If there's one thing that animators probably have in common, it's enjoying inserting sneaky little cameos of previous characters into new movies, leading eagle-eyed fans to build the most convoluted theories about how it links the movies together. But while some appearances might be a mere nod to another story just for the sake of a good reference, others actually seem to confirm the existence of a unique timeline shared by several movies.
Take the various theories about how Disney movies are connected, and there is one series of links in particular that will actually blow your mind. Thanks to the expert research led by DisneyTheory.com, there's a network of connections between Frozen, Tangled, The Little Mermaid, Tarzan and Beauty and the Beast that cast a whole new light on the Disney universe. Let's break it down.
Warning: There are obviously spoilers for these five movies below!
How Disney Movies Are Connected, Part One: Whatever Happened To Elsa And Anna's Parents?
Disney's mega-hit Frozen is the tale of two sisters, Anna and Elsa, who grow up in the kingdom of Arendelle. Setting the scene for the events to come, the story starts with a heartbreaking explanation that the king and queen of Arendelle, Elsa and Anna's parents, disappear at sea during a particularly stormy night.
Where were they going? Many have suggested that they were on their way to Rapunzel and Flynn Rider's wedding, the heroes of the movie Tangled, which is set to get its own TV series in 2017. These two can both be spotted towards the end of Frozen, as visitors gather when the sisters open up the gates of the castle, so there's proof that the royals knew each other, or at least coexisted in the same world. Add to that the fact that Frozen is reportedly set in Norway — fjords and ice make it quite obvious — and the possibility that Tangled is set in Germany because that's where the fairytale of Rapunzel originally comes from, and you've got quite a logical boat trip from one country to the other.
But wait, isn't that Denmark on the way between Scandinavia and the continent? Denmark happens to be home to Hans Christian Andersen, who penned the story of The Little Mermaid. So what if the shipwreck that Ariel loves to swim around in actually belong to the rulers of Arendelle? It's obviously not the exact same as the one that can be spotted in Frozen, but sinking to the bottom of the sea will hardly leave a ship intact.
So far we've tied three movies together: Frozen, Tangled and The Little Mermaid, but that's not where this theory ends.
How Disney Movies Are Connected, Part Two: The Blonde Hair Theory
If you think about it, the main characters in Frozen and Tangled both possess magical powers — with the exception of Anna, but I'm not going to debate here who between Elsa and Anna would earn the main character title if it could only be given to one of them. Elsa the ice wielder has basically the power to make icicles sprout out of her hands, building anything from snowy slides to fancy staircases to entire castles.
Rapunzel, on the other hand, was gifted at birth with never-ending locks of magical hair. As her pregnant mother was struggling with illness, the whole kingdom of Corona went on a frantic search for a magical healing flower, which saved baby Rapunzel and imbued her hair with the same properties. Unfortunately, a certain Mother Gothel was very displeased to find that her fountain of youth had been taken from her, and upon realizing that the hair wouldn't work its magic if cut off, she kidnapped Rapunzel to always have her at hand.
Now, Elsa and Rapunzel have something else in common: They're both blonde. What does that have to do with anything, you might ask? Well, what if they were from the same family — a family carrying a magical property in their genes that would only affect its blonde members? Rapunzel's mother could be the sister of Elsa's father, making him Rapunzel's uncle (they both have green eyes!). That would also be why Rapunzel's hair turns brown once she loses its magic. And it matters because it further consolidates the common world of Frozen and Tangled, justifying that the king and queen of Arendelle would travel to Corona for Rapunzel's wedding.
It could also explain their behavior with Elsa, who they teach to "conceal" her magic: What if they'd heard of Rapunzel's abduction as a baby, and fearing for their own child, did everything they could so that no one would establish the connection between her hair and her powers? The trolls could also have heard of it, which is why they seem so familiar with the magic and its effects when the parents run to them to ask for a remedy to the icy blow Anna took while playing with Elsa.
How Disney Movies Are Connected, Part Three: From The Fjords To The Jungle
We're not quite done with the former king and queen of Arendelle, and this part of the theory is courtesy from the directors of Frozen themselves, Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee.
In a Reddit AmA (Ask Me Anything) session two years ago, someone asked where Elsa and Anna's parents were going to. Lee said it was a wedding, confirming in part that they were attending Rapunzel's wedding as we discussed earlier, but the mind-blowing part was devised by Buck, who strongly suggests that the king and queen of Arendelle are the parents of Tarzan.
So, Tarzan is Elsa and Anna's little brother? Wonder how the ice queen trick works in the jungle.
This link attempting to show how Disney movies are connected is of course a little weaker, for several reasons. While the couple in Tarzan saw their boat catch fire, the one in Frozen was caught in a heavy storm. Plus, their route from Norway to Germany doesn't exactly include any tropical islands nearby, so they would have drifted for quite some time before ending up on a land with a jungle — probably too long to stay alive.
How Disney Movies Are Connected, Part Four: Family Heirlooms
Speaking of the jungle, we're getting to a new chapter in the explanation for how Disney movies are connected. This one starts with a very simple observation: when little gorilla Terk makes a mess in the camp in Tarzan, there's a brief frame showing one very familiar looking tea set.
That's right, isn't that Mrs. Potts and her son Chip? If you're objecting that at the end of Beauty and the Beast the teapot lady actually turns back into a human, consider this: The enchantress could have put the servants' souls into existing objects, which means that even after the curse was lifted, the objects remained — simply without their human-like abilities.
But how could a tea set from a faraway French castle end up with a British family exploring the jungle? Because Jane is Belle's great great great grand-daughter, and there's more proof than just a few pieces of porcelain.
Have you ever noticed their similar sense of style?
Their similar taste in men?
Their similar crazy dads?
That just seems like a lot of Easter Eggs to be pure coincidence.
How Disney Movies Are Connected, Part Five: Coming Full Circle
As for the reason why a French prince and princess would end up having British descendants — considering the original story of Belle dates back to the mid-18th century, and Jane and Professor Archimedes Q. Porter are most likely living a century later, there's a big chunk of the family tree we need to put together.
The late 18th century in France saw a little uprise called the French Revolution, where French folk started running after royalty to chop their head off with a guillotine. This doesn't make it so surprising that Belle and her prince would make sure to get the f out of there — and get a new castle in Germany, for instance. Now, let's remember Frozen's Duke of Weselton, dancer extraordinaire and toupee-wearing businessman, who's always upset that no one seems to be able to pronounce his name properly (and also made a little cameo in this year's Zootopia).
His physique is not so far off from Professor Porter's, down to the knobby knees and the creeping baldness. Could he be the Beast's grandson, and Porter's grandfather? That wouldn't even be such a stretch: Elsa and Anna ban him from doing business with Arendelle, so he could have gone to Britain to look for brighter prospects. More importantly, what if he was utterly scared by Elsa because his grandfather just so happened to be cursed by a blonde enchantress? These things happen.
So there you have it: The king of Arendelle is Rapunzel's uncle, and he and his wife were at lost at sea on their way to Rapunzel and Flynn Rider's wedding. While their ship ended up at the bottom of the sea, where it was discovered by Ariel, they washed up on the shore of on an island where the queen gave birth to Tarzan — the same Tarzan who fell head over heels for Jane — Belle's and the Duke of Weselton's descendent, which means that Anna and Elsa's brother married into the Weselton family?!
It's up to you to decide whether this is the greatest explanation ever of how Disney movies are connected, or just a lot of sneaky cameos that Disney animators knew very well would drive us all crazy. But if you're a fan of digging up secret connections, you should also check out Jon Negroni's Pixar theory.
What do you think of this theory? What's your favorite Disney theory?