We all love the cuddly characters that meet-and-greet guests at theme parks. But every now and then, one of them switches to the dark side and becomes just a little evil...
Since the opening day of Disneyland in 1955, characters and mascots have been a prominent feature at many theme parks. Indeed, Disney has turned meet-and-greets into major attractions, with fans queuing for up to five hours to spend a few moments with Frozen's Anna and Elsa at Walt Disney World.
Of course, the characters are there to put a smile on the faces of children (and adults), and to add to the sense that visitors have stepped into another world. Occasionally, however, one of them will prove that they are just as fallible and prone to less-than-honorable acts as us mere humans.
Here are 5 examples of characters who overstepped the mark in their interactions with guests...albeit, often in the face of severe provocation.
5. Henry Hound and friends take revenge on children at Alton Towers
Image via YouTube / Alexander Machin
The most famous mascot at Alton Towers, the UK's number one theme park, was Henry Hound. In his prime during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Henry was featured prominently in the park's marketing, starred in several shows and was the headline performer in the parade. His partner Henrietta joined him for many of these tasks, often flouncing around in a colourful dress.
In Tales from the Towers Alistair Farrant, who - ahem - "worked with" Henry Hound in the early 1990s, recalls that the loveable dog was regularly abused by naughty children: "They'd pull his tail, they'd try to pull his head off or smack him in the face. Henry once had a lit cigarette shoved up his nose."
Henry and his friends wouldn't always take such abuse lying down: "You couldn't do much - the minders would try and put them right. We used to find certain kids were worse than others. During the parade, they would come and try to kick and punch us. There were 20 or 30 of us and we knew certain parts of the route where nobody was really watching you, so we might retaliate slightly. There were some little s**ts and it was hard to resist."
Think about the prospect of an army of characters putting you in your place next time you decide to heckle at a parade!
4. The Three Little Pigs terrify a teenage girl
Disney's loveable characters would certainly never harm or assault a guest...would they? Well, one woman claimed otherwise in 1976. The woman, who weighed some 240 pounds, alleged that one of the Three Little Pigs had run up to her, grabbed her chest and begun shouting "Mommy! Mommy!". Unfortunately for the allegedly distressed guest, her case didn't progress far. Disney quickly pointed out that the Three Little Pigs are unable to move their arms.
However, the mischievous pigs were involved in another, much less serious incident that is covered in David Koenig's Mouse Tales: Behind-The-Ears Look at Disneyland. In this case, the pigs stood perfectly still in the alcoves of Sleeping Beauty Castle, so that they'd appear to be statues. Guests surrounded them, posing for photographs. Just as one family member was about capture a precious memory on film, one of the pigs suddenly reached out and grabbed a fourteen-year-old girl. She was so terrified that she wet her blue denim pants.