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Debunking Myths: Is Walt Disney Frozen?

Is Disney's body cryopreserved under the Pirates of the Caribbean?

When explaining cryonics to someone who isn’t familiar with the subject, the first comment we hear is, “Ohh, just like Disney!” 

A lot has been speculated about Walt Disney and his supposed cryopreservation. If he were, that would make him one of the most famous “frozen” people (or cryopreserved) in the world.

But was he really cryopreserved? Rumors have surrounded the renowned animator's death for decades that it can be difficult to tell fact from fiction. We at Tomorrow Bio, the first cryonics organization in Europe, are interested in cryopreserved (or not) people. So, let’s have a look at what happened to Walt Disney and how these rumors came about.

A statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse at Disneyland in Anaheim, California
Disney and Mickey Mouse statue at Disneyland in Anaheim, California

The Origin Of The Myth

Walt Elias Disney, along with his brother Roy, founded the Walt Disney Company in 1923. At the time, it was a small animation studio focusing on short animated silent films - years before Mickey Mouse came to life. Today, Disney is one of the largest companies in the world by market capitalization. Just look at the numbers: 1400 live-action movies, 400 animated movies, 12 theme parks, 51 resorts and 350 shops across the globe. For generations, Disney has been entertaining and shaping the imagination of kids and adults all around the world. 

With such a worldwide reputation, it’s hard to avoid rumors. Most notably for Walt, rumors surrounding his death and alleged cryopreservation.

If a genius like Walt Disney were able to extend his life, who knows what they would be creating with modern animation techniques and technology.

But what exactly is Disney's link to cryonics? Was he really cryopreserved? First, we need to examine Walt’s death.

Disney’s Death

Throughout most of his life, Walt was a prolific smoker.  In early November 1966, Disney was diagnosed with lung cancer, and less than a month later, died of circulatory collapse on December 15th. 

So, that’s how he died, but where did the rumors come from?

A photograph of Walt Disney from the Los Angeles Time's archive.
From the Los Angeles Times’ archives: Wizard of Fantasy Walt Disney Dies

First Rumors

Starting in 1967, different media outlets published pieces referring to Disney’s hypothetic cryopreservation.

  • In early 1967 a reporter from The National Spotlite, claimed he had snuck into St. Joseph’s Hospital, where Disney was hospitalized. There, he found the recently deceased Disney suspended in a cryogenic metal cylinder inside a storage room. There is, however, no proof that the magazine, or the reporter, ever existed. In addition, unlike what we see in the movies, dewars don’t have a glass through which you can look inside. This is to assure better thermal insulation and long term storage. Still, the reporter could have opened the lid of a random cryogenic metal cylinder in a storage room and recognized Disney’s through the nitrogen gasses...

  • In 1969, a provocative US supermarket tabloid called The National Tattler continued the rumors, predicting Disney would be thawed out in 1975. That same tabloid published earlier in May 1955 an article with the title “With no arms and legs, HUMAN CATERPILLAR is husband and father!” - That says a lot about their reliability. From there, the myth proliferated, with newspapers around the globe reporting it as a fact.

  • In addition, some of Disneyland's former employees contributed to the spreading of this “secret information”. Their quotes were used in two separate biographies of Disney: Leonard Mosely’s Disney’s World (1986) and Marc Eliot’s Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince (1993). According to the biographies, Disney’s obsession with death led him to an interest in cryonics. This is the only detail of the myth that could actually be true.

An interior photograph of Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
Pirates of Caribbean attraction - Credit image: Los Angeles Times

  • In 1972 Robert Nelson, president at the time of the Cryonics Society of California (CSC), claimed in a Los Angeles Times story that, quoted, “Walt Disney wanted to be frozen”. He added that, unluckily, Disney “missed out”, since “he never specified it in writing and when he died his family didn’t go for it”. When asked to elaborate, he added that: “We got a call from Walt Disney Studios, asking us how many people had been frozen, and what kind of facilities we had, and who the medical staff was. He was a very brilliant individual and he was checking all the bases.” We can neither confirm nor deny the occurrence of this call. The CSC was actually the society that performed the first human cryopreservation. Only a few weeks after Disney’s death. It also performed other 9 cryopreservations, according to Nelson, between 1967 and 1970. 

Are We Sure This Is Just A Myth?

So, what’s the verdict? Was Walt Disney cryopreserved?

The answer is…no.

Nothing but a traditional death ceremony for dear O’l Disney and his family. 

Two days after his death, a private funeral was held by his family, while his body was cremated and interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Fun fact: the CSC (Cryonics Society of California) performed the first human cryopreservation only a few weeks after Disney’s death.

Although there are legal documents proving it, many people around the world suspect that things went differently. According to some, Disney’s body (or head) was cryopreserved and is now kept hidden under his most famous attraction: the Pirates of Caribbean at Disneyland Anaheim, California. Or, according to others, under Sleeping Beauty's castle, waiting for medical technology to develop enough to treat cancer and bring this genius back to life.

It is true that Disney was fascinated with death. At the same time, he was very much interested in technology and innovation. Just think of his EPCOT - “Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow” project, a themed park opened only after his death that was dedicated to the celebration of human future achievements and cultures.

But, as Disney’s daughter Diane wrote in 1972, “There is absolutely no truth that my father, Walt Disney, wished to be frozen. I doubt that my father had ever heard of cryonics.” 

An exterior photograph of Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
Disneyland in Anaheim, California, the first Disney’s amusement park

We can’t really tell if Disney knew of the existence of cryonics. There is a chance that he did read Robert Ettinger’s book The Prospect of Immortality that, at the time of Disney’s death, was a much debated book. This is probably another reason why this rumor spread rapidly. However, there is no solid evidence, no document, and no credible witness to prove Disney was cryopreserved.

In addition, cryonics was in its infancy at the time. If a prominent figure like Disney had chosen to be cryopreserved, no cryonics society would have kept it a secret. Just consider how much publicity cryonics would have gained back then having Disney as the first ever cryopreserved human.


The truth is that many people around the world would be happy to know that Disney was “frozen”, and that he will eventually come back to life, drawing cartoons again for future generations to love and admire. This is probably why the rumors endure, even if the evidence against it is strong. 

A photograph of Cinderella's Castle at Disneyland, California
Many people wish Disney could eventually come back

Cryopreservation is currently, however slim a possibility, the only chance for anyone to come back to life. We all would love to know that the people we love, if anything happened to them, they could live again. This chance may be still low, considering cryonics and medical technology have a long way ahead,  but it is still better than having no chance at all.

If you are interested in cryonics, for you or for the people you love, you can schedule a call with us. We would be happy to discuss the topic with you and show you how cryonics is an actual possibility today. And if you already know this is what you are looking for, you can sign up and join Tomorrow!

Tomorrow Bio is the worlds fastest growing human cryopreservation provider. Our all inclusive cryopreservation plans start at just 31€ per month. Learn more here.