Disney’s Aladdin: History & Trivia

Today marks the release of Disney’s newest take on Aladdin, an event that never would have happened without the success of its popular animated predecessor. In honor of the beloved original cartoon, here are five fun facts to mildly entertain your friends and family on the drive (or magic carpet ride) to the theater.

Disney's Aladdin

Disney’s Aladdin Wed, Nov 25, 1992 – 14 · The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) · Newspapers.com

1. Aladdin’s character changed significantly during the writing process

Between the initial pitch and the film’s release, almost everything about Aladdin’s character completely changed. His age, his family situation, and even the choice of inspiration for his personality and looks shifted over the course of several years’ work.

Revisions included aging Aladdin up, writing his mother out of the film

Revisions included aging Aladdin up, writing his mother out of the film Wed, Nov 25, 1992 – 26 · The Indianapolis News (Indianapolis, Indiana) · Newspapers.com

Al’s lack of charisma and “on-screen” presence was a recurring problem in early versions. Between the self-assured Jasmine and the scene-stealing Genie, Aladdin had a hard time keeping up. Forunately, he went through several rewrites to make his character a stronger contender.

Early Aladdin drawings meant to resemble Michael J. Fox

Early Aladdin drawings meant to resemble Michael J. Fox Sun, Oct 10, 1993 – 35 · The Herald-News (Passaic, New Jersey) · Newspapers.com

Aladdin and Jasmine

Aladdin and Jasmine Fri, Nov 27, 1992 – 53 · The Ottawa Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) · Newspapers.com

2. Much of the story was based on the 1940 film, The Thief of Baghdad

The Arabian Nights story of Aladdin is a well-known source of inspiration for the movie we know and love today. But a fantasy film from the 40s about a scrappy young thief, a handsome king, and a (nameless) beautiful princess was also significant to the story. It even includes a deceitful adviser, Jaffar.

Aladdin heavily inspired by

Aladdin heavily inspired by “The Thief of Baghdad” Fri, Nov 27, 1992 – Page 78 · Northwest Herald (Woodstock, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

3. Artistic influences varied, from ancient art to modern caricature

It’s pretty fascinating to see what goes into a movie that, on the surface, can seem like little more than a children’s cartoon.

Inspiration for Agrabah

Inspiration for Agrabah Wed, Nov 25, 1992 – 14 · The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) · Newspapers.com

Aladdin art influences

Aladdin art influences Sun, Nov 22, 1992 – 54 · Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.com

And here’s a bit of fun trivia about the film’s use of color:

Use of color in Disney's Aladdin

Use of color in Disney’s Aladdin Wed, Nov 25, 1992 – 14 · The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) · Newspapers.com

Aladdin and his magic lamp

Aladdin and his magic lamp Wed, Nov 25, 1992 – 26 · The Indianapolis News (Indianapolis, Indiana) · Newspapers.com

4. Robin Williams’ star power secured success (against his wishes)

The biggest controversy of the film’s history has to do with its most recognizable talent, Robin Williams. The role of Genie was not just perfect for Williams’ incredible versatility—it was specifically written for him.

Robin Williams Steals the Show (Aladdin)

Robin Williams Steals the Show Sun, Dec 6, 1992 – 20 · The Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) · Newspapers.com

Robin Williams is the no-so-secret weapon of

Robin Williams is the no-so-secret weapon of “Aladdin” Fri, Nov 27, 1992 – 53 · The Ottawa Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) · Newspapers.com

Williams was happy to take the part; he wanted to be involved in animation and help create something great for his children. Disney agreed to his one request: that they not to use his voice to sell merchandise or prominently feature his character for marketing. You can probably guess (or remember) how that went.

Robin Williams has public falling out with Disney

Robin Williams has public falling out with Disney Sun, Apr 14, 1996 – 21 · Santa Maria Times (Santa Maria, California) · Newspapers.com

All’s well that ends well. After a direct-to-video sequel (The Return of Jafar, 1994) and a change in Disney management, a public apology was made to Williams. The original Genie was back for Aladdin and the King of Thieves, and some Genie-led educational videos to boot.

5. Aladdin broke the record for animation

Shortly after its release, Aladdin surpassed Beauty and the Beast as the highest-grossing animated film. However, it would only hold that record for about two years before being smashed by 1994’s wildly successful The Lion King.

Aladdin becomes highest grossing animated film of all time

Aladdin becomes highest grossing animated film of all time Wed, Jan 27, 1993 – 25 · The Post-Star (Glens Falls, New York) · Newspapers.com

1992 New York Times Review of Aladdin calls it a

1992 New York Times Review of Aladdin calls it a “dizzying, elastic miracle” Sun, Nov 15, 1992 – 120 · The Odessa American (Odessa, Texas) · Newspapers.com

Do you have any fond memories of Aladdin, and are you planning to see the new adaptation? Tell us about it below! Try a search on Newspapers.com to find more on the movie, its influences, and its reception.

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