Are all Disney movies connected?
Walt Disney’s films are littered with so many references and connections I was surprised I was the first to try mapping them in one unified Disney world.
I’ve stuck to major Disney movies and sequels, but I do appreciate the Disney Channel/XD/Junior cross-overs that many people have pointed out in the comments.
Also, because Jon Negroni did such a fantastic job with The Pixar Theory I’ve resist the urge to include connections between the Disney and Pixar worlds.
To see how Frozen fits in to the unified Disneyverse, read: The Frozen Theory.
All that aside, please enjoy my Disney theory…
Disney movies clearly don’t take place in our world.
Theirs is a world where animals communicate verbally with one another (including with other species and a handful of gifted humans). It’s a place where man, beast and mythological creature regularly express their hopes and desires through song (if only to themselves), and where magic exists, and can benefit those who respect it, and punish those that don’t. Also, there are aliens.
But what if I were to tell you that these were all characteristics of one coherent world? That every Disney film could be linked back to a single coherent timeline? That would be stupid, right? Well, obviously. So I’ve settled on 30.
1. The Lion King
The Lion King represents the earliest point in my Disney timeline. The untouched Savannah and lack of evidence of any human existence give the film’s ‘Circle of Life’ message a timeless feel. (The Lion King plays quite a simple role in the Disney Theory – with two notable exceptions. If you want to see where it gets weird, you should go read The Lion King Theory)
However, through a certain cameo in another Disney movie, we are given a clear time period, as well as definitive proof that Pride Rock isn’t entirely safe from human hand…
In Hercules, we see the hero of Ancient Greece throw a distinctive lion skin at Phil’s feet. Since it’s fairly unlikely that Greek hunters happened across Pride Rock within days of Simba’s final showdown, we can assume Scar was merely wounded by falling in to a pit of cackling hyenas, and later proved easy prey for some Grecian adventurer. (Greece is, of course, close enough to Africa that a hero might brave Poseidon’s wrath. But more from him later.)
Following The Lion King, we can travel a little further afield…
3. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
It’s not Pumbaa himself, but since Notre Dame started construction about 1500 years after the time of Ancient Greece we can assume the model for this gargoyle was a descendent of the big guy. It’s also one of two appearances from a warthog in Quasimodo’s Paris. The second of which is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, and connects us to two other Disney classics…
(skip to 2:45)
4. Beauty and the Beast
Here we have three Disney cameos in one: a screenshot-defying appearance of a Pumbaa-looking boar, carried on a spit; a trader shaking out Aladdin’s friend Carpet; and a clearly-defined Belle, ‘nose stuck in a book’, walking through Paris.
Following the Disneyverse web of connections is inherently disjointed and prone to tangents, but if we allow ourselves to be momentarily distracted from the many links between Aladdin and Disney’s two French-set movies, we can follow the Beauty and the Beast lead to explore:
‘The Bambi’s Mother Paradox’
Here we have Bambi’s mother appearing in Beauty and the Beast, looking exactly as she does in her movie (as well childrens’ nightmares the world over). But while the likeness is uncanny, Bambi can’t be set in 18th Century France…
6. The Jungle Book
Nor can it take place in 19th Century India, despite Bambi’s mother appearing as prey for a hungry Sheer Kahn. The reason for this is simple…
7. The Rescuers
Because here she is in The Rescuers, drinking 20th Century Bayou water with her soon-to-be-orphaned son (whose age corroborates that this is the same time-period as the early part of Bambi). So can Bambi’s mother travel through time? The answer comes later.
First, back to Aladdin and his French connection…
Finding a Beast figure hidden among the Sultan’s tower of exotic creatures proves how far the myth of the cursed prince has travelled outside of Europe. For those keeping track, Carpet’s appearance in The Hunchback of Notre Dame means this is set before he finds himself in The Cave of Wonders, and Belle’s appearance must be after she finally gets to leave Beauty and the Beast’s ‘provincial town’ – making Beauty and the Beast the earliest of the three and Aladdin the latest.
Also, the ‘I’m free’ guy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame may be a fan favourite, but the similarities between him and Jafar’s beggar disguise make him suspicious. While the guy must have been locked up for something, Frollo’s Paris is so unjust it’s easy to believe he could have been unfairly imprisoned, and his consistent failure at escape is what hardens him in to the amoral Jafar (meaning ‘Jafar’ is the disguise, and this is his true appearance).
Aladdin’s magical characters therefore give us a useful gateway to what we will call…
‘The Flexible Time Theory’
Genie displays many of anachronisms (and whatever the dimensional version is – see his references to our world) typical of magical characters in the Disneyverse. His appearance in Aladdin and the King of Thieves does not mean Pocahontas is set in the same time period; instead it’s an insight in to how users of magic in the Disneyverse can access different times and places.
Genie’s schizophrenic persona may not be from centuries trapped in a lamp (though that can’t help), but could actually be a symptom of the madness that Disney’s magical characters suffer thanks to their ability to perceive events outside of a linear timeline.
This understanding of magic is especially relevant when we look at Aladdin’s next connection:
10. The Princess and the Frog
Four centuries later, we still see Carpet and the lamp turning up wherever the magic is. The fact that voodoo-priestess, Mama Odie has it could mean many thing: it could be Genie’s old lamp, or another genie’s lamp, or, Odie is yet to reach through the timeline and place it in the Cave of Memories for Aladdin to find. Many magic users in the Disneyverse seem to look through time, so with these artefacts constantly reappearing throughout time in impossibly good condition, perhaps it’s possible to reach through it as well.
To find more about how the Disney timeline isn’t always as direct as you think, follow the link to: