While rifling through all the fantastic suggestions in our fan mail, I found one that just begged for a blog post. Hearkening back to our fact-or-fiction roots, Mark asks whether Walt Disney’s head is really frozen in a lab somewhere. And if it’s fiction — how did the rumor get started?
It’s a great question. I’ve heard this Disney legend several times — but because it was always discussed facetiously, I never thought about it long enough to fully accept it or reject it. The rumor states that Walt Disney, the renowned animation genius and pioneer, had his dead body cryogenically frozen in hopes that future generations could revive him when they find a cure for his sickness. If this is true, perhaps this world hasn’t seen the end of his genius after all.
First of all, the official record states that Disney was cremated. However, the rumor lives on as a conspiracy theory. Storing bodies at low temperatures for future revival is called cryonics. Before Disney’s death (in 1966), interest in the idea was mounting, and the first (known) body-freezing happened just a month after his death. An article from Snopes says that, considering all the medical publications on cryonics during Disney’s lifetime, he certainly could have been aware of the idea.
The article also explains the origin of the myth: two biographies (published in 1986 and 1993) discuss Disney’s fascination with cryonics. The Snopes writers point out, however, that these works are riddled with inaccuracies and have been widely discredited. They also go on to smash most of the oft-cited supporting evidence to bits. However, they do admit that he designed many attractions that feature a fascination with the future. It seems the legend is probably bunk, but within the realm of possibility.
If the Disney legend is true, he wouldn’t be the only celebrity in storage — baseball legend Ted Williams’ body was frozen in 2002.