References You Missed in ‘The Lion King’ and Other Disney Renaissance Movies

Disney movies are full of references. Below, discover things you may have missed after watching the entertainment company’s renaissance films such as The Lion King, Toy Story, and The Little Mermaid for the first, fifth, or even the fiftieth time. 

‘Hidden Mickeys’ are everywhere

The outline of Mickey Mouse’s ears hidden in Disney films is a long-standing tradition. Oftentimes, “Hidden Mickeys” as their called, are so discreet, audiences miss the reference to the iconic mouse altogether upon initial viewing. It’s only under close examination can the “Hidden Mickeys” be spotted. 

There are far too many “Hidden Mickeys” list them all but to name a few there’s one on a yellow beetle Timon found under a log in The Lion King, according to Mental Floss

And there’s another one in Disney’s 1992 version of Aladdin when Princess Jasmine enters the market disguised as a peasant girl. Mickey’s ears may be seen hanging above her head, according to FindMickeys.

Princess Jasmine in the market. | Aaron Cox via YouTube

Then there are the bubbles in The Little Mermaid. Forget that the bubbles were all drawn by hand — millions of them — and notice the ones the animators included to look like Mickey’s ears, as BuzzFeed noted. 

‘Gone with the Wind’ reference in ‘The Lion King’

Something that may have completely gone over your head if you were a child growing up in the 1990s watching The Lion King — besides the fact that the film is based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet — is that there’s a nod to the classic film, Gone with the Wind

“Be Prepared” sing-a-long. | Disney via YouTube

In a famous scene from the film, the character of Scarlett O’Hara says the line, “I’ll never be hungry again!” 

In The Lion King while singing “Be Prepared,” Scar says something similar to the hyenas. If the verbal reference to Gone with the Wind wasn’t enough, animators used the same camera action like the 1939 film, according to Oh My Disney

‘Toy Story’ references to ‘The Shining’ 

There are multiple instances in which Toy Story references Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Maybe everyone at Disney has a deep-seated love for the film? 

In the first film in the franchise, the carpet outside of Sid’s bedroom is almost an exact match for the carpeting in The Shining. Referenced again in Toy Story 3, the garbage truck has a license plate “RM237.” 

‘Toy Story’ references ‘Alien’ 

Another movie franchise makers of Toy Story appear to be particularly fond of is Alien. When Buzz (Tim Allen) and Woody (Tom Hanks) find themselves at Pizza Planet, a boy is seen playing a game similar to Whac-A-Mole but with an Alien twist. 

Toy Story characters.
Pictured (left to right: Tyrannosaurus Rex; Woody; Hamm, the pig; Buzz Lightyear; and Mr. Potato Head) Toys from the movie ‘Toy Story,’ are photographed November 15, 1995, in New York City. | Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images

Called Whack-A-Alien, the object of the game is to hit worm-like alien creatures that have burrowed their way into the astronaut’s body, a play on the famous chestburster scene in Alien.

Characters from other Disney movies appear in ‘The Little Mermaid’ 

Disney characters from other films are hidden in scenes in The Little Mermaid. When King Triton makes his first appearance in the film, although it’s extremely difficult to tell, Donald Duck, Mickey, and Goofy are standing together among those watching him enter. Randomly, Kermit the Frog makes a cameo too. 

Two other characters also show up in The Little Mermaid for a crossover of sorts. Apparently, Prince Eric and Ariel invited the King and the Grand Duke to their wedding because they’re seen among guests. 

‘The Little Mermaid’ gives a nod to Hans Christian Andersen

Based on the classic tale by Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid made a reference to the author more than once during the film when Ariel mimicked the pose of The Little Mermaid statue that stands in Copenhagen where Andersen lived for a period of time. 

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Ariel sitting on a rock. | The Little Mermaid via Instagram

Look out for more references in remakes of Disney classics including Toy Story 4 and the 2019 reboots of Aladdin and The Lion King.