As an avid Disney fan (geek?), I’ve seen quite a few theories that connect various Disney and Pixar films, TV shows, and properties. It’s no secret that Disney’s animators love to throw in references to other cartoons along with Easter eggs for observant viewers, but some theorists spin elaborate and sometimes over-thought narratives linking movies together. Among the most extreme sits Jon Negroni’s loveable yet wacky Pixar Theory – Negroni also devised the less outlandish idea that Jessie from Toy Story belonged to Andy’s mother years before Andy took ownership of her.
Over the weekend, my brother brought to my attention an intriguing theory that links recent hit Frozen with Tangled and even The Little Mermaid. The theory stems from the screenshot above from Frozen. Who does newly crowned Queen Elsa greet, but post-haircut Rapunzel and Flynn/Eugene? Rapunzel and Flynn’s cameo in Frozen could be no more or less than a clever Easter egg reward for us observant Disney nuts, but this theory suggests more.
“What if the king and queen of Arendelle were on their way to Rapunzel and Eugene’s wedding when their boat sank, and that’s why Rapunzel and Eugene felt the need to come to Elsa’s coronation ceremony?”
Frozen doesn’t tell us much about where the king and queen of Arendelle were heading, just Elsa asking, “Do you have to go?” and Anna sending them off with, “See you in two weeks!”
[SPOILER ALERT] We don’t know where Anna and Elsa’s parents were going, but we know what happened to the ship – it sank.
So how does The Little Mermaid fit in? Turns out Ariel swims around a shipwreck – a shipwreck that bears a bit of resemblance to the ship belonging to the king and queen of Arendelle. (Yes, I admit that part’s a stretch, but bear with me.)
How the three films tie in together boils down to a matter of geography:
No movie explicitly pinpoints the real world location where it takes place. We know that Tangled takes place in the Kingdom of Corona. According to Disney Wikia:
By looking at five things: architecture, nature, landscape, politics, and the styles of dress in Tangled, the best fit for a real-world Kingdom of Corona would be along the Baltic Sea coast of Germany and Poland at some point from 16th to the 18th century.
Frozen is a little more straightforward:
The name “Arendelle” is based on the Norwegian town of Arendal, located southwest of the Norwegian capital, Oslo. In Norwegian, “Aren” means “eagle”, and “delle” is most likely derived from “dal” which means “valley.”
And The Little Mermaid story was written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. There’s even a Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen.
So Corona = Germany. Arendelle = Norway. And The Little Mermaid takes place off the coast of Denmark.
(See the map above for reference.)
Knowing what we know about the history of the development of Disney animation, the studio may well have been developing what became Tangled and Frozen for decades. Therefore, the idea that animators may have thrown in a reference to a future animated feature (that just so happened not to have been made for nearly a quarter century) isn’t too far fetched.
Do I subscribe to this theory? Not necessarily, but I can definitely admit that it holds some promise. Disney’s animators may well have intended to connect these three films. At the same time, these references may have been just that – references. Inquiring minds want to know, and intriguing theorists feed the beast.