Press-Republican

FYI...

March 30, 2014

Is there a Disney universe?

Casual fans accept that Disney movies take place once upon a time, in a land far, far away. But Tumblr users are not casual fans. And they want it all to Mean Something.

Welcome to the esoteric and frankly mind-boggling world of Disney fan theories, which posits that all of Disney's animated movies take place in the same universe and characters from different films interact - across the decades and centuries! - in ways you have to squint to see. Andy's mom in "Toy Story" is actually the cowgirl-doll Jessie's original owner. Belle, from "Beauty and the Beast," secretly loved Aladdin. The latest fan theory rocking this small-but-vocal corner of the Internet involves "Frozen" and 1989's "The Little Mermaid": What if, fans argue, the sunken ship Ariel explored 24 years ago. . . was actually the ship where Anna and Elsa's parents perished in "Frozen"?!

The evidence for this theory is, of course, scarce, despite the amazing effort that some people have pumped into researching it. Still, the idea isn't so crazy when you consider Disney's penchant for dropping similar Easter eggs over the years. Dogs from "Lady & the Tramp" surface in "101 Dalmations"; so-called "Hidden Mickey's" and subliminal messages, often sexual, show up in most films. At one point in Disney's "Aladdin", the sultan stacks a series of model animals that include the beast, from "Beauty and the Beast" - conclusive proof, fans argue, that Disney's creators intended for both films to live in the same "universe."

What that universe would look like, it's hard to say. It would have to include places as far removed as modern-day Australia and magical medieval kingdoms. (Which has led to another unified theory of Disney movies: They take place in the same universe, but non-chronologically, along a timeline that spans millions of years.) Further complicating things - some Disney movies are explicitly tied to real geographic locations, while others are not. Just try pointing to Atlantis on a map.

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