10 Bone-Chilling Facts About the Skeleton Trade
10 Bone-Chilling Facts About the Skeleton Trade

10 Bone-Chilling Facts About the Skeleton Trade

Shannon Quinn - June 26, 2018

10 Bone-Chilling Facts About the Skeleton Trade
The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in Disneyland had real skeletons on display. Credit: Flickr Anna Fox, aka “HarshLight”

Skeletons in Disneyland

Doctors and scientific researchers are not the only ones who needed to use real human skeletons to do their jobs. Disneyland was built in the 1950’s, and the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction was built in 1967. Artificial paper mache and plastic skeletons looked very fake, and Walt Disney himself wanted to spare no expense, especially after he realized that fake skeletons on display would not stand the test of time. So they decided to purchase real human skeletons from the UCLA medical department, which were scattered all over the ride and dressed in pirate costumes.

Decades later, technology has improved so that it is possible to create a very life-like fake skeleton without needlessly dissecting a human being. When the knowledge that they used real people’s bones became known to the public, there was an outcry that these humans deserved proper burials. The Disney corporation responded that they removed the real skeletons, returned them to their respective countries, where they were given proper burials. Considering how the skeleton trade works, it’s questionable if this is actually true, since most of the identities of the bones are undocumented.

There is a rumor that some of the real skeletons are still on the ride to this day. The trouble is, no one can tell the difference, except for the mega-fans who claim that some of the skeletons are clearly more yellowed and appear to be made of different materials than the majority of the bones that now exist on the ride.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Call for Leicester’s Elephant Man to be Buried After 120 Years. BBC. 2014.

Are There Still Real Skeletons in Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean? Cara Giaimo. Atlas Obscura. 2015.

Skeletons Cheap for Cash. Baxter Spring News. 1891.

Bodysnatchers: Digging Up The Untold Stories of Britain’s Resurrection Men. Suzie Lennox. Pen and Sword. 2016.

The Helena Independent. September 16, 1891.

Skeleton Manufacturers From The New York World. The Goulburn Herald and Chronicle. 1876.

Skeleton Factory. The Maitland Daily Mercury. 1907.

How to Save Money By Donating Your Body to Science. Jim T. Miller. The Huffington Post. 2013.

Into the Heart of India’s Underground Bone Trade. Scott Carney. NPR. 2007.

Packing Up Human Skulls in 1948. RareHistoricalPhotos.com