Most Disney fans would love to take a piece of the park home with them, but some fans take this to an extreme. Instead of buying a souvenir or ride photo, some guests go so far as to steal from the rides themselves, taking mementos as “stolen trophies”.
In the early days of the Disneyland, these kinds of thefts were a huge problem. Younger visitors would reach out from dark ride vehicles and snatch any small pieces of décor within reach, and without much surveillance within the rides, there was little cast members could do to stop them. As Disneyland evolved and dark rides incorporated sensors and monitors, these thefts all but disappeared. But during the 60s and 70s, the peak time for ride theft, two stolen trophies became infamous in the park: Snow White’s apple and the Pleasure Island donkey bow.
The most commonly sought after Disneyland artifact in the park was the poisoned apple, found inside Snow White’s Scary Adventures. At the end of the ride, the Evil Queen/hag opens a door and holds a small red apple she will soon offer to Snow White.
In the 60s and 70s, students attending Grad Night events at the park developed an unfortunate tradition of attempting (and sometimes succeeding) to steal the apple mid-ride, leaving the witch’s hand occasionally empty, or even slightly damaged. To remedy this problem, Imagineers removed the apple altogether during the 1983 Fantasyland refurbishment project, replacing it with a projected image of an apple instead. Today, the witch still proudly displays her apple, but there is no tangible object for anyone to steal.
Another frequently targeted “trophy” was the yellow bow within Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. After vising Pleasure Island, guests see the boys becoming donkeys, one of which still has on his yellow bow tie as he stands against the edge of his cage. Riders would grab at the bow as they passed the cage, and the bow frequently went missing.
In recent years, Imagineers seem to have taken more precautions to protect the looser decorations and objects inside the dark rides. There are now sensors all over Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, and watchful cast members monitor riders as they make their way through the dark ride.
In the past, guests caught trying to steal from the rides received little to no punishment, but Disneyland is much stricter today. Guests will be escorted from the park, and often have their tickets or annual passports revoked. Since 1983, Disneyland has constantly refurbished and updates rides to protect their decorations and tiny treasures, so that all park guests can fully appreciate what the park has to offer.