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Updated on Jul 13, 2020. Posted on Jul 9, 2020

19 Disney Behind-The-Scenes Facts That’ll Make These Heartbreaking Moments Even More Memorable

"Take her to the moon for me. Okay?"

🚨Obviously, MASSIVE spoilers ahead!🚨

1. One of the reasons the early movies, like Bambi, included a parent's death was because Disney films were all about "growing up," so it forced the main characters to do exactly that.

Bambi in the woods saying, "Mother! Mother, where are you?"
Disney

Executive producer Don Hahn explained, saying, "The movies are 80 or 90 minutes long, and Disney films are about growing up. They're about that day in your life when you have to accept responsibility."

2. When writing Mufasa's tragic death in The Lion King, the entire idea was built upon making "Mufasa the greatest father that ever lived, and then [having] to kill him" — the writing team searched for the perfect "sweet spot of emotion."

Simba nudging Mufasa's body, saying "Dad? We gotta go home"
Disney

Screenwriter Linda Woolverton recalled watching the movie with her daughter at the premiere and realizing how emotional the moment was for a younger viewer when her daughter started weeping and said, "How could you?"

3. In Frozen 2, the song "The Next Right Thing" is based on a mantra that Kristen Bell uses in her everyday life and it has helped her deal with her own anxiety and depression.

Kristen Bell recording "The Next Right Thing"
Disney / Disney+

In the Disney+ documentary Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2, Kristen explained, "It really is for anyone who is feeling low and struggling and does not know what to do, because the only thing you can do at those lowest moments is one step at a time."

4. In fact, writer/director Jennifer Lee and Kristen recorded an emotional discussion they had about this mantra and sent it to songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez as inspiration for the song.

Anna leaning against a rock in the dark in Frozen 2
Disney

5. In Toy Story 3, the scene when Andy looks back at Woody, Buzz, and the rest of his toys before leaving was inspired by director Lee Unkrich sharing a similar moment with his dying grandmother.

Andy looking at his toys one last time and saying, "Thanks, guys"
Disney / Pixar

Lee explained, "I went back to visit her, and there was a moment during that visit that I had to say goodbye, and I knew I'd never be seeing her again. I looked at her and knew that I was looking at her for the last time. Taking that in before I turned away and left. Of course, that’s something that will stay with me for the rest of my life."

6. A major part of the initial pitch for Big Hero 6 involved Tadashi's heartbreaking death, so all of the other storylines and moments were actually built around that "emotional core."

Hiro begging Tadashi not to go back into the building, and then the building exploding
Disney

Director Chris Williams explained, "There was something in that emotional through line that [director Don Hall] presented, main character losing his older brother and being left with his older brother's creation, that moved us...The last three-and-a-half years was really about building a movie around that emotional core."

7. In Up, during Ellie and Carl's married life montage, the studio originally asked the creators to cut the moment where Ellie learns she can't have children, saying it was going "too far" for a children's movie.

Ellie and Carl painting a nursery and Ellie learning she can't have children
Disney / Pixar

Director Pete Docter said there was a version where they cut the moment, but they quickly realized how crucial it was. He explained, "You didn’t feel as deeply [without the scene] — not only just [with] that sequence, but through the whole film. Most of the emotional stuff is not just to push on people and make them cry, but it’s for some greater reason to really make you care about the story."

8. Also, while the montage is silent in the final version, the original script included dialogue — it had Ellie and Carl finishing each other's sentences and other pieces of dialogue to show how in sync they were.

Older Ellie in the hospital and Carl going back to his house with a balloon after she dies
Disney / Pixar

Pete Docter elaborated, saying, "As we went into storyboard, Ronnie Del Carmen, who was our head of story, took on that sequence at the beginning and said, 'This would be really great if it was silent.'"

9. It took Disney effects animators nearly a year to create the moment in The Little Mermaid when Prince Eric almost dies in the storm — after all of that work, the scene only lasted two minutes in the completed film.

Ariel in the water struggling to save Prince Eric from drowning
Disney

The animators wanted the audience to feel like they were in the storm with Eric as he struggled to survive.

10. Lilo & Stitch was considered a "gutsy" movie because it included tough storylines and wasn't based on a fairy tale, so Disney gave the creators a smaller budget, smaller crew, and less time to make it — basically, if the movie failed, there wasn't a lot invested in it.

Lilo telling Stitch that her parents died while driving in the rain and that she understands why he is sad all the time
Disney

Some of the storylines that were considered "big risk" at the time were Lilo and Nani's parents dying in a realistic way, Stitch's PTSD, single parenthood, adoption, being an outsider, identity, and many more.

11. Originally, Bing Bong's final scene in Inside Out was much longer and included more dialogue as Bing Bong realizes he has to stay behind so Joy can survive.

Joy making it to the top and Bing Bong telling her "Take her to the moon for me. Okay?" as he disappears
Disney / Pixar

Richard Kind, who voices Bing Bong, said, "When he finally extends his hand and says 'I've got a good feeling about this,' you had seen a lot more of him during that original scene so that when they're trying and trying and trying to get back, you understand what he's going through. You see him get a little desperate. It was a lot sadder."

12. Also, Kaitlyn Dias, who voices Riley, would picture her cat dying in order to get herself to cry during Riley's saddest moments — in fact, the crying wasn't added in later, Kaitlyn was able to cry on command in the recording booth.

Riley crying and telling her parents, "I know you don't want me to, but I miss home"
Disney / Pixar

Kaitlyn said, "Not only was I crying to make it sound realistic, my mom was crying because she could hear me."

13. One of the inspirations behind "Remember Me" in Coco was "Yesterday" by the Beatles — songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez tried to give "Remember Me" the same feeling.

Miguel singing to Mama Coco
Disney / Pixar

Robert Lopez explained, "[We] tried to give it that feeling and remembering that he [Héctor] was singing it, not to draw attention to himself, but to give something to his daughter and to show his love for his family."

14. Also, the line in "Remember Me" about singing a "secret song" was inspired by the songs Kristen and Robert sing to their children that only they know.

Miguel singing "Remember Me" to Mama Coco
Disney / Pixar

Kristen continued, saying, "That's the most personal, for me, anyway. That my own children and I have these songs that we know that are just for us, that I sing only for them and that they can sing to themselves."

15. Originally, we were going to learn about Marlin and Nemo's tragic backstory in Finding Nemo with a series of flashbacks throughout the film.

Marlin finding the only egg to survive the attack and saying, "Daddy's got you. I promise I will never let anything happen to you, Nemo"
Disney / Pixar

The moment with the barracuda would've been intercut with Marlin seeing Nemo in the fishing net and fearing that he's lost him forever.

16. In Onward, when Ian plays a cassette tape featuring his dad, it's based on creator Dan Scanlon being gifted a tape of his own dad saying "Hi!" and "Goodbye."

Ian listening to the cassette of Wilden talking
Disney / Pixar

Dan, whose dad died when he was around 1 year old, grew up with just his mother and older brother. When he was 16 years old, he was gifted the tape with his dad's voice. He explained, "I felt, 'Oh, I can tell he’s shy and nervous when he says the 'Hi.' Then I can tell he’s a little awkward when he says 'Goodbye.' Oh, he’s my brother and I!'"

17. Also, Dan based Onward on his own relationship with his brother, and he always knew that he wanted it to end with Ian not reuniting with Wilden, but realizing that Barley was a perfect father figure.

Ian watching through the rubble as Barley and Wilden reunite
Disney / Pixar

Dan revealed that he kept his own brother "in the dark" about Onward, except for a few details, until he showed him the completed film.

18. Tarzan originally only showed the treehouse in ruin and not the leopard stalking Tarzan's parents — early audiences were confused by what happened, so the creators added in all of the gruesome details.

The leopard killing Tarzan's parents and seeing the bloody prints on the floor
Disney

Director Kevin Lima explained the decision to add the sad moment in, saying, "There is a yin and yang to these pictures that is good. When these awful things happen, you can feel the joy later in the film all the more. It’s a savage world out there, even when you walk out your front door and out on the street, and kids realize that."

19. And finally, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen wept together when they watched the scene in Toy Story 2 when Jessie is loved, forgotten, and ultimately donated by her owner.

Jessie being left on the side of the road in a donations box
Disney / Pixar

Tom recalled watching the moment for the first time, saying, "I was in tears, and we were looking at each other, going, 'That's some powerful stuff.' To be reduced to that and to a level of emotion like that on a cartoon about talking toys and their adventures, it's profound, there's no other word for it."

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