You might not remember if it’s been a minute since your last viewing, but Disney’s Aladdin has a bit of a framing device. The film begins with some golden landscapes and a man on a camel singing “Arabian Nights.” He eventually slides off his desert steed and breaks the fourth wall.
“Ah, salaam and good evening to you, worthy friend.”
It’s Robin Williams (doing a questionable accent), who also, of course, brought the Genie to life. Fans have long speculated that the merchant is actually the Genie. From their similar clothes, to similar facial hair, to their shared trait of four fingers, the clues all seemed to point to the shared identity.
Now, the theory has been confirmed. In an interview with E! News, co-director Ron Clements said: “That was the whole intention, originally. We even had that at the end of the movie, where he would reveal himself to be the Genie, and of course Robin did the voice of the peddler. Just through story changes and some editing, we lost the reveal at the end. So, that's an urban legend that actually is true.”
Clements, along with co-director John Musker addressed a few other theories, like that one about whether Frozen and The Little Mermaid exist in the same universe, so hop on over to original story to get a few of your burning questions answered.
In honor of the 20th anniversary of the June 26 publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the UK, we dove into some magical lore. J.K. Rowling recently shared a few more tidbits of history about everyone’s favorite boy wizard on Pottermore, this time about the history of the Potter family. Here are three things we learned.
1. WHERE THE POTTER FORTUNE CAME FROM
One of Harry’s ancestors was responsible for potions that might sound familiar to Harry Potter fans. According to Rowling, the Potters descend from a 12th-century wizard named Linfred of Stinchcombe, an eccentric healer who cured his Muggle neighbors’ bouts of pox while experimenting with more complex magical medicine in secret. “Historians credit Linfred as the originator of a number of remedies that evolved into potions still used to this day, including Skele-gro and Pepperup Potion,” Rowling writes. Without his ancestor’s skills, Harry’s arm would have never regrown its bones in Chamber of Secrets.
Later, another of Harry’s relatives used his potions skills to lucrative ends. Harry’s grandfather, Fleamont Potter, created Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion, quadrupling the family fortune.
2. HOW THE INVISIBILITY CLOAK ENDED UP IN THE FAMILY
Harry’s invisibility cloak is perhaps his most valuable inheritance, allowing him to take part in a lot of mischief throughout his time at Hogwarts. The cloak originally came from Ignotus Peverell, one of the three brothers who received the Deathly Hallows. Harry is distantly related to Peverell, whose granddaughter married Hardwin, the son of the potion-inventing Linfred. Iolanthe Peverell inherited the cloak from her grandfather (though only because of the absence of male heirs). She maintained the family tradition of keeping the cloak a secret and from then on, it was given to the eldest child of each generation.
3. WHAT HARRY’S GRANDPARENTS WERE LIKE
According to Rowling, Harry’s paternal grandfather was a good sport about his unusual name. “Fleamont was so called because it was the dying wish of Henry’s mother that he perpetuate her maiden name, which would otherwise die out,” she writes. “He bore the burden remarkably well; indeed, he always attributed his dexterity at dueling to the number of times he had to fight people at Hogwarts after they had made fun of his name.” After years of trying to have children, he and his wife, Euphemia, finally had James. They were struck down by dragon pox before Harry was born.
When adults write letters to companies, they often go ignored and unanswered. But when a kid picks up a crayon and throws in some adorable misspellings, the letter makes an impression. Check out these seven kids who went straight to the source when they saw a problem or had a question—and see how the companies handled it.
1. COLIN'S LETTER TO LUCASFILM
A 7-year-old Padawan named Colin was deeply disturbed that Jedi Knights aren’t allowed to get married. Instead of just accepting the status quo, Colin decided to take up his case with the man in charge: George Lucas. Last year, he dropped a handwritten note to Lucasfilm, saying, “I want to get married without becoming a Sith. Please change the rule.”
Much to Colin’s excitement, Lucasfilm responded. “It sounds like the Force is strong with you, and you are showing great wisdom by asking your question," the letter read. "When you find someone that you can connect to in a selfless way, then you are on the path of the light, and the dark side will not take hold of you. With this goodness in your heart, you can be married.”
You can see Colin opening his package below:
2. SOPHIA'S LETTER TO CLARKS SHOES
In 2015, 8-year-old Sophia Trow visited Clarks Shoes with her mother to get some new shoes for school. She spied some kicks with dinosaurs on them, but when she asked to try them on, the salesclerk told Sophia that the shoes were made for boys and wouldn’t work for the “female bone structure.” Sophia went home and picked up a pen, writing, “Why can’t girls have dinosaur shoes? I like dinosaurs and fossils, so I think other girls might as well.” Clarks responded to Sophia and apologized for the clerk’s actions, saying that the “Stomposaurus” shoes can be worn by anyone, and that a range of unisex shoes was underway.
3. CHARLOTTE'S LETTER TO LEGO
In 2014, 7-year-old Charlotte went to the store and wasn’t happy with the options she found there for girls—so she let the company know:
“I don’t like that there are more lego boy people and barely any lego girls. ... All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks. I want you to make more lego girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun ok!?!”
LEGO agreed. “We have been very focused on including more female characters and themes that invite even more girls to build,” they wrote back. About a month later, they released images of the Research Institute, a set created by geophysicist Ellen Kooijman. It includes female paleontologists, astronomers, and chemists, as well as accessories such as a dinosaur model, a telescope, and a lab kit.
Someday, Dexter Walters wants to go to Mars. When he heard about the possibility of a future mission to the planet, he went straight to the source to ask what he can do to improve his chances for being chosen in the future. “I heard that you are sending two people to Mars and I would like to come, but I’m 7, so I can’t,” he wrote in a 2013 letter to NASA. “I would like to come in the future. What do I need to do to become an astronaut?"
Two weeks later, he had a response. NASA sent all kinds of Mars goodies, including pictures of the planet and the Curiosity Rover. “Just think—in a few years, you could be one of the pioneers that may help lead the world's activities for better understanding our earth and for exploring space," they wrote back.
5. KATIE'S LETTER TO GOOGLE
In 2014, a little girl named Katie was sad that her dad didn’t seem to be home much because he spent a lot of time at work. So, she grabbed a teal crayon and wrote his boss at Google a letter. “Dear google worker,” she wrote:
“Can you please make sure when daddy goes to work, he gets one day off. Like he can get a day off on wednsday. Because daddy ONLY gets a day off on Saterday. P.S. It is daddy’s BIRTHDAY! P.P.S. It is Summer, you know”
Katie’s letter worked. Her dad’s boss replied and agreed that her father had been working hard and deserved some time off; as a result, Google gave him the whole first week of July as bonus vacation time.
6. ELLA'S LETTER TO SOUTHERN RAIL
When her daddy started coming home later and later every night last year, 6-year-old Ella Porter from East Sussex, England, asked Southern Rail to cut it out:
“Dear Mr. Railway man
My daddy is always late home and I miss him very much because he always used to tuck me into bed and this makes me upset. Please get him home on time. Daddy says you take all his money, that is why I can’t go to Disney Land. I really want to go to Disney Land.”
Southern Rail felt bad about the situation, apologizing for the delays. “Trains for Victoria and London Bridge travel over the most congested part of the whole of Britain’s railway network,” they explained. “We and Network Rail are determined to improve the situation and have made some additional changes to the timetable today to help with this.”
7. WALKER'S LETTER TO U.S. JOINT SPECIAL OPS
In 2013, 6-year-old Walker Greentree was playing with his friend when his mom told them to quiet down. “Be quiet like a [Navy] SEAL,” she told them. Walker’s friend responded that ninjas can be more silent than SEALs, so Walker decided to investigate. He wrote to then-head of U.S. Special Ops Admiral William McRaven to ask, and also wondered how long McRaven could hold his breath. Admiral McRaven didn’t disappoint, sending Walker a special coin along with a note:
“I think ninjas are probably quieter than SEALs, but we are better swimmers, and also better with guns and blowing things up. I can hold my breath a long time, but I try not to unless I really have to. Remember, if you want to be a SEAL, you must do two things: listen to your parents and be nice to the other kids. If you do that then you can probably be a SEAL too.”