All-Star Cast: Although not as blatantly advertized and abused as DreamWorks Animation, the movies in the canon will occasionally have a staggering roster of A-list celebrities lending their vocal talent. Before 1992's Aladdin introduced Robin Williams as the Genie, Disney preferred actual voice actors. After that, they started to increasingly advertise celebrity roles. Some of the more blatant examples: Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi as the leads in Tangled, Miley Cyrus in Bolt (particularly egregious because she replaced a voice actor who had already recorded most of her lines) and perhaps Mel Gibson in Pocahontas.
The Lion King is practically a "Who's Who" of popular film, stage and television personalities of 1994.
Franchise Killer: There have been at least five close calls where the Disney Animation Studios was nearly shut down.
The first were the triple failures of Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi; mixed with the onslaught of World War II, the studio lost a lot of money. The post-WWII years found Disney in a position where it was too financially risky to make full-length feature animated films, but also too financially risky to not have the steady stream of feature animation revenue that cartoon shorts alone couldn't provide. They compromised by releasing package films until they felt that they'd recovered enough to tackle a full-length film again with Cinderella - if Cinderella had bombed, Walt Disney admitted that the studio probably wouldn't have survived. Luckily for them it became a massive hit, ushering in a new decade of Disney feature films.
The second was after Sleeping Beauty flopped. The rise of television meant that people weren't going to the theaters to see animated films they way that they used to, meaning it was no longer cost-effective to make animated films traditionally. The development of the xerox animation technology ended up lowering costs and preventing Disney from shutting down completely, but they still had to lay off a lot of animators in the early 1960s in the wake of Sleeping Beauty's financial failure.
The third was after the death of Walt Disney in 1966. The other executives felt that theatrical animation was no longer viable, particularly since the studio had proven in the 1950s that it could make successful live action, television and theme park projects to carry the company (the short animated film division had already been shut down in 1962). There were plans to close the division after the completion of The Jungle Book, but director Ken Anderson was able to convince the executives to keep it open a little longer, claiming that Walt had plans to make The Aristocats, previously a live-action short film intended for television, into a full-length animated movie. Wanting to honor Walt they agreed, and luckily when The Jungle Book became a huge hit in 1967 it convinced them that there was a future for animated movies, leading them to green-light more.
The fourth was The Black Cauldron, which was such a huge financial misfire that it nearly took the studio down with it (it was still able to kill the Disney careers of directors Ted Berman and Richard Rich and producer Joe Hale, plus it's one of the factors that forced Ron Miller to leave and allowed Jeffrey Katzenberg into Disney). Thankfully, the modest success of The Great Mouse Detective managed to keep the studio afloat until The Little Mermaid came in and started the Renaissance.
Thepackagemovies. Allofthem. With the exception of the Caballeros films (which were released together on 1 DVD in 2008 with minimal advertising), the last home video release of these movies is 2000, as a part of the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection VHS & DVD line, and Disney did not promote any of these releases, hence the movies are only known by animation enthusiasts and collectors nowadays. It's becoming rather odd since various characters from the package movies are represented at the Disney theme parks and The Three Caballeros is actually an Ensemble Darkhorse in the canon. note The infamous Mr. Toad ride in Disneyland is a good example, but coming across face characters of the Three Caballeros while visiting Disney World is also not out of the question.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad DVDs are a common sight in stores around Halloween and they get a special packaging with a jack-o-lantern stencil or trick or treat bag included, so that one's not always an example.
Some of the racist imagery of their earlier films is downplayed or completely removed in contemporary times. A particularly egregious example is the removal of a black servant pony during a segment of Fantasia.
Production Posse: Check any of the credits in the Disney Animated Canon starting with The Aristocats and you'll begin to notice several recurring names in both the cast and crew. Here's a small rundown:
The Dark Age Of Disney:
Phil Harris, Pat Buttram, Sterling Holloway (a remnant from the studio's Golden Age) and George Lindsey.
If the film had a male child protagonist during that period, he was probably voiced by one of animator/director Wolfgang Reitherman's sons.
The Renaissance Age of Disney:
Alan Menken and Randy Newman.
Glen Keane, Andreas Deja, Ruben Aquino, Mark Henn, Tony Fucile.
Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise, Don Hahn, Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff.
The Millennium Age of Disney:
John Lasseter, Peter Del Vecho, Roy Conli, Clark Spencer
Byron Howard, Don Hall, Jennifer Lee, Stephen J. Anderson, Chris Williams, Rich Moore, Nathan Greno
Alan Tudyk, Henry Jackman, Robert Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez.
What Could Have Been: Two books have been written on the subject, The Disney ThatNever Was and Disney Lost and Found (focusing on My Peoples and Wild Life specifically alongside deleted segments from completed works.)
Also, The Nightmare Before Christmas was apparently supposed to be Disney's 32nd animated film, to have been released during the 1993 holiday season, with The Lion King, then Disney's 33rd animated film, being scheduled for the 1994 holiday season. Then Nightmare was rebranded as a Touchstone film due to being Darker and Edgier even by Disney's standards (and some of the animated canon's entries are more mature than others) and Lion King found itself pushed forward to summer 1994 and directly replacing Nightmare as Disney's 32nd as a direct result of said rebranding. Had things gone as planned, Nightmare would've been Disney's first non-hand-drawn film, as well as the first and so far only stop-motion entry, in the animated canon.