So, a couple years back, my buddies and I tried to stay in the park after closing time.
Our plan was to just take pictures. Nothing sinister or anything like that; we just wanted to be able to say we did it, you know?
Basically, we snuck from bathroom to bathroom, corner to corner, and managed to stay there, until they closed the gates and the maintenance team got to work.
We were really surprised we hadn't gotten caught; it was almost strange, considering how much talking up Disney security gets.
Our hearts were beating like crazy and we sat there for a while, hiding behind a tombstone by the Haunted Mansion. We noticed that it’s true: the Disney staff had signed their names on every single one.
So, finally, we got the courage to roam about, still being careful as to not be seen. It was really eerie. The occasional guard or maintenance worker would walk by, and we would just duck or hide behind a corner. It worked...for about a half hour.
Of course, we couldn't keep this up for long, and yeah, they caught us. I mean, give us props for even attempting and succeeding, but that’s not where the story ends.
So the first thing we said when they caught us was, "Are you going to take us down to the dungeon?" and we laughed. The security guard chuckled, too, so the mood wasn't too dreary.
He told us we weren't the first people to try to sneak in after hours, but he wanted to know how we did it. We explained the situation, and he actually laughed and said that wasn't a bad plan.
He told us he had to take us to the Disney jail to be further interrogated, which we thought was odd, but we figured from the beginning that if we had gotten caught, they’d take us down there. It might have been our plan all along; maybe we wanted to see the Disney "catacombs" more than we wanted to be in the park after hours.
So he called for more workers to come and help him escort us, and we went on our way towards Toontown. Then they took us down in this elevator.
Right into hell...
The first thing we noticed was how expensive-looking the elevator was. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s hard to explain. It was like a stainless steel interior, with mirrors all around, and the floor was this tacky red carpeting. But it looked expensive. There were only two buttons in this elevator (not counting the emergency buttons). One said "up"; the other said "down".
I had forgotten to mention they never handcuffed us or zip-tied our hands. They just kind of walked beside us, expecting we'd follow. Not that we would have tried to make a run for it. I mean, these people seemed decent. Like how were we supposed to know what was going to happen?
The elevator stopped and we started walking down this perfectly shining, bleach-smelling corridor. There were no doors on either side; it was just a plain, empty corridor. We walked for what seemed like an eternity, and no one was talking any longer.
It was me, my friends, the security guard, and two other maintenance workers. Finally, we reached a heavy metal door that had a security code and card reader.
One worker put his card in; the other typed a code on the keypad. I watched the code he typed in: 121566. I only remember it, because I found out later what its significance was, and it makes me laugh, looking back. Strange. It’s strange that I could laugh, looking back...
They led me and my friends into another corridor. This one had doors down the hallway walls. Each door had a little Plexiglas square - a 10x10 inch window - at the top right corner. Looked sort of like a psyche ward, to be honest. Not so much like a jail.
He led us to room 1901, and inside was a single desk, with, surprisingly, three chairs for me and each of my friends. Then they left us in there alone, closing the door on the way out. We sat in the chairs like obedient little children and waited for them to return, but they never did. Two hours went by, and no one came back for us. My buddy Tim went to the door, and surprisingly, it was unlocked. He didn't open it, though. He was worried there'd be a guard on the outside and that they’d think we were escaping, and we weren't looking for any more trouble.
So about 25 minutes went by, when we got restless and finally decided to leave the room. The hallway was empty like before. No signs of people. Nothing. We started calling out, "Hello? Is anybody here?" No one answered our calls.
Every door looked the same, and each one had a specific number above it. They weren't in order like, say, rooms 1-10. They were scattered numbers. For example, our room had been 1901, but the door next to it was 1205. We got to thinking and finally assumed they were just randomly chosen. We walked up that hallway and had no idea where we were going, what we were hoping to find, or even if it mattered.We noticed surveillance cameras were placed above every door, and we got to wondering if there was any living soul in this place at all. We should have left right then and there, but then again, whoever does the right thing in these kinds of situations?
My other buddy, Guy, decided we should just leave. He said that if they really wanted us here, they'd have come back, and maybe it was just a scare tactic. Maybe they just wanted to trick us into thinking we were being arrested, and were waiting for us outside to laugh.
I felt weary of the whole situation, and Tim was just quiet the whole time, nodding his head here and there. He was more interested in looking into the doors' little 10x10 inch windows. That wasn't a good idea. I tried to tell him, but of course, no one listens to reason when they're freaked out. And we were definitely freaked the fuck out at this point.
The cameras above the doors were capable of motion detection, and followed us as we wandered down the desolate corridor. A little red light at the bottom of the lens, blinking each second. No noise filled the air; all we heard was each other breathing. Then it happened.
We had reached the end of the hallway. Unfortunately, the door at the end had another pin code reader. I tried the pin from before - the one I saw them type in - but it was invalid. At that moment, the lights in the hallway shut off and we heard the doors...God dammit, I can still hear them to this day.
The fucking doors opened. All lining up along the corridor, they made a subtle creak and then a boom as they hit the wall beside them with force...
As I said, after I entered the invalid code into the keypad, the lights shut off and the doors opened, except for the door with the keypad. We also noticed as the doors opened, each doorway had a little bit of light seeping from its open pathway. We stood there, stunned, for a good 5 minutes, not knowing what to do. We figured we tripped some alarm and that this was just a protocol. A standard drill, in case of an attempted escape (what were we supposed to think?). So we turned the other direction, away from the locked door.
A sense of panic hit all three of us for some reason, and we got the urge to run. No one agreed to running; it was like we all knew we had to, at the same time. Some sort of instinct. Like a baby gazelle knowing when to run from a lion. We were in a lion’s den alright.
It wasn't until about the 10th door we passed that we began to look into the doorways as we passed them. Standing at the doorways were people in costume. We were running passed Donalds, Mickeys, Goofys, Plutos, and all different kinds of Disney characters.
It was insane, and we screamed at the top of our lungs. I know they say never look behind you as you run, but I did. They were leaving their rooms and following us! Not running, just casually walking towards us. I think that is what made it that much more terrifying. Almost like they knew we had nowhere to go...
Now, I don’t know if it was all in my head, just from shear panic and fear of the moment, but I swear - I could swear on my mother’s life - I heard "It’s A Small World" playing over an intercom. I have a fear of dolls, and the ride always gave me the creeps my whole life. Now I could see them, the little robotic dolls, standing in the doorways as we passed. Still following were the costumed characters.
The dolls weren't chasing us, thank God. I would have died from a heart attack if I had seen the dolls following suit, but they didn't. It didn’t make the situation all that better. I mean, how many times have you been followed by a group of costumed individuals, seemingly out to fucking eat you alive (at least that’s what I told myself to keep myself moving. Stopping meant being devoured by fucking Donald Duck. I don’t know about you, but I don't want to go out like that).
Tim was crying, Guy was sweating and breathing heavily, and I just kept turning my head to see if we were being followed, and of course, we were. I’m not sure how many doors we had passed at this point, or if there really were different characters at each door, but I knew that this hallway had to end at some point and we were getting the fuck out of this place pronto.
Easier said than done...
I looked back after another minute or two of running, and noticed there was nothing behind us anymore that we could see. I heard footsteps, but figured we had gotten so far ahead and they were just still walking casually like before. The hallway was still going on for what seemed like forever, and Guy needed to stop, or he was going to faint from exhaustion. The door beside us was open, with the light on but nothing inside.
I decided we would hide in there 'til we caught our breath and could continue onward. As we closed the door behind us, I noticed the room was 1966. Again, that meant nothing at the time.
Tim was pacing the room. Guy was laying on the floor, still breathing pretty hard, and I was at the window. Looking out, I saw nothing. No more music, no nothing. It was dark out and hard to tell for sure, but I figured I would've seen figures, shadows or something. Still, I kept watch.
After 15 minutes or so, Guy said he was good to go. Tim was the only one smart enough to pull out his new Razr cell phone. No signal, of course. He opened the door subtly, quietly, but heard no footsteps. Nothing was following us anymore, but we weren't taking chances. We got back to running...
It only took us another 7 minutes to reach the door, give or take. It had no keypad, and it was open. We entered the corridor from before, and thank God, there were no doors. We ran for the elevator and got in. Pushed the "up" button and stood there, looking at each other, dumbfounded as to what had just happened. None of us spoke. We just waited 'til the elevator opened, back into Toontown, and started making our way for the front gate.
We kept a low profile, using the same duck-and-hide technique that had gotten us this far from the get go. Maintenance workers and security guards were still about, but we couldn't take any more chances. Finally, Tim lost it and took off in a sprint. I couldn't imagine what had set him off...until I looked and saw that everyone in the park just stood there, staring at us with blank faces.
We heard a voice over the intercom explaining that 3 fugitives had escaped from captivity and needed to be escorted back into the jails below. We booked it, catching up to Tim. Costumed characters appeared from the shadows, workers and guards chasing after us. Everyone was sprinting for us! I couldn't see well, but I imagined drool dripping from their jowls. They wanted us back down there. We had escaped, and they were pissed.
The gate was just up ahead...
The creepiest thing about it all was that besides the voice over the intercom, the park was dead silent. No chat from the workers could be heard, even now, as we were running for what we assumed was our lives. From the characters, the workers, the guards, no one bothered to shout after us, no one yelled, no one said, "Stop!" Nothing. Just footsteps and the occasional cough from Guy.
As we made it past the park's front gate, we didn’t stop until we got to the parking lot. Our car was gone, and we were left scratching our heads.
We continued running down the road, which went on for miles, stopping occasionally for us to catch our breath. We made it to a little corner store, where Tim used his cell to call a taxi cab. When it finally arrived, we took the cab back to the hotel we were staying at, paid the fare, and went up to our rooms.
In the end, the next day, we got a call from the hotel's front desk, so we headed downstairs. There were officers waiting for us. They said our car had been impounded and we needed to pay the fine. They didn’t ask us any other questions, and we didn’t bother telling the police anything that happened. Even now, on this random board, people who don’t have a reason to disbelieve me, don’t believe me, so how could an officer of the law be expected to? We didn’t bother. We simply paid the fine and drove home.
We didn’t talk about what happened, the whole drive back. It wasn't until a couple weeks later that I got myself to search up the numbers. Curiosity, I guess.
As you all know, Walt Disney was born December 5, 1901. The room we were in was 1901, and the door next to it was 1205. Also, he died December 15, 1966, which was the key code the worker had put in to lead us into the main corridor.
What a strange coincidence, I decided.
Whether any of that was real at all, I couldn't tell you. Maybe our imaginations ran wild. We were tired. It was around 1 am when we made our escape. So, it's plausible that’s the answer. I’ll never forget it, though.
And I haven’t been back since.
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