January 27, 2012

‘Disneyfied’: The Disney adaptation process

Since the Walt Disney film company was founded in 1923, it has made a spectacular business out of turning fairy tales and novels into lucrative and beloved children’s films.

It might not surprise you, but a significant number of Disney’s best-known, classic films, were derived from literary sources. The Little Mermaid was based on a story by Hans Christian Anderson, Peter Pan was originally written by James Barry, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, and Pinocchio by Carlo Colloloi – just to name a few.

But Disney does have a unique way of making the original its own. In order for the story to be suitable for younger audiences, great liberties are often taken with the source material.

When Disney adapts a novel, its on-screen equivalent is sure to have been “Disneyfied". Urban Dictionary describes this process as giving something with a questionable moral value a veneer of acceptability, so that it no longer offends at any level and begins to reflect family values.

Sinister story lines are glossed over; questionable characters ridiculed or omitted entirely; and deviant acts demolished – all with the purpose of allowing a new romance to blossom, and a moral message to be communicated by the end.

Keep a lookout for my reviews of popular Disney films, where I will deconstruct the ‘disneyfication’ process and find out exactly which facets of the original Walt Disney deemed inappropriate for innocent eyes…

Should be fun!


  1. I was just happy that Arial didn't turn into sea foam. That disturbed me when I finally read the actual fairytale as an adult.

  2. Oh really?? I wasn't aware of that one.. How weird.. Clearly Disney was right on the money with that creative choice :)

  3. Let's not forget The Lion King, which is basically Hamlet in a cleaned up form. ;)