How ‘Wish’ Pays Homage to Classic Disney Films

To celebrate the release of Disney’s Wish, which comes 100 years after the company was founded in 1923, Walt Disney Animation Studios gave press an inside look at the place where the magic happens at its famous Burbank headquarters (yes, the one with the sorcerer hat).

As a part of the experience, select groups were treated to a private drawing class with Griselda Sastrawinata-Lemay, production and costume designer on Wish, where they learned to draw the film’s character Star.

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During the drawing class, Sastrawinata-Lemay explained how years of Disney Animation history went into the designs for every character and environment in Wish. “Star’s face shape is a heart, which is also inspired by the face of Mickey Mouse,” Sastrawinata-Lemay explained. “And you will notice Star does not talk and spreads magic dust, just like Tinker Bell.”

Star isn’t the only character with some classic inspiration. It’s clear from watching Wish that each of main character Asha’s (Ariana DeBose) friends are inspired by the seven dwarf characters from Snow White, including Safi (Ramy Youssef) representing Sneezy, Simon (Evan Peters) as Sleepy, Dario as Dopey (Jon Rudnitsky) and Gabo (Harvey Guíllen) as Grumpy.

Sastrawinata-Lemay also shared that Asha herself was inspired by Walt’s original concept for his Disney princesses, in which the princess herself appears in contemporary garb while surrounded by supporting characters who dress in the style of the time period.

“If you look close, you will notice Snow White has a 1930s hairstyle, Cinderella wears a 1950 Dior-style dress. This was done on purpose by Walt, to be more relatable,” said Sastrawinata-Lemay. “So you will see in our film, Asha has contemporary braids that many African-American women wear today.” But the queen character is the only one to wear buttons as in the film’s 1500s-1600s time period, she added, as “only the wealthy could afford buttons as they required help to put on.”

Other nods to classic Disney movies in Wish include two appearances by Peter Pan — once in an orb controlled by King Magnifico and another towards the end of the film. Animals also play a part, with a deer named Bambi and a bear named John, based on Little John from Robin Hood. Asha is also referenced multiple times as a “fairy godmother,” in a nod to Cinderella. And of course, the film ends with a classic firework show, including Mickey Mouse-shaped fireworks and a wink from Star.

Wish hits theaters on Wednesday.

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