At peaceful rest lies Brother Claude, Planted here beneath this sod.
“Did you know that that tombstone is a reference to one of the Imagineers?” I asked my wife. “In fact, most of them here in the graveyard refer to Imagineers. That one refers to Claude Coats who worked on the design of the Haunted Mansion®.”
In memory of our patriarch, dear departed, Grandpa Marc.
“Grandpa Marc is Marc Davis who was one of the art directors for the Mansion.” I added as we made our way to the looming doors ahead.
Requiescat Francis Xavier. No time off for good behavior.
“Xavier Atencio co-wrote the song, ‘Grim, Grinning Ghosts’ for the attraction.” At this point, I looked over at my wife to make sure her eyes hadn’t glazed over from boredom (or from the crazy hot, Florida sun). This was not the first time I’d pointed out some of hidden details that day, but she still seemed interested so I continued. She actually told me later that she really enjoyed hearing about those references.
It’s been awhile since I’ve written here, so let me reintroduce myself. My name is Chris Fox, and I have been a fan of Disney my whole life. It started on the small screen with the Disney Afternoon and quickly grew to the big screen with the animation renaissance in the 90’s. By the time I took my first trip to the parks, when I was 10, I was hooked.
Over the years, as I’ve had opportunities to revisit the parks, I began to notice something interesting. The Imagineers seem to have hidden nods and references to various other aspects of the Disney company all over the place. Whether they refer to a movie, another park attraction, or to Disney history itself (like the tombstones), they act almost like inside jokes. Just like, for example, when your friend doesn’t have to explain what “purple chickens” means to have you on the floor laughing, just saying the phrase is enough, these references are meant for those who already know what they’re referring to.
They also don’t have to have a direct connection to the attraction itself. If the tombstones had random names on them, it wouldn’t detract from the ride, but using Imagineers’ names adds another layer to the proverbial onion. For me, it’s a game. Where are they and what do they mean? But I also like pointing them out to my friends and family – after all, what good is a joke if nobody gets it?
That’s what I want to do with this series. I want to virtually travel through the parks, resorts, themed lands and attractions to see what inside jokes we can find and how they connect back to other areas of the Disney company. In fact, there was one attraction in particular that I really enjoyed exploring on my last trip…but that’s for next time. Until then:
What are some of your favorite inside jokes hidden around the World?
(Photo from the author’s personal collection.)
Chris grew up during the Disney renaissance of animation and took his first trip to Walt Disney World® when he was ten. Even though he has loved Disney his whole life, his obsession didn’t start until he began planning a trip for his honeymoon. Right now, his primary job (at least the one that doesn’t pay the bills) is to indoctrinate his daughter with his love of Disney while at the same time convincing his wife to move to Orlando, so he can become a tour guide in the parks.