One thing that Disney does best is create iconic imagery and films that stick with you for life. I can still remember the moment the sun rose over the Pride Lands and introduced the world to the Lion King for the very first time. That’s the kind of emotion and concept that Disney instills in you. Whether it’s in childhood or as an adult, the company continues to make memorable, one of a kind films that transcend the imagination and combine humor, memorable characters, and emotional storytelling all into one. But, what if the films we know and love today had gone with concepts the artist on the films originally came up with?
You see, some concept art created by the talented artists at Disney doesn’t make it into the final process. This art can be beautiful, wonderful art that fans would have loved — it can also be less than stellar. Either way, these pieces of art would have changed the entirety of the films for which they were created; these concept art pieces are drastically different from the films we all know and love.
So come along on yet another journey into the magical world of Disney and let us show you these Disney concept art pieces that will completely change how you see the films of your childhood.
30 Queen Elsa Looks Radically Different
Before the emotional sister-driven film fans know as Frozen came to be, the artists behind the film had a much different idea for the film’s story. Originally, Elsa she was meant to be an Ice Queen — a different kind of Ice Queen, anyway. She was to be the film’s villain, and was to have a much more dramatic look than what we eventually saw. This concept art captures a completely different version of the character.
One thing that fans immediately praised about Moana was the fact that the film’s animators made Moana with a more average body type.
In a lot of Disney films in the past female characters are given very slender frames, and while some women have that physique, not everyone does. Creating characters from a myriad of different influences goes a long way!
Yet in original concepts, we can see Moana nearly did have the thin frame that Disney was known for.
One of the stars of the film Aladdin was Princess Jasmine. Not only is she the Princess of Agrabah, but a confirmed Disney Princess and one of the heroes of the Disney universe. In the film, her iconic look features a silk blue top and pant look, and her voice and appearance come across a bit more Western than intended.
Yet in this concept art, we see Jasmine with her tiger Rajah in a vastly different outfit.
She was originally supposed to be more self-involved and spoiled, but was changed to be more independent and feminist in her character approach.
One of the most iconic villains of the Disney universe has to be Ursula from The Little Mermaid. The sea witch who tricks Ariel into giving up her voice in order to become human and make Prince Eric fall in love with her is notorious for having blue skin and a tentacled body. Yet in this original concept art, we see that wasn’t her original look. Some images depict her with pale or pink skin, while others give her a thinner, more sinister frame.
26 Baymax Watches Scary Movie
Fans around the world fell in love with Baymax in the films Big Hero 6. Based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, the film saw the character as a healthcare robot designed by the late older brother of the film’s protagonist, Hiro. His primary focus in the film is to help anyone in trouble, so this concept art featuring Baymax watching a scary movie and cringing at a frightening part paints the robot in a whole new light.
25 Mr. Incredible
The story of the Incredibles began by showing the heroes of the world in their prime, and then being forced to retire and go into a relocation program after a citizen saved by Mr. Incredible sued him for injuries he received from being rescued. After that, we see the heroes slow return in their middle age years, but this concept art shows Mr. Incredible with a slew of other heroes flying in the background, indicating some superhero team may have been shown at some point in the original concept of the film.
24 Toy Story (Circle 7)
While fans around the world know the story of Toy Story 3, in which Woody, Buzz and the toys had to figure out what their lives would be like now that their person Andy was no longer a kid who needed toys.
It was an emotional film, but original concepts such as this indicate a different story for the film as a whole.
The film could have begun with Buzz Lightyear being recalled, then having to save him from somewhere in Taiwan and then getting partially crushed in the film. Yikes.
23 Rapunzel’s Tower In The Clouds
In the film Tangled, fans got an updated version of the story of Rapunzel, the woman trapped in a tower with hair that grew for miles. As in the original story, a young man comes along and climbs the woman’s hair upwards towards her tower’s window, and yet in the film, the tower she had was not quite as tall as originally thought. The concept art for the film indicates the tower would have been so tall it stood through the clouds in the sky, making her hair much longer as well.
22 The Beast
One of Disney’s most beloved films has to be Beauty and the Beast. The story of a young woman who saves her father by taking his place as a prisoner of a monstrous prince, only to help the Prince overcome his monstrous ways and fall in love with one another, is something of a classic at the film company.
Yet the beast fans know from the original film is much different from his concept art.
In this art we see he is much better dressed, yet holds a sword and has a darker demeanor about him.
21 Original Hades
The story of Hercules is as old as time itself. Based off Greek Mythology, Hercules is the son of Zeus who becomes half human and must prove himself a hero in order to return to Olympus with his parents. Along the way, he falls in love, loses his powers, and must stop his uncle Hades from taking over Olympus and the world. Yet in the film, Hades almost looked very different. Original concept art shows he would have looked like a traditional-Western version of the underworld ruler, with an all red outfit, horns, and an almost skeletal frame.
20 Flynn Meets Mother Gothel
During the events of the film Tangled, Flynn Rider meets Mother Gothel towards the end of the film, in which she stabs him in the back, and then he cuts Rapunzel’s hair rather than let her be imprisoned by Mother Gothel any longer, sacrificing his life. Eventually, he is saved, but original concept art shows a much earlier meeting, in the woods where Mother Gothel tries to entice Flynn to leave, meanwhile holding a knife behind her. Quite creepy!
19 Zootopia Original Concept
One film in recent years that became popular was Zootopia, a film that explored modern society’s discrimination and prejudices using the animal kingdom and the partnership of fox Nick and new police officer rabbit Judy to showcased these issues. However, the original concept for the film featured Nick as the protagonist, in a world where predatory animals were forcibly collared and shocked anytime they felt emotions like anger. It was a much darker concept that alluded to real-world imprisonment.
18 Sheriff Woody
One of the protagonists of the Toy Story franchise, Sheriff Woody is a cowboy toy who comes from a very popular children’s western show. He’s Andy’s favorite toy until Buzz Lightyear comes along, and they are forced to share Andy’s time.
Voiced by Tom Hanks, Woody has a very slender and lean figure in the film, but he almost had a much larger head. This concept art shows Woody as more of a marionette-like figure, with a bulbous head and wooden gaze.
17 Sully And Boo
One of the most emotional and heartbreaking scenes in a Disney film has to be when Sully, the large blue monster who risks everything to protect a human child named Boo in Monster’s Inc, is forced to bring Boo back to her home and say goodbye, her door destroyed to prevent her return to the Monster world. Yet in this concept art, their relationship was almost very different, with Sully looking more blocky and Boo old enough to wear glasses and argue with Sully, something she wasn’t doing in the film.
This final piece of concept art shows a major character had a very nearly different look that would have changed the concept of the film she was brought into. The Incredibles did an amazing job of showcasing the importance of family, the struggle to regain something lost over the years as a parent, and balancing your life as a parent and a person.
Elastigirl, the mother and former superhero in the film, was praised for her realistic approach both emotionally and physically.
Yet in this concept art, she nearly had a thinner, more elastic and model-like physique, something that would have changed the film altogether.
We get to meet a lot of characters in the film Big Hero 6. A whole team of heroes is introduced in the film, one of which includes Wasabi. A more cautious, incredibly smart yet conservative character than the others, he is depicted as being a big guy that is built like a large athlete. Yet in this original concept art, we see that Wasabi was originally going to be much larger around the middle, giving him a completely different look in the film.
In the film Inside Out, fans followed the adventures of teenager Riley and the five emotions living inside her mind: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust, as she and her parents adjust to life after moving from Minnesota to San Francisco. It was a deeply emotional film (pun intended) and yet in the film’s original conception, more emotions were featured. One such emotion would have been envy, as shown in this concept art. As you can see he looks almost villainous in his approach.
13 City Of The Dead
One film that has taken Disney’s fandom by storm in recent years is Coco. It tells the story of a young boy who dreams of being a musician despite his family’s hatred of music. He ends up traveling inadvertently to the land of the dead and searches for his music icon, whom he believes is a long lost relative, in hopes of getting his blessing as a musician.
The film is celebrated for its diversity and emotional story.
Yet in this concept art, we see a towering city of the dead instead of a landscape we got in the film.
One of the highlights of the acclaimed film Mulan (animated) was the sidekick character of Mushu, the miniature dragon on a quest to prove his worth to the ancestors as a guardian of the family by helping Mulan become a hero of the war effort. He has a distinct red dragon look in the film, and yet early concept art like this depicts the tiny guardian as more amphibious and goofy looking than the cool dragon fans got in the film.
11 Meg And Hades
One of the relationships explored in Hercules was between Hades, the villain of the film, and Meg, Hercules love interest. While a tough and independent woman, Hades forced Meg to be a damsel in distress to help lure monsters into his fight with the gods, as she made a deal with Hades years earlier for an ex-boyfriend who ran out on her. This led to her distrust of men, and her struggle as she fell in love with Hercules. In this concept art, Meg was almost haunted by a more ghostly Hades.
After his training with Phil, Hercules in the film of the same name had a very distinct look.
Chiseled body, thin legs, equally chiseled face, and a hairstyle that was short and styled.
Yet in this original concept art, Hercules almost had a more god-like look, with free-flowing hair that made him look more like Thor than the Hercules we got. Would this Hercules have been more of a warrior than a boy seeking approval from his father as a hero?
9 Frozen’s Romance Village
Throughout the film Frozen, fans got a variety of very distinct settings. There was the kingdom of Arendelle, of course, but there was also the mountains surrounding it, Elsa’s Ice Castle, the home of the rock trolls, and the snow shop and sauna that Anna buys gear at. Yet in this concept art, we nearly had another location about romance, known as the romance village. Heart shaped houses and shops adorned the streets, and highlighted the struggle Anna had with falling in love too quickly with Prince Hans.
While fans have come to know and love the iconic film style of Mulan, the film was nearly very different in art direction. Original concept art depicted a classic Eastern-inspired art style, with more vibrant colors and a very different look for Mulan. In the film, the heroine was more slender and athletic looking, but original concept art features a more average look for the young hero, depicted here riding through the countryside on her horse as the sun sets behind her.
7 Edna Mode
The Incredibles did something very few superhero-based films do, and that was to explore the origins of the hero’s costumes.
This animated hit Disney film introduced Edna Mode, a world-renowned fashion designer who helped create the suits of several popular heroes, including her friend Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl.
Her original look, however, is not the modern-day designer we know, but instead a mix between Cruella De Ville and the Edna we now know.
6 The Evil Queen
Before the show Once Upon a Time explored the story of the Evil Queen, fans of Disney knew her from her classic turn on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Obsessed with being the fairest of them all, she tries to end Snow White several times, who is considered more beautiful. While considered a beautiful woman herself in the film, her original concept art featured a much more realistic looking Queen from the days of the Elizabethan Era.
5 Cars Graveyard
Another hit film in the Disney and Pixar partnership was that of Cars. This franchise about cars come to life in a car world and exploring how one race car legend deals with losing his number one spot was a major success for the company. Yet one scene from the original film was cut as being too scary for children audiences. This concept art shows protagonist Lightning McQueen stumbling upon a car graveyard, with the ruined and destroyed bodies of cars littering the woods around him.
The protagonist of the film The Hunchback of Notre Dame is considered an empathetic one. He was raised by the villain and told he was a monster because of his appearance.
Eventually, he rose above his “master” and gained his freedom, but in concept art, we found that the original design for Quasimodo was less heroic, and goofier and made him appear to be less serious. Thankfully the creators went in a different direction.
Speaking of the devil (not literally, but might as well), Frollo also had a very different design. Boasting an average face with no distinguishable marks or disfigurements, Frollo was the evil religious and political figure who tried to eradicate the gypsy clan and imprisoned Quasimodo through fear and self-loathing. Yet in this concept art, we see a more disfigured and evil Frollo, who appears to be more of an evil wizard living on the streets than a leader of any kind.
2 A Bug’s Life
The lesser Pixar hit A Bug’s Life is not as well considered because of both the success of the Toy Story franchise at the time and the film that came out at the same time, Antz. The story of a colony of ants who must find a way to overcome their grasshopper oppressors after the protagonist Flick destroys the grasshopper’s offering of food was a beautiful film, and yet the bugs in this film almost looked vastly different in the concept art, as depicted here as a smaller, more cartoonish insects.
1 Moana’s Underwater City
The adventures Moana goes on in her film are well known to Disney fans.
Her exploration of the vast ocean outside of her small island home and her mission to stop the spread of a corruption devastating the island lead her on a grand adventure.
While at one point she does travel to the ocean floor with Maui in order to retrieve his fishhook that allows him to transform his body. Yet in this scene, we never encounter a town or village underwater, as we see in this unused concept art.