Disney is famously full of Easter eggs and double entendres. There are all sorts of urban legends and images of hidden sexual images in Disney movies — but these tell only one part of the story. There’s much more hidden in Disney’s movies than you ever realized, and many movie crossovers you probably aren’t aware of at all. Disney has drawn on lots of different sources of information to make their family-friendly films, and some of those sources are going to shock you.
Start exploring the many movie crossovers Disney has placed in their films, and you’re going to find a much darker, more sinister side of Disney. You may not know it, but Disney has already told you a lot about your favorite characters and the movies you remember growing up with. If you were paying attention, you know who killed Bambi’s mom, the sad truth about what happened to Herbie and the ugly truth about who Scar of Pride Rock fame was really based on.
Be warned: once you start to open Disney’s Pandora’s box of dark movie crossovers and the horrible tales they tell, you’re never going to be able to watch your favorite childhood films the same way every again.
15. Toy Story and The Shining
Did an irrepressible sense of dread and fear grip you when Woody and Buzz tried to make their escape from Sid’s house in “Toy Story?” It’s probably because, on some level, you remember watching “The Shining.” The carpet in Sid’s house is the exact same pattern as the carpeting seen in “The Shining” in one memorable scene where Danny is innocently playing with his toys. That’s a really dark reference for an animation studio to make. “Toy Story” has become an iconic Disney/Pixar film, and it spawned a successful franchise that will soon include four feature-length films, plus the whole line of related toys. Sid appears in later “Toy Story” films, as do creepy crossovers with “The Shining.”
14. The Lion King and Nazi Propaganda
“The Lion King” was a huge hit for Disney. The movie has become a Broadway musical and it’s indelibly wrapped up in pop culture, but it’s also got some pretty questionable subject matter. What many people don’t realize is that one pivotal scene in the film was intentionally copied straight out of a Nazi propaganda film called “Triumph of the Will.” The film features Scar making plans to take over the pride, and the scene almost in entirety is a carbon copy of the 1935 film released by Nazi Germany. Animators admitted to using the Nazi film as their source material, because one story staffer pictured Scar as a Hitler figure.
13. Hercules and the Lion King
A throwaway comment in “The Lion King” actually came true in a film Disney released three years later. The villain of “The Lion King,” released in 1994, is Mufasa’s disgruntled brother Scar. He re-appeared in “Hercules” in 1997 in a very grim inside joke brought to the children of the world by Disney. Scar is already dead when Hercules dances around with his dead body for his big number, “Zero to Hero.” At the end of the song, Hercules tosses Scar’s dead form on the ground. When the remark was made in “The Lion King” that Scar would make a good throw rug, was this what animators had in mind? Many have called this an Easter egg, but really it’s a very grim bit of dark humor that would have been better left off the screen.
12. A Favorite Toy Becomes Junk in Wall-E
Sure, Disney likes their Easter eggs, but Pixar really, really gets into planting eggs for fans to find. The Pizza Planet truck featured in “Toy Story” has appeared in every single Pixar movie since, for example. But one such egg is particularly disturbing, and raises a lot of sad questions about the ultimate fate of one of the “Toy Story” gang of friends. Rex, the somewhat cowardly dinosaur introduced in “Toy Story” in 1995, apparently isn’t going to be around long. In Disney’s “Wall-E,” released in 2008, fans can catch a glimpse of Rex sticking out of the enormous trash pile featured in one scene of the film. Viewers are no doubt shocked to learn that after everything Rex has survived, he ultimately winds up in the garbage.
11. Toy Story 3
“The Shining” crossovers are back in “Toy Story 3.” Once you start looking for them, you just won’t stop finding them. There’s the 1970s intercom on the desk where the toy monkey is watching surveillance cameras, an exact replica of the one you see in the hotel manager’s office in the Kubrick film. A security camera in TS3 is branded “Overlook R237,” which is a clear “Shining” reference. The number 237 crops up several more times in the film. In “The Shining,” room 237 of the Overlook Hotel is where a lot of weird stuff happens. TS3 director Lee Unkrich is a big fan of “The Shining” and put Easter eggs like this in the film on purpose.
10. The Death of the Parents in Frozen is Foretold
The wrecked ship in “The Little Mermaid” that Ariel visits in 1989 might look familiar now that you’ve seen “Frozen,” and there’s a good reason. Though Disney hasn’t quite confirmed it, many fans believe this is the same ship. Elsa and Anna’s parents sail away and get in a shipwreck in the film, and that’s why they aren’t around when the girls are older. Ariel, who is believed to exist in the same universe as “Frozen,” finds the ship a few years later. Because “Frozen” takes place in Norway and “The Little Mermaid” is famously set in Denmark and two are so close…well, you can see how it all adds up.
9. Captain Hook Killed Ariel’s Mom
This is a fan theory, but it really holds up even under close scrutiny. In “Peter Pan,” one of Disney’s early films, mermaids are seen very briefly. One of these mermaids has red hair and looks quite a bit like a famous red-haired mermaid who will come along in Disney’s future: Ariel. And while there are few references to Ariel’s mom in “The Little Mermaid,” fans do learn more about her in “Ariel’s Beginning.” In this movie, fans discover that Ariel’s mother was killed by pirates. Now, the red-headed mermaid in “Peter Pan” is beginning to look a little more familiar — and it seems that Captain Hook is even more sinister than we all thought.
8. Disney’s Oldest Murder Solved?
Another fan theory may finally put the oldest murder mystery in the annals of Disney film history to rest. That’s right: we may know who killed Bambi’s mother. The death of Bambi’s mother is famously sad and one of the most jarring events ever to happen in any Disney film, and now some fans have traced the bullet to its source: Gaston. That’s right, none other than Belle’s rejected suitor from “Beauty and the Beast.” We know that Bambi’s mother is killed by a hunter, and we know that Gaston is very prideful of his hunting accomplishments. Since “Bambi” and “Beauty and the Beast” occur within the same timeline in the same Disney universe, it’s not at all farfetched to believe that Bambi’s beloved mother is one of the heads on Gaston’s wall of pride.
However, the theory is actually incorrect. An early script of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” reveals that Judge Doom killed Bambi’s mother. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” was released by Disney through Touchstone Pictures.
7. Disney Proves That We’re Living in a Loop
You’re going to start to question the fabric of the space-time continuum in about 5 seconds. Just read on. The tradition of hiding Mickey Mouse in Disney films goes back to the very earliest days. Start looking for the familiar shape, and you’ll begin to notice Mickey hidden all over Disney films from the oldest to the newest. Now go watch “Empire Strikes Back.” That’s right. Even though it was filmed three decades before Disney purchased Lucasfilm, and therefore owns all the rights to the “Star Wars” franchise, there are hidden Mickeys here. How is Disney always everywhere? Clearly we do live in the Matrix after all. And like everything else, the Matrix is owned by Disney.
6. Disney Takes a Little Revenge on Pixar
“Finding Nemo” and “Brother Bear” were released in the same year, 2003, and that’s why not too many people saw “Brother Bear.” Disney had just turned out the beautifully animated but not at all popular with audiences “Treasure Planet.” Pixar had just scored with “Monsters, Inc.” While Disney was experiencing a bit of a downtick, Pixar was soaring and making hit after hit. In 2003, Pixar and Disney weren’t on the best terms with each other. They were still negotiating and having disagreements about “Toy Story 2,” released in 1999, up until 2004. So maybe it was a little jab from the Disney animators when everyone’s favorite clown fish made a cameo in “Brother Bear.” While Marlin and Dory were searching for Nemo all over the ocean, he was (one assumes) being eaten for dinner. Poor Nemo. In 2006, Disney simply bought Pixar outright.
5. Dumbo’s Daddy
Dumbo’s mother is clearly named Mrs. Jumbo in one of Disney’s early and well-loved films. That means Dumbo’s father is the very famous Jumbo, the P.T. Barnum circus elephant. In his day, Jumbo the elephant was one of the biggest stars in the world. The first and most famous Jumbo was a star of the London Zoo before he became part of Phineas Barnum’s circus in America. It was “The Greatest Show on Earth,” and Jumbo was a sensation in it. Jumbo was so famous that to this day, the word “jumbo” is used to describe anyone who is overweight. Jumbo was a massive 11 feet tall elephant and weighed more than 5 tons. But Jumbo also died a tragic and gruesome death in 1885 at a relatively young age, only 23, after being struck by a train. It’s hard to look at “Dumbo” the same now, isn’t it?
4. Herbie’s Sad Fate
“Finding Dory” is one of the newest in Disney’s long line of films, but you can still find the crossovers if you look for them hard enough. While “Finding Dory” is all kinds of lighthearted family fun, there’s a fleeting moment in this movie that reveals the sad fate of one truly beloved, classic Disney character who was first introduced to audiences in 1968. As Dory is swimming along on her quest, she paddles right past a sunken car that’s all too familiar to Disney audiences. That’s right: it’s Herbie the Love Bug, and he’s at the bottom of the ocean. Why are you so cruel, Disney? Why?
3. RIP Sulley
To truly understand the dark implications of this crossover, you have to be a big fan of Pixar. If you are, you may remember a funny moment in “Monsters, Inc.” when Randall says that humans skin monsters in order to make toilet covers out of their fur. Sulley tells Randall that’s nonsense. But Sulley was wrong. In “Toy Story 3,” there’s a scene where Bonnie is playing with all her toys. Look closely at the toilet seat cover, and try not to be gripped by a certain sense of horror. The seat most certainly looks like Sulley’s fur…and the conclusion here is pretty obvious.
2. A Voice from Beyond the Grave
“The Great Mouse Detective” was released in 1986 after the rather disastrous “Black Cauldron,” which was seen by many as a departure from traditional Disney fare and was not well received by audiences. But the studio roared back with this light little flick about a detective mouse inspired by Sherlock Holmes. Animator Ron Clements was a huge Holmes fan, and wanted to include the voice of the “real” Holmes in the film. That man would be Basil Rathbone, who was well-known for portraying Sherlock Holmes in 14 movies. You can hear him and see him as a shadow on the wall during the movie. The thing is, Basil Rathbone died in 1967. His dialogue in “Mouse Detective” is entirely lifted from a recorded reading of a Sherlock Holmes story, “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League.” It was recorded in 1966, one year before his death. And that’s kinda spooky.
1. What’s Up with Boo and Brave?
So it turns out that having a monster as a best friend when you’re a little kid doesn’t create a solid foundation for the future. Who knew? In one of the more disturbing Disney fan theories, the sad fate of the little girl from “Monsters, Inc” has been revealed — and it’s not good, folks. Watch “Brave” closely, and you’ll find a familiar friend: Sulley, that friendly monster who didn’t want to scare Boo. The old witch, who’s a master carver, created this incredible likeness of him way back in the Middle Ages. Though only 11 years actually separate the two movies (“Monsters, Inc.” was released in 2001 and “Brave” in 2012), centuries have stretched between their two time periods. However, Boo as a little girl met Sulley the monster and learned the secret of the doors. These doors travel between dimensions and time. Many believe that Boo got lost while looking for Sulley. Eventually, she becomes the witch we meet in “Brave.” She’s still thinking of her old friend and learning magic in an attempt to get back to him. But since she’s lost in time, it’s clear the two have not been reunited. Boo hoo, right?
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