Losing Your Head

By Maia Zvetan

Creepypasta is becoming a fixture in the modern horror scene, with its growing popularity certain “classics” have emerged from the medium. The hallmark of a good creepypasta lies in the reasons we feel so unsettled or frightened by what we’re reading. Usually, these stories play off of not only our childhood fears but also our fears of the unknown.

Abandoned by Disney is the story of someone who decided to explore an abandoned Disney theme park. The creepypasta is structured like a blog post, with the narrator trying to recount what they found; the theme park in question is a fictional park in North Carolina called “Mowgli’s Palace”. The park was supposedly wildly protested against, but was built regardless in the 90s. Eventually the park closed down and Disney attempted to erase its existence as much as possible; according to the narrator there is very little remaining information on the place but they were inspired to make the trip by someone who had visited another derelict Disney Park, Treasure Island. The descriptions of what is contained within is unsettling; the narrator describes how it looks like the park’s patrons and employees were evacuated. The rooms are dark and mostly destroyed: items are strewn about, the place has been ransacked and for some strange reason both the lights and the water are still turned on. As a sense of dread creeps into both the narrator and the reader, they continue deeper. The discovery of the character room sets off a chain reaction. For the reader there’s a sense of something watching you, or standing just behind you as the narrator ventures in. The abandoned, molding costumes that line the closets and the lone character, who is sprawled “like a murder victim”, on the floor is almost like something out of an old childhood nightmare.

Discovery Island

Discovery Island

Part of the effectiveness of this creepypasta is the fact that even without the belief of the supernatural, there is an underlying sense that the following events could have taken place. This is because of the excellent use of relatively factual events. Disney actually built an amusement park/animal observatory that was named Discovery Island and was eventually abandoned. Discovery Island has a similar sort of description as both Mowgli’s Palace and Treasure Island. It was not only on an island outside of a heavily populated area but was also abandoned for unknown reasons. A few brave souls ventured over to the park to take pictures and explore. The discoveries made eerily echo the creepypasta: the lights still turn on in the park at night, old employee photos scattered about and reptile remains in jars. The park itself is slowly being returned to nature, thanks to the uncontrolled growth of plant life on the island, resulting in an area that looks like its straight out of a horror movie. These facts only contribute to the idea that this story could at the very least be plausible. Our belief in the plausibility of the story results in a significant amount of creep factor.

maia 2The creepypasta plays off of our inherent distrust of the character costumes and animatronics we were exposed to as kids through not only Disney but other places like Chuck E. Cheese. Although more often than not, especially with Disney characters, we aren’t entirely unnerved by seeing the people in the costumes as we grow older it’s partially due to the fact that we know they are people in costumes. Children seem to have polar opposite reactions to the characters, they either are lost in the fantasy that they are talking to their favorite Disney princess or are disillusioned by the whole ordeal. The story allows for us to tap into the latter and makes our imagination run wild; we read the description of Donald Duck’s molding and patchy costume head and instead of a kind of gross former costume we see a grotesque mass of rotting fake fur and soulless, vacant eyes staring back at us. This, coupled with the overall believability of the creepypasta makes for a read that sends chills down your spine once you’re finished. It’ll also make you think twice about that vacation to Disney World.

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3 thoughts on “Losing Your Head

  1. I feel like the fear of animatronics and people in giant costumes is not too uncommon in societies today. There are a lot of stories, famous and local, about murderers who dress up in costumes or kidnappers who lure kids in with their fun appearance. Why they make us so uncomfortable in general though, I’m not so sure. Maybe it is because they so clearly are not alive yet are trying to be, or the fact that we’re allowing ourselves to be lured into their fake world of imagination and pretend and sometimes we are betrayed.

  2. There is something genuinely disturbing about subverting our childhood memories into our worst nightmares. Cohen would describe it as harbinger of category crisis. (That “harbinger” is for you, Gina!) This is probably why I don’t like creepy dolls, creepy children, that pop-up book in “The Babadook,” as well as animatronics and clowns (though those last two are just scary in general, regardless of Cohen’s theses.)
    But for some odd reason, I didn’t find this creepypasta scary. In fact, I thought it was somewhat laughable. And me being me, I had to ask- why?
    Admittedly, this is the first creepypasta I’ve ever read, but it felt like a bad fan-fiction. It seemed like the author was banking on the fact that I would be terrified by the mere thought of Disney being anything but pure. (I love Disney, but I already know it’s a corporation at heart.)
    Nothing in the author’s writing built up suspense. The author provided many cliches of the horror genre, but did nothing original with them. The author never owned the elements he/she was using. In a nutshell- the writing wasn’t spectacular. But, considering the medium, should I really expect it to be Shakespeare?
    This leaves me at a bit of an impasse. Was the story not scary because it was poorly written? Was it not scary because the source material didn’t resonate with me, or because I had no previous background as to the facts this story was built upon? Is a story such as this better told orally, like camp-fire stories that require a certain delivery, audience, and setting in order to pull it off? I’m not sure. But this story is making me question the legitimacy of the author and of the medium (creepypasta.)

  3. I wonder if this came out before or after Five Nights at Freddy’s, which plays off of very similar fears. There’s just something fundamentally off about animatronics sometimes, and they make a great horror antagonist (whether they’re alive or there just to set the mood). It sounds pretty neat, though. Do you have any more information on why Discovery Island actually closed down?

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