The Walt Disney Company is the largest media and entertainment company in the world. Thanks to the vision of Elias and Flora Call Disney’s children, Roy and Walter Elias produced the Alice Comedies on October 16, 1923. Five years later, a character is created, the current mascot of the Disney brand, which changes the history of the animated cartoons of the world and becomes the number one icon of the brand: Mickey Mouse, a mouse, that with its innocent personality, friendly and cheerful, conquer the entire planet. Did you know that Walt Disney doubled the voice of Mickey Mouse for 17 years?
Currently, The Disney Company owns brands such as Disney XD, Disney Radio, Toon Disney, Disney Channel, Jetix, ABC, Playhouse Disney, Disney Cinemagic, SOAPNet, Disney Junior and ESPN, among others. In addition to being one of the largest companies in the world of entertainment today, it owns almost two dozen amusement parks, around 40 hotels, 8 film studios and more than 10 television channels. For us, Disney is undoubtedly one of our favorite brands. Nonetheless, like all things that are special, Disney also has its secrets. Here are 10 lesser known things about Disney:
10. Mickey’s first name and his real creator
The birth of Mickey Mouse, the most famous mouse in the history of animation, has unleashed deep polemics. No one agrees on whether it really belongs to Walt Disney or the cartoonist Ubbe Iwerks, a Disney partner in his early years. Extensive articles have been written, sources of all kinds have been cited and even legal investigations have been made. The strongest version, currently, gives authorship to Iwerks. In 1927, Disney and Iwerks worked together in a garage producing animation material. Then, Oswald was created, the lucky rabbit that in the blink of an eye became a success. In 1928, Disney, on a trip to New York to renegotiate the contract with the production company, found out that they had been the victim of a bad legal move. The copyright, from one day to the next, belonged to their film producer.
Disney, in an abduction of lucidity, asked Iwerks to work on the figure of a mouse, inspired by the image of the lucky rabbit, which had meant so much success. Iwerks set to work. Thus, Mickey Mouse was born. Mickey’s official debut was in November of that year with Steamboat Willie. The success was huge. By 1931, the Mickey fan club had more than one million members. It was a true world explosion and a revolution in the universe of animations. Currently, it is considered one of the three recognizable icons – along with the most significant bottle of Coca-Cola and Nazi swastika of the twentieth century.
9. Mickey and Minnie’s Love Story
If there is a perfect relationship, it is one of these two Disney characters. Mickey and Minnie Mouse are the best known and most durable couple in the world. The two mice are always supporting each other, and although we cannot imagine them separated, they have their share of independence that allows them to live great adventures alone or with their friends. Minnie and Mickey have been together since 1928 when the world’s most feminine mouse appeared for the first time in “Steamboat Willie”. Although we always see them together and in very romantic situations, it was never clear if they were dating, they are married or if they just flirt.
In an interview on September 30, 1933, Walt Disney clarified the situation. He claimed that in their private life, Mickey is married to Minnie. Many people have written about this issue because sometimes Mickey seems to be married to her in his films and other times still in the conquest. What really matters is that Minnie is, for the purposes of the screen, her primary lady. If history demands a romantic courtship, then Minnie is the girl; but when the story requires a married couple, then they appear as husband and wife. In his workshop, Disney decided that they were already married. Undoubtedly, this couple, who seems to have married in secret, is the strongest proof that there is still love for life.
8. Recycling animations
In the world of art, there are many tricks and when one can think that everything arises from the genius of the artist, there is always an artifice behind and before the final result. In the creation of comics, the same templates of the characters are usually used to change only the hand or the own expression of the face in order to save time in the creation of a strip. If the result is excellent, there is no reason not to do so. Disney has applied the same thing in those well-known animated films when they did not have the option to deliver a job in a tight time limit. Apart from that, there are some animations of great beauty that are used as a basis to interpret other characters with them. Let’s say that the same key animations and intercalations serve to recover dances, gestures and different features of such popular characters.
The dance of Sleeping Beauty in the castle is recycled in the Beauty and the Beast, where only an expert in animation can notice that all of the animations is traced. The only thing that changes is the two protagonists who dance since the key animations are the ones that give all the sense, realism and beauty of that dance. Key animations are usually made by the main animators of a production. They are the ones that mark the most expressive features of an action and are passed to the animators so that between two key animations, “n” intercalations can be made so that the animation is as smooth as possible. It is for this reason that it is relegated in the most expert animators the drawing of the key animations that usually show the trait, or personality of a character or animation.
7. Everything is related
A few months ago, the unified theory of Pixar was demonstrated through a video of Oh My Disney, according to which all the films of Pixar were connected to each other. Disney could not be less. We cannot venture to affirm that the productions of Mickey Mouse’s house take place in the same universe, but we can say that the Easter Eggs (the hidden messages not so hidden in films that refer to others) is a resource that the studio has not left out to use in their films.
Even if you did not notice it, the teapot called Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast had its second glory in Tarzan, just as Beast had it in Aladdin. Some of the other Easter eggs are that Riley from Inside Out is among the children in the aquarium in Finding Nemo, Sully is engraved in a wooden piece of furniture from Brave, Lightning McQueen is a toy thrown on the floor in Toy Story 3 and the shadow of the dog Doug appears chasing Remmy in Ratatouille. Even the crab Sebastian and his friend Flounder, of The Little Mermaid, were dropped by Aladdin and Vaiana respectively.
6. Pocahontas is a Disney princess based on a real girl who lived in the 17th century
If you are a Disney fan, you will surely remember the story of “Pocahontas”, the native princess who fell in love with the Englishman John Smith during the conflict between the English settlers and the indigenous peoples of North America. What not many know is that the girl we see in the film actually existed and her story is far from what we know. To begin with, the real name of the woman was Matoaka, although since she was a child she was also characterized by the nickname Pokahantesú, which can be translated as “having fun with anything”. According to National Geographic, she was the eldest daughter of Wahunsonacock, chief of the Powhatan people.
The Powhatans resided near the Chesapeake Bay at the beginning of the seventeenth century and spoke in the Algonquian language. It was at this time when an English expedition of the Company of Virginia arrived with more than one hundred men in what today we know as the United States. However, at first, things were not easy. The main objective of the settlers was to explore the economic potential of the area, from gold to lucrative crops such as tobacco. Instead, they found a swampy area that led them to suffer from shortages, epidemics, and famine. Had it not been for the help of the Indians, who provided them with food for their survival, the English would surely have died. However, the relationship between the two groups was not exempt from conflicts. Over time, the English became more numerous and began to demand land from the Powhatan, claiming them “by right of discovery”.
5. Walt Disney loved Peter Pan
Investigating between the most intricate and profound of Walt Disney’s archives, a copy of an article of the inestimable value written for a magazine, now disappeared, has been discovered, in which the story behind the fascination Walt Disney felt was explained. by Peter Pan … and with his own words! In an essay entitled ‘Why I made Peter Pan’, Walt Disney explains why the classic fairy tale by J.M. Barrie exercised such an intense fascination with him throughout his life. Discovered almost half a century after the aforementioned article was written, the studio immediately realized the meaning of such a finding and adapted ‘Walt’s Words’ to the format of a complimentary delivery of the film.
The imagination of Walt Disney woke up, still a child, in the course of the evening storytelling that passed on the knees of his grandmother. At that time, what most attracted the attention of that child was a children’s book with the stories of brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. However, it would have to be an itinerant theatrical production of the work of J.M. Barrie ‘Peter Pan’ that completely captivated his imagination. Walt and his brother Roy spent all their savings to make a theatrical trip to the Land of Neverland, an event that woke up in that boy an enormous fascination for the child who did not want to grow and who would last in him throughout his life. From then on, the imagination put at the service of the fantasy world became something that, inexorably, was taking shape in Walt. His first professional milestones were films based on fairy tales and were from the animated short film ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ (‘Little Red Riding Hood’) to his first feature film based on the classic tale of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’.
“Destino” is a short film made from a project by Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney. It is said that the idea between these two greats was born at a party offered by Jack Warner, in Hollywood, back in 1945. Although the project prospered, it did not materialize due to artistic differences and because of the economic problems that hit Disney when the Second World War had just ended. It is known that the differences on the concept of the short film were more than evident, while Dalí described the story as “a magical exhibition of life in the labyrinth of time”; Disney explained it as “a simple love story: a boy who knows a girl”. It is more than evident that they were not very close to sharing a creative goal. As sometimes happens with the ideas of two greats, they did not find a common destiny.
Later, in 1946, the differences were even more marked. According to this, Dalí wanted to include some baseball players in the story. Apparently, that was the height of its artistic incompatibility, as well as the fact that it had already spent about 70 thousand dollars by then, then the obvious happened: it was canceled. Despite these differences, both men, Dalí and Disney, continued their friendship and at different times continued to express their mutual admiration. They even planned another project, a movie based on “Don Quixote” that, as we know, did not materialize.
3. Disney owns Fox
The Walt Disney group took a key step to become a giant of the entertainment industry by announcing the purchase of a series of assets that wanted to get rid of 21st Century Fox, valued at about 52,400 million dollars. The operation, which had been analyzed by the top managers of the two groups for several months, is known in the midst of a profound transformation of the sector, which is incorporating new players seeking to capture market shares. The Disney group, created in 1923, announced that it had bought several Fox assets that include its film studios, the Nat Geo network channels and the holdings it has in the Sky satellite television system and the Hulu platform.
The transaction meant that each shareholder of the group led by Rupert Murdoch will receive 0.2745 Disney titles for each one of Fox. The buyer will also pay a debt of 13,700 million dollars of 21st Century Fox, so taking into account this data the total transaction reaches 66.100 million dollars. The assets that Disney buys are added to others that it already has, such as ABC and ESPN. It also allows it to control the Hulu film and television content distributor, where Fox had 30% and Disney another 30% through ABC. This may represent an important move considering that Disney has already announced that since 2019 it will withdraw its films from Netflix, as part of its intention to launch its own content distribution system and compete with Netflix.
2. Underground tunnels in Theme Parks
Did you ever wonder where Mickey and his friends hide? Few have had the luck to visit these secret places of Disney and some never thought that this great theme park hid a secret under its castles and games: tunnels and passages are part of a mystery for all mortals like us, but clearly not for Mickey and his friends. In 1955, when Walt Disney created Disney World in Florida, he also built a system of incredibly complex underground tunnels for the cast members, where they could walk under the feet of the guests. The central idea was that this network of tunnels prevented anything out of place that could ruin the magic for visitors.
According to the story, one day Walt was taking a walk through Disneyland in California when he was upset to see a cowboy walking through Tomorrowland. Walt felt that such a vision was discordant and detracted from the guests’ dream experience. Therefore, the idea was born. This secret underworld covers up to 9 hectares with some tunnels so long that employees need to use golf carts. The huge urban basement also has houses with rooms, changing rooms and dining rooms. There is even a check-cashing service and a hairdressing salon. Of course, we could never access them.
1. Neuschwanstein Castle
The castle of Neuschwanstein is named after the Swan Knight of an opera by Wagner and its name means “new stone swan”. It was built in the 19th century, at a time when castles were no longer needed as fortresses. Its environment, typical of a fairy tale, made it a source of inspiration for films (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Spaceballs), television series (The Amazing Race), Tschaikowsky when she composed “Swan Lake”, to artists like Andy Warhol, in stamps and commemorative coins and, most magical of all, was chosen by Walt Disney as model of Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, welcoming all children and adults who come to the parks.
Many of the locations of the Disney films have been inspired by real places: the Angel Falls in Venezuela, the Machu Pichu in Peru, the Serengeti in Kenya, the Taj Mahal in India and the “enchanted” castle in Bavaria (Germany). Its architecture, several styles (Romanesque, Gothic, Byzantine) are mixed, with its purely aesthetic design leaving aside the functional. Walt entrusted the project to Christian Jank and Eduard Riedel, but each draft, each idea, had to obtain the approval of the King beforehand. In fact, the whims of the monarch made the costs increase twice as much as expected (6 million gold marks) delaying the completion of the task.