If you are like most of us, Disney films were a huge part of your childhood. There are grown adults with jobs and mortgages who still know the words to “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin” and could easily sing the song if asked to do so.
If those grown adults have small children, they are probably thrilled to have a socially acceptable reason to revisit the classics from their childhood.
Disney has been making films since the 1930’s, so multiple generations have fallen in love its films. It is fair to say Disney has a lot of fans; there are also people who are borderline obsessed with its films, programs, parks, etc.
Here are fifteen facts only the biggest fans know.
1. Yen Sid, the sorcerer in Fantasia, is Disney spelled backwards
The fact that “Yen Sid” is Disney backwards should have been obvious to everyone, but wasn’t. Most of us probably did not even think about it.
If you’ve never seen “Fantasia”, it is worth checking it. It is actually considered the 58th greatest American movie by the American Film Institute.
It was first released on November of 1940. It was critically acclaimed when it was released, and many today consider it a true masterpiece. It really isn’t your typical Disney fare, however, so be aware of that when you sit down to watch it with your kid. It is appropriate for children, certainly, but they might not enjoy it as much as they would another Disney animated movie.
2. Ursula Was Designed To Resemble A Drag Queen
If you’re familiar with the famous American singer, actor, and drag queen Divine, you might be interested to know that Ursula from “The Little Mermaid” was intentionally designed to look like Divine. The resemblance is definitely not a coincidence.
“The Little Mermaid” was released in November of 1989, and got mostly positive reviews. The film’s release is considered the beginning of an era referred to as the “Disney Renaissance”.
In 2016, Disney made it known that a live action version of the film is going to be made.
3. Technically, Ariel and Hercules Are Cousins
This has never been acknowledged in any movie as far as I know, and I know it seems like a bit of a stretch. However, it isn’t, especially if you know your Greek Mythology.
Ariel’s father is Triton, right? Triton’s father is Poseidon. Zeus was Poseidon’s brother, and Zeus is the father of Hercules. That makes Ariel and Hercules cousins.
I’m surprised that Disney hasn’t made a movie starring both characters!
4. Elsa Is The Oldest Disney Princess
As far as Disney Princesses go, Elsa is the oldest princess. She was 21 years old—the only one who was not a teenager.
Snow White was the youngest Disney Princess. She was only 14 years old.
If you are not familiar with the character, Elsa is from the movie “Frozen”, which is Disney’s 53rd animated film. The film, which starred Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell, was released in November of 2013, and critics consider the movie one of The Walt Disney Company’s best. A sequel to “Frozen” will be released in November of 2019.
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” premiered in December of 1937. It is Disney’s earliest animated feature film. It was critically and commercially successful at the time, and it has been re-released in theaters several times. It has been called the greatest American animated film by the American Film Institute.
If you are interested in the ages of other Disney Princesses, that information is available. Ariel was supposed to be 16 years old, Cinderella was 19 years old, and Pocahontas was supposed to be 18.
5. Ariel Has a Daughter
There was actually a sequel to “The Little Mermaid”. It was called “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea”. It came out in 2000 and was direct to video.
In the movie, Ariel has a daughter named Melody. The young woman’s father is Eric, of course.
There was also a prequel to “The Little Mermaid”; it was released in 2008. It was named “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning”.
6. Gaston Was the First Male Villain In a Princess Movie
Up until “Beauty and the Beast”, the villains in Disney Princess movies (e.g., “Cinderella”, “Snow White”, “Sleeping Beauty”) were all females. Gaston was the first male villain in one of Disney’s animated princess features.
The animated version of “Beauty and the Beast” was first released in 1991. Disney had previously tried to turn the story into a film back in the 1930’s, and then in the 1950’s.
The film was a box office success and grossed over $400 million. It even won an Academy Award for its music. In 1994, it was made into a Broadway musical.
7. For Budget Reasons, Disney Tends to Reuse Animation
Animated films take a lot of time to make and also cost a lot of money to produce; for those reasons, Disney has the tendency to reuse animation whenever possible. Consider the similarities between the dance scenes in “Beauty and the Beast” and “Sleeping Beauty”. Also, “Robin Hood” borrowed animation from “Snow White” as well as “The Jungle Book”.
8. Mufasa and Scar Are Not Brothers
If you were to summarize the plot of “The Lion King”, you’d probably say something like: “the king of the lions is killed by his bitter brother; the son of the dead king eventually grows up and then claims the throne for himself”.
Mufasa and Scar are not actually brothers, though; they were not related by blood. This was confirmed by the film’s director as well as a producer.
That doesn’t make what Scar did any less tragic, and it doesn’t change the fact that “The Lion King” is a great movie. Released in June of 1994, it was the highest-grossing release of that year. All in all, it grossed about $766 million. The movie has been adapted for Broadway, and there were two sequels—both of which were direct-to-video. There is a CGI remake in the works; it should be released in July of 2019.
9. The Character of Bruce From “Finding Nemo” Was Named After The Shark From “Jaws”.
Three prop sharks were used in the 1974 classic “Jaws”. They were nicknamed Bruce. The character of Bruce in “Finding Nemo”—who was a Great White Shark—was named after the prop sharks.
“Finding Nemo”, which tells the story of a clownfish searching for his abducted son, was released in May of 2003. It starred Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Garrett, Stephen Root, and Alexander Gould. The animated film won an Academy Award. It grossed well over $800 million worldwide. A sequel to the film, “Finding Dory”, was released in June of 2016.
10. Aurora Was Barely In “Sleeping Beauty”
It may have been a movie about a sleeping princess, but Princess Aurora was barely in the film. In fact, she only had 18 minutes of screen time. She also only had 18 lines. She is nonetheless considered an official Disney Princess, and quite a popular one.
“Sleeping Beauty” was first released in 1959, and the movie was not very successful initially—although it is now considered one of the best animated films ever made. Because it did not perform as well at the box office as the company hoped and critical reception was sort of mixed, Disney actually stopped making animated films about fairy tales for 30 years.
The company would start doing so again in the 1980’s. “The Little Mermaid” was released in 1989.
11. Lime Green Suggests The Presence Of Evil
If you watch a lot of Disney movies, or have children that do, you’ll come to notice that the color lime green—for whatever reason—tends to be associated with the more villainous characters and the presence of evil. It all started way back in the 1930’s with “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. Look at the color of her eyes and the potion she makes. There are also examples of lime green suggesting evil in “Cinderella”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “The Lion King”, “Hercules”, and “The Little Mermaid”.
12. Elsa Was Intended to Be Sort of Villainous
It could be argued that Elsa was a protagonist with a somewhat villainous side. She was actually based—loosely—on the character of “The Snow Queen”, who appeared in a Danish fairytale. That character was pretty cold-hearted. The company had been trying to make a movie about The Snow Queen for decades, but they found the character difficult to adapt.
The company finally got it right in 2013; Elsa was generally well received, and the character has been praised for being complex and vulnerable. In 2014, Time Magazine named her the most influential fictional character.
13. “The Rescuers” Accidentally Featured An Adult Image
For reasons that will probably never be explained, a topless woman can be seen in two frames of the 1977 animated classic “The Rescuers”. As a result, over three million VHS copies of the film were recalled. How that image got past the editing team is anybody’s guess.
The image of the woman was not noticed when the film first came out; it wasn’t noticed until the film was re-released over 20 years later.
14. Marlin Could Have Been Nemo’s Mom
As we know, Marlin was a clownfish. They’re interesting creatures, as they are born hermaphrodites. They actually alternate between male and female. If “Finding Nemo” was a scientifically accurate film instead of a cartoon for children, Marlin would have become Nemo’s mother.
Female clownfish are actually dominant; therefore, if a female mate dies, a male clownfish transitions to female.
The story would actually get weirder according to scientists familiar with clownfish. Let’s just be glad “Finding Nemo” ignored science for the sake of a good story.
15.Princesses who are born royal do not wear gloves, while those who married into royalty do
Tiana, Belle and Cinderella – married a prince, and wore gloves.
Aurora, Rapunzel and Ariel – born a Princesses, and have bare hands.
16. “101 Dalmatians” Made the Dog Breed Popular, But That Wasn’t Really a Good Thing
The animated version of “101 Dalmatians” came out in 1961, and there was a live-action version in 1996. The live-action film starred actress Glenn Close. The hit movie also starred actors Jeff Daniels and Hugh Laurie.
Both films were based on a 1956 novel called “The One Hundred and One Dalmatians”.
The popularity of the films resulted in a lot of people adopting Dalmatians for their children, but many soon learned they could not properly care for their new canine companions; as a result, many dogs ended up in shelters. The dog has a lot of energy, and people did not learn about the breed prior to bringing one into their homes.
A similar thing happened as a result of “Finding Nemo”. The sales of clownfish increased dramatically. They became in-demand pets, which does not sound like a bad thing, but it was—in certain areas, populations of clownfish went extinct as a result of the demand for the creatures.
Furthermore, they are not the easiest creatures to care for. Saltwater aquarium keeping is not for everyone, and setting one up properly can cost hundreds of dollars.
They’re considered intelligent and curious fish, but if you’re interested in purchasing one as a pet you should really know what you’re getting into.
As Disney has been making films since the 1930’s, there are a lot more fun facts about Disney that aren’t on this list; even the most devoted Disney fan will be surprised what they can learn with a little internet research. For example, did you know that the guy who voiced Aladdin—Scott Weinger—was a character on the sitcom “Full House”? The actor is actually on the sequel series “Fuller House”, which airs on Netflix. That series was recently renewed for a fourth season.
A lot of people have noticed that there are actually a lot of inappropriate images in Disney films, but we won’t discuss those here. The fact of the matter is that Disney makes a lot of great films, and chances are the company will continue making animated classics for years to come.