5 Shocking Origins Of Disney Classics


The magical stories of princesses, lions, enchanted forests, and happily ever afters span across time with Disney movies. Whether you’re a Baby Boomer, millennial, Gen Xer, or really young, you probably love Disney movies.

Most people know that Disney movies borrowed stories from fairytales and weaved in their own magical spin. You will be surprised where the origins of some of our favorite Disney stories originated.

1. Lion King

The story of a father-son relationship between Simba and Mufasa, the amazing music from songs such as “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” and “Hakuna Matata” captured hearts young and old. Amazingly, this Disney movie claims to be a completely original story. The production team states that it borrows themes from Hamlet and the stories of Jesus and Moses. People around the internet have pointed out similarities of the 1966 Japanese anime series, Jungle Taitei and the Mali Legend of Sundiata, but the Disney Team does not officially say that either of these stories attribute to the Lion King. We can thank Disney for this awesome catch phrase that means "There are no worries."

2. Aladdin

This series is my favorite Disney Princess and favorite Disney trilogy. Aladdin, and Aladdin and The King of Thieves all derive from the stories of One Thousand and One Nights, while Aladdin: The Return of Jafar is a continuation of the Aladdin Trilogy.  The original story of Aladdin draws similarities from the movie, but is actually set in China and Aladdin is Chinese.

Jasmine’s name is Badroulbadour and the city of Agraba is called Maghreb. The story of Aladdin and the King of Thieves in reality is about Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, but Disney draws characters from the story. Ali Baba’s older brother is named Cassim, which is the name of Aladdin’s long-lost father in the movie. We always will love Jasmine and Aladdin as a couple.

3. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is a Disney classic, that no matter what age are, you will always love. The wicked stepmother scared me when I was younger.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is originally a German tale called Schneewitchen and featured in the 1812 book Grimm’s Fairytales by the Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm.  There is another story, Snow White and Rose Red, as well. In the Grimm’s story, the evil stepmother tries to kill Snow White three times and the prince does not wake her up with true love’s kiss. She actually is awoken by the piece of apple dislodging from her throat as the prince and dwarves carry her coffin and trip on roots. I enjoy Snow White being woken up by true love’s kiss as opposed to an accidental trip.

4. The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid made every single girl want to be a mermaid, even inspired real life people to become mermaids. A Danish story titled “Den Lille Havfrue” translating into little sea lady, written by Hans Christian Anderson in 1836, vastly differs from the Disney version. The Little Mermaid actually has her tongue cut out by the evil sea witch and receives human legs, but every time she steps, she is in excruciating pain. The Little Mermaid also does not marry the prince. Instead, she dies tragically, not marrying the prince, her body transforming into sea foam. Not the ending Disney wanted to show to children, so they had Ariel live happily ever after and actually have a daughter.

5. Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty gave us one of the best evil queens ever, Maleficent. Sleeping Beauty derives from two stories, the French version La Belle au bois dormant, "The by Charles Perrault or "Little Briar Rose" (Dornröschen-German) by the Brothers Grimm. The Disney movie mimics “Little Briar Rose” quite well. Unlike the Disney movie where the town falls asleep for five minutes, they actually fall asleep for 100 years while Sleeping Beauty sleeps. The prince also has a step-mother who is a Ogress, hungry, and wants to eat her son, Briar Rose, and their children. At the end of the story, she ends up being eaten herself and everybody lives happily ever after. Disney probably didn’t like the idea of cannibalism so decided to go the dragon route and have Sleeping Beauty and the prince dancing in the ballroom.

Many other Disney movies and other famous fables can be traced from Aesop’s Fables, The Grimm’s Fairytales, folklore and writings of the author Hans Christian Anderson. I suggest you read the original stories, since they are much darker and more entertaining then the originals. I've read quite a few in Aesop's and Grimm's and they're quite amazing.