ORLANDO, FL—Confirming years of rumored sightings by visitors to the theme park, officials from Walt Disney World said Tuesday that several hundred blind and bedraggled Disney characters are living in caves deep within Space Mountain.
The misshapen mascots, who after decades spent in total darkness have sickly gray skin and cloudy, sightless eyes, were reportedly found huddled together in a network of caverns extending far beneath the popular Tomorrowland attraction.
“Our maintenance crew recently spotted an unusual tunnel inside Space Mountain and, after shining a light inside, saw several pale forms skitter away into the darkness,” said Walt Disney World president George Kalogridis, noting that the light caused the mascots to hiss, raise their gloved hands in terror, and flee before anyone could get a good look at them. “Then our workers rounded a corner to find dozens of creatures clinging to the walls of the cavern, including one with scattered patches of fur they identified as Goofy, and another with skin grown over its eyes whom they believe was Minnie Mouse.”
“We wish to stress that, while they appear grotesque, they also seem to be harmless,” he continued. “They are incredibly sensitive to sound and scramble deeper into their caves anytime one of the roller-coaster cars speed past.”
A team of park engineers who explored the ride’s network of hand-clawed tunnels told reporters they had heard, far away in the darkness, a gasping quack that likely belonged to Donald Duck. They also reported hearing a louder bleating sound that was revealed to have been caused by an emaciated Dumbo whose rib cage was clearly visible beneath his hide and who groped around the darkness with his trunk in search of edible mold.
Investigating the source of what they described as “a chorus of horrifying yowls,” several team members reportedly encountered a roving troop of princesses that included Elsa, Cinderella, and Jasmine, all of whom had apparently lived so long in the pitch-black, cramped tunnels that they now clambered about comfortably in their dresses and ball gowns as quadrupeds.
“When we were going up that first incline, we saw a few pairs of empty white eyes glowing in the distance, but I just assumed that was part of the ride,” said 37-year-old Brendan Weeks of South Bend, Indiana, one of many Space Mountain riders who have caught a glimpse of the subterranean Disney characters. “Then when we were about to take the big drop, I saw these weird animal things that kind of looked like the Country Bear Jamboree. The one with the banjo was gnawing on some sort of animal carcass. I think it might’ve been another bear.”
“But other than that, it was a really fun ride,” he added.
Hours into its search of the outer-space-themed ride, the team repelled into a massive foul-smelling cavern strewn with mascot droppings, observing there a rail-thin and jaundiced Chip and Dale lapping runoff from the attraction’s plumbing. One employee recalled being startled as he bumped his head in the dark and shone his flashlight upward to find the Seven Dwarfs hanging from the tunnel ceiling, where they pawed at their tick-ridden beards and waited for a humpbacked Snow White to regurgitate into their open mouths.
Sources at Disney speculate that many of the costumed characters have been underground since Space Mountain’s 1975 opening, noting that they have had enough time to develop an acute sense of hearing to compensate for their inability to see. It is believed they can detect when an object falls from the roller coaster, because they quickly scurry out to retrieve any such item and later add it to their nest of hoarded sunglasses, keys, lip balm, and assorted gift shop purchases.
Similarly, an eyeless, translucent-skinned Jiminy Cricket reportedly stumbles his way through the labyrinth of dirt tunnels by humming broken strains of “When You Wish Upon A Star” and listening to the echoes of his faltering voice.
“We’re really not sure what to do with any of these old mascots,” Kalogridis said. “There’s obviously no place in the Magic Kingdom for a Tinkerbell that emits hideous clicking noises to signal other mascots when they’re in danger.”
“For all we know, there could be thousands more down there we aren’t even aware of,” he added. “Not to mention what we’ll find when we drain Pirates of the Caribbean.”
At press time, Disney officials confirmed they had cemented shut every entrance to Space Mountain after night-vision cameras in the caves spotted former CEO Michael Eisner skulking in the darkness.