These Rarely Seen Disney Photographs Have Left People With Some Serious Questions

For well over 90 years now, Walt Disney Studios has been at the forefront of the entertainment industry. Its iconic films have delighted audiences across the globe, bringing joy to children and adults alike. But here are some photos that are bound to leave even the biggest Disney fans with some questions.

40. Baby Walt

Originally from Chicago, Walt Disney was the fourth child born to parents Elias and Flora on December 5, 1901. He had three older brothers named Roy, Raymond and Herbert, as well as a younger sister called Ruth. The family relocated to Marceline, Missouri, when Disney was just four. It was here that he first discovered his love of drawing.

39. Disney the animal lover

Given the number of cuddly critters Disney Studios has brought to our screens over the years, it may come as no surprise to learn that Disney himself was quite the animal lover. As this picture shows, the cartoonist was particularly fond of dogs. Throughout his life, in fact, he took care of a variety of breeds, including poodles and chow chows.

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38. Disney and his composers

Some of the most memorable songs in movie history have originated from Disney films. And Disney himself knew the power of a good tune. He reportedly said, “Music has always had a prominent part in all our products, from the early cartoon days.” Disney is seen here with Leigh Harline and Ned Washington, the composers of Pinocchio’s iconic song, “When You Wish Upon A Star.”

37. Mickey Mouse fan mail

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Mickey Mouse has been a hit with audiences ever since 1928, when he made his film debut in Steamboat Willie. In this photo, Mickey is seen upon a heap of mail from his adoring supporters. His popularity has endured ever since, and in the late ’70s he was recognized as the first animated character to be awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

36. Walt Disney Studios

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35. Cliff Edwards records for Dumbo

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Here, Cliff Edwards enjoys a puff on his cigar as he voices Timothy Mouse for the 1941 film Dumbo. In an unusual move, the title character has no dialogue whatsoever, making him Disney’s quietest lead character. In a close second is Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora, who has just 18 lines within her own movie.

34. Disney and Mickey go sledding

Long before Disney on Ice delighted audiences around the globe, Mr. and Mrs. Disney took Mickey for a spin on a sled. This photograph was taken at the Lake Arrowhead Resort in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. Disney’s wife Lillian can be seen raising a hand, presumably waving to kids who were attending a snow party.

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33. Disney’s French roots

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Disney – seen here in Paris – actually had roots in France. His family name is an anglicization of “d’Isigny.” This translates as “from Isigny,” in reference to a commune located in the Normandy region. Disney’s ancestors subsequently migrated to Ireland from France in roughly the 11th century, before the cartoonist’s relatives moved to North America

32. Disney and Eddy Nelson

In this photograph, Disney inspects some sheet music alongside the American singer Nelson Eddy. Eddy was a talented baritone who voiced a segment called “The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met” in Disney’s feature compilation Make Mine Music in 1946. He provided all the voices for the piece, from bass all the way up to soprano.

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31. Mickey’s original name

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Nowadays, the name Mickey Mouse is known all over the world, but he originally had a very different moniker. The iconic character was first called “Mortimer Mouse,” but Disney’s wife convinced her husband that Mickey sounded better. Yet there are still two separate characters named Mortimer in the Mickey Mouse world. One is Minnie’s uncle, and the other is Mickey’s rival.

30. Disney working on Fantasia

Disney’s 1940 film Fantasia was quite experimental for the time. It featured eight animated segments that were each set to different pieces of classical music. Deems Taylor – seen here in the center – was the movie’s Master of Ceremonies. Meanwhile, Leopold Stokowski – situated to the right – conducted seven of the eight arrangements.

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29. Walt with an early Mickey and Minnie

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Like Mickey, Minnie was first devised by Disney and fellow cartoonist Ub Iwerks in 1928. The mousey pair made their screen debut together in Steamboat Willie. Disney had been honing his drawing skills ever since he was a child, and Mickey was his first truly successful character. However, it’s been rumored that the animator was, in fact, scared of mice.

28. Disneyland plans

In this picture, Disney can be seen pointing to sketches for Disneyland, which opened in Anaheim, California, in 1955. The animator oversaw the building of the theme park and thus was eager to remain there. Consequently, he had an apartment constructed for himself on Main Street. At this dwelling, Disney would switch on a lamp to signal to others that he was at home. Today, that light continues to shine in tribute to the late producer.

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27. Recording for Mickey Mouse

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Here, we see musicians and a voice artist recording the soundtrack for a Mickey Mouse feature in 1932. Originally, Disney himself voiced his famous creation, taking considerable pride in doing so. However, as his business expanded, he became too occupied to continue. As a result, actor Jimmy MacDonald subsequently took over as Mickey.

26. Disney directs a penguin

They say that you should never work with children and animals. Yet it seems that Disney threw caution to the wind when creating one of his Silly Symphony skits called Peculiar Penguins. In this still, Disney can be seen attempting to cajole the bird into action with a tasty snack.

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25. Disney testifies

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Once a Democrat, Disney became increasingly conservative as he aged, eventually becoming a Republican. He held particularly anti-Communist sentiments, and in 1947 he testified at the House Un-American Activities Committee. Here, he reportedly claimed that, at one point, communists had “[taken] over my studio.” He went on to assert that it had since become fully American.

24. Disney drives his miniature train

It seems that Disney was quite the miniature railway enthusiast. In fact, he built an intricate model in his backyard, calling it the Carolwood Pacific Railroad. The display boasted a track measuring up at around 2,615, and it even featured bridges and loops. Furthermore, there was a tunnel that Disney added in order to appease his wife, who opposed the idea of the train cutting through her gardening efforts.

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23. Disney parade 1972

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This photo offers an insight into what Disney parades were like back in 1972. In it, we can see park cast members driving retro cars along Main Street, while iconic characters like Minnie Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger walk alongside. All in all, visitors can expect similar scenes today.

22. Kids enjoy Disneyland’s opening day

Disneyland in Anaheim, California, opened up to the public in July 1955. Ultimately, there were plenty of festivities to keep the crowds occupied that first day. However, it’s not known what these little kids did to deserve being locked up inside this “Wild Animal” cage. Whatever the case, they seem to be having a good day regardless.

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21. Ariel and Belle were based on a real model

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While Ariel and Belle’s hourglass figures may seem impossibly perfect, they were actually inspired by the model Sherri Stoner. The two characters also borrowed habits from Stoner, namely that Ariel bites her lip and Belle flicks her hair off her face. The model has also worked in animation, writing and producing Caspar the Friendly Ghost and Animaniacs.

20. Disney’s guilt

Following the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, Disney purchased his parents Flora and Elias a house in North Hollywood. Shortly after moving in, Disney’s mom reported an issue with her gas furnace. Some studio repairmen came to see to the fault – but it wasn’t dealt with properly. Sadly, Flora later died as a result of the fumes.

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19. Disneyland changes theme parks forever

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Prior to Disneyland opening its gates in 1955, theme parks had a pretty shady reputation. However, Disney sought to change all this when he envisioned an amusement facility that the whole family could appreciate. Around this same time, he was being sent mail from kids pining to meet Mickey Mouse or wanting to board his miniature railway. So, he decided to combine all these concepts into one magical place.

18. Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck

While Disney provided the original voice for Mickey Mouse, Clarence Nash starred as Donald Duck. However, that wasn’t the actor’s only Disney role. That’s because he was also responsible for the dog barking in 101 Dalmations, among other roles. As a result, Nash became a Disney Legend in 1993, around eight years after his death.

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17. Pirates of the Caribbean

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The Pirates of the Caribbean ride first opened in Disneyland in 1967 – the last attraction that Disney himself oversaw. Sadly, however, he died just three months before it opened. During the design process, it was noted that manufactured skeletons didn’t quite make the grade. And so, genuine skeletons from UCLA’s Medical Center were used instead.

16. Sleeping Beauty’s castle under construction

Modeled on Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle, Sleeping Beauty’s castle is one of the star attractions at Disneyland. But did you know that in order to make it look more imposing, designers utilized a clever optical illusion? Indeed, the painted bricks on the building get smaller towards the top – making it appear taller than it really is.

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15. Disney takes the reigns

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In this candid snap, Disney can be seen at the helm of a horse-drawn wagon, transporting adults and kids alike through Disneyland. Fun fact – all the equines used to drag streetcars at the park wear shoes with rubber soles. These help to look after the animal’s legs – and they also make a pleasing “clip-clop” noise as they walk.

14. Disney in Tokyo

Disney opened its first oversees theme park in Japan in 1983. Today, Tokyo Disneyland is popular with tourists, having welcomed 17.9 million people in 2018 alone. As a result, it’s among the three most-frequented theme parks on Earth. Only the Walt Disney World Resort Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Resort’s Disneyland Park receive more guests.

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13. Disney cameos

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For a bit of fun, Disney animators like to place older characters into the scenes of more modern movies. One particularly noticeable cameo occurs in the opening part of The Little Mermaid. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll notice Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy stood in King Triton’s audience.

12. The Magic Kingdom SkyWay

Over the years, SkyWay attractions have featured at Disneyland, Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland. The one seen in the photograph was located at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, and originally transported visitors between the Tomorrowland and Fantasyland attractions. The ride, however, shut down in 1999. Almost two decades later, it was replaced by a more modern version known as the Disney Skyliner.

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11. Disney at the Oscars

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When Disney won an Academy Award for his work on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 1938, he was handed one regular-sized statuette and seven mini Oscars. In total over his career, Disney earned 22 Academy Awards and 59 nominations. This tally, in fact, makes him the most successful person in the history of the awards.

10. Disney goes to Europe

In 1987 the Disney Company got permission from the French authorities to construct an amusement park near the capital city of Paris. Originally called Euro Disney, the attraction would eventually become known as Disneyland Paris. The site’s Disneyland Park opened in 1992, and today represents a popular destination for tourists.

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9. Fans treated to parade preview

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Prior to Disneyland Paris opening its gates, some lucky individuals were treated to a special preview of its opening parade. This photograph was taken on April 5, 1992 – a whole week before the resort officially opened. It seems that Disney was eager to get things just right for its European debut.

8. The inspiration behind Tinkerbell

It has been rumored that Tinkerbell’s curvy figure was inspired by a rather famous blonde. This, of course, relates to one Marilyn Monroe. However, the mischievous fairy’s design was, in actuality, provoked by the actress Margaret Kerry. In this photograph, she’s seen here holding a picture of her cartoon counterpart back in 2004.

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7. An explosive statistic

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It may surprise you to learn that Disney World is the second-largest buyer of explosives in the U.S. In fact, it’s only the military that buys more. However, we’re sure there’s nothing sinister about Disney’s intentions. After all, the ammunition is likely used in the park’s massive firework shows which take place each night.

6. The iconic Mickey ears

Mickey Mouse ears are, of course, one of Disneyland’s most famous souvenirs. And, as this picture shows, it seems that even Walt Disney himself owned a pair. Buyers can actually have their names stitched into the back of the headwear. Famous names, business organizations and sporting teams, however, are banned.

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5. Disney cast members backstage

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This photo – taken at Disneyland in 1962 – shows some of the park’s cast members hanging out backstage. Disney was disturbed by the idea of his characters having to trudge through random areas of the site to get to their rightful space. So, he devised a network of tunnels at Disney World in order to maintain the illusion.

4. Mickey Mouse in snow form

In 1933 Disney was a special guest at a children’s snow party at California’s Lake Arrowhead Resort. Furthermore, as part of the festivities, the cartoonist judged a Mickey Mouse snowman competition, choosing the most accurate likeness. He’s seen here awarding the winner, Mildred Lee Chanter, with a Mickey doll for her efforts.

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3. Strict rules for Disney characters

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For some, playing a Disney character at one of the company’s parks might seem like the best job in the world. Yet cast members must, of course, abide by a number of regulations. These include never falling out of character, never taking a seat and never, ever, offering directions with just one pointed finger, as it’s regarded as being impolite.

2. Disney relaxing in his office

Here is Disney in 1939, putting his feet up after a musical session. But while Disney seemed at home in his studios, his animators were reportedly petrified of being caught slacking by their boss. Consequently, they supposedly used the code phrase “man is in the forest” to signal that Disney was on the approach.

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1. Princesses’ petite proportions

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You reportedly have to fit a very specific mold in order to become a professional Disney princess at one of the company’s parks. Most leading ladies, apparently, must measure up somewhere between 5 foot and 4 inches and 5 foot and 7 inches. However, those playing Wendy, Tinkerbell and Alice must be even smaller, having to fall between 4 foot 11 inches to 5 foot 2 inches. And age is also allegedly taken into consideration, with 27 being too old to become a princess.

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