Sunday, January 26, 2014

Disney and the Doctor

Disney and the Doctor
by Arthur E. Vassar

I love a good mash-up... especially when it involves a couple of my favorite subjects, Disney and Doctor Who. Suffice it to say I absolutely loved this mash-up of Disney Princesses as the Doctors (from artist Amy Mebberson) that came out of the 2012 New York Comic-Con.


There are so many cool details (especially Rapunzel's hair doubling for Doctor #4's scarf!) in this picture. Then there is this past years Disney Heroines as Companions (from artist Karen Hallion), of which this is one image of ten.


It set me to thinking about whether there were any connections between Disney and Doctor Who, and there are lots...

Disney Parks in the Whoniverse

There are many references in the TV series, audio dramas, and books to Disney parks. In the episode “Delta and the Bannerman”, Nostalgia Tours was bringing a party of Navarinos to Disneyland but they wound up crash landing in Wales. In the book “Winner Takes All”, the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) told Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) that he was not impressed with Disneyland and could take her somewhere with real talking mice. In the book “Urrozdinee”, the titled theme park was EuroDisney (Disneyland Paris' original name), but in the 22nd century. 
In the audio drama “The Nightmare Fair”, the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) was pondering where he could go on Earth to have good time, so his companion Peri (Nicola Bryant) suggested Disneyland. In the episode “The Girl Who Waited”, the Apalapucia quarantine centers contained a replica of Disneyland on the planet Clom including the “Warpspeed Death Ride” roller coaster. In the book “Kursaal”, the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) described the titled planet to Samantha Jones (only appeared in written form), as a cross between Disneyland and Babylon 5.
During the 1970's, the BBC looked into filming a story at Disneyland with the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) but these plans were shelved due to budget issues. Even the Doctor's dog K-9 was not immune to a Disney connection. His live-action/computer animation series that started in 2010 aired on Disney XD in the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, Poland, Italy and The Netherlands and Disney Channel CEE in Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia, Hungary and The Czech Republic.

You say you want a Doctor... tell you what I'm gonna do...
The Second Doctor, portrayed by Patrick Troughton, played the character of Roach (one of the pirates attacking the stockade) in the Disney live-action film Treasure Island. Jon Pertwee, who played the Third Doctor, was the in the Disney live-action film One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing as The Colonel. The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) was the guest host, as the Doctor, in an episode of the television series Disney Time in pre-filmed inserts introducing clips from Disney shorts and films (including Blackbeard's Ghost, Jungle Book, African Lion, etc. He also appeared as Anatole Blaylock in the Remington Steele (ABC-TV, owned by Disney) episode “Hounded Steele”.

The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker, no relation to Tom) appeared as Harry George Chauvel in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (LucasFilms, now owned by Disney) episode “Palestine, October 1917”. John Hurt who recently was unveiled as The War Doctor (from the Time Wars storyline) has many Disney connections. Chronologically they are the live-action film Night Crossing (Peter Strelzyk), The Black Cauldron (voice of the Horned King), The Tigger Movie (Narrator), Valiant (Felix), and Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull (Professor Oxley). The Ninth Doctor, portrayed by Christopher Eccleston, was the villain Malekith in the recent Marvel film Thor: The Dark World. Finally, David Tennant who portrayed the Tenth Doctor was the voice of Huyang in two episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.


You want more... How about companions and guest stars...

James Corden (who portrayed Craig Owens) in the Doctor Who episodes “The Lodger” and “Closing Time” will be playing The Baker in the upcoming Disney film of the musical Into The Woods. Billie Piper (Rose Tyler) had an uncredited appearance in Evita (Hollywood Pictures, imprint of Disney) as a girl wanting Juan Peron's autograph. Karen Gillan (Amy Pond) is going to be playing Nebula in the upcoming Marvel film Guardians of the Galaxy. Alex Kingston (River Song) was in the ABC-TV series Flash Forward (playing Fiona Banks) as well as the film The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (Adele) for Miramax (which Disney owned after its release).


Ben Browder of Farscape and SG-1 fame did turns for Doctor Who (Isaac in the episode “A Town Called Mercy”) and Disney (Eric in an episode of Grace Under Fire (ABC). John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) was the voice of The Stranger in the Marvel animated series The Super-Hero Squad Show. Bill Nighy, who portrayed Dr. Black in the episode “Vincent and the Doctor”, was Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, the voice of Sabre (G-Force) and Slartibartfast (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Disney film). Speaking of Hitchhiker's Guide, it was written by Douglas Adams who also wrote scripts for nine episodes of Doctor Who and script edited 20 episodes of the show.
John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) is the one with the oldest Doctor Who tie (1979), and many Disney connections. He was a visitor to an art gallery in the final part of the “City of Death” storyline. His Disney connections are as follows: The Great Muppet Caper (Neville), Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (Toad's lawyer), George of the Jungle (voice of Ape named Ape), the Narrator for Mickey's Magical Christmas, Mickey's House of Villians and House of Mouse; Around the World in 80 Days (Grizzled Sergeant, Walden Media, distributed by Disney), Valiant (Mercury), and the Narrator for the most recent Winnie the Pooh film. Lastly is Neil Gaiman, who wrote the Doctor Who episodes “The Doctor's Wife” and “Nightmare In Silver”. His 2008 novel The Graveyard Book (which won the Newbery award for Best Children's book of the year) has been optioned by Disney, and it looks to be directed by Ron Howard.


Marvel Comics (which is owned by Disney) had the comic publishing rights to Doctor Who in Britain from 1979 to 1996, during which time they issued Doctor Who Magazine, Doctor Who Special, Doctor Who Yearbook, Doctor Who Classic Comics, and some graphic novels. This also brought a chance for the U.S. fans of the Doctor to enjoy him in various appearances throughout the Marvel Universe (making him know as The Doctor – Earth 5556).


Let me close this article by saying that I have surely missed some actors/actress contributions to this Disney/Doctor Who connection convention, for that I apologize. But one last story to share... During the 1980s and 1990s, Disney (under Michael Eisner) began to acquire other media entities (ABC and ESPN) which followed through to the early 2000 acquisition of The Muppets, and lastly Marvel and Lucasfilm. But in that earlier time frame was when we first started seeing Lucas mix with Disney in the form of Star Tours. But what if that hadn't happened... It turns out that around that time Disney actually tried to acquire the Doctor Who franchise and video library from the BBC. They had planned to have put in a walk-through exhibition of the inside of a TARDIS in Tomorrowland. Also, whenever a new Doctor was to be announced, the press conference would have been held in Tomorrowland.
Until next Time and Relative Dimension in Space!

This article was originally posted on the Walt's Basement Disney Forum.


  1. This article is full of awesome.
    I didn't know most of this and now feel much more enlightened!
    Now I can't wait to hit the UK pavilion and admire the Dr. Who merchandise.

  2. Speaking of missed connections... I just found that Peter Capaldi (12th Doctor) is in the upcoming Disney film Maleficent!

    1. Thanks for the update Arthur, and for the great article!

  3. I have to report that I saw Maleficent last night and didn't see Peter Capaldi. Turns out that the sequence he and Miranda Richardson filmed was cut from the final film. Connection retracted...


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