By Emily Hewitt
Several motifs come to mind when reflecting upon The Walt Disney Company’s 100-year history from characters wishing upon a star to magic dust that make seemingly impossible dreams a reality.
And Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 62nd feature Wish—now showing in theaters around the world—pays homage to many of the studio’s beloved films from throughout the decades. The animated musical-comedy centers on Asha (voiced by Ariana DeBose), a sharp-witted idealist who makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a ball of boundless energy she calls Star. Together they must confront King Magnifico (voiced by Chris Pine), the ruler of Rosas, to save her community. The film features Disney nods celebrating Disney Animation’s history. D23 has identified many of these nods to classic Disney Animation films and characters below. (Spoiler alert: This story discusses major plot details.)
1. Mickey Mouse
It wouldn’t be a Disney film without at least one hidden Mickey—or three. At one point in the film, Star sprinkles stardust on a pen in King Magnifico’s office, making it start drawing an outline of Mickey Mouse. This is also a nod to the scene in Fantasia in which Sorcerer Mickey brings the brooms to life to do his chores.
Also keep an eye out for that familiar trio of circles in the tower of macarons seen in the kitchen, and within the final fireworks in the film.
2. Mickey Mouse’s Face
Mickey Mouse was also used as inspiration for the shape of Star’s face. Both Mickey Mouse’s and Star’s face feature a heart-shaped mask and similar facial expressions.
3. Wishing Upon a Star from Pinocchio, Tangled, and The Princess and the Frog
Wishing upon a star—seen in classic Disney Animation films including Pinocchio, Tangled,and The Princess and the Frog—is honored in Wish with Asha wishing upon a star, bringing Star down from the sky.
4. Magical Mirror from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
There are several references to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)—the first full-length animated film ever created. One of many references to the Academy Award®-honored film includes the Magic Mirror. While surrounded by mirrors, King Magnifico says “Mirrors, mirrors on the wall” as a nod to the phrase the Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs says to the Magic Mirror when asking if she is still “the fairest one of all.”
5. Poisonous Apple from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
An homage to the Queen (voiced in the original Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Lucille La Verne) is a green-and-red apple with the image of a skull which can be seen on King Magnifico’s desk. The apple is reminiscent of the poisoned apple the Queen persuades Snow White to eat in the film.
6. The Seven Dwarfs from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
The Seven Dwarfs are also noted in Wish. Each of Asha’s friends is reminiscent of one of the beloved characters and their names start with the same letter as the character who inspired them. Dahlia (voiced by Jennifer Kumiyama) is Asha’s closest friend and wears glasses, like Doc (voiced by Roy Atwell). Bazeema (voiced by Della Saba) has a shy demeanor like Bashful (voiced by Scotty Mattraw). Gabo (voiced by Harvey Guillén) is easy to anger, like Grumpy (voiced by Pinto Colvig). Hal (voiced by Niko Vargas) is usually happy, a key characteristic of Happy (voiced by Otis Harlan). Simon (voiced by Evan Peters) has a hard time staying awake, like Sleepy (voiced by Pinto Colvig). Dario (voiced by Jon Rudnitsky) is a rosy-cheeked, wiggly-eared guy who wears a green shirt with a purple hat, like Dopey (voiced by Eddie Collins). Safi (voiced by Ramy Youssef) seems to have allergies and sneezes quite a bit like Sneezy (voiced by Billy Gilbert).
7. Aspect Ratio and Storybook Opening from Sleeping Beauty
A more technical nod that Wish made to a classic film is the 2.55:1 aspect ratio that Sleeping Beauty used. Wish’s storybook opening is also reminiscent of the 1959 Disney Animation feature, as well as other Disney Animation classics.
8. Aurora’s Dress from Sleeping Beauty
When King Magnifico looks at the floating wishes, one of them features a woman sewing a blue dress, like the one Aurora (voiced by Mary Costa) wears in Sleeping Beauty.
9. The Fairy Godmother’s Cape from Cinderella
Another fashionable nod is Asha’s blue-hooded cape with pink bow which is like the Fairy Godmother’s (voiced by Verna Felton) cape from Cinderella.
10. “Love is an Open Door” from Frozen
When forest plants and animals break into song thanks to some of Star’s magic dust, Asha says, “This is crazy” and the Mushrooms reply, “We love crazy,” which is a nod to the “Love is an Open Door” musical sequence in Frozen in which Hans (voiced by Santino Fontana) says, “I love crazy.”
The young goat Valentino (voiced by Alan Tudyk) can talk for most of the film due to Star’s magic dust, and Asha’s loyal friend is dressed up in adorable yellow pajamas. Valentino exclaims at the end of the film, “I dream of a metropolis where all mammals are equal. And wear clothes,” which describes the city in Zootopia perfectly.
12. Peter Pan
King Magnifico sadly destroys a wish of a boy who wishes to fly, and looks like Peter Pan (voiced by Bobby Driscoll).
Additionally, the character returns to the screen at the end of the film and Queen Amaya (voiced by Angelique Cabral), King Magnifico’s wife, introduces him to someone else who wants to fly so they can build a flying device.
13. Chip from Beauty and the Beast
In a scene in the kitchen, there are dishes in the sink and one of the mugs is chipped – a nod to the character Chip (voiced by Norma Swank-Haviland) from Beauty and the Beast.
14. Tinker Bell from Peter Pan
Much like Tinker Bell doesn’t speak but sassily spreads pixie dust, Star also spreads magic dust without saying a word.
15. Talking Plants and Animals from Alice in Wonderland
Star uses its magic dust to bring plants and animals to life so they can talk, much like the plants and animals can do in many Disney Animation films such as Alice and Wonderland. When the flowers start talking, the similarity between them and the talking flowers in Alice and Wonderland is magical.
16. Singing and Dancing Animals from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella
Not only do the animals talk due to Star’s magic dust, but they can also sing much like they do in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella. The blue birds that sing with Cinderella (voiced by Ilene Woods) inspired those seen in Wish. The animals also stack themselves to create a dance partner for Asha, like they did for Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.
17. Wishing Well from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Significant events happen in front of a wishing well in both Wish and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. While Asha meets Star in front of a wishing well, Snow White sings about her own true wish in front of one.
18. Ursula from The Little Mermaid
When King Magnifico embraces dark magic, his hands turn green resembling what Ursula’s (voiced by Pat Carroll) hands look like in The Little Mermaid when she takes Ariel’s voice.
19. Tangled and Tarzan
Asha’s friends swing from vines much like Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) from Tangled or Tarzan (voiced by Tony Goldwyn) from Tarzan. One of them even screams in a familiar fashion similar to Tarzan’s yell.
20. Bambi and Robin Hood
A scene in Wish shows a deer saying to a bear, “Thanks for not eating me, John” and the bear replies, “You’re welcome, Bambi.” This is, of course, a reference to the characters of Bambi (voiced by Donnie Dunagan), the deer from Bambi, and Little John (voiced by Nick Brimble), the bear from Robin Hood.
There is also a rabbit that thumps his foot like Thumper from Bambi.
21. The Disney Logo and “When You Wish Upon a Star”
To end the film, the iconic Disney logo is brought back by having Star set off fireworks over the city of Rosas, much like Tinker Bell does over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at the beginning of every Disney film. And be sure to stay after the credits for a special moment in tribute to “When You Wish Upon a Star,” the iconic Disney theme song first heard in 1940’s Pinocchio—beautifully sung by Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Cliff Edwards).