There was recently an AskReddit thread about the most plausible/believable fan theories out there - and one of the top answers was something that had been whispered about for a while: the idea that Disney produced 2013's Frozen as a way of hiding Google results for people looking up an urban legend about Walt Disney being frozen alive. This theory has stuck with me, and I wanted to explain to everyone that this seemingly bonkers fan theory ACTUALLY MAKES A TON OF SENSE. Stick with me here...
What's the theory?
Disney produced 2013's Frozen as a means of hiding search results for the urban legend of Walt Disney cryogenically freezing himself.
Why is this a thing?
There is an old urban legend about the remains of Walt Disney that goes something like this: at the time of his death, Disney wanted to retain the possibility that he might live on forever. And not just through his legacy or his theme parks, but literally - and had either his entire body or just his head cryogenically frozen, so that scientists in the future might be able to revive him and offer him immortality. Some even theorized that Disney arranged for his body to be kept beneath the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' ride at Disneyland.
Alas, none of it seemed to be true - there's no real evidence Walt Disney ever took the idea of cryonics seriously, let alone arranged for his entire body (or head) to be frozen indefinitely with the hopes of being thawed out at some undetermined future date. Most of the claims can be traced to some shady, unauthorized biographies of Disney - Robert Mosley's Disney's World and Marc Eliot's Walt Disney, Hollywood's Dark Prince. However, both contain numerous objectively false information, have lots of undocumented claims, and are a little infamous for making outrageous claims (seemingly for the sake of publicity), although it existed as word-of-mouth rumors before being committed to actual books.
There is one small grain of truth to the rumors though: Bob Nelson, the former president of the Cryonics Society of California, claims that he had knowledge of Walt Disney's desire to partake in the freezing procedure...but he never actually did it:
"Walt Disney wanted to be frozen. Lots of people think that he was, and that the body's in cold storage in his basement. The truth is, Walt missed out. He never specified it in writing, and when he died the family didn't go for it. They had him cremated. I personally have seen his ashes. They're in Forest Lawn. Two weeks later we froze the first man. If Disney had been the first it would have made headlines around the world and been a real shot in the arm for cryonics. But that's the way it goes."
So - realistically - the likelihood of there being a huge coverup to mask Disney's cryogenic freezing seems....extremely unlikely. There is no actual evidence FOR it having happened, and there are mounds of evidence that it DID NOT happen.
It was such a popular theory that it was referenced pretty much everywhere - it's not-so-subtly a major part of Fallout: New Vegas (and part of a sidequest in Fallout 4), an episode of Family Guy, Futurama, and other assorted bits of pop culture. It was a relatively common belief - however far-fetched - and like any unsavory rumor about its founder, Disney would want to clamp down on that IMMEDIATELY.
Why would Disney go so far as to PRODUCE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE just to hide some urban legend?
The truth about Walt Disney is this - he was very, very, VERY protective of his company and its image - and that's his REAL legacy. He believed Disney movies should inspire children, Disney toys should be safe and fun, and Disney theme parks should be spaces for awe and wonder. This is the true Disney ethos - and it is enforced with rigid focus. Know how serious Disney is about maintaining the illusion of amazement and fun at all of its theme parks? VERY SERIOUS.
- There's a covert security force that removes drunken or unruly guests from the park, and are almost never seen (they typically operate as undercover agents in the park, so as to not give any appearance of anything dangerous or threatening).
- Disneyland has a cadre of cats they let loose during off-hours to make sure rodents are never a problem.
- They are so committed to the 'reality' of mascots, you will never see any Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, etc. ever take off their mask. Even if it's on a Disney Cruise, and Goofy is f***ing DROWNING.
In short, the Disney corporation understands that they have a very strong brand image as a family-friendly company, and they aim to keep things that way...no matter what the cost. And you know what's an extremely NOT-family-friendly thing that was constantly being associated with Disney?
Walt Disney being cryogenically frozen to preserve his body for the future.
Now, there's nothing explicitly gross or PG-13 about that in and of itself - but it implies a preoccupation with death, the inadequacy of modern day healthcare, and total existential dread for the future. These are not things Disney would want kids associating with its founder - he was supposed to be a friendly uncle-type, who was warm and welcoming and a dreamer of dreams. The idea that he was a frozen corpse hidden beneath a theme park was too grisly and gruesome to be allowed to be conversed of, so Disney had to do something about it. But what?
How do you stop an urban legend - something that, by definition - is unmoored by facts or logic, and travels gradually?
In our modern age, there was one clear answer: all rumors, wives' tales, and urban legends depend on one serve to propogate them, and that was the key to cutting off the Disney cryo-freeze rumors entirely...Google. That is the core way most people find further information on topics they've half-heard or are only vaguely familiar with.
But mastering and overcoming SEO is no easy task, even for a company like Disney - Google made its reputation by delivering the results most helpful to people searching for something based on keywords. And anyone searching "disney frozen" in 2011 or before were probably only looking for one thing: information as to whether Walt Disney actually had his head and/or body frozen. So how the hell would Disney beat Google at its own game?
BY MAKING A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR, CULTURAL SMASH HIT FILM...CALLED 'FROZEN.'
In other words....Disney's Frozen.
Yes, I am well aware how absurd this sounds - the idea that Disney greenlit and produced a big budget animated feature simply to goose Google's search results to mask an unsavory urban legend about their founder, but stick with me: Disneyland used to photoshop out images of cigarettes in the hands of Walt Disney from images and portraits, because (despite being a lifelong smoker) they did not want kids to associated Disney with smoking.
There is no company on Earth willing to go to the lengths Disney will to protect its brand image, and the urban legend about Walt Disney's cryogenic freezing simply would not go away on its own. So what choice were they left with? None. The only answer was to produce a film that could be titled 'Frozen' simply to overtake the search results for urban legends about Walt Disney being frozen.
Now - I'm not saying this is LIKELY, all I'm saying is that it's PLAUSIBLE. We know Disney is insanely protective of their brand, and would probably have liked to find a way to clamp down on disturbing urban legends if at all possible. And we can also see that - since the release of Disney's Frozen in 2013, Google search results for "disney frozen" are overwhelming about the uber-popular film.
1998 - 2011 Google Results For "Disney Frozen"
Today's Google Results For "Disney Frozen"
This is why it's a fan theory and not fact - it's the kind of thing that would be impossible to prove without a major hack into Disney's email database, and even then, odds are Disney execs were smart enough to not leave a paper trail. So all we're left with is a premise, the results, and a theory to tie the two together. And while it IS pretty far-fetched, I like to believe it might be true - I like believe Disney wants us all to take the rumor about Walt Disney freezing himself and...
LET IT GO.
Also, Walt Disney's final words were "Kurt Russell." That's not a joke. He spoke the name of (then child actor) Kurt Russell, for reasons no one is quite sure of. Weird, right? Would be pretty nice if he WAS frozen - then maybe someone could revive him and ask him what the hell was up with saying Kurt Russell as he was dying.