When you wish upon a star, your horrifying fever dreams come true.
The musical number in an animated musical in which the animation stops pretending to depict things that are actually happening in the world of the movie and becomes a more abstract illustration of the music. The Disney Acid Sequence is not as common as it first seems — they only belong here if they are not explainable — usually a whacked-out moment of lighting and choreography, sometimes caused by hallucinations. If it is caused by a dream, see Dream Ballet. If it is caused by substance abuse, see Mushroom Samba.
The Disney Acid Sequence can be used to good comedic effect in movies which break the Fourth Wall. In general though, if the switch is too pronounced, be prepared for some genuine Nightmare Fuel.
Named for the most prolific offender and trend setter, although the phenomenon is not limited to the Disney Animated Canon. It's not even necessarily limited to animated musicals; live-action musicals can also contain one if a musical number goes more surreal than just a random song and dance routine. Some examples here are likely to be inspired by Busby Berkeley Numbers. All examples here are prone to contain Deranged Animation.
Subtrope of What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?. For trippy music videos which are not part of a larger and less surreal work, see Surreal Music Video.
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Disney Examples, in rough chronological order
The Hallucinogenic Scene in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs seems mostly fueled by fear (as she's running through the scary, dark woods). But it's certainly trippy. Being the first animated full length movie, it sets up a great precedent for Disney movies to contain a whole realm of further trippy scenes, even if all we're seeing is the main character's perspective when something gets overwhelming - positive or negative. Somewhere in the movie's early stages, Snow White was actually supposed to have a dream sequence of her future with Prince Charming. Judging by the remaining concept art, they were going to be floating in midair against a starry technicolor rainbow sky. It got scrapped, but was eventually used to end Sleeping Beauty.
Fantasia is not actually an example, as each musical number is its own separate and self-contained animated sequence and not an insert in a larger plot. Nevertheless, it deserves mention for containing many of the usual elements, since each of its segments is to greater or lesser extent an abstract illustration of the music being played. Some segments are more abstract than others. The opening number, "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor", is easily the strongest example. Compare the very straightforward animation for Beethoven's "6th Symphony".
Dumbo has the most shocking and probably most infamous example, with Pink Elephants on Parade. Dumbo and Timothy Mouse drink water spiked with discarded champagne and hallucinate all these freaky-looking elephants.
I can stand the sight of worms And look at microscopic germs But technicolor pachyderms Is much too much for me! [Evil Laugh] I am not the type to faint when things are odd or things are quaint but seeing things you know there ain't can certainly give you an awful fright! What a sight!
Ironically, "seeing pink elephants" is the slang term for what happens when an alcoholic abstains from drinking for a long time.
"Aquarela do Brasil" in Saludos Amigos, being constantly manipulated by a paintbrush.
The wartime cartoon "Der Fuehrers Face" has one, set to the title song going faster and faster while, among other things, ammunition flies around and Donald has to make himself into a swastika shape by dancing. Luckily, it was All Just a Dream.
The last act of The Three Caballeros involves Donald Duck going through one strange animated/live-action musical number after another before climaxing in a mock bullfight, with a costumed Donald as the bull and Pancho as the bullfighter. One DVD edition even calls the closing sequence of the movie "Donald's Surreal Reverie".
"After You've Gone" from Make Mine Music, featuring lots of crazy dancing musical instruments.
The Disney Theme Parks have quite a few, some borrowed from the movies, others original to the parks such as the "Tomorrow's Child" sequence from the Walter Cronkite version of Spaceship Earth or almost the entirety of the original Journey Into Imagination (which was part of why it was so beloved).
Some of the ones based on movies include: Alice in Wonderland, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, and Winnie the Pooh.
Babes in Toyland has the song "I Can't do the Sum", during which Mary Contrary (played by Annette Funicello) sings mostly on a black background, with duplicates who flip upside down and sideways while changing colors.
The New Adventures episodes "King of the Beasties", "The Old Switcheroo" and "Eeyore's Tail Tale" each contain one.
From the holiday specials, we have "I Wanna Scare Myself" from Boo to You Too, "When the Love Bug Bites" from A Valentine for You and "Easter Day With You" from Springtime With Roo.
And in Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin there is Owl's "Adventure Is A Wonderful Thing".
"Round My Family Tree" from The Tigger Movie.
"The More I Look Inside" from Piglet's Big Movie.
"The Horribly Hazardous Heffalumps" from Pooh's Heffalump Movie.
The "Too Much Honey" song number from The Book of Pooh story by the same name.
Winnie the Pooh has two: "The Backson Song", done as a living chalk drawing, and "Everything is Honey", where Pooh is in a world made of honey, including honey clones of himself as backup dancers on the rim of a giant honey pot.
The Brave Little Toaster features a song called "Cutting Edge" (aka, "More, More, More"), which involves, among other things, a singing table lamp somersaulting through outer space. Of course, this is a movie where every character is an inanimate object. (We're not sure whether that makes it better or worse.)
Given that every other musical number happens within the confines of the world around them DESPITE being a shop backroom full of hacked together 'mutant' appliances and the cars in a junkyard being sent to the crusher, Cutting Edge definitely counts as the Acid Sequence.
Toaster's clown dream also counts, as a terrifying version of the Acid Sequence.
The Lion King 1 ½ has Timon's song, "That's All I Need" Lampshading it. The sequence of the 'props' sliding out back to the Savannah and the sarcastic applause of the hyenas makes it very clear that, far from a bunch of animals suddenly displaying amazing choreography skills, this is genuine daydreaming/acid consumption territory, but since Timon is awake, it is not actually a dream.
Pocahontas: "Colors of the Wind". It's difficult to say whether the sequence is actually happening (if so, it happened over the course of several days, considering the changes in daylight), or if it's simply an interpretation of the spirit of nature surrounding them.
A Goofy Movie: The original had "On the Open Road" which included a bunch of girls popping out of a piano, while it's played in the back of a pick up truck and a corpse dancing on a hearse. Being a Goofy movie of course, it's not impossible that this is actually happening, but it's still pretty trippy.
An Extremely Goofy Movie had the nightmare fueling "C'mon Get Happy" sequence, which seemingly suggests an 'experimental phase' when Goofy first went to college in the 70's.
Mulan: Happens in the song "A Girl Worth Fighting For."
The Incredibleswas to have aDream Sequence set to jazz music where Helen Parr dreamt about her husband cheating on her with hundreds of silhouetted, beautiful women in order to highlight her suspicions about her husband's behavior, but it was cut due to length and the fact that they would never get away with so blatantly stating what Helen's fears were in a Disney movie.
Home on the Range: The cattle-rustling sequence. Dancing cows, shifting colors, and Randy Quaid yodeling.
The Princess and the Frog has the song Almost There, which is a very sudden Art Shift into the style of Tiana's restaurant folder. There's also the Villain SongFriends on the Other Side by Dr. Facilier which has a very trippy sequence during the "transformation central" portion.
Just about every song in High School Musical 3, to some extent. They could have planted an Aesop about not doing drugs into the movie without too much trouble.
Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension has one as well, maybe more than one, considering how you view them. The song 'Brand New Reality' quickly degenerates into this trope as the song reaches the end and the alternate realities Phineas and the gang pass through get more and more surreal.
The staff must really enjoy animating these since Going Deep Into Your Mind from "Monster From The ID" is another DAS, this time showing us Candace's mind, and it is just as crazy as everyone imagined.
Olaf's song "In Summer" from Frozen is a low-key example, but it's done in a distinctly different style than the rest of the film, involves a lot of anachronisms (e.g., hats from 20th century America), and when Anna and Kristoff appear in it, they both look a little freaked out.
Quest for Camelot: "If I Didn't Have You", a particularly jarring example because it looks like the kind of short and funny cartoon that Warner Bros. is rightfully better-known for, randomly placed in the middle of what's supposed to be a dramatic epic.
The Prince of Egypt: the instrumental part of "All I Ever Wanted" in which hieroglyphs come to life; and "The Plagues", which is the song which goes with most of the plagues, and so days are compressed into minutes - and that split-screen shot at the end of Pharaoh and Moses is done for artistry.
A few of the musical numbers in FernGully, including comic relief character Batty's introduction, and the villain Hexxus's song (both of which have the potential to traumatize children).
In Ferngully 2, there is the song "Wanna Go Home" - a perfect example since lighting springs from nowhere, cages vanish and animals start dancing.
The single song is this trope turned up to 11 and manages to be both a Tear Jerker and horrific at the same time. It helps that Art Garfunkel sings it.
Another Acid Sequence occurs at the start of the film - the story of Frith and how rabbits came to be. Silver's retelling of how the Sandleford warren came to be destroyed may also count.
Every scene shot from the rabbits' perspective is a combination of this trope, Art Shift and fright.
Rock and Rule: "My name is Mok! Thanks a lot!" Justified in that the character singing/dreaming it actually IS on acid (and most likely several other drugs as well, the first thing he does when he wakes up is snort something!)
A Boy Named Charlie Brown has several crazy musical sequences. The first is a straightforward "Star-Spangled Banner" stars and stripes montage, the second is a crazy nightmare scene with Snoopy fighting the Red Baron, the third is an extended musical number where Linus and Charlie Brown study for a spelling bee with giant letters everywhere, the fourth is a Fantasia-style scene where Schroder plays the piano, the fifth is a nightmarish bus ride to the city (with a hallucinating Linus, who has been deprived of his blanket) and the sixth is a fantasy skating scene with Snoopy.
Roughly in the middle of Snoopy Come Home there's a trippy montage where multi-colored versions of Snoopy and Woodstock walk through surreal backgrounds to an instrumental version of one of the movie's songs.
The MGM sequel All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 features a darker example, as Carface's new ally turns out to be the Devil. During the big Villain Song "It Feels So Good to Be Bad", Red (the Devil character) makes the scenery change several times through each verse. One moment, it's a bizarre hellish barber shop, then a nightmarish roller coaster, and finally something resembling Fire and Brimstone Hell.
Also on the ship later, Anastasia is seeing butterflies and her family in a pleasant meadow while, in actuality, she is on a ship in a storm. Quickly changes to horror when her family and the pleasant meadow turn into demons and hell, respectively. This is just one of many attempts that the Big Bad tries to employ to destroy her, but still.
In Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, Beavis eats a peyote cactus while in the desert and experiences a surreal animated music video for White Zombie's "Ratfinks, Suicide Tanks and Cannibal Girls". Animated by band member Rob Zombie, no less. Mike Judge didn't want to have this scene in the movie in the first place. MTV wanted a music video somewhere in the movie similar to the TV series, but Judge thought that would stop the plot dead and compromised with the hallucination sequence. It was still awesome though.
Asterix and the Big Fight: Cacophonix tries to restores Getafix's memories with a song, and somehow morphs the sequence into a rock and roll music video. This time, there's no excuse, except to illustrate how abnormal Cacophonix's singing is.
"Pleasure Island" in The Twelve Tasks of Asterix.
The Big Fight has a bard song rendered as a trippy rock number, but the viewpoint character is really hallucinating.
In the 2012 adaptation of The Lorax, the Once-ler's Villain Song uses images that would seem rather improbable if taken literally, such as trees being felled by noise from a gigantic set of speakers or the Once-ler sprinkling pepper on the Lorax as if to eat him while singing about survival of the fittest, to metaphorically depict the growth of the Once-ler's company and his increasing self-delusion.
There is an acid sequence towards the end of The Grinch Grinches The Cat In The Hat, courtesy of the Grinch. This acid trip was played on the Cat while some very unfitting and wild Dixieland music played.
Almost the entire 1946 Looney Tunes cartoon "The Big Snooze" (the last one to be directed by Bob Clampett) consists of a crazy dream sequence of Elmer Fudd's that he has when Bugs Bunny invades this dream and turns it into a nightmare in order to make him return to working with Warner Bros. and with Bugs.
Elmer: *bombarded by various weird designs of rabbits* Biwwions and twiwwions of wabbits! Where are they all coming fwom?!
Bugs: From me, doc! *playing with an adding machine that releases the rabbits* I'm multiplying, see? I'm multiplying!
Somehow, when Hanna-Barbera cartoons go weird, they go reallyweird. The best single example would be the fever dream-esque musical sequences in the already very strange Galaxy Goof-Ups (the adventures of Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound and a couple of wacky new characters... but they're in space!). Every so often, the plot would stall for a minute or two and they would go disco-dancing for no apparent reason.
The song "Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah" from The Jetsons episode "A Date with Jet Screamer"
Most of Fleischer Studio's early cartoons are made of this, so much so that this trope should be named after them. Don't believe me? Look up "Minnie The Moocher", "Swing You Sinners" and the Betty Boop version of "Snow White". Go on. We'll wait.
"Bimbo's Initiation". You have to wonder if the many burning (hemp) ropes we see in Fleischer films really are a now-obscure reference to weed.
Between Jessica's song and Chris's song when he first starts giving out gifts ("If you sit in my lap today/ a kiss a toy is the price you'll pay"), both Santa and Mrs. Claus can both be seen to be fairly unwholesome.
The 1972 Depatie-Freleng special version of The Cat in the Hat had two sequences in it, one for the song "I'm a Punk", and another for "A Cat in a Hat"
The 1971 animated feature The Point, about the round-headed boy Oblio and his dog Arrow, has several. It helps that, according to the Other Wiki composer Harry Nilsson was on acid when the original idea came to him.
A number of extended musical dream sequences from definitely qualify, for instance Homer in the Land of Chocolate in "Burns Verkaufen Der Kraftwerk", Lisa's laughing gas-induced Purple Submersible hallucination in "Last Exit to Springfield" and the hauntingly poetic "Little Nemo" hommage an overworked Homer drops into when he falls asleep at the wheel in "Lisa's Pony". Speaking of the latter, Little Nemo in Slumberland and Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend would also easily qualify if they were set to music.
El Cubo Mágico, the sequel to Dragon Hill, features one of these. Made in flash (in contrast to the otherwise traditionally animated movie, as well as Conspicuous CGI), this scene easily combines Deranged Animation with horrible music and very confusing imagery, mostly focusing on the boy Kevin trying to beat up a wood viking (and losing teeth in the process), and later the wood viking starts walking and dancing even though it was pretty much beaten up by the protagonists. Yeah...
Family Guy has the episode where Brian takes care of a cranky old lady who has not been out of her house for 30 years and sings a song about all the things she still has to see that has happened in the world - the scenery changes constantly through the song, though it isn't all that "trippy" really.
"I Am Toki", an autotuned song sung as Toki goes to meet his Internet lifemate. The dream sequence includes Toki transforming into a knight to rescue a hot princess in a castle from a giant green dragon who bleeds Lucky Charms marshmallows. And then there's a wedding where the minister and all the guests are rabbits. This does nothappen.
Similarly, a Littlest Cancer Patient fan who wants to meet Toki sends him a DVD of her singing a sweet song about wanting to be brutal - it segues into her and Toki singing and flying together, backed up by a chorus of candy-colored Eldritch Abominations.
The weird, not so great crossover movie 'Porky and Daffy Meet The Groovie Goolies' has a very trippy sequence called 'Mad Mirror Land' wherein the three lead Goolies pursue the Big Bad into the real world, at least in some respects. Things actually become MORE cartoon-like when in the real world.
In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "It's Never Too Late to Loon", Plucky Duck had to study hard for a math test the following day, and he begs Shirley the Loon to use her psychic powers to let him channel the intellect of Albert Einstein. What follows is a scene reminiscent of the "Pink Elephants on Parade" sequence from Dumbo, complete with several Einsteins running around the screen until they collide with each other and explode, doing a waltz, squirting water like a fountain, before finally turning into cars that drive around for a while until they explode again, ending the dream and causing Plucky to wake up dressed like Einstein.
Albert Einstein, Albert Einstein
MC squared, MC squared
Relatively thinking, he just stands there thinking
The musical Singin' in the Rain includes a rare example of a live-action Disney Acid Sequence with the "Broadway Melody" segment, which apparently takes place entirely in Don Lockwood's imagination. After the sequence ends his producer says "It sounds good, but I'd need to see it on film."
In a similar vein, most of the big production numbers in the musical version of "Kiss of the Spider Woman" take place in Louis Molina's head. Indeed, any time the title character appears on stage she's probably a figment of his imagination.
Every musical number in the film version of Chicago, except for those which are already explicitly set on a stage, happens inside Roxy Hart's head.
Likewise the musical numbers in Pennies from Heaven which are almost all in Steve Martin's head.
Unless it's the original BBC TV series, in which case they're all in Bob Hoskins' head.
Moulin Rouge! is full of this. Even the numbers explicitly set onstage would be impossible to perform live with such lavish effects.
Also, the duet that begins with "Your Song" was actually cut to make it less Acid Sequence; besides the singing moon, there were twirling soprano stars. Imagine a scene so Acidic that Baz Luhrmann thought it needed toning down!
Possibly justified seeing how the main characters (and a few part goers) drunk absinthe shorty before the number Can-can/Lady Marmalade.
Any of the animated sequences in Pink Floyd's The Wall, where most of the second act takes place inside the protagonist's mind anyway.
Live action example: Grease, specifically the song "Beauty School Dropout", which is the climax of the movie's C-plot. Features Frankie Avalon and white-clad dancers out of nowhere - interacting with the subject of the song personally - along with an abrupt setting change. Similarly, the "Turn Back the Hands of Time" number in Grease 2, which takes place when Stephanie apparently spaces out in the middle of the talent show and imagines singing a duet with the spirit of her Mysterious Protector in what we can only take to be Biker Heaven. Except that when Stephanie returns to reality at the end of the number, the audience is applauding and she's won the talent show, leaving us to wonder if they all somehow experienced the whole sequence with her. And, if not, then who was really singing the male part of the duet while she was tripping out?
The Villain Recruitment Song "That's Motivation" in Absolute Beginners (1986) is presented in this manner. The villain in question (played by David Bowie, who also wrote the song) is an advertising executive who sees his work as selling dreams, and he's encouraging the idealistic photographer hero to become part of his all-style, no-substance world.
The tour in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory has one of these for the characters: while most of the tour involves going around a wacky candy factory (like one would in a tour), the tunnel sequence is something else entirely, as evidenced by the increasing discomfort of the passengers.
Wonka: There's no earthly way of knowing...Which direction we are going...There's no knowing where we're rowing...Or which way the river's flowing...Is it raining? Is it snowing?...Is a hurricane a-blowing?...Not a speck of light is showing so the danger must be growing...Are the fires of Hell a-glowing?...Is the grisly Reaper mowing?...YES! THE DANGER MUST BE GROWING FOR THE ROWERS KEEP ON ROWING!! AND THEY CERTAINLY AREN'T SHOWING ANY SIGNS THAT THEY ARE SLOWING!!! RRRRUUUUUUUUGGHHH!!!!
Lampshaded by Violet Beauregard who asks if the whole tunnel sequence is a "freak out".
In Ken Russell's film adaptation of the stage musical The Boy Friend, daydreaming by members of the cast and crew often causes the fairly mundane production numbers — accurately representing what you'd see if you actually went and saw the play in a theater — to warp into elaborate and surreal fantasies.
The Floor Show from The Rocky Horror Picture Show- or the whole damn movie, for that matter. Toss in the audience-participation element, and it's a live performance example.
The Muppet Babies sequence in The Muppets Take Manhattan. A rare example in that the scene in question inspired its own series, which contained its own examples, which makes it the Russian dolls of animated puppets.
The Great Muppet Caper has Miss Piggy fantasize about being the center of an underwater ballet, in which the film's villain sings-except after returning to reality and learning said villain's True Colors, she scornfully tells him, "You know what? You can't even sing! Your voice was dubbed!" Then again, the movie had No Fourth Wallwhatsoever, and she was under considerable emotional duress at the time.
Though primarily live action, Xanadu still manages to include an animated Acid Sequence that's animated by none other than Don Bluth!
The first half of "I Want You", "I Am The Walrus", "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite", and "Strawberry Fields Forever" in Across the Universe.
"I Am The Walrus" and "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite" can be somewhat justified given the substances they were undoubtedly on at that point. Eddie Izzard's performance in the latter definitely turns the notch up to 11, though.
Likewise, the number "Happiness is a Warm Gun" is a justified Acid Sequence, as Max is in a VR hosptial, and probably high on morphine.
The Capulet Party sequence in Baz Luhrmann's William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet is a literal acid trip. We're left uncertain of whether Mercutio's song and dance number actually happened, or if it was just a byproduct of Romeo being off his face. "Thy drugs are quick" indeed...
In the Flight of the Conchords TV series this was done a couple of times with some of the more surreal songs in the duo's repertoire. Most notably Pretty Prince Of Parties, which was a literal acid trip.
Many early episodes of Sesame Street have a series of sketches on numbers (1 through 10) that involved a baker who holds in his arms that number of desserts but falls down a flight of stairs, ruining the desserts in question. The sketches started with a very flashy animated intro in which the voices of kids are heard counting up from 1 to 10, then back to 1, and finally up to the featured number in the sketch, in choral voice over, while that number, in animated form, zoomed around the screen.
Many of the animated sequences were, in some way, acid-y. The Pinball sequences, for example, had a pinball travel through a very large and technicolour pinball machine, while it counted one through twelve. If the lightshows themselves didn't make them trippy, the automatons certainly did. The funky background music probably helped make it more so.
The Who's Tommy, pretty much the entire musical. Special mention for the song "The Acid Queen". The movie also does this, as does the stage adaptation sometimes, depending on who's directing.
"Underture", directly after "Acid Queen", is an instrumental portrayal of the protagonist's acid trip. Since he is blind and deaf and "sees" things as music inside his head, this is actually a justified straight example of this trope.
Jerome Robbins' comic ballet The Concert is All Just a Dream anyway (more precisely, people daydreaming to music), but the end features all of the characters morphing into butterflies and being chased off the stage by the increasingly irritated pianist.
Appropriately enough, the Disneyland night show Fantasmic! includes one of these, in the form of an updated rendition of the "Pink Elephants on Parade" sequence from Dumbo. Although, the entire show could be considered an acid sequence, as it is Mickey's dreams.
Across the way, Disney California Adventure has its own night show, World of Color, which could also be considered one big, long acid sequence in action.
Team Fortress 2: "Meet the Pyro" alternates between "Pyroland", a rainbow-filled Sugar Bowl where the enemy team are Fun Size, diaper-wearing fairies, and reality, where RED Pyro singlehandedly murders the BLU team in a gruesome fashion.
The Arceus event in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver treats you to a rather trippy montage of the creation of the universe, set to Arceus's very bizarre and dissonant theme music. This supposedly happens all over again every time anything ever is born.Or something.
The warp zones in Meteo and Sector X in Star Fox 64. You go through the gates (in the case of Meteo, while spinning out of control), you end up in a hallucinogenic landscape (spacescape?), and suddenly you're halfway across the Lylat System. Talk about a "wild trip"...
One could claim the game Audiosurf is just an interactive Disney Acid Sequence.
A big example of this trope is in the video game The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, in a scene describing the creation of Hyrule. Illia and Link are in a pitch black... space. They then see 3 Dark Links by a tree on a lone random hill in said endless pitch black area. Illia then grabs a knife tries to KILL LINK and Link then kills Illia with the Master Sword. Link then gets creepy white eyes and joins the dark links. Then about 100 Illias fall from the sky around link and the sequence ends. Holy crap.