The Walt Disney Company’s 100th Anniversary Celebration
The Walt Disney Company recently celebrated its 100th anniversary with the release of an animated short film called “Once Upon A Studio.” This film was released on both TV and Disney+ and is a must-watch for any Disney fan. It brings together numerous beloved characters from the past 100 years, making it nearly impossible to count them all. Some characters have prominent roles, while others make quick appearances. To fully appreciate the film, you may need to watch it multiple times.
Dedication to Burny Mattinson
The closing credits of “Once Upon A Studio” pay tribute to Burny Mattinson, who worked for The Walt Disney Company for an astonishing 70 years, longer than anyone else in the company’s history. Unfortunately, Mattinson passed away earlier this year. One of his final contributions was appearing as himself at the beginning of the film, pondering what the walls of Disney would say if they could talk. It is bittersweet that the longest-serving employee could not witness the release of this historic film.
Alan Tudyk’s Surprise Appearance
Alan Tudyk, known for his voice acting in various Disney films, is a delightful surprise in “Once Upon A Studio.” However, instead of voicing the characters he brought to life in previous films, he takes on the role of the Mad Hatter. While most characters retain their original voice lines or dialogue from their respective films, Tudyk seamlessly steps into the shoes of Ed Wynne, who originally performed the Mad Hatter in the 1951 film “Alice in Wonderland.”
Paying Homage to Ub Iwerks
A touching moment in “Once Upon A Studio” is when Mickey Mouse takes a moment to acknowledge Walt Disney. However, there is another important figure who should not be forgotten, and that is Ub Iwerks. Alongside Walt Disney, Iwerks played a crucial role in designing the original look of Mickey Mouse. His portrait can be seen in the Roy E. Disney Building, along with other Disney greats, making it a visual treat for those familiar with Disney’s history.
Robin Williams’ Dual Character Appearance
In addition to Robin Williams’ beloved character, Genie, making an appearance in “Once Upon A Studio” with unused audio recordings from the original “Aladdin,” there is another surprise. Robin Williams himself, transformed into an animated character, appears as an unnamed Lost Boy behind Olaf. This cameo is from a short film called “Back To Neverland,” showcased at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as part of the Magic of Disney Animation Attraction.
Emotional Rendition of “Feed the Birds”
During a heart-to-heart moment between Mickey and Walt Disney in the film, the background music playing is the iconic song “Feed the Birds” from “Mary Poppins.” This song holds a special place in Walt’s heart and is considered his favorite piece written by the Sherman Brothers. Richard Sherman, one half of the Sherman Brothers songwriting duo, performs this rendition on the piano that still resides in Walt Disney’s office.
An Acknowledgment and Welcoming of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
One noteworthy moment occurs when the animated crowd gathers outside the building. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, whose rights were lost to Disney for many years, makes his grand entrance. Mickey politely says, “After you,” symbolizing that all the characters present in the film came after Oswald in Disney’s animation history. Except for Pete the Cat, Oswald is the oldest character in the history of Disney animation seen in “Once Upon A Studio.”
Recognition for “Skeleton Dance” and “Flowers & Trees”
As the camera pans back to reveal the entire assembled crowd, viewers can spot all 100 years of Disney animation. Among the characters, there are two newcomers deserving special recognition. The skeletons standing together are from “The Skeleton Dance,” the first of Disney’s Silly Symphonies cartoons. Behind them are two tall trees from another Silly Symphonies cartoon, “Flowers & Trees,” which made history as the first animated short to win an Academy Award.
In just nine minutes, “Once Upon A Studio” manages to encapsulate the magic of 100 years of Disney animation. The film appeals to both well-known and lesser-known characters, making it a treat for every Disney fan. It surpasses expectations, delivering surprises and unexpected moments that add an extra layer of joy to this historic celebration.