Every year millions of excited families flock to the happiest place on Earth, ready to take on all of the fun that the world of Disney has to offer. Each family looks forward to different aspects of Disney with so much to do, whether it’s the infamous Cinderella castle, the wonderful world of Magic Kingdom, meeting all of the characters from the library of beloved films, enjoying all of the delicious foods, and so much more. No matter what the biggest item on anyone’s Disney checklist may be, they are sure to find themselves enamored with their family vacation to any one of its parks around the world, considering they have truly mastered the art of family entertainment with best in class attractions.
But there was once a time when Disney didn’t quite get it right. Before the advent of advanced technology and costume design, it’s fairly accurate to say that the characters walking around the parks decades ago weren’t quite as cute and lovable as they are today. Today it is quite normal to see beautifully designed dresses for the Disney princesses, amazingly accurate costumes for the likes of characters that have appeared in films, often wowing visitors into believing they are the real deal. But back when the parks opened, what people saw on film compared to what they saw around Disney parks were very different, sometimes downright scary.
Here are twenty-five photos of Disney from half a century ago that gives us the spooks!
The Seven Dwarves of Snow White fame are pretty cute characters in the Disney universe, and that typically includes Grumpy. Even though the little guy is usually mad about anything and everything, he still tends to emit an aura of cute charm either way.
But go back in time to 1950’s Disney and Grumpy was certainly spooky to be around with his incredibly oversized head and red-tinged face, making for an uncomfortable photo op with the character.
It’s pretty amazing how much can change with the times. Judging from this 1950’s photo of some of the first characters to grace the grounds at Disneyland, it’s evident that kids simply didn’t get scared as easily back then as they do today.
The little boy in this picture is nonchalantly shaking hands with the most intimidating versions of any cartoon character around.
Meanwhile, in today’s world, there would be chaos if any of these guys made an appearance at a family entertainment attraction.
The star of all of Disneyland has and always will be the mouse himself, Mickey. No other character will ever be able to take Mickey’s place as the quintessential Disney character, even though he hasn’t starred in any major films in decades. He is synonymous with the logo for countless reasons, most notably his innate amicable demeanor on screen.
But park-goers were sure to get an entirely different sense of Mickey and Minnie Mouse in year’s past, as the two of them look like characters out of a horror movie instead of friendly animations.
The creators of any costume design are always aiming for the goal of making their end product look as real as possible. But sometimes that approach isn’t the right one as the result can be TOO real for some, especially when the characters are based on children’s cartoon books.
Designing the Three Little Piggys to look like real pigs was not the best idea as they turned out to look far too real rather than cute and cuddly characters from the world-renowned children’s story. A photo op with these guys is sure to give anyone the chills.
This entry is a bit unfair because the costume designer for these Mickey Mouse characters went above and beyond, nailing the look and feel of the famed mouse perfectly. His warm and inviting nature are all present, along with a cartoonish, yet realistic look. It’s a great version of Mickey, but the photo itself, is quite spooky. There are simply too many smiling Mickeys staring back at us for comfort.
The countless wide-gazing eyes and matching smiles could easily be something out of a warped horror movie based on the lovable mouse!
This image from 1950’s Disneyland is pretty alarming when you step back and examine it at face value. The first versions of the Mickey Mouse depiction make its way back onto our list of scary photos from the Mouse House.
It’s still hard to get past the face. The fact that he is skipping hand in hand with his pal, Donald Duck, only adds to the very strange look of this old photo.
Just about everyone has seen the iconic Disney film, Cinderella, and one of the standouts of the movie is the Fairy Godmother. She reminds us all of our favorite grandmother with her homely look, warm voice and giving nature. She’s one of the characters that we all love to love because of how approachable she would be in real life.
But that wasn’t quite the reality fifty years ago as this Fairy Grandmother statue at Disneyland did just the opposite to park visitors. Her hollow eyes made for a gaze that would give any child the heebie-jeebies.
Winnie the Pooh is quite possibly the cutest Disney character of all time with his soft voice, lovable nature, cuddly form and friendly demeanor. There’s literally nothing not to like about the little honey-loving bear and his gang of animal friends.
Decades ago, that might have been a different story as park patrons might have to question whether or not Winnie and his friends played nice after seeing this version of the character, with his piercing eyes which made for an uncomfortable stare.
When Disneyland first opened its doors in 1955, over six decades ago, they were certainly intent on bringing smiles to the millions of children and families that visited their state-of-the-art park. But the truth is Disney simply didn’t get it right during the earliest stages of their grand opening, missing the mark on their costumed characters in most cases.
Mickey and Minnie, the two main star attractions, looked quite intimidating with their faces seeming more like scarred villains out of a horror flick than cute mice looking to make us all laugh and cheer.
At this point, it goes without saying that the Three Little Pigs who trounced around the Disney park decades ago were not fan favorites. Showing up again on our list, with even more clarity, the characters were way too life-like with borderline scary scowls on their faces and a reddish hue that only added to the spooky look.
Although the people dressed underneath the costumes made the effort to be friendly, it was evident that their appearance was not a hit. The little girl’s bewildered facial expression while taking photos with them would tend to agree.
In this image from decades ago at Disneyland, the beautiful princess Snow White is flanked by her lovable dwarf friends on each side. All seven of them are lined up for a photo op with her and unfortunately, she is the only one that radiates in the right way. Park goers nearby surely had to think Snow White was the only character from the wildly successful Disney movie that hit the mark, while the Seven Dwarves looked far more ominous than intended, each with their spooky faces giving off a not-so-cute vibe.
Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella might not be the most instantly recognizable names in the Disney universe, but it’s safe to say most people know exactly who they are - Cinderella’s wicked stepmother and stepsisters. These three are easily some of the most disliked characters in Disney history as their wicked ways caused Cinderella a great deal of stress. The makers of these Disneyland costumes captured their likeness pretty accurately, making for some pretty scary relics of the past. The faces of each one are more like a mask from a villainous movie monster than a Disney character.
In this image of the iconic movie characters from Disney’s 1951 hit film Alice in Wonderland, the star impresses with her beauty and friendly smile, along with her cuddly rabbit co-star. But it’s the Mad Hatter who misses the mark with his all-too spooky appearance next to them.
The costume designers actually did a fantastic job of capturing his character’s look accurately, but his angry oversized face simply makes for an uneasy photo opportunity.
Sometimes children are eager to run up to costumed characters because the cute and cuddly nature of who they are representing. A bunny always embodies those qualities so it’s hard to imagine anything but smiles and hugs.
In this Disneyland photo from several decades back, many can argue that the bunny is actually cute, but it’s easy to see why some would call him more scary than cuddly with his large gazing eyes and oversized baggy outfit.
The Alice in Wonderland characters make another appearance on our list of heebie-jeebie inducing photos from Disneyland's past. Only this time, the characters have been updated decades later and the newer version isn’t any better in terms of friendliness appeal.
Alice is still as beautiful as ever, but Mad Hatter continues to haunt with his fearsome face, punctuated by his eerie smile. It actually shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the movie is often seen as a psychedelic, spooky animated journey by many.
Dumbo makes our list again of questionable images from Disneyland’s photo albums of the past, but this time it is through no fault of his own. In this version, the baby elephant looks every bit the part we have all grown to love. His oversized ears and costume make for a cute costume that any child would love to take a photo with.
Unfortunately, a child is likely going to run away the moment they see Dumbo’s clown co-stars who simply look way too ominous in their makeup, outfits and wigs.
In this photo of the entire Cinderella crew posing decades ago, it’s safe to say some characters hit the mark, while others missed it entirely. Cinderella and her Prince Charming along with her best friend mice look warm and inviting, while her wicked family members play their parts perfectly, embodying their evil nature and then some.
Unfortunately, the Fairy Godmother also looks like she is a part of the wicked crew with her ghastly face, conjuring up the heebie-jeebies as well.
These animatronic dolls that capture several Disney characters across a variety of movies are all great versions of each famous name. The designers did a fantastic job capturing their essence in animatronic form. But despite this, there is simply something unsettling about such lifelike dolls.
The stares they give off with their wide hollow eyes in unison can be a spooky thing, especially when they are simply sitting there in silence. Sometimes, the crew of dolls playing their lively music is more easy to deal with than their quiet, steady smiles.
In this throwback photo of the queen of Disney, Minnie Mouse certainly doesn’t embody the feminine mouse with the dainty smile we have all grown to love and adore. Instead, her long eyelashes and dark lips make for a rather unsettling smile.
It’s a miracle the woman taking the photo with her seems unfazed by Minnie’s surprisingly striking features. It also doesn’t help that the photo is in black and white, which only adds to the questionable appearance.
By any measure, the iconic Pinocchio character is always going to be a bit creepy, no matter which medium he appears in, whether it’s in film or in a costume. After all, he is a wooden puppet that can speak and move, resembling a real boy.
He really is no different than any ventriloquist dummy that appears in a horror movie when you really think about it. That uncomfortable depiction really comes to life in the costume version of Pinocchio with an emphasis on his eyes.
In yet another appearance by the beloved characters of the Three Little Pigs tale, they continue to prove their appearance at Disney parks in the past were quite unsettling. All it takes is one look at their great, round eyes and the emptiness in them to make anyone get the chills.
The child in this 1970’s photo may be oblivious to it, but the adults know there’s definitely something off about these smiling faces. Wouldn’t we all be a bit put off by these creepy giant pigs too?
The creator of all the magic found at Disney, Walt himself, is seen at Disneyland, surrounded by the characters he imagined and help turn into a reality. In what is supposed to be a warm and inviting image of him and his caricature friends, the photo from decades back comes across spookier than anything.
The standout here is Dopey, one of the Seven Dwarves, who’s large head and blank stare (to the left of Walt) is unnerving for all the wrong reasons. It doesn’t help that those pigs are present as well!
In yet another photo from the past at Disneyland, the members of the Three Little Pigs continue to keep us all spooked in an odd way. They aren’t necessarily outright scary, but their realistic-looking skin-like material and piercing eyes continue to look eerie.
The pig’s pink skin makes for an all too real depiction of the character and it certainly doesn’t help that he is staring right at the children he is being photographed with, as they look in a different direction.
In this image taken from above, the group of characters from different Disney films proves to be too much to handle all at once. With far too many eerie smiles and hollow stares facing in the same direction, it’s hard to argue that this aerial view doesn't make us question a lot of things.
Without any context of where these guys were marching toward, the unknown and unanswered questions only add to the fear factor already present throughout. This could either be a very innocent, a good time or a spook-filled fright fest!
If anyone has ever seen the hit Disney film, Dumbo, from 1941, there is no arguing that the little elephant with the oversized ears is one of the most lovable characters ever put on screen. Seeing the cute elephant is sure to elicit “awws” from audience members. When visitors to Disneyland got a glimpse of him in real life decades ago, it was an entirely different story though.
As you can see, there’s something about Dumbo’s eyes that were a little off-putting.