The Shuffled Disneyverse: An Alt Disney Timeline

Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (1937)
  • Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (1937):


    Before his very first feature, film, Walt Disney was primarily involved with the animation of Mickey Mouse and his friends and the Silly Symphonies series. By attempting to do a full-length feature, Disney had hoped to expand both the prestige and revenue of his animation studio. While fighting to have it produced, both his brother and wife tried to convince him not to go through with it. It didn’t help that Hollywood was dismissing his efforts and called it “Disney’s Folly” during production. But still, he pushed on anyway. Walt initially estimated a $250,000 budget for Snow White in 1934, which was ten times the budget of the average Silly Symphony short produced at the time. By the time production ended, the total cost of the film was close to $1.5 million, which was massive at the time. It was so expensive that Disney had to mortgage his house to help production and needed a loan of $250,000 midway through. Was the film worth the high production costs?

    Evidentially, the answer was yes. It was a simple feature that somehow managed to appeal to adults and children alike through its animation style, score, songs, setting, and story. The plot is as follows: The vain and wicked Queen Grimhilde asks her Magic Mirror on a daily basis who the fairest one of all is. Usually, the answer is the Queen herself but one day the answer is her stepdaughter Snow White. Due to the Queen’s jealousy, the young princess Snow White is forced to act as a scullery maid and dress in rags. Wishing for her true love, she catches the attention of Prince Florian and later the Evil Queen who orders a bounty for the death of her stepdaughter. She is urged to run away into the woods where she comes across a cottage that she later finds out belongs to seven magic Dwarves. They let her stay, and for the first time, Snow White feels like she is part of a family. When Grimhilde finds out she is still alive, she makes it her duty to find and kill her herself, setting in motion a chain of events that involves a poison apple and the chance for Snow White to find her love’s first kiss.

    It premiered in December 1937 at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles. When it ended, Walt Disney earned massive applause from the audience, proving the naysayers wrong. In January 1938, it opened in New York and Miami before being placed into general release on February 4. When it finished its initial theatrical run, it earned over $7.8 million at the box office worldwide, making it the top grossing film ever at the time. At the 1939 Academy Awards, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs won Walt Disney an honorary Academy Award as presented by Shirley Temple, featuring a full-size Oscar statuette and seven miniature ones. It received universal acclaim at the time, with particular praise for the animation of the human characters and the performances of Adriana Caselotti as Snow White and Lucille La Verne as the Evil Queen Grimhilde. It was not the first color sound cartoon nor the first animated feature film but it was the first full-length cel-animated feature and certainly the first animate film to be successful. With the success of Snow White, Walt Disney soon looked to find other fairy tales to adapt into animated films.

    A/N: All the other films in the Disney and Pixar Animated Canon are randomized but I felt like I couldn't randomize Snow White out of being the first Disney film because I cannot imagine almost any other film having the same impact Snow White did. But starting from the next entry onward, all the titles are randomized. As far as the film TTL goes, it's mostly the same except that the dancing in the clouds sequence is kept in, all three assassination methods from the original story are considered before the Queen selects the apple, and the Prince has a somewhat more active role towards the end. Look for the next update soon.
    Cinderella (1940)
  • Cinderella (1940):


    Even before the premiere of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs on December 21, 1937, Walt Disney was looking for other fairy tales to adapt. This next story was brought to Walt Disney’s attention in September 1937. Cinderella, a tale dating back to Ancient Greece, was something Walt Disney had in his head since 1922 when he produced a Laugh-O-Gram cartoon based on it and was interested in making another version as a Silly Symphony in December 1933. During the production of Snow White, though, Disney realized the story, which he based on Charles Perrault’s version, was too complex to be an animated short and prioritized its creation as a feature-length cartoon. Originally intended to be the third Disney animated film, Cinderella moved up in the pecking order by December so that it would be the second after Snow White. The treatment of this film was based on a 14-page outline by Al Perkins, and a second script written by Dana Cofy and Bianca Majolie. Production began in January 1938 with a preliminary budget of $1 million and increased to $1.7 million by the end. Nevertheless, the production team and directors were stratified with the final result.

    The story begins following the untimely death of Cinderella’s father, leaving the young girl to face the wrath of her wicked stepmother Florimel de la Poche and stepsisters Wanda and Javotte. Over time, Cinderella is abused, humiliated, and forced to become a servant in her own house. Her bird friends and mouse friends, including a white mouse named Dusty, a turtle named Clarissa, and her pet dog Bruno help Cinderella stay optimistic and retain hope for a better day. One day, the King’s aid and Grand Duke, Spink, delivers an invitation to the de la Poche household to a royal ball which decrees every eligible maiden must attend. Upon delivering news to her stepfamily during a music lesson, her stepfamily cruelly prevents her from attending. In hopeless despair, the fairy godmother helps her get to the ball and Cinderella soon attracts the attention of Prince Henri who ironically wanted nothing to do with the ball until that point. The clock then strikes midnight and Cinderella flees before she can properly introduce herself to the Prince, leaving behind a glass slipper as the only clue to her identity. The rest of the movie becomes a search for the girl with the slipper.

    Cinderella premiered at the Center Theatre in New York City on February 7, 1940, before its general release in the United States on February 23. In its initial run, it earned $1.9 million at the box office. While the film technically earned back its budget, half of the film’s gross went to the movie theaters, in effect costing Disney $750,000. World War II delayed its release in much of Europe and Asia for years. The film was mostly well-received, with critics praising the improvement of the music and animation from Snow White. Though more mixed in the present day, Cinderella’s characterization was praised at the time and she became Walt Disney’s favorite princess. The stepmother was considered an effective villainess, having more interaction with the heroine than in the previous film. The Grand Duke and Prince Henri were considered standout characters due to their unique characterizations and voice performances. The only negative criticism was that of Cinderella’s animal friends taking too much screen time, being seen as an attempt to subvert the focus of the story from Cinderella and her stepfamily. After World War II, the film became profitable in its own right and is now considered a Disney classic.

    A/N: This version of Cinderella is a combination of OTL's version plus the suggestions for gags for a potential Silly Symphony of the story, an actual fourteen-page outline that was published in 1938, and a script that Cofy and Majolie developed in real life that was one of the earliest if not the earliest treatments of Cinderella in script form.
    Frozen: The Story of the Snow Queen (1940)
  • Frozen: The Story of the Snow Queen (1940):


    Walt Disney wanted his third project to be ambitious. Not only did he want to tell a story, but he wanted to tell it using the most advanced animation techniques and pristine sound. He found that project in 1936 while still working on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. That project would be based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Snow Queen. Disney ultimately fave this film the title Frozen along with the subtitle The Story of the Snow Queen. He gained the rights to the story in July 1937 and production began six months later. Of course, production was not without its troubles. There was trouble developing the character of the Snow Queen herself. In the original tale, she was a morally ambiguous figure. Her relationship with the boy, Kai, was unclear, and it was unknown why she took him and why he was willing to go with her. Perhaps most important of all, the readers never got to see the Snow Queen reacting to Gerda (the protagonist of the story) trying to get her friend back. Disney vowed to remove the ambiguity. The story was finalized in September 1938 and production was in full swing in early 1939. The final budget was close to $2.2 million.

    The villainous Snow Queen orders a troll to create a magic mirror with the purpose to magnify all the negative aspects of its reflection. She then shatters the mirror into over a billion pieces and plans to use them against her otherwise unwilling victims. Several years pass and two teenage children, a peasant boy named Kai and the daughter of a nobleman named Gerda, listen to Kai’s grandmother telling a story about the Snow Queen. All of a sudden, the Snow Queen herself appears to have believed she had been mocked. In response, the Queen takes a pair of magical shards and strikes Kai with one each to the eye and heart, causing him to act coldly towards Gerda and threaten their relationship. The next winter, the Snow Queen arrives at the village square on her silver sled and forcibly abducts Kai, carrying him back to her castle at the North Pole and causing him to not only forget about his home but Gerda. This leaves Gerda to race to the North Pole to both set Kai free and restore his memories before his heart can become literally frozen and the village can be plagued by a state of permanent winter.

    Frozen: The Story of the Snow Queen opened at the Broadway Theatre in New York City on November 13, 1940, following the release of the musical short The Sorcerer’s Apprentice starring Mickey Mouse. With much of Europe and Asia cut off from the market, it was decided that Frozen should run on Broadway for a over year. Before its general release in January 1942, there was a West Coast premiere in Los Angeles, attracting many notable celebrities like Shirley Temple and Edgar Bergen. There were also showings in cities like Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Washington. Critical reception, while mostly positive, was at the cooler end of favorability. Most were appreciative of having a female lead character that was more proactive than her predecessors, an important male character that wasn’t a prince, and the villain being a greater threat and having a larger presence than before. Others disliked the icier and darker tone than seen in Snow White and Cinderella, reminiscent of the world at war, or thought Disney was becoming formulaic. By April 1941, The Sorcerer's Apprentice earned back its budget but the feature film itself it only made $1.3 million at the box office, merely 60% of its budget. It would be successful upon post-war releases and would later warrant a sequel. In the meantime, Disney struggled to keep afloat financially.

    A/N: This is possibly what Frozen could have looked like had Walt Disney’s collaboration with other studios for the Hans Christian Andersen projects dating back to 1943 not been canceled. I figured that if it did go through it probably would have been more faithful to the original Snow Queen tale than what we got in real-time.
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    Wreck-It-Ralph (1941)
  • Wreck-It-Ralph (1941):​

    What turned out to be Wreck-it-Ralph was the first Disney feature animated film not to be based on a fairy tale. Rather, it was something new, inspired by the Popeye theatrical shorts, the 1933 film King Kong, and the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. Walt Disney himself tried developing Beauty and the Beast as its own film in the 1930s but could not figure out how the heroine’s stay in the Beast’s castle would work. Meanwhile, Disney had taken note of how his beloved star Mickey Mouse had fallen in popularity behind Popeye the Sailor, as well as the ascending popularity of the King Kong film. This story first gained attention in late 1939 with story sketches and script completed by March 1940. Originally intended to be the fifth or sixth film in the Disney lineup, it became the fourth due to the underperformance of Cinderella and the outright flopping of Frozen at the box office and moved into production in early 1941. This was made possible through simpler character designs than in previous works, background paintings done in watercolor with less detail, and frames being used in character animation.

    Wreck-it-Ralph is about a man named Ralph who is a construction worker for the Niceland Construction company. He is ostracized and seen as villainous to his big hands causing him to mess up one too many projects he is supposed to be working on and his occasionally volatile temper, earning him the nickname Wreck-It-Ralph. He reveals himself to be a misunderstood hard-working gentle giant but no one gives him the chance. The only person who fully trusts him is the company owner’s son Felix, whom Ralph playful calls Fix-it-Felix. As he is about to be fired from Niceland Construction, Ralph takes Felix with him and the pair take a train ride across the country in order to start anew. Ralph inadvertently catches the attention of a wealthy heiress who despite her wealth and appearance appreciates him for being kind and different. These advances anger a powerful businessman named Gene (nicknamed Turbo) who becomes resentful and hostile towards Ralph. The two men then engage in an intense rivalry while Ralph vows his best not to sink to the level of the enemy and shows his courageous, valiant, and honorable side in the process.

    Production on the film was interrupted in late May 1941 when the Disney animator’s strike broke out, and the film almost did not meet its deadline. Disney rushed to get the film completed and finally sent it to RKO Radio Pictures on September 11, 1941. Initially considered to be released as a B movie, Walt was able to persuade them to release it as an A feature. Wreck-It-Ralph premiered in New York City on October 23, 1941. Financially, it proved itself to be a hit in the United States and other places not directly impacted by World War II. Costing under $700,000 to produce, the film profited by a $1.28 million margin by the end of its initial run. Critically, the film was praised for being endearing and having a stronger feel-good vibe than its predecessors. The greater presence of action was also praised, combined with its simple story, humor, and unique characters. While it was more of a straightforward cartoon than the first three Disney films, many celebrated this as a welcomed change reminiscent of older cartoons. Nowadays, Wreck-it-Ralph is considered the fourth and final film of the iconic Disney Golden Age.

    A/N: Honestly I wasn’t sure what to do when I saw Wreck-It-Ralph’s placement here via the randomizer. With the actual and the sequel version from our timeline being based in arcade games and computers respectively, this was going to be the hardest (or one of them) to create. It was only thanks to a fanfiction plus looking at what inspired the character of Ralph himself in the first place and in turn what inspired that where I decided not to cancel this TL.
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    Home On The Range (1942)
  • Home On The Range (1942):​

    Unlike its predecessors, the fifth movie in the Disney canon was not based on a fairy tale or another story, but rather on a ballad. Home On The Range was initially intended as the second feature-length film produced by Walt Disney when it received the rights to the song's usage in April 1937. This changed when the animators learned that creating a story out of a short song was more difficult than it seemed. In April 1938, Perce Pearce and Carl Fallberg started working on storyboarding process, but production only really began in August 1939. There were originally multiple interpretations of the story planned before they were all streamlined into a single plot, with the focus narrowed to three characters. The writing was completed in July 1940, with the film's budget having increased to $748,000 by then. Unlike Snow White, the animals were to be animated in a style that wasn’t, "like big flour sacks" per Eric Larson. The style was to be much more expressive and realistic, so much so that Disney set up a small petting zoo so the animators could study animal movements. The Great Plains generally inspired the animated backgrounds for the film.

    The feature begins with the namesake song Home On The Range playing, showing the openness of the Great Plains during the mid-late 1800s. Unlike the other Disney films produced up to this point, this one had two separate plotlines that converge into one later on in the movie. The first plot is about a timid young boy named Billy who dreams of becoming a cowboy. His personality has him ostracized among the older child cowboys so he runs away. Meanwhile, a young bull named Bullets and his best friends (an unnamed antelope and bison) learn about the circle of life, with Bullets aspiring to know more about the horses that led his herd. The two plotlines intersect when the young boy and bull meet and discover they each want to explore more of the Old West together. Unfortunately, a cattle hustler named Alameda Slim kidnaps Bullets and plans on killing him so he can be sold to the meat market in long-distant Chicago. Teaming up with Native American allies, Billy must put his bravery to the test so that he can not only prove himself as a worthy cowboy but save his newfound friend before time runs out.

    In order to save on production costs due to World War II, Disney cut 12 minutes from the film before the final animation began, although they can be found as deleted scenes on DVD and Blu-ray releases. Home on The Range premiered in New York on August 7, 1942, and debuted nationwide just two weeks later. It didn’t flop per se at the box office, earning $1.27 million in film rentals, but its underwhelming numbers due to the war hurt the studio. It was well-received by critics at the time who praised the film for its action scenes as well as its fast-paced story. It would go on to be profitable post-war but this would be the first Disney animated film released not to be heralded as a classic. Contemporary critics view it as being more characteristic of the cheaper and forgettable Wartime Period than of the highly artistic, acclaimed Golden Age despite being made in the Golden Age. The depiction of the Native Americans is nowadays sighted as very racist despite being viewed as progressive for its time. The decline of Western-themed TV shows and films in general after the 1960s adversely affected Home On The Range too. That being said, it is still somewhat remembered fondly and modestly profitable, which cannot be said about the next film.

    A/N: Despite me saying this was based on the original poem/ballad, it actually has elements of OTL Bambi, the first two versions of OTL Home On The Range before the final version was produced and released, as well as the song itself. Once again, I couldn't find a suitable picture to put here.
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    Make Mine Music (1943)
  • Make Mine Music (1943):


    The financial failure of Frozen: The Story of the Snow Queen meant that Disney had to cut corners and attempt to earn as much money as possible off of low-budget films. Home On The Range was the only film in production by the time the US entered World War II that was neither a military film nor a low-budget film. Make Mine Music would epitomize the latter. This would be the first package feature Disney would make, which is a film consisting of several shorts into a single feature-length compilation. Planning in earnest dated back to early 1941 during the production of Wreck-It-Ralph and Home On The Range. The studio originally considered its two most popular characters at the time, Donald Duck and Goofy, as hosts for the film or even including them in one or more of the package film segments. A classical music segment based on the Russian story Peter and The Wolf was considered as well after Disney heard the piano version in concert in 1938. Both ideas were scrapped in favor of original stories based on contemporary music styles from the 1940s, although Peter and The Wolf was released as a standalone short alongside Make Mine Music.

    The film has a total of eight animated segments. Up first is The Martins and the Coys, based on a 1936 folklore about two feuding families in the Appalachian Mountains. The Ken Darby Singers, who had previously been featured in Wreck-It-Ralph and Home On The Range, sing Blue Bayou in the background against a family of alligators in the Louisiana swamps. After that was a Benny Goodman recording of Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing) with Goodman on the clarinet alongside his band. The animation here explores the life of a group of teenagers as musicians in the making. Next up is perhaps the most iconic and praised part of the movie, Casey At The Bat, which was based on a poem of the same name. The story is about an arrogant baseball player named Casey whose cockiness costs him his career. Dinah Shore then sings Two Silhouettes featuring a pair of ballet dancers dancing against various animated backgrounds as silhouettes. Benny Goodman’s band then returns with After You've Gone, set to six anthropomorphic musical instruments parading through a musical playground. The penultimate segment is called Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet, which is about two hats who fell in love at a New York department store window, with the Andrews Sisters singing the title song. The film concludes with the African-American folk song Shortnin' Bread by sang Nelson Eddy set to a story of a group of slaves in slave the Antebellum South who sing to keep themselves busy to provide hope for a better day.

    Production was complete by Christmas 1942. At 65 minutes, it beat out Wreck-It-Ralph as the shortest feature in the Disney animated canon. It premiered on February 6, 1943 in Boston. It was released throughout the entire country on February 19. The music and animation were praised but the film was criticized for lack of overall cohesion. Most viewers at the premiere favored the 15-minute long Peter and The Wolf short to Make Mine Music itself. The Shortin’ Bread segment came under fire during the Civil Rights Movement due to the depiction of many of the slaves with both a stereotypical appearance and attitude. In time for the 25th anniversary of the film’s initial premiere, much of the stereotypical imagery was cropped out and the edit has been in place in all theatrical and home video showings since then. Casey At The Bat was overwhelmingly praised at the time, and today is the most remembered segment of the movie. As for Make Mine Music as a collective entity, it is one of the most forgotten in the Walt Disney animated canon and it is rare to find anyone who either likes it or hates it since it has a small to nonexistent fanbase.

    A/N: Since Peter and The Wolf was considered separately as part of a continuation to Fantasia IOTL, it doesn't appear here. Hence one of the reasons why Make Mine Music doesn't have much of a fanbase ITTL is that it lacks a signature sequence that PATW provided OTL. Also, Clair de Lune doesn't appear here since it wasn't initially conceptualized for MMM but rather as part of Fantasia which hasn't happened yet ITTL.
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    Meet The Robinsons (1945)
  • Meet The Robinsons (1945):

    Robinson_Crusoe_and_Man_Friday_Offterdinger (2).jpg

    Unlike the last film, this next package film would have only two segments. However, they would both share a similar theme and a similar name and be much more fleshed out than in the previous film. Both stories involve disasters at sea, shipwrecks, and fighting for survival, but each had its own twist. The two stories were none other than Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson, hence the title Meet the Robinsons. It would be Disney’s darkest movie yet, enhanced by the fact that World War II was raging while this was in production. The project was conceived during the planning stages of Make Mine Music. The large-scale flopping of Frozen at the box office meant it would take some time and some cheap movies that would serve to make Disney a quick buck for the financial situation to improve if it didn’t collapse first. Production for Meet The Robinsons took place during the time when most of the Walt Disney Studio’s resources were diverted away from regular films by the military for war-related projects. The only reason this was even greenlit in the first place was that Disney himself convinced the military he would create a war-like atmosphere that was all too familiar to many sailors fighting in the Pacific Ocean at the time.

    As the film's animated segments are both based on literary works, they are introduced in a live-action library scene. The first segment, Robinson Crusoe, was based on a 1719 novel written by Daniel Defoe. Much like the book, the segment tells of the title character's voyage at sea as he endures a shipwreck and ultimately finds himself stranded on a deserted Caribbean island off the South American coast. Once on the island, he fights off cannibalistic islanders and learns to navigate the ropes of the island in order to survive until his rescue. The second segment, Swiss Family Robinson, follows a similar premise but with various twists and turns that set it apart from its predecessor. Based on its namesake novel from 1812 by Johann David Wyss, a Swiss family named the Robinsons comprising of two parents and four sons ranging in age from 15 to 7 years old find themselves shipwrecked en route to the New South Wales colony in Australia. Unlike in the first story, the ship carried supplies to found a new settlement, with the island itself complete with a wide array of flora and fauna. Also unlike the race for survival and straightforward drama of the first segment, the father utilizes this as an opportunity to teach his four child sons about nature, resourcefulness, and responsibility.

    The production of Meet the Robinsons was completed on December 21, 1944, just over six weeks before its premiere in New York City premiere on February 3, 1945. At the time, it received mixed to positive reviews overall. The Robinson Crusoe segment had a generally mixed reception, being praised for its animation and voice acting while receiving criticism for being overly dark in tone, lacking charm, and not doing anything new from an art or narrative standpoint. On the other hand, Swiss Family Robinson garnered much more praise for its balance of excitement, danger, and light-heartedness, and for its writing of the Robinson family while having strong animation for its budget. The film broke even upon its initial release but did not become popular as its own film until the 1960s, well past the dangers of World War II. In the 1980s, the film premiered on home video as a full-length feature and in individual segments as part of the Walt Disney Mini-Classics Collection. Swiss Family Robinson became one of the highest-selling titles in this collection and is nowadays regarded as the best overall segment from a Walt Disney package film.

    A/N: Since the original novel that Meet The Robinsons was based on IOTL was only published in 1990, I had to get creative with this film and the first thing that popped into mind when it came to pop culture and literature to base this film on ITTL is Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe.
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    The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1946)
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1946):


    Walt Disney first learned about the Winnie the Pooh books by A. A. Milne from his daughter, Diane, who avidly read them during her childhood. In 1938, Disney initially expressed interest in obtaining the film rights to the Winnie The Pooh books and ultimately acquired them in June 1941. By 1944, Disney confirmed to his animation team that he was planning on making a full-length Winnie The Pooh animated feature film. With the war still going on, it was decided in a meeting with senior staff members to make it into a package film with three loosely interconnected connected segments. It also made sense since the books were all comprised of chapters made of very loosely connected stories that could be read independently. The original 1926 book would be the basis of this movie, from which a number of smaller stories would be combined into three, with the last chapter serving as an epilogue that would connect all three segments. An original all-American character who was planned but not a part of the British-based books, Gopher was introduced as a surrogate for American audiences.

    The first segment of the film introduces audiences to Winnie the Pooh himself as he notices one morning he is out of honey. When he climbs a tree to get some, he falls and almost gets badly hurt. His human friend, Christopher Robin, helps him up with Balloon and finds the honey, only to eat too much and is stuck in his neighbor Rabbit’s door. It’s up to Christopher Robin, Tigger, and Winnie The Pooh’s other friends to get him out. The next segment has Pooh feeling bad for Eeyore given that everyone has forgotten his birthday and his tail is missing. Pooh insists it was stolen and he, Piglet, and Christopher Robin track down increasing numbers of footsteps, thinking they are from woozles and Heffalumps (using honey as bait) only for Pooh to get stuck in a hole and covered in honey, leaving Piglet to think he is an actual Heffalump. The third and final segment features Christopher Robin and all of the animals in the Hundred Acre Wood (real or stuffed) going on a “quest” to find the North Pole, including newcomers Kanga and Roo. When it starts to rain, the river floods and Roo falls in by accident., Roo and Piglet are switched by accident when everyone goes home and the flood follows them all the way to Piglet’s house where Roo is, so the young kangaroo sends a message in a bottle for help. After his rescue by Pooh and Piglet (after the mistake is discovered), the entire gang celebrates their bravery.

    The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh initially premiered in New York City on April 20, 1946, almost four months before its wide release in August. It had a generally positive reception from both critics and audiences at the time and has since been regarded as the strongest overall feature from the Package Film Era. Despite its lackluster animation style, The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh was praised as being the most faithful literary adaptation of a film Disney had produced up to this point as well as being the most charming film from Walt Disney to date. However, this film was not financially profitable, barely breaking even upon its release despite high box-office rentals. It was only upon future re-releases that it became profitable. Nevertheless, this very film would be the foundation of the successful Winnie The Pooh franchise that took off with two television series inspired by the characters in 1966 and 1977. The success of these two programs caused a demand for a home video release for this particular film in the early 1980s, making it one of the first to be released by Disney and one of the highest selling during this time.

    A/N: The plots are all derived from the original Winnie The Pooh books so it makes for a more faithful retelling.
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    Wreck-It-Ralph 2 (1947)
  • Wreck-It-Ralph 2 (1947):​

    The success of the original Wreck-It-Ralph Film came right before the United States entered World War II. This was still not enough to get Disney’s studio completely into the clear from a financial standpoint. Thus, in the days before Pearl Harbor, Disney decided to make a follow-up to one of its first four feature films (either Snow White, Cinderella, Frozen, or Wreck-It-Ralph) as a means of getting immediate access to cash. On November 27, 1941, the film that would receive a sequel would have its name drawn randomly out of a hat. Wreck-It-Ralph was the title drawn out of the hat. A rough outline was almost completed on December 8, but the United States military took control of the animation studio that very day and commissioned Disney to produce war films, so this was shelved until it became clear the United States and its allies were going to win the war. During some free time in the late stages of the war, Disney was developing a potential plotline for the film but he and his colleagues could not agree on which to proceed with. As a last-ditch compromise, all four ideas were to be individual segments of a package film based on the original Wreck-It-Ralph film. It was a coin toss to make it either a midquel or an official sequel.

    Following the events of the first film, Wreck-It-Ralph 2 explores the adventures of the titular Wreck-It-Ralph and his friends as they learn what life means to them. The first segment is titled Head in the Clouds with Ralph wanting to make a name for himself instead of working at his construction business. He dreams of becoming a television and movie star, but his best friend and heiress, Sarah, warns him of the dangers of fame going to his head. Will he heed her advice, or leave everyone and everything in his life behind? The second segment is Falling In Love With Ralph. It’s a nice evening on Valentine’s Day, and Ralph and Sarah are going on a double date with a woman named Sharon and a man named Karl, respectively. Everything seems to be going well at first until it turns out that Sarah's date is an overly spoiled manchild. Meanwhile, both Ralph and Sarah have feelings for each other but can they both admit it in time? In the third and final segment, Boys Day, Ralph and Felix reunite since they went their own ways at the end of the first film. Both of them have changed since they last met, for the better and worse. The two hang out during their reunion as if they were father and son, hiking, woodworking, and playing baseball and football. Throughout all this, Ralph wonders if he really views himself as a father figure to Felix and if Felix views him as one too, which causes him to doubt himself as a mentor to Felix and as a person.

    Wreck-It-Ralph 2 premiered on September 27, 1947, in New York City, followed by its Hollywood premiere on October 22, and finally its wide release on November 12. With its budget of just over a million dollars, the film had grossed $3,165,000 in worldwide rentals by the end of its initial theatrical run with $2,040,000 being generated in North America alone. It received poor critical reception at the time due to its being a package film rather than a proper single-story sequel, not to mention many of its themes deviating from the original making it feel like a significantly lighter and softer film. In the present, the second segment is arguably the most hated package film segment among both fans and critics due to the love story being viewed as forced and unnecessary considering that wasn’t what the first movie was about. Audiences have warmed up to the other two segments over the decades, particularly the last one due to Felix and Ralph’s relationship. Nowadays, it is one of the top ten highest-selling Disney films outside of the prestigious Disney Vault Line.

    A/N: And here is the first official sequel of the Disney canon. Since IOTL Wreck-It-Ralph 2 was controversial and the infamous direct to DVD sequels as a whole, I decided to use that vibe plus some anbandoned ideas from Ralph Breaks The Internet.
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    Foster: A Wish of Little Orphan Annie (1948)
  • Foster: A Wish of Little Orphan Annie (1948):


    Following the perceived failure of Wreck-It-Ralph 2, it was decided that Disney would no longer do package features. At this point, one such film was already in production and had to be retooled to fit the standards of a low-budget single-story feature. It was going to be an original package film about the daily lives of people in New York City. At the end of the war in late 1944 or early 1945, Walt Disney himself received the film rights to the Little Orphan Annie comic strips after hearing about and watching the film adaptations by RKO from 1932 and Paramount from 1938. It was originally meant to be a package film based on the various segments from the comic strips. But, with less than a year left in production, those package segments were condensed into a single plot. Among the child actors considered for the role of Annie, Luana Patten was one of the top choices. Disney had hoped that her reputation would help this film at the box office upon its release, as it would be one of the major tests for the viability of Disney’s animation studio in the coming years. He had also hoped to learn from the mistakes of RKO and Paramount and make it into an animated film for everyone to enjoy, even the toughest of critics.

    Set in New York City in 1924 (the year the first Little Orphan Annie comic strip was published), the story opens at Hudson Street Orphanage where Annie has been routinely abused by a pair of evil matron sisters named Miss Asthma and Miss Treet since her parents left her on the orphanage doorstep as a baby. She keeps hope by believing that her wish of being adopted by a loving family will come true. After escaping the orphanage, Annie meets a dog named “Sandy” and temporarily works at a beanery before being caught by the sisters and sent back. Near Christmastime, the wealthy and eccentric Oliver Warbucks (who had taken note of Annie at her time at the beanery) writes to the orphanage that he would like to foster Annie in his mansion for the Christmas season. Mrs. Warbucks arrives to relieve Annie but soon reveals her true nature as a cold-hearted member of the nouveau rich upon arrival at the mansion. Fortunately, the staff takes a great liking to Annie and Sandy. Before Mr. Warbucks can return from his business trip, his wife devises a plan behind his back to stop her “social ruin” by scheming a plan to get rid of Annie for good once Christmas is past. Her plan is exposed, and Warbucks’ right-hand men named Asp and Punjab try to rescue Annie, but can they rescue her before Mrs. Warbucks can find them?

    The film’s working title was Litte Orphan Annie but the writers changed it to Foster: A Wish of Little Orphan Annie just weeks before sending it to RKO Radio Pictures for distribution. The film was released in the United States in August 1948 without a formal premiere like Disney’s previous features. It was ultimately a mild box office success, earning $2.6 million in rentals. At the time, it received generally favorable reviews, with praise for Luana Patten’s voice acting, the animation, and the action-oriented sequences mostly in the second half of the film. Nowadays, while it’s generally considered by fans of the Little Orphan Annie franchise to be a decent adaptation, reception is generally more mixed among critics and audiences. Most find Annie herself endearing but at the same time take problem with the fact that most of the film’s villains are female while Asp and Punjab are criticized for their stereotypical portrayal of Asians. There has been some pushback against this, however, with fans noting that the antagonists here are some of Disney’s most realistic and well-written and citing Asp and Punjab as progressive for their time due to the importance of their roles and their ethnicities not being their sole character traits. Foster: A Wish of Little Orphan Annie has gone on to become a cult classic.

    A/N: The working title that the WDAC 2023 film OTL had was Foster and since it hasn't been released yet, I decided to use the word Foster to think of a different plot for the film and the first thing to come to mind when thinking of that word that's iconic in American culture is the Annie franchise based on the Little Orphan Annie comics which date back to the 1920s OTL. I didn't realize it at the time but Foster was re-titled to Wish before the D23 Expo 2022 and since I already had everything already set I decided to incorporate more of the concept behind the word Wish here and include it in the title so it's the best of both worlds.
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    Fantasia (1949)
  • Fantasia (1949):


    The idea behind Fantasia dated back to July 1937 when Disney received the rights to the music for Paul Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice for a short set to star the one and only Mickey Mouse. After meeting with world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra conductor Leopold Stokowski, the two agreed on December 16 for Stokowski to record the music for The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which happened on January 9, 1938. By February, production costs for the short had swelled so much that it was obvious it could not earn back that money by itself. Thus, Disney decided to incorporate it into a feature film with other segments set to classical music titled The Concert Feature before being renamed Fantasia. First scheduled for a November 1940 release, anger from composer Igor Stravinsky over his Rite of Spring and the removal of two other pieces for various reasons made clear that it would not be completed in time. Thus, Frozen: The Story of the Snow Queen took its slot with The Sorcerer's Apprentice shown ahead of it. Stokowski recorded the final pieces in the spring and summer of 1941. It was set for a late 1942 or early 1943 release until the animators’ strike and the attack on Pearl Harbor shelved this until after the war.

    In 1947, with wartime package films having ceased production, Disney resumed work on Fantasia and was set for a 1949 release. The film opens with Mussorgsky’s Picture at an Exhibition which features pieces of abstract art literally and figuratively coming to life at an art museum after closing for the night. Up next was the Nutcracker Suite, featuring a variety of dances to show the change of the seasons. The third segment, and the most iconic, was Don Quixote. Slated as its own film before cancellation, the plot centers around a hidalgo named Alonso Quijano who pretends he’s a knight named Don Quixote de la Mancha. The fourth segment was a mix of two pieces by Claude Debussy: Clair de Lune and La Mer. It features a lonely egret in the bayou looking for friends before a storm washes him away and he must find his way home. Fantasia resumes with the Pastoral Symphony set in classical mythology to the tune of Beethoven’s Sixth. After that was Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Ponchielli complete with dancing alligators, elephants, hippos, and ostriches. Dance of the Hours preceded a baby ballet set to John Alden Carpenter's Adventures in a Perambulator. The final segment and emotional climax of the film, Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite, shows life, death, and renewal in 30 minutes, seen through the eyes of the Spring Sprite.

    Fantasia premiered on July 6, 1949, in Los Angeles, California at the same venue where Snow White premiered in 1937. Thanks in part to the theatrical trailer promoting Mickey Mouse as the co-host of the film alongside Deems Taylor, Fantasia ended up a modest hit for its $2.3 million budget. It was successful but not enough to release the film every few years with new segments as intended, and the concept was scrapped. Most critics praised Fantasia for its attempt at high art by blending high-quality animation with classical music but some saw it as pretentious. Most audience criticisms were aimed at the last two segments. Many considered the baby ballet as redundant and too cutesy while some viewed The Firebird Suite as too long, boring, and harsh. After 1949, it was aired on television and not released back to theaters for another 20 years when the youth of the 1960s finally made it a Disney classic. Over the years, Fantasia gained controversy over the racist caricatures seen in The Nutcracker Suite and Pastoral Symphony but has otherwise aged well. The original soundtrack animation for the abandoned segments and the Meet The Soundtrack intermission appear as bonus features on the 2000 DVD release.

    Author's Note: I didn't want Fantasia to be the exact same film of OTL and since I already announced the separate release of the Sorcerer's Apprentice alongside Frozen, I decided to make some other changes, which meant some segments had to be replaced. I decided to cut Toccata and Fugue in D Minor since I assumed test audiences would hate it and was excluded from the original 1942 widespread release anyway. I also cut The Rite of Spring since Stravinsky IOTL was livid over the reshuffling of his work in Fantasia and the removal of the sequence which would have ended the segment with the Age of Man and discovery of Fire. Here, as the only composer still alive and due to hasty delays in production as is, he gets to listen to it and he's just as livid so Disney swaps it out for a 30-minute rendition of The Firebird. I have it replacing the role of Night on Bald Mountain and Ave Maria so that had to go and I wanted to use the segment that was competed for Fantasia IOTL but cut due to time constraints. For new segments, I looked and used the pieces that Deems Taylor IOTL had recorded introductions for in 1940 in the event of a follow-up to Fantasia. Lastly, Fantasound never is actually used here due to budget cuts stemming from the animators' strike and World War II.
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    Chicken Little (1950)
  • Chicken Little (1950):


    Unlike most of its predecessors, Chicken Little was not conceptualized as a feature film until World War II. An anti-Nazi propaganda short film named Chicken Little, based on the Henny Penny fable, was released in 1943 to demonstrate the evils of mass hysteria. Not long afterward, Disney drew up plans for a full-length feature based on the folktale. He assigned Joe Grant and Dick Huemer to start working on it in December 1943 and gave them an initial budget of $1 million. Work was halted in 1945 during the production of Song of the South. More story meetings were held before storyboarding began in August 1947. By early 1948, Chicken Little was fast-tracked to be the 12th Disney film released with a 1950 date based on its story development compared to other projects going on. Since Disney himself was occupied with filming the live-action adaptation of Treasure Island, he canceled daily story meetings and allowed the directors greater judgment. Production was finally finished by mid-January of 1950, just two months before its premiere.

    Chicken Little starts with the titular character watching the end of the namesake 1943 short in school for social studies class as an exercise in parallelism between World War II and the rising tensions between America and the Soviet Union. As a shrinking violet with a rather wildly vivid imagination. Chicken Little gains anxiety over the sky falling both in the literal sense and as a euphemism for a nuclear bombing. The anxious young girl ever becomes more hysterical until summer break when her parents, to help her gain courage after a “falling sky” incident, send her away to summer camp. There, she meets a boy nicknamed the Ugly Duckling who is ostracized for his looks. The two bond over their shared ostracism and become friends. Thinking she has found safety, Chicken Little and the Ugly Duckling discover a plan by a pack of wolves to impersonate the counselors (mostly comprised of anthropomorphic sheep) so that they can lure in the campers and eat them during the wolves’ annual feast. Chicken Little starts to lose her sanity but realizes that only she and the Ugly Duckling can save the camp. They try to warn the other campers and counselors about the wolves in sheep’s clothing but will anyone believe them until it’s too late?

    The premiere of Chicken Little was held in Boston on May 17, 1950. It debuted in New York and Chicago a week later before making its wide release on June 2. Because its final budget was $1.7 million, it was able to earn enough money at the box office to wipe out most of Disney’s remaining debt. Disney himself was not thrilled with the finished product, though. He loved the idea of a feature centering around anthropomorphic animals, considering his most iconic stars were Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy. But, Walt commented that, in retrospect, the film felt too contemporary and lacked the timelessness of his previous work. He also said it was cynical and even mean-spirited at times. Critics and audiences at the time agreed, universally panning Chicken Little. However, it was one of the first Disney films to be released onto home video in the early 1980s and has since gained enough fans for people to be evenly dispersed into one of three camps. One considers it one of the worst, if not the worst 2D Disney films; another genuinely loves it despite its flaws; and yet another considers it okay to average. The most hated Disney film had yet to be released and Chicken Little came right before one of the most beloved and successful of them all.

    Author's Note: So Chicken Little has something of a better fate ITTL. Hated at the time yet unlike its OTL counterpart is tripolar in the present day and has a large fanbase. Of course, this title was meant to emulate Cinderella in terms of animation quality and being the film to technically save Disney from bankruptcy yet otherwise parallel Robin Hood, most notably being hated before developing a fanbase due to home video releases and, of course, talking animals. I based the plot based on the original draft of OTL's version of Chicken Little but of course with some modifications and cultural references of the 1940s and 1950s.
    The Emperor's New Groove (1951)
  • The Emperor's New Groove (1951):


    In 1938, after the success of Snow White, Disney bought a book of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales. Drawing out of a hat, Disney selected The Emperor’s New Clothes as the second Hans Christen Andersen film after The Snow Queen. A story real was completed in 1939, but Disney was dissatisfied since he thought the script was too ambiguous and not whimsical enough and the lead character himself too cold and unlikeable. Because of the production demands for other Disney films and World War II, The Emperor's New Clothes was shelved until the war ended and finally went into full production in 1946. At this point, Disney edited the title of the film to the Emperor’s New Groove to reflect the emperor’s changes in his style and attitude throughout the movie. A new competition within Disney’s studio took place to see which film would be completed first: Chicken Little or The Emperor’s New Groove. The latter was scheduled tentatively for a 1950 release but had fallen behind the former by early 1948 and the directors pushed its release back to 1951. The writing of both the script and music of The Emperor’s New Groove was said to be grueling, and they barely met their deadlines.

    The film begins with the vain and short-sighted Emperor George sitting in his palace throne room. The wealth of his empire allows him access to the most luxurious clothes, but almost none of it goes to the majority peasant population. George notices his clothes are old and out of vogue, so he demands his royal advisor hire a tailor to make him new clothes. The advisor knowingly hires two swindlers who dabble in weaving and want revenge on the emperor. At first, they appear legitimate and even show the emperor how they make the clothes. Eventually, the clothes get wackier with each visit, and the townspeople take notice and start imitating these fashion trends. Finally, they make George a suit colored with a rare dye with magical properties that are supposed to prevent foolish or incompetent people from seeing it. Not noticing any change, the emperor thinks nothing of it until he overhears the conmen discussing with the royal advisor their plans to humiliate him by having him wear his nothing suit to the annual royal ball and parade in front of the kingdom. Can a newly-humbled George avoid public humiliation before it's too late?

    Before The Emperor’s New Groove premiered at the Broadway Theater in New York on July 26, 1951, Disney employed the television to help advertise the film, making it his first to be promoted on television. On NBC and CBS, Disney aired a handful of small clips of the film alongside several cartoons and two cast members did interviews for promotional purposes. When it premiered in the United States and in Canada two weeks later, audiences and critics gave it a standing ovation at its ending. It ultimately became the most successful Disney animated film at the box office in 13 years, making $7.5 million on a $3 million budget. Disney feared that the titular emperor would be too unlikeable for audiences. Still, it turned out he had the right about of charisma, entertainment value, and heart to balance out his vanity. The animation, music, and performances of the voice actors were considered the highlights of The Emperor’s New Groove. Its re-release in 1974 proved one of the most successful runs that year. By 2003, it became so beloved and profitable that it was added to the Disney Platinum Edition Lineup.

    Author's Note: As excited as I am now, I initially dreaded writing about this. When the randomizer worked its magic I had no idea how to make The Emperor's New Groove work 50 years earlier. I soon watched a childhood favorite of mine, Muppet Classic Theater, which had The Emperor's New Clothes in it and that's when the idea clicked. Of course, it couldn't be complete with 1950s-style humor like in OTL's Cinderella or Alice in Wonderland so that's part of the expansion from the original tale.
    Bolt (1953)
  • Bolt (1953):


    Walt Disney had explored working with Norse mythology since 1938 when he considered a segment for Fantasia based on the Ride of the Valkyries from Richard Wagner's opera Die Walküre. This would have depicted the mythical Valkyries guiding souls of the dead slain on the battlefield to Odin’s hall. However, Walt felt that the piece wasn’t usable because Wagner was Adolf Hitler’s favorite musician. Instead, he used this as the basis for a new full-length feature. Story reels dated back to 1939 and story meetings to May 1940, but Disney could not figure out a way to make this myth work as a film. Pre-production work, halted in 1941, was revived in 1947 when Disney’s financial health started rebounding. This treatment differed greatly from the original, centering around the Norse god of thunder, Thor, so that it could appeal to broader audiences. Production officially commenced in May 1949 once Chicken Little and The Emperor’s New Groove were nearing completion. In April 1950, it was confirmed that Sammy Cahn and Sammy Fain had composed songs for this film now named Bolt. It was ultimately dedicated to supervising animator Fred Moore who had died on November 23, 1952, due to getting into a car crash.

    One night, the god of chaos and mischief, Loki, engaged in a crime spree across Asgard which culminated in cutting off all the pure gold hair of Thor’s wife Sif (the goddess of faith, family, and fertility). Thor, who is understandably angry, goes into a rage and threatens to break every bone in Loki’s body if he failed to make things right. Loki promises to make amends by having a new head of hair fully constructed for Sif. He travels to the deep caverns of Svartalfheim, where the dwarves lived, away from direct sunlight, and asks their master builders (the sons of Ivaldi) to help him. They soon accepted his plea and begin their work immediately. Meanwhile, Loki retreats to taunt and challenge dwarf brothers Brokkr and Sindri into creating better masterworks than even the golden hair. One of the three masterworks was Mjölnir, the crusher, or the lightning bolt hammer meant for Loki’s brother, Thor. since only he had the strength to wield it properly. Only, Loki had no such intentions of giving the bolt (Mjölnir) to him, and he soon plans to take absolute power over Asgard by using that very hammer before unleashing complete chaos onto the world.

    Bolt was first released in theaters across the United States on February 5, 1953. It received the upper billing of a double feature with a documentary short named Bear Country. It ended up as another box office success for Disney, earning $8.6 million worldwide on a $3.9 million budget. Critics especially praised the character of Thor while that of Loki received a mixed reception, particularly among those more familiar with the old Norse myths. Voice acting and animation were universally acclaimed at the time with the darker tone compared to other Disney films, including lack of family-friendliness, and lack of music being more divisive. In the present, Bolt has received praise from Disney fans for being more faithful to the original mythologies than other films that would come later, alongside the Pastoral Symphony segment from Fantasia. It received five theatrical re-releases through the 1980s before becoming one of Disney’s highest-selling home video titles in the 1990s. Bolt was even cited as a source of inspiration for Marvel Comics’ characterizations of Loki and Thor.

    Author's Note: Because Bolt IOTL was an original film and is one of those that takes place in the present, I wasn't able to really translate a talking dog thinking he's a superhero into a 1950s setting. Rather, I used the title Bolt and with that, the first thing that came to mind was lightning which in turn made me think of Zeus/Jupiter in classical mythology. With the Pastoral Symphony having just happened and Hercules still on the horizon I wanted to jump into a different set of myths. Egyptian mythology was actually my first choice but I couldn't figure out how to make that work so I looked into Norse mythology and discovered that it had been explored for the original Fantasia film OTL so I ran with it. I hope you guys enjoy this.
    Zootopia (1955)
  • Zootopia (1955):​

    Zootopia was not what Disney envisioned when he thought of Little Bear Bongo after reading it for the first time in 1940. Penned by Sinclair Lewis and first published in Cosmopolitan Magazine in September 1930, it was merely a story about how a circus bear ends up in the wild. A low-budget adaptation of the story was planned to help the studio recoup from the box office failures of Cinderella and Frozen, with a basic script complete in December 1941. World War II caused this project to be shelved for several years, and even after it ended, it was well behind Chicken Little, The Emperor’s New Groove, and Bolt in its development. Further hurting its development was story artist Joe Grant’s departure from the animation studio in 1949. It was not until 1953 that a solid story began taking hold. Disney was always unsatisfied with the ending of the original Bongo story where Bongo leaves the wilderness to join another circus and fall in love with a “civilized” and pacifistic female bear. Indirectly inspired by reading several children’s books about zoo animals, he decided to raise the stakes for the ending and change the title of the film to Zootopia. It was decided to film Zootopia in CinemaScope based on the growing interest in widescreen formatting among moviegoers.

    Bongo, a young brown bear, trained in acrobatics and performing other circus tricks, is the star and main attraction of a successful nationwide circus. All of this comes at the ire and jealousy of a group of four elephants headed by the Matriarch. As the circus train attempts to traverse the Colorado Rockies, the elephants jar Bongo’s cage loose and make it look like an accident, causing Bongo and his monkey sidekick named Chimpy to end up stuck in the wilderness. They soon emerge into a forest clearing inhabited by bears, including a love interest named Susie. With the help of another bear named Stinky, he learns how to hunt for food and fight in self-defense, but all this does is attract the attention of a surly, violent bear named Lump Jaw who not only bullies him routinely but competes for Susie’s affections. Susie inadvertently breaks Bongo’s heart when he finds her talking with Lump Jaw. Between the heartbreak and bullying, he leaves the wild and travels west to find another circus to join. He is captured along the way and sent to a zoo in Denver. Upon finding this out, Chimpy and Stinky try to form a rescue party and break him out. While all this happens, Bongo adjusts to zoo life but his experiences in the zoo, wild, and circus make him question his place in the animal world and discover what his actual “zootopia” is - in the forest or civilization?

    As the release date drew closer, Disney realized that not all movie theaters at the time were compatible with Cinemascope. Upon learning this, Walt issued two versions of the film: one in widescreen and one in the traditional Academy ratio. This meant restructuring key scenes when characters were on screen edges. Zootopia made its original theatrical premiere on June 22, 1955. It received mixed reviews from then-contemporary film critics. Some claimed that this was far from the best that Disney had done up to this point, thinking it was too sentimental at times and that Cinemascope enhanced the flaws of Disney’s animation studio. Others believed that it was a joyful story for all ages. Receiving the most praise were the music, dialogue, and voice acting, plus the background animations and human-like character expressions. Reception has warmed over time, on the other hand. Audiences drove this to be a box office success, having earned $6.5 million in rentals. After being re-released four times in theaters, Zootopia premiered on home video in the 1980s where it has achieved moderate success since then.

    Author's Note: Like some other films, this does not have a suitable image for it that I could find. On a separate note, Zootopia isn't so much a city here as it is a state of mind, the environment, and finding where you belong in the world. The first and second acts are based on the original story as well as the Bongo segment of OTL's Fun and Fancy Free. Unlike those two, I wanted to explore other environments in which animals lived hence the zoo in the third act, and some new opportunities for character development. I incorporated some new characters proposed IOTL before it became a featurette (including the elephants from Dumbo) and there’s some influences here from Lady and The Tramp too in terms of plot. ITTL, Zootopia is like OTL's The Fox and the Hound in terms of critic reviews and modern popularity.
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    Atlantis: The Lost Empire (1959)
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire (1959)


    In November 1950, Walt Disney announced that he was developing a feature film based on the myth of the lost city of Atlantis. He registered the production Atlantis: The Lost Empire in the previous January. Unlike every other Disney film that came before, it would be based on two books: Atlantis: The Antediluvian World and The Lost Continent: The Story of Atlantis. It would also be significantly darker than Disney’s previous efforts, much so that it catered more towards older audiences than young children. Walt understood that this was a risky project, but he planned on this film being a pinnacle not only in animation but all of cinema. By mid-1952, casting took place and story presentations were complete, but Walt wasn’t fully satisfied. Atlantis: The Lost Empire was set for a Christmas 1955 release. With all dialogue recorded by July 1953, production went into high gear with the start of preliminary animation. In April 1954, the film’s release was rescheduled to February 1957 and then to Christmas 1957, in no short part due to the Disneyland theme park and the Disneyland and Mickey Mouse Club television programs. Production of Atlantis resumed in December 1956, with the release scheduled for Christmas 1958 before its final date of January 1959.

    In 1914, amidst the breakout of the First World War, archeologist Charles Donnelly attempts to find evidence for the long-lost continent of Atlantis along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Disgruntled and almost giving up, he finds a gold key engraved with Egyptian and Peruvian writing. He unlocks a door with the key and suddenly travels back into ancient times to a mysterious land he never saw before. Donnelley soon discovers that he is in the old city of Atlantis. During his time in Atlantis, he meets the ancient royalty who reign through the continent, finds some of the oldest ironworks in the world, and most importantly, finds a journal of an ancient expedition to Atlantis that allows one to locate the city and decipher the language of the Atlantis people complete with a familiar golden key. Donnelly plans to take this book with him back to the present so that he can access Atlantis from the future if needed. Before he can do that, Atlantis finds itself in grave danger as what seems to be an extreme convulsion of nature threatens to sink the island into the ocean, taking all of its inhabitants with it. In reality, this destruction is wrought by the secretly evil empress of Atlantis. Can he escape to the present and save Atlantis from a terrible fate?

    While previous films were distributed by RKO Radio Pictures, Atlantis and Zootopia were instead distributed by Buena Vista. Buena Vista released Atlantis in both standard 35 mm prints (with four-track stereo) and large-format 70 mm prints (with six-track stereophonic sound). The film premiered in Los Angeles on January 29, 1959, paired with the short documentary Grand Canyon upon its wide release. It received mixed reviews from critics at the time, praising it for its animation style and audio quality, but the plot received criticism for being too far out of the norm for Disney and too risky for most audiences to accept. It was also a box office failure relative to its $5.9 million budget, earning $4.6 million in rentals. Because of this, Walt never re-released it during his lifetime, only doing so in 1970 after his death. It did eventually earn back its budget by the 1980s. In the present, Atlantis has more detractors than most Disney classics, but its fanbase significantly outweighs and regards it as Walt’s magnum opus, more than Snow White, Cinderella, Frozen, Wreck-It-Ralph, Fantasia, and even The Emperor’s New Groove. Back in 1959, Walt tried distancing himself from Altantis with a story he had grown fond of since childhood.

    Author's Note: Since most Disney films at this time were based on source materials and not original works, I used Atlantis: The Antediluvian World and The Lost Continent: The Story of Atlantis as the basis for TTL's counterpart of Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Also the box office failiure of Atlantis will be the beginning of the end for Walt.
    Alice in Wonderland (1961)
  • Alice in Wonderland (1961)


    Walt Disney first read Lewis Carroll's Alice books as a child. In 1933, Disney considered making a full-length live-action/animation Alice film but canceled it in favor of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In 1938, after Snow White’s success, he bought the rights to Alice in Wonderland and officially registered the title. David Hall finished a story reel by 1939, but Disney was displeased. He realized the extreme complexity of Alice so he scrapped the project. In 1957, with Atlantis deep into production, Disney looked for more works to adapt and chose to revive Alice in Wonderland. He was pleased with the story draft assigned to Bill Peet. With Atlantis disappointing critics and the box office, Disney was discussing shutting down the studio’s animation department. Meanwhile, Ub Iwerks experimented with a Xerox camera to aid in animation and modified one to directly transfer drawings to cels, saving both time and money. What it could not do was deviate from a black, scratchy outline nor recreate the lavishness of hand-inking. Ken Anderson proposed to use the Xerox for Alice to a disenchanted Walt. He approved but would grow to dislike the art style of Alice in Wonderland because he felt that the fantasy element of his previous works was lost.

    Alice in Wonderland begins in Victorian England where a young girl named Alice finds a white rabbit yelling out loud that he is late. She follows him down a rabbit hole and freefalls into a corridor lined with doors. After messing with size-changing food and drinks, she creates an ocean out of her tears and uses it to escape through a mirror behind the smallest door. Once outside, she finds herself among talking plants, animals, and other strange creatures, some original and others from well-known nursery rhymes. While few are rational and mostly rude, she comes across the bizarre but well-meaning Mad Hatter and March Hare she comes across at the Mad Hatter’s grand Tea Party. They guide Alice to the Red Queen of Hearts' castle, the home of the infamous Wonderland tyrant who uses her Cheshire Cat to trick everyone, except the already insane Mad Hatter and March Hare, into deep madness so that they can't revolt against her reign. Unafraid of the Queen’s rule and the Cheshire Cat, and because only the Red Queen of Hearts knows how Alice can return home, Alice challenges the Queen to a croquet match and a life-sized game of Wonderland chess. If she loses both games, Alice will never be able to return home.

    Alice in Wonderland premiered on July 26, 1961. Costing nearly $3.5 million, it doubled that at the box office. Despite positive reception among audiences at the time, critical reception was largely negative. Critics called Alice too episodic and the Xerox technique was panned for producing “low” animation quality. Worst of all, the world was thought of as overly sweet yet most of the characters seemed to lack any likeability or charm. When it was re-released in 1969, after Walt’s death, Alice in Wonderland saw its critical reception vastly improve. It also broke records when released on home video in the 1980s. But the damage was done and Walt Disney was crushed by the early critical pans of the film. It only validated Walt’s hatred of the movie, not only the animation but the characters, plot, pacing, and virtually everything else. It had been one of his favorite childhood stories and this was the result? He never forgave Ken Anderson for his suggestion and quit animation once and for all to focus on theme parks and television programming. Finally, Alice’s perceived failure led Walt to turn to alcohol in addition to cigarettes, enabling his notorious paparazzi meltdown in late 1961.

    Author's Note: This film is essentially where the Silver Age meets the Dark Age. Hopefully, the plot for this movie is acceptable to you guys since I found this one of the hardest to create. Beginning with the 1963 film, Walt Disney himself will no longer be involved with the production of any films released in this universe's Walt Disney Animated Canon.
    Melody Time (1963)
  • Melody Time (1963)


    Once Make Mine Music was completed in 1942, a follow-up was soon conceptualized. These plans were abandoned in 1947, though, as Disney forbade the development of any more package features sans the in-progress Fantasia. The sole exception would be in 1963, following the financial failure of Atlantis: The Lost Empire four years earlier, as well as the critical thrashing of Alice in Wonderland in 1961. One idea considered was a compilation of abandoned Disney story ideas from the past, including Babes in Toyland, Chanticleer, Hansel and Gretel, Mickey and the Beanstalk, Gremlins, Wind In the Willows, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and others. The staff debated this back and forth until Walt Disney stepped down from animation to focus on television and theme parks in 1961. The idea that was approved after Disney’s departure was to use popular musical selections from recent years and set them to animated stories, complete with various celebrity guest hosts. Like Alice before it, Melody Time used the Xerox method of animation. Since this was the first Disney-free film, the animators were worried about the direction the film would take, but Wolfgang Reitherman had stepped up as both director and producer.

    The film focuses on 1950s music with 10 pieces set to animation, each piece representing the most successful songs of each year of the decade. Up first was Goodnight, Irene for 1950. In it, the animated narrator sings about his sorrow and frustration towards his lover, and the climactic scene shows the unnamed narrator jumping into a river. Too Young by Nat King Cole was up next, representing 1951, and then 1952 was Blue Tango, which was set in Argentina with everything, from the dancers to the backgrounds, colored blue. The next segment was It’s April Again sung by Felicia Sanders, telling the change from winter to spring and despair into love. The fifth segment was set to Little Things Mean a Lot by Kitty Kallen with two teenagers falling in love and going on a first date. The song for 1955 was a mambo version of Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White) recorded by Perez Prado telling a story about a Cuban sugar plantation worker and his family. Elvis Presley occupied the spaces for 1956 and 1957 in the film with Heartbreak Hotel and All Shook Up. The story for the former song has the protagonist walk out of a hotel to discover the world around him destroyed due to universal heartbreak, while the latter shows a dream about love gone wrong. For 1958 is Nel blu, dipinto di blu, showing two birds migrating from the Italian Alps for the winter. The last segment was based on The Battle of New Orleans recorded by John Horton, depicting a rather comical account of what happened on the battlefield.

    Melody Time premiered in Hollywood on December 12, 1963, before its nationwide debut one week later. It was commercially viable, thanks in no short part to its $2.7 million budget. The two main praises of the film were the artistry of Blue Tango and Nel blu, dipinto di blu. The segment of Goodnight, Irene was criticized for its climax showing an implicit suicide and became even more controversial in 1964 after Walt Disney’s untimely death and was removed from circulation following an investigation about his death, considered by many a suicide. It was added back to the film for its home video release in 1998. The Battle of New Orleans received mixed reviews, with praise for the animation but criticism for historical inaccuracy. The Elvis Presley segments were considered the most memorable of Melody Time, but everything else was seen as forgettable. Critics bashed the use of celebrity hosts for having more screen time than the animated segments did themselves, and even with that, it clocked in at just over 60 minutes. Most of its small fanbase today comprises older Disney fans and people interested in the 1950s period as a whole.

    A/N: I was originally going to do the idea of abandoned filmed ideas from OTL or stories from films that haven't been produced yet ITTL but I decided a Walt-less Disney would probably go in this direction instead. After all, the Melody Time of OTL comprised of period music so this made sense in that context, and Elvis Presley would be a big cash cow in this universe. After discovering what Goodbye, Irene was about, I figured it may or may not have influenced Disney's untimely death here, especially considering the path Disney took after the critical failure of TTL's Alice in Wonderland. Speaking of critical failure, reviews aren't much better for Melody Time here, and is nowadays ITTL considered the most infamous example of a Disney cash-grab, which explains its small fanbase and it being one of the most hated films by Disney. Even fans don’t like the first segment due to the intense controversy surrounding it.
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    The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1967)
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1967)


    In 1962, Story Artist Bill Peet suggested a more interesting story with higher stakes than in most Disney films up to this point. He inquired to Wolfgang Reitherman about The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo and acquired the rights to it in April. This would be the first film to be made wholly independent of Walt, and the end product would greatly reflect that. The film rights to Hunchback were acquired that April after being considered for ten years. Peet favored largely adhering to the dark, dramatic, edgy, and sinister tone of Hugo’s novel while making many of the characters less ambiguous in their moral standing like Frollo, Phoebus, and Clapin. Voice casting was underway by 1964, and animation commenced in June 1965. Unlike other films before it, animators were in charge of developing entire sequences due to the frequent character interactions. All in all, the Disney studio was hoping that Hunchback would be better received than Alice and Melody Time.

    Abandoned outside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris at the age of four, the deaf, one-eyed, hunchbacked named Quasimodo is (out of kindness) taken in by the Archdeacon of Josas, Claude Frollo, and introduces Quasimodo to the bell tower where he finds freedom and shelter from the real world. Frollo’s inner dark side slowly unveils itself when he sees a young gypsy lady named Esmeralda dancing in the Parisian streets. Because Frollo had never dealt with this before, his inner lust makes him go insane and tries to kidnap Esmeralda (while using Quadmodo for muscle for this job). The attempt is foiled by Frollo’s archrival Phoebus, Captain of the Archers. Frollo has Quasimodo take the fall, though, and thus the latter is arrested and sent to the stocks. It is there where he meets Esmeralda for the first time and, unlike every other woman in Paris, Esmeralda likes Quasimodo for who he is and does not let his deformities overshadow his heart. Her kindness causes him to view Esmeralda as an angel but puts him into conflict with an increasingly unstable Frollo who develops a simultaneous lust and loathing toward Esmeralda.

    The Hunchback of Notre Dame was released theatrically on October 18, 1967, in the United States as Disney's 19th full-length feature film. It was a solid box office success, earning $11.5 million on its $3.7 million budget during its initial theatrical run. The film earned mixed reviews from both contemporary audiences and critics. The story itself was seen as middling, and its dark themes such as antizagnism, damnation, genocide, lust, and sin were polarizing. Yet the visuals were considered the strongest among the first three Disney films to use the Xerox method, and its message of tolerance gave it a large following in light of the civil rights movement and other movements of 1960s America. The scene where Frollo kills Quasimodo near the film's finale was named one of the most controversial scenes in animation history, and some of that controversy still lingers to this day. On the other hand, the contrasting character arcs of Frollo and Phoebus have gotten praised more highly over time. In March 1997, during a special 30th-anniversary release in Paris, France, it was named one of the greatest films of all time. In North America, it experienced great success on home video before its initial DVD release in 1999.

    A/N: In essence, this is a mashup of the original book and OTL's version of Disney's Hunchback plus the inclusion of a scene considered for the finale of the 1996 version. Also, this film ITTL will have a greater impact on film than people will realize at the time since it will be one of the first animated films, if not the outright first one, to receive a PG rating upon its re-release in 1970s under the 1972 ratings system.
    Pocahontas (1970)
  • Pocahontas (1970):


    Among Walt Disney’s last responsibilities as the head of his animation studio was, in December 1961, to suggest Harry Tytle and Tom McGowan find stories based in mythology in the same way Bolt was. The writers proposed a film about the legend of Pocahontas in August 1962. The project was shelved the following year due to story issues and the decision to focus on The Hunchback of Notre Dame instead. Flirtations occurred in 1964 when story artist Otto Englander was assigned to work on Pocahontas and film meetings started taking place regularly before the staff gave the green light to the final version in 1966. This was not before Ken Anderson determined the feasibility of Pocahontas to work as an animated feature. The studio later contacted voice actor Phil Harris to help improvise the script and he went on to voice Captain John Smith. Ken Anderson spent the next eighteen months (after December 1966) attempting to develop the character designs, and five of Disney's legendary Nine Old Men worked on the animation.

    In the spring of 1607, over 100 men and boys reach continental North America (what they called Virginia) and named their settlement after the King of England: Jamestown. At first, all seems to be going smoothly and the settlers are determined in their quest for gold, but they soon develop hardship and consider abandoning the settlement altogether. Captain John Smith considers all of this while exploring the interior for gold but gets captured by Powhatan warriors under Chief Powhatan. He is set to be executed and prepares for the worst. It is only due to Chief Powhatan’s sixteen-year-old daughter Pocahontas throwing herself in front of her father that he avoids this. From here, Pocahontas and John Smith begin to develop a friendship that is frowned upon by both the Englishmen and Native Americans. Attempts to keep the peace between the two parties become increasingly futile as the governor of Virginia, John Ratcliffe, plans to commit genocide against the Natives. Now, Pocahontas and John Smith are now racing against time to stop the governor from carrying out his plans.

    Pocahontas was released to theaters on December 24, 1970, as a double feature with Niok, the Orphan Elephant. It was re-released twice before initially being released onto VHS in 1988. It was the second consecutive and overall Disney animated film to receive a PG rating upon re-releases due to attempted genocide being a plot point. Pocahontas received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics and audiences at the time due to the story, the strength of the two lead characters, and the animation to a lesser degree. Nowadays, the reception for the film is more divided. Many modern fans and critics praise the film for its themes such as racism, friendship, and environmentalism. At the same time, others view the theme of racism as especially too dark for a family-oriented movie or think Pocahontas handled the topic too clumsily, making the English settlers appear more favorable than in real life. Using a non-Native American for the title role did not help things. Regardless of its flaws in its historical accuracy, it is neither the most beloved nor despised film among Disney fans.

    Author's Note: With the film being based on a real person and real-life events, I wasn't sure how to handle it considering OTL's version of the story is one of the least well-liked Disney films. Hopefully, this is somewhat more historically accurate or at least more respectful to the original Pocahontas. But it being Disney I can't be too sure it's perfect. I'm huge into colonial history and a couple of my TLs (including one I'm currently working on) so at the same time this was also fun to work on. Stay tuned for more.