‘Once Upon A Studio’ Short Review: A Nostalgic Look at Disney Through the Ages
Walt Disney Animation’s newest and highly anticipated short Once Upon A Studio is finally here!
As you may remember, the short was announced earlier this year and is directed by Dan Abraham and Trent Correy and produced by Yvett Merino and Bradford Simonsen, with music by Dave Metzger.
The official runtime of this short is listed at 12 minutes, but it is actually around 8 minutes once you exclude the credits.
The Cast of Once Upon a Studio
It stars Renika Williams as a Disney Intern and Burny Mattinson as himself or the live action segment. The short is also dedicated to his memory after his passing in February of this year. He was the longest serving employee of The Walt Disney Company, having worked there for 70 years.
The voice actors’ cast is too great to list, but it includes Chris Diamantopoulos as Mickey Mouse, Kaitlyn Robrock as Minnie Mouse, as well as returning icons such as Jim Cummings as Baloo and Winnie the Pooh, Jodi Benson as Ariel, Jeremy Irons as Scar, Josh Gad as Olaf, Mandy Moore as Rapunzel, and more.
It also includes archival recordings of many characters, such as Bobby Driscoll’s Peter Pan, Pat Caroll’s Ursula, Clarence Nash’s Donald Duck, Chris Sanders’ Stitch and of course, the exciting return of Robin Williams as Genie (with permission from his estate).
The short begins near the evening of October 16th, 2023, the day The Walt Disney Animation Studios celebrated their 100th anniversary. All Disney employees are leaving the premises while Mr. Mattinson and an intern reflect on the studio’s rich history and artistry.
As soon as they all leave, Mickey comes alive and out from his portrait and enlists Minnie, Tinker Bell and other characters to get everyone together for the official 100th anniversary group photo. Several characters then start popping out of their own portraits and meet at the studios’ lobby for the picture.
The short looks simply spectacular. It is quite a mesmerizing and nostalgic feeling to see all these characters from literally all Disney eras come together for the first time.
The whole gang is truly there, from fan favorites like Cinderella, Ariel, Peter Pan, Dumbo and Elsa to newer additions like Raya, Ethan Clade, Baymax and Aisha, and even lesser-known characters like Chicken Little, Jim Hawkings, Bongo, Ichabod Crane, and more.
There are easter eggs galore all over the short, also too many to list, but they are a delight to find and it will make it worth to watch more than once. Odds are you will notice something new every time you watch it.
While some interactions between the characters are obvious, like pairing Moana with Flounder or Antonio Madrigal with the animals, most of them are simply brilliant such as the Cheshire Cat trolling Gaston in the bathroom, Prince Charming losing his shoe on the staircase, or Rapunzel saving Clarabelle from Kaa.
The most touching part of the short is the homage to Walt Disney himself, when Mickey stops by Walt’s portrait, takes his hat off and thanks him for everything while Walt’s favorite song, Feed the Birds, is playing in the background.
This is followed closely by a quite moving rendition of When You Wish Upon A Star performed by all the Disney characters in attendance for the group photo. Even casual fans are sure to be in tears by the end.
The (Few) Negatives
There are a few moments where the animation in the short is a little uneven and, as some hard-core fans have pointed out, some characters do look somewhat deviated from their original design, such as Aurora, Lucille Robinson and Ursula.
And while there is certainly representation for virtually every movie of the Classics line up, one can’t help but notice a few absences like Max Goof, Professor Owl, Roger Rabbit, Mortimer and some fans have also expressed dissapointment in the absence of Br’er Rabbit from the controversial Song of the South.
But none of this really takes away from the experience and really the only negative aspect about this short is that it is too… short. It will definitely leave fans wanting more of these characters and will want to see them interact some more.
Final thoughts on Once Upon a Studio
Once Upon A Studio is a beautiful love letter not only to all the artists involved in the creation of these iconic films and characters but also to all cast members and fans who have stuck by this company through thick and thin for over 100 years now.
This is the Disney we fell in love with. The Disney we grew up with. The Disney we celebrated 100 years of. And it’s certainly the Disney we want back.
“Once Upon A Studio” is now available to stream on Disney+.