This week, we wrap up our deep dive into behind-the-scenes Disney with eleven of the studio's most recent theatrical releases: "Mulan," "Tarzan," "The Emperor's New Groove," "Atlantis: The Lost Empire," "Lilo & Stitch," "Treasure Planet," "Meet the Robinsons," "The Princess and the Frog," "Tangled," "Wreck-It Ralph" and the smash-hit "Frozen."
Longtime Disney writer and artist Joe Grant helped design the old witch/queen in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," released in 1937. Years and years later, he provided the character design for a very different character — Cri-Kee, the lucky cricket from "Mulan."
Mulan is 16 when her film takes place. It's a popular year for Disney — other 16-year-old Disney leading ladies include Aurora from "Sleeping Beauty," Ariel from "The Little Mermaid" and Merida from Pixar's "Brave."
Composer Matthew Wilder and lyricist David Zippel wrote three different songs for Mushu's introduction to Mulan. However, filmmakers said the songs — while they were all great — didn't fit in the movie and therefore didn't make the final cut.
"It was like rejecting an organ transplant," they said.
General Li was not originally going to be related to Shang at all, but by changing the story, the filmmakers were able to mirror the stories of Shang and Mulan's love for their fathers.
Singer Donny Osmond was cast as the singing voice of Shang because his voice matched well with the voice of actor BD Wong, who provided Shang's speaking voice.
However, producer Pam Coats was also a purple-socks type of fan — the first concert she ever attended was a Donny Osmond concert. Working with Osmond, she said, was a dream come true.
It's more or less a Disney tradition to have the villain fall to his or her death, but in "Mulan," the filmmakers were determined that Shan Yu would avoid that fate.
They blew him up instead.
The song "You'll Be In My Heart" from the movie "Tarzan" was written on the back of wrapping paper while Phil Collins was visiting a friend's house for Christmas.
In "Tarzan," Tarzan rescues Jane while she is being chased by a troop of baboons. The chase scene was animated early during the filmmaking process, when many animators were available. The filmmakers said if the scene had been animated later, they would've only had about three baboons because there wouldn't have been enough people to do more.
When recording Jane's retelling of the baboon chase and her rescue, the filmmakers showed voice actress Minnie Driver a rough storyboard of the chase and asked her to improvise how she might tell the story to her father. The scene in the film is the result of that recording session, and helped to define Jane as an adventurous spirit who wanted to connect with the jungle rather than a Victorian princess.
The sequence of the film featuring the song "Trashin' the Camp" was "horrifically hard" to animate, according to the filmmakers, but they kept it because voice actress Rosie O'Donnell really wanted a song and the children of the directors and producer loved the number. Phil Collins recorded all the percussion parts himself.
Toward the end of "Tarzan," Clayton hands Tarzan a cup of wine. The filmmakers asked the family of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs if that was okay, and they were told it was fine as long as Tarzan didn't drink the wine.
Sting, who wrote the music for "The Emperor's New Groove," wrote the opening song ("Perfect World") and then told the filmmakers that he was too old to sing it and that they should find someone younger and hipper.
The filmmakers went with Tom Jones, who is 11 years older than Sting.
During the scene where Yzma and Kronk try to poison Kuzco, Yzma pours her poisoned drink into a pot holding a cactus. Kuzco should've been more observant, because the cactus hints at what's about to happen...
Patrick Warburton, the voice of Kronk, made up his own theme song and sang it for the scene where Kronk smuggles Kuzco out of the palace. Disney's legal department found out that he had created a song and had to have Warburton sign a release turning over the composition rights.
Chicha, Pacha's wife, is the first pregnant woman you see on-screen in a Disney film. Previous films have included pregnant women, but always seen through things like knitting and dates on a calendar.
Bucky the Squirrel was never originally intended to be in the film — he was just included to make people laugh during storyboarding. However, when he succeeded in getting those laughs, he was included in the movie and became a recurring character.
The original opening for "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" featured Vikings hunting for Atlantis, who were then destroyed by the Leviathan. The Viking shield Milo holds up toward the beginning of the film is a remnant of that opening.
After one of the Aqua-Evacs explodes against the ceiling in the grease trap, the filmmakers recommend looking for the toilet seat that comes flying toward the camera amongst all the other debris.
Early scripts for "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" included a mystic named Zoltan. According to the filmmakers, after the character was cut, it took a while for them to realize that his voice still appeared in the roll call that takes place after the bridge collapse, indicating that he was all right.
"Lilo & Stitch" was originally going to take place in a rural setting, like Kentucky or Kansas. The suggestion to put it in Hawaii instead made everyone sit back and go, "Hmmm. Never thought of that."
Stitch, a mischievous and childlike monster, had a very different backstory and personality originally.
Stitch was originally going to be part of a gang, and Jumba (Stitch's creator in the finished film) was one of his fellow gangsters. In this story, Jumba was going to have been left behind during a bank heist and subsequently imprisoned for a lengthy amount of time.
When Jumba is in prison in the finished film, you can see the original background that went along with this storyline, complete with tick marks counting the days he had spent in prison.
Lilo loves Elvis, which was something of an arbitrary decision on the part of the filmmakers. In making Elvis part of the story, though, the filmmakers ran into a roadblock: they learned that they needed permission to show Elvis, to talk about Elvis, to imitate Elvis and to change the lyrics of Elvis' songs.
They had done all four.
Disney went to the Elvis estate, screened the film for them and got permission to use him and his music in the movie.
The end of "Lilo & Stitch" involves a chase between two spaceships traveling through a canyon. Originally this chase was supposed to be between a 747 and a spaceship, and was set in town.
After the events of September 11, 2001, the filmmakers said the scene they once found funny was no longer funny, and quickly changed the crafts and settings of the chase. The spaceship was colored red, white and blue in memory of the events of 9-11.
The futuristic "Treasure Planet" was done using a 70/30 rule — 70 percent of the setting was traditional to Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island," and the other 30 percent of the settings came from science fiction.
Patrick McGoohan, the voice of Billy Bones, had a very bad cold when he recorded his lines, which turned out to be perfect for his phlgemy, coughing character.
John Silver's striped pants were such a pain to animate that the people in charge of cleaning up the drawings begged for a costume change. They got the desired change about halfway through the movie.
Pirates were killed off in order of how difficult they were to draw.
"Treasure Planet" was released in 2002, but it was originally pitched at the same meeting where "The Little Mermaid" (1989) was pitched — clear back in 1985. The filmmakers said it was actually good that it took so long to make the film because it allowed real-world technology to develop into what the story really needed.
In early drafts of the "Meet the Robinsons" script, the villainous Bowler Hat Guy was named Morpheus Pink, and later Mortimer Clinch. His character was a rival inventor who, desperate to beat Cornelius Robinson, traveled back in time to ruin Lewis' science fair. In the finished film, his storyline is quite different.
The villain wore a bowler hat in early versions of the story, and its arbitrariness irked writer Don Hall enough that he wrote an explanation for it, thus creating the character of the evil bowler hat Doris.
Doris began life as a sidekick, but script changes soon promoted her to the true villain of the movie.
While Wilbur flies Lewis through the future city, look for Disneyland's Space Mountain (located in Tomorrowland) and the modernized sign in front of it.
Casting younger actors in an animated film is always a race against nature, and in "Meet the Robinsons," the filmmakers lost — twice.
Daniel Hansen was cast as the original voice of Lewis, but nature required the filmmakers to find another Lewis. Jordan Fry took over and matched so well that there are lines in the movie that are half Daniel and half Jordan.
Wesley Singerman was cast as Wilbur, but again, nature took over and the filmmakers had to search for a second voice that could match what he had recorded for the character. When they couldn't find a voice to match 12-year-old Wesley, they re-recorded all of his dialogue with a 17-year-old Wesley.
The film sequence introducing the Robinson family includes a Tom Selleck joke, and filmmakers were required to get permission to use his image. It made sense, then, to also get Tom Selleck to do the voice of the character who was purported to resemble him, which is exactly what Disney did.
The theme of the Robinson family is "keep moving forward." Director Stephen Anderson said he always imagined similarities between the Robinson family and Walt Disney, but when making the film, he stumbled on a quote from Disney that absolutely solidified the connection:
"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious . . . and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." — Walt Disney
Pixar films frequently include an "A113" in honor of room A113 at CalArts, where animation greats like Tim Burton, Brad Bird, John Musker, Kirk Wise, Andrew Stanton and John Lasseter — among others — went to school. Musker was determined to put an A113 in "The Princess and the Frog," and managed to do so on the New Orleans streetcars.
Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Princess Tiana, is left-handed, and requested that Tiana be left-handed too. Tiana's dimples were also modeled after Rose's dimples.
In early versions of "The Princess and the Frog," Louis, the trumpet-playing alligator, was a human who lacked any musical ability. After striking a deal with the villain Dr. Facilier, Louis gained the ability to play the trumpet but was turned into an alligator. The storyline was eventually cut because it was too complicated.
Randy Newman, who wrote the music for "The Princess and the Frog," recorded voices several times for different characters because each time he voiced a character, that character was either cut (an otter) or the lines were dropped (a turtle).
Newman made it in — and stayed in — as the firefly Cousin Randy.
During the Mardi Gras parade scene, watch for floats that pay homage to Disney — there's a mermaid float, an Arabian knights float, a Greek mythology float and a pirate float.
The look of "Tangled" hero Eugene Fitzherbert (aka Flynn Rider) was decided through what filmmakers called, "the hot man meeting."
In that meeting, women who worked at the studio looked at hundreds of possible Flynn drawings and put sticky notes on the ones they liked. Using those notes, filmmakers were then able to develop the final design.
On the day the chameleon in "Tangled" was due to be named, animation artist Kellie Lewis bought a chameleon and named it Pascal. The filmmakers liked the name so much that they asked if they could use it, and Lewis said yes.
The credits at the end of the film include the names of six "Chameleon kids" — Shakti, Bitey, Tungbert, Mister Sticky, Baby and Nathan Jr. These were the real-life babies of the real-life Pascal born during production of the film.
"Tangled" by the numbers:
>> Rapunzel has 70 feet of hair
>> There are 3,000 CG figures in the village, making it the biggest crowd scene in a Disney film. It took the title from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."
>> There are 45,000 lanterns in the lantern scene
"Tangled" was Disney's 50th animated feature film, according to the studio. The films they included in this count were (in order of release):
"Snow White," "Pinocchio," "Fantasia," "Dumbo," "Bambi," "Saludos Amigos," "The Three Caballeros," "Make Mine Music," "Fun and Fancy Free," "Melody Time," "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad," "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," "Peter Pan," "Lady and the Tramp," "Sleeping Beauty," 101 Dalmatians," "The Sword in the Stone," "The Jungle Book," "The Aristocats," "Robin Hood," "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh," "The Rescuers," "The Fox and the Hound," "The Black Cauldron," "The Great Mouse Detective," "Oliver & Company," "The Little Mermaid," "The Rescuers Down Under," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," "The Lion King," "Pocahontas," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "Hercules," "Mulan," "Tarzan," "Fantasia 2000," "Dinosaur," "The Emperor's New Groove," "Atlantis: The Lost Empire," "Lilo & Stitch," "Treasure Planet," "Brother Bear," "Home on the Range," "Chicken Little," Meet the Robinsons," "Bolt," "The Princess and the Frog" and "Tangled."
Early versions of "Tangled" included a fortune-telling monkey.
Flynn's fortune said that, "A symbol of untold wealth and beauty will be attained and then slip from his grasp."
Rapunzel was told that there was someone in her life whose mask must be removed and who was trying to keep her from her destiny, but Flynn and Rapunzel had to flee before the monkey could tell her more.
Although the monkey didn't make it into the final film, he still appears in the credits.
"Wreck-It Ralph" features Ralph as the bad guy/good guy protagonist and focuses on his storyline. For a long time, though, Fix-It Felix was the protagonist and Ralph (then named Wendell Grubble) was just a guy who lived in the dirt and threw trash around.
In "Wreck-It Ralph," the characters travel from game to game through Game Central Station, which resides in the power strip connecting all the games together.
In writing the film, Rich Moore and Phil Johnston said they once planned to have the characters travel from game to game through a magical vortex Felix found in his toilet, but then they "realized that was really stupid."
Each of the three game worlds featured in "Wreck-It Ralph" were built on specific shapes and came with their own inspirations.
The 8-bit world of Ralph and Felix was built around squares, from the dust to the trees. Even characters (except for Ralph) don't move diagonally.
In the game, "Hero's Duty," the world was built around triangles and filmmakers sought to give it the gritty feel of "Saving Private Ryan" and "Alien."
The game "Sugar Rush" was built on circles and inspired by the architecture of Antoni Gaudi. Filmmakers referenced classic Disney films like "Alice in Wonderland" for locations like the castle of King Candy.
Visual development artist Brittney Lee built a model world out of candy, which filmmakers then spent the next year referencing as they created the Sugar Rush game.
Sugar Rush was originally called "Candy Hollow."
"Wreck-It Ralph" features three main video games, but it used to include a fourth called "Extreme Easy Living 2." The filmmakers described the game as "Grand Theft Auto" meets "The Sims."
"Frozen" may be Disney's newest theatrical release, but its roots run deep in Disney history.
After "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," in 1937, Disney looked at a number of stories for its next film, including Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen."
In 1939, Walt Disney gave "The Snow Queen" a production number — 1092 — but the film never happened.
Marc Davis, one of Walt Disney's Nine Old Men, prepared sketches for a Disneyland attraction based on the Snow Queen fairy tale. His sketches of the snow queen show striking similarities to Elsa, from the blue, sparkling gown to the long braid thrown over one shoulder.
As with any film, "Frozen" underwent script changes and revisions throughout the filmmaking process.
There were several versions of the story where Elsa was the villain and commanded a giant army of angry snowmen.
On Anna's side, in the original script, Anna stayed in Arendelle for months after her sister ran away, and as the winter storms grew worse and worse. A reward was offered for information regarding Elsa, and Kristoff's character was introduced when he came with that information and looking to collect payment.
Aaccording to "Frozen" co-director Jennifer Lee, Rapunzel is not — as one might logically think — the queen of Disney hair.
Rapunzel has about 100,000 individual hairs on her head, similar to an average human.
Anna from "Frozen" has about 140,000 hairs.
Elsa takes the cake, though, with her 400,000 hairs.
Good luck with those YouTube Elsa hair tutorials.
Disney films frequently include cameos of and nods to the people who worked on the film or in the studio. Here are some examples:
When Quasimodo and Captain Phoebus are in the graveyard in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," the names on the tombstones are those of the film's layout department, and the picture on the top of the sarcophagus they open is a caricature of the film's head of layout, Ed Ghertner.
In "Aladdin," the two men who are discussing the arrival of Prince Achmed ("another suitor for the princess") are directors John Musker and Ron Clements.
In Mulan, the names Chi Fu calls, summoning them to war, are the names of people who worked on the film, as are the names of ancestors that appear on the tombs in the family temple.
"Tarzan" directors Chris Buck and Kevin Lima are thugs who help load the boat toward the end of the film.
The giddy women flocking around Prince Naveen in "The Princess and the Frog" are caricatures of women at the Disney studio, and the two men covered in cake are caricatures of directors Ron Clements and John Musker.
In the 1950s, employees of the Walt Disney Studios animation department put together a band known as The Firehouse Five Plus Two. "The Princess and the Frog" contains a nod to this group of artist/musicians in their band, The Firefly Five Plus Louis. A caricature of the legendary Disney animator Frank Thomas is playing the piano.