Disney movies are iconic. Since its founding in 1923, Disney has been a pioneer in animation techniques and technology. They are excellent at telling stories that appeal to people young and old. Generation after generation has grown up watching these beloved characters go on amazing adventures, and people all over the world are fascinated by the princesses, the animals and the idea of happily ever after. We all have our favorite Disney movie; from the original Snow White And The Seven Dwarves to The Incredibles 2, everyone’s hearts have been touched by the man and the mouse.
Now the Disney brand is a global phenomenon. The movies are translated into so many languages from English to Finnish to Korean and there are even theme parks based on these beloved creations. At the heart of it all, let’s not forget, is the animation.
During the process of making an animated movie, teams of writers discuss what movie they want to create and ask animators to make concept art for it. Concept art allows the animator to play with the information they’ve been given to kickstart ideas for art style, character design, proportions, and so on. Inevitably, there will be unused concepts as the movie develops and changes, but what do these scrapped concepts look like? What would the movie be like if they had kept it in? I have dug into the depths of the Internet to bring you some intriguing images of what could have been.
29 Judy Hopps Carrying A Weapon
Zootopia was an important film for Disney to make. It dealt with issues of racism, corruption, and politics while remaining an entertaining family affair. At the beginning of the movie, Officer Judy’s father tries to give her items such as tasers and pepper spray to protect her while she lives in Zootopia.
They totally changed it to reduce the age rating.
She takes fox repellent pepper spray to please him but does end up using it to protect herself. Here, however, we see her with a taser gun sneaking around the rodent sector. She looks so intimidating. Imagine if Zootopia had guns and other automatic weapons.
28 The Matchmaker Appears
Mulan 2, like many Disney sequels, flew under many people’s radars as just another lame unnecessary sequel. It’s a story in which Mulan protects three princesses on a journey across China. Many iconic characters returned from the first movie except for one. The matchmaker who Mulan spills tea and ink on in the first movie almost returned in the sequel. She seems shocked and angry to see Mulan, so perhaps they meet coincidentally or perhaps the matchmaker is there to arrange the marriage for the princesses. Either way, this could have been a funny scene.
27 Don’t Mess With Captain Amelia
From Treasure Planet, Captain Amelia is the amazing head of the R.L.S. Legacy, the ship that Jim takes to find Treasure Planet. Played by the inimitable Emma Thompson, Amelia is a no-nonsense badass with cat-like features and reflexes along with incredible wit. However, here we have an Amelia that resembles the Kraken more than a feline. Imagine how intense the fight scenes would have been with Amelia wielding a bunch of cutlasses - I would absolutely watch those scenes.
26 Simba Roars To Life
I do not need to explain The Lion King to you, so we will just move on. Here we have Mufasa and Simba from early on in The Lion King’s development process. This art style is completely different from what we got in the end product that I almost do not recognize them. Their design is reminiscent of the lion from Bedknobs and Broomsticks and give a different tone to the characters. Would The Lion King have done as well with this art style?
25 Ursula? Is That You?
Ursula is one of the most beloved Disney villains from one of Disney’s most famous animated movies. We all remember her sass, confidence, and belief in ‘body language.’ However, here we have an Ursula that’s more angular and fish like. Although this sketch is only a few lines it conveys a whole lot of character. This person seems more insidious and calculating rather than bombastic and comic like Ursula ended up being. The Little Mermaid would have been a lot scarier if we had gotten this version of the sea witch.
24 Sleeping Beauty Meets Alice In Wonderland
Sleeping Beauty is a Disney movie that younger generations sleep on because it is ‘old’, but they are missing it. Sleeping Beauty is a Disney classic for a reason. It has wonderful music and animation while telling a classic tale of happily ever after. This concept art by Eyvind Earle shows Aurora’s world in a totally different style. This world feels more whimsical like it belongs in the world of Alice In Wonderland. I am in love with Earle’s style and this entire color palette. It’s different but in a good way.
23 Hades, But Not As You Know Him
Hades, cool and charming Hades; what happened to you? This is a very Christian European vision of the underworld in Hercules that seems weirdly inappropriate. This Hades is a cool cat with the longest mustache in the world. Hades’ fingers are particularly unnerving as they look like bony spider legs. The crossed legs and red high heels add this sass to the character. Pain looks the same, but there is no Panic to be found. Overall, I prefer the dark Underworld and sassy Hades that we all know and love.
22 Captain Dandy At Your Service
Captain Hook is Peter Pan’s adult arch nemesis who hates Peter for making a crocodile eat his hand as a prank. The Captain Hook that Disney created here is very different from the one who was in the movie. Where that Hook was dignified but ready to fight, this one seems pompous and camp, only caring for his looks. His sword appears to be a fancy accessory rather than a weapon for attacking Peter. At least the colour palette and general costume design stayed the same.
21 The Cars Graveyard
Cars was a comedy-adventure about a racecar that goes from an arrogant celebrity to humble friend through meeting regular cars. While there are some intense moments, no cars pass away. But, as this image reveals, the movie almost went in a dark direction.
Talk about a dark turn.
Here we see protagonist Lightning McQueen driving through an abandoned car graveyard in the forest. This scene was probably removed due to being considered too scary for young kids in the audience - probably for the best.
20 Esmeralda’s Old Outfit
Esmeralda was a wonderful feminist icon who was hyper-idolized and punished by the villain Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Esmeralda’s outfit there is vibrant and beautiful, but here we have a more traditional peasant look for her. She still has her tambourine and big hair but seems subdued in this concept art, almost sad. She has some cute accessories and a nice red hem on her corseted dress. Would Frollo have wanted Esmeralda as much if he saw her in this outfit instead of her performance costume?
19 Original Aladdin Poster Art
John Alvin sketched up this original design for a movie poster for Aladdin. Not only does Genie’s face in a constellation completely spoil him disappearing but it implies that he may pass on, which is crazy. You also cannot see Agrabah or Aladdin’s face clearly, only Jasmine is completely visible. This poster seems to imply that breaking free of Agrabah is the main objective for Aladdin and Jasmine and that they actually achieve this, which is not what happened.
18 Mushu Almost Had A Girlfriend
Mulan 2 was the movie that hooked up side characters with partners because it’s Disney. The three princesses I mentioned earlier ended up with Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po while Mulan and Shang got engaged. It seems that Mushu also almost got his own girlfriend.
I have so many questions.
We see a more feminine dragon looking shy and flirty while Mushu is dumbstruck by her. Would this dragon also be a protector of someone like Mushu is? How would they meet? Would she talk?
17 A Realistic Rapunzel
This rendition of Rapunzel from early Tangled concepts looks like it should be hung in a museum. It’s beautiful and realistic. Her outfit is more muted in color than the one she wore in the movie and her eyes are still large, but they are in proportion to the rest of her face.
She seems to have grabbed fingerless gloves from the early 2000s.
It seems that this version of Tangled would have been a less colorful and perhaps a more serious affair.
16 Stranger (Space) Things
Treasure Planet had a wide range of creative technology and alien life forms. Crowd scenes are incredibly detailed with the viewer rarely seeing two of the same species. Here, we have more examples of crew members for the Legacy or maybe some pirates plus an early version of protagonist Jim Hawkins and his solar board. This Jim looks a lot like Tom Sawyer and a lot younger. What would a young Jim have done in the movie? There are so many possibilities.
15 Atlantis Goes Under
Atlantis: The Lost Empire had an expansive and almost port town version of Atlantis that combined vibrant color with crumbling stone architecture. There was a towering town center and other buildings scattered around on top of a lake within a cavern. However, Atlantis was going to be mostly underwater and rise at one point, as shown in this early concept art. It seems that it was going to be less green and more condensed rather than the sprawling town we see in the movie. It would have been easier to get around but how would it rise and why?
14 New Orleans Comes To Life
This concept art also looks as though it should be framed somewhere. Naveen’s outfit is certainly fancier than the one we see him in when he wanders around New Orleans for the first time. His three-piece suit and long socks seem too restrictive for the Naveen that we know, considering that he immediately removed his official garments and went casual the moment he could. This Naveen also seems like a typical snobby fashionable jazz cat of the era rather than a music-loving flirt, which would be interesting to explore.
13 We Have Lift Off!
Hiro from Big Hero 6 is a smart kid who loves messing around; it is one of his most lovable qualities. But waking up to your family cat flying towards your face on rocket shoes would probably scare you.
This seems to be an early version of the first scene between Hiro and Tadashi. Tadashi seems to be regretting rooming with his brother after this experiment. Ah well, at least Hiro seems proud of his work.
12 An Alternative Pocahontas
Pocahontas, for all its faults as a movie, did give us the character of Pocahontas who was pretty cool. Pocahontas was a peaceful thrillseeker who wanted more than what was planned for her. These pieces, however, show us a different Pocahontas than the one we know. On the left, she seems subdued, almost sad, whereas on the right she is moody, pouty and looking as though she’s considering kicking someone’s behind. Her outfits here are in a similar style and are also pretty cute. Would these versions of Pocahontas have stood up for her people and fallen for John Smith?
11 A Furry Situation
The idea for Lady And The Tramp was suggested by Disney after Walt saw his dog for the first time. Disney thought that her fur looked like a dress and thought they could work with that.
The cats’ facial features are too close together - I don’t trust them.
Here Lady’s fur is very different from the rich brown fur that she has in the movie. She does not look as much like a cocker spaniel and looks less fancy which changes the premise of the movie.
10 Judy’s Bun-Cave
Judy lived in a very tiny apartment in Zootopia and we did not see inside of her home, until now. Here, we see Nick and Judy entering what seems to be her version of the Bat Cave, which has tech, photo evidence, and a conspiracy theory board. Whether this is at home or in Zootopia is debatable, but it would have been interesting to see this room and maybe have Nick meet her family. Also Judy in a dress? Weird.
9 Underwater Paradise
The sea is a very prominent character in Moana. It helps Moana out and keeps her entertained at times. There was an underwater scene to get Maui’s hook from the Realm of Monsters. However, instead of a dry ocean floor, there was originally going to be a whole village underwater. It looks beautiful, but how would it get there, would it be abandoned or would fish live there? Once again, I have so many questions.
8 Ursula And Ariel Make A Deal
Okay, this is crazy. Ariel looks pretty similar, but Ursula is almost unrecognizable. She looks very predatory and untrustworthy. She still has tentacles, but her teeth are so sharp. Is that an eye in her necklace?
I’m pretty sure I would have been afraid of her as a kid.
Although Ursula is a lot spookier here, you can picture the scene playing out similarly to how it did in the movie. But Ursula seems a different character. Would she make the same decisions? What merch would she have?
7 Beauty And The Bison
Beauty And The Beast is another classic Disney movie that is loved by people all over. For years kids wanted to be like Belle when they grew up and many a debate has been had over whether Adam or The Beast was better looking.
Imagine the sound of him shouting while clopping behind her in his heels.
This concept art shows us a more historically accurate Beauty and The Beast, with The Beast looking more like a bison and less intimidating overall. His claws are pretty huge though.
6 Big Scaredy Baymax
From the moment he came on screen, Baymax charmed viewers with his earnestness and his tenderness. The big softie just wanted to help others and do good, but he was not emotional since he was a robot. It seems that Baymax was maybe going to learn human emotions like fear as here he is watching a scary movie with Aunt Cas and Hiro. This may not have changed a lot of things plot-wise, but Baymax having human emotions would have changed a lot of character moments.
5 It’s The Circle Of Life
Yet another beauty that should be hung up somewhere fancy. This art style is gorgeous and the color palette is beautiful. Simba and Mufasa look a lot more realistic here and seem to be sharing a tender moment together in the sunset. The realistic art style makes the tone of the movie seem more serious overall. I do not think this art style screams ‘musical number,’ so perhaps it would not have had the iconic tunes we all know by heart.
4 Unwind After A Long Day Of Crime-Fighting
So many things are different here. First of all, the city used to be called San Frantokyo instead of San Fransokyo (personally I think the latter was the best choice). Second, Baymax is a metal robot. Sure, he is a robot technically, but this is not the squishy cuddly marshmallow that we love. The colors in this art are very muted compared to the vibrancy of Big Hero 6; it feels peaceful. The changes they made after this piece was drawn were for the best.
3 Battle Beneath The Cliffs
I do not know about you, but I would definitely remember a scene like this. The carvings are so intricate and beautiful and there appears to be some kind of battle between two people going on.
My heart is racing just thinking about it!
Who is fighting? Is it Mulan? Shang? The Huns? You can just imagine how cool the fight would be. It looks like it would be very dramatic and just looking at this makes you want to see more.
2 Rapunzel’s Golden Tear
The emotional scene where Rapunzel saves Flynn from passing on with her magical tears was very moving. This concept art provides us with an early version if that moment. This reminds me of famous paintings like The Girl With The Pearl Earring. Flynn’s face looks like a Greek statue come to life and Rapunzel’s hair is still blonde even though it’s cut. Her outfit is brighter than the one we saw earlier, but not quite there yet. At least she’s wearing some purple and Flynn has his crooked nose.
1 Jiminy Christmas, It’s A Machine!
In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, the Atlantians have these flying battle machines that look like fish. These one-man pods could shoot lasers and be quick, which was effective in battle. These early designs show pods that look more like hammerhead sharks than fish.
There are more intricately detailed and have red lighting rather than blue, but you do see Milo ride one of these into battle in the movie which is a cute Easter egg.