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Disney Movies Anywhere via YouTube

12 Magical Facts About Peter Pan

Disney Movies Anywhere via YouTube
Disney Movies Anywhere via YouTube

It may be officially old enough to retire, but Walt Disney’s Peter Pan has never grown up. To celebrate its 63rd birthday, here are a few fun facts about the perpetually pubescent Pan.

1. As a young boy, Walt Disney saw a touring production of Peter Pan.

Walt Disney broke his piggy bank to get the money for tickets to the performance starring actress Maude Adams. He remembered the performance fondly and later asked her to look at an early reel of his version of Peter Pan; she declined. Disney said that to her, “The Peter whom she created was to her real life and blood, while another’s creation of this character would only be a ghost to her,” and surmised that “Miss Adams is simply living in the past.”

2. Walt later landed the title role himself.

Perhaps inspired by the performance he saw, Walt went on to play Peter Pan in a school production. “No actor ever identified himself with the part he was playing more than I,” he said.

3. Disney had to make a deal with a hospital to make the movie.

Author J.M. Barrie famously left the rights to Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital when he died. The hospital made a deal with Disney in 1939, giving them the exclusive animation rights. It doesn’t receive income from the sales of DVDs or toys though, because those things weren’t in the 1939 contract. However, according to the hospital’s website, Disney has been very supportive nonetheless. “Since 2008, when Disney partnered with Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, they have raised more than £10 million [$14.5 million] towards the hospital's vital redevelopment program and continue to support the hospital and charity with fundraising events and donations.”

4. Roy Disney was against Peter Pan.

The elder Disney found the $3 million budget hard to swallow and was probably livid when costs soared to $4 million; he and Walt ended up in a big fight about the whole affair. It all worked out in the end: Pan grossed more than $40 million upon its original release, and another $46.6 million when it was re-released in the 1980s.

5. Animator Milt Kahl thought drawing Peter Pan was dull work.

Milt Kahl had hoped to be assigned to the villainous Captain Hook instead and found himself bored with the work on Pan and Wendy. The hardest part about drawing Peter, he said, was making it look realistic when he was floating in mid-air or landing. Kahl resolved the latter by having Peter’s upper body arrive first, with his lower body catching up afterward.

6. Wendy Darling was voiced by Kathryn Beaumont, who was fresh off of another Disney movie.

Beaumont also played the title role in Alice in Wonderland, which came out two years before Peter Pan.

7. It’s long been rumored that Marilyn Monroe provided the inspiration for Tinker Bell, but that’s false.

Actress Margaret Kerry was the animators’ model for the fairy, acting out scenes to provide them with a reference for her movements. Footage of her acting out the part starts at around 7:10 below:

8. The song “The Second Star to the Right” was originally written for Alice in Wonderland.

At the time, it was called “Beyond the Laughing Sky.” Here’s the Peter Pan version, then a brief explanation of the Alice song from Alice and Wendy herself, Kathryn Beaumont.

9. Actor Hans Conried provided the voices for both Mr. Darling and Captain Hook.

The dual role upholds a longstanding theater tradition in which the same actor portrayed both the strict Darling father and the one-handed pirate.

10. It’s said that Walt didn’t actually care much for the finished product.

He believed that the Peter Pan they had created was cold and unlikable.

11. Despite this, Disney believed author J.M. Barrie would have approved of his Pan.

In a 1952 article called, “My Plans for Peter Pan,” Disney wrote, “I believe that if Barrie were alive today, he would be only too happy to write the adventures of Peter and Wendy directly for the screen, realizing that here at last was a chance to perform his miracles exactly as he wanted them, that here was a medium which could do full justice to the quality of his showmanship.”

12. Sadly, the boy who voiced Peter Pan fell victim to the child actor curse.

As Bobby Driscoll got older, the roles seemed to dry up and he turned to drugs. After a prison stay in the early ‘60s, Driscoll became part of Andy Warhol’s Factory scene. He died of heart failure in 1968 at the age of 31.

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Photo Illustration by Mental Floss. Woody Image: iStock. Background: IFC Midnight
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9 The Shining References Buried in Pixar Films
Photo Illustration by Mental Floss. Woody Image: iStock. Background: IFC Midnight
Photo Illustration by Mental Floss. Woody Image: iStock. Background: IFC Midnight

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining: Not the most kid-friendly movie! But, as circumstance would have it, it’s a favorite film of Pixar regular Lee Unkrich, who has directed or co-directed five Pixar features—including Toy Story 2 and 3; Monsters, Inc.; Finding Nemo; and Coco—in addition to doing editing work on several others. As such, it’s no surprise (or maybe it is) that several references to The Shining, from the obvious to the obscure, have snuck into Pixar’s lineup over the years. Here are nine of them.

1. SID'S DISTINCTIVE CARPET // TOY STORY (1995)

One of the most iconic images from Stanley Kubrick’s filmography is of Danny (Danny Lloyd) cycling through the halls of The Shining’s Overlook Hotel. That same iconic carpet can be found in Toy Story, where it adorns the home of the toy-torturer Sid. Unkrich, who was one of the editors on the film, credits that particular Easter Egg to production designer Ralph Eggleston.

2. THE NUMBER 237 // TOY STORY 3 (2010)

The number 237 makes an appearance in 'Toy Story 3' (2010)
Pixar

Unkrich worked several references to the number 237—the room in the Overlook Hotel where some particularly trippy things go down for Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson)—into Toy Story 3, which he directed. The license plate on a garbage truck in one scene reads RM237; Woody instant messages a toy whose code name is Velocistar237; and the model number of a security camera in Sunnyside Daycare is Overlook R237.

3. THE SUNNYSIDE INTERCOM // TOY STORY 3 (2010)

Speaking of Sunnyside Daycare’s security system: It features an intercom that’s an exact (albeit animated) duplicate of the one used by Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duvall) in The Shining. Several feet away from the intercom is a tissue box, the pattern of which resembles that aforementioned carpet pattern in the Overlook Hotel.

4. THE "KALINGA" TECHNIQUE // FINDING NEMO (2003) & TOY STORY 3 (2010)

For both Toy Story 3 and Finding Nemo, Unkrich asked his composers—Randy Newman and Thomas Newman, respectively—to utilize the “kalinga” technique at particular moments where the audience was meant to feel unsettled. Favored by Polish composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki, whose music was featured in The Shining, the “kalinga,” per Unkrich, “is when the violin players tap their bows against the strings rather than strumming. It's almost a plucky sound. If everybody does that throughout the orchestra you get a crazy, almost insecty sound, it's so unsettling.”

5. “HEEEEERE’S JOHNNY!” // FINDING NEMO (2003)

This one’s easy: In Finding Nemo, Bruce the shark echoes Jack Nicholson’s most famous line from The Shining when he snarls “Heeeere’s Brucey!”

6. JACK TORRANCE’S AXE // COCO (2017)

    Early in Coco, there’s a scene where Dante the dog abruptly wakes up from a nap. In the background, we see a normal-looking axe stuck into a tree trunk. An axe could just be an axe ... were Unkrich not sitting in the director's chair. Earlier this year, in an interview with Cinema Blend, he confirmed that the axe is in fact modeled after “one of the axes from The Shining.”

    7. REDRUM // COCO (2017)

    There are two 'The Shining' references in this one scene from 'Coco' (2017)
    Disney/Pixar

      In that same shot, right behind the axe, is a red metal storage drum, a reference to REDRUM, Danny Torrance’s favorite phrase and (er, spoilers for The Shining?) “murder” spelled backwards.

      8. THE GRADY TWINS // COCO (2017)

        As Coco’s Miguel runs through Frida Kahlo’s underworld art studio, he passes a painting of two girls who, per Unkrich, represent a “Día de los Muertos-inspired version of the twin girls from The Shining.”

        9. APOLLO 11 // TOY STORY (1995)

          Stick with us for a moment on this one, as it's not as straightforward as the other ones: Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear was named after Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who was the second man to set foot on the moon. Apollo 11 looms large as part of the mythology of The Shining, as there are famously some conspiracy theorists who believe that Kubrick faked the moon landing and used The Shining as a quasi-confession. (At one point Danny Torrance wears an Apollo 11 sweater, which Lee Unkrich now owns.) This is very likely a coincidence, not an outright nod to The Shining, but given the level of The Shining appreciation in the halls of Pixar, it’s not a stretch to believe that someone at least got a chuckle out of it.

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          Take a Look at What Studio Ghibli's Theme Park Will Look Like When It Opens in 2022
          A recreation of the house in My Neighbor Totoro built for the 2005 World's Fair.
          A recreation of the house in My Neighbor Totoro built for the 2005 World's Fair.
          anthodomi, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

          Miyazaki mega-fans may want to start planning their next trip to Japan. The much-anticipated Studio Ghibli theme park is now set to open in 2022, The Japan Times reports. The animated film studio just released several new images that show what the park (originally projected to open in 2020) will look like.

          Ghibli Park will be built on the site of the 2005 World's Fair in Nagakute, a city about 90 miles east of Kyoto in central Japan. The park's creators envision it as a place where the fantastical films of director Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli, are brought to life. The mysterious forest in My Neighbor Totoro—one of Miyazaki’s most iconic films—will be reimagined in an area of the park called Dondoko Forest. The park property already features a recreation of the house from that same film, originally built there for the World’s Fair.

          Other famous films by Studio Ghibli will be represented in the park as well. There will be a Princess Mononoke Village and antique shops modeled after the one in Whisper of the Heart. The main gate to the park will be built in a 19th-century style reminiscent of Howl’s Moving Castle.

          Witch Valley will feature attractions inspired by Howl’s Moving Castle and Kiki’s Delivery Service, and the Big Ghibli Warehouse will contain exhibition areas, a theater, and play spaces. The Japan Times reports that the park will also have giant installations of spiders and “boar-shaped spirits”—recurring motifs in Miyazaki’s movies. And if the concept art is anything to go by, Ghibli Park will be filled with beautiful walking paths surrounded by lush greenery.

          Miyazaki fans have more of the legendary director's work to look forward to in the next few years. He recently came out of retirement to make one last film, which will be released by 2020, Forbes reports. The 77-year-old filmmaker said he wanted to leave something for his grandson to remember him by after he dies.

          [h/t The Japan Times]

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