Since 2013 Disney has been regularly churning out some of the best shorts they’ve made in decades and they clearly have the most hardcore Disney geeks in mind. Read on to see some of the deepest cut cameos from the shorts as well as a very special reference from the upcoming Halloween special.
The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular
The new Mickey Halloween special airs this Sunday on the Disney Channel (but is available NOW on the Disney Now app). It’s the second 30-minute Mickey short special after last year’s Duck The Halls: A Mickey Christmas Special, and of course they load that hearty running time with awesome cameos. In the new special we see Goofy’s superhero alter ego Supergoof, the Lost Boys from Peter Pan, the first appearance of Mickey’s nephews in the new series, the boat from Steamboat Willie, but most importantly Huey, Dewey, and Louie are wearing three very familiar costumes.
The boys are in their exact costumes from the 1952 short Trick Or Treat, which you can watch in its entirety on Laser Time’s Youtube channel! Another quick trivia fact about this short — Donald Duck issue #26 (also published in 1952) is based on this cartoon. The issue was to be adapted directly from the short’s storyboards drawn by animator Jack Hannah. Carl Barks (the writer and animator) didn’t think the storyboard provided enough material and added some gags of his own, extending the submitted issue to 32 pages. His editors found most of his additions to be too creepy and cut the issue down to 23 pages before it was published. Some of the missing pages have been found and published by Barks researchers in various countries since the original issue’s release, but some of it still has yet to be found.
Now, on to the top 7 cameos in the new Mickey Mouse shorts!
#7 Space Mountain and Rocket to the Moon – Space Walkies
Disneyland’s two most notable space rides (that aren’t based on a multi-billion dollar franchise) make an appearance in the interstellar short about Mickey taking Pluto on a spacewalk (get it? ‘Cause of the bark, you dummy!). Along the way they’re hassled by another great cameo from Chip ‘n Dale! Rocket to the Moon serves as an actual spaceship and Space Mountain is just some futuristic flavor in the background.
The McDonnel Douglas Aircraft sponsored trip to the moon simulator was only open in Disneyland between 1955 and 1966 and was latter replaced by Mission to Mars. Of course the indoor roller coaster Space Mountain is still open at nearly every Disney park, though some have gone through some changes. In 2015 the Disneyland version was given a Star Wars-themed overhaul and re-titled Hyperspace Mountain. Just a few months ago it was finally restored to the original name and theming.
#6 The Dancing Teenagers – Couple Sweaters
There are some deep cuts on this list and this one has to be the deepest. Minnie has gifted Mickey with a particularly itchy sweater and he’s searching for ways to covertly scratch himself. Mickey joins a group of swinging teens from the 1946 post-Fantasia musical package film Make Mine Music as an excuse to get moving. MMM was one of several anthology films released by Disney to make up for the fact that they didn’t have the talent on hand to tackle a longer piece after so many of their animators had been drafted into World War II.
The original short, All the Cats Join In, is an elaborately animated, American Graffiti-esque look at the lives of teenagers in the mid-20th century set to the day’s popular music. It’s one of two segments in the film in which Benny Goodman and his Orchestra contributed the soundtrack. We also see Willie the opera singing whale from the same film in another short (O Sole Minnie).
#5 Gyro Gearloose – Down The Hatch
My favorite part about the cameos in the new Mickey shorts is that they go all in with the Ducks. Donald, the nephews, Daisy, Gyro, Gus Goose, Ludwig Von Drake — and it’s even the last place we heard Scrooge voiced by Alan Young. So naturally if you’re showing a group shot of Disney scientists, you have to include Duckberg’s premiere inventor. He’s one of the experts summoned to inspect Donald after Mickey and Goofy are shrunken down, trapped inside of him, and then laid and hatched out of an egg, Yoshi-style. It’s quite disturbing.
#4 It’s A Small World – O Sole Minnie
The ride you don’t want to do, feel obligated to ride on, then have tons of fun and forget why you wanted to avoid it in the first place. Every single time.
The iconic clock tower shows up in the background during a gondola chase scene in the completely Italian language short.
#3 The Three Caballeros – ¡Feliz Cumpleaños!
Donald, along with his south of the border buddies from the 1944 film José Carioca and Panchito Pistoles, appear as a mariachi band in the entirely Spanish spoken short. A great thing about these shorts is the worldliness of the series. A large chunk of them take place in other countries and are usually done entirely in that nation’s language or feature no dialogue to make it palatable to anyone. They’ve done shorts in Japan, Holland, France, Italy, and even had José appear again as the commentator for the World Cup in Brazil.
This theme is even more exemplified by featuring the Caballeros as their original films were produced as part of the Good Neighbor program. Walt and his crew were commissioned by the government to create films and shorts for other countries like Mexico and Brazil to encourage them to join our side against the Axis powers. This is what’s led to Donald becoming one of the most published comic and cartoon characters in the world. In most other nations like Mexico, Italy, Spain, and Japan he and Scrooge are basically Spider-Man in terms of printed comics popularity.
#2 Sport Goofy – Good Sports
Laser Time listeners have probably already heard way too much about Sport Goofy, but for the uninitiated — this is a double reference! “Sport Goofy” was a fashion phenomenon in Europe in the 80’s, appearing on clothing items playing sports after he was chosen as the official mascot of the Walt Disney Productions International Sports Program. This was a followup to the many How To shorts of the 50’s featuring Goofy learning how to do various activities. The character of Sport Goofy was also the focus of the original animated DuckTales pilot, Sport Goofy in Soccermania. The short itself is a love letter to the old cartoons and the fun and intensity of team sports.
#1 Oswald The Lucky Rabbit – Canned
In perhaps the most accurate cameo in terms of how he’s been treated, we see Walt’s first major cartoon creation Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, exhumed from a giant pile of stinking garbage as Mickey helps his elderly neighbor clean up her yard, only to be tossed to the side and never seen again.
After Universal kept the rights to Oswald as Walt went on to build his own empire in the 20’s with his new star Mickey, the character toiled in obscurity for decades. A few years ago Disney regained rights to Oswald for a trade. What character did they exchange with NBC Universal for one of the most important pieces of animation history? None! They gave up an actual person! Disney traded sports commentator Al Michaels from the ESPN network. And what has Disney done with Oswald since then? Epic Mickey and you can meet him at Disneyland. That’s about it.
Honorable Mention: The Band Concert – The Adorable Couple
I couldn’t resist including this reference to the first Mickey Mouse short produced in color. Goofy stands in for Mickey as the conductor, but otherwise everyone else including Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow are there. 1935’s The Band Concert is an oft-referenced short because of it’s historical importance including cameos in video games, the parks, and it was even remade in 1942 as the short Symphony Hour.
If you haven’t seen these shorts, you owe it to yourself to check them out. They’re hilarious, exciting, and full of deep cut Disney references including many more that I couldn’t fit into this article like Belle and the Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the vultures from The Jungle Book and plenty more. If you have seen them, let us know what you think in the comments as well as your favorite Disney cameos in or out of these shorts.
More Disney-related goodness including another list of obscure Disney refs in video form: