This post was written by Caren Neile, author of Florida Lore: The Barefoot Mailman, Cowboy Bone Mizell, the Tallahassee Witch and Other Tales
It may surprise some readers of Florida Lore that although I do mention Disney several times in the book, I do not include any stories about either the Disney Company or the world-famous Walt Disney World theme park in Orlando. It’s not that I didn’t look for them. Although on one hand, I think the corporation is already too prominent by half in association with folklore, I knew people would be interested. But I just couldn’t find a good enough story that had been retold by several sources, which is part of the definition of folklore.
The following personal anecdote, however, is not only fun, but also has a whiff of urban legend, which definitely makes it worth a look. So although it’s not in the book, here, for Disney fans everywhere, is my retelling of a delightful little story shared by former Disney Company employee Jim Korkis on mouseplanet.com.
It seems that a certain Disney employee named Ron Heminger started out his “mouse-career” in 1955 as a dancer in Disneyland in Anaheim, California, at the Indian village in Frontierland. After several promotions, which led to jobs in management, he ended up working at Epcot in Florida. One fine day, Heminger and his boss were making their way through the Magic Kingdom, talking about the good old days when the park, which opened in 1971, was being created.
“One of the things I really regret is that we never did the time capsule,” Heminger told his supervisor. “We prepared the spot but just ran out of time.”
The boss had been hired some years later than Heminger, after the park was already open. But he had heard the stories about the time capsule, and he assured him that it was just an urban legend—that such a thing was in fact never actually planned. Heminger was so certain that such a spot had been set aside at Cinderella Castle, however, that he told his supervisor to meet him there a few hours later, after the park had closed for the night.
When Heminger met his still-scoffing boss at the Castle some time later, he handed him a flashlight. As he explained the crazy pace of work during the last few days of construction on the park, he carefully lifted a descriptive plaque, revealing a gaping hole in the ground.
It was enough of a shock for the supervisor to see the hole. But you can imagine his reaction when he shined the beam of the flashlight over it, peered inside, and saw what could only be taken for the skeleton of a long-forgotten worker!
When the poor man recovered somewhat from his horror, his laughing employee explained what he had actually uncovered. Earlier that evening, Heminger and a fellow employee had pilfered a skeleton from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. They carried it over to the Cinderella Castle, where they dressed it in an official Disney worker hard hat and vest. Then they pulled off the same descriptive plaque, and in the hole—which had obviously been dug out for something—they dropped the skeleton. Finally they fitted the plaque back in place and considered their leg-pulling preparations complete.