Disney characters

5 Disney Movies You May Not Have Known Are Based on Books

Growing up, Disney movies were always one of my favorite things in the world. I loved getting lost in the stories of unfortunate protagonists, handsome princes, unbeatable magic, and fairy tale endings. And as an avid reader, it didn’t take me long to figure out most Disney movies are based on books.


There are the obvious ones. Princess movies like Cinderella and Snow White are based on tales by the brothers Grimm. Alice in Wonderland was based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. And of course Hans Christian Anderson gave us The Little Mermaid


However, there are other Disney movies based on books that aren’t quite as obvious. However, once it’s explicitly said, the parallels make those movies even more interesting. Here are some of the best Disney movies you might not have known are based on books.


1. The Princess and the Frog


The princess and the frog

Image Via Disney


A relatively newer movie, The Princess and the Frog is based on a novel called The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker. The book is about a princess named Emma who kisses a frog after he insists he is a prince named Eadric, and needs the kiss of a princess to turn back into a human. Emma kisses him, but instead of Eadric becoming a human, Emma ends up turning into a frog, and the two embark on a journey to find the witch that cursed Eadric and get her to turn them both back into humans. Emma’s story is similar to Tiana’s. Tiana wasn’t a princess, but she did kiss Prince Naveen to turn him back human, but ended up turning into a frog herself thanks to the work of a witch doctor trying to take over New Orleans.


2. Oliver and Company


Oliver and Company

Image Via Disney


This movie about an abandoned kitten is modeled after Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. In the Dickens book, a young orphan named Oliver joins up with a gang of pickpockets in the streets of London for protection and camaraderie. Although he is happy at first, Oliver finds himself in a lot of trouble, and is saved in the end by finding his long lost aunt, who adopts him. In Oliver and Company, the feline Oliver joins up with a group of dogs owned by a pickpocket. As he helps them and their owner in their crimes, he meets a young girl named Jenny who adopts Oliver out of loneliness. The dogs go to “save” Oliver, and though they do, he eventually tells his friends he wants to stay with Jenny, who has been good to him.


3. Frozen



Image Via Disney


One of the most famous Disney movies in recent times, Frozen is based on The Snow Queen, another story by Hans Christian Anderson. The Snow Queen is the tale of Gerda who embarks on a journey to find her friend Kai who has been kidnapped by the evil Snow Queen. The Snow Queen has pierced Kai’s heart, making him cold towards everyone he once loved, but when Gerda finds him, she kisses him, and her love and devotion to Kai frees him from the Snow Queen’s control. While Frozen is quite different, telling a tale of two sisters, the climax of the movie shows the parallels. Elsa accidentally pierces Anna with an icicle, and as Anna’s body freezes, Elsa hugs her and her love thaws Anna’s body, reuniting the two sisters. Elsa is a kind version of Anderson’s Snow Queen, and the theme of true love is prevalent in both tales.


4. The Lion King


The Lion King

Image Via Disney


As my favorite Disney movie of all time, it’s very fitting that The Lion King is loosely based on my favorite play, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. In the play, a young prince Hamlet, mourning the loss of his father King Hamlet, is trying to prove to his mother Gertrude that her new husband, Prince Hamlet’s Uncle Claudius, is the one that killed King Hamlet out of jealousy. Since the play is a tragedy, Hamlet dies in the end, but not before managing to prove Claudius is a murderer. In The Lion King, protagonist Simba is convinced by his conniving uncle Scar that his father Mufasa is dead because of him.  It isn’t until Simba is a full grown lion that he returns to his home and inadvertently gets him to admit the truth: Scar is the one who killed Mufasa because he wanted Mufasa’s throne and wife. 


5. The Great Mouse Detective


The Great Mouse Detective

Image Via Disney


I considered this one of the most interesting Disney movies out there ever since I found  out the protagonist, Basil, is based on Sherlock Holmes, the detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Just like Sherlock Holmes, Basil lives on Baker Street, only takes on unusual cases, and comes off just as rude as Sherlock Holmes does. In the movie, Basil takes on a case when he finds out the man who committed the crime (that of kidnapping) is his enemy Ratigan, the movie’s version of Jim Moriarty, Holmes’ greatest enemy. Even Toby, Holmes’ trusty basset hound, is in the movie. Of course, The Great Mouse Detective differs from the the Sherlock Holmes books because Basil and his client are mice and Ratigan is a bat. The use of animals in this movie adds a touch of hilarity we rarely saw in Doyle’s books


Featured Image via Odyssey