When many think about Walt Disney, we think of a man who changed the face of theme park and entertainment forever. Walt created The Walt Disney Company and Disneyland, and subsequently, Walt Disney World, which led to the creation of all of the other Disney Parks worldwide. Disney has grown to be one of the most powerful companies in the world, dominating the entertainment market with Disney+, as well as the acquisitions of Marvel and Star Wars. But of course, we must remember, it all started with a mouse!
Looking at Mickey Mouse and the innocent Walt Disney, who would believe that the man would be capable of kidnapping? It’s true, Walt did once kidnap one of his Disneyland Resort Guests by trapping them on the monorail, and it was not just any Guest, but rather, President Richard Nixon. Somehow, Walt was able to get around the Secret Service and kidnap who would have been at the time the Vice President of the United States, in his very own theme park!
If the idea of Walt stealing Nixon is already a shocking revelation, we should add that Walt had a sidekick in the matter, Imagineer Bob Gurr. Considering the monorail was the vessel that Disney used to do the kidnapping, there truly is not anyone better than the creator of the monorail to tag team this one-of-a-kind heist.
Leading up to dedication day at Disneyland, Gurr was working day and night to ensure the monorail would be able to successfully make it’s loop without breaking down. The monorail had been breaking every day leading up to the day, and Gurr was working tirelessly to create replacement parts to ensure that it would be able to make the loop when the cameras turned on. The night before, monorail red finally made a lap around Tomorrowland and Gurr was able to rest easy.
Then came dedication day. Gurr stated, “I set it there so we could get a shot for the television cameras. That was the focus. All I had to do was drive it out of the dedication shot. It could burn up, but the TV people would’ve had their shot.” Then came the man of the hour, with some very special Guests. Walt Disney approached the train, along with Vice President Richard Nixon, Nixon’s daughters Julie and Tricia, Art Linkletter, Disneyland Security, and of course, the Secret Service. Gurr was panicked as he pulled out of the station for the big TV moment, and even more so when he realized the Secret Service was left behind!
The train began moving and Gurr was relieved. Walt got off the monorail but that is when Nixon’s daughters admitted they wanted to ride again so Walt said “Bobby, give them another ride.” Gurr started the engine back up while Secret Service was chasing down the closed door monorail, “They were trying to run towards me as I was coming in. And then when I sped up to keep on goin’, they were running trying to jump in it. Nixon got a kick out of it. [Vice ] Presidents always try to escape [the Secret Service]. The fact that he now knew, he got rid of ‘em! To my great horror.”
So, Gurr took Nixon and his family around the monorail as the Secret Service failed to hop aboard. Walt was in good spirits, and Nixon seemed to not mind but the Secret Service sat at the monorail exit with a little more anger than usual. Gurr noted that he was worried sick the entire time, as he was basically kidnapping Nixon with orders from Walt do to so! Luckily, everyone was safe, and Nixon seemed to enjoy his moment of being kidnapped at Disneyland.
More on Disneyland
At Disneyland, there is so much for Guests to enjoy! Now that the mask mandate has dropped for fully vaccinated Guests, Guests can enter buildings without a face covering if they so choose. Walking up to Sleeping Beauty Castle is always a dream, especially when you get to go inside and relive the story of Aurora and Maleficent. Riding classics like “it’s a small world”, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, The Haunted Mansion, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Splash Mountain, and more will have you feeling the magic, and craving a churro! Toontown is currently gearing up for a massive change which will be revealed in 2023 with the reopening of the land, and the debut of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Plus, now at Disneyland, Guests can enjoy Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for some blue milk, or green milk, and ride Rise of the Resistance and Smuggler’s Run.
What do you think of this kidnapping story? Let us know in the comments below!
Let the expert team at Academy Travel help you plan your next magical vacation to Disneyland Resort, including Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure, and the Downtown Disney District. Or what about Walt Disney World Resort’s four theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — and the Disney Springs shopping and dining district!