Monday, January 23, 2012

Year of the Disney Dragon

Today is the Chinese New Year, and this year it's the Year of the Dragon.  There have been several dragons in Disney history.
Photo from the Disney Wiki.

1. Maleficent
Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty is definitely the best dragon in all of Disney, but that could just be my personal opinion, especially since Maleficent is my favorite Disney villain.  However, several sites have listed Maleficent as the top Disney villain: she is the "most popular ('number one') villain in UltimateDisney.com's Top 30 Disney Villains" and "ranked #2 in the Nostalgia Critic's Top 11 Disney Villains list" (The Disney Wiki).


Maleficent transforms into her dragon form after Prince Phillip makes his way through the forest of thorns.  Angrily, she swirls into the sky and stands before him on the castle drawbridge before chanting, "Now you shall deal with me, O Prince, and all the powers of hell!" (This is one of the few swear words ever heard in Disney movies, and even here it's slightly covered with music.)  She is covered in smoke and when it drifts away, she is a green fire-breathing dragon.  The heroic Prince must kill her in order to get to Aurora and give the Princess her True Love's kiss.
Maleficent atop a float at Disneyland Paris. 
Photo from the Disney Wiki.

Maleficent in Fantasmic! 
Photo from the Disney Wiki
Animator Marc Davis designed and animated the character of Maleficent.  I'm assuming he did the same with her dragon form too.  The great Eleanor Audley, previously the voice of Lady Tremaine in Cinderella, did Maleficent's voice, including her dragon voice.  The sounds of her fire-breathing is the sound of flame throwers, the sound being provided by the Navy.


Dragon Maleficent has appeared outside of the original movie, such as in the show House of Mouse  and the video game Kingdom Hearts.  She has appeared in a few of the Disney Parks: she is seen on a float at Disneyland Paris, but her most famous appearance is at Disney World or Disneyland during the Fantasmic! show.
Photo from the Disney Wiki.

2. Mushu
Who could ever forget the great mighty dragon from Mulan....Mushu! Wait, that may have been a slight exaggeration on the "great."

Mushu is actually the best Disney nominee for mascot of the Year of the (Disney) Dragon since he's a Chinese dragon!

Mushu is the small red dragon in the movie Mulan. At the start of the film, his job is to awaken the family spirits and the guardians, including the Great Stone Dragon. But upon breaking the Great Stone Dragon's statue (where the spirit supposedly resides), he decides to protect Mulan himself. Unfortunately, protecting Mulan does not mean bringing her back safely, but turning her into a war hero, endangering her life as well as the family honor. But in the end, Mushu helps set things right.

Mushu at the Disney Parks.
Photo from the Disney Wiki.

Eddie Murphy voiced Mushu in the first film. Mark Moseley has voiced him outside of the first film.

Aside from Mulan, Mushu also appeared in the sequel as well as in other Disney media: House of Mouse and Kingdom Hearts. At the parks, he is a very common character, not only for meet-and-greets but even for a few attractions.

Nora, Pete, and Elliot.  Photo from the Disney Wiki.
3. Elliot
Shy and bashful Elliot is the animated title character of the live-action movie Pete's Dragon.  While he may not be a frightening dragon, he sure is one of the nicest ones in dragon history.  His job is guarding orphans, and in the movie, the young red-headed Pete is the one he's protecting.  Throughout the movie, he helps Pete find a family and save the town before leaving to protect another orphan.

Elliot in Electrical Parade. 
Photo from the Disney Wiki
Since the rest of the movie was live-action, Elliot was the animated middle ground while the foreground and background were live-action.  He was animated by Don Bluth, the man who would go on to create his own studio.  And while Elliot never speaks in words, he does communicate with Pete and then Nora and Lampie through snuffles, snorts, and the occasional growl.  These sounds were provided by Charlie Callas.

Elliot hasn't appeared much outside of the movie: he's appeared a few times in House of Mouse and appears at the Parks in the Main Street Electrical Parade.

Photo from Walt Disney World's Facebook Page.
4. Figment
Another cute little dragon who prefers smiling to roaring is Figment, the creation of the Dreamfinder's imagination as well as the costar of the Journey into Imagination pavilion.  Created with  "'two tiny wings, eyes big and yellow, horns of a steer, royal purple pigment, and a dash of childish delight,'" Figment is not only the Dreamfinder's creation but best friend (The Disney Wiki).

Figment was created by the Dreamfinder of course, but with the help of designers Tony Baxter and Steve Kirk.  His voice was provided by Billy Barty, but upon Barty's death in 2000, Dave Goelz took up the part.
Figment and the Dreamfinder appear live at an event. 
Photo from the Disney Wiki.

Other than the ride, which has gone through three versions, Figment hasn't appeared much.  Recently, he and the Dreamfinder appeared live at an event to sing a song.

Interesting to note, the Disney Parks Blog did a blog post on Figment also for the Chinese New Year.

Madam Mim as a PURPLE dragon, not pink!
Photo from the Disney Wiki.
5. Madam Mim
Madam Mim is Merlin's rival in the movie The Sword in the Stone.  She only appears for one scene in the movie,  and according to the Disney Wiki, her scene does not even last a half hour.

In this scene, she demonstrates her magic for Arthur before finally deciding to play "kitty chase the birdie," as Arthur had been changed temporarily into a bird by Merlin.  Merlin arrives in the nick of time and begins a wizard's duel with her.  Merlin allows her to create the rules for the duel: "'Rule one: no mineral or vegatable (sic); only animal. Rule 2: no make-believe things, like, the, uh, pink dragons and stuff. Now, rule 3: no disappearing!'" (The Disney Wiki).
Madam Mim, human form. 
Photo from the Disney Wiki.

Right when it seems Merlin is about to win, Madam Mim transforms into a purple dragon.  Note that she's purple, not pink.  Not breaking any rules right?  Exactly what Madam Mim thinks.

That's the only time she appears as a dragon.  It's similar to Maleficent's transformation, but much shorter.  Martha Wentworth voiced her.

Sneaky Madam Mim hasn't appeared much outside of the movie.  She's cameoed in House of Mouse and appeared in the video game World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.  Her rival Merlin appears at the Disney Parks, however.

Narissa in dragon form.
Photo from the Disney Wiki.
5. Queen Narissa
Last but not least is Queen Narissa, the villain of the live-action/animated movie Enchanted.  Narissa is the queen of the animated realm Andalasia, and she has no desire to give up her throne.  Thus, she has been keeping her stepson Prince Edward from finding a bride.  But plans and distractions don't always work, and Edward finds and rescues the beautiful Giselle.  Narissa, disguised as a hag, sends Giselle through a waterfall, through a pothole, and into our world, specifically New York.  Again, plans and distractions don't work again, and Edward once more finds Giselle.  Narissa arrives, planning to stop Giselle once and for all with a poisoned apple, again disguised as the hag.  Edward and Robert, Giselle's new true love, are able to rescue Giselle with Robert's True Love's kiss.  Outraged, Narissa transforms into a dragon, and this time, Giselle has to stop her.

Narissa in live-action human form.
Photo from the Disney Wiki.
Narissa in animated human form.
Photo from the Disney Wiki.

Narissa was based on three previous villains: the Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Lady Tremaine from Cinderella, and Maleficent.  Maleficent is the obviously the inspiration for Narissa's dragon transformation.  Andreas Deja animated her (animated version), and actress Susan Sarandon both voiced and portrayed her, animated and live-action respectively.

As of yet, Narissa has yet to appear outside of the movie.
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There are a few other dragons that have appeared in Disney history, but I thought these were the best ones to represent in this post.  Enjoy your Year of the Dragon!

Comments: Which dragon is your favorite and why?

11 comments:

  1. Even though sleeping beauty is my favorite Disney movie, Gaston is DEFINITELY the best villian of all time XD This is cool I didn't know there were so many disney dragons:)
    -Allison F

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    1. Hey Anonymous, or can I call you by your real name?? Cuz I know who you are. I know everything. :) ;D Yeah, I think Gaston's pretty cool too, but Maleficent beats him, all the way ;) Thanks for commenting! Keep checking back for more posts.

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    2. Pain and Panic (loyal servants of Hades)February 2, 2012 at 9:54 PM

      Gaston is simply a wimpy overgrown boy. He's a poor excuse for a villain. The most treacherous, deceitful disney villain is definitely the Archbishop of Notre Dame, Claude Frollo, from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He is far more twisted than any other villain because he wears the mask of virtue to disguise his evil schemes and vices such as lust, greed, hatred, and pride. Case closed.

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    3. Good point, Pain and Panic. Thanks for commenting. I unfortunately haven't seen that movie since I was little! But yes, I think Frollo is a great Disney villain.
      I love conversations. :)

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    4. But wait, what about your master Hades?

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    5. Pain and Panic (loyal servants of Hades)February 27, 2012 at 5:12 PM

      Hades is actually a very likeable man err god. He's simply misunderstood. You know his famous brother, Zeus, who everyone loves and admires kicked him out of Mount Olympus and banished him to the dreary, lonely realm of Hell.

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    6. Really? Well, it's good to know from an "inside" source. Can I quote you on that?

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  2. This post has reached 100 pageviews!

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  3. For your information, Pain and Panic (loyal servants of Hades), Claude Frollo ISN'T an archbishop. Instead, he's a judge. Didn't you know that? But I hate him more as much as I hate Gaston due to their prejudice against people who are different from them and their inabilities to leave the female enemies alone. Such bullies they are. They make me glad that they died.

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  4. Dragons are my second favorite reptiles of all. But Madam Mim, Maleficent, and Narissa make me jealous because they have the powers to turn into dragons, which is what Jake Long of Disney's American Dragon: Jake Long has and which is what I want.

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    1. That would indeed be a very cool power! :)

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