Saturday, April 09, 2011

Cryptids in the Magic Kingdom

Cryptozoology, the study of hidden animals, ie; the search for animals not yet proven to exist, such as bigfoot, is not something typically associated with Disney. This summer's Winnie the Pooh will feature the animated short, The Ballad of Nessie about how the Loch Ness monster came to live in Loch Ness. Previously, Nessie could be found in Man, Monsters and Mystery, a fake documentary set out to prove whether or not the Loch Ness monster is real, also starring an animated lake monster set into real backgrounds. This segment was originally featured on The Wonderful World of Disney and can be found as an extra on the Pete's Dragon DVD. In 1971, the Wide World of Disney featured the two-part episode, "The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove" based on the story "The Strange Sea Monster of Strawberry Lake" a Mad Scientist's Club tale by Bertrand R. Brinley about a group of smart kids who construct a hoax sea monster. I really hope this shows up on DVD some time as it was a favorite of mine when it was shown on tv. 

Beyond that, there wasn't a whole lot of cryptozoology to be found in Disney Entertainment. Imagine my surprise at how much cryptozoology could be found at Walt Disney World. Given that we are talking about animals, even though they have not been proven to exist, most of the cryptids were found in Disney's Animal Kingdom including three very visible, very live, very real, former Cryptids; the okapi, komodo dragon, and gorilla. Like the sasquatch, these three animals (along with the giant squid and giant panda, among others) were believed to be the fanciful creations of local folklore. 

The most famous cryptid to be found in Disney's Animal Kingdom is the yeti. Once you enter the part of the park representing Asia, the yeti dominates in signs and decor. There are themed structures, shrines, statues, stores, and even exhibits from a non-existent yeti museum (very difficult to photograph as they line the congested queue to the Expedition Everest thrill ride which also features a gigantic yeti represented in projected 2-D animation, and sadly in a blink and you'll miss it audio-animatronic representation towards the ride's final drop.

It was great to see so much yeti material in one place, both folkloric, scientific, and utterly fantastic. It was also great to see cryptozoologist,  Loren Coleman's book on oilman and cryptozoology expedition funder, Tom Slick not only on sale in the gift shop, but part of the yeti museum display. Sadly, most of the other yeti souvenirs on sale were of a cute and/or cartoony nature, so no realistic or folkloric art  inspired yeti statue came home with us.

At the Norway pavillion in EPCOT' s World Showcase there were some examples of sea serpents to be found. Norse mythology has provided us with two famous sea monster's, the Kraken, and the Midgard Serpent, which circle's the world. The viking dragon ships also evoke the appearance of a sea monster and no doubt that's what inspired the two representations below. Non-cryptid folkloric creatures such as trolls, were the centerpiece of the Maelstrom boat ride in Norway.

The following images come from a previous visit, but can still be seen in Walt Disney World. 

Above is the sea monster seen in the nightly Electric Water Pageant, a water parade of barges carrying fanciful aquatic animals composed of lights. This can be seen on the Seven Seas Lagoon at the base of the Magic Kingdom, or from resorts, such as the Polynesian lining the lagoon.

The above sea serpent made of Lego bricks can easily be found in Downtown Disney. It is pretty enormous and impressive to see. 

If there are other cryptids in Walt Disney World, like their real world counterparts, they remain hidden, at least to me. If you know of any more please let me know what they are, and where to find them. 


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