The 11 Intentional Historical Mistakes From Our Favorite Disney Movies

Published Mar 13, 2020

By  Thomas Barker


With the new Mulan movie fast approaching release, we don’t realize that Disney often makes historical errors to help the plot along. According to Chinese legend, Mulan pretended to be a man to join the army and protect her father, but we know this isn’t the case in the Disney movie.


Many of our favorite Disney movies also tell stories of our oral history or even real historical events, but they often change parts of the story to make what we see more like fairytale. Read on to find out some of the best examples of Disney changing elements of history to tell a truly magical story.


1Via: Walt Disney Pictures

Mulan’s parents supported her plan to join the army and no one there found out that she was a woman.


The animated movie and upcoming live-action remake of Mulan is a real legend in Chinese lore and tells the story of the female warrior Hua Mulan. Just like the legend, Mulan joins the army because her father is too old and weak and her brother is too young. However, in the legend, Mulan has to dress and behave like a man as only men could be conscripted into the army at that time. Mulan then went on to become a decorated soldier and warrior serving in the army for 12 years. No one found out she was a woman until she returned home and was seen wearing women’s clothes.  


Mulan’s little brother isn’t in the animated movie either, well he is, but as her pet dog: little brother.


2via : © Frozen / Walt Disney Pictures

The characters in Frozen should have probably had guns


The Frozen movie is set in 1839 and at this time, people would have been using guns when fighting in the military or hunting. The characters in the movie, however, still use swords. Fans have theorized that this was changed to help Elsa be able to overpower her enemies. If everyone was armed with guns, Elsa would have surely been shot and probably killed.


3Via: Walt Disney Pictures

In the movie Dinosaur, it would have been impossible for the dinosaur to be raised by lemurs


This historical inaccuracy is probably a lot easier to spot than the others found in this list, as we all know that lemurs and other primate-like animals didn’t exist at the time of the dinosaurs. Even if dinosaurs and lemurs co-existed, lemurs are far too small to raise dinosaurs. That being said, we still love the movie.

4Via: Walt Disney Pictures

There are extinct animals in Atlantis: The Lost Empire

This historical inaccuracy is a very clever one made by Disney, and some fans think that it was done on purpose. In the movie, we see Coelacanths, which are a large and very rare type of fish in an aquarium in the lost city. In 1914, when the movie was set, it was believed that Coelacanths were extinct until they were rediscovered in 1938. Fans believe this is a nod to the Lost City of Atlantis, which throughout history has been believed to be a fictional place despite being written about many times.


5Via: Walt Disney Pictures

Aurora and Felipe’s dancing in Sleeping Beauty

At the end of the famous Disney movie, Princess Aurora and Felipe dance their way to life happily after. In the scene, Felipe puts his arm around Princess Aurora as they’re dancing, but in the 14th century, when the film is set, it was only acceptable to touch hands when dancing. Any other touching would be strictly forbidden at the time.


6Via: Walt Disney Pictures/USA Today

Jasmine’s clothes are not appropriate for the era


Aladdin is set somewhere around the 4th - 7th century in the Arabian Peninsula and Jasmine is often seen wearing clothing that is considered a little too revealing for that era given the location. At the time, women and girls in this area would have probably worn heavy veils similar to a modern-day burqa or niqāb rather than Jasmine’s preferred dress.

Aladdin’s dreams are also not accurate


In the movie, Aladdin always dreams that one day he will become a rich Prince and live in a castle. At the time of the movie, it would have probably been unthinkable for a homeless child to ever dream of becoming a rich Prince and Aladdin’s dreams would have been much more earnest. This is because in historical Arabia it wouldn’t have been possible for anyone to change their social status as this is a more modern possibility.

7© Pocahontas / Walt Disney Pictures

Pocahontas and John Smith never fell in love


In the real story of Pocahontas, she is 11 years old when John Smith and the other colonists arrive in her village so there is no love story between them. Instead, there is a record of John Smith spending some time with Pocahontas as they shared and taught each other their respective languages.


Later, Pocahontas did marry an English man named John Rolfe, which was the first recorded marriage between a European and Native American. Pocahontas wasn’t even her real name, which was Matoaka. Upon marriage, Matoaka converted to Christianity and took the English name of Rebecca.


8Via: Everett Collection

Tiana wouldn’t have been able to marry Naveen or open her own restaurant


The movie Princess and the Frog takes place in New Orleans in the early 20th Century. At this time, New Orleans would have been under Jim Crow racial segregation laws. Included in these terrible laws would have been restrictions preventing women of color opening businesses including restaurants and interracial marriages were also forbidden. This would have meant that Princess Tiana couldn’t marry her Prince or open her restaurant.  


9Via: © Hercules / Walt Disney Pictures

The Hercules origin story is slightly different in reality


In the Disney movie, Hercules is shown to be the son of Zeus and Hera and they all lived in excellent conditions. However, in Greek mythology, Hercules is the son of Zeus and a mortal woman, which made Hera very jealous of Hercules. Hera made sure to make Hercules’ life difficult and unlike the movie where Hades wants to kill Hercules, it is actually Hera who wants to in myth.


Megara’s story is also a little different in myth. She was a princess and the daughter of Creon who was the King of Thebes. Creon offered Hercules his daughter's hand in marriage after Hercules helped Creon to defeat some of his enemies.


Hercules murdered Megara and their children


In Greek mythology, Hercules kills his own family, which is perhaps why there has never been a second Hercules movie. In the story, Hercules has to go to the underworld. On his return, he finds that a man named Lycus has forcibly taken the throne and wants to kill Hercules’ family. Hercules then kills Lycus and saves his wife and children. Hera is then able to convince Hercules that his children are really Lycus’ children. In a fit of rage, Hercules kills his children and then murders his wife.