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7 Failed Disney Storylines You Have To Read To Believe

Elsa was almost an unsympathetic, sisterless villain voiced by Megan Mullally!

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1. The Emperor's New Groove

The Emperor's New Groove is so irreverent and zany that it sometimes feels out of place with other Disney movies. But that's partially because for many years, it was going to be an epic musical romance on the level of The Little Mermaid. The movie's first title was Kingdom of the Sun, and it was going to be a take on The Prince and the Pauper set in the Incan age — and Kuzco was a supporting character. Sting even wrote eight original songs for the movie (including this Eartha Kitt gem) tied to the main characters, who were going to be voiced by Owen Wilson and Laura Prepon. After Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame underperformed, Disney decided to make a funny movie, not a sweeping tale, and the Kingdom of the Sun concept was reworked into a hilarious comedy. Sting — who only ended up having two songs in the movie — went on to make a documentary about the dramatic production process called The Sweatbox, which features the rest of the original music.

2. The Lion King

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One of the most classic Disney animated films from the ’90s was almost known by a completely different name: Its working titles included King of the Kalahari, King of the Beasts, and then King of the Jungle. And before The Lion King got its eventual name, its plot was unrecognizable. The original script was described by a Disney executive as bearing “more than a passing resemblance to an animated National Geographic special.” In the DVD commentary, animators said that it was going to be about a battle between lions and baboons, where Scar was a baboon and Rafiki was a cheetah. Needless to say, they scrapped that idea and decided to just do Hamlet on the Savannah.

3. Peter Pan

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Peter Pan is such a classic now that it's hard to believe how different it almost was. Disney animators originally considered plots like telling the whole story through Nana the dog's eyes and completely leaving John Darling behind. Even weirder? Walt Disney himself wanted the movie to be about Peter kidnapping Wendy (!) to be a mother for the Lost Boys, according to The Peter Pan That Almost Was, a DVD feature that accompanied the movie's 2007 rerelease. Pretty dark stuff for a children's movie. Walt eventually scrapped all of these ideas — thankfully — and created the iconic movie we now know, saying, "We ought to get right into the story itself, where Peter Pan comes to the house to get his shadow. That's were the story picks up. How Peter came to be is really another story."


4. Aladdin

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Disney movies often get ragged on for not including moms — or, worse, killing them. Aladdin is one of Disney's many maternal orphans, but the movie originally had a mother character! That is, until then-chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg said, "Eighty-six the mother. The mom's a zero." Not only that, but the setting was initially supposed to be Baghdad, and not the fictional city of Agrabah; the start of the Gulf War in 1991 changed those plans.

5. Pocahontas

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Pocahontas's sidekicks Meeko and Flit are great buddies on their own, but there was supposed to be a third animal to fill out the cast — a turkey named Redfeather, voiced by John Candy, that would provide comic relief. After Candy died in 1994, the character was eliminated, and Meeko and Flit, who were originally going to have voices, became mute.

6. The Rescuers

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Have you ever watched a Disney movie and thought, “Yeah, this needs more anti-totalitarian government overtones?” If so, The Rescuers was *almost* your dream movie! The animators’ first plot for the movie in 1962 was based on Margery Sharp’s book The Rescuers, and told the story of a poet held captive in a frozen wasteland by a totalitarian government. Walt Disney wasn’t down with telling an overtly political story to kids, so animators wrote another storyline, and for a while, Cruella de Vil was going to be the main villain! When the studio thought that felt too much like a sequel to 101 Dalmatians (which was released in 1961), they dropped the de Vil character and moved forward with the version we have today.

7. Frozen

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Disney tried for nearly 80 years to adapt Hans Christian Andersen's story The Snow Queen into a movie, and clearly their efforts were worth it. Along the way, though, they ran into some obstacles. As recently as 2008, the movie stuck close to Andersen's dark tale — the queen killed people with her powers — and was going to be traditionally animated and star Megan Mullally as Elsa. Bette Midler was the physical inspiration for that original Elsa, seen above. More importantly, it featured a dominant romantic storyline, had nothing about sisters, and showed Elsa as an unsympathetic villain. After animators decided to ~let it go~ of those elements, director Jennifer Lee came on board the film in 2012 as a screenwriter and revolutionized it, constructing Anna and Elsa's sisterhood, Hans's reveal as a villain, and Olaf as a fun, not annoying, sidekick.