Ah, Disney. We all know it, we grew up with it, we all love it, and we all watch in horror as it monopolizes entertainment by gradually consuming every studio and franchise we’ve ever loved. Disney is everywhere and even scarier- it’s all connected. Like one big, tangled web that has slowly covered every bit of our lives. At this point, it’s best if we all stop struggling and let the spider… wow, this intro got out of hand. Easter eggs are fun! It’s always a blast to see creators give nods to their other projects and peers, and Disney is especially full of these little winks. Here are 10 of the best easter eggs hidden in Disney films.
10 Hawaii Loves “Mulan”
In “Lilo & Stitch,” two easter eggs make it clear that Mulan is a movie in this universe, and Hawaii loves it. In one scene, Lilo and Stitch enter the room of Lilo’s sister Nani. On Nani’s wall is a poster of “Mulan.” Not a fake, alternate-universe poster, but the actual Earth-you’re-on-right-now theatrical release poster. So even in this world of Disney, Disney exists. And at least Nani is a fan.
But Nani is not alone. When Lilo and Nani are out driving, we get to see some local businesses. Most of them are nondescript, but one stands out: Mulan Wok. The sign is even written in a font used in the movie. In this universe, “Mulan” is even popular enough to inspire cash-in, knock-off restaurants. How do we know it’s a ripoff? An officially licensed Disney product would have one thousand percent more branding. A huge neon Mushu would spit flames into the air, metaphorically screaming,” Disney wins at everything!”
9 Beast’s Talking Tea Set is Trashed
In “Tarzan,” there is a scene where the gorilla Terk and friends trash the explorers’ camp. Over the smooth scat and beatboxing of both Phil Collins and N*SYNC (no, really), the animals play with and/or utterly destroy a plethora of tools and equipment- globes, telescopes, dishes, chemist’s tools, and even the dear old Union Jack. The whole scene is like the cast of Stomp went to a rage room. But in the middle of that jazzy, swinging ditty, one set of items stands out.
Terk drums on a tea set that is clearly the fine, frilly set owned by Beast of “Beauty & the Beast” fame, complete with Mrs. Potts and Chip, identifiable by his cup’s rim, which has a… chip. The scary thing is that particular tea set were all members of Beast’s staff who were cursed to live as talking drink-ware. At the end of Beast’s story, the whole staff turned back into humans when Beast became a handsome bro again. Considering “Tarzan” takes place after “Beauty & the Beast,” we can only assume the staff has been re-cursed. When will handsome princes stop insulting secret enchantresses? It’s a tale as old as time.
8 Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder in “Frozen”
Some Easter eggs are simple and cute. Some imply a deep interconnectedness and launch connected universes. This easter egg is both. When Arendelle opens its doors for the first time in forever to celebrate Elsa’s coronation, “Tangled” stars Rapunzel and Flynn Rider can be spotted in the crowd of visiting dignitaries. It’s quick and cute and simple, and there’s nothing else to it.
Except there is a ton more to it. The bullet points are: Anna and Elsa’s parents’ ship sank on the way to Flynn and Rapunzel’s wedding. Ariel loots their ship for thingamabobs and sings about feet. The couple lands in Africa and gives birth to Tarzan. That makes him a Disney prince. It’s all connected. Or it’s all crazy. I want to be part of a world where things can be both.
7 Genie is a Street Peddler
“Aladdin” opens with a really weird scene if you think about it. Yeah, “Arabian Nights” is playing, and that song rocks, but also the scene is just following some nameless street vendor as he talks directly to the camera and tries to sell it/us a hookah. Go watch it; it’s nuts. But this scene hides a secret that, before some last-minute editing, was pretty crucial.
See, the peddler only has four fingers per hand like Genie, wears blue with a red belt à la Genie, and is voiced by Robin Williams like Genie. I bet you can finish this on your own. In the original script, the peddler was Genie in disguise, and he uses the peddler’s guise to tell us the story of Aladdin. In a scene which was cut before the final version, the peddler reappears at the end of the movie, reveals himself to be Genie, and- we can only assume- improvs for twenty minutes about Madonna and Jack Nicholson.
6 Mickey is a Powerline Fan
“A Goofy Movie” is great, and you know it. I didn’t cry when Bambi’s mom died, but I sure as heck did when Max stormed out of Lester’s Possum Park and said to Goofy, “call me when the trip is over.” It’s an excellent story and one that notably only features Disney’s dog-people. Not the dog-style dogs from “Lady & the Tramp,” “101 Dalmatians,” “Oliver & Company,” etc., only the humanoid dog-monsters from which Goofy was spawned.
That’s why it’s notable when Max and Goofy get to the Powerline concert, and in the crowd, you can spot a very obvious mouse. His name is Mickey Mouse. Even in the post-human dog-monster hellscape in which “A Goofy Movie” is set, Mickey has enough name recognition to get into a sold-out concert. We have to assume the mice have their own territory, and thanks to “Duck Tales,” we know the ducks do, too. But Mickey is so famous he can cross the borders established by the Dog-Duck-Mouse Accords of 3027 and go where he pleases.
5 “A Bug’s Life” is Both Real and a Story?
“Toy Story” is especially egg-laden, but a couple “A Bug’s Life” mentions stand out because of the existential nightmare they imply. In “Toy Story 2,” Mrs. Potato head reads a children’s book to some baby toys. That book is “A Bug’s Life”; it shows a frame and actual dialogue from the movie. So in the “Toy Story” universe, “A Bug’s Life” is a story. Presumably a movie like the one in our world, which was made into a children’s book.
Except in that same movie, Heimlich and Flik hang out on a branch, talking, existing as real people in the real “Toy Story” world. Buzz passes by them, proving their real, tangible existence. Weirder, on the branch, they discuss filming “A Bug’s Life 2,” meaning they are certainly actors who filmed “A Bug’s Life.” So in the “Toy Story” universe, not only are toys secretly alive, but bugs have their own movie industry—that humans and toys also enjoy watching? Or do regular human film crews use tiny cameras to film bug actors? Do people not squash bugs anymore because now they know that all bugs are sentient, feeling beings? Or worse, do humans still kill bugs even though they know the bugs have the capacity to talk and make hit films? Do toys know about bug sentience? Do bugs know about toy sentience? Wait. Was that whole incident with the grasshoppers not real?!
4 Scar is a Nice, Warm Jacket
Man, Scar had it tough. Okay, he killed Mufasa and ate the Pride Lands dry, but… wait, no, that’s pretty bad. Still, everything before and after that is pretty rough. He grew up unloved, second best, shunned, and had his eyeball cut. Then after that whole murder business, he was beaten, dethroned, burned, and eaten alive to hyenas. And it doesn’t stop there.
After Scar’s death, some industrious human managed to find him, skin him, turn him into a cloak, transport him up to Greece, and gift him to the country’s greatest hero. That’s right, Hercules ends up in possession of Scar’s skin. He wears it while posing for a triumphant and heroic portrait, in what has to be a major insult to Scar’s ghost. Incorporeal and floating above that scene, Scar had to have asked the world, ‘How much more must I pay?!’
3 Hans: The Immortal Jerk
If you’ve seen “Frozen,” you know that Hans is a jerk. Everything about him is jerky, and even I—the guy who just empathized with Mufasa’s murderer—can’t find a single thing to like about this human popped collar. You won’t be happy, then, to find out that he survives the Frozen franchise. In fact, he’s immortal and unstoppable. At the end of “Frozen,” Hans’s dastardly plans are foiled and he’s is taken away to prison. In “Frozen Fever,” we see him living out his punishment, spending his days shoveling horse manure. But that’s not the true end for this human “Entourage” episode.
In “Big Hero 6,” a wanted photo for Hans can be seen in the San Fransokyo police department. In addition, Baymax at one point flies past a statue of Hans, which the robot’s database identifies as “Prince Hans.” This human cellphone holster is still alive, still a prince, and still eluding legal justice. Sorry, Anna. Hopefully, he finally dies in the Human-Dog-Duck-Mouse War of 3026.
2 Mickey & Co. are Gods
I know, I already mentioned that Mickey Mouse knows no borders. But those are just political boundaries. He also exists beyond the constraints of time, space, and death. Yeah, you heard me. Through phenomenal cosmic powers, which we can assume he learned while apprenticed to a sorcerer, Mickey manages to take himself, Donald, and Goofy to King Triton’s kingdom, Atlantica. A neat trick, considering “The Little Mermaid” takes place a century or two before Mickey was born, and Atlantica is entirely underwater. The mouse is so powerful that time, space, and air are meaningless concepts to him. This easter egg proves that he is beyond us all now. His visits to our movies take only a fraction of his consciousness, while the bulk of his brain creates and maintains universes. And clearly, his favorite universe is…
1 Cars are the Biggest Pixar Fans
…The “Cars” universe. It is the single scariest genocidal dystopian nightmare ever put on film. Clearly, humans used to exist in the “Cars” universe, but all mysteriously vanished. It’s not hard to guess how, seeing as their killers still use human-built roads and buildings to go about their sickening robot-Frankenstein lives. What’s worse is that, even though they wiped the humans out, the Cars have a deep love for human culture, especially Disney. There’s no single easter egg to list here because the Cars have covered every square inch of themselves and their surroundings with Disney references.
There are car versions of Mike and Sulley, tires named after Buzz Lightyear, car versions of Merida from Brave and her family, but what is truly disgraceful to human civilization’s memory is that the Cars create twisted car parodies of human movies, just to assert their dominance. There’s “A Bug’s Life” starring a VW Bug, the Incredimobiles, and worst of all because it took no thought whatsoever, Toy Car Story. I’m offended as both an extinct human and as a writer.