ByKristin Lai, writer at
MP Staff Writer, cinephile and resident Slytherclaw // UCLA Alumna // Follow me on Twitter: kristin_lai
Kristin Lai

Everyone, including myself, loves to think that Disney animators have been secretly adding explicit images to our favorite childhood movies for years. I'm not 100% sure why. It could be that it's funny, perhaps just because the idea of being a child totally oblivious to sexual suggestions reminds us of happier times, or maybe the conspiracy theory that Illuminati are trying to brainwash us is just too good to pass up.

In any case, most of Disney's "subliminal sexual messages" have taken a decent amount of imagination to create and perpetuate. While I'm sure that you guys are aware of some of the following debunkings (hello, this is the Internet after all), let's just clear the air a bit by dispelling and confirming some of these rumors.

1. The bishop doesn’t get aroused in The Little Mermaid

Walt Disney Animation Studios
Walt Disney Animation Studios

Sadly, the elderly bishop officiating Vanessa and Prince Eric's wedding was not so excited that he popped an animated hard-on. While the anatomy of animated characters can be a bit tricky, in an interview with HuffPost Entertainment, one of the former Disney animators behind The Little Mermaid Tom Sito cleared this one up.

It's his knees. The joke was he’s a little man standing on a box and his robes, his big bishop robes, are draped over everything so they’re covering his whole body. And people are just seeing what they want to see.

Ahhhhh the knees. That makes sense. But it did kind of look like a boner, even if it wasn't intentional. In versions released later, the little nubbin was removed thus ending any speculation from future generations...maybe.

2. Also, a disgruntled Disney employee didn’t draw a penis on its promotional art

Walt Disney Animation Studios
Walt Disney Animation Studios

Similar to the bishop's mistaken member, Disney claims that adding a phallic image in their promotional art was completely unintentional. No, it was not the work of a Disney employee who had been made aware of his imminent unemployment, but just a mistake of an outsourced artist who was working with tired eyes late into the night.

I mean, it for sure looks like a penis, but Snopes spoke to the artist and in this case it really was just an accident and not the work of some higher, sex-obsessed power. Or so they claim. Again, the spire was removed once Disney had been made aware of the rumors going around. I wonder what it's like to work for Disney's PR team.

3. Aladdin isn’t asking anyone to take off their clothes

Walt Disney Animation Studios
Walt Disney Animation Studios

This was one of the first hidden Disney "subliminal messages" I ever learned about. It was the fourth grade and my friend Julia told me because her older sister told her. We had to rewind her VHS copy of it many times to make sure we were hearing it correctly. It was kind of a hassle, but worthwhile in the end because we though we heard him saying, "Good teenagers, take off your clothes." Give it a listen here:

As it turns out, this was not Aladdin commanding all of the good teenagers to take off their clothes, which wouldn't have included me anyway because I was a total brat of a nine-year-old. According to Sisto, "The two animators who were doing that sequence are both, like, very religious guys ... that’s not their sense of humor."

Instead it was a scripted line that the voice of Aladdin, Scott Weinger, kind of rushed through. The actual line is something like "Good tiger. Take off. Scat. Go!" So, not as sexy as I thought for many, many years.

4. The word “SEX” doesn’t appear in the sky in The Lion King

Walt Disney Animation Studios
Walt Disney Animation Studios

There's a pretty brief explanation to this one. Yes, the dust does make out some letters. No, those letters don't spell "SEX" but "SFX." Disney has stated on multiple occasions that this is a shoutout to the special effects department, not implanting dirty thoughts into our tiny baby brains. Again, just our imaginations at work!

5. There isn't any sexual shadow play in Toy Story 3

After Toy Story 3 was released in 2010 the above image made its way around the Internet claiming to be another dirty moment spotted in an animated Disney movie. But, as many things on the Interwebz are, it was faked.

According to Snopes, at no point in any version ever of Toy Story 3 did this tableau make an appearance. If it had then any subtly that the animators had used in the past would have been totally useless and their covers blown (pun totally intended). As we can see the actual shot is just of the toys looking mortified, but not at Andy's sexploits.

Walt Disney Animation Studios
Walt Disney Animation Studios

However, while we've been able to debunk these myths, there are some that are far less fiction than fact. Let's take a quick look at some of the dirty gems that sneaky animators of Disney past were able to get into their movies.

6. There was a risque poster in The Rescuers

Walt Disney Animation Studios
Walt Disney Animation Studios

Yup. There's no denying this one. That is a naked lady. It also wasn't until the film was rereleased in 1999 that anyone really noticed. This, of course, led to a massive recall. In his HuffPost interview Sisto stated:

[In] the first 'Rescuers' there was the nudey picture.The animator went on to explain that when there was a reedition of the movie, a lot of the original executives who produced the video tape were gone. Not knowing about the naked image, the new executives used the original negative from 1977 in the reedition. This reportedly led to a major recall.
If somebody had asked an artist, he would say, 'Oh yeah, there’s a naked picture in there. I mean, the Playboy centerfold. Everybody knows that.' Everybody who was in animation knew about the centerfold. But nobody asked us.

Well, there's a decent dose of honesty.

7. Jessica Rabbit actually wasn’t wearing underwear in Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Walt Disney Animation Studios
Walt Disney Animation Studios

I've never actually seen Jessica Rabbit's alleged naked bits in those few frames. This is because only a handful of copies of the film were released before editors were sent back in to properly clothe Ms. Rabbit. Sisto doesn't confirm or deny these allegations, but does give a pretty decent explination on the off chance that anything did happen.

You know in pre-video and pre-VHS and VCR and stuff, people used to put little inside jokes in films because things were running at 1/24 of a second. So you say, 'Well, nobody’s seeing anything.’ ... And then so [cartoonists] will do that as a joke.
But really since the modern age of playing back stuff and everything, they look at everything now, even the old films. They’ll go frame by frame, and they’ll pull those questionable things out all the time.

Personally, I'm all for the inside joke even if it means scarring a few children along the way. But that might just be me.

Walt Disney Animation Studios
Walt Disney Animation Studios

It's easy to see how some of these rumors were started. It does look like there's a penis tower in The Little Mermaid art and it does kind of sound like Aladdin is telling people to take off their clothes, but mistakes happen.

Do you believe that most of these were mistakes or do you think that this is some elaborate coverup for Disney? Do you think I'm a member of the Illumin∆ti? Is this part of the article even relevant? (Hint: No)

I know not ever rumor is included in this list, so please feel free to add your favorite Disney animation myth in the comments section.


Have you ever been to Disneyland, World, etc.?

(Via: HuffPost Entertainment, Snopes)


Latest from our Creators