Some life truths simply aren't palatable to a child. I vividly remember bawling my eyes out the moment I discovered wrestling was staged, so I can't imagine my response to being told Mulan didn't live happily ever after at all, but actually committed suicide to avoid becoming a sex slave.
While I'm grateful to Disney for shielding my naive eyes from the harsh realities of the big bad world, there comes an age when we must all face up to the cold, hard truth. Santa Claus isn't real, cars don't actually go any faster because they're red, and, come to think of it, I'm not so sure all those drawings I did for my parents really were that "fantastic."
Now you're old enough, it's time to confront the facts. As you may know, almost all of Disney's classic movies are adaptations of existing tales, some of which have been passed down for centuries. However, what you might not know is that these original stories are a lot less child-friendly than the animated films you're familiar with, chock-full of death, sexual assault and plenty of gruesome violence.
Proceed at the risk of your own cherished childhood memories. This is what Disney didn't tell you...
The Fox and the Hound - (1981)
What Disney Didn't Tell You: The hunter murders all of Tod's children, before turning his shotgun on Copper.
The Disney Version: Copper, a hound, and Tod, a fox, spark an unlikely cross-species friendship, despite being told that they're naturally born enemies. The pair face pressure from their peers to turn on one another, but in the end their friendship proves to be an everlasting bond that brings them together once more.
The Original Version: Disney took the barebones story of Daniel P. Mannix's novel of the same name, but made a few critical changes to ensure that every child who went to see it didn't leave the theater in floods of tears.
In Mannix's considerably more graphic version, the hunter swears revenge on Tod after the fox caused the death of the hunter's treasured dog. He goes on a murderous rampage in response, killing two of Tod's friends and several of his cubs by gassing their den.
The hunter trains Copper to only track Tod, instructed not to rest until the fox is dead. One day, Copper viciously pursues his target until an aging Tod collapses from exhaustion and dies. Forced to move to a retirement home, the hunter takes Copper outside and executes him with a shotgun. I think it might've made a better Aronofsky film...
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - (1937)
What Disney Didn't Tell You: Snow White forces the evil stepmother to dance herself to death.
The Disney Version: Driven away by her evil stepmother, Snow White seeks refuge with seven friendly dwarfs. When she accidentally eats the Evil Queen's poison apple, Snow White falls into a deep slumber, awakened only by Prince Charming. They live happily ever after, et cetera.
The Original Version: A Grimm's fairy tale published back in 1812, the original Snow White was a hell of a lot less forgiving than Disney's, swearing revenge on her evil stepmother who - quite literally - dances herself to death.
Keen not to let her get away with attempted murder, Snow White invites the Evil Queen to her wedding, when her diabolical plan is revealed. As punishment for her sins, the Queen is forced to put on a pair of glowing-hot iron shoes, and dance until she drops dead. If that's Snow White's idea of the happiest day of her life, she is one sick and twisted individual.
Tangled - (2010)
What Disney Didn't Tell You: The Prince is blinded by a bed of razor-sharp thorns.
The Disney Version: Flynn Rider, the ubiquitous charming fugitive, helps Rapunzel escape from her tower - they fall in love, get married and all is right in the world.
The Original Version: The German fairy tale 'Rapunzel,' also assembled by the Brothers Grimm, doesn't go quite so smoothly. Rapunzel's captor, the evil witch Dame Gothel, discovers the Prince and Rapunzel's clandestine meetings, cutting off her hair to bait the Prince up the tower.
When he realizes he's been duped, the Prince falls from the tower and lands on a bed of thorns...WITH HIS EYES! Luckily, he manages to find Rapunzel after wandering the lands blind and the two are married.
Mulan - (1998)
What Disney Didn't Tell You: To avoid becoming a sex slave, Mulan commits suicide.
The Disney Version: Mulan is able to bring honor to her family by disguising herself as a man and heading out to war. She grows into an accomplished warrior and comes home to a proud and happy family.
The Original Version: Based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, the story was originally described in a poem known as the 'Ballad of Mulan.'
In this story, Mulan returns home to find her father has passed away and her mother has remarried. The Kahn summons Mulan to the palace where her fate as a concubine awaits her. Instead, she commits suicide. Probably best Disney omitted that small detail.
Cinderella - (1950)
What Disney Didn't Tell You: The Ugly Sisters mutilate their own feet, before Cinderella hires birds to peck out their eyes.
The Disney Version: Disney's 1950 classic sees Cinderella overcoming her cruel relatives, eventually forgiving her evil stepsisters and marrying her perfect prince and (stop me if you've heard this one before) lives happily ever after.
The Original Version: 'Aschenputtel' by the Brothers Grimm tells a similar - yet incredibly more graphic - tale. Furiously trying to fit their own feet into the golden slipper, the Ugly Sisters resort to slicing off their toes and heels to worm their way into the shoe.
In case that wasn't enough, the sisters' eyes are then gouged out by a flock of vicious doves sent from Heaven. Talk about grim.
Sleeping Beauty - (1959)
What Disney Didn't Tell You: Sleeping Beauty is raped by The King.
The Disney Version: On her 16th birthday, Princess Aurora is put to bed indefinitely, cursed by the evil Maleficent at birth. That is, until her one true love, Prince Phillip, brings her back to the land of the living with a smack of the lips.
The Original Version: This timeless story can be traced all the way back to a 17th century Italian fairy tale called 'Sun, Moon, and Talia' by Giambattista Basile.
In this version it's a splinter that sends Thalia (Aurora's counterpart) to sleep. Her unconscious body is found by a passing King, who after failing to stir her awake, decides the best course of action is to rape her.
And here's the kicker: once Thalia does emerge from her slumber, she marries her former molester, with the final line reading "Lucky people, so ’tis said, Are blessed by Fortune whilst in bed." I would have gone with "No means no" personally.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame - (1996)
What Disney Didn't Tell You: Quasimodo gets Esmerelda killed, then creeps into her grave and dies of starvation while cradling her body.
The Disney Version: Disney would have you believe that the physically deformed Quasimodo embarks on a journey of self-acceptance, finally embraced by the world despite his differences.
The Original Version: What actually happened is A LOT more macabre. In 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame,' written by 'Les Miserables' author Victor Hugo, Quasimodo is enraged by Esmerelda's rejection and betrays her to Frollo, causing him to hang her in public.
Naturally, Quasimodo is consumed by guilt, sneaking into Esmerelda's grave where he slowly starves to death. When his body is finally discovered his bones dissipate into dust. Nice.