24 Fabulous Facts About Your Favorite Disney Renaissance Films

Updated on October 24, 2019
Rachel M Johnson profile image

Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for over two years.

The Disney Renaissance is the decade from 1989 to 1999 in which there was a resurgence of Disney animated films that brought both critical and financial success. The era is highly coveted and introduced many beloved Disney characters and movies. Let's take a look at 24 fabulous facts about your favorite Disney Renaissance films.


1. In The Little Mermaid (1989), the dress Ariel wears at dinner with Eric is actually a combination of different dresses worn by the princesses before her. The puffy sleeves with the diamond designs are similar to Snow White's sleeves, the light pink color comes from Cinderella's home-made dress, the full skirt and draping are reminiscent of Cinderella's ball gown and finally the off-the-shoulder neckline and pointed sleeves were inspired by Aurora's royal ball gown.

2. The Rescuer's Down Under (1990) was Disney's first animated sequel. Fantasia 2000 (1999), The Jungle Book 2 (2003) and Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) would all follow, as the rest of Disney's sequels were released straight to video.

3. Songs take up twenty-five minutes of Beauty and the Beast (1991) and only five minutes were without any musical score.

4. During the course of recording the voices for 1992's Aladdin, Robin Williams improvised so much as the Genie that they had almost sixteen hours worth of material.

5. Frank Welker (known for voicing Fred Jones and Scooby-Doo) provided all of the lion's roars in The Lion King (1994). Not a single recording of an actual lion roaring was used because the producers wanted specific sounding roars for each lion.

6. Pocahontas is one of only two other Disney princesses to be born in America, the other being Tiana from The Princess and the Frog (2009).

Eric and Ariel in The Little Mermaid.
Eric and Ariel in The Little Mermaid. | Source
The Rescuers Down Under.
The Rescuers Down Under. | Source

7. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) nearly became the first Disney film to receive a PG rating from the MPAA in the U.S since The Black Cauldron (1985). It's dark and sexual themes were the reason behind its almost rating.

8. The character of Hades in Hercules (1997) was scripted as a slow, menacing presence until James Woods came in and impressed the crew with his rapid-fire style. Even after the script was rewritten, Woods continued to ad-lib many of his lines.

9. Jackie Chan voices Shang in the Chinese release of Mulan (1998). He is actually a very successful singer in Asia and also made a music video for the song "I'll Make a Man out of You."

10. In order to see how Tarzan's body would move while sliding down a log, animators based his movement on that of pro skateboarder Tony Hawk while on his skateboard.

11. Jim Carrey auditioned for the role of Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid (1989).

12. The Rescuers Down Under (1990) was the first 100% digital feature film ever made. The animation and backgrounds were done traditionally but all of the coloring, many effects and final film printing was done digitally.

James Woods as Hades in Hercules.
James Woods as Hades in Hercules. | Source
Jackie Chan as Li Shang.
Jackie Chan as Li Shang. | Source

13. Belle's blue and white dress and hairstyle in Beauty and the Beast (1991) were inspired by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939).

14. While recording his lines for Aladdin (1992), Robin Williams frequently received calls from close friend Steven Spielberg, who at the time was working on the Holocaust film Schindler's List (1993). He would put Williams on speaker phone so that he could tell jokes to the cast and crew to cheer them up.

15. Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella were originally cast as the hyenas Banzai and Shenzi (played by Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin) in The Lion King (1994). The crew loved their performance so much that they though the pair would do much better as Timon and Pumbaa.

16. The Disney executives had all of the secondary animal characters in Pocahontas (1995), such as Meeko and Flit, lose all of their dialogue in order to make the film a bit more serious.

17. Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) is considered one of the evilest and darkest Disney villains of all time, even more so than his original counterpart in the novel. Walt Disney Studios purposefully made him as evil as possible in an attempt to avert the "Evil is Cool" trope that was common in many Disney villains.

18. Susan Egan, who provided the voice of Meg in Hercules (1997), starred as Belle in the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast (1991).

Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin.
Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin. | Source
Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. | Source

19. Mulan is the second Disney Princess to have both parents alive and present during the entire film, the first being Aurora in Sleeping Beauty (1959), third being Rapunzel in Tangled (2010) and finally Merida being fourth in Brave (2012).

20. Minnie Driver largely ad-libbed the breathless speech Jane tells her father and Clayton about meeting Tarzan for the first time in the film.

21. When Paige O'Hara was auditioning for the role of Belle in Beauty and the Beast (1991), a bit of her hair flew in her face and she tucked it back. The animators liked it so much they put it in the film.

22. In early visual development, Aladdin resembled Michael J. Fox. As the film developed, producer Jeffrey Katzenberg did not think Aladdin had enough appeal to women, so he asked that he be beefed up a bit more to resemble Tom Cruise instead.

23. In The Lion King (1994), during the song "Be Prepared," the hyenas' marching past Scar on the elevated rock was inspired by footage of Nazis marching past Adolf Hitler on a podium.

24. Pocahontas is one of few cartoon characters who were granted a proper photo spread in Harper's Bazaar. For the June 1995 edition, Marc Jacobs, Gianni Versace, Anna Sui and Issac Mizrahi all designed special outfits for her, which were drawn by Disney animators for the magazine.

Paige O'Hara as Belle in Beauty and the Beast.
Paige O'Hara as Belle in Beauty and the Beast. | Source
Aladdin's Inspirations: Tom Cruise & Michael J. Fox.
Aladdin's Inspirations: Tom Cruise & Michael J. Fox. | Source
Harper's Bazaar Pocahontas spread.
Harper's Bazaar Pocahontas spread. | Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Rachel M Johnson


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      • profile image

        Jacqueline G Rozell 

        5 months ago

        Loved the song from Pocahontas so much I used to sing it while riding through the woods. My horse became so accustomed and so attached to it that on trail rides if a cloudburst came up with a lot of thunder, I would lean forward and sing to him. With one ear cocked back at me and the other forward on the lookout for the "bad spirits" in all that noise, he would calm down and carry on.


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