I vividly remember seeing Beauty and the Beast's characters for the first time during the Animation Studio Tour at Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios) at Walt Disney World in Florida. This was when the movie was still in production. I can remember seeing the enchanted object characters and wondering, "what are they doing?!?" Of course, what they were doing was creating a mega-hit.
Disney's Beauty and the Beast debuted in theaters in 1991, and wound up getting nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture (a first for an animated film). Three of the film's songs created by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken were nominated for Best Music, Original Song ("Beauty and the Beast" won, beating "Be Our Guest" and "Belle").
The story and songs were a natural fit for Broadway (especially the "Be Our Guest" number), and an expanded "Beauty and the Beast" stage musical debuted in 1994.
For "Beauty and the Beast: Special Edition," a special IMAX version of the movie released in 2002, the "Human Again" song from the Broadway show was inserted into the animated film.
The animated "Beauty and the Beast" had a powerhouse crew and cast, lead by directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, Producer Don Hahn and Executive Producer Howard Ashman, and Linda Woolverton's screenplay.
Paige O'Hara voiced and sang the part of Belle. Robby Benson seemed like an unlikely choice for the Beast, but it's difficult to imagine someone else giving him a voice. Jerry Orbach played Lumiere, the show-stopping candlestick. David Ogden Stiers made Cogsworth tick. Angela Lansbury was warm as Mrs. Potts. Bradley Michael Pierce played her mischievous son, Chip. Richard White was that boorish, bellowing brute, Gaston.
The movie had its star lead animators, too. Glen Keane used all sorts of animal parts to create the Beast, one of the best Disney characters ever made. His Beauty, Belle, was brought to life by James Baxter. Andreas Deja gave Gaston his debonair "charm", with Chris Wahl tackling Gaston's toady, LeFou. Nik Raineri lit things up with Lumiere, while Will Finn kept Cogsworth running like clockwork. David Pruiksma poured his talent into Mrs. Potts and Chip. And of course, there were many, many other talented folks who worked to bring the Beast and his co-stars roaring to life.
Walt Disney World will soon be bringing the world of Beauty and the Beast to life in the Magic Kingdom as part of an expanded Fantasyland. Visitors will be able to explore Maurice's Workshop, home to the Enchanted Tales with Belle attraction. The Be Our Guest Restaurant will allow guests to dine in the Beast's Castle. The area will also feature Gaston's Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts.
These Valentines were released by Mars, Inc. (I believe they were available in boxes of Starburst candy). These cards feature trivia questions on the back. Let's see how you do with these mind-boggling questions (no cheating!):
Mrs. Potts was an elderly old woman cook with a son that sounded like he was maybe nine years old. The enchantment at the Beast's castle had been going on for ten years when Belle showed up. This little head-scratcher was (sort of) addressed in the 1997 mid-quel, "Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas," as it showed a very young human Chip with the grandmotherly Mrs. Potts. Who was Chip's Father? I bet it was that lecherous bright copper kettle tea pot!
If you go in the West Wing, you'll find the Enchanted Rose, plus Allison Janney, Rob Lowe, and Martin Sheen!
Belle loved the Library, but everyone else loved the spinning, gasp-inducing CGI Ballroom!
Belle did not care much for life in her town. With everyone around her singing at the top of their lungs about how odd she was, it's no wonder that she instead opted to live in a huge castle with a buffalo and some magic kitchen utensils.
Steve Stuart in Disneyland, March 1961
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