The Weirdest Disney Movie Sequels You Probably Forgot Existed
No one wished upon a star for these Disney sequels.
There's a dark period in Disney animated history, near the end of Michael Eisner's tenure as Chairman and CEO and after the company had run out of animated classics to release on VHS, that the studio began to cannibalize itself by making direct-to-video sequels to its films.
The first movie to take this approach was The Return of Jafar, a sequel to Aladdin. And it was financially successful enough that Disney did the same to their other contemporary movies. We got The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, starring Simba's daughter Kiara. We got The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, starring Ariel's daughter Melody. And eventually, Disney started going even back further into the archives. They made Cinderella II: Dreams Come True. They made Bambi II, and they were even in the process of making a Pinocchio II before upper management put a stop to it.
John Lasseter (formerly of Pixar) became the chief creative officer of Disney Animation in 2006, and he saw the sequels as detrimental to the company's brand. And Steve Jobs, who founded Pixar and at one point was Disney's biggest shareholder, said in a 2003 conference call, "We feel sick about Disney doing sequels. If you look at the quality of their sequels...it’s pretty embarrassing."
Today, we're looking at these oddities in Disney's animated canon. To clarify: A movie like The Little Mermaid II is not that weird; it makes perfect sense that Disney would attempt some sequels to animated films. The movies on this list are more in the "WTF" category; they're bizarre for even existing in the first place.
Here are the 7 weirdest Disney animated sequels. And if you liked this gallery, check out the weirdest live-action Disney movies too.
1. The Hunchback of Notre Dame II (2002)
At the end of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Esmeralda falls in love with Phoebus, and although Quasimodo doesn't get his dream girl, he does get the love and acceptance of Paris. It was a bittersweet ending that made sense, while keeping with the overall dark tone of the film.
But for some people at Disney, maybe it was too much of a downer. For Hunchback of Notre Dame II, the animators decided to give Quasimodo a girlfriend: Madellaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt), the daughter of a circus troupe owner. She's initially put off by Quasi's appearance, but she comes to learn about his inner beauty.
Along the way, we learn about a convoluted plot to steal Notre Dame's most prized bell, and we watch more cartoony gargoyle antics than you can shake a stick at.
2. Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World (1998)
This felt like compounding controversy with more of it. When Pocahontas was released in 1995, Disney caught a lot of flack for creating fictionalized versions of real historical figures, and for making Pocahontas an adult woman rather than a young girl. It was one thing to revise fairytales, myths, and fables. It was quite another to change relatively recent history and sell it to young, impressionable kids.
Pocahontas II compounded the historical inaccuracies of the original by having Pocahontas go to England to broker peace (she was actually kidnapped and held for random by the English), scandalize the royal court, and be rescued from captivity by John Smith. The only thing the movie got right is that she and John Rolfe ended up together, although they conveniently left out the part where she died on the voyage back to Virginia.
3. The Lion King 1 ½ (2004)
This movie, which is set during the events of the first Lion King film, stars Timon and Pumbaa, who we learn were present at nearly every single major event of the first movie.
It would be one thing if this were a fanciful take on Mystery Science Theatre, with Timon and Pumbaa providing commentary from a distance. But the comedic pair get actively involved in many of the first film's major events.
Remember when all the animals bowed to Simba at the end of The Circle of Life? It turns out that Pumbaa farted, some of the animals fainted, and the other animals followed their lead. Somehow, that doesn't seem quite as majestic.
4. Cinderella III: A Twist In Time (2007)
The third Cinderella movie is bonkers; rather than being some standard sequel about Cinderella's married life or wedding planning, the filmmakers took a risk. They had Lady Tremaine use the Fairy Godmother's wand to go back in time and change the glass slipper to fit her daughter, Anastasia. She also uses the wand to brainwash the prince into going along with the marriage, and later transfigures Anastasia to look like Cinderella. Again, it's up to the talking mice in clothes to save the day.
Who knew that Cinderella could have such a sci-fi twist?
5. Belle's Magical World (1998)
Originally, this was supposed to be an animated TV spin-off of Beauty and the Beast. But when those plans fell through, the animators cobbled together the footage into a single sequel and released it as Belle's Magical World. It has four unrelated plotlines, which probably would have composed four individual episodes. The first one is about an enchanted dictionary. The second is a love story starring Lumiere and his feather duster girlfriend. The third is about throwing a party for Mrs. Potts. And the fourth is about a bird with an injured wing, and how the Beast apparently hates birds.
It's disposable entertainment, but the most jarring parts are the ones that involve the Beast, who acts like a spoiled, selfish jerk, only to learn the same lesson at the end of his conflicts.
Timewise, Belle's Magical World takes place between Christmas and the famous ballroom scene in the original movie, when the Beast was already well on his way to becoming a good person. This feels like a major step backward.
6. The Fox and the Hound II (2006)
The original Fox and the Hound movie, a sad, dark tale about two friends who can't be friends anymore, was a rare highlight in early to mid '80s Disney animation.
The film sequel is about when Copper--the dog--becomes enamored with a country band made up of dogs called the Singin' Strays. Tod becomes jealous and feels like his friend is abandoning him. Not surprisingly, Kurt Russell (Copper) and Mickey Rooney (Tod) chose not to reprise their roles.
7. Mulan II (2004)
The original Mulan was based on a Chinese legend that dates back to the sixth century, about a woman who disguised herself as a man to take her father's place in the Chinese army. The 1998 Disney adaptation took the basics of that myth and expanded on them, resulting in one of the prettiest Disney features to date.
In Mulan II, every quality takes two steps backwards. Every character has bizarre, hammy facial expressions. The musical numbers are plain bad. And the plot, about Mulan and Shang transporting three princesses to marry three princes (to forge a kingdom alliance and defeat the Huns), seems a lot less consequential than the original's high stakes.
But the worst, most left-field aspect of Mulan II is how it changes Mushu's character. No longer needed as a family guardian of Mulan, he decides that the best way to get his job back is to break up Mulan and Shang. Really? It's just so mean-spirited and so anti-Disney to have a beloved sidekick make such a dramatic turn. That we're still supposed to find Mushu somewhat funny and likable despite this makes it even more repellent.