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Media Essays: 100 Facts About Disney (41-50)

The title card to my Disney essay

And so here we are, month number five on this Disney 100 countdown and half way through the list already!

So in celebration of reaching the half way point, here's ten more facts for you to read about and believe me, I have some interesting ones for you this month. Hope you enjoy this next batch of facts about Disney everyone...

41: A real-life poacher was sentenced to watch Bambi in jail

A comedic image used for the essay

I swear what I'm about to tell you is true guys. This is 100% a true story! I couldn't make this up if I tried!

OK, so what's the deal here? Back in 2018, a hunter from Missouri, USA named David Berry Jr. was convicted for the crime of illegally poaching hundreds of deer. He was particularly cruel about his methods too by taking the heads and leaving the bodies to rot. After pleading guilty to illegally taking wildlife, David was sentenced to a year in prison and his sentence stated that he had to watch the film Bambi at least once a month during his time there.

I have to say that's a damn fine sentence if you ask me. If I end up in prison, I'd love it if my sentence said I had to watch a movie every month for a year. XD In all seriousness though, this clearly wasn't done for fun and was more meant to make him feel guilty over what he did. I'm just betting that after being forced to watch Bambi at least once a month for a year, he was probably sick of it by the time his sentence was up. Still, I hope he learned his lesson and the movie taught him never to poach again...

42: The highest grossing franchise by Disney is Mickey Mouse and Friends

The logo for Mickey Mouse and Friends

Disney has a lot of high earning brands under their belt and many of them are among the highest grossing brands of all time. But which brand that carries the Disney name makes the most money? Well it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone but it's Mickey Mouse and Friends.

With a whopping total of $52.2 billion, Mickey Mouse and Friends is Disney's highest grossing brand and the second highest grossing brand in the world behind Pokémon. Most of the money comes from retail sales with the rest coming from the Box Office and VHS/DVD sales.

Their second highest grossing brand is Winnie the Pooh and the third highest grossing brand is Disney Princess, but that's if you only count franchises made by Disney themselves. If you include franchises they own, then Star Wars is their second highest grossing brand with a total of $51.8 billion, not far behind Mickey Mouse and Friends. I bet you're amazed that the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn't in the top three with how much money that brand makes but yeah, it isn't. Including brands they own, the MCU is Disney's fifth highest grossing brand behind Mickey Mouse, Star Wars, Winnie the Pooh and Disney Princess. Still, Mickey Mouse and Friends is Disney's biggest money maker and it's easy to believe since you can't go anywhere without seeing Mickey or his friend's faces on some kind of merchandise. I bet Walt himself never would've expected his little creation would be such a merchandising juggernaut...

43: Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is the same size as the city of San Francisco!

A picture of Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is big, right? How big is it? STUPIDLY big, that's how!

The entire park covers 25,000 acres which is around 43 square miles. This in turn makes it the same size as the city of San Francisco. You think theme parks are big? This is SUPER-SIZED! Fancy going around a theme park where it's the size of a freaking city? I bet not many theme parks can boast about being that size! This sort of thing is why Walt Disney World is often considered a holiday where you need at least two weeks just to be able to do everything that's on offer there. With a park that size, you're NEVER going to do it in a day!

Me and my family hope to go there some time in the future so this'll give me an idea on what I'm in for with how big the place is...

44: A Disney documentary called White Wilderness created the lemming mass suicide myth

A poster of White Wilderness

You know how there's that rather dark myth about lemmings throwing themselves off cliffs in a mass suicide run? Yeah...Disney is responsible for that. Goes to show even Disney of the past isn't without sin.

So what's the story here? Well, Disney made a documentary called White Wilderness which was about life in the Arctic. There's one infamous scene in where a mass lemming migration is depicted and they're shown throwing themselves off a cliff into water. The narrator does point out that they're NOT actually committing suicide here but are actually in the course of migrating and are jumping into the water to try and cross it. But to the narrator's discredit, the scene itself is nothing but a lie. You see, in 1982, the CBC Television news magazine programme The Fifth Estate broadcast a documentary about animal cruelty in Hollywood, which was appropriately titled "Cruel Camera". They did a piece on White Wilderness and the host of the programme, Bob McKeown, discovered the lemming scene was filmed at the Bow River near Canmore, NOT the Arctic Ocean as the film implied! McKeown even interviewed a lemming expert and it was claimed this particular species of lemmings shown in the movie are NOT known to migrate. What actually happened was that the lemmings were transported to the location, jostled on turntables and thrown off a cliff after which the footage was edited so it looked the way it did in the movie. Ergo, the whole "suicidal lemmings" myth was born. Even to this day, it's known if Walt Disney himself was even aware of this practice or approved of it. I sure hope he didn't approve of it as that would make me lose any respect I had for him...

As you can imagine, this documentary has now gone down in infamy for its cruelty to animals and for spreading such dangerous misinformation like this. What was even going through these people's heads to do such a horrible thing?! Why would you ever treat lemmings this way and then lie about it in a documentary that's supposed to be educational and informative?! X( Even Disney themselves are in no mood to defend this thing and basically give it the Song of the South treatment by pretending it doesn't exist. They even made sure to remove it from Disney+ too. And a good thing they did because this thing should never be allowed to be seen again. Never mind lemmings, this documentary should be thrown off a cliff!

45: There used to be an ACTUAL animation studio in Walt Disney World Resort

A picture of The Magic of Disney Animation

Imagine you're an animator working for Disney. Sounds awesome, right? Well how about being an animator working for one of Disney's own theme parks! That sounds like the ultimate Disney animator workplace, doesn't it?

No joke, there really did used to be an actual animation studio in Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. It was named Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida and its headquarters was in The Magic of Disney Animation show. When it was around, the studio offered actual tours to the public where visitors were allowed to watch the animators at work from behind glass panelled overhead breezeways. Imagine being a Disney fan at the time and getting to be a part of this. Those fans must've felt like they were in geek heaven at the time! During the studio's short reign, they were the studio responsible for primarily animating movies such as Mulan, Lilo & Stitch and Brother Bear.

Sadly, it doesn't exist anymore. The studio closed its doors in 2004 and The Magic of Disney Animation even got replaced in 2015 by the Star Wars Launch Bay attraction. Such a shame really as I really would've loved to have seen that back in the day. Still, it's quite an incredible fact about Disney isn't it that their big theme park used to house an animation studio. If any of you reading this have any memories of actually visiting it back when it used to be open, do tell me about it. I'd love to hear your memories of such an experience. ^^

46: John Lasseter is responsible for the end of the direct-to-video Disney Sequels

A comedic image about John banning Disney sequels

Pixar may be in no mood to talk about John Lasseter these days, and for good reason too. Dude turned out to be like Lots-O-Huggin' Bear in the sense that he's...well, a hugger. And I don't mean that in an innocent way either. ^^; But for those of you who are wondering why the Disney Sequels trend finally died after The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning, he's the reason why.

When Lasseter was in charge of Disney Animation, one of the things he did during his time was put a halt to the production of the direct-to-video Disney sequels. You may remember from the late 90's all the way to the end of the 2000's, there was just that trend where Disney seemed to keep milling out cheap direct-to-video sequels to their movies all for the sake of a quick buck. It all started with The Return of Jafar in 1994 and the last one we got after the cancellation of these sequels was The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning in 2008. Thanks to Lasseter, we got no more of these and some that were being planned such as sequels to Dumbo and The Aristocats ended up being cancelled.

Just a pity that this trend's been replaced by the live-action remakes of today. Can someone cancel them please? That'd be VERY much appreciated! Still, we have John Lasseter to thank for stopping these cheap Disney sequels at long last and now they're nothing but an example of a bad trend that we can finally be done with.

47: Belle's actress, Paige O' Hara, cried for real when recording the Beast's death scene

A screenshot of Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

Have you ever seen a movie with acting so good you think it's happening for real? Well, that was the case for Beauty and the Beast during one especially emotional moment for the film.

After Gaston kills the Beast and then plummets to his death shortly afterwards, poor Belle is left to sob over the apparent death of her love before he makes his magical transformation back into a human. During this scene, Paige O' Hara wasn't even really acting when recording her lines. She was ACTUALLY crying for real. The producers, Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, even had to ask her if she was alright because her performance was that emotional to which she quickly dropped out of character and said "Acting!". Aww, bless her. ^^

How often do you hear such a story where an actor's that into their performance that they end up crying for real? I know Richard Kind had his own sob story where he cried after saying "Take Riley to the moon for me..." in Inside Out as well but as I say, you don't hear about stuff like that very often. Still, it shows how good Paige really was at playing Belle when she can cry for real during Belle's crying moments.

48: There is such a thing as a Mickey Mouse Transformers toy!

A picture of a transforming Mickey Mouse toy

Sounds bizarre I know but here's the photo-y graphic, evidence as Goofy might say. XD

Yes people, your eyes do not deceive you. This is a real Transformers toy that actually got made and released! No joke whatsoever! Transformers has made toys based on Star Wars and Marvel characters in the past but they also did some based on Disney characters too. In 2009, Takara Tomy (the Japanese company that produces Transformers toys as opposed to Hasbro in the west) actually made a transforming Optimus Prime style character that bears a resemblance to Mickey Mouse and not only that, they released a few variants of the mould too such as Monochrome, Halloween, standard and even Christmas themed paintjobs. The toy was part of Takara Tomy's Japanese exclusive Disney Label series and was only released in Japan and Australia. Shame really as owning something like this would've been pretty hilarious honestly as both a Disney fan and a Transformers collector. XD

Oh and if you think that's crazy the same line also made Donald Duck...

A picture of a Transformers Donald Duck toy

And Buzz Lightyear...

A picture of a Transformers Buzz Lightyear toy

Can you imagine if they made a transforming Goofy as well? XD

The line itself was short-lived, only lasting from 2009-2011 and I imagine these things will be super rare and SUPER expensive to buy so you might receive a few holes in your wallet if you want to collect these. Nevertheless, Transformers toys modelled after Disney characters? This is a crossover that is more than meets the eye, isn't it?

49: Disney's Robin Hood was originally going to be a Reynard the Fox movie

A picture of Reynard the Fox

Now we have one of the biggest "What Could Have Been" tales in Disney history.

I'm sure all of you have seen Disney's Robin Hood at least once in your lives, right? Well before it became a Robin Hood movie, it was originally conceived as far back as 1937 as a Reynard the Fox movie. For those who don't know, Reynard the Fox started off as a group of French, Dutch and German fables, novels and poems from multiple authors with Goethe's being the most well known of the bunch. They came out around the 11th century and were used as moral tales for children, parodies of medieval literature and political satire for adults. And Walt Disney actually thought this would be a good idea for a movie. Who knows why. XD The stories themselves are in the public domain so if Walt made his movie, he wouldn't have to pay any royalties.

The big trouble for this movie was that Reynard wasn't exactly a symapathetic protagonist or a very moral character. They just couldn't get the movie to work and in the end, a Reynard movie just wasn't a viable option and it had to be scrapped. Any concepts and ideas for the movie essentially became Disney's Robin Hood as we know it today. Heck, the old Reynard concept is why Robin Hood's depicted as a fox in the film.

Could Disney have made a good Reynard the Fox movie? Maybe. But I think its loss was our gain as Robin Hood became a fan-favourite for many, was cited as a big part of the rise of furry culture and is among Disney's most enjoyable classics so I'm glad we got this instead. Who knows though, maybe Disney might try again in this new age of cinema to make a Reynard the Fox movie...?

50: Disney once planned to make a Chanticleer movie before Don Bluth made it

A poster of Rock-A-Doodle

Here's a movie that Don Bluth wishes he could forget I'm sure. Rock-A-Doodle is the movie that marked his downward spiral for many with most of his movies becoming critical and financial failures with only Anastasia managing to be a hit with critics and audiences during that period. But Rock-A-Doodle has an interesting past that actually ties in with Disney as you can see.

The film itself is based on the old Chanticleer tales from the medieval era, much like how Reynard the Fox also dated back that far. You know how Disney wanted to make a Reynard movie? They were also interested at the time in making a Chanticleer movie too. But that never came to be as Walt Disney himself rejected the pitch in 1961 and instead decided to make The Sword in the Stone instead. All that exists of the unmade movie are some concept designs and sketches by Marc Davis. While Disney didn't want to make a Chanticleer movie, Don Bluth was interested in doing so around the time of 1982 and well, here's what we got. Don Bluth, a former Disney animator, made a movie that Disney didn't want to do. Weird how things work, isn't it? It'd be like if a former DreamWorks animator went to Disney to make a movie DreamWorks didn't want to make. XD

As mentioned though, Rock-A-Doodle was a failure with critics and audiences and is often considered Don Bluth's worst film alongside A Troll in Central Park so maybe in the end it wasn't worth making and Don was better off leaving the project dead. Much like with Reynard, who knows if anyone else will have another crack at a Chanticleer movie in the future...?

And that's all I have for this month's worth of Disney facts. I hope you found these interesting to read and I invite you all to share your thoughts down below. Fifty down, fifty more to go! Next week, I'll be doing a VS. essay where I compare two families from two different franchises and see who has the better story between them. See you then everyone!

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