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The Sorcerer's Apprentice In Fantasia Was Almost Completely Different

These days, the Walt Disney Company is a massive media conglomerate that hosts everything from Pixar to Marvel Studios. However, as one could imagine, it didn't start out this way when it arrived on the Hollywood scene in the 20th century. Back in those days, Disney put heavy emphasis on its own animated productions, spotlighting such legendary creations as Steamboat Willie, who soon evolved into the company's mascot, Mickey Mouse. Unsurprisingly, these projects took off with viewers, prompting Disney to try its hand at more bold, innovative productions throughout the 1940s and '50s.

Following the smash success of 1938's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," Disney soon unveiled one of its most ambitious titles yet: "Fantasia." The 1940 feature was colorful, exciting, and enhanced by an orchestral arrangement from Leopold Stokowski, combining live-action and animated elements to keep audiences engaged throughout. Arguably the most recognizable segment from the film is "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," which famously featured Mickey Mouse biting off a little more than he can chew as an aspiring magician. 

To this day, the image of Mickey wearing his red robes and blue pointed hat is synonymous with the Disney brand. As it turns out, though, another classic cartoon character nearly took his spot.

Dopey almost donned the Sorcerer's hat

As recalled by Buzzfeed, when "Fantasia" was entering pre-production, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was performing immensely well by all metrics. By the time it left the silver screen, it took in roughly $8 million — an astounding number for the era given the impact of the Great Depression in the United States — and sent the vast majority of critics home happy (via History). Therefore, to keep the momentum going, Leopold Stokowski himself made the bold suggestion of swapping out Mickey Mouse in favor of Dopey the dwarf for "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."

"I feel that if you create a new personality which represents every one of us, it might be a valuable factor in the years to come and enlarge the scope," reasoned Stokowski, believing that Dopey brings with him a more personal, timeless appeal that Mickey Mouse lacked. Walt Disney heard him out, but, evidently, he didn't exactly agree with Stokowski's rationale. In his mind, Mickey Mouse represented the average viewer just as well, if not better than Dopey. Disney ultimately chose to keep Mickey in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," and the rest is history (via D23).

There's no denying how integral Dopey and his six dwarf brethren were to Disney's early success, hence why they remain pop culture icons in the modern day. Still, Mickey Mouse is the poster boy of the company, and given how beloved his "performance" in "Fantasia" still is, he was undeniably the best choice.