Mental Floss

What 12 Disney Movies Were Almost Called

Stacy Conradt /

You may think you've never heard of the Disney classics King of the Jungle, Lady, or Moving Buddies, but trust us—you have. Before they hit the silver screen, some of Disney's greatest hits had very different names.

1. What it was almost called: King of the Jungle
What it was called: The Lion King

As the script for King of the Jungle evolved, it became apparent that the setting would be the savannah—not the jungle. Hence, a title change was in order.

2. What it was almost called: The Yellow Car
What it was called: Cars

Though the story of a small, yellow, electric car being shunned by gas-guzzling showboats seems miles away from where the Cars story eventually landed, they’re actually the same at heart. Both feature a unique car that rolls into a strange town where the local vehicles are suspicious of him—but by the end of the movie, the strange car has gained their acceptance.

3. What it was almost called: Rapunzel
What it was called: Tangled

Chalk this one up to marketing efforts. Fearing that titling the tale “Rapunzel” would lead to little boys turning their noses up at the movie, Disney changed the name to something they felt was more gender-neutral.

4. What it was almost called: Anna and the Snow Queen; The Snow Queen
What it was called: Frozen

There’s been much speculation that the same thing happened when Disney abruptly changed The Snow Queen to Frozen in 2011, even though the film had been referred to as the former for decades of development hell.

5. What it was almost called: High Score; Joe Jump
What it was called: Wreck-It Ralph

The idea for this movie had been kicking around since the 1980s, when it was referred to as High Score and Joe Jump. When the movie came back to light in 2009, it had a new focus: a character named Fix-It Felix Junior who didn’t want to go into the family business of fixing things and decided to go out into the virtual world to discover himself. When that story flipped to focus on the video game’s antagonist, Wreck-It Ralph, the name of the movie changed as well.

6. What it was almost called: Moving Buddies; Spurs and Rockets; Each Sold Separately
What it was called: Toy Story

According to director Lee Unkrich, other possible names included Made in Taiwan, The New Toy, Wind-Up Heroes, and To Infinity and Beyond. Everyone agreed that none of those names (and hundreds more, apparently) lived up to the working title, Toy Story.

7. What it was almost called: A Bug Story
What it was called: A Bug’s Life

Because Toy Story had just been released in 1995, Disney execs canned this title because they didn’t want to get stuck naming everything “A ____ Story.” You know: A Car Story. A Snow Story. A Dwarf Story. A Stepmother Story.

8. What it was almost called: The Bear and the Bow
What it was called: Brave

They even had the title designed for The Bear and the Bow before deciding to change the name to how they referenced the movie when they were talking amongst themselves: Brave. Another big change: Reese Witherspoon had been slated to star, not Kelly Macdonald.

9. What it was almost called: Lady
What it was called: Lady and the Tramp

When Disney artist and writer Joe Grant first came up with this story, it was primarily focused on his real-life dog, a cocker spaniel named Lady. Walt loved the sketches of Grant’s pooch, but felt that the storyline wasn’t there. Several years later, Walt read a short story called “Happy Dan, The Whistling Dog,” and bought the rights, intending to make it into a feature. Eventually, the two ideas were combined. Though Dan the dog went through a series of names, including Homer, Rags, and Bozo, writers eventually settled on Tramp.

10. What it was almost called: The Frog Princess
What it was called: The Princess and the Frog

A subtle difference, for sure, but the change was necessary. When the details of the film leaked, including the name, critics pounced. They thought the name of the princess—originally Maddy instead of Tiana—was both unlikely and too close to the derogatory “Mammy.” Maddy’s occupation—chambermaid—was also frowned upon. And finally, some thought that “Frog Princess” was a slam to French royalty. All of those things were quickly changed.

11. What it was almost called: Kingdom of the Sun
What it was called: The Emperor’s New Groove

When the title to this David Spade-as-a-llama movie changed, nearly everything else did, too. Though the movie was nearly half finished by the time the overhaul was completed, not a single scene from the original movie was saved. Kingdom of the Sun would have featured Owen Wilson starring as the peasant doppelganger of Spade’s Emperor Kuzco.

12: What it was almost called: China Doll
What it was called: Mulan

Originally, Mulan was slated to be a direct-to-video flick that one blogger called “a Chinese take on Pocahontas II, in which an oppressed and miserable Chinese girl is saved from that life by a British Prince Charming and taken to live happily in the West.” When consultant and children’s author Robert D. San Souci suggested that Disney further develop the story using an ancient Chinese poem called “The Song of Fa Mu Lan,” they listened.