MK with SavvySpending part of your anniversary wandering through a graveyard may not sound romantic to some, but I was enjoying it.

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.



10 thoughts on “The Inside Jokes of Walt Disney World: An Introduction”

  1. DisneyGirlRuby says:

    Awesome very excited to read more! I love Disney’s inside jokes also so looking forward to your next post.

    Have a magical day!- Ruby 8:)

  2. Chris says:

    Hi Chris!

    Two of my favorite are the sewage canal running through Liberty Square and Mr. Toad handing over the deed to Owl in The Many Adventures of Pooh attraction. Just two of those clever little details that aren’t widely known outside of the Disney fan community!

  3. Caitlin Corsello (giantnfl) says:

    Great post, Chris! I can’t wait to read about more of your favorite hidden jokes and details. My favorites include many of the hidden references to Twilight Zone episodes in the Tower or Terror and the note referencing Marty Sklar in the finale scene of Carousel of Progress.

  4. Todd says:

    Hey Chris, I’m also looking forward to hearing more of the inside jokes/secrets of WDW. One of my favorites is the Nautilus carved into the inside of the tree near the entrance to The Many Adventures of Pooh attraction.

  5. lawrence says:

    ok – Google isnt helping with ‘Purple Chickens’ …….. Please expand on that one as i havent heard it before!
    For me, i love the windows on Main Street. M T Lott etc!

  6. lawrence says:

    ok ok – im having a non disney day – i just re read the post and now i get what ‘Purple Chickens’ is about! How silly do i feel!!!! lol

  7. JK says:

    So I’ll be the guy — what’s the “purple chicken” reference all about?

  8. Chris says:

    “Purple chickens” is just the first thing that popped into my head as an example of something that would need explanation to anyone who wasn’t “inside the joke” as it were.

  9. Tony McDaniel says:

    How about A Net Full Of Jello?

  10. While it’s not there any more, I used to love pointing out the murder weapon from Mary Poppins that used to be at the Frontierland Railroad station!