‘Wish’: From ‘Pinocchio’ and ‘Bambi’ to Villains, All the Disney Nods

THIS WISH – In Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish,” Asha is invited to see where King Magnfico keeps all of the wishes given to him by those in his kingdom. Featuring the voices of Academy Award®-winning actress Ariana DeBose as Asha and Chris Pine as King Magnifico, the epic animated musical “Wish” hits the big screen on Nov. 22, 2023. © 2023 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

SPOILER ALERT: This story discusses major plot points for “Wish,” currently playing in theaters.

Disney’s animated feature “Wish” features over 100 nods.

As the animation studio celebrates its centennial year, “Wish” pays homage to classic Disney films from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to “Peter Pan,” “Sleeping Beauty” and more. Speaking with Variety, director Chris Buck explained they are “Disney nods” rather than easter eggs.

“We wanted to get the story to work first,” Buck says. “Once we had that, and we started going into production, we could start layering in all the nods.”

It wasn’t just fellow director Fawn Veerasunthorn and writer and Disney Animation chief creative officer Jennifer Lee helping to incorporate them. According to Buck, “every artist and every department was saying, ‘What if we tried this?'”

While some are more obvious than others, Buck teases, “There are so many that are truly hidden, so it’s going to take a while to find them.”

Here are a few that have been spotted. Also, be sure to stick around for the end credits for the post-credit scene.

‘Pinocchio,’ ‘Tangled’ and ‘The Princess and the Frog’


In celebration of the studio’s 100th year, “Wish” pays homage to the legacy of Disney studios and the wishing star legacy.

While finishing work on “Frozen 2,” Lee was thinking ahead to their next project. They knew it would feature original music and be an original story with original characters. So, they pinned up a still from every single feature the studio had done. “One thing that jumped out was all the characters wished on stars.”

In “Wish,” Asha, voiced by Ariana DeBose, lives in the magical kingdom of Rosas, built on Chris Pine’s King Magnifico’s ability to grant people’s wishes. Except, Magnifico thrives on power and relishes the fact that he gets to decide whose wish comes true and whose doesn’t. Asha’s grandfather has one wish, and when Asha discovers Magnifico’s intent, she runs into the forest. At her lowest point, she makes a wish for the people of Rosas and accidentally conjures up a new friend, Star.

The wishing star nods to all the characters, from Jiminy Cricket to Princess Tiana and more, who have wished upon a star. Says Buck, “It feels very obvious…but it wasn’t until that moment that it had to be about wishing. And so, here we are.”


“I’m a Star” is a musical number that occurs shortly after Asha wishes on a star-filled sky and makes friends with Star, a bubbly ball of energy. Star leads her to the forest where she encounters a host of talking animals.

Being an ensemble moment, Lee’s challenge was how to end the action on screen. “We needed the animals to clear away, to move the story along.” The solution was to have a dialogue encounter between John the bear — a nod to “Robin Hood” — and the deer that says, “Thanks for not eating me, John.”

“You’re welcome, Bambi,” the bear replies. And look for the rabbit who thumps their foot just like Thumper from the 1942 animated classic.

The talking mushrooms Asha and friends encounter also say “I love crazy,” which is a line taken from “Frozen’s” “Love Is an Open Door.”

Mickey Mouse


There are Mickey Mouse nods galore throughout “Wish.”

When Asha breaks into the King’s library, Star shoots out magic that hits a quill on his desk, the quill starts to draw Mickey Mouse.

The macaron tower in the kitchen features hidden Mickeys.

Star is also an ode to Mickey. His heart-shaped mask is the most obvious nod. Character designer Bill Schwab studied Disney films of Mickey. He says, “I put together a model sheet at one point where I did screen captures from some of those films, and then tried to match the expression with Star. And that became, at one point, kind of a touchstone for the beginning of posing Star for animation.”

‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’

Courtesy Everett Collection ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

The film’s animation style and storybook opening is a nod to studio’s 1937 film.

At one point, King Magnifico says, “Mirrors mirrors on the wall,” which nods to “Snow White’s” Wicked Queen. The steps to his lair are also the same as the Evil Queen’s.

Asha’s teen friends in Rosas all share names that begin with the same letter as the seven dwarfs: Dahlia (Doc), Bazeema (Bashful), Gabo (Grumpy), Hal (Happy), Simon (Sleepy), Dario (Dopey) and Safi (Sneexy). Their costume color palette also reflects their namesake.

And look for the red apple on Magnifico’s desk.

Sleeping Beauty’


There are countless nods to 1959’s “Sleeping Beauty.”

“Wish” uses the same 2.55:1 aspect ratio as “Sleeping Beauty,” while every other studio film has used a traditional cinemascope.

Dahlia’s apron was inspired by the three fairy godmothers. In another scene where the King is looking inside the wishes made, a character is sewing a dress that is reminiscent of Princess Aurora’s blue dress.

When Magnifico casts vines over the kingdom, the green vines are just like those Maleficent uses in “Sleeping Beauty.”

Asha, The Fairy Godmother


DeBose calls Asha a “modern-day fairy godmother. She gets to redefine what we know as a fairy.”

Asha’s dress is embroidered in pumpkin seeds in a nod to the fairy godmother from 1950’s “Cinderella.” “It also shows her down-to-earth side,” says Griselda Sastrawinata-Lemay, associate production designer of “Wish.”

At one point, Asha is dressed just like a fairy godmother and, when Star gives her a wand, she uses it to give a cart legs.

As a modern-day fairy godmother, Asha’s looks are inspired by her North African medieval heritage. Her braids, according to Sastrawinata-Lemay, are contemporary. “She has a side box braid, which gives her full movement.”