Moana has quickly risen in the ranks of Disney movies. This movie showed us once again that Disney knows how to do amazing musicals. Between the gorgeous animation, the beautiful music, and the inspiring and heartwarming story, this movie just did practically everything right. Who doesn’t love the Rock singing “You’re Welcome”? (Actually, who doesn’t love The Rock in general? That man is awesome and he nailed it playing Maui.)
I think my favorite part of the movie was watching the bond that developed between Maui and Moana. These two helped each other grow in amazing ways. Moana became more confident in herself, and Maui learned to think about others and not just himself. And the two made a seriously awesome team. They’re hilarious, but they also have some sweeter moments, which really is what makes the movie. You know you laughed and cried during this movie.
Now like any Disney movie, Moana is full of interesting details and references that you probably missed the first time (or second or even third) time you watched it. But there are quite a few awesome references to other movies hidden throughout this awesome musical. Some are easy to spot, and some take a bit more work to find.
But there probably are some crazy references in Moana that you had no idea existed. So here are 20 hidden details and references that you probably missed while watching Moana. Let’s have some fun with the ocean!
Think we missed some great references? Make sure to let us know in the comments section below!
20 Hey, We Know That Fish
Moana actually has quite a few references from The Little Mermaid hidden throughout the movie, which makes sense. They’re both movies surrounding the ocean, and both movies had the same directors. (It would be interesting if these two movies were in the same universe.) So, it’s not too surprising that Flounder makes an appearance.
During the song, “You’re Welcome,” pay attention to the fish swimming in the background while Maui’s singing. You’ll see a very familiar fish swimming around. At least it looks like Flounder is having a good time with Maui. I wonder if the two would be friends?
19 That’s A Familiar Reindeer
You’d think there wouldn’t be that many references from Frozen in Moana since the two movies take place in very different settings. But Moana does have a few hidden throughout the movie. And one of them is pretty easy to see if you’re paying attention.
One of Maui’s abilities, when he has his hook, is that he can transform into various animals. And when he gets his hook back, he goes through a bunch of animal transformations since his abilities aren’t working so well. The transformations happen pretty fast, but if you pay attention, you’ll see Maui transform into Sven from Frozen. This reindeer is a long way from home.
18 So... What Happened To Olaf?
Whether you love or hate Olaf, you have to admit that he was a pretty memorable character in Frozen. And surprisingly enough, Olaf also makes an appearance in the Moana, though he is a lot harder to spot. In fact, a lot of fans missed this reference because it’s so subtle.
Um, this has some disturbing implications.
But if you look closely at Moana’s supplies on her boat, you’ll see a carrot among some other vegetables. Yeah... that’s Olaf. It’s a rather morbid reference, but a reference all the same. (Really, what did you expect with Olaf being on an island? This was an inevitable event.)
17 The Kakamora Are Pretty Hardcore
I personally would’ve loved to learn more about the Kakamora since they’re such interesting little creatures and they only show up for one scene. Where did they come from? What exactly are they? But did you know that these little guys also made a reference to Mad Max?
The way the Kakamora’s ships are set up where they can split into other ships is a reference to the the movie Mad Max: Fury Road, where their vehicles could split into other vehicles. It’s kind of crazy to see a reference from a pretty intense action movie show up in a Disney animated feature.
16 It’s A Baymax Kakamora
The Kakamora all have some unique designs, and that’s what makes them pretty fun to watch. The whole scene involving them was both intense and hilarious. And the design of their ships was seriously awesome. But did you know there’s a reference to Big Hero 6 among these little pirates?
If you look closely at one of the Kakamora during one of the group shots, you’ll find that the paint on its face looks like the face of Baymax from Big Hero 6. Now I would love to see Baymax interacting with these little guys. Can you imagine the chaos? It would be seriously so funny, though Baymax would get so many holes.
15 I’ve Seen This Monster Before
What’s pretty fun about Moana is that you get a lot of awesome art shown in their tapestries. It creates a unique style that blends in nicely with the more realistic style of the movie. And we get all sorts of interesting creatures represented in these tapestries.
What's a snow monster doing on an island?
But one of the tapestries shown in the beginning carries yet another reference to Frozen. One tapestry is actually a depiction of Marshmallow, the giant snow creature from Frozen. This one is easy to miss since that whole scene happens pretty quickly and you don’t see the tapestry for very long, but it’s there.
14 Ralph, What Are You Doing Here?
Out of all the characters from different Disney movies, Ralph from Wreck-it Ralph is probably the last character you’d expect to show up in a movie like Moana. The two movies are about as different as they get. But if you pay attention during the credits, you’ll see the lovable bad guy.
At some point in the credits, a tapestry that has Ralph’s likeness on it will show up. Why he’s showing up, we don’t know; maybe there’s some time travel stuff going on. But it is a fun little reference that you’ll miss if you don’t watch the credits. Now I would love to see Ralph interact with Maui.
13 That Was Not So Subtle
Tamatoa is a rather interesting character. He’s both hilarious and intimidating and during his entire scene, you didn’t know whether to laugh at his crazy song, or be a bit freaked out by his power. The fact that he almost took Maui out is seriously impressive. But he also makes a reference to another popular crab.
If you wait to the end of the credits, you get a bonus scene where Tamatoa is still stuck on his back. He then makes a crack that if he had a Jamaican accent, we’d help him, which is, of course, a reference to Sebastian from The Little Mermaid. I have to admit, it would be interested to see Tamatoa and Sebastian react.
12 I See A Famous Lamp
We know that Tamatoa has a thing for shiny objects and treasure. His entire back is a treasure trove that would make Scrooge McDuck jealous. But have you actually looked at some of the treasure that’s on Tamatoa’s back? There may be some familiar objects that you missed.
Tamatoa somehow got a hold of Genie's lamp.
One object is actually the magic lamp from Aladdin. If you look closely at the treasure, you’ll find the lamp hidden among the other shiny objects. How on earth Tamatoa got ahold of the magic lamp is a big mystery, but it would be interesting to see Genie have to interact with this giant crab.
11 This Rug Pops Up Everywhere
There are a few references to Aladdin hidden throughout this movie, but you have to pay attention to find them. One of them is an actual reference to the Magic Carpet. This is one of those references that if you blink, you’ll miss it.
During the scene where Moana is singing “How Far I’ll Go” you see a group of women lifting up a large blanket. If you look more closely at the blanket, you’ll find that it has the same pattern and design that the Magic Carpet has. It’s a simple reference, but it’s really cool when you see it.
10 We’ve Seen A Statue Like This Before
The fact that Maui made a statue of himself while he was trapped on that island isn’t that surprising. It’s pretty in character for the narcissistic demigod. But you have to give him props for making a pretty accurate statue. But if you look at it, it might look like another statue.
Maui’s statue is a bit of a reference to the statue of Prince Eric. The two are even in similar poses. And we have another reference from The Little Mermaid. I’m not sure how Eric would react if he ever met Maui. Considering he took the whole mermaid thing pretty well, I don’t think he’d be too freaked out at meeting a demigod.
9 It’s Not The First Time This Has Happened
Who could forget that adorable scene where baby Moana helps a baby turtle make it to the ocean safely? It was so cute and it showed us how kind and caring Moana was even as a little child. It’s also likely why the Ocean chose her. But did you know that scene was a little nod to another movie?
Moana's not the only Disney character to help a turtle.
The image of Moana holding a leaf frond over the baby turtle is similar to a picture we see of Stitch doing the same thing for a couple of turtles in the credits of Lilo and Stitch. It’s an easy little reference to miss, but it’s a pretty cute one. And now it just makes me wonder how Moana would react to Stitch?
8 I’ve Seen These Turtles Before
It’s kind of surprising that there aren’t more references to Finding Nemo in Moana since the two movies revolve around the ocean. But there’s one reference hidden in Moana and it’s pretty obvious, but also kind of subtle.
In the scene where we see baby Moana admiring the ocean, we see a sea turtle and the baby turtle she saved swimming by. And those turtles are a reference to Krush and Squirt from Finding Nemo. It’s a great reference that you wouldn’t pick up on right away. I would love to see Krush and Squirt interacting with Moana. It would be pretty cute.
7 I’m Seeing A Pattern Here
It’s amazing how much power the Heart of Te Fiti actually has. Without it, Te Fiti became Te Ka, a rather freaky volcanic monster. And considering both the Kakamora and Tamatoa wanted to get their hands on it, that little rock is seriously powerful. But if you look more closely at the design, you might find it a bit familiar.
The swirling design on the heart of Te Fiti actually looks very similar to the design on Ursula’s necklace. Remember that shell necklace she uses to take Ariel’s voice? Yeah, it’s another nod to The Little Mermaid that you probably didn’t catch. (Te Ka even looks like Ursula a bit.) But let’s hope Moana never meets Ursula.
6 This Lair Looks Familiar
We can all agree that whether you love or hate Tamatoa, his song was seriously memorable. I think my favorite part was when he started glowing; that was a great visual that added a psychedelic factor to the whole thing. And considering how big Tamatoa’s presence is, that’s usually what we focus on during this number. But have you looked around his cave? You might find it pretty familiar.
Tamatoa's lair looks a lot like Ariel's grotto.
Tamatoa’s cave looks very similar to Ariel’s grotto where she stores her collection. It makes you wonder if it’s the same one. Maybe Lalotai became a part of the ocean over the years and Ariel finds the grotto later. (Hey, there have been stranger Disney conspiracy theories.)
5 This Little Conscience Wasn’t The First
The fact that one of Maui’s tattoos seems to have a mind of its own and acts as Maui’s conscience is both hilarious and intriguing. You can’t help but wonder what Maui did to earn that tattoo. And even though Mini Maui doesn’t talk much, he can still be very expressive. (I also love that this little tattoo can be incredibly sassy.)
But Mini Maui is actually a nod to another character that acted as a conscience. While Mini Maui may not look much like Jiminy Cricket, the two do have the same role, which is to keep their charges on the right path. It would be interesting if the two met.
4 I Never Would’ve Caught This
Lalotai had all sorts of freaky creatures living in it, and one of the most memorable ones is that masked creature. Seriously, that thing is going to be in my nightmares for a long time. Everything from its look to the way it moved was just horrifying. But within this creature lies another reference that you probably missed.
This one is a bit of a stretch, but if you look closely at the creature’s claws, you’ll see that they resemble the claws of Flash, the sloth from Zootopia. It’s a very subtle hint that not many fans picked up on. Though if Flash was that creepy, I think Zootopia would’ve been a rather different movie.
3 I’ve Seen This Sass Before
What Disney does well is that it can create such expressive characters out of things that don’t even have a face. The Ocean in Moana is no exception. You can’t deny that the Ocean has quite the personality and that it can even get a bit sassy sometimes. But if you look at the Ocean’s behavior, it may remind of another rather expressive faceless character.
The Ocean acts a lot like the Magic Carpet.
The Ocean and the Magic Carpet from Aladdin actually have some pretty similar characteristics. They’re both characters that have a surprising amount of expression for not having any kind of facial expressions, and they’re both a bit on the sassy side. This isn’t a huge reference, but it is a detail you may have missed.
2 A Flower Says A Lot
Moana and Ariel do have a fair amount in common. Both are young women who are adventurous and can’t help but wonder about what lies beyond the world they’ve only known. Both are rather kind and compassionate people. And both can be a bit reckless at times.
But there’s another detail that links the two, and it’s in the form of a flower. If you look at the little flower in baby Moana’s hair, you’ll notice that it looks very similar to the pink flower that Ariel has in her hair. It’s a small detail, but it does link these two girls together even more.
1 These Guys Are Everywhere
John Musker and Ron Clements are pretty well-known names in the Disney world, since they’re behind several Disney movies like The Little Mermaid, The Great Mouse Detective, Aladdin, and Treasure Planet. And they also happen to be the directors in Moana. So of course, there are bound to be references to these two in the movie.
If you look at one of the tapestries, you’ll see the likenesses of two men. This is, of course, Musker and Clements. Considering these two have done a lot of work to bring these movies to life, I think having a reference to them in those movies is a fun nod to them.