The Walt Disney Company was founded on October 16th, 1923 by brothers Walt and Roy Disney. Originally, its name was The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. It officially changed its name to The Walt Disney Company in 1986. The company saw immediate success, and has grown to be the leader of the American animation industry, while also branching out to live-action films, television, and even theme parks. Kids everywhere know the Disney name, commonly using it in reference to any animated movie. Adults also enjoy Disney films, as the animators and writers never forget the parents and other adults watching their movies! They have been known to slide in a joke or two for the older crowd in every feature, and some aren’t in very good taste either!
As someone who grew up watching Disney films, I can confidently say that they shaped my childhood. Disney movies are loved by millions, and some have watched the films enough times to know them by heart, making it hard to imagine them any other way. However, with every movie made, there is a concept, a storyboard, art sketches and more details that get tossed around a room of executives, designers, and creators. It’s no wonder that a lot of ideas end up being scrapped before the final film is created. Most are little details, but some of them are massive game changers. Here is a list of 25 amazing things that have been deleted from Disney movies, that would have changed everything. Hold onto your seats, as this is going to be a wild ride!
24 Frozen: Elsa Was The Villain
Frozen was released in 2013, and is currently the highest grossing animated film of all time. It managed to bring in well over $1 billion at the worldwide box office. What you might not know, however, is that Elsa was originally supposed to be the villain for this tale of two sisters! The song “Let It Go” was actually what convinced the director and screenwriter, Jennifer Lee, to change her mind, allowing Elsa to become the troubled but beloved sister of Anna.
23 Robin Hood: Darker Ending
Disney produced Robin Hood in 1973, and it was a beloved film for all. Featuring a cast of animated woodland creatures, the film ends with Robin Hood (spoilers!) escaping unscathed, through a bombardment of arrows!
However, in an alternate version of the ending, Robin is actually hit with one of the arrows!
Robin Hood gets rushed to the care of Maid Marian, and Prince John offers to put the hero “out of his misery.” Testing came back with the results of a lighter-hearted ending would be best for the film, which is why we never got to see this version.
22 Zootopia: Alternate Main Character
Zootopia tells the story of a city populated by talking animals, including the film’s main character: officer Judy Hopps! Officer Hopps is a rabbit with a dream of becoming Zootopia’s best police officer, but she actually wasn’t the film’s original protagonist. In earlier drafts of the script, Nick Wilde, the sneaky fox conman, was meant to be the film’s hero! Disney made the choice to change protagonists with only a year left before the release of the film, which is crazy!
21 The Black Cauldron: Cauldron Born Scenes
It’s no secret that The Black Cauldron is one of, if not THE, darkest of Disney’s animated films. It has even been said that during one of the original test screenings MULTIPLE children ran away from the theatre in tears!
The scenes that caused these reactions were edited out of the film, being deemed too frightening for their younger target audience. The scenes involved the Cauldron Born, which was an army of undead that had their flesh melting from their bodies. In total, over 12 minutes of footage was cut from the movie.
20 The Lion King: Mufasa's Alternate Fate
One of the most famous scenes from The Lion King would have to be the wildebeest stampede. However, Mufasa’s fate was actually far more unsettling in the earlier drafts of the script. Scar used to be a bloodthirsty lion who wasn’t even in line for the crown, and who ended up getting Mufasa’s neck. It was decided that the story needed Simba’s feelings of guilt to move the plot forward, so the idea was eventually cut from the film, replaced with the Hamlet-like tale we know today.
19 Mulan: An Arranged Marriage?!
Disney’s 1998 film Mulan is often forgotten as one of the pillars of familial love found in the company’s collection. Mulan is actually motivated throughout the film by her family, more specifically her father, and is anything but a damsel in distress! Instead of a marriage plot, Mulan's journey is dedicated to bringing honor to the Fa family name, as she saves all of China! Originally, Mulan’s motivations were completely different. She was betrothed as part of an arranged marriage to Shang, and runs away to join the army to escape her fate!
18 Pinocchio: Geppetto Almost Does The Unthinkable
Pinocchio is considered to be one of Disney’s classic films, which is odd considering how much crazy behavior is shown in the film. The original creators of the film even wanted to include a scene of Geppetto dining on fish. After Geppetto and his pet cat Figaro are stuck in the belly of the whale, they both take a liking to their friendly pet fish Cleo. Thankfully they both decide against it, and the scene was even cut from the final version of the movie.
17 Monsters, Inc.: The Main Character Was An Adult Human
Monsters, Inc. follows the lives of two monster friends, James P. Sullivan, also known as Sulley, and Mike Wazowski. Their world gets turned upside down when a 3-year-old human, Boo, gets thrown into the mix.
But did you know that none of these actual characters were in the first draft of the film?
In its earliest form, Monsters, Inc. was about an unhappy adult man who began being visited by his childhood monster drawings. Each of the monsters represented something that he had to overcome from his childhood, in order to be happy again. When you think about that, it’s hard to imagine how Monsters, Inc. came to be the film it is today.
16 Beauty And The Beast: The Film Had A Much Lighter Tone
Beauty and the Beast is known for having a dark, yet magical tone. The prologue of the movie features a haunting melody as the tale is narrated to us, ending with this seemingly hopeless question: “For who could ever learn to love a beast?”
Juxtaposing this is the early storyboards of the film, which illustrate the much more conventional Disney storybook opening, with a much brighter color scheme. There is no indication of the magical and somewhat gothic tone of that which we recognize to be Beauty and the Beast today.
15 Finding Dory: Some Characters Were Left Behind
Finding Dory ends with a typical happy ending, as Dory and her parents are reunited thanks to Marlin and his friends. They are all free in the ocean, and joined by the friends that they met along the way from the Marine Life Institute in California.
The sea creatures from the Marine Life Institute were not originally going to find their way to freedom, however. It took executives seeing the documentary “Blackfish” to change their minds, as they didn’t want their loving sea creatures to have a life of captivity. Thankfully, Bailey and Hank end up able to explore the ocean with Dory and her family.
14 The Emperor's New Groove: Almost The Princess And The Pauper
The Emperor’s New Groove went through some pretty major changes during development. It was even originally titled Kingdom of the Sun, as an attempt to adapt Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. Kuzco, who was still the emperor, was going to change places with a commoner! He still would become a llama as well. The plot involved mistaken identities, romance, and villainous plans, but was considered too complicated to complete. That’s why we have The Emperor’s New Groove of today.
13 Moana: Gramma Tala Didn't Exist
Gramma Tala is one of the most important characters found in Disney’s Moana, which is really saying something considering she isn’t even in most of the film. Without Gramma Tala, Moana would never find out about her ancestors’ wayfinding.
So why was she not in earlier versions of the film?
It turns out that Moana instead had a group of brothers who were meant to be her mentors. Although this does sound interesting, we’re happy Gramma Tala made it into the final edit instead!
12 Zootopia: Shock Collars
Zootopia appears again in his list, for a much more dark and sinister reason. While it is praised as a child’s film who is able to tackle discrimination, the fact remains that it is indeed a movie made for children. This is why design choices didn’t make it into the final cut, like shock collars.
Originally, all predator animals were forced to wear a shock collar if they wanted to live in Zootopia. Whenever they got overly excited or upset, they received a shock from the collar, so we’re glad this idea was nixed.
11 Monsters University: It Was Almost A Sequel, Not A Prequel
Monsters University was the long awaited and very amazing prequel to Monsters, Inc. The film provides crucial backstory and character details, allowing us to further delve into the Monsters Inc. universe. Now imagine all of that backstory disappearing into the night! This almost was the case, as originally the 2nd Monsters, Inc. film was supposed to be a sequel called Monsters, Inc. 2: Lost In Scaradise. This would have followed Mike and Sully navigating the human world, trying to rescue Boo! We sure hope they eventually follow through with this idea!
10 Cars: Cars Graveyard
As most of the films on this list, Cars had a very dark sequence in the original storyboard that was eventually removed. The particular scene that was deemed too dark for their young audience involved Lightning McQueen getting lost while trying to find his way back to Interstate. While lost, he enters a very ominous area complete with a car graveyard... Dead plants and branches cover the cars in a vast wasteland, scaring McQueen while he tries to escape! Although a cool concept, it wouldn’t have been worth it to include if the scene caused Cars to get a PG rating.
9 Toy Story 3: Buzz Lightyear Recall
Toy Story 3 was a welcome sequel, exciting fans a mere ELEVEN years after the release of Toy Story 2. While the film we’ve all seen involved our toy friends being mistakenly donated to daycare, this alternate version of the film was quite different. According to some early concept art, Toy Story 3 was originally going to be a tale of Woody and the gang trying to save Buzz Lightyear, who had been recalled by the manufacturing company in Taiwan. Although quite different, this version of the film still sits in quite well with the franchise’s previous instalments.
8 Lilo And Stitch: Stitch Vs. Lilo’s Friend
Everyone knows that Lilo and Stitch’s original ending had to go through some pretty heavy editing. This was, of course, due to the fact that Stitch took over a plane to rescue Lilo, and the film was released too close to the September events for that to be appropriate.
There were also many other deleted scenes that showed the darker side of Stitch.
For example, there was a moment when Lilo introduced Stitch to her seawater friend, Pudge The Fish. Stitch picks pudge up and throws him to the ground, which results in Pudge The Fish perishing. Talk about dark!
7 Aladdin: Abu Was An Old Man
Aladdin is considered by many to be one of the most successful Disney films. What many don’t know, however, is that the cast we grew to know and love originally featured more humans than animals. That’s right, Princess Jasmine’s pet Rajah was original her handmaiden, and Abu was an old man! Abu still had the same personality, helping Aladdin as a fellow thief, but in a very different way... personally, we’re fans of the monkey choice. What about you?
6 The Little Mermaid: Ursula Wasn't An Octopus
The Little Mermaid showcases the talents of Disney’s animators beautifully, as they had the chance to create amazing sea creatures and allow them to come to life. Ursula the Sea Witch is one of the most prominent aquatic characters of the film, and her tentacles have been known to haunt the dreams of many children.
However, she wasn’t always going to be an octopus.
It has been revealed by John Musker, the director of the film, that earlier designs featured Ursula as a lion fish, and even a manta ray! It’s hard to picture Ursula without her tentacles!
5 Tarzan: A Different Opening
Tarzan’s opening is one of the most heavily edited openings of any Disney Feature Film. The version that made it into the film is still pretty intense, but it is nothing compared to what it used to be! While introducing us to Tarzan, his parents, and his adoptive mother Kala, we are also introduced to one of the movie’s villains: the leopard. An unused storyboard shows the leopard attack in far more detail, alluding to the wife having already passed away, while the husband fails to defend himself from the predator with a rifle.
4 The Little Mermaid: Alternative Ending
The creators of 1989’s The Little Mermaid were having some issues with the film’s final battle, and eventually they made the decision to spice up the exchange between Prince Eric and Ursula.
In the first version of the film’s ending, Ursula only increased slightly in size!
Due to Ursula not having a powerful stance in battle, Eric looked very weak when struggling to defeat this regularly sized octopus. This is why filmmakers decided to transform Ursula into a monstrous beast, allowing Eric a much more extraordinary triumph!
3 Beauty And The Beast: Human Again
Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, and it features some of the most unforgettable songs of any Disney movie ever!
Did you know that there was one song that didn’t make the final cut?
The song “Human Again” was to be sung by all of the enchanted objects, dreaming about becoming their regular selves again! Although it didn’t make it into the original version of the film, you can now see it in Special Edition versions of the movie (post 2002)!
2 Inside Out: A Whole Plot Removed
In the movie Inside Out, tween Riley Anderson struggles to deal with her emotions (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust) while moving to a new town and going through puberty. The film really tugs on the viewer’s heartstrings with its realistic portrayal of teenage emotions, but things could have been even more emotional if the earlier version of the film was made. Depression, Gloom, and Despair were other emotions that planned on being in the film, but didn’t make it into the final cut. We think it was for the best!
1 Toy Story: Woody Was The Villain
Toy Story starts off with Woody and Buzz Lightyear being bitter enemies, but they soon become the best of friends thanks to their crazy adventure and multiple identity crisis’s. Did you know that the bromance of Buzz and Woody wasn’t always in the works for these two characters? The president of Pixar, Ed Catmull, explained that Woody was actually originally designed as a cruel ventriloquist’s dummy, making him the villain of the film! Eventually, executives opted out of this version, and into the version of Woody that we know and love today. Phewf!