Peter Pan has always been one of our favorite films. From the magical way Peter, Wendy, John, and Michael flew off to Neverland, to their fearless fights with Captain Hook, the film is filled with memories that we’ll cherish forever. Since today marks the animated features’ 63rd birthday, we’ve compiled a list of facts that will surprise even the most dedicated fans. So think happy thoughts and fly through the exciting facts below!
1. Walt Disney once starred as Peter Pan in a play.
The decision to bring an animated version of Peter Pan to the big screen stems from Walt’s own childhood. After seeing a stage production of the show, he got the chance to play Peter in a school play. He recalled his brother Roy using a rope to hoist him up over the stage to make it look like he was flying.
2. Nana was originally supposed to travel to Neverland with the children.
In the original script, the Darlings’ family dog, Nana, was supposed to travel with the children, and act as narrator. She was even going to have her own comical subplot in which she chased after Tinker Bell. Instead, she was left behind, and given memorable moments at the beginning and end of the film. She wouldn’t step foot (erm paw) in Peter’s magic paradise until Jake and the Neverland Pirates: Battle for the Book released in 2014.
3. Wendy and Peter strongly resemble the actors that voiced them.
Bobby Driscoll (Peter) and Kathryn Beaumont (Wendy) heavily inspired the animators’ design of their respective characters.
4. An entire live action film was shot to help animators.
After recording their voiceovers the actors made a live action (not intended for audiences) film so that the animators could use it as a reference.
5. This is the second film production to actually give Tinker Bell a form.
Prior to the silent film Peter Pan (1924), Tinker Bell had always been represented by a spot of light, and jingling bells. Faced with the challenge of bringing her to the animated world, animator Marc Davis had actress Margaret Kerry (who voiced one of the mermaids) come into the studio to be a reference model.
6. Captain Hook and George Darling are voiced by the same actor.
Keeping with the traditions of the stage production, Hook and George Darling are played by the same voice actor, Hans Conried. They also bear a strong resemblance to each other for the same reason.
7. Two of the film’s animators animated themselves into the film.
Both Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnston make cameos on the film. Kimball appears as the Lost Boy in the Bear Costume, while Johnston based Smee’s appearance on his own likeness.
8. Pieces of aluminum were used to create Tinker Bell’s signature sound.
Contrary to popular belief, the sounds that Tinker Bell makes weren’t actually created by bells or chimes. Filmmakers actually cut up pieces of aluminum, and strung them together.
9. The melody for “Second Star to the Right” was actually written for Alice in Wonderland.
It was supposed to be for a song called “Beyond the Laughing Sky.”
10. Peter Pan was intended to be Disney’s second animated film.
Walt originally planned on making Peter Pan immediately after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but didn’t get the rights to the story until four years later. The studio began story development and character designs in the late 30’s, but had to put production on hold until World War II was over.
Which fact did you find most surprising? Let us know in the comments!