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Disney Movies Anywhere via YouTube
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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British Film Institute
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Where to Watch Over 300 British Animated Films for Free Online
British Film Institute
British Film Institute

The history of animation doesn’t begin and end with studios in Japan and the U.S. Artists in the UK have been drawing and sculpting cartoons for over a century, and now some of the best examples of the medium to come out of the country are available to view for free online.

As It’s Nice That reports, the British Film Institute has uploaded over 300 films to the new archive on BFI player. Dubbed "Animated Britain," the expansive collection includes hand-drawn and stop motion animation and many distinct styles in between. Viewers will find ads, documentaries, films for children, and films for adults dating from 1904 to the 21st century. Episodes of classic cartoons like SuperTed and Clangers as well as obscure clips that are hard to find elsewhere are represented.

The archive description reads:

“Through its own weird alchemy, animation can bring our wildest imaginings to life, and yet it can also be a powerful tool for exploring our everyday reality. Silly, surreal, sweet or caustic, this dizzyingly diverse selection showcases British animation's unique contribution to the art form, and offers a history ripe for rediscovery.”

This institution’s project marks their start of a whole year dedicated to animation. UK residents can stream the selected films for free at BFI player, or check out their rental offerings for more British animated classics.

[h/t It’s Nice That]

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Amy Meredith, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
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You Can Still Visit This Forgotten Flintstones Theme Park in Arizona
Amy Meredith, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Amy Meredith, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Like many pop culture institutions of the 20th century, Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones hasn’t been relegated to just one medium. The animated cast of America's favorite modern Stone Age family sold cigarettes, starred in a live-action 1994 film, and inspired all sorts of merchandise, including video games and lunchboxes. In 1972, it also got the theme park treatment.

Bedrock City, located 30 minutes from the Grand Canyon in Williams, Arizona, was the brainchild of Linda and Francis Speckels, a married couple who bought the property and turned it into a 6-acre tourist attraction. Concrete houses were built to resemble the Flintstone and Rubble residences and are furnished with props; a large metal slide resembles a brontosaurus, so kids can mimic the show’s famous title credits sequence; and statues of the characters are spread all over the premises. The site also doubles as an RV campground and parking site.

A Flintstones theme park house
Matthew Dillon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A statue of Bam-Bam at the Flintstones park in Arizona
Matthew Dillon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A statue of Wilma Flintstone at Bedrock City in Arizona
Matthew Dillon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When it first opened, Bedrock City employed actors to stay in character, but the remote location proved challenging to retain both employees and visitors. Over the past four decades, it's had a steady stream of tourists, but not enough to turn a huge profit. Atlas Obscura reports the attractions are in various stages of disrepair.

Linda Speckels put the property up for sale in 2015 with an asking price of $2 million, but it has yet to sell. One possible hold-up: The new owner would have to negotiate a fresh licensing deal with Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. for the right to continue using the show’s trademarks. (A separate Flintstones park in South Dakota, owned by another member of the Speckels family, was sold and closed in 2015.) With its proximity to the Canyon, the 30 total acres could be converted into almost anything, from a mall to a golf course. For Flintstones enthusiasts, the hope is that the park’s unique attractions won’t be reduced to rubble.

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