8 Magical Facts You Didn't Know About Disney Films

Posted Apr 02, by Alison Stanton

Disney made a war propaganda film! not only that, but it also won an Oscar!

The film is called Der Fuehrer's Face and is set in Nazi-land, a place where the clouds and trees are shaped like swastikas and the houses look like Hitler. Caricatures of German government officials, such as Joseph Goebbels and Benito Mussolini, are seen marching through the streets singing praise to the Nazi regime.

A Nazi Donald Duck is then awakened, fed a severely rationed breakfast and made to read a portion of Mein Kampf while sitting under Hitler’s portrait. Donald then goes to work in a factory, where he makes shells on a conveyer belt and salutes Hitler as portraits of him pass by. 

Donald then starts experiencing some hallucinations, which then collapse away to reveal it was all a bad dream. The movie won the Best Short Film award at the 1943 Academy Awards and remains to this day the only Donald Duck film to do so. The main song in the film has also been covered multiple times. You can watch the film below, but be warned, you will never be able to think of Donald Duck in the same way again. 

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All the Disney princesses are thought to be teenagers.

Cinderella - 16-19; an age is not specified, but getting married at a young age was common during her time and she was still living with her stepmother and two unmarried stepsisters at the time.
Aurora - 16; the curse on her stated that she would prick her finger at this age.
Ariel - 16; at the beginning of the film her father is holding a celebration for her 16th birthday.
Belle - 17-21; her age is also not specified, but she lives at home with her father and the Beast is known to be 21, since his cursed rose only blooms until his 21st birthday.
Mulan - 16; young Chinese women were sent to matchmakers around this age.
Jasmine - almost 18; in the movie she is to be married by her 18th birthday.
Pocahontas - 17ish; in reality, Pocahontas was only 11 when she was said to have met John Smith. The filmmakers made her older to allow for a romantic connection; however, she can't be too old considering the film's sequel and the fact that the real Pocahontas only lived until the age of 21.
Tiana - 19; the film opens in 1912 with Tiana at age five, 14 years later, she is a 19-year-old waitress.
Rapunzel - 18; her 18th birthday occurs during the film.

Ariel is the only Disney Princess to have had a child.

This is shown in the terrible straight-to-video sequel, The Little Mermaid 2: Return to Sea. In the film, Ariel's daughter Melody has a rebellious streak just like her mother, and once again the family is put into jeopardy. Only this time, Melody is a human and she wants to become a mermaid. So, in a plot that is definitely not exactly the same as the first movie, Ariel Melody enlists the help of the evil Ursula Morgana to transform her into a mermaid in exchange for King Triton's trident.

The straight-to-video Disney sequels tend to be lazy attempts to cash in on existing franchises, and we don't really recommend you watch any of them. The one positive thing we'll say on their behalf is at least they typically return the original voice cast. And while we\'re on the subject, take a look at that picture. What is wrong with Flounder\'s face?
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In Disney's Hercules, he has Scar's skin!

Probably. Or at least, he managed to find a way to grab hold of his skin. In the 1997 movie there's a scene in which Hercules is posing for a vase painting. You can see him wearing a lion skin frmo afar. After, Hercules flings the skin at Phil's feet, and you can see that the skin is actually Scar's!

It's a fun easter egg, but think of the morbid implications of Hercules owning the disembodied skin of another Disney movie villain. How did he get it? Is the Lion King set in the mythological greek era? So many questions!

When he sees the skin on the ground, Phil wipes off his clown makeup with the skin. Andreas Deja animated both Scar and Hercules. He decided it would be fun or nostalgic to put one of his old animations in a newer film. 

Tate Donavan was the voice for adult Hercules. He also played the voice of Hercules in the animated series on TV from 1998 to 1999. He’s been in an array of TV shows in his career, and many films. He was engaged to Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Aniston at certain points in his career and is good pals with George Clooney. Those stats would make him a Hercules, indeed.

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Pumbaa was the first Disney character to fart in a movie!

Disney's always been careful to maintain their family friendly image in anything associated with the Walt Disney brand. That's why it's notable that The Lion King featured a Disney character doing something no other character had ever done on-screen: fart. Fart jokes, commonplace in cartoons nowadays, were not common at the time.

Here's some more interesting facts about The Lion King: 

  • As we've mentioned before, it will forever hold the record for best selling VHS of all time, with over 50 million copies sold.
  • It was the first Disney cartoon to be dubbed into Zulu.
  • Many of the names were derived from Swahili words. For example, Nala means gift, Pumbaa means ignorant, lazy or careless; and Rafiki means comrade or friend.
  • Mr. Bean provided the voice for Zazu.
  • The wildebeest stampede took over 3 years to animate and was done with CGI.

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Disney was sued for the defamation of hyenas!

The portrayal of hyenas in The Lion King led to several researchers, whose work was with hyenas, to boycott the movie. One such researcher actually sued Disney for the defamation of hyenas. The fear of the researchers was that in casting the hyenas in the role of evil (and stupid) minions of Scar, their efforts to preserve the lives and populations of hyenas might be compromised. 

Another controversy involves the similarity of The Lion King to a Japanese show called Kimba the White Lion. Many of the scenes and shots used in The Lion King were very similar to the Japanese show. In the end, the Japanese studio decided not to sue because of the quality of Disney's lawyers, although there was some speculation about Disney paying them to keep quiet. 

Interestingly, The Lion King was not expected to do well on the big screen. Many invited to participate in its production rejected the opportunity stating reasons ranging from a poor plot to a preference to work on Pocahontas, which was expected to do considerably better than the Lion King. The Lion King, in spite of initial low expectations for the film, was the most successful animated picture of its time. More importantly, it also holds a place in the heart of many people; it is a part of their childhood. 

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In the Disney movie Hercules, the only character without a Greek name is Hercules.

Hercules, one of the most popular Disney movies of all time, was released in 1997. Roughly based on Greek legends, the story follows the young son of Zeus as he attempts to become a god like his father. However, what is odd about the movie is that Hercules is the only character with a Roman name! Disney named all the main characters after their Greek counterparts from mythology, such as Zeus, Hades, and Pegasus, yet refrained from naming Hercules his Greek name, Herakles. Disney claimed the name was more recognizable among fans. (Source)

Pocahontas was 11 when she met John Smith. He was 28!

The Disney movie documents a love story between a Native American princess and an English colonist. In the movie the two are both young adults and fall madly in love with each other after Pocahontas saved his life. 

The true story, however, is not very similar. Most people don't know Pocahontas's true story, and Disney isn't exactly known for its reliance on facts. Here’s some of her life story highlights:

  • She was actually only eleven when the English arrived in Virginia, while John Smith was twenty-eight. 
  • The story of her saving him from execution is true, but unfortunately they never fell in love. 
  • Pocahontas kept in contact with the settlers and aided them in times of need, such as providing food for the winter. 
  • One summer, Pocahontas arrived at the colony asking for Smith and was told he died. However, he had been sent back to England from a leg wound. 
  • She later met a man named John Rolfe. They eloped to England. 
  • Pocahontas's life ended on a high note as a foreign princess treated to the life of luxury among the richest and most powerful people in Europe.
  • Tragically, when she was only 21 she caught a disease her body couldn't handle and passed away abroad, never returning to her homeland. 

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