Once Upon a Studio
Promotional poster
Directed by
  • Dan Abraham
  • Trent Correy
Written by
  • Dan Abraham
  • Trent Correy
Produced byYvett Merino
Bradford Simonsen
StarringChris Diamantopoulos
CinematographyJohn Hasbrook (layout)
Daniel Rice (lighting)
Edited byMichael Louis Hill
Music by
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • June 11, 2023 (2023-06-11) (Annecy)
  • October 15, 2023 (2023-10-15) (ABC; United States)
  • October 16, 2023 (2023-10-16) (Disney+; United States)
  • December 15, 2023 (2023-12-15) (with Wish; Japan)
  • December 24, 2023 (2023-12-24) (YouTube)
Running time
9 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States

Once Upon a Studio is a 2023 American live-action/animated crossover fantasy comedy short film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios in celebration of the Walt Disney Company's centennial. Written and directed by Dan Abraham and Trent Correy,[2] it was released by Walt Disney Pictures on October 16, 2023.[3] In the film, Disney characters come to life from pictures hanging on the walls of the Roy E. Disney Animation Building following the end of a usual work day.[4] The short's art style combines computer graphics, traditional animation and live-action, and features characters from the majority of the studio's works made up to that point, including all 62 feature films (including the then-forthcoming Wish), numerous short films, and some live-action Disney films featuring animation produced by the studio such as The Reluctant Dragon (1941), Mary Poppins (1964), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), and Pete's Dragon (1977).[5] The film was dedicated in memory of Burny Mattinson, the company's longest-serving employee,[6] who made a cameo in the short and died eight months before its release.[7]

Once Upon a Studio premiered at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival on June 11, 2023, and had its first public showing in the United States on ABC's The Wonderful World of Disney on October 15, along with the linear television premiere of Encanto (2021). It was released on YouTube on December 24.[8]


On October 16th, 2023, employees of Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, California leave at the end of their work day. An intern converses with Burny Mattinson about the studio turning 100 years old, with Mattinson wishing the walls could talk.

Inside the studio, Mattinson’s wish comes true: Mickey Mouse, in a production cel from Mickey's Birthday Party, comes to life, and calls Tinker Bell (Peter Pan). Mickey asks her if all of the employees are gone, in which she nods. Excited, Mickey and Minnie Mouse jump out of the cel, with Minnie getting many of the characters from the studio's filmography to all meet in the lobby. While everyone is getting ready, Mickey approaches a photograph of studio co-founder Walt Disney and, in a private moment, bittersweetly thanks him.

All the characters go outside to the lobby to take a group photo for the 100th anniversary with Mickey getting them together. However, Goofy accidentally falls off his ladder, causing the camera to break. Everyone starts to leave sadly as the group photo is cancelled. Just then, Alan-a-Dale (Robin Hood) plays "When You Wish Upon a Star" on his lute joined in by Scat Cat (The Aristocats) on his trumpet and Mirabel Madrigal (Encanto) on her accordion as Hathi Jr. (The Jungle Book) makes a trumpeting sound. Then other characters take turns singing. The brooms from Fantasia sweep up pieces of Goofy's camera remains, Fix-It Felix, Jr. (Wreck-It Ralph) fixes the camera, Hercules puts the ladder back in position, and the Fairy Godmother (Cinderella) uses her magic to help Goofy up the ladder while setting the camera up for the photo. As the rest of the crowd of characters finish up the song and pose for the group photo, Tinker Bell uses her wand to match cut to the finished photo.



Archival recordings



Once Upon a Studio was created spontaneously in preparation for the Walt Disney Company's centennial in October 2023;[1] directors Trent Correy and Dan Abraham discussed ideas during their free time[20] for approximately eight months.[21] The duo called the film a "love letter" to Walt Disney Animation Studios as well as "a thank you to anyone in the audience that's ever connected with a film over the last hundred years."[1][22]

The short film includes 543 characters[23] from the studio's feature and short films, up to Wish (2023), and vocals from more than 40 voice actors.[1] This includes the Genie's dialogue which was sourced from previously unused audio recorded by Robin Williams[24] according to Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf, under acceptance from Williams' estate.[14] Other archive recordings taken from their original films by stripping the soundtrack around them were Bobby Driscoll as Peter Pan and Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket, as the filmmakers did not want to recast those characters.[16]


The group photo that concludes the film, featuring 543 Disney characters from multiple features and shorts represented.

Once Upon a Studio combines traditional animation, computer animation, and live-action, with Eric Goldberg serving as the head of hand-drawn animation, while Andrew Feliciano worked as head of computer animation.[1][10] Among the hand-drawn animators recruited for the short was current Disney animators Mark Henn, Randy Haycock, Alex Kupershmidt, and Bert Klein also provided animation for the short, as did former Disney animators James Baxter, Ruben Aquino, Tony Bancroft, Nik Ranieri, and Will Finn;[25] the animators worked both on characters they have previously animated in addition to other classic characters; Baxter requested the directors to work on characters from Bambi (1942), having been a fan of the film while growing up.[10] Goldberg recruited CG animators in the studio who also had experience in hand-drawn animation.[10] Hand-drawn apprentices were also hired to provide animation for the short.[10] The characters were animated in a way that replicated their original films' art style.[26]

Almost 80% of the short's animation is hand-drawn.[10] By the directors' insistence, the hand-drawn animation was done with ink and paper, which Goldberg approved of.[10] Goldberg made the scenes entirely hand-drawn, after which Feliciano would create CG animation that would match the hand-drawn characters' movement.[10] He also personally animated the scene where Mickey approaches a photo of Walt Disney, as he was interested in the scene because of its emotional tone, as well as the Genie, which he originally animated in Aladdin (1992), and characters originally drawn by Ward Kimball.[10]

CG animators had to rebuild the character models for CGI characters from films created before Tangled (2010) due to updates made to animation technology over the years, with rigging and rendering being reworked so that they could be used with modern technology.[10] The CG animators worked closely with the hand-drawn team, with Goldberg and Feliciano, the latter a fan of Aladdin since childhood, inspecting the short to determine whether a scene would be led by a hand-drawn or CG character, after which they would evaluate whether a hand-drawn or CG character should be animated first in the scene.[10] Animators with experience in hand-drawn and CG animation, such as Tyler Pacana and Anthony DeRosa, worked on scenes combining both formats; Pacana used a technique named "2D puppetry" to help rig the final photo shot.[10]

Many of the props that the animated characters interact with are CG, including the vending machine that Stromboli shakes and Goofy's camera and ladder.[27]

An early idea the filmmakers received from studio employees multiple times was to include a scene of a room full of all the characters voiced by Alan Tudyk since he has voiced a character in every Disney Animation film since Wreck-It Ralph (2012). This idea was abandoned, but Tudyk was included in the short as the voice of the Mad Hatter.[16]


Dave Metzger composed the score for the short,[10] which was composed so that it would feel reminiscent of each character's debut appearance.[16] In the scene where Mickey approaches a photo of Walt Disney, the song "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins (1964) is heard, which was chosen due to being Disney's favorite.[10] As they discussed the idea with executive music producer Matt Walker, he suggested bringing in song co-writer Richard M. Sherman to perform a new rendition of the song.[10] Sherman recorded the song on August 22, 2022 at Disney's original office and using the same piano the Sherman Brothers used to perform the song for Disney.[10] The song, "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio (1940), was sung by the cast in the finale.


Once Upon a Studio had its world premiere at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival during the opening day celebration on June 11, 2023.[22] It was also screened for attendees at the Walt Disney Studios panel at Destination D23 on September 10, where it received a standing ovation, and as the BFI Special Matinee of the BFI London Film Festival Opening Day event on October 14.[28][29] It had its first public showing on ABC on October 15 (as part of The Wonderful World of Disney: Disney's 100th Anniversary Celebration, hosted by Kelly Ripa), before streaming on October 16 on Disney+ and Hulu, and aired on the same date on Disney Channel (as part of Once Upon a Monday Movie Marathon), Disney Junior, FX, FXM, and Freeform. The short was later released on YouTube on December 24.[30]

There was a discussion of pairing it with the theatrical release of Wish (2023), but Disney decided to release it in a more accessible format.[31] However, it was theatrically released alongside Wish in Japan on December 15, 2023.[32] It was also screened in theaters with a Disney100 limited engagement re-release of Moana (2016), and for one week at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, where public screenings were held to qualify it for the Best Animated Short Film shortlist[33][34] for the 96th Academy Awards. It would ultimately make the shortlist on December 21.[a]


Critical response

The short received positive reviews from critics, who called it an "emotional and nostalgic experience."[41][42][43][44]


The short become a commercial success and premiered on ABC as a "sustainer" to the network television premiere of Encanto from 8:00pm to 8:11pm, in which it received 2.57 million total viewers in 1.736 million households, with a 1.39/4 HH rating. It also received a 0.45/4 adults 18–49 rating/share, which was equivalent to 0.587 million viewers watching in that demographic.[45] Its premiere on Disney Channel on Monday, October 16, 2023 at 6:05pm (serving as a sustainer to a "Disney Channel Movie"[46]) received 0.349 million viewers, making the highest rated program on the network that week and the 343rd most viewed program on all of cable television.[47] It received a 0.11 P2+ rating, and 0.10 rating with adults 18–49, equivalent to 0.131 million viewers in that demographic.[48]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Astra Film and Creative Awards January 6, 2024 Best Short Film Once Upon a Studio Nominated [49]

See also


  1. ^ Attributed to multiple references: [21][35][36][37][38][39][40]
  2. ^ The Fox and the Hound was advertised as the 20th in the Disney canon prior to its release.[50]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Croll, Ben (June 11, 2023). "Annecy Opens on Note of Artistic Defiance as Disney Premieres Centenary Short Once Upon a Studio". Variety. Archived from the original on June 22, 2023.
  2. ^ Romano, Nick (October 16, 2023). "A 100-year Wish fulfilled: How Disney honors its legacy — and looks to the future — on the studio's centennial". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 16, 2023.
  3. ^ Gable, Melanie (October 15, 2023). "The making of the emotional 'Once Upon a Studio' Disney short". Attractions Magazine. Retrieved October 15, 2023.
  4. ^ Official trailer on YouTube
  5. ^ Mccall, Kevin (September 21, 2023). "'Once Upon a Studio' Trailer Celebrates 100 Years of Disney Magic". Collider. Retrieved September 21, 2023.
  6. ^ Once Upon a Studio|Once Upon a Legend - Walt Disney Animation Studios on YouTube
  7. ^ a b Steele, Bruce C. (October 10, 2023). "Meet the Characters of Disney Animation's Once Upon a Studio". D23. Retrieved October 10, 2023.
  8. ^ Siegal, Jacob (December 26, 2023). "If you haven't seen it, you have to watch Disney's short film Once Upon a Studio". BGR. Retrieved December 30, 2023.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Once Upon A Studio | Booth to Screen | Disney+" – via www.youtube.com.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z "Once Upon a Studio: Behind the Scenes" (PDF).
  11. ^ @Attractions (September 10, 2023). "We just saw a new animated short at #DestinationD23 called Once Upon a Studio featuring tons of characters from past Disney Animated films. It was so good, the creators got a one minute standing ovation when it ended" (Tweet). Retrieved September 15, 2023 – via Twitter.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Trailer: Disney100 Short 'Once Upon a Studio' Will Air on ABC Next Month". www.animationmagazine.net. Retrieved September 24, 2023.
  13. ^ Tilly, Chris (October 16, 2023). "Once Upon a Studio cast: All voice actors and characters in Disney 100th anniversary short". Dexerto. Retrieved October 16, 2023.
  14. ^ a b c LaBee, Ryan (June 13, 2023). "After Robin Williams Fans Criticized His Genie Being Used In New Disney Short, Josh Gad Provided Clarity". CinemaBlend. Archived from the original on June 23, 2023. Retrieved June 17, 2023.
  15. ^ Carolyn Giardina (September 21, 2023). "Disney Characters Assemble in 'Once Upon a Studio' Trailer". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  16. ^ a b c d "10 Fun Facts About Disney's Once Upon A Studio Short". September 22, 2023. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  17. ^ "Justin J. Smith on X: "@stevehatguy Happy to see you credited friend! Have to ask, do you have any cool tidbits reprising your role for this? Record anything that didn't make the final cut?"".
  18. ^ "Stephen Anderson on X: "Thanks, @JJSmithian! No, they used an old recording of mine so I never stepped into the booth for this one 😊"".
  19. ^ Bonomolo, Cameron (September 22, 2023). "Once Upon a Studio: Disney 100th-Anniversary Short Film Features Original Voices". Comicbook.com. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  20. ^ Once Upon a Studio|In the beginning... - Walt Disney Animation Studios on YouTube
  21. ^ a b Motamayor, Rafael (June 12, 2023). "Disney's Once Upon A Studio 100th Anniversary Short Brings Back That Classic Magic [Annecy 2023]". /Film. Archived from the original on June 14, 2023. Retrieved June 17, 2023.
  22. ^ a b Goodfellow, Melanie (June 11, 2023). "Annecy Animation Fest Opens On Defiantly Positive Note After Knife Attack; Ceremony Features World Premiere Of Disney 100th Anniversary Short". Deadline. Archived from the original on June 22, 2023.
  23. ^ Mendez, Gabriella (September 22, 2023). "Disney Reunites Iconic Characters for Short Film 'Once Upon a Studio'". CBR.
  24. ^ "Yes, That's Robin Williams (Not an Impersonator) in Once Upon a Studio". Gizmodo. October 17, 2023.
  25. ^ Oscar Shortlist Interviews: Directors Dan Abraham And Trent Correy Share Their Favorite Shot From ‘Once Upon A Studio’ (Exclusive)|Cartoon Brew
  26. ^ Reif, Alex (June 17, 2023). "Interview: "Once Upon a Studio" Directors Trent Correy and Dan Abraham Geek Out Over Disney Animation History". LaughingPlace.com. Retrieved September 24, 2023.
  27. ^ D23 (October 19, 2023). "D23 Inside Disney Celebrates Once Upon a Studio". YouTube. Retrieved October 21, 2023.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  28. ^ Shaw-Williams, Hannah (September 10, 2023). "Destination D23's Disney Studios Showcase Didn't Have Much To, Er, Showcase". /Film.
  29. ^ "BFI London Film Festival 2023 lineup announced whynow". August 31, 2023.
  30. ^ Mack, Mike (December 24, 2023). ""Once Upon a Studio" Now Available on Walt Disney Animation Studios YouTube Channel". Laughing Place. Retrieved December 26, 2023.
  31. ^ Jirak, Jamie (November 17, 2023). "Jennifer Lee Explains Why Once Upon a Studio Wasn't Paired With Wish". ComicBook.com. Retrieved November 27, 2023.
  32. ^ "『ウィッシュ』ディズニーのキャラクターたちが夢の共演!『ウィッシュ』と同時上映のオリジナル短編映画『ワンス・アポン・ア・スタジオ -100年の思い出-』劇場でしか観られない特別吹替版の予告解禁!!|映画|ディズニー公式". ディズニー.
  33. ^ Bergeson, Samantha (December 21, 2023). "2024 Oscar Shortlists Unveiled: 'Barbie,' 'Poor Things,' 'Maestro,' and 'The Zone of Interest' Make the Cut". IndieWire. Retrieved December 22, 2023.
  34. ^ "Best Animated Short: Best Animated Short - 2023: The Shortlist". December 23, 2023.
  35. ^ Legacy, Spencer (September 21, 2023). "Once Upon a Studio Trailer Previews Disney's Character-Filled Short Film". Comingsoon.net. Retrieved September 21, 2023.
  37. ^ Desowitz, Bill (October 15, 2023). "When Mickey Met Moana — Inside the Making of Disney's 100th Anniversary Short 'Once Upon a Studio'".
  38. ^ "How Disney Animation's 'Once Upon a Studio' Pays Spectacular Tribute to Disney's Legacy". The Walt Disney Company. October 16, 2023.
  39. ^ "'Once Upon a Studio' debuts on Disney+, features 543 classic characters from 85 films". ABC7 San Francisco. October 16, 2023.
  40. ^ Chitwood, Adam (December 21, 2023). "Oscars Shortlists Revealed for Live Action and Animated Short Films".
  41. ^ Debruge, Peter (October 16, 2023). "Disney Assembles 543 Familiar Cartoon Characters for the First Time in 'Once Upon a Studio' Short". Variety. Retrieved October 15, 2023.
  42. ^ Neto, Richard (October 15, 2023). "'Once Upon A Studio' Review: An Emotional And Nostalgic Experience". The Hollywood Handle. Retrieved October 15, 2023.
  43. ^ Vaishnavi, Arya (October 16, 2023). "Fans 'in tears' as Disney celebrates its 100th year with Once Upon a Studio short film". Hindustan Times. Retrieved October 16, 2023.
  44. ^ Serba, John (October 16, 2023). "Stream It Or Skip It: 'Once Upon a Studio' on Disney+, a Heavily Nostalgic Self-Promotional Short Celebrating Disney's Animation Studio". Decider. Retrieved October 16, 2023.
  45. ^ Douglas Pucci (October 16, 2023). "Sunday Ratings: Fox is Solid Runner-Up with NFL Football Overrun and Game 1 of MLB American League Championship Series". Programming Insider. Retrieved October 25, 2023.
  46. ^ "Disney Channel Movie". USTVDB. Retrieved October 26, 2023.
  47. ^ "Disney Channel Ratings". USTVDB. Archived from the original on October 26, 2023. Retrieved October 26, 2023.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  48. ^ "Once Upon a Studio". USTVDB. October 16, 2023. Retrieved October 26, 2023.
  49. ^ Anderson, Erik (December 7, 2023). "'Barbie' and 'Oppenheimer' Lead Hollywood Creative Alliance (HCA) Astra Awards Nominations". AwardsWatch. Retrieved December 11, 2023.
  50. ^ The Fox and the Hound - Theatrical Trailer. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021 – via Animation Compendia on YouTube.