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Disney in a Minute: What is the Pillory?

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We’re here with a series of quick posts, “Disney in a Minute,” bite-sized nuggets of information that can better help you understand a Disney term or planning topic. Enjoy!

What is the Pillory?

In the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square, as you’re strolling past the entrance to the Riverboat attraction, you’ll pass a wooden post with perpendicular boards attached. The boards have three holes on either side. That’s a pillory. It’s part of the Colonial era themeing of Liberty Square.

A pillory was a device of punishment, meant for public humiliation, typically in a town square. A prisoner would be locked into the pillory, with his head in the larger center hole, with his hands on either side. As townsfolk passed, they would deride the person locked in the pillory, possibly adding injury to insult by throwing rotten fruit. The Magic Kingdom version has space for two people.

At Disney, this is a popular spot for silly photos.

Who gets locked up? Was Dad a grump at breakfast? Put him in the pillory! In a Derek Burgan Saturday Six post about Liberty Square, he notes that for families that go to Disney World every year, it can be fun to see a passage of time through photo ops like this.

If members of your family are too short to pose in the pillory, you can try placing them in the nearby stocks, a similar device that’s set low to the ground. In the pillory, the prisoner stands, but in the stocks they can sit.

Note: Some historical documents assert that the pillory was used to restrain prisoners as they were whipped, while the stocks were used for public humiliation. I’m hoping that Disney had tomato tossing in mind, rather than actual torture, when they added a pillory to the Magic Kingdom.

Let us know what Disney topics you think need just a bit more explanation.

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

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