To 2015 - 2016
Disney Parks: Where Nightmares Come True

By Kayley Ulmer

  1. Untitled
    By Alice Lee, 12
“Welcome!” The man working behind the ticket booth popped his gum and ripped the stubs off of the vouchers Zach’s dad had handed him.

As he looked around, Zach couldn’t help but notice something odd. Every single family that was entering the park seemed to have the exact same purple ‘special edition’ passes as his parents had gotten.

“Hey, Dad-” Zach’s voice was drowned out by an intercom, welcoming them to the Park. Making a mental note to mention it later, Zach followed his parents through the gates and into the actual amusement park.

Right from the very beginning, something seemed very off. Zachary had been to Disney World before. Sure, he was only seven years old at time, but he was certain that it had been different back then. The entire atmosphere now just seemed creepy.

“Mommy, look!” Zach’s two-year-old sister, Daisy, giggled excitedly as she pointed out some character that Zach didn’t care to identify. He was, of course, dragged along with the rest of his family.

Shoving his hands deep into the front pockets of his blue jeans, Zach stayed a safe enough distance away from whatever character it was that Daisy was posing for a picture with. He watched another family pass by, the daughter hugging tightly onto a stuffed deer, presumably from Bambi.

“Zach, honey,” His mother’s soothing tone brought Zachary's attention back to reality.


“We have to be at the assembly by 2:30,” she said.

Zach gave his mom a short, single nod. He then checked his watch, noting that it was currently 2:15.

It did take them the next ten minutes to find the appropriate building and find four seats in a row. Zach wondered how long this stupid assembly would take; all he wanted to do was go back to the hotel room and sleep.

One of the first things he noticed struck him as strange. He distinctly remembered the contest his parents had won claiming to only have one winner. So, why on earth were there so many seats in here? At first, he just assumed that maybe this was for every guest arriving that day. It was summer break, after all.

That idea was shut down by the obnoxious font splayed across the multiple TV screens around the room.

Each of them said the same thing: “Welcome to Disney! Congratulations and enjoy your stay!”

The assembly speaker began not a minute past 2:30. She seemed overly excited; even her voice was so cheery it sounded fake. Zachary couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to the whole presentation. He tuned out after she mentioned the park’s new owner for the fifth time.

Zach slumped down in his seat; this was going to be a long trip.


“Hey, bubby! Wake up!” Daisy repeatedly jumped up and down on Zach’s bed in an attempt to wake her sleeping teenage brother.

He groaned and hid his face deeper into the pillow. Zachary didn’t think about actually getting up until Daisy’s voice rose to yells of “Bubby! Bubby, wake up! C’mon, Bubs, let’s go!”

“Okay, okay! I’m up! You’re going to wake the entire building up!” He sighed and peeled the multiple blankets away from his body, shivering from the loss of warmth.

Twenty minutes later, Zach, Daisy, and their Mom and Dad were all standing the hotel lobby, waiting for their shuttle to arrive.

Daisy sat in her brother’s lap, going on about which attractions she wanted to see first. Zach chuckled a bit, tweaking her freckled nose.

“Hey, pumpkin, don’t get too excited! We haven’t even left the hotel yet,” he teased.
Probably the only reason he willingly joined his family on this trip was because of how excited Daisy was. Well, that and his parents wouldn’t allow him to stay with his friends while they were out of town.

Zach had never been one to like Disney Parks. He typically didn’t have problems with other amusement parks or fairs; something about all the characters spread out across Disney had always disturbed him.

The shuttle arrived not long after Daisy’s little rant of excitement. His mother gave the hotel concierge a warm smile as she grabbed her purse and headed out of the automatic doors. Zach noticed that the concierge had the exact same plasticky smile that their assembly speaker had worn last night.

The shuttle driver seemed to be the only normal employee they’d met so far. He obviously didn’t feel the need to bother with the other’s shared aura of excess kindness.

Daisy and Zach’s dad pointed out some park attractions that he saw in the distance. For the first, and probably only, time that entire trip, Zach found himself interested in his family’s excitement towards their vacation.

They arrived at the front gates of the Magic Kingdom within ten minutes. Zach chuckled to himself as he allowed Daisy to drag him by the hand towards the turnstile just behind the ticket booths.

“Woah there, Pumpkin!” Zach stumbled over his feet a little as Daisy ran as fast as she could with him holding her hand.

“Bubby, look! That’s Cinderella’s castle,” Daisy was jumping up and down with excitement.

“Daisy, sweetie, we’ve got the whole day. Calm down a bit,” their mother chuckled.
Zach, however, wasn’t focused on the giant castle replica nor the clicking noises his parent’s phones made as they took photographs. His attention was focused on something much more interesting than a building or a picture.

Out of the corner of his eye, it’d seemed like an ordinary character. He was in the midst of a thought about how horrible that job would be when he saw it fully. Well, it definitely wasn’t an ordinary character; Zach doubted there was even a person involved in the thing he had laid eyes on.

It seemed to be smiling at him. That is, if something like that could smile. It didn’t have lips, but it must’ve had a mouth, considering the two razor-sharp teeth emitting from its deformed face. Its eyes were pitch black, not even a speck of iris or white present. If it weren’t for the reflection of the sun, Zach wouldn’t have even know it had eyes; the creature’s fur was the same black color.

From what Zachary could tell, it must’ve been a realistic version of Mickey Mouse.

Only a second before Zach turned his head away, he swore the thing winked at him.

“Uh, Mom-” Zach tore his eyes away from the thing, intending to ask his mother if he was seeing objects that weren’t actually there.

She didn’t seem to hear him, however. His sentence was cut short by what must have been multiple screams and gasps of horror.

The commotion was so unexpected that it, for only a split second, silenced everyone in their general area.

Zach began to ask why on earth she was so horrified, but his question was answered before he even voiced it.

His hand, the one that Daisy had been holding not even five minutes ago, was no longer holding her hand, but instead a tiny, circular object. Zach lifted it to his face, inspecting it.

Originally, the pin had been a typical “1st Visit!” pin, clad with familiar Disney characters. The “1st” had been scratched out, replaced, in almost illegible handwriting, with the words, “Very Last.”

He immediately jumped, tossing the pin in horror.

His mother’s voice didn’t quite reach his ears anymore. All that he could hear was the constant pounding of his heartbeat and a dull ringing in his ears.

At first, Zach thought maybe Daisy had just slipped closer to the castle, but there was no one standing anywhere near it. His second hypothesis was that Daisy was simply talking to a character from one of her favorite movies.

What was her favorite princess movie again?

C’mon, Zach! Think!

The Little Mermaid. It was the Little Mermaid, he finally remembered.

Zach immediately spun around in search of a face character with bright red hair or a tail or something along those lines.

He didn’t see anything like what he’d pictured in his head.

What he did see, though, was a different thing.

That was not a princess and he was also pretty sure that it wasn’t a character from any Disney movie he had ever seen.

Maybe it did slightly resemble Ariel, if he looked hard enough.

The creature he laid eyes on had sharp teeth that looked much closer to that of a shark’s than the beautiful mermaid the movie depicted. Its hair was sort of red but was a matted, tangled mess. Perhaps the part that worried him the most was the tail: it looked like it was the ripped up tail of an actual, live fish. Little tears and scars covered about half of the purplish scales. For Zach, the most terrifying part was the fact that it was standing like a person- it had no feet and the end of its tail could in no way support its weight.

Now that he thought about it, it did look somewhat like a mermaid; in a creepy, horror-movie way.

“Mom, we have to find Daisy, and get out of here-” Zach stopped short when he came to the realization that his mother and father were no longer standing there.
They too had been replaced with another horrific “Very Last Visit” button.
Panicking, Zach set off in a full-on sprint towards the park exit. He didn’t quite make it there.

He ran until he couldn’t get any closer; a circle of things had surrounded him to the point where he was now trapped.

Zachary tried to speak, he tried to scream for every other person in that park to run for their lives. He soon found, however, that any noise he tried to make was muffled and rendered useless. His mouth was smothered by a furry hand.
The last words Zach could remember hearing before he blacked out, in a shrill, almost demonic voice, were, “I’m so glad the new boss came along. We’ll never have to wear another one of those disgusting costumes again.”