Unless you live in a cave, you’ll know all about Disney’s modus operandi. It’s Disney. The Mouse House. The greatest producer of family entertainment that there ever was… and also, on occasion, a peddler of absolute filth. Some of these sexy gags spotted by viewers are, if you’re to believe the Disney insiders themselves, ‘accidental’.
Some, on the other hand, have been very deliberate. You might never have noticed, but it’s almost guaranteed that your favourite Disney movie features subtle obscenity. Join us in taking a look at 29 of Disney’s most controversial hidden ‘secrets’ – but don’t blame us if it ruins your childhood.
29. The Lion King’s ‘sex’ scene
Hailed as one of Disney’s best animated efforts, The Lion King is also one of the Mouse House’s most notoriously cheeky films. In one scene that comes midway through the film, a melancholy Simba gazes up at the night sky.
As he lays down with a thud, Simba kicks up a cloud of dust, which appears to spell out ‘SEX’. Or does it? Not according to ex-Disney animator Tom Sito, who says the cloud is much more innocent than that. “It doesn’t say SEX. It says special effects. It’s SFX,” Sito claims. You’ll just have to take his word on that one though.
28. The Little Mermaid’s bishop gets a little too excited
The bishop in The Little Mermaid appears to enjoy officiating weddings a little more than he should. During the scene in which Prince Eric prepares to marry ‘Vanessa’, it used to appear that the bishop overseeing the ceremony had gotten a little too excited. As the bishop stood before the soon-to-be-betrothed and says “Dearly beloved”, his groin region appeared to bulge and inflate.
To some viewers, it was a sign that this man of the cloth was taking the wrong kind of pleasure in his work. Former Disney animator Tom Sito says the ‘bulge’ is actually one of the bishop’s knees, but this didn’t stop one viewer from attempting to sue Disney over the image not being ‘suitable for use and viewing by young children.’ As a result, Disney was eventually forced to remove the offending – ahem – ‘erection’ from the film.
27. The Little Mermaid’s phallic poster
Is it just us, or does the poster and home vid cover art for The Little Mermaid look happy to see us? The art depicts the main characters against the backdrop of Atlantica, which here seems particularly phallic. Was it simply an innocent accident? Not according to longstanding rumour, which has always suggested that a ticked-off Disney animator inserted the penis intentionally after being sacked.
It turns out the rumour was just that, though. Not only was the poster artist not fired, he wasn’t even employed by Disney in the first place. The artist in question has since admitted that the artwork was a result of him rushing to complete it over an all-night design session – meaning any penises in the poster are mere Freudian slips at best.
26. Jessica Rabbit exposes herself
Since the release of Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988, Jessica Rabbit has become one of the most iconic symbols of female sensuality in in the world of animation and real life. Jessica was intentionally drawn with one of the most unrealistically desirable bodies in the world, all curves and slinky physicality. It appears even the animators who created the character couldn’t resist fantasising about Mrs Rabbit.
At one point in the film, Jessica crashes out of the cab she’s been riding with Bob Hoskins’ Eddie Valiant. As she’s thrown from the car, Jessica’s legs open to reveal more than she would probably prefer her public to see. It’s a Basic Instinct moment in a film full of risqué humour, atypical even for those filth merchants over in the Disney animation house.
25. Sid has a ‘hooker’ in his room in Toy Story
Perhaps even more so than parent company Disney, Pixar has a history with innuendos intended just for the adults in the room. Exhibit A: 1995’s very first Toy Story, and specifically one of the characters that lurk in bully Sid’s bedroom. Among Sid’s toys, all of them nightmarish mash-ups of other toys he’s dissected, is a pun-tastic monstrosity.
Keeping company with a spider-baby, a car that walks and a GI Joe head glued on to a Melody Push Chime is ‘Legs’. Legs, so Christened by Woody, is a pair of Barbie doll legs with a fishing rod for a body. That would make ‘Legs’ a walking hooker, which isn’t subtle, but damn if it doesn’t get the job done as a visual gag aimed squarely at the grown-ups.
24. Cars 2 features a ‘lemon party’
First thing’s first: if you don’t know what a ‘lemon party’ is, for your own sake, do NOT start Googling it now. All you need to know is that ‘lemon party’ refers to a widely shared shock image of three elderly gentlemen in the act of…we’ll call it lovemaking. With that vague, cautious introduction out of the way, let’s move on to one of the most outrageous Disney in-jokes of them all. Cars 2 has as its villains a bunch of old cars – nicknamed the Lemons – involved in an international fuel-based conspiracy. In one scene, these old geezers can be found having a party featuring lemon hats, lemonade and a table full of lemons.
“Isn’t this a great party?”, one attendee asks, in case anybody in the audience hadn’t caught on to what was going on. As we can’t figure out any other reason why these villains would be called the Lemons in the first place, why they would all be older gentlemen, or why there would be a scene involving elderly characters at a ‘lemon party,’ we’re just going to have to jump to this conclusion: Pixar is full of perverts.
23. Aladdin gets kicked out of a brothel
We all wondered about it when we were kids: just who are those sexy women who despise Aladdin in his introduction scene? Well, we’re all adults now, so let’s not beat around the bush any longer: those women are prostitutes, and our boy is in a brothel. Which leads us to the next question: how do these prostitutes know Aladdin so well, and why do they push the poor chap out of a window?
Evidently, Aladdin has paid visits to this house of vice before, getting to know the girls pretty well in his time. That’s why they want him gone: they know he can’t afford to pay for their services, and they’ve likely been burned by him before.
22. Baby Herman commits sexual assault
Who Framed Roger Rabbit’s ‘child actor’ Baby Herman is not, it’s safe to say, as innocent as he looks. Baby Herman isn’t actually a baby at all, but a middle-aged ‘toon with a gravelly voice, taste for cigars and an eye for the ladies. In his own words, Herman has a “50-year-old lust and a three-year-old dinkie.” Still, Herman’s shortcomings don’t stop him from acting like a borderline sexual predator all through the film, regrettably.
In a time before the #MeToo movement began, in one scene from the theatrical cut of Roger Rabbit, Herman can be seen peeking – and, more disconcertingly, poking – up women’s skirts.
21. Miss Piggy admits to having sex with multiple pirates
In a brave move for a woman in the industry, Miss Piggy has never been one to hide her love of the opposite sex. Nothing this pioneer has said or done, however, compares to her inspiring work in Muppet Treasure Island. In this puppet-based classic, Miss Piggy unsubtly implies that she has had sex with not one, but two legends of the pirate world.
The first conquest Miss Piggy confesses to in the film is one Captain Flint, with a bold and feisty “he was a pirate, I was a lady… you know the story.” Miss Piggy then says all she can ever say in her protracted greeting of Tim Curry’s Long John Silver. “Hello, Looooooong John”, winks Miss Piggy, prompting Kermit to exclaim “Oh no, him too?!” Dear God, these puppets are insatiable.
20. Buzz springs into action in Toy Story 2
Pixar might be the best around in terms of making art out of its animation, but if you think the studio is above making cheap boner jokes, think again. However, Pixar took things to a whole new dimension with the release of Toy Story 2, which is the first film in the series to introduce cowgirl Jessie, a vibrant, vivacious kind of toy who’s always ready for action. Basically, she’s perfect for man’s man Buzz Lightyear. And damned if he doesn’t know it, too.
Buzz’s intro to Jessie is awkward: he’s bashful, while she’s more interested in helping Andy’s barking dog Buster to get out of Andy’s room. She promptly springs into action, skateboarding on to the doorknob and opening the door for Buster to escape. All Buzz can do, meanwhile, is watch, his mouth agape, as his wings become helplessly erect.
19. Thumper and Flower get erect in Bambi
1942’s Bambi, only the fifth animated feature film to be released by Disney, continues to be a talking point for modern audiences, and not just because of that scene where Bambi’s mother gets killed. No, if Bambi is a talking point today among the denizens of the internet, it’s because the film might be a kind of subtle sex education for the whole family. In a sequence that seems genuinely NSFW in the right – or quite possibly wrong – context, we find Thumper, Flower and their partners getting freaky, cartoon-style.
As Thumper spies a beautiful female rabbit, his ears begin to twitch to attention. This is before Thumper’s entire body goes into a frenzy, with it only going limp again after their bodies have finished touching. The same goes for Flower, who – even more suggestively – turns stiff and red after being kissed by a stunning female skunk.
18. Cinderella has an unfortunate hardcore moment
Cinderella, first released in 1950, was one of the films that made Walt Disney the most popular movie studio in the world. It’s also a picture that, in the age of the internet, has become the subject of much mockery. Naturally, considering the filth-mongers that we are as a society today, the mockery regards a scene that – taken out of context – looks distractingly hardcore.
It all happens when Jaq and Gus, the film’s rodent heroes, elect to steal a bunch of beads. Being mice, the lads don’t have a whole lot of carrying options, but Jaq has a brainwave: thread the beads onto Gus’ tail and just walk them out. Et voila: a scene that you’ll never watch again without being reminded of something distinctly un-Disney-like.
17. Hercules’ River Guardian has an obscene head injury
Of all the beasts our hero has to face off against in 1997’s Hercules, Nessus the River Guardian is one of the demigod’s lesser foes. A Dwayne Johnson-level-ripped centaur who towers over Herc, Nessus comes up against Zeus’ boy when the River God attempts to snatch Megara.
Naturally, it all ends with Hercules saving the day and freeing Meg – but not before Hercules dispatches Nessus in humiliating fashion. After some furious rasslin’, Nessus is rendered inoperable, knocked into permanent confusion when his own horseshoes land on his head. Damn, Hercules, are you kidding us with this? You don’t give a big blue monster a large, protruding lump with two round lumps at the base and get to claim innocence.
16. There’s a ‘thong’ in the Lion King poster
In some cases where viewers have cried ‘Disney smut!’, it may seem that the beholders are reading into things a little too much. Case in point: the poster for the 2002 theatrical re-release of 1994’s The Lion King, which has over the years acted as a kind of Rorschach test for perverts. The poster’s design is simple: as Simba stands before the African sunset, his father Mufasa looks down on his son from the clouds. Stunning; brave.
What initially appears to be the outline of a lion’s face, however, looks like something else entirely to some. Where most people see noble Mufasa, others see a woman from the rear, wearing nothing but a thong. So, what’s it going to be? A big cat, or another surreptitious naked Disney lady? You decide.
15. Aladdin tells teens to get naked
Is dashing magic street urchin Aladdin to be trusted? If we’re to believe what some concerned parents believe, then no, not around teenagers he isn’t. The thief-turned-prince shows his true colours in the scene wherein he, as Prince Ali, attempts to woo Princess Jasmine. What the ‘prince’ doesn’t count on is Jasmine’s pet tiger, Rajah, confronting him on the balcony of the palace. It’s here where Aladdin can be heard muttering in the background as Jasmine emerges from her room.
But what does he say? Some think they hear a subliminal message: Aladdin saying “good teenagers, take off your clothes.” Or is it “Good tiger, take off, scat, go!”, as is claimed on the film’s director’s commentary? Listen in close to this video, and decide for yourself. (It’s definitely the latter though.)
14. Mr Potato Head makes an oral implication
In case you missed it: there are more disturbing things in Toy Story 3 than the gang almost being melted to death in a giant furnace. Not long into the film, the toys discover that Sunnyside Daycare isn’t the paradise they were originally promised, with Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear first letting his villainy be known when the toys confront the strawberry-scented teddy about escaping Sunnyside.
Rather than listen to their sob story, though, Lotso elects instead to silence them – literally, in the case of Mrs Potato Head. As Mrs Potato Head argues for the toys’ release, Lotso snatches away her plastic mouth, prompting outcry from her husband. Mr Potato Head’s response: “No one takes my wife’s mouth except me.” What exactly Mr Potato Head might do with his wife’s lips in his own time is left to the viewer’s imagination.
13. Kronk tents up in The Emperor’s New Groove
It’s not one of the best-known Disney animations, but The Emperor’s New Groove certainly ranks high in the innuendo department. New Groove is the tale of Emperor Kuzco, an arrogant young prince transformed into a llama (just go with it). The adventure also follows Kronk, a lunk-headed henchman to the Emperor’s scheming advisor Yzma.
In one bizarre scene from the film, Kronk falls asleep under the stars, covered by a tent. This ‘tent’, however, only covers one part of Kronk’s body, and it ain’t his head. Now, can anyone explain why the animators would have found it funny that Kronk might have wanted to keep just that particular part of his anatomy covered up while he was sleeping?
12. The Hunchback of Notre Dame shows A LOT of Esmeralda
Admit it: even as a kid, you had a crush on The Hunchback of Notre Dame’s Esmerelda. For the uninitiated, Esmerelda is the Gypsy dancer who befriends poor old hunchbacked bell ringer Quasimodo. And how could he resist? She’s a bona fide scorcher, insomuch as cartoons can be, and one scene filthily hammers the point home.
Throughout the dastardly Judge Claude Frollo’s song, Hellfire, Esmerelda appears in a pulse-quickening vision for the sinful Justice. As Frollo sings into his fireplace, Esmerelda appears in the flames – and, for just a few blink-and-you’ll-miss-them frames, she does it apparently completely nude. With the animation paying particular attention to Esmerelda’s breasts and hips, it soon becomes clear that Hunchback’s animators are as thirsty as a group of people can get.
11. Frozen makes a joke about a character’s ‘foot’ size
As Disney gets older, its innuendos get more and more adventurous, as any adult Frozen fan will testify. In 2013, the Ice Queen adaptation became an unexpectedly huge hit for Disney, making more than one-and-a-quarter billion dollars in box office receipts worldwide. This meant that a large number of children found themselves exposed to a joke about a man’s foot size that was only ever meant for the adult world.
Halfway through the film, as Kristoff and Anna get to know each other, they begin to discuss the attributes of Prince Hans. Kristoff wants to know everything, including Hans’ favourite food, eye colour and “foot size.” Bashfully – perhaps ashamedly? – Anna responds that “foot size doesn’t matter,” suggesting Hans may not be all that underneath the regal wear.
10. Some people in Ratatouille are ‘too familiar’ with veg
Arguably one of the greatest features ever to be produced by Pixar, Ratatouille is also distinctly old-school in its approach to storytelling. Relying largely on visual comedy and stunning animation, Ratatouille often prefers to let the images do the talking. Brad Bird’s film isn’t, however, immune to a raunchy and honestly pretty weird dialogue exchange about veg. As he sneaks around the kitchen pantry in Gusteau’s restaurant, wannabe chef Linguini is caught by the joint’s actual chef, Skinner.
Ordered out of the pantry, Linguini explains to Skinner that he’s “just familiarising myself with the vegetables and such.” “Get out! One can become too familiar with vegetables, you know,” replies Skinner, enigmatically and frankly quite unnervingly.
9. Ratatouille makes a small penis joke
The list of double entendres in Ratatouille is – oddly for one of the sweetest Pixar films going – surprisingly long (as it were). You have the joke about vegetables being used as sex toys. You have Anton Ego saying “If I don’t love it, I don’t swallow it.” You also have the brief sight of a man painting a nude of a female companion, which is less surprising considering the film is set in Paris.
There are also a couple of references made to hero Linguini’s manhood, one of which is not so subtle at all. As Linguini struggles to tell Colette his secret, he stutters: “It’s sort of disturbing… I have this tiny, little, little…” Colette, unsure of what Linguini is aiming at, looks down at her romantic interest’s crotch with only concern.
8. Who Framed Roger Rabbit features R-rated background graffiti
Who Framed Roger Rabbit isn’t your typical animated movie, and it’s certainly not your typical Disney. Though it is, like much of Disney’s output, rated a family-friendly PG, Robert Zemeckis’ cartoon/live-action mashup often seems aimed more at adults than kids. Take the suggestive toilet graffiti that can be found in the background of one shot, for example.
Midway through the film, Valiant pursues Jessica through Toontown, eventually tracking her down to a hotel. Realising he’s accidentally introduced himself to the predatory Lena Hyena, Valiant hides out in the hotel toilet. On the wall behind Eddie, there can be seen some off-colour graffiti that reads: ‘For a good time, call Allyson “Wonderland”‘, who it’s implied is a Toontown call girl.
7. Lightning McQueen has flashing groupies
Cars isn’t the best-loved Pixar franchise – in fact, it’s nowhere near as popular as the studio’s other releases. One criticism is that the Cars films aim squarely at kids, rather than being the all-round family experience that most other Pixar films are. Not true: in actuality, some of the dirtiest Disney in-jokes can be found in these auto-obsessed films.
Take, for example, the scene in which a gloating Lightning McQueen greets some of his adoring fans after a race. Mia and Tia, two sister cars, push to the front of the crowd, and promptly flash Lightning with their headlights. The groupies are immediately escorted away by security, because even in the world of Cars, flashing is considered grounds for removal.
6. There’s a strip joint in the Cars universe
It doesn’t end at flasher groupies: Cars also has background gags simply laden with innuendos. Never mind that the motel in the film’s world is called the Cozy Cone and has a towering erection as its logo. In the world of Cars, it seems the characters’ minds are just as filthy as those of the Disney animators. You might have missed the sign for the truckstop that Lightning McQueen passes near the beginning of the film.
Called ‘Top Down’, the sign promises ‘All convertible waitresses’, suggesting this might be what we in the real world call a strip joint. The racy original sign for the Top Down Truckstop, seen in storyboards for the film, seems to establish that ‘sexy stripper car’ is exactly what the Pixar team was going for.
5. Aladdin’s Genie makes a honeymoon night joke
Aladdin’s Genie fancies himself something of a standup comedian, and fair play to him, he had ages to spend in that lamp coming up with material. Sometimes in the Aladdin films, Genie even enjoyed making a few risqué jokes which the adults in the cinema would definitely have appreciated. In Aladdin and the King of Thieves, the second, direct-to-video sequel, Aladdin and Jasmine prepare to marry.
However, just as the wedding is set to take place, the villainous Sa’Luk causes an elephant to stampede, shaking the ground beneath the feet of the people of Agrabah. Sensing an opportunity to try out some more of his material, the Genie quips “I thought the earth wasn’t supposed to move until the honeymoon.” In case anybody missed it, he’s talking about sex. Good old, reliable, naughty Disney.
4. Inside Out makes a reference to San Francisco’s ‘bears’
“I saw a really hairy guy, he looked like a bear,” says Anger in reply, opening up a whole can of worms. It’s a reference, of course, to San Francisco famously being a global centre for gay culture.
3. Francis gets an indecent proposal in A Bug’s Life
Is there a more tragic character in Pixar history than Francis, A Bug’s Life’s male ladybird? Think about it: here’s a guy who’s had to deal with unwanted advances from other bugs his entire life simply because he looks – to the bug world at least – absolutely beautiful. A lifetime of taunts and propositions has made Francis surly, defensive and more than a little unreasonable. In one scene in A Bug’s Life, we see Francis, a circus bug, badgered by a spectating housefly as he performs for the crowd.
“Hey cutie, want to pollinate with a real bug?”, asks the fly, risking Francis’ ire. Naturally, this makes Francis furious, and understandably so: this is a U-rated film, and a common fly has just asked Francis if he can have sex with him. Nobody needs that at work.
2. Marilyn Monroe nearly bares all in Hercules
It’s one of the most iconic moments in movie history: Marilyn Monroe steps on a subway grate, and promptly has her skirt lifted by a gust from a passing train. This one scene, which cemented the blonde bombshell as an enduring sex symbol, has become a cultural touchstone. Monroe’s skirt lift is now so familiar that it’s even made it into a Disney movie, namely Hercules. Zero To Hero, which describes Hercules’ rise to fame as a half-man, half-god, is one of the catchiest songs to feature in Disney’s 1997 comedy musical.
Look to the night sky during the sequence, and you may spot Marilyn among the stars. One of the constellations depicts Marilyn’s famous white dress moment in an example of ‘one for the dads.’ The animators cut away before too much is revealed.
1. Tangled’s promo posters might be secretly raunchy
Think The Lion King and The Little Mermaid are the only Disney films with deceptively saucy posters? Think again, buster, because Tangled, Disney’s 2010 computer-animated take on the Rapunzel myth, has its own suggestive artwork. At least, it has if you’re one of those Disney conspiracy theorists who finds raunch in literally everything Disney does. The above one-sheet used to promote the film in the run-up to its cinema release is said to contain yet another subliminal sexy message.
Yep, that’s clearly the word ‘SEX’ spelled out for Disney fans to subconsciously absorb. Or is it just a coincidental tangle of computer-animated hair? We’ll never know.