40 Really Intriguing Disney Facts That Are So Obscure Even The Biggest Fan Might Not Know Them

    Yes, there is a Disney Vault!

    1. The term "Disney Vault" is actually a lot older than you might think. It was used to refer to movies that were taken out of "the vault" and re-released into theaters after their original run (this was way before home videos existed).

    2. The first movie it re-released was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1944, during WWII. The studio was sort of forced to as they were cash-strapped at the time and were producing propaganda films for the government that weren't really made for profit.

    3. There is a real Disney Vault — it's in Glendale, California. It's a building that houses everything from the films themselves, to the sketches and models used to make them.

    4. Pinocchio was incredibly expensive to make and bombed at the box office.

    5. Walt Disney holds the record for the most Academy Awards won by a single person. He won 26 Oscars and was nominated 59 times.

    6. Walt was interested in making an animated movie based on The Little Mermaid as far back as the late 1930s. He even hired Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen to create concept art for it.

    7. Kay actually has a visual development credit in The Little Mermaid.

    8. The Little Mermaid was actually the first Disney movie to be released on home video following its theatrical release. And it was considered a gamble for the company.

    9. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the last of the classic Disney movies to be released onto home video.

    10. The 1940s were actually an overall bad time for Disney Studios. Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi had all been box office bombs, and the studio's employees had gone on strike in order to form a union (which they eventually did).

    11. Cinderella actually financially rescued the studio after it became a huge hit in 1950.

    12. By 1950, Walt cared very little about the studio's films and was more preoccupied with his model trains.

    13. While Walt always talked about how the carousel at Griffith Park inspired him to build Disneyland, it was actually several things that inspired him. One of them was Beverly Park Kiddieland, which he often visited with his daughters.

    14. Walt actually told David about his plans to build Disneyland in 1950. He then hired David as a consultant.

    15. In 1954, as a way to help pay for the construction of Disneyland, Walt developed a Disneyland TV show (that would end up airing on ABC).

    16. Also in 1954, Alice in Wonderland became the first animated Disney movie to air on TV.

    17. Originally, Sleeping Beauty Castle was meant to be Snow White Castle. The name was changed to promote the upcoming movie (which was in production when the park opened).

    18. During it's original theatrical run, Sleeping Beauty opened with an almost 30-minute live-action short called Grand Canyon playing before it (which was a bit experimental as it had no dialogue or narration, and just had music playing over scenes of the Grand Canyon and its wildlife).

    19. After Sleeping Beauty bombed at the box office, Disney decided not to make another fairy-tale princess movie for 30 years. Yup, there was a 30-year gap — 1989's The Little Mermaid would be the next fairy-tale movie.

    20. The huge success of 101 Dalmatians, which was released two years after Sleeping Beauty, saved Disney's animation department.

    21. Marc Davis, who did the key animation for Cruella de Vil, based the character partially on actress Tallulah Bankhead.

    22. Walt gave his longtime housekeeper and cook, Thelma Howard, so much Disney stock throughout the years (as birthday and Christmas gifts) that by the time she died in 1994 it was worth over $9 million.

    23. The Aristocats was the last movie Walt approved to be made before his death.

    24. By the early '80s, Disney was doing so bad financially that its only real source of revenue came from its theme parks.

    25. Disney does not own Tokyo Disneyland; it's actually owned by the Oriental Land Company, Ltd.

    26. In Nara, Japan, there was once a knockoff Disneyland park called Nara Dreamland.

    27. In 1984, Disney was almost taken over by corporate raider Saul Steinberg, who had a bought a large stake in the company.

    28. In 1984 — after the attempted takeover — Walt's nephew, Roy Disney, returned to the company. Along with board members, he forced out the then-CEO Ron W. Miller (who also happened to be Walt's son-in-law).

    29. Roy also made sure that Disney's animation department was saved. On top of serving as the company’s vice chair, he was also the head of the animation department.

    30. Walt had always wanted to make a sequel to Fantasia, but died before he could do so. Roy then took it on as a personal passion project and spent nine years making Fantasia 2000.

    31. Although Ron W. Miller was only CEO of Disney for four years, he did leave a pretty big mark on the company. He created the Disney Channel and also Touchstone Pictures (in order to make more adult-targeted movies without having the Disney name on it).

    32. The dragon underneath Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris is not Maleficent, but actually a dragon that is a friend of Merlin's.

    33. Originally, Beauty and the Beast was envisioned as a darker, more dramatic, nonmusical adaption; it also took place in 18th century France.

    34. Robin Williams took a huge pay cut and agreed to voice the Genie in Aladdin because he wanted to do it for his kids. The one thing he asked for was that his voice not be used for merchandising products. Disney agreed, but then realized that the Genie was really the star of the movie and ended up using his voice for products — which caused a huge fight between Robin and Disney.

    35. The Return of Jafar was Disney's first direct-to-video sequel.

    36. Robin Williams improvised a lot of his lines as the Genie and gave Disney over 30 hours of voice recordings. While there are enough recordings to make a fourth Aladdin movie, they can't 'cause Robin has a clause in his will that forbids them from using it (and it has nothing to do with Disney, FTR).

    37. Tim Rice, who wrote the lyrics for the Lion King songs, originally wanted ABBA to be on the soundtrack. After ABBA declined, Tim asked Elton John.

    38. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" was almost cut from the movie because it did not fit the film's father-and-son theme.

    39. In 2006, Bambi II, which was a direct-to-video sequel*, was the last Disney movie to be released on VHS.

    40. And finally, 2011's Winnie the Pooh (not The Princess and the Frog) was the last traditional 2D animated movie Disney released.