Have you ever wondered how hot the mascots at Walt Disney World must get in the humid Floridian air? Or how they can dance around and wave without ever seeming to get tired? I never really paid much mind to it. I always wanted to believe it was just the Disney magic that kept those poor people in those burning costumes going... but like most things, unfortunately, it's just not that simple.
It was summer of 2006, I was fourteen at the time. I took a well deserved vacation with my family down to Florida to have a magical vacation at the happiest place on earth. Along with my Mom, my sister, and of course me, was my Uncle Rick. He lived in Florida so it wasn't uncommon for him to accompany us on our trips down to Disney World. We visited Disneyland often because it was only about a five hour drive from our home in Phoenix, AZ. So, as you can imagine, it was always a big treat for us to fly down to Florida.
Me, my Mom, and my Sister were all huge Disney fans, and when I say huge, I mean HUGE. Disney memorabilia all over our home, seeing Disney movies on opening night/day, anything Disney, we've done it. That's one of the reasons this story is so painful to tell, along with many others.
My Uncle Rick on the other hand wasn't such a big Disney buff, in fact he was the opposite. He was a very religious man, always rambling on about his stories of the good ol' days when he was a teacher at a Sunday school. Uncle Rick was significantly older than my Mother. They were twelve years apart I think.
I was never a religious kid, nor am I now, but that didn't affect my relationship with my Uncle Rick. He was a great man; always happy, funny, and he just had something about him that made everyone who knew him smile when you brought him up. I couldn't have asked for a better man to be my Mother's brother.
My Uncle Rick had always had his likes and dislikes about Disney World, his dislikes consisted of: the unnatural happiness of the people there, the crowds, the loud sounds, the rides (I don't know how he couldn't have loved Pirates of the Caribbean either) and especially the way the people in those mascot costumes had to stand there for extended periods of a time in the blazing heat - just so the people could get a picture with them.
I tried to explain to him that it's their job, and that they aren't in any danger, but he would always find a way to counter my argument. Oh, and his likes consisted of: the turkey legs... even though he would still complain about how they were over priced.
He never seemed pleased when he was at Disney World, it was obvious the only reason he was there was because he wanted to spend time with us. This particular trip to Disney World was different though. Everything was fine and dandy up until we pulled up to the Walt Disney World gate that greets you at the entrance to the Disney property. I noticed that he had an uneasy look on his face as we passed under it. And then he got unusually quiet up until we had already parked and left the car. Instead of talking about the usual stories of his "good ol' days" he began to talk about a much darker subject... Hell.
It took me off guard, considering he never really brings up this subject unless he's telling us not to say it. I just looked at him as he went on talking about the suffering that goes on down there and how he hopes we never have to experience anything like that. Then my mom, when she overheard his ramblings, abruptly ordered him to "cut it out" and "just be happy that you're here!"
I had never heard my Uncle Rick talk like that, he had always been so joyful. I could tell from the tone in his voice that he was genuinely concerned, but I just couldn't figure out what had gotten into him to make him that upset. I also couldn't get what he said out of my head, "I don't want you to ever experience suffering like that." I didn't know what he meant.
He seemed very unlike himself. He was sad. Not frustrated, not annoyed, just sad. I kept asking him what was wrong but he just looked the other way and ignored me. We had been in the Magic Kingdom Park for about an hour-and-a-half (though I wasn't able to enjoy any of it considering I was concerned for Uncle Rick the whole time) and we had gone on a few rides. Uncle Rick usually tends to go on the rides with us even though he doesn't exactly enjoy them, but this time he refused to go on any and he just sat near the exit waiting for us to get off.
We were about to go on the Haunted Mansion when I decided I would hold off and sit down with Rick. I took a seat next to him and we just sat there, quietly, for about a half-hour. (If you've ever been to Disneyland or Disney World then you know how long the lines get.) Finally, he muttered something to me.
"What?" I said trying to direct my focus to him, "I was told something bad would happen today."
I could barely understand his quiet voice over all of the commotion around us.
"What? By who?" I said urgently back to him.
"Something unholy..." he said as the tear rolled down his cheek.
My heart dropped, this isn't my usual Uncle Rick talking, this Uncle Rick was just a sad, miserable shell of himself.
When my sister and my mom finally got off of the ride I remember looking up and seeing my joyful mom staring down at me. I had been so genuinely sad that my Uncle Rick was so miserable that I too had been crying, though I didn't even notice until my mom shouted at me. "Seriously?! You too? You have got to be kidding me! Do you know how much God damn money I spend at this place just so YOU can have a good time!?"
That's when I realized that I was in the happiest place on earth and I was still crying like a baby. I stood up and said
"You're right, let's go ride Space Mountain, you comin' Uncle Rick?" I remember the look he gave me, it was a look of absolute sorrow. I felt guilty as he slowly pried himself from the bench.
On our way over to Space Mountain we came across a Mickey Mouse mascot giving out autographs and taking photos with excited children. My sister, who was younger than I was, begged my mom to get a picture with Mickey. My mom gave in and we walked over. I kept looking over my shoulder to check on Uncle Rick, whose pace slowed as we approached the mascot.
My mom and sister stood in line eager to get a picture with Mickey. I, on the other hand, was still about ten feet from them waiting for Uncle Rick. I felt almost angry at my mom for not sympathizing with her own brother, even though something was obviously seriously wrong with him.
I stood there waiting for him, when he finally caught up I grabbed his hand to try to assist him over, but as our palms met I noticed that his hand was shockingly cold. I gasped as I jerked my hand away in shock, "Uncle Rick? Ar- Are you okay?" I said to him in a shaky voice. He just stared at me. His face was different than I had ever seen it before, it didn't look like my Uncle Rick at all, it looked like the epitome of misery. I wanted to break down crying, I have never seen such a disturbing sight in my life, and not disturbing in a way that made me frightened, it was disturbing in a way that affected me as a person, in a way that I know I'll never be able to forget.
I ran over to my mom and grabbed her arm, "We need to leave, now!" She just looked at me with a puzzled look on her face.
"No we don't. Your Uncle is fine, he just..." She stopped mid sentence and looked behind me with a shocked look on her face. I was hesitant to turn around because by the look on her face I knew what I was about to see was going to be bad. I never could have imagined how bad it was going to be.
I finally convinced myself to turn around. Before me; I saw my Uncle Rick, standing maybe fifteen feet away, he was looking at the Mickey mascot, and the Mickey was looking at him.
That's when I noticed that the Mickey's body was facing the opposite direction of the the Mickey's head. I couldn't understand why the mascot looked like that, wouldn't the Disney employees have put a stop to this? What's happening?
That's when it happened. In an instant the Mickey mascot let out a deafening sound that resembled a thousand people screaming. I cupped my ears trying to drown out the noise but it was no use. Then, just as soon as it started, the noise stopped.
I looked up and the Mickey was no more than two feet from my face; its face was distorted, it had black eyes with small white pupils and huge, rat-like front teeth surrounded by what looked like hundreds of bloody human teeth filling the gums of Mickey's mouth. The skin of the mascot was grey and the material looked aged and rotten.
Then I heard it say, in a voice that sounded like one thousand people talking at once, "We are but puppets, nothing more than a test for what's to come."
I couldn't scream, I couldn't move, I could only watch as -- in the blink of an eye -- the Mickey was standing in front of my Uncle Rick. The mascot's head was slowly lifted off of the body by some unseen force. I saw a reddish, black liquid pour out of the neck opening and spill down the body of the mascot. My Uncle Rick started screaming bloody murder. Then something happened, I'm not sure what, I turned my head and covered my ears in an attempt to shield myself from what was happening to my Uncle Rick.
I then woke up in a cold sweat on the concrete screaming as my family and some Disney cast members crowded around me. I saw my Uncle Rick looking down at me with concern in his eyes. I jolted to my feet and grabbed my Uncle Rick by the arm.
"Please Rick, we need to go! Please!"
He placed his hand on mine, it was warm again. He told me with a smile on his face that everything was okay, I had just fainted from the heat. I know I didn't faint. It took me a few seconds to come back to reality. When I did, I hugged my Uncle Rick like I've never hugged anyone before.
I sat down in a cast members-only area to cool down, even though I wasn't really that hot. They gave me some water and told me to "Relax, the paramedics will be here soon". I assured them I was fine (mainly because I just wanted to get the hell out of there) but my efforts were useless. The paramedics arrived and I was taken to the nearest emergency room.
The nurse did some tests and I talked to the doctor for a while. I was fine. Nothing was wrong with me. I know what I saw was real, I wouldn't just imagine that, and even If I did nothing imaginary could be that real. I laid in the hospital bed and stared at the ceiling for a good two hours. That's when it occurred to me. The place that they took me to sit down after I supposedly "fainted" was one of the mascot exits/entries.
I felt cold when I recalled seeing a reddish, black liquid puddle on the floor in front of the entrance with a "Wet Floor" sign on it. That was the same liquid I saw coming out of the costume. My heart was racing and my palms were sweating. I was trying to convince my self that they were right, and somehow I did faint, and it was all imaginary.
"But then why the hell was that liquid on the floor!?"
I was starting to panic when my mom slowly walked into the room, her cheeks were drenched in tears and her hands were filled with tissue. I stopped dead in my tracks, I don't know how but I knew... I knew something had happened to my Uncle Rick. She sat down in a chair next to my bed and put her hand in mine. She told me what had happened. Every word felt like a knife sinking deeper and deeper into my heart. My Uncle had shot himself that night. He had a Bible clenched in his hand when he did it.
He was dead. I knew why, but nobody else would. A happy, joyful, funny man like him doesn't just decide he wants to blow his brains out one night. No, something happened to him. That mascot did something to him that I didn't see because I looked away. I feel like if I hadn't looked away I could've saved him somehow. But I can't now... he's dead.
I don't have anything to do with Disney anymore. When I moved out of my mom's house, I burned everything Disney I owned. I refuse to go back there. I don't know what I saw that day, even though I can still see it clear as day. I feel sick every time I think of what happened. I don't look for answers, I never did. I don't want to know what it was. I think knowing would be a thousand times worse than remaining clueless.
All I know is that it seems as if there's something other than the fun atmosphere or the job benefits that keep people working at Disney. Maybe there's something more to life in general, something we will never understand until we're dead. Maybe I did just faint though... maybe it was just a costume...
Written by HillHank