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Western Animation / Donald in Mathmagic Land

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"What kind of a crazy place is this?"
Donald in Mathmagic Land is a 1959 animated cartoon short by the Walt Disney Studios, starring Donald Duck. It initially premiered paired with the feature film Darby O'Gill And The Little People. The film was made available to schools and became one of the most popular educational films ever made by Disney.

The story follows Donald as he discovers the realm of Mathematics.

This cartoon provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The comic book adaptation of the cartoon, first printed in Dell Four Color Comics #1051, adds a frame story where Donald is in debt to his uncle Scrooge, and trying to work out a solution for how to pay him back, gets sick of numbers and claims the world would be better off if mathmatics had never been invented — which is what prompts the Spirit of Mathemathics (the comic's name for the Spirit of Adventure) to appear and teach him about the many uses for mathmathics. The comic also goes more into the history of mathmatics, talking about our numerical system and its predecessors, and it adds a number of characters who weren't in the cartoon, including Huey, Dewey and Louie and even a cameo by Chip and Dale.
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  • Adventurer Outfit: Donald wears a safari shirt and pith helmet when he first enters Mathmagic Land, complete with rifle. The VHS release Bowdlerized it with a magnifying glass on the cover.
  • Adults Dressed as Children: Donald is dressed as a child licking a lollipop when the Spirit of Mathemathics explains how does math apply to Hopscotch.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Pretty much the whole short, save for the scenes devoted to the games. The best examples are the opening scene in the forest and Donald's mental exercises.
  • Droste Image: The pentagram-within-a-pentagram, which transforms into the Doors of the Future.
  • Edutainment Show
  • Endless Corridor: The Doors of the Future.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: Donald initially insists math is for "eggheads". The Spirit of Adventure manages to convince him otherwise... by showing him how it can be used in music and in sports.
    Spirit: You like music, don't you?
    Donald: Yeah?
    Spirit: Well, without "eggheads", there would be no music.
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  • Group-Identifying Feature: The secret ancient Greek group of mathematicians only allowed people with a pentagram tattoo on their hands to join their secret meetings.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Donald is seen with a pith helmet and a gun, obviously hunting when he comes across Mathmagic land. Then he meets the spirit of math and that story is gone for the rest of the cartoon - serving only to kick off the plot by getting Donald there.
    • Also "Mathmagic land" as a location isn't really explored much, either.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: The Spirit enters and tidies up Donald's Extremely Dusty Home of a brain, sweeping away all the superstitions and outmoded ideas.
  • Mouthful of Pi: A bird in Mathmagic Land (incorrectly) counts the value of pi instead of chirping.
  • Pals with Jesus: Donald ends up taking a liking to the Spirit.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: In the billiards scene, Donald plays with a live-action player, and at one point is seen making a shot with a real cue.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: At the end, the pentagram turns into a long hallway of doors, which Donald runs through, entering one door at one wall and coming out another at the other wall. And stopped at the "Doors of the Future".
  • Shout-Out:
  • Visual Pun: In the opening scene, set in the forest, the trees all have square roots.