The internet seems to have a talent for sucking the innocence out of almost anything. The well-loved children’s classics of Disney, and subsidiary studio Pixar, are no exception. From post-apocalyptic hellscapes to hidden references and real-world conspiracies, these Disney movie theories offer terrifying alternative explanations to the meaning of Disney films.
10. Peter Pan
On the surface, Disney’s Peter Pan appears to be a celebration of childhood. After all, Peter Pan lives happily in Neverland, a place where kids don’t age. But the fact that Peter appears to be responsible for bringing more kids in from the outside world has led some fans to put forth this Disney movie theory. He is an angel who escorts dead children to heaven, or “Neverland”, where they remain the age at which they died forever.
However, Wendy and her brothers are eventually returned home in the 1953 film. This leads some to interpret their adventure as a near-death experience. There is a darker theory, however, which suggests Peter is a demonic entity who murders children and keeps their souls in his realm.
Could it be that Captain Hook is the true hero, and simply wants to put an end to all of Peter’s evil doings? These theories don’t seem so outrageous when you consider the early drafts of J.M. Berrie’s original play. In them, Peter Pan was written as a villain who kidnapped kids right from their beds…
9. Frozen’s Leatherface
Frozen is one of Disney’s biggest hits of all time. The wintry hit features a lovable Reindeer named Sven, sidekick of Kristoff, a mountaineer.
The light-hearted flick took on a new meaning after Reddit user Superclaud01 pointed out the eerie similarities between Sven’s fur and the lining of Kristoff’s jacket. According to the Redditor, it’s quite possible that Kristoff’s jacket is made from reindeer pelt – possibly even from Sven’s mother.
It sounds ridiculous at first but look at it logically: Sven and Kristoff live in the icy wilderness, where there are few useful resources. In a practical sense, any reindeer deemed unsuitable for practical roles by the local ice harvesters are very likely used for meat and pelts. Perhaps Sven’s mother fell into the latter category. Some suggest that being an orphan himself, Kristoff had a natural bond with the newly-orphaned baby reindeer. That explains why they stick together.
But some have gone further. Proponents of the darkest Disney movie theory suggests that Sven can still smell his mother on Kristoff’s clothing, which is why he follows him around. Sven might not even realize his best friend is wearing his mother’s skin; he could be guided instead by an instinctive attraction to the comforting smell.
8. Hook, the Mermaid-Killer
This theory seemingly bridges the gap between Peter Pan and another beloved Disney movie; The Little Mermaid.
It’s shown, in Peter Pan, that mermaids are present in Neverland, and they have an intense fear of pirates. In the Little Mermaid, it’s revealed that Ariel’s mother is dead. Moreover, ‘The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginnings’ reveals that Ariel’s mom was actually killed by pirates. There is a mermaid in Neverland who looks similar to Ariel, sharing her red hair and shell bikini.
With the mermaids’ fear of pirates in Peter Pan and the murder of Ariel’s mother, it’s conceivable that Captain Hook and his crew were responsible.
The mermaid in Peter Pan who resembles Ariel could be Ariel’s mother herself, later murdered off-screen by Hook. This might explain why Neptune wants Ariel to stay away from humans so badly; he knows how dangerous they can be.
At first glance, the 1992 classic, Aladdin, appears to take place in an unspecified middle-Eastern province of the past, based on clothing and culture.
However, this upcoming theory suggests a more futuristic angle. Either someone slipped up in Disney’s movie logic-checking department, or Disney was telling a tale of a distant future. Why? It’s all revealed in the genie’s lines. For starters, Genie claims that an outfit looks too “third century”. Later he says “10,000 years will give you such a crick in the neck.”
If we assume that the genie, at the earliest, was placed into the lamp for 10,000 years sometime in the third century CE -a period he has clearly experienced – these references would date the movie within the year 10,300CE at the earliest. The numerous times Genie impersonates 20th-century celebrities like Jack Nicholson may push this date back even further.
While the clothing and culture of the film seem to suggest a past setting, let’s not forget that fashion is cyclical. I hate to say it, but flares may come back! If the movie is in fact set in the future, this could also mean that the magic carpet isn’t really magic at all. It could be one of civilization’s prime pieces of technology. After all, according to Arthur C. Clarke, any piece of sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Some fans have even turned to the video game, which shows off twenty-first-century road signs. That suggests that Aladdin’s world is a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
That’s not to mention the sentient, talking parrot. Theorists suggest the parrot is clearly the result of genetic engineering. This Disney movie theory is viable, because after all, who knows what the Earth of the future will look like?
6. Frozen Was A Diversion
Disney’s frozen may have been created as a distraction. Let me explain. A well-known, long-standing legend claims Walt Disney was cryogenically frozen in order to be brought back to life one day in the future.
There are even urban legends that his body is frozen somewhere in Disney World. But the theory gets even crazier when you open up your internet browser and search ‘Disney Frozen’. Ever since the film was released in 2013, the search terms will no longer yield wild conspiracies about the supposedly-deceased celebrity. Instead, it brings up images of princesses and snowmen.
Theorists suggest that this was completely intentional. They say it’s a design by the Disney estate to quash discussion of the cryogenic theory once and for all. Coincidence? Maybe. But the theory does begin to unravel when you realize that simply adding ‘Walt’ before the search terms will still bring up the old urban legend.
5. Up To Heaven
According to one theory, Carl, the loveably grumpy protagonist in Up, died in his sleep after being told he had to leave his home.
On top of this, the theory suggests that like Clarence in the cinematic classic, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, Russell is actually an angel trying to earn his wings by taking Carl to the afterlife– metaphorically represented by a scout badge.
After all, Carl is trying to get to “Paradise” Falls. That only adds fuel to the possibility of this theory being true. Up is already sad enough without this depressing theory. I, for one, will never forgive Disney for those opening 10 minutes.
4. Zootopia, USA
Zootopia certainly has some strong messages about diversity, inclusivity, and prejudice. However, there might be an even deeper, darker meaning. In the movie, one of the allegorical ‘races’, the predators, are starting to turn violent. The fact that predators are already feared only makes matters worse, because initially it seems like they are turning “savage” out of their own nature. At the end of the film, we learn that the predators are actually being injected with something to make them behave like this. The entire scheme has been orchestrated by the Deputy Mayor of Zootopia herself.
One particularly outlandish interpretation, tying into a real-life conspiracy theory, suggests that the movie is meant to be an allegory for the crack cocaine epidemic in America. Theorists believe that this ties in with a wider theory that the U.S. government is responsible for the manufacture and distribution of cocaine to black communities. This allows the internal destruction of said communities through gang violence, legitimizing bigoted stereotypes while stoking the flames of fear in external communities.
It sounds eerily similar to what the Deputy Mayor of Zootopia did to her people. She hated the predators and wanted others to hate them while also eliminating them. Could Zootopia contain a secret insight on deeply-ingrained racism in America? It’s a compelling theory, but then again, this is a Disney film. The company’s founder wasn’t the most progressive of thinkers.
3. Toy Story’s Darkest Hour
Fans have come up with all kinds of interpretations of the Toy Story movies. The theory started by film critic Jordan Hoffman that Toy Story 3 is a metaphor for the holocaust may be the darkest yet. For starters, the toys spend a chunk of the film expressing hopes to hide away from the realities of the changing world in a dusty attic.
As Woody and pals view the attic as a means to escape being carted off against their will, some perceive this to be a reference to Anne Frank. She spent the final section of her young life hiding in an attic with her family to avoid certain death at the hands of the Nazis.
Next, the toys are shipped off to Sunnyside Daycare, which supposedly serves as the movie’s concentration camp. The parallels are certainly there. With a harsh dictatorship clearly at play, violent coercion at the command of Lotso Huggins is commonplace.
The toys even come close to destruction in an incinerator toward the end, a demise disturbingly similar to the violent deaths many Jewish people met during the Holocaust.
While it seems like unusual subject-matter for a kids’ film, other classics like Star Wars drew direct inspiration from the Nazi regime, so perhaps it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility.
Why do the cars in Pixar’s ‘Cars’ have rearview mirrors, doors, and windows?
Questions like this, regarding the puzzling anatomy of the titular characters, have fueled theories ever since the film was released in 2006. The design features on all of the vehicles strongly imply human accessibility, but humans supposedly don’t exist in this universe, right? One theory claims that humans did once live on Earth, but the artificial intelligence inside the cars they drove evolved to a point of sentience and decided to erase and replace the human species.
Pixar hasn’t officially confirmed if this theory holds any truth or not, but the franchise’s creative director, Jay Ward, has stamped his seal of approval on it.
An alternate theory states that humans might actually still be around, permanently living inside the cars. The vehicle would function as an exoskeleton, and this diagram illustrating this idea is incredibly disturbing.
At the core of the car rests the human, attached at every limb to control the car from the inside. Their eyes are hooked up to the windshield, and tubes – presumably for food and waste – keep the human from ever having to exit. Either theory would explain why the world of Cars is so similar to ours in terms of languages, cultures, and even costumes.
1. Down the Rabbit Hole
Alice in Wonderland doesn’t hold back on its themes of madness, no matter what book or movie adaption you choose to enjoy, and it has led to some pretty wild fan theories. Most people know of the theories relating Alice in Wonderland to psychoactive substances. After all, Lewis Carroll, author of the original book, was a known opium user. It’s even rumored that he was… stimulated… when he wrote the book.
But while the film and book both seem on the surface to suggest the story is all a dream, theorists suggest that there are deeper psychological roots to the story and subsequent film. The movie centers around the concepts of illogicality and warped perspectives, leading some to assume that Alice – going beyond the realm of normal childhood imagination – is veering into a distinct psychosis from which she cannot wake. Falling down an unscalable rabbit hole, some have argued, is a metaphor for the descent into a type of madness that can never be fully escaped.
After all, in the film, the mad world of Wonderland simply dissolves away from Alice at the end; she never actually climbs back out of the rabbit-hole. And that’s not to mention the characters of the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts, who many have theorized as representing Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, respectively.
When Alice regains consciousness at the end of the Disney film, some have suggested that her teacher’s lack of surprise at Alice’s nonsensical outbursts implies that she is well aware of the girl’s condition and accepts that there is little she can do to help. Some even suggest that the pointy spire-like tower seen in the final shot may be some type of religious asylum for the mentally ill, to which Alice is being returned. Shocking stuff.
So, do any of these Disney movie theories seem viable to you? Did any send a chill up your spine? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section down below. And as always, thanks for reading.