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Here’s WHO and WHAT to Look For in Sunday Night’s Special 100th Anniversary Celebration on ABC

roy disney animation building with confetti
Credit: Disney/Canva

The Walt Disney Company officially turns 100 years old on October 16, and on the eve of the company’s 100th anniversary, Disney is pulling out all the stops for a celebration of epic proportions during The Wonderful World of Disney: Disney’s 100th Anniversary Celebration! and fans will want to know who and what to look for during the special presentation of Disney’s Once Upon a Studio, which will debut during the special.

roy disney animation building with confetti

Credit: Disney/Canva

Disney’s Once Upon a Studio is an exciting celebration of 100 years of Walt Disney Animation and features animation against a live-action backdrop. The result is nothing short of magical. You can see the trailer for the new short film here:

But if you’re a Disney superfan, and you want to know exactly which characters to look for in the film–and a little something about each of them–look no further. Though this is not at all an extensive list of those who’ll be joining in the fun of the brand-new short film Once Upon a Studio, it’s a great starting point, compliments of The Walt Disney Company:

  • Burny Mattinson: The Disney Legend appears at the beginning of the short as one of the last cast members to leave the Animation Building. Hired in 1953, Mattinson worked for The Walt Disney Company for nearly 70 years as an animator, story artist, director, writer, and producer. He filmed his cameo last year and was able to see a rough cut of the short before he passed away in February.
The Legacy of Burny Mattinson - D23

Credit: D23

  • Mickey Mouse: The mouse who set the standard for all Disney Animation to come—the leader of the club—is, along with Minnie Mouse, the instigator and organizer of the reunion. Mickey has gone through several design iterations over the years and appears here in his early 1940s look. Mickey does yield center stage at one point to another classic Disney star, with a gracious and entirely appropriate “After you.” (Can you guess who?)
  • Merlin: The magician from The Sword in the Stone (1963) appears as a barista at a coffee bar inside the building called The Snuggly Duckling—a name borrowed from the pub in Tangled (2010). Merlin has quite a menagerie of beverage-related Disney Animation characters gathered around him, but you’ll have to tally them up quickly, as the magician is soon called upon to use his magic to rescue a “floundering” colleague.
The Sword in the Stone | Disney Movies

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

  • Anna and Elsa: Once Upon a Studio delights in interactions between hand-drawn animation characters and CG-created characters—and every character of either variety was freshly animated for this short. Thus it is that as Anna and Elsa stroll down a hallway in their Frozen 2 (2019) clothing, they pass Stromboli from Pinocchio (1940) assaulting a vending machine. “Do you think all the villains will show up?” Anna asks—and the answer is soon provided by Elsa, who makes sure at least one schemer isn’t going to make it into the group photo.
  • Donald Duck: Who from all of Disney Animation history would most annoy Donald as he hops inside an elevator to hurry to the ground-floor photo spot? We think the Once Upon a Studio filmmakers hit the nail on its furry head with this memorable gag.
  • Antonio: Who should surround the boy from Encanto (2021), blessed with the ability to speak to animals? See whether you can guess which mostly voiceless creature characters Antonio has in his entourage before you see the short, then look fast to try to identify the diverse gang as they pass by in just a couple of seconds.
Encanto Theory: Antonio Was Helping Mirabel All Along

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

  • Dalmatian puppies: The adorable little dogs from One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)—a litter’s worth of them, anyway—are seen gathered around a television, just as they do in the original Disney Animation classic. See how quickly you can identify what movie they’re watching and, later on, look out for the jolly group of friends who seem to have adopted the puppies in the final scene.
  • Cinderella and Prince Charming: We won’t spoil this couple’s laugh-out-loud moment on the stairs except to say: Pay close attention. Extra Disney fandom points if you can identify the dog who follows them down!
Disney didn't invent Cinderella. Her story is at least 2,000 years old.

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

  • Goofy: The lovable klutz turns 85 next year, so maybe he shouldn’t be climbing a shaky ladder to serve as photographer for the group portrait. Fortunately, he’ll get a little help from his friends.
  • Asha, Snow White, and Mulan: What a joy to see the heroines of Wish (2023), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), and Mulan (1998) standing side by side in the short’s emotional finale! We won’t give away what unites them, but you should know that two of them are brought to life by their original singing voices: Oscar®-winner Ariana DeBose for Asha and Disney Legend Lea Salonga for Mulan.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937, directed by David Hand | Film review

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

  • Chip and Dale: By the end of Once Upon a Studio, you may be wondering what these two mischief-makers have been up to. But no worries—there they are, front and center, for the short’s jaw-dropping final shot. You may have to look closely, though, because the cheerful chipmunks are rendered in their actual size relative to their co-stars, so they’re barely taller than Gus and Jaq, the mice from Cinderella (1950) who stand close by.
Cinderella's Mice Go Golden For Disney World's 50th - Inside the Magic

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

Whether you have one favorite or many, you won’t want to miss the special ABC presentation of The Wonderful World of Disney: Disney’s 100th Anniversary Celebration! on Sunday evening at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!