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Disney Concept Art – See How Your Favorite Characters Almost Looked

disney concept

As we showed in our lost Disney songs list, no Disney film is set in stone from start to finish. Plots get written, songs get dropped and characters get redesigned. Looking at early Disney concept art is like finally reading that novel that your favorite movie was based on only to discover it’s totally different. Still, there’s a simple charm in seeing these characters immediately after being birthed, before they were fine tuned, polished and marketed through endless merchandise.

Genie, ‘Aladdin’

Genie Aladdine Sure

Could you imagine if this Genie made it into the movie? The “evil clowns” phenomenon would be quaint compared to how many childhoods this nightmare would ruin.

Ariel and Flounder, ‘The Little Mermaid’

little mermaid concept

Ariel looks pretty similar to her final form, however Flounder is flat and skinny instead of chubby and cute…just like a real flounder. Disney knows what sells and realistic fish anatomy is apparently not it (hence the singing crab).

Belle and the Beast, ‘Beauty and the Beast’

beauty beast concept

Well, this Beast sure does look…beastly. No, we mean it. He looks like a werewolf or whatever it was that used to lurk in your closet after dark.

La Fou, ‘Beauty and the Beast’

lafou concept

This La Fou looks even more La Fouier than his final form did. He doesn’t even look like a person, rather like a beetle crammed into human clothes. Perhaps the original concept was too fancy for Gaston’s brown-nosing sidekick?

Yzma, The Emperor’s New Groove

yzma concept

Yikes. Yzma looks more like a witch rather than the Incan sorceress/mad scientist from the final film. Turning her into a bag of skin and bones certainly made her more cartoony and evil-looking.

Quasimodo and Esmeralda, ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’

hunchback concept

Is it just us or does this look like an accompanying illustration to an original hardback of ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’? Disney’s quick thinking turned this dark, macabre novel into a a family-friendly movie by altering their appearances and adding Jason Alexander as a talking gargoyle. Good call.

Timon, Pumbaa and Simba, ‘The Lion King’

lion king

The ‘Hakuna Matata’ gang looks pretty similar to their final version, but there is an old-timey flair to this picture. It’s reminiscent of the old Disney cartoonists like Carl Barks. If you don’t know who that is … here you go.

Shensi, Banzai, and Ed, ‘The Lion King’

hyenas lion king concept

Scar’s three hyena henchmen look like something off Animal Planet. With nothing to distinguish them, how do we know which is which? Ed is the one laughing, right? But they’re all laughing! Quick Disney, add some googly eyes and a wagging tongue!

Fa Mulan, ‘Mulan’

mulan concept

If there’s one thing to learn from this ‘Mulan’ transformation, it’s that you can’t have bangs if you want to pass as a man.

Pocahontas, ‘Pocahontas’

pocahontas concept

This looks more like Tiger Lily’s evil twin than Pocahontas. Perhaps this was from an earlier incarnation when the Native American princess was much closer in age when she actually met John Smith…like around 12. Disney didn’t want to creep us out with the truth and aged her up.

Next: What If Disney Villains Won?

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