11:30 am EDT, November 6, 2014

15 fun facts you never knew about your favorite animated Disney movies

Think you know everything there is to know about Disney animated movies? Think again. We’re here to throw some little-known fun facts at you!

Disney animated films, even moreso than the live action films, are chock full of fun facts, Easter eggs, and even behind-the-scenes secrets. Forget about deleted scenes and “hidden Mickeys”; we’re talking characters that hit the cutting room floor, fun anecdotes about character names, and a ton of “could have been” scenarios.

Curious to find out if you know all there is to know about Disney animated movies? See if you knew these fun facts!

Joss Whedon had his hand in ‘Toy Story.’

Toy Story Rex

In the beginning, the Toy Story script had quite a few troubles. Executives brought in Joss Whedon to help sort out problems and improve the script (after all, he’s pretty much the king of dialogue). You know that line that Buzz has? The one that goes, “You are a sad, strange little man,” which is one of his most well-known and one of the ones that made the film’s original trailer? Yeah, that was all Whedon. Oh, and you know Rex? Well, he was Whedon’s idea too.

Dopey the apprentice?

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Believe it or not, Mickey Mouse wasn’t the only contender for the role of the sorcerer’s apprentice. In fact, Dopey was seriously considered for the role (which would’ve totally made sense given the loose fit of the apprentice clothing). However, because Mickey Mouse was waning in popularity (and actually losing to Donald Duck), Disney decided to go with the Mouse instead.

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Tim Rice originally wanted ABBA to do the soundtrack for ‘The Lion King.’

The Lion King

Before Elton John stepped up, the soundtrack for The Lion King was going to have a lot more boogie to it. Apparently, Tim Rice first approached the musical group ABBA to do the soundtrack for the (now) classic film. However, Benny Anderson (one of the members of ABBA) had scheduling conflicts that didn’t allow him to take on the job. So, Elton John got the gig instead!

Gaston was even more of a jerk than we knew!

Beauty and the Beast Gaston

In the original cut of Beauty and the Beast, Gaston’s last scene went very differently. In fact, he was much more violent than self-absorbed/destructive as he’s shown to be in the final version. How so? Well, during his battle with the Beast, his line “Belle is mine!” was actually supposed to be “Time to die!” but it was changed because it was too nasty. However, if you watch closely, you’ll see that his lips are still animated to fit the original line. Also, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Gaston’s death played out very differently as well. Instead of slipping and falling off of the roof of the castle as he does in the final version, Gaston was originally supposed to stab the Beast in the back and then willingly jump off the roof to his death, laughing the whole way down. The thought process was that if he couldn’t have Belle, then the Beast couldn’t either. What a jerk!

Characters’ names in ‘Frozen’ are an homage to the author of the original tale.

frozen-characters

Hans, Kristoff, and Anna were all named after Hans Christian Andersen, the creator of “The Snow Queen.” Moreover, if you say the names of four of the film’s main characters (Hans, Kristoff, Anna, Sven), you may hear a familiar name. So that’s kind of cool.

‘Hercules’ should really have been called ‘Heracles.’

Hercules

While all of the characters and places in Disney’s Hercules have Greek names, there’s actually one character that doesn’t: Hercules! Like “Mars” is for “Ares” and “Neptune” is for “Poseidon,” “Hercules” is actually the Roman name for the Greek figure “Heracles.” If the movie were to be consistent, the movie’s main character and title should have been Heracles. However, Disney executives went with the Roman “Hercules” because they said it was more familiar to the general public.

One of the voice actors in ‘The Great Mouse Detective’ died years before the movie came out.

The Great Mouse Detective

Basil Rathbone, the voice of the human Sherlock Holmes in the movie, was actually not alive for the production of The Great Mouse Detective even though his voice was in the movie. Rathbone had played Sherlock Holmes throughout his life (and was actually very well-known for his portrayal) and so creators took his voice from audiobooks he had completed before his death (as well as clips from his Holmes films) and used those for his role in the film. By the time the film was finished, Rathbone had been deceased for about 20 years.

Sir Patrick Stewart was almost in ‘Aladdin.’

Aladdin Jafar

Did you know that Sir Patrick Stewart was originally offered a role in Aladdin? He wasn’t offered just any role. He was asked to play the part of Jafar! How interesting would that have been?! Jafar could have shared a voice with Professor Xavier. Unfortunately, he had to turn down the role because he was filming Star Trek: The Next Generation at the time. He’s even said that turning down the opportunity is something he really regrets doing. Sad day.

The vultures in ‘The Jungle Book’ were originally written for The Beatles to play.

Jungle Book vultures

The vulture quartet that pops up toward the end of The Jungle Book was originally supposed to be voiced by The Beatles themselves. In fact, in case you haven’t noticed, the vultures were kind of inspired by the musicians. However, the story goes that “scheduling conflicts” kept them from participating, but it was really Lennon who opposed the project. Disney kept their likenesses anyway.

‘Tangled’ is the second-most expensive movie ever made (first for animated films).

Tangled

Believe it or not, but Tangled was even more expensive than James Cameron’s Avatar. Seriously. A lot of the film’s budget went toward developing the CGI animation system (if you remember, Tangled pretty much marked the death of classic animation) as well as problems that popped up during the film’s six years of production (including complete project halts). To make it sound even crazier, Peter Jackson’s original Lord of the Rings trilogy cost about $281 million for all three films and Tangled cost $260 million for the one film. Whoa, baby.

‘Peter Pan’ has ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to thank for one of its more popular tunes.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland originally had another song, entitled “Beyond the Laughing Sky,” but it was later cut from the movie for reasons unknown (probably pacing). However, Sammy Fain, the film’s composer, recycled the song, rewriting the lyrics to fit his next Disney animated film, Peter Pan. Which Peter Pan song has the same tune as the one cut from Alice in Wonderland? “Second Star to the Right”! (The song still even includes the phrase “beyond the laughing sky”!)

Before Meeko, Pocahontas had another animal friend.

Pocahontas

Originally, Pocahontas had a talking turkey as an ally and he was a pretty animated fellow (pun intended). His name was Redfeather and was going to be voiced by the late John Candy. However, the whole character was scrapped when Candy passed away and was replaced by Meeko, the playful and scene-stealing raccoon.

Cruella De Vil almost double-dipped.

Cruella De Vil

Before the days of sequels (if you can remember such a time or believe that such a time existed), the creators of The Rescuers had seriously considered making Cruella De Vil the movie’s villain. She would’ve been dressed in alligator skins and all about making deals on the bayou. But, the idea was eventually scrapped due to the studio’s policy against sequels. So, Medusa was created instead. If you go back and watch the film, you’ll notice that she has quite a bit in common with Cruella, including a predisposition to obsession and reckless driving skills.

‘Wreck-It Ralph’s’ hero originally had a very different look to him.

Wreck-It Ralph

The final design of Ralph looks so different from the design from the the early stages of Wreck-It Ralph. Sure, this happens often, but Ralph’s previous look seems more notable than other characters from Disney animated films. For instance, did you know that Ralph was originally supposed to be a large white gorilla? He didn’t show any sort of human features for a while. Also, he was supposed to look like an 8-bit character throughout the entire movie. However, that made him look less lovable (with the straight edges and all that), so designers went for a curvier, more modern design instead.

‘Big Hero 6’ has Disney’s largest animated cast of characters ever.

Big Hero 6

This cast is the largest ever in a Disney animated film. Unlike a lot of other movies where there are only a handful of main characters, Big Hero 6 has around 15 main characters. Not only that, but there are apparently about 701 unique characters, all of which need to be animated. How crazy is that?
 

For more relatively-unknown fun facts about your favorite Disney animated movies, check out this list, this list, and this list.

Which of these fun facts about Disney animated movies surprised you the most?

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