Whether you grew up singing along to Disney movies, or you have a friend who loves Ariel way too much (there’s no such thing as too much), you have to admit that in some way, Disney has been a part of your life.
Since 1937, Disney has been producing full length animated films, and even before that, produced lovable characters unlike anyone had seen before! The company was a pioneer in the animated film world, and a successful one at that. Walt Disney and his company built their success after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to create one of the most loyal and enthusiastic fan bases in history!
There are some things though, that would surprise even the biggest Disney fan! I’ve done some digging into some of the history behind Disney as a company, their movies, and some extra little facts that I didn’t know before!
Do you think you know all there is to know about Disney? I sure did, but boy was I wrong! Here are my top ten facts about Disney history!
1. Disney = D’Isigny?
Robert D’Isigny, Walt Disney‘s ancestor, was a Frenchman who moved to England around the year 1066. After years of the French surname being pronounced incorrectly by English speakers, the family gradually changed the spelling of the name to match the way the English people were pronouncing it.
How strange is it to think that one of the most influential names in the world could have been pronounced and spelled differently!
Animatronics have been used in many movies over the years, and have even been the reigning stars of films in cases such as Jaws and Jurrasic Park. But did you know that the first use of animatronics in a movie was done by Disney?
In 1963, some innovative Disneyland Imagineers created moving characters in rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean and the first audio animatronic characters in the Enchanted Tiki Room (my favorite!). Audiences were amazed by this technology, and kept going back for more!
Disney fans were even more shocked when they saw Mary Poppins in 1964 that featured a singing robin unlike any they had seen before. The classic scene of Mary Poppins singing A Spoonful of Sugar with a robin who sat on her finger was the first time any movie had featured this type of technology!
3. Keeping the Illusion Alive
If you’ve ever been to a Disney park, you know how much effort they put into making sure everything is kept magical. Walt Disney was extremely dedicated to keeping his characters as realistic as possible, and even went as far as installing a tunnel system underneath Disneyworld Florida so that the characters wouldn’t have to walk through the wrong parts of the park to get to their greeting spot!
Another thing that the company did to keep the illusion alive when their animated films began was not crediting any voice actors. If you watch a Disney animation made before 1946 such as Snow White, you’ll notice that it doesn’t mention who voiced any of the characters.
In addition to this, Adriana Caselotti, the voice of Snow White, wasn’t allowed to do a radio interview about the movie because Disney was worried that her unique voice being heard on the radio would ruin the illusion of the fair-skinned princess.
There is also a rumour that Adriana wasn’t allowed to do any more voice work after her starring role. As far as my research could take me, I didn’t find this to be true as she had a singular, uncredited line in The Wizard of Oz during the song, If I Only had a Heart. However, it is true that Adriana Caselotti didn’t have any big roles after Snow White which is probably where the rumour came from.
It has been theorized that because her voice was so unique, and because her name was virtually unknown due to the lack of credit towards her voice-work, directors just didn’t hire her as much as they should have.
One of the most creative and attention grabbing aspects of animation tends to be the colour. Pastel colours can symbolize softness, dark colours can symbolize fear or evil, and pops of bold colour can symbolize excitement. So much is added to the screen with colour choices, and it turns out, that for a while, Disney was the only animation company allowed to use a version of it.
In 1932, when Disney‘s main focus was the Silly Symphonies cartoons, someone suggested that they use the latest Technicolour techniques to switch from black and white. After seeing how well it looked, as well as audience response, Disney and Technicolour made a contract that lasted three years patenting Technicolour technology to Disney studios exclusively.
Disney’s first Silly Symphonies short animation to be produced in colour, Flowers and Trees, won the first Academy Award for Animated Short Film.
5. Atlantean Language
What do Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and Atlantis: The Lost Empire have in common? Well if you read the title of this fact, you know that the answer is languages.
Each of the movies/books that were just listed above have one or more languages that were created and fleshed out just for the sake of attention to detail. If these films wanted to, they could have just spoken random words and gotten away with it, but instead, there are full dictionaries dedicated to these fictional languages.
Marc Okrand, the creator of the Klingon language from Star Trek was hired by Disney to write and create a language for the movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire. After the language was created, animators incorporated words and phrases into the architecture and underwater caverns of Atlantis for protagonist, Milo to study.
6. Snow White’s Name
If you’ve ever looked at the older Disney Princesses, you’ll notice that some of them have peculiar names such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White.
Cinderella‘s name is explained as being Ella but is changed to Cinderella as a cruel insult from her step-family.
Sleeping Beauty has multiple names, (Briar Rose, Aurora) but most people don’t know who you’re talking about unless you say, ‘Sleeping Beauty‘.
The most peculiar though, is the name Snow White. No other name of hers is mentioned throughout the whole movie and its strange to assume that someone named their child Snow White, even if she does have pale skin. That’s like naming a baby chubby cheeks!
BUT if you look up Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, down where it shows who played which role, Snow White is listed as Mary Margaret Blanchard. It’s strange that it’s not mentioned anywhere else, but it gives me hope that Snow White was just a nickname!
7. A Very Productive Lunch Break
It takes a lot to come up with a good story. It takes even more to come up with a good idea for that story.
When the producing of Disney/Pixar‘s Toy Story was coming to an end in 1994, the director and three writers were having lunch and the question of what to do next came up. Then the most amazing thing happened.
In this single lunch break, these people came up with the ideas for:
- A Bugs Life
- Monsters Inc.
- Finding Nemo
- Wall E
They wrote them down on napkins that the cafe they were in had provided them with, and single-handedly created the ideas for Pixar’s biggest four movies ever produced!
These movies were distributed by Disney Studios and that lunch break went down in history as one of the most productive ones to ever occur.
The cafe that they had this lunch in, Hidden City Cafe, was featured in Monsters Inc. as a small place to eat in the background (pictured above).
8. Did Cinderella beat the Beatles?
The Beatles are known for using double-tracking techniques in their vocals. Double-Tracking is when one person records their voice in different keys, and layers the recordings over themselves to create harmonies using only one singer.
While Cinderella was in the making, Ilene Woods, the voice actor behind the beloved character, was asked to record her voice twice so that they could make some of Cinderella’s songs sound more pleasing, and harmonized.
Ilene herself has stated that they were the first ones to use this technique, however there is some controversy as to whether or not the Beatles started the now commonly used method.
Either side of the controversy, Cinderella was one of the first instances of this technique which can now be found in most pop music, and many other genres. This means that Cinderella was a big part of this huge step for musical advancement!
9. First Animated Hollywood Star!
The Hollywood walk of Fame is a world-renowned tourist attraction that features the most recognized stars in the business. Currently, it features some animated characters including Donald Duck, Tinkerbell, Snow White and Winnie the Pooh.
Before 1978, no fictional characters existed on the walk of fame, but that all changed when Mickey Mouse was introduced to the streets of Hollywood.
Mickey Mouse has paved the way for other fictional characters, Disney or not!
10. Strange Lawsuits
It’s always interesting to hear about movie companies being sued because it’s always for something unique. It could be that the idea for their movie was allegedly stolen from someone else, or that they didn’t credit the person who catered their lunches. In my opinion, the most interesting one was a biologist suing Disney for defaming the character of hyenas.
In the movie the Lion King, Ed, Shenzi, and Bonzai are the three main henchman of Scar, and do his evil bidding, whatever form that may take. The three hyenas are seen living in an elephant graveyard, and ready to eat whatever is in front of them.
After discovering that three hyenas would be villains in the movie, many people within the zoologist community supposedly boycotted seeing it, worrying that it would maximize the endangerment of the real life hyenas by making people scared of them.
After the movie came out, one biologist took it so far as to sue Disney for ‘defamation of character’ on behalf of all hyenas.
The case didn’t get very far, but that sure is dedication to the animal kingdom!
Which Disney history fact surprised you the most? Let us know in the comments down below!
Disclaimer: All Images used in this post are Disney Copyright. No videos in this post are owned by me, or Tsumthing.com