going to have his badge.” Yikes.

Rainforest Action Network / Flickr

Apparently clothing started coming off as some of the group went skinny-dipping. One animator named Freddie Moore was so tanked he fell out off a two-story balcony into a bush. Weirdly enough, that wasn’t even the most wild thing that happened that night.

Disney History Institute

Reportedly, somebody had even gotten a hold of one of the horses on the resort’s property and ridden it into the pool! The hotel staff was at their wit’s end with these “Disney deadbeats,” and the animator’s behavior soon had consequences.

Disney History Institute

Eventually everyone passed out, and Walt was furious about the shenanigans that went down. So angry, in fact, that he never spoke about it again, and animators who wanted to keep their jobs didn’t either. But its memory would live on.

Disney History Institute

“It was one hell of a party,” wrote animator Bill Justice. So why things go off the rails? Was it booze? Frustration? Though the team would eventually get their bonuses, it proved not everything Walt did was successful. But this wasn’t his biggest misstep.

Raymond Kleboe / Getty Images

Although Disney parks and movies are known and loved all across the world, Walt had one project that doesn’t get very much attention. Maybe because it rubs some people the wrong way. See, Walt Disney was obsessed with the American dream.

Travis Wise / Flickr

The man believed in utter suburban perfection. In his mind, the ideal neighborhood would have well-groomed lawns, friendly folks, and a white picket fence in the yard. And in 1996, this Leave It To Beaver landscape became a reality — sort of.

CBS

Celebration, Florida, was founded with this picture in mind. It’s a community that lies beyond the borders of Walt Disney World while still existing on Disney-owned property. As of now, it’s home to around 9,000 residents.

This eerily perfect neighborhood lives up to Walt’s vision in almost every way. Intended to be a mix of fantasy and reality, everything is regulated, down to children’s school uniforms and the design of homes.

Wikimedia Commons

Only six styles of home are permitted in Celebration. Additionally, they must be either pink, yellow, pastel blue, or white in color. No billboards are allowed in the area. Each home can only have two cars in the driveway.

schaerfsystem / Pixabay

Pets that weigh more than 50 pounds are not permitted in Celebration, and the property managers reserve the right to remove any pet at any time. It won’t surprise you there are breed restrictions against “aggressive” dogs.

WikiCommons

Much like the Disney parks, every detail of the neighborhood is scrutinized. Lawns are required to be a specific length, and if the grass isn’t right, you might catch someone on your lawn with a pair of scissors. In a way, Celebration is what Disney had in mind.

Inside Brookside

However, the town itself is just off. The air of perfection, while aesthetically pleasing, is distinctly unnatural. The place is eerily disingenuous because of the manufactured happiness that oozes from every perfectly manicured square inch.

Edwin / Flickr

Residents, of course, feel differently. It may have something to do with the fact that most all of them are complete Disney fanatics. (If you’re familiar with a grown adult who really loves Disney, you know fanatic is an apt description).

@amyyyelise / Instagram

If you don’t love Disney, like a lot, you run the risk of being run out of town. Not actually, but in all seriousness, you might not be invited to the next cookie social at the town center. There are a couple glaring problems with the population of Celebration.

Heather Redman / 15th Wing

Number one being that over 90% of residents are white. Number two being that the median income is well into the six figures. The dream of Celebration is not designed for everyone, apparently, and in 2010, a grave crime shattered any remaining idealism.

No matter how exquisite it seems on the surface, no place is without fault. That year, the community was shocked by a brutal murder that took place within its borders. Matteo Giovanditto was strangled inside his apartment.

NBC Miami

A random transient man was later arrested for the crime, but it left a permanent scar on the town. There was another major event in 2010 that permeated the perfect bubble Walt created in Celebration.

Wikimedia Commons

During the recession of 2010, one resident got his home foreclosed on. Instead of leaving his beloved Disney designed home behind, he barricaded himself inside for fourteen hours before the SWAT team arrived.

News 965

When the Celebration resident wouldn’t budge, authorities released tear gas into his home and forced their way in. Tragically, they found him inside, dead of what appeared to be suicide. Since these events, Disney has sold Celebration to a different management company. That didn’t save the neighborhood.

Tragedy struck once again in Celebration. In January of 2020, resident Anthony Todt murdered his entire family in their home. He faces four counts of murder, as well as animal cruelty for the death of the family dog.

The Todt Family

A crime of this caliber is so nightmarish and grisly, it’s difficult to imagine it happening anywhere — let alone in Celebration of all places. The community is still reeling from the horrific murder.

NBC News

If you were to drop by today, you would see the same Disney standards reflected. In the years since it has opened, nothing has changed. Within the eleven miles that constitutes Celebration, nothing ever changes.

Wikimedia Commons

The reality of living in an eerily curated town where your every move is regulated doesn’t feel like reality at all. Most would take the McDonald’s billboard and some litter on main street to maintain their freedom.

Celebration isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But neither is actual Disney World. Enjoying the park for the fantasy it is and going home to your real life seems like a superior way to live. There is abundant evidence that Disney really is the happiest place on earth.

needpix.com

Disney characters love interacting with park guests, but even they have to draw the line somewhere. For a true ladies’ man like Gaston, getting tied down in a marriage is the most beastly thing he could think of!

2. Donald Duck’s nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie always get into trouble, which is probably why Donald is so protective of these actual ducks. On the other hand, maybe he’s chasing them out of the park because they didn’t buy tickets.

3. You want to dress comfortably when you’re out and about in the Disney heat, but make sure you don’t wear anything that could lead to an awkward situation. Minnie surely loves all kinds of music, but even she doesn’t need to see a shirt covered in mouse skulls.

4. Disney is where dreams come true…unless another tourist gets in your way. This poor man realized he was blocking a photo session of a surprise proposal, but it was already too late. On the bright side, he gave the couple a goofy photo they would never forget.

Reddit / SpnkyHappy

5. Did Woody and Jessie get caught sleeping on the job? Not quite. If you shout “Andy’s coming!” at the Toy Story characters in Disney, they will instantly drop to the ground and pretend to be inanimate.

6. Dean Norris is best known for playing tough guys, so it’s nice to see him embracing his inner princess. The Breaking Bad actor shared this photo via Twitter and joked that he was auditioning to be the eighth dwarf. That actually sounds like a movie worth seeing!

7. The internet is filled with wacky photos from the top of Splash Mountain, but this one takes the (urinal) cake. These friends expertly posed as if the camera caught them during their morning bathroom routine. That’s a lot of props to carry around on vacation, but it was definitely worth it.

8. Beware of dog! Goofy was probably just palling around with this toddler, though this picture makes it look like he’s getting ready to swallow the kid whole! Either way, we can only hope Goofy remembered to chew a breath mint before picking up the kid.

9. Tigger loves attention, so much so that he won’t let anyone else’s face appear in a group photo. Hopefully, he’ll someday learn that the Hundred Acre Wood is large enough for more than one big personality.

10. Most kids are thrilled to meet their favorite Disney characters, but this girl can’t wait for Sleeping Beauty to beat it. Maybe she could’ve been a better sport, but then again, the princess shouldn’t be interrupting strangers’ breakfasts first thing in the morning.

11. Everybody knows Gaston failed to woo Belle, but here he is striking out for a second time. Even for cartoons, Tinder dates can go off the rails. Maybe he shouldn’t have turned down that engagement ring from earlier!

12. We’re all used to seeing Hollywood love triangles in the tabloids, but this takes it to the next level! We expect this kind of behavior from Donald Duck, but from Goofy? It’s almost enough to break your heart.

13. Don’t worry — no horrific accident occurred here. One Disney guest just saw a golden opportunity to pay homage to cartoon classics by placing his head under this vault. Though he wasn’t in any danger here, we can only hope that no nauseous visitors got sick on that walkway earlier in the day.

14. Disney World is full of surprises! Case in point: Cristina was over the moon once she finished her Disney race, but then her boyfriend topped that by proposing! However, one of their fellow racegoers looks like she was even more blown away than Cristina.

15. You can’t beat dad humor! Where other people would’ve just seen a magic lamp decoration, this father recognized a prime photo opportunity. Coincidentally, this picture depicts exactly how you feel after eating your way through every country in Epcot.

16. Every kid dreams of going to Disneyland, but there can be too much of a good thing. This little girl couldn’t even keep up the energy for a nice family photo. Somebody get that tired kid some sugar, STAT!

17. They say that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. However, the guys in the Chip and Dale costumes appear to be enjoying their jobs a little bit too much here. Don’t they know it’s rude to stare, especially when you’re wearing a mask with giant eyeballs?

18. It turns out that Disney characters aren’t happy to see everybody. For this Little Mermaid, spotting her arch-nemesis Ursula on a guest’s shirt was enough to take her voice away. Awkward moments like this happen even under the sea.

19. Every parent who brings their kids to Disney deserves a medal, but this dad clinched first place! When his daughter dressed as Ariel for the day, he did the right thing and cosplayed as the great King Triton. He really earned that crown!

20. Would you get excited if we told you that a celebrity was making eyes at you from across the room? What if we told you that the celebrity was Mickey Mouse? It has to be hard to resist his charms, especially when he’s wearing his finest gloves and bowtie.

While there’s plenty of fun out in the open, little Easter Eggs hidden throughout the park, as well as its storied history, make this favorite vacation spot truly special. Even a born-and-bred Mouseketeer would be shocked to learn these little-known facts about Disneyland…

1. The office you pass while waiting in line for the Indiana Jones Adventure ride is filled with relics from the movies; the troop transport truck outside is from the desert chase scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Disney Shawn

2. The park has only had three unscheduled closures throughout its history. They include the day after JFK was assassinated, the day of the Northridge earthquake in 1994, and on September 11, 2001.

Disney Parks

3. When the park first opened in 1955, tickets were just $1! It would cost an adult $3.50 to enter the park in 1971, $9.50 in 1981, $33 in 1991, $48 in 2001, and $85 in 2011. Today, admission to Disneyland costs between $97 and $135.

Disneyland / Instagram

4. There is a small basketball court hidden at the top of the Matterhorn. Strange yes, but at the time, there was an Anaheim city ordinance that prohibited structures from exceeding a certain height unless it was a sports facility.

Invisible Theme Park

5. It was only in 2012 that cast members were allowed to rock mustaches, beards, or goatees. All wanted facial hair must be grown in prior to the start of a working period, be kept maintained, and hair must not be longer than a quarter of an inch in length.

6. There are more than 200 feral cats in the park. They’re actually encouraged as they keep rodents at bay (not Mickey and Minnie, though) and out of sight of the park guests. Disneyland has feeding stations set up around the park.

Disneyland Cats / Instagram

7. Walt Disney constructed a secret apartment on the 2nd floor of the Main Street Firehouse, and it’s said that Walt Disney’s spirit still resides there!

Road Trippers

8. Walt Disney loved the park so much, he’d often stand in line and wait with guests. He wanted his experience to mimic the guests’ so he could make sure there was enough magic and enjoyment in his theme park.

9. Disneyland sells about 2.8 million churros and more than 14,000 bowls of Charred Nebraska Corn Chowder every year. Every two days, Disneyland sells enough popcorn to create a 200-foot-high stack of kernels.

Disneyland / Instagram

10. There’s a myth that the purple and orange teacups on the Mad Tea Party ride spin the fastest. They all spin the same speed depending on the person spinning the cups.

11. Since Disneyland has opened in 1955, more than 84 million Mickey Mouse ears have been sold in the California theme park. This makes the mouse ear hats the most popular tourist souvenir of all time.

12. Today, Disneyland hosts more than 60 different rides and attractions for guests. On its opening day, Disneyland in California had only 18 rides and attractions. Just 13 original rides, like the Jungle Cruise, the Disneyland Railroad, and Peter Pan’s flight, still stand.

13. There’s a secret pet cemetery hidden behind the Haunted Mansion attraction. It used to only be visible to those using the wheelchair accessible entrance, but today, anyone can see it.

14. All the plants in Tomorrowland are edible! The Imagineers believe that in the future all free space will be used to grow food. so the garden in the park is filled with red kale, white kale, green sage, strawberry guava bushes, and some orange trees.

15. There’s a real human skull amongst all the fakes decorating the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Imagineers wanted the skeleton’s sleeping quarters to look more real, so they obtained a human skull from the UCLA medical center!

16. Details make Disneyland a special place, but seeing others enjoy the park makes it a truly special place. Disney characters love interacting with park guests, but even they have to draw the line somewhere.