Skip To Content

    15 Behind-The-Scenes Stories From Disney Movies That Even Hardcore Fans Don't Know

    The original concept of Cars was low-key cooler.

    1. After the outbreak of World War II prevented Disney from releasing films internationally, Cinderella was make or break for the company — and it was a massive hit.

    Disney / Via

    They further profited off the film by selling the soundtrack through an in-house music publisher, which was super innovative in 1950. Without Cinderella's success, the Walt Disney Company as we know it wouldn't exist. 

    2. The Emperor's New Groove left not one, but two discarded movies in its wake — an Incan epic called Kingdom of the Sun and a damning behind-the-scenes documentary called The Sweatbox.

    Disney / Via

    Originally, Sting was tasked with creating the entire Kingdom of the Sun soundtrack, and Trudie Styler, his wife, directed the documentary. However, after years of stalled progress, the original film was scrapped, and Disney refuses to release The Sweatbox to this day.

    3. When casting director Rachel Sutton was going through audition videos for a non-profit project, she found 14-year-old Auli'i Cravalho and asked her to try out for the lead role in Moana.

    Disney / Via

    Originally, Cravalho didn't think she'd "have a chance" at the role, but Disney cast her as a princess for the second time in The Little Mermaid Live.

    4. Losing ownership of his original character Oswald early in his career inspired Walt Disney to create Mickey Mouse and Steamboat Willie, but 80 years later, Disney CEO Bob Iger got him back by trading ABC sports commentator Al Michaels for the lucky rabbit.

    Universal took control of the character from Walt
    Lmpc / LMPC via Getty Images

    Iger let Michaels out of his contract so he could work for ESPN after the president of ESPN convinced Universal to give Oswald back. Iger said, "I wanted to complete Walt’s mission. I knew there was an empty spot in his heart since Oswald left."

    5. Beyoncé, Tyra Banks, Jennifer Hudson, and Alicia Keys were all considered for the role of Tiana in The Princess and the Frog.

    Disney / Via

    However, it ultimately went to Broadway star Anika Noni Rose.

    6. Walt Disney secured the exclusive rights to Technicolor for two years before producing Flowers and Trees.

    the film was one of the Silly Symphonies
    Disney / Via Disney+

    This was the first animated short to bring full-color three-strip Technicolor to cartoons.

    7. The fairies' argument over the color of Aurora's dress in Sleeping Beauty was based on a real behind-the-scenes disagreement the animators had.

    her dress changed colors as the fairies argued
    Disney / Via Disney+

    Their squabble made its way onto screen as Aurora's dresses changed from pink to blue.

    8. The Lion King was going to be called King of the Jungle until the filmmakers learned that lions don't live in the jungle.

    Disney / Via

    Other working titles included King of the Kalahari and Lions

    9. Elsa was supposed to be Frozen's villain, but after hearing "Let It Go," the filmmakers decided to turn her into the story's hero.

    Disney / Via

    In the original script, Elsa wasn't Anna's sister at all. Instead, she was a woman who froze her own heart so she'd never have to love again after being left at the altar.

    10. When Walt set out to make his first feature-length animated film, even his wife, Lillian, doubted adults would want to sit through Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but it became the highest-grossing movie at the time.

    Disney / Via

    It made $8 million at the box office in 1938, which would be equal to about $145 million today. Almost 60 years later, it was chosen as the "number one animated film of all time" by the American Film Institute. 

    11. Because they worked during coronavirus lockdowns, the Raya and the Last Dragon team would have "draw-overs" via Zoom.

    Disney / Via

    Liza Rhea, one of the film's environmental modellers, told Creative Boom that there were "so many random, difficult technical challenges that we had to overcome together." 

    12. Every dish that appeared in Ratatouille was first prepared in a kitchen and then photographed for reference.

    Disney / Pixar / Via

    All 270+ plates were eaten afterwards.

    13. Disney developed a brand-new software program called Attila in order to animate the crowds and armies in Mulan.

    Disney / Via

    The program simulates the movements of individual characters by the thousands.

    14. In order to record Boo's lines for Monsters, Inc., the filmmakers followed Mary Gibbs around the studio with a microphone, using jokes and puppets to get her to say what they needed.

    Disney / Pixar / Via

    She was actually the daughter of a story artist who worked on the movie, Rob Gibbs.

    15. And finally, Cars was originally conceived as an "ugly duckling" story based on a three-wheeled electric car from Dutch automotive history.

    Disney / Pixar / Via

    Animator Jorgen Klubien said, "I thought the electric car was ahead of its time, and it struck me as odd that my fellow Danes didn’t agree...this famous Danish character wasn’t accepted at first, but in the end it proved to be right on the money."

    TV and Movies

    Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form