Disney has released more than 600 movies since 1937, so it’s no surprise this animation empire has its fair share of secrets.

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Independent Skies Magazine

Even the most avid Disney fan probably won’t know these surprising facts:

Real Life Influences

You’d be surprised how many real people inspired Disney characters. Good or bad, human or not, these characters have a small foothold in the real world.

1. Under the Sea and the Love Interest for a Beast

Two of Disney’s most popular princesses were based on model Sherri Stoner, visually at least. Stoner did live-action modeling work as Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Belle from Beauty and the Beast. In addition to her live-action work, Stoner was a writer, animator, and producer. In the 1990s, she worked on the television shows Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs, and helped write Casper the movie. 

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Walt Disney Studios (via IMDb)

However, Stoner wasn’t the only actor used in the creation of Ariel. In 2013, actress Alyssa Milano told Wendy Williams that she was the inspiration behind everyone’s favorite mermaid. Williams asked if the rumor was true, and Milano responded, “I actually was, yeah! Which I didn’t know when it was going on. But they asked me to host The Making of ‘The Little Mermaid’ and it came out there that the drawing and likeness of [Ariel] was based on pictures of me from when I was younger.”

2. Famous Fairy

Actor and motivational speaker Margaret Kerry was the inspiration behind the cute fairy Tinker Bell from the Disney classic Peter Pan. Disney opened auditions during the planning stage of the 1953 movie, and Kerry got the part.

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Walt Disney Studios (via IMDb)

During production, Kerry used props and pantomime on an empty sound stage. Her actions eventually became the animated fairy’s movements.

3. The Beatles in the Jungle

The Beatles missed out on a chance of a lifetime when they passed on providing the voices for the vultures in The Jungle Book. Producers thought the band would be a perfect fit, but they had to decline the offer due to a scheduling conflict.

Spot the Villains

There’s a running theme throughout all Disney movies. If you see anything lime green, you know something bad is about to happen. Almost every Disney villain has some characteristic, hue, or magical capability that involves this sickly color.

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Walt Disney Studios (via IMDb)

When these bad guys don’t glow green themselves, they often wear black, red, or purple. At the very least, you’ll find these colors in the background during villainous scenes. Disney doesn’t mess around when they make their villains as scary as possible.

Name that Voice

Over the years, some pretty famous actors have shown up in Disney films, and in some surprisingly obscure roles. Remember John Smith’s friend Thomas from Pocahontas? Neither did we, although we’ll keep our eyes out for him next time we watch the movie.

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Bustle

Though Thomas is a supporting character, the actor who provided his voice would go on to become very famous indeed. A young Christian Bale played the explorer, which was a small step toward the superstardom he enjoys today.

So there you go: You’re ready for the next Disney-themed trivia night. We’ll see you there.