Top L.A. Legends # 13: Disney’s Frozen Head is at Disneyland

disneyonice.jpgIt’s a popular legend that’s famous all over the world, not just with us locals. The word is that Walt Disney was cryogenically frozen either before he died or shortly after and is awaiting a cure for lung cancer at which point they’ll revive him and cure him.

Variations on this urban legend say that it was just his head frozen (well, then they don’t need a cure for lung cancer, just a willing body for transplantation). Further, the legend goes on to say that said frozen head is being kept at Disneyland (under the Pirates of the Caribbean ride).

Whether or not this is true, Walt Disney has a memorial at Forest Lawn in Glendale where his ashes are said to reside. Further, his death certificate is signed by the cremator guy at said Forest Lawn. (Snopes has both the death certificate and a photo of his cemetery marker.) Snopes also has Disney’s will on their website, which makes no mention of any money to be used for his perpetual chilly care (it also makes no mention of his cremation or funeral at all and was dated before his cancer diagnosis).

What is clear is that Disney was interested in the future and technology. But what is also well documented is that Disney died quickly. He was diagnosed with lung cancer on November 2, 1966. He was dead by December 15, 1966 (at age 65). It wasn’t until January 1967 that the first documented case of cryogenics was attempted.

The rumor first surfaced in 1969 (or at least that’s when it was documented) in the French magazine Ici Paris. I found a record of it in an article in the The Lima News from 1970. The rumor is often chalked up to the animators at the Disney studios. Who knew that one of the most enduring tales they’d create was actually not animated but actually of suspended animation?

As far as I’m concerned, I consider this legend false. If Disney had died in the seventies, I might find it a little easier to swallow as the technology was at least a little better known (though still not feasible). Anyone have any testimony they want to add to this one?

Full coverage at Snopes.

4 Replies to “Top L.A. Legends # 13: Disney’s Frozen Head is at Disneyland”

  1. Gustavo – while it’s true that the legend is that the frozen head is in Orange County, Disney did live, work and die in Los Angeles County and his grave is here, too.

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