Disney Movie Behind-The-Scenes Facts And Secrets

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Phil Collins went HARD for the Tarzan soundtrack.

1.

While working on the Tarzan soundtrack, Phil Collins created all of the percussion sounds in “Trashin’ the Camp” by himself.


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He broke cups and hit things with sticks all around the studio. He even slapped himself on the forehead.

2.

While working on Pinocchio, the animators had to build real-life versions of the clocks in Geppetto’s workshop in order to get Walt Disney’s approval of their designs.


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According to film historian J.B. Kaufman, they had to build the working models because Disney would look at their concepts and say, “Oh, that would never work.”

3.

Walt Disney mortgaged his home to finance the production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

4.

Mulan was initially conceptualized as a rom-com.


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In the original plot, Mulan ran away from home after her father arranged her engagement with Li Shang. However, screenwriter Chris Sanders decided that the film should adhere more closely to the tale it was based on.

5.

Trudie Styler and John-Paul Davidson directed a documentary about the production of The Emperor’s New Groove, but Disney has refused to release it.


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The documentary, The Sweatbox, was so “awkwardly truthful” that it hasn’t been released since its festival debut in 2002. Styler has another connection to the animated feature — her husband, Sting, wrote two songs for its soundtrack.

6.

When Robin Hood fell behind schedule, animators had to recycle scenes from previous films in order to save time.


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Specifically, they reused scenes from The Jungle Book, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and The Aristocats.

7.

Mama Odie in The Princess and the Frog was partially based on Yoda from Star Wars.


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The filmmakers also drew inspiration from writer Coleen Salley and comedian Moms Mabley.

8.

Tim Burton worked as an artist for The Fox and the Hound.


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Before leaving the Walt Disney Co. to direct hits like Beetlejuice, Burton was part of a team of new artists who were challenged to make a new Disney feature.

9.

Tinker Bell’s character design in Peter Pan was inspired by actor Margaret Kerry — not Marilyn Monroe, as is popularly believed.


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According to Screen Rant, Kerry was the character model for the iconic fairy. She helped the animators by posing in pixie attire with oversize props.

10.

In Dumbo, the clowns were designed to look like two of the animators working on the film.


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Art Babbitt and Jack Kinney were the inspiration for the clown silhouettes Dumbo sees from outside the circus tent.

11.

The directors of Atlantis: The Lost Empire had T-shirts printed with the words “Fewer songs, more explosions” to remind the crew of the direction they wanted the film to take.


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After collaborating on musical hits like Beauty and the Beast, Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise really wanted to take Disney in a new direction.

12.

Chicha from The Emperor’s New Groove was the first pregnant character to appear in an animated Disney movie.


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She was also one of the first mother characters in a Disney film not to be killed off or villainized.

13.

All of the dog barks in 101 Dalmatians were created by the voice of Donald Duck.

14.

The Disney Paint Lab created new hues for the production of Sleeping Beauty.


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In order to get the jewel tones that production designer Eyvind Earle wanted, the lab used additives to make their pigments glow onscreen.

15.

Walt Disney’s daughter begged him not to kill the mother in Bambi.


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Refusing to change his plans, he told her that he was following the storyline in the book the film was based on.

16.

The scene in Lady and the Tramp where Darling receives Lady as a Christmas present was inspired by a gift Disney gave his wife, Lilly.


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After convincing her that they should get a Chow Chow, he secretly adopted a puppy and sneaked it into a hatbox on Christmas Eve. Lilly named their new pet Sunnee.

17.

While working on 101 Dalmatians, the animators painted over 6 million spots.


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A very dedicated Disney fan counted exactly 6,469,952 spots in the film.

18.

The vultures in The Jungle Book were based on the Beatles.


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The band was originally asked to voice the musical birds as well, but John Lennon vetoed the idea.

19.

Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Tiana in The Princess and the Frog, asked the filmmakers to make her character left-handed, like her.

20.

The lead character in Robin Hood is a fox because the film was made after an adaptation of the fable “Reynard the Fox” was canceled.


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The original writers scrapped the Reynard idea because the character in the source material was too villainous. Then, 20 years later, animator Ken Anderson resurrected the idea and combined it with the Robin Hood script.

21.

The music in The Little Mermaid was written by the playwright who penned Little Shop of Horrors.


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Reeling from the box office failure of The Black Cauldron, Disney invited Howard Ashman to move across the country and work on the company’s next film. He went on to write the music for Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin as well.

22.

The Black Cauldron was the first Disney animated movie to be given a PG rating.


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The studio wanted to make a film that would appeal to a teenage audience, a demographic that wan’t interested in Disney movies at the time.

23.

After the Beast’s transformation in Beauty and the Beast, Belle almost asked him, “Do you think you can grow a beard?”


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Paige O’Hara, who voiced Belle, ad-libbed the line while recording, but it was cut from the final version of the film. However, Emma Watson’s Belle posed the question to Prince Adam in the live-action remake.

24.

The character of the Genie in Aladdin was written specifically for Robin Williams.


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During early stages of production, the studio used recordings of Williams’ stand-up routines as the Genie’s voice.

25.

Animators would fight over who got to work on Pocahontas and The Lion King.


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The films were produced at the same time, but Pocahontas was the more popular choice because they thought it would be the bigger hit.

26.

Disney outsourced some of the animation for The Hunchback of Notre Dame to artists actually in Paris.


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About 100 animators from the Disney Animation Studio in Paris worked together to complete 10 minutes of animation to add authenticity to the film’s landscapes and architecture.

27.

In Hercules, the Fates show Hades a prophecy of only six planets aligning because the ancient Greeks only knew of six planets.

28.

The wildebeest stampede scene in The Lion King took animators nearly three years to complete.


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Producer Don Hahn told Screen Rant that it took so long because the wildebeests were computer animated, and the movie was made during the early days of computer animation. He also said that they took extra care because they were trying to “not traumatize this audience” with the scene’s sensitive nature.

29.

Cinderella was almost narrated by talking farm animals.


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According to Fox Carney, Walt Disney’s Animation Research Library’s research manager, the creators originally intended to have the story told by crows and hens.

30.

The author of the book that Tarzan was based on predicted that it would be made into a Disney movie nearly 60 years before the film’s production.


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In 1936, Edgar Rice Burroughs said that he envisioned Tarzan of the Apes as an animated feature that “must approximate Disney excellence.” The Disney adaptation went into production in 1995.

31.

The Atlantean language in Atlantis: The Lost Empire was developed by the same person who created Klingon for Star Trek.


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Linguist Marc Okrand also inspired animator John Pomeroy’s character designs for Milo.

32.

The director of Lilo and Stitch was also the voice actor for Stitch.


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Chris Sanders gave Stitch his voice during test animation, and the filmmakers decided to keep it in.

33.

Treasure Planet was the first time Disney animators blended CG with traditional animation.


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They used computer graphics for Long John Silver’s mechanical arm and eye.

34.

Tina Turner came out of retirement to record the opening track for Brother Bear in 2003.


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The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll had announced her retirement from touring three years prior, and she hadn’t released new music in four years.

35.

The future of Walt Disney Studios hinged on the success of Cinderella.


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As the company transitioned back into making animated features, Cinderella was very “make or break” for the animators.

36.

When the voice of the teenage actor playing Wart began to change, the director of The Sword in the Stone brought in his own sons to take over the role.


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The film took three years to produce, so Rickie Sorensen, the original voice actor, was replaced by Richard and Robert Reitherman.

37.

The initial idea for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs came to Walt Disney when he was only 15.


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He was inspired by a silent film adaptation of Snow White’s fairy tale that he watched at a theater in Kansas City, Missouri.

38.

Old Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn influenced early designs of Briar Rose in Sleeping Beauty.


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Animator Tom Oreb’s character designs for Princess Aurora’s peasant persona took inspiration from the actor’s early films.

39.

Child actor Kathryn Beaumont was asked to voice Wendy in Peter Pan after her performance as Alice in Alice in Wonderland.


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She was only 10 when she voiced Alice, but the studio heads were so impressed with her that they invited her to voice Wendy when she was 14.

40.

In Peter Pan, Tinker Bell’s signature twinkling sound was created with pieces of aluminum that were strung together.


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Instead of using bells or chimes, the filmmakers cut up pieces of aluminum themselves.

41.

Animators struggled to make the titular character in Pinocchio “cute enough” to reach Walt Disney’s expectations.


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They took nearly a year and a half to get it right. Their breakthrough came when Milt Kahl had the idea to draw him as a real boy, then add puppet joints and screws.

42.

The Disney Paint Lab mixed a brand-new hue for Ariel’s fins in The Little Mermaid.


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They named the blue-green shade “Ariel,” of course.

43.

Bambi inspired Paul McCartney to become an animal rights activist.


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During an interview with the Newspaper, he said, “I think that made me grow up thinking hunting isn’t cool.”

44.

The animators behind the Three Good Fairies in Sleeping Beauty studied elderly women at grocery stores and wedding receptions.


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Walt Disney personally appointed Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston to oversee the fairies’ character design.

45.

Donnie Dunagan kept his role as the voice of Bambi a secret during his military career.


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The former child actor was afraid of being nicknamed “Bambi.” A month before retiring from the Marine Corps, he revealed his secret.

46.

To make the facial movements of the talking dogs in Lady and the Tramp more realistic, animators studied their own expressions in mirrors.


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They observed the subtle changes in their faces so that they could incorporate them in the dogs’.

47.

Alice in Wonderland was originally going to be a live-action film.


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In 1933, Walt Disney planned to create a version of the film that combined live action and animation. However, by 1946, he had decided to make it a fully animated film.

48.

When Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in England, children under 16 had to be accompanied by a parent.

49.

While he was still a Disney animator, Tim Burton wrote a poem that The Nightmare Before Christmas was later based on.


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It was a rewrite of the classic holiday poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore.

50.

Phil Collins composed “You’ll Be in My Heart” for Tarzan while playing the piano at a neighbor’s Christmas party.

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