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Media Essays: 100 Facts About Disney (31-40)

Updated: May 14, 2023

A title card for my essay about Disney facts

And here we are with Part 4 of my Disney 100 Countdown and you know what that means! More facts to cover! :D

I'm sure you'll find this next batch of Disney facts interesting to read so let's get right into it.

31: Several characters in the Cars franchise are based on and voiced by actual famous racers

An image for the Number 10 spot on the list.

This may come off as a no-brainer to any die-hard Cars fans out there but some of the characters in the world of Pixar's Cars franchise are indeed based on actual famous racers, and even voiced by them too! They pick a variety of racers too, not just NASCAR. Let's go through them shall we? Apologies if I miss any:

Strip "The King" Weathers is modelled after NASCAR legend Richard Petty's blue Number 43 Plymouth Superbird and is also voiced by Petty himself.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. appears as himself with his character modelled after his Number 8 NASCAR racer.

NASCAR and F1 driver Mario Andretti makes a cameo as himself also.

Former F1 Racer Michael Schumacher appears as himself and is depicted as a Ferrari.

In Cars 2, we get F1 racer Lewis Hamilton as himself and NASCAR racer Jeff Gordon as Jeff Gorvette.

In Cars 3, we meet The King's nephew, Cal Weathers, who is voiced by Richard Petty's son, Kyle Petty.

Also in Cars 3 we have cars versions of Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suárez and Darrell Wallace Jr with them all being played by those racers.

We do get some other racing personalities who appear such as commentator Darrel Waltrip voicing himself as a car named Darrell Cartrip, sports commentator Bob Costas who voices himself as a card named Bob Cutlass, former President and Manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway H.A. Wheeler who voices Tex Dinoco and retired racing champion David Hobbs voiced himself as a car called David Hobbscap.

You can tell these movies were made for racing fans with all these cameos and Easter Eggs, eh? I'm amazed they didn't turn Danica Patrick into a character in this franchise yet. Would've made more sense than randomly putting her into Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed I say. XD

32: It took FOUR days just to animate ONE frame in Finding Nemo

An image for the Number 9 spot on the list.

Animation is a lengthy progress and CGI animation is no exception to this. Computer animation may be a little speedier than it used to be but it still takes time to make. Pixar animation especially practically worked at a snail's pace back in the 90's and early 2000's with Toy Story alone taking four-thirteen hours just to animate a single frame since computers back then weren't exactly known for being speedy. Finding Nemo really took the cake in this case.

Because Finding Nemo was set underwater and the underwater setting is a complex environment to produce and render in CGI, it took a grand total of FOUR DAYS just to render ONE frame of the movie! Yes people! FOUR. DAYS. TO RENDER. ONE. FRAME!!! Consider the fact this movie is 100 minutes long so you can gather it must've felt like working in slow motion when making this movie! Imagine being an animator working on Finding Nemo! You'd probably have felt like the movie would take forever to finish! I can believe Andrew Stanton when he says production on this started in 2000 and it took 2 and half years to make the whole thing!

Still, all that hard work paid off since Finding Nemo remains one of Pixar's biggest successes of all time and it's among the highest grossing movies of all time. Also thanks to improved technology, Pixar movies don't take that long to render each individual frame of their movies so don't worry about each film taking longer and longer to render as they go along.

33: Toy Story nearly turned out disastrously!

An image for the Number 8 spot on the list.

Toy Story is the movie that created a legend and a pop-culture juggernaut in the form of Pixar Animation Studios. Yet Toy Story almost killed Pixar right out of the starting gate! How so? Boy is that a story and a half to tell...

John Lasseter and his team were working on Toy Story and when pitching the movie to Disney, they were impressed with the technology being put into the film but not so on the story. Jeffery Katzenberg even kept sending them notes and making requests that sure didn't do the movie any favours such as "More edginess between the leads", "more adult references" and to basically make the movie more for adults so try and appeal to both children and adults at the same time. Eventually, they showed off what they had so far in an event they dubbed the "Black Friday reel". You can even see it for yourself here:

Needless to say, NOBODY liked it. Everyone agreed that the film was just too mean-spirited and miserable with the characters having no charm and being too jerky for anyone to like. Even Tom Hanks when recording his lines for Woody felt that he'd been made into a real jerk and John Lasseter recalled that:

"It was a story filled with the most unhappy, mean characters that I've ever seen." - John Lasseter

Peter Schneider, then head of Disney's feature animation, had to halt production on the movie and when Jeffery asked his colleague, Thomas Schumacer, why the reels had been do disastrous, Thomas simply stated: "Because it's not their movie anymore; it's completely not the movie that John set out to make." Because of how bad the reels turned out, Toy Story was nearly cancelled outright and it was only thanks to John and the team getting a second chance that the film got made at all! With how he constantly stroked his own ego at Disney, ruined The Black Cauldron, nearly killed Pixar with his terrible advice for what to do with Toy Story and then going on to found DreamWorks to compete with them, it really does feel like Jeffrey Katzenberg has dedicated his whole life to trying to sabotage the company at this point. XD

Still, thank god Toy Story didn't turn out like that reel! I sure as hell wouldn't have liked it if that was the movie we got...

34: An adaptation of The Snow Queen was floating around Disney for many years before it became Frozen...

An image for the Number 7 spot on the list.

Frozen is the biggest hit of the 2010's decade for Disney. It spawned a whole franchise that made many new fans of the Disney brand and has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon with the franchise still being massively popular and creating new content. There's even going to be a Frozen 3 coming in the future! No really!

Yet despite Frozen being a modern hit for Disney, it wasn't a recent idea they had to make an adaptation of Hans Christen Anderson's The Snow Queen. No, the idea was floating back DECADES ago. Yes, this idea was around in the studio at the time when Walt Disney was alive! The idea first came about in around 1940 when Walt Disney thought about making an adaptation of The Snow Queen with live-action segments of Hans's life and animated segments of his fairy tales. But they ran into some trouble when Walt wasn't sure how to make the Snow Queen character relatable to audiences. World War II also didn't help in the project's development. The idea would come up again during the 1990s during the Disney Renaissance but ultimately got shelved again. Imagine that, The Snow Queen could've been part of the Disney Renissance. Ain't THAT an interesting alternate timeline to ponder over... It wouldn't be until 2013, over 70+ years later until The Snow Queen finally got made into the pop-culture juggernaut we know today as Frozen.

It's a pity Walt never lived long enough to see this movie get made as I bet it would've made him feel happy inside to see The Snow Queen get adapted into a movie at last. Still, better late than never say they say and the long wait was more than worthwhile given what a mega-hit the movie was for Disney! Talk about "Good things come to those who wait" am I right? ;)

35: About 16 Disney/Pixar Animated Films have won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature

An image for the Number 6 spot on the list.

When it comes to the Academy Awards, Disney tend to be among the biggest winners of the awards in terms of animation with many of their films winning awards for Best Original Song especially. Ever since the Best Animated Feature aware was created, a grand total of 16 Disney or Pixar films have won the award.

If you're curious on the list, the 16 Disney/Pixar films to win the award and the years they won them in are:

Finding Nemo (2003)

The Incredibles (2004)

Ratatouille (20007)

WALL.E (2008)

Up (2009)

Toy Story 3 (2010)

Brave (2012)

Frozen (2013)

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Inside Out (2015)

Zootopia/Zootropolis (2016)

Coco (2017)

Toy Story 4 (2019)

Soul (2020)

Encanto (2021)

It really is nothing special though since at times it feels like these films only win the award because they're the most well-known animated films out there and thus it feels more like a popularity contest than an actual award for what's truly the "Best" animated feature. At least the Annie Awards treat animated films with more respect than the Academy Awards ever did. The day the world stops seeing animation as a "kid's genre", the better I say...

36: Disney has a surprising dark side in terms of literature...

Remember how Disney cancelled The Owl House because they felt it "didn't fit their brand"? Yeah...somehow that didn't stop them from publishing these things that I'm surprised Disney is OK with putting their name on!

Believe it or not (in my case, I've seen some of these books in bookstores and I STILL don't believe that they're real!) there's a surprisingly large number of novels that all feature classic Disney characters...but with a dark side. You have the A Twisted Tale series by many different authors that is essentially a "What If" series of stories that gives us dark twists on classic Disney films by asking questions like "What if Aladdin never found the lamp?" and such, we have the A Tale Of... series by Serena Valentino which gives us a perspective flip so we see classic Disney films from a different point of view (mostly the villains's) and we even have a series of horror stories called Disney Chills by Vera Strange that is essentially Goosebumps but with Disney Villains.

Every single one of these sounds like something you'd read on the darker corners of or Archive of Our Own but I must stress this point as much as I possibly can.


Every single book series I've just described to you is 100% real. They exist. They are officially published books you can find in a bookstore to purchase and read. I honestly wonder how we're in a situation where these things exist and more importantly, I question who's crazy enough to actually read these things. More importantly, why is Disney OK with people publishing these novels with concepts that sound like grimdark fanfics and how they think these are OK and "fit their brand"?

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am NOT reviewing any of these books! I refuse to ever read them, not even for the sake of this blog so do NOT ask me to review them! I ain't giving that crap a minute of my time.!

37: Uncle Scrooge inspired manga

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They say inspiration can come from anywhere, but would you believe it if I told you that Uncle Scrooge of all characters played a part in the creation of what would become manga, one of Japan's biggest and most popular types of media in the world? Sounds crazy but hear me out:

Manga has existed for centuries, possibly dating as far back as the 12th century according to some resources but manga as WE know it pretty much came about thanks to the Uncle Scrooge comics by legendary artist and comic writer Carl Barks. The comics as you know played a part in the popularity of the Uncle Scrooge character and would eventually lead to his animated appearances down the line. However, the comics also reached out to a man named Osamu Tezuka, the Godfather of Manga himself and the creator of the highly popular Astro Boy franchise. Osamu was a HUGE Disney fan back in the day, having watched his films many times (even saying he saw Bambi 80 times) in his life and once he got hold of the comics, he would draw much inspiration from Carl Barks's signature art-style. As a creator of manga, Osamu would mimic Disney's art-styles while creating all of his own characters and stories and according to Frederik L. Schodt, the writer of Astro Boy's English dub, Osamu would stylize the art-style until it became "more modern" and "cute", which was intended so it could be entertaining to young boys at the time. This "cute" style of artwork would later become the classic example of Japanese animation that would go on influence further manga and anime creations in the future.

Osamu even thanked Carl Barks for the inspirations his works gave him in creating his own and sent him letters as a token of thanks!

An image for the Number 4 spot on the list.

So there you have it. Scrooge McDuck of all characters influenced manga. That would explain why he's so godforsaken rich I guess. Playing a part in the creation of what would be manga as we know it today would make anyone a mint. XD

38: Walt Disney once fired two employees for a crude animation of Mickey and Minnie Mouse

A funny image for the list 1
A funny image for the list 2
A funny moment for the list 3

What I'm about to tell you sounds pretty crazy and unbelievable, but you better believe it! And let this also be a lesson as to why you should NEVER fool around on the job too.

OK, so at the time of this event, Walt Disney's 35th birthday was here and the crew at Walt Disney Animation Studios were encouraged to throw a surprise party for him by Walt's brother, Roy. Two very silly animators somehow got the crazy idea to give their boss a gift. What was the gift you may ask? An animation short featuring Mickey and can I put this politely? Consummating their relationship! Yes, two animators at Walt Disney Animation Studios actually thought it would be funny to make that for their boss! And we act like people in this day and age have a weird sense of humour. XD

Come the surprise party, Walt saw the animation and he feigned laughter at the product while playfully asking who made the short. The two animators owned up and were promptly fired on the spot. Walt left the room after he did so, no doubt leaving those gormless twits standing there completely dumbfounded at what had just happened. I also imagine someone in the studio probably said "Well done guys, you ruined the party!" All I can say to those morons is "WHAT DID YOU EXPECT TO HAPPEN YOU IDIOTS?!?! DID YOU REALLY THINK YOUR BOSS SOMEHOW WOULDN'T SACK YOUR ASSES FOR THAT?!" XD

So moral of the story? If you're an animator, DON'T make cartoons of characters doing each other as a gift for your boss. It might not end well for you...

39: The First Appearances Of Disney's Original Cast

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Disney is home to some of its own characters they created of course, not all of their characters are based on fairy tales. But what were their first appearances? When did they make their debuts and what year did these debuts happen for them? Let's go through them shall we?

Mickey Mouse first appeared in the legendary short Steamboat Willie in 1928

Donald Duck first appeared in the animated short The Wise Little Hen in 1934

Goofy's first appearance was in the animated short Mickey's Revue in 1932. He was known as "Dippy Dawg" at the time but would be renamed "Goofy" in the 1934 short Orphan's Benefit.

Minnie's first appearance was also in 1928's Steamboat Willie alongside Mickey

Daisy Duck first appeared in Don Donald in 1937 but was named "Donna Duck" back then. Her first appearance with the name "Daisy Duck" was Mr. Duck Steps Out in 1940.

Pluto the Dog first appeared in The Chain Gang in 1930 but was unnamed at the time. He would receive his name in 1931's The Moose Hunt.

Chip N' Dale's debut was in the 1943 short Private Pluto although they weren't given names at the time and had very different designs. Their familiar designs would debut in 1947's Chip an' Dale.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit's debut was in 1927 with the cartoon short Trolley Trouble. Clarabelle Cow also debuted in this short but was unnamed at the time. She would appear with the name "Bessie" in 1928's Hungry Hobos and would receive her familiar name in 1929's The Plowboy.

Pete first appeared in Alice Solves The Puzzle in 1925 and surprisingly, he predates all of these characters having appeared before any of them, even Oswald!

Max Goof first appeared in the short Fathers Are People in 1951 but was known as "Goofy Jr." Come the 1992 animated series Goof Troop from the Disney Afternoon slot, he was renamed Max Goof.

Scrooge McDuck's first appearance WAS NOT a cartoon short, but actually a comic. He first appeared in Issue #178 in the comic series Four Colour in December 1947. His first animated appearance was in the 1967 theatrical short Scrooge McDuck and Money.

Ludwig Von Drake first appeared in the anthology TV series The Wonderful World of Color in 1961.

Huey, Dewey and Louie first appeared in a newspaper strip titled Silly Symphonies featuring Donald Duck on the 17th of October 1937. Their first animated appearance was in 1938 with the short Donald's Nephews.

And finally, Horace Horsecollar first appeared with the name "Billy" in 1928's The Fox Chase and would show up again with his familiar name of Horace in 1929's The Plowboy.

So many different beginnings for these iconic characters, am I right?

40: Mary Poppins was the first EVER Disney film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars

An image for the Number 1 spot on the list.

Everyone knows the 1964 musical masterpiece that is Disney's Mary Poppins. We know all sorts about it from how it's based on a book, the controversial relationship between P.L. Travers (author of the original book) and Walt Disney himself, how it made Julie Andrews a star and how it remains one of Disney's most popular live-action movies, as well as one of their most popular movies period. The film has such a legacy over the Disney company that they even made a movie all about the making of it called Saving Mr. Banks which featured Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers. And it also got a sequel in 2018 titled Mary Poppins Returns with Emily Blunt as the famous nanny in place of Julie Andrews.

But another thing the movie made history for and achieved legacy status among the Disney company is the fact that in 1965, it was Disney's first EVER movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. It was the ONLY time in Walt Disney's life that any of his films ever got the Best Picture nomination. What makes this sadder in hindsight is the fact this was a whole year before he would eventually die in 1966. It would've been nice if Mary Poppins won the award in the end so that Walt Disney could've ended his life with at least one Best Picture win. Ah well, being nominated is enough of a recognition of achievement.

And that's all I have for this batch of dazzling Disney facts. I hope you enjoyed reading about them and found them interesting. Join me again next month with ten more facts as we reach the halfway point of the countdown. Next week, I'll be back with a review on The Owl House Season 3! Don't miss it! ;)

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