Couple on computer looking into the Walt Disney frozen body theory.

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Fact or Fiction: Was Walt Disney Frozen?

The rumor that Walt Disney's body was cryogenically frozen has been widespread since his death in 1966. But is it true? Trust & Will explains.

Patrick Hicks

Patrick Hicks, @PatrickHicks

Head of Legal, Trust & Will

Was Walt Disney frozen after death? There are some rumors suggesting that Walt Disney, the beloved creator behind Mickey Mouse and Disneyland, was cryogenically preserved after his death in 1966. Further, there’s a rumor that his frozen body is hidden deep beneath Disneyland. Are these rumors true? Trust & Will investigates. 

Is Walt Disney's Body Frozen?

Walter Elias Disney, commonly known as Walt Disney, is the world-famous animator and business tycoon that founded the Disney franchise.

Disney visited his doctor after experiencing leg and neck pain. Sadly, x-rays and following surgeries revealed an aggressive lung cancer that had spread throughout his body. Although the cancer was treated immediately, the beloved icon passed away in a matter of weeks, on December 15, 1966.

While these are factual details of Disney’s death, it’s what happens after that becomes quite an enigma, surrounded with secrecy and speculation. One of the popular rumors surrounding Walt Disney’s death was that he had his body frozen. 

Cryonic preservation is a method of preserving a body by freezing it in a liquid nitrogen vapor chamber. It is stored for the foreseeable future, although scientists state that the technology to reanimate a cryonically preserved body is not available today, and it may never be. Individuals who choose to have their remains frozen often have a “nothing to lose” mindset, but have optimism for a future world where the science or technology to revive or reanimate a frozen body is possible. Cryonics is a controversial topic, as many believe it is science fiction, with an emphasis on the word  fiction. 

There are even some rumors claiming that Walt Disney’s frozen body is hidden deep underneath the Disneyland grounds in Anaheim, CA. Some claim that it is under Cinderella’s Castle or under the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. 

Although there must be so many fans that would love to see their beloved animator come back to life, the rumors are not true — Walt Disney was not frozen. 

The first documented case of cryonic preservation took place one month after Disney’s death. The subject was Dr. James Bedford, a psychologist who was cryonically preserved and stored under the care of Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a non-profit organization that leads the charge in cryonic preservation technology. 

If cryonic preservation didn’t begin until a month after Disney’s death, how and why did these rumors begin? 

Where did the Walt Disney frozen rumor come from?

No one can pinpoint exactly where the rumors about Walt Disney’s allegedly frozen body, as well as its hiding place, came from. 

In 1964, Robert Ettinger published the book, The Prospect of Immortality, which created a buzz about cryonic preservation. With Disney passing away just too years later, the idea of him freezing his body wasn’t implausible. However, the rumors didn’t just start there; they continued long after his death.

In 1986, twenty years after Disney’s death, author Leonard Mosley published the biography Disney’s World. The book claimed that Disney was fascinated by cryonic preservation as his health declined, and that he had his lung surgically removed and preserved in its entirety in case he was later brought back to life.

However, many of the claims and statements made by Mosley were discredited. Disney passed away just weeks after his cancer diagnosis, not leaving him very much time to research and think about cutting-edge science. Further, doctors preserved only samples of his lung for scientific study, not the entire organ.

Mosley credits colleagues and advisors as the sources of his information on Walt Disney. While it’s possible that employees could have perpetuated a rumor regarding Disney’s cryonic preservation, much of the book’s claims and statements have since been discredited. 

A second possible source of the Disney cryonics rumor is Marc Elliot’s 1993 biography, Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince. The biography continued the narrative regarding Disney’s desire to preserve his body. Further, the book made it appear that Disney was obsessed with death, that he had a “growing preoccupation with his own mortality.” The book also stated that Disney wanted to preserve his body at all costs. 

However, Elliot did not name any sources. Not only were his claims discredited by Disney authorities, Disney’s direct family members denied having had any conversations with Walt regarding his desire to be frozen. His daughter Diane stated in 1972 that she does not believe that Disney had ever heard of cryonics, let alone would he have had a desire to be frozen.

Was Walt Disney cremated or buried?

Family members of Walt Disney have confirmed that his end-of-life wishes were to be cremated. His death certificate shows that he was cremated just two days after his passing, a total of 34 days after his cancer was discovered. 

Where are Walt Disney’s remains?

Walt Disney’s ashes were interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. You can find his marked burial plot there, in a small private garden located to the left of the Freedom Mausoleum entrance. 

Cremation, burial & natural funerals– know your burial options

Was Walt Disney frozen? While the public loves a good conspiracy theory, attempts to claim that Walt Disney had his remains cryonically preserved have been discredited. His own family members have provided statements that Disney was cremated shortly after his death. His ashes were interred at a memorial park, along with those of other family members. 

Disney notoriously hated funerals, and thus kept the details surrounding his illness and end-of-life wishes very private. When he passed away, he did not have a funeral, and only his immediate family members were present for the interment of his ashes. Perhaps this desire for privacy by a man loved all around the world created room for speculation.

The mystery surrounding Disney’s end-of-life wishes does get one thinking about their own preferences. How private are you regarding your own wishes? Would you want to be cremated, buried, or even cryonically preserved? Would you want the world to know, or would you want your decisions to be kept private? 

Learn more about different types of funerals to help you ponder that decision. Whatever you decide, be sure that at least one person will be made aware of your wishes, no matter how private you wish to be. Make your end-of-life wishes known by documenting them in your estate plan. Take our free quiz to see where you should get started, or compare our different estate planning and settlement options today!

Is there a question here we didn’t answer? Browse more topics in our learn center or chat with a live member support representative!

Trust & Will is an online service providing legal forms and information. We are not a law firm and we do not provide legal advice.

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