When you’re the biggest entertainment company on Earth, it’s nice to have some fun. That’s why Disney has been hiding subtle in-jokes and character cameos in its movies for over 50 years.
The so-called Easter eggs give fans the chance to play a feature-length game of ‘Where’s Wally’, Disney Edition, in the hunt for hidden gems – though we reckon the animators just do it for a giggle.
Check out some of the best Disney in-jokes, below.
The Pizza Planet truck
The Pizza Planet truck is probably the most infamous Pixar in-joke. Ever since its first appearance in Toy Story, the iconic image has been sneaked into every single Pixar movie (except The Incredibles) – making “Spot the pizza truck” one of cinema’s greatest games.
Mickey Mouse and pals in The Little Mermaid (1989)
Classic Disney critters Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy crop up at the beginning of the film, hidden away in the crowd as King Triton arrives for Ariel’s concert.
Sid becomes a bin man in Toy Story 3 (2010)
Sid, the twisted 10-year-old neighbour of Andy in Toy Story, makes a cameo in the trilogy’s third movie as the skull shirt-wearing bin man who picks up the toys.
Actor Erik von Detten returned to voice the character too.
Dumbo in Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Disney practice of sneaking characters into the background is given some significance here. The appearance of a Dumbo toy in Lilo’s easel is a nod to the special watercolour technique used to make the 2002 movie – not used by Disney since the big eared elephant’s adventure in 1941.
Lady and Tramp in 101 Dalmatians (1961)
Proof Disney has been pranking us for decades: Canine lovebirds Lady and Tramp appear in the 60s animation 101 Dalmatians, howling away in the “twilight bark” scene.
You can also spot Peg in in a pet shop window.
In a nod to the classroom where most of the original Pixar team studied at the California Institute Of The Arts (CalArts), A113 appears in each of the studio’s movies to date – from license plates to court rooms and camera models, it’ll be in there somewhere.
Nemo in Brother Bear (2003)
Nemo pops up in a fishing net, before being hit by a mammoth and flipping across the screen.
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It’s one of the most notoriously difficult-to-spot Easter eggs in Disney, as it’s visible for less than a second.
Pixar Drive-in movies in the Cars films
Adverts for vehicular versions of Pixar movies are scattered throughout the Cars movies – including ‘Toy Car Story’, ‘Monster Trucks Inc.’, ‘The Incredimobiles’ and ‘A Bug’s Life’… See what they did with that last one?
The Beast in Aladdin (1992)
A miniature version of the Beast, from Beauty And The Beast, appears hidden amongst the Sultan’s toy stack. Aww, not so scary now, is he?
Scar’s hide in Hercules (1997)
Mythical hard man Hercules is traditionally depicted wearing the hide of the fictional Nemean lion. So, which slain wild beast did Disney pick for their hero to wear? The Lion King villain Scar, of course… well, we wouldn’t wanna see a Simba suit would we?
Magic Carpet in The Princess And The Frog (2009)
Aladdin’s preferred method of transport makes a cameo during the title sequence of The Princess And The Frog, being shaken from a window.
We’d recognise those flight-capable patterns anywhere.
Jesse and Nemo toys in Monsters Inc. (2001)
When Boo offers up her toys to Sulley, we spot Jessie from Toy Story 2, as well as a familiar looking fish amongst the objects. What makes this one so good is that Monsters’ Inc. came out a full two years before Finding Nemo, which was then at development stage. So, if you spotted this first time round, well done you!
The Pinocchio joke in Aladdin (1992)
Aladdin promises to free Robin William’s Genie with his final wish, and the magical being obviously doubts him. But rather than call the street urchin a liar, Disney slip in a perfect sight gag – transforming the Genie in their iconic 1940 version of Pinocchio, nose and all.
Disney Princess books in Tangled (2010)
When Rapunzel and Flynn lounge around in the library during the montage scene, three classic Disney princess tales appear amongst the books: Beauty And The Beast on the floor, Sleeping Beauty by the windowsill, and The Little Mermaid on a table.
The road sign in Beauty And The Beast (1991)
Maurice and Felipe get lost in the woods, but the road sign appears to point to two locations in California… Anaheim, where Disneyland is built, and the Valencia home of CalArts.
Mr. Incredible and Buzz Lightyear in Finding Nemo (2003)
In the dentist’s waiting room, a young patient sits reading a Mr. Incredible comic – sneaky, as Pixar didn’t release The Incredibles until 2005.
There’s also a very meta Buzz Lightyear toy tucked away in the corner.
Mrs. Potts and Chip in Tarzan (1999)
During the Trashin’ The Camp song, Terks plays the spoons on a familiar tea set… It’s only Mrs. Potts and Chip from Beauty And The Beast.
“These things aren’t alive,” boasts Terk at the beginning of the scene. If only she knew…
Mulan poster in Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Even Disney characters watch Disney movies, as Nani has the actual real-world poster for Mulan hanging in her bedroom.
The Luxo Ball
The Luxo ball is another Pixar staple. Inspired by crew’s first short film Luxo Jr. (the one with the lamps), the ball pops up in many of the Pixar movies, most noticeably in the Toy Story films.
Belle and the Flying Carpet in The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1996)
In a single cameo-laden Hunchback shot, characters from two previous Disney flicks make appearances. There’s Beauty And The Beast heroine Belle reading a book, and Carpet from Aladdin under someone’s arm.
The jazz band in The Princess And The Frog (2009)
At the end of The Princess And The Frog Louis the alligator plays the trumpet for a band called The Firefly Five Plus Lou, named in honour of Ray the firefly. But, it’s also a play on The Firehouse Five Plus Two, a former Dixieland jazz band from the 1950/60s that was made up entirely of Walt Disney Studio employees. Very niche.
Rapunzel and Flynn in Frozen (2013)
Disney proves there is such a thing as happily-ever-after, sneaking the brunette bobbed Rapunzel and husband Flynn, from Tangled, into Elsa’s coronation sequence.
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