Like any business out there, Disney has its fair share of secrets. Digging deeper, we learn that the family-friendly company even has weird and disturbing tidbits lurking within the stories that shaped children’s happily-ever-afters for generations.
From the glittering ball gowns to fairy godmothers and awfully charming princes and princesses, there is actually a “darker” version. Beset with horrifying origins, these centuries-old Disney favorites have been getting its share of cuts and revisions since the 1920s to make them more suitable for younger audiences.
At the risk of ruining your childhood, here are some creepy facts about your Disney favorites.
The classic Disney story of Sleeping Beauty tells the story of a cursed princess awoken by a Prince who gallantly came to her rescue. She was eventually saved from eternal slumber by true love’s kiss.
The 1934 version written by Italian Giambattista Basile, however, has a disturbing plot. No prince visited the sleeping princes Talia. Her visitor was a married king who “gathered the fruits of her love” and went home to his wife Maleficent. Nine months later, the princess gives birth to twins and one of them sucked on her finger, removing the poison, and waking her up.
The horrors didn’t even end there. The king and the princess eventually met and fell in love, and the queen found out about the twins. She had them kidnapped, butchered, cooked, and fed to the clueless king.
Cinderella’s evil stepsisters were the major villains who turned out to be not-so-evil in Disney’s version. One of them, Anastasia, even found her true love.
The Brothers Grimm’s version did not turn out to be so happy or forgiving. The tale detailed how the sisters chopped off parts of their feet to fit into the glass slipper. It also featured doves who helped the prince learn about what the sisters did.
As the story ends, the prince marries Cinderella, and the sisters had their eyes pecked out by the same doves who revealed their betrayal.
Talk about royal revenge!
Little Red Riding Hood
The classic story tells the story of a girl tasked to bring her mother’s baked goodies to her sick grandmother in the woods. Along the way, she met a wolf who delayed her by telling her to pick flowers. The wolf then arrives at the cottage, gobbles up the grandmother, and waits for Red to eat her up. A passing hunter sees the wolf, saves Red and her grandmother, and kills the wolf.
One of the most gruesome versions of Little Red Riding Hood was Angela Carter’s The Company of Wolves. In her version, the wolf was a werewolf who disguised himself as a hunter to follow the newly menstruating Red. He still went to the cottage, ate the grandmother, and waited to eat Red. However, when Red arrived, the werewolf was seduced and ended up sleeping with her.
Pinocchio is not always as sweet as we know him to be. His journey with Jiminy Cricket, his friend and advisor, is also not as heartwarming.
Apparently, Pinocchio’s story is a gruesome one. The older version by Carlo Collodi was meant to show people the effects of bad behavior. It’s a story filled with constant torture as punishment for misbehaving. Collodi’s version also showed Jiminy Cricket as the ‘Talking Cricket’. He was crushed after giving Pinocchio some good advice.
Little Mermaid is the story of a mermaid who fell in love with a man after she savds him from drowning. Disney gave Arielle a happy ever after, but Hans Christian Andersen’s tale was not as generous.
In Andersen’s version, Arielle got her human feet after trading her tongue and beautiful voice.
That is not the only hardship in Arielle’s life as every step with her human feet felt like walking on shattered glass. Her prince is also engaged to be married to another woman.
The old version says the man never knew Arielle so he proceeded with the wedding. Arielle was given a dagger to kill the prince, break the curse, and return to the sea.
In the end, Arielle showed true love. She refused to kill her love and dies. She turned into sea foam at dawn, ascended into the atmosphere, and was tasked with 300 good deeds to earn a soul.
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