‘Wish’ To Feature Extensive List of ‘Legacy Nods’ to Classic Disney Films: ‘There’s Some That We Don’t Even Know Are There Yet’

Kyle Silagyi

‘Wish’ To Feature Extensive List of ‘Legacy Nods’ to Classic Disney Films: ‘There’s Some That We Don’t Even Know Are There Yet’

Kyle Silagyi

‘Wish’ To Feature Extensive List of ‘Legacy Nods’ to Classic Disney Films: ‘There’s Some That We Don’t Even Know Are There Yet’

Walt Disney Animation Studios has long positioned their upcoming film “Wish” as a celebration of the studio’s decorated history, apropos given that the film is releasing in the year in which The Walt Disney Company is celebrating their centennial anniversary (marketed as Disney100). During a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, “Wish” directors Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn revealed that this ‘celebration’ will also unfold on screen, as the film will contain a number of “legacy nods” to other films from the studio’s distinguished filmography.

“Wish” To Feature References to Classic Disney Films

wish movie poster asha 1200x675 1

Buck (co-director of “Frozen”) and Veerasunthorn (who worked as an artist on “Frozen,” “Moana,” and “Zootopia” and as head of story on “Raya and the Last Dragon”) recently told EW writer Nick Romano about the film’s extensive list of references to other Disney animated classics, a list that’s still being rounded out as it nears its release.

They’re all over the movie We are compiling a list, and I couldn’t tell you how long it is now. Each department puts things in and there’s some that we don’t even know are there yet, and we may not know until they tell us.

Chris Buck to Entertainment Weekly
EW Wish shot
Source: Entertainment Weekly

The “nods” range from passive to fundamental, from fun visual gags to stylistic choices that impact the entire film. The EW article uses the poisoned apple from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” as an example of a non-film-altering reference, sharing an exclusive image from “Wish” in which the iconic fruit appears. The apple is only visible thanks to the film’s wide aspect ratio, described by Buck and Veerasunthorn as a stylistic choice that doubles as a nod to Walt Disney Animation Studios films of old like “Sleeping Beauty.”

It’s a wider screen. So it just has that epic feel to it — and the story does too.

Chris Buck to Entertainment Weekly

King Magnifico, the movie’s antagonist, is a more story-focused reference to the studio’s filmography, as the character, according to Buck and Veerasunthorn, emulates the iconic Disney villains of past films. “Wish” also features a unique blend of traditional and 3-D animation and features watercolor-like backgrounds that take inspiration from the studio’s earliest features, specifically “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

The goal is that this is a moving illustration. Every frame is a painting . . . This is a new technology that our team has developed to be able to control the lines and the details that go into whichever area on the screen. So, when you want to narrow down the focus to someone or some situation, we have all those tools at our hands to really emanate the real-life watercolor.

Fawn Veerasunthorn to Entertainment Weekly

“Legacy Nods” in New “Wish” Trailer

Wish trailer easter eggs 2
Source: Disney

The first full-length trailer for “Wish” debuted on September 27, and several of the film’s “dozens” of legacy nods are noticeable throughout. Perhaps the most obvious is a shot in which Asha, the film’s protagonist, wishes upon a star, a straight-forward reference to “Pinocchio” and the “When You Wish Upon A Star” song created for the 1940 film that has evolved into a pseudo-anthem for the company.

Though an obvious nod to the studio’s second feature-length movie, the wishing star is an important element in the plot of “Wish.” Walt Disney Animation Studios Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee pitched the film to audiences at D23 Expo 2022 with one question: “How did the wishing star upon which so many of our beloved characters wish come to be?”

Wish trailer easter eggs 3
Source: Disney

King Magnifico is later seen in the trailer in front of a storybook, with the tome looking similar to the books seen in the titular sequences of classic Disney films such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and “The Sword in the Stone,” among several others.

Wish trailer easter eggs 1
Source: Disney

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is again referenced in the above shot, this time in a more creatively subtle way. Seven wooden mugs are hung from underneath the top shelf of a wooden shelving unit, and a single letter is painted on each cup. The letters, from left to right, read “B,” “D,” “G,” “H,” “S,” “S,” and “D,” and each corresponds with one of the seven dwarfs (Bashful, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy, and Doc).

This reference may be a bit of a stretch, but a small glass vial appears on the shelf on the left side of this shot. Though not identical, the vial looks quite similar to the poison that Yzma gives Kuzco in her murder attempt at the beginning of “The Emperor’s New Groove.” The poison, of course, turns Kuzco into a llama.

You can watch the full trailer here:

“Wish” follows Asha (voiced by Ariana DeBose), a 17-year-old girl whose life is turned upside down when a wish she makes upon a star comes true… and then some. The film hits theaters on November 22, 2023. Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products, announced at Destination D23 2023 that Asha will debut as a meet and greet character at Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and EPCOT at Walt Disney World at some point after the film’s release.

Will you be checking out “Wish” when it opens in theaters later this year? Let us know in the comments.

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