Picking up where we left off yesterday ... Of course, it's not just outsiders who get their jollies by riffing on Mickey. Sometimes it's the Disney Studio employees themselves who like to get in an occassional shot at the Mouse and/or like to slip in a quick tribute to their favorite Disney character or film.
And -- just for the record -- today's article deliberately steers clear of mentioning this trio of recent Walt Disney Pictures releases ...
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... For "The Country Bears," "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" and "The Haunted Mansion" don't exactly make fun of and/or pay tribute to the Disney theme park attractions that these films were based on. But -- rather -- these movies actually use these classic rides as the jumping-off point for brand-new cinematic experiences.
And today, we're not talking about "brand-new cinematic experiences." We're strictly here for the jokes, folks. Particularly those gags that are from the blink-and-you'll-miss-'em school.
Now when it comes to quick character cameos being folded into new Disney releases, most film historians tend to give credit the crew that was doing visual effects on "Tron." For they're the ones who were able to "slip a Mickey" into this July 1982 Walt Disney Productions release.
The guys working on "The Black Cauldron" tried to do something similiar with that 1984 film. Does that itty-bitty pixie between Taran & Princess Eilonwy look familiar? She should. That's supposed to be Tinkerbell from "Peter Pan."
Sometimes these Disney character cameos were less than subtle. Witness Dumbo's appearance as a bubble-blowing toy in 1986's "The Great Mouse Detective."
While still other appearances by the Disney characters are damned near impossible to see. Take -- for example -- Mickey, Donald & Goofy's cameo in 1989's "The Little Mermaid." These three are actually sitting in the audience for what's-supposed-to-be Ariel's musical debut.
"Where exactly?," you ask. Look closely at the image capture below. Paying particular attention to the area between Triton's flowing white hair and the seashell that the King rode in on. If you look carefully in this spot, you'll eventually be able to see Goofy's long pale muzzle, Donald's orange bill as well as Mickey's round ears.
But as time went by (And the studio's film-makers -- particularly Ron Clements & John Musker -- got more & more brazen), these character-based gags got more & more overt. Witness Pinocchio's cameo in 1992's "Aladdin."
But -- at the same time -- the artists at Disney Feature Animation still tried to slide some fairly subtle in-jokes by the audience. Take -- for example -- the image capture below. Which shows a pile of the Sultan's toys.
Did you spy one of the title characters from Disney's 1991 Academy Award winner, "Beauty & the Beast"? Better yet, how about that dog that's wearing a bandana while holding a Frisbee?
The Beast's appearance in this pile of toys is self-explanatory. He's just anothe Disney character cameo. The dog ... is a different matter. His inclusion in "Aladdin" is supposedly a tribute to an artist's much-beloved pet that passed while this particular animated feature was in production.
Getting back to the gags now ... With "Aladdin," the handcuffs really came off. It was now considered okay to make fun of the safety spiels at the Disney theme parks ("Keep your hands & arms inside the carpet") ...
... Not to mention spoofing the advertising slogans that the Walt Disney Company then used to promote its theme parks ("Aladdin. You've just won the heart of the princess. What are you going to do now?")
Even the souvenirs that were sold at the Disney theme parks were now considered fair game for lampooning. Check out the Goofy Hat that the Genie is wearing in "Aladdin" 's group hug scene.
The theme park-related gags continued with 1994's "The Lion King," with Scar asking Zazu to sing something with " ... a little bounce it." When the caged bird responds by warbling "It's a Small World," the self-appointed ruler immediately interrupted, saying: "No! Anything but that!"
Kevin Lima also tried to cram a variety of Disney-related gags into his directorial debut, 1995's "A Goofy Movie." Some of these were subtle (Witness the trademark Disney "D" on Goofy's car keys) while others were not (I.E. Mickey & Donald's quick appearance in the film's "On the Open Road" musical number).
But one of the main reasons that so many Disneyana fans love "A Goofy Movie" is the film's "Lester's Possum Park" sequence. Which not-so-lovingly pays tribute to that Disney theme park staple, "The Country Bear Jamboree."
Over time, it eventually became something of a game at WDFA to see how many "tributes" to earlier animated films you could slip into the project that you then had in production. Take -- for example -- the two image capture below from 1996's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Can you spot the nods to "Beauty & the Beast," "Aladdin" and "The Lion King?"
The tribute to "Beauty & the Beast" is easy enough to spot. That's Belle in the lower right-hand corner, walking out of the picture as she reads a book. As for "Aladdin" ... Check out the salesman dressed in green directly above Belle. Do you see what he's got draped over his arm? That's supposed to be the magic carpet from "Aladdin."
As for "The Lion King" ... Well, you're going to have to take my word on this one. But those two men who are about to walk out of the shot in the lower left-hand corner? Between them, they're carrying a pole. And tied to that pole is Pumbaa from "The Lion King."
Getting back to John Musker & Ron Clements now ... When Ron 'n' John got their next shot at directing an animated feature for Disney, these guys decided to really up the ante. Which is why -- with 1997's "Hercules" -- they gleefully went after all aspects of the Disney empire. Lampooning everything from the Disney Stores ...
... to demonstrating how Scar (I.E. The villain from "The Lion King") came to a particularly bad end. Winding up as a cape that Hercules casually tosses on the floor.
This film's dialogue bristled with one-liners that made fun of the Mouse. Take -- for example -- Meg's description of the bunny & the chipmunk that you see below: "Oh, look. A couple of rodents in search of a theme park."
The image capture below ... Well, this is from one of the more interesting moments in "Hercules." A spot in the film where Musker & Clements actually had to remove an in-joke from their movie because it worked a little too well.
You see, in the original version of "Zero to Hero," at this spot in the song, Hercules & Pegasus are soaring through a star-filled sky. And among the constellations that they encountered in this corner of the sky was one shaped like Sebastian the Crab & another shaped like Ariel from "The Little Mermaid."
When this brief scene was shown to test audiences, they roared with delight. The only problem was ... This in-joke also pulled movie-goers out of the film that they were watching. These people were so busy saying: "Did you see that? That was Ariel & Sebastian from 'The Little Mermaid' " ... That they actually missed out on the end of "Zero to Hero."
Obviously, as good as this Disney-related gag may have been, it really didn't work for Musker & Clements to suddenly have people not paying attention to their movie. Which is why Ariel & Sebastian's cameo in "Hercules" was eventually cut out of that movie. Which is why it's now Marilyn Monroe -- wearing the skirt that she wore in 1955's "The Seven Year Itch" -- that appears in the night sky in this Disney animated feature.
So, okay. It's sad that that particular in-joke got cut out of "Hercules." But given all the great Disney-related gags that remain in this film (Take -- for example -- the Muses making like the singing busts that you see in the graveyard sequence from that Disney theme park favorite, the Haunted Mansion), there's still a lot to like about this WDFA production.
And the Disney character-based cameos kept on coming with 1999's "Tarzan." With Mrs. Potts & Chip from "Beauty & the Beast" turning up among Jane & Professor Porter's belongings in that film's "Trashing the Camp" sequence. Not mention the Beanie Baby version of Little Brother (I.E. Mulan's dog in Disney's 1998 release, "Mulan") that comes tumbling out of the professor's pocket when he's up-ended by the apes.
Disney theme park-related gags remain a favorite with the company's animators. Witness the roller coaster that Yzma & Kronk have to use every time they make their way to the Secret Lab in 2000's "The Emperor's New Groove." If you listen carefully, you can hear the standard Disney safety spiel (I.E. "Please keep your hands & arms inside the vehicle at all times") play right before this roller coaster launches.
Mind you, it's not just the folks at WDFA who find the Disney theme parks to be pretty darn amusing. The talented artists & technicians at Dreamworks Animation also find all of those rides, shows and attractions to be ripe targets for satire as well.
Don't believe me? Then check out this sequence that was storyboarded for the original "Shrek." Which was eventually dropped from that 2001 Dreamworks Animation release because ... Well, to be honest, this particular sequence may have had too much fun at the expense of the Disney theme parks.
For reasons that are too difficult to explain now ... Shrek, Donkey & Fiona find themselves deep underground inside the mine of the Seven Dwarfs. And the only possible way to escape the mine climb aboard one of the Dwarfs' mine car ...
Copyright Dreamworks Animation
... Which then sends this trio careening down an incredibly steep hill before they go crashing through a door ...
Which sends Shrek, Donkey & Fiona right through the heart of the Seven Dwarfs' mine. Which the ogre accidentally destroys because he's just too tall to be speeding through such a confined space. After knocking numerous dwarfs into the air ...
... the minecar whizzes by a talking skull-and-crossbones that looks just like the one that you see in Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride. It then zooms by an Abominable Snowman that looks just like the one that you spy while riding through Disneyland's "Matterhorn."
Copyright Dreamworks Animation
Seconds later, this trio has a rather close encounter with the "Five Bear Rugs" from "The Country Bear Jamboree."
As you can see, Donkey, Shrek & Fiona have very different reactions to their experience in the Seven Dwarfs' mine.
Anyway ... That's an overview of some of the Disney-related in-jokes that have appeared in WDFA & Dreamworks Animation releases over the past 25 years. This list is far from definitive (I'm sure that there are a couple of gags that got by me). But -- even so -- I hope that you enjoyed reading the past three days' worth of animation-related stories.
By the way, before I close here ... I'd like to pay tribute to Nancy Stadler. Who spent the past three days cropping, formating and color-correcting the over-one-hundred images that I used to illustrate this multi-part article. Without Ms. Stadler's talent, patience and expertise, "Making Fun of the Mouse" wouldn't have been nearly as fun to look at. So be sure to toss a few compliments Nancy's way.
Beyond that ... I know that I managed to miss a few Disney in-jokes along the way. So how's about you help out by pointing out the gags that I missed. So that -- sometime further on down the line -- I can do a follow-up story that finally makes this "Making Fun of the Mouse" series definitive.