Never-before-seen sketches of 'Cinderella,' 'Snow White' from Disney's secret archives (Exclusive)

It originally was called The Morgue, the place where the everyday detritus of work life at Disney Animation — sketches, storyboards, cels, abandoned projects — was packed away when no longer needed. But after Walt Disney's 1966 death, it was transformed into the Disney Animation library, a vast repository of the collective knowledge of Walt and his original core team of animators, the famous "Nine Old Men." The 6.5 million-item collection — the world's largest animation archive — became the high temple of Disney, closed to the public and visited only by authorized personnel (such as the animators behind 1989's The Little Mermaid, who were inspired by storyboards from an unproduced 1930s version of the tale). But now, thanks to art book publisher Taschen, the library's secrets are set to be revealed in a five-volume series of lush, oversize coffee-table tomes.

First up in October is The Walt Disney Film Archives: The Animated Movies, 1921-1968 ($200), which includes black-and-white preliminary sketches, full-color concept paintings, watercolors and production cels from such classic Disney films as Cinderella, Snow White, The Jungle Book and Fantasia. (Vol. 2 will focus on Walt Disney.) The book also offers behind-the-scenes photographs, production notes, musical scores and — best of all — transcripts from Walt's famous story conferences. Readers can eavesdrop as the Disney founder debates Fantasia's music with composer Igor Stravinsky, hear him urge animators not to make Sleeping Beauty "too slapsticky" and puzzle out how to make Pinocchio's whale sequence more dramatic.

Read more: Disney's Live-Action 'Aladdin' Enlists Guy Ritchie to Direct

The most ancient items come from Laugh-O-Gram, Disney's original Kansas City, Mo., animation studio, where Walt drew his first shorts, including those featuring Mickey Mouse forerunner Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Some of the most intriguing discoveries, though, are found on the pages devoted to Disney projects that never got off the ground — such as a failed attempt in 1946 to coax celebrated painter Thomas Hart Benton into making an American folk-opera cartoon based on Davy Crockett, or a 1940s feature-length animated adventure about Hiawatha based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem (40 years later the scrapped storyboards inspired Pocahontas). "There were things that I was familiar with from rumors," says Daniel Kothenschulte, the book's editor, "but I had doubts that they actually remained in the collection because I'd never seen pictures or anything. You have to understand, if you're a scholar of Disney, it's like going to the Louvre and going through the Leonardo collection. It's mind-blowing for a fan."

© 2016 Disney Enterprises Inc.

© 2016 Disney Enterprises Inc.

© 2016 Disney Enterprises Inc.

© 2016 Disney Enterprises Inc.

© 2016 Disney Enterprises Inc.

© 2016 Disney Enterprises Inc.

© 2016 Disney Enterprises Inc.

© 2016 Disney Enterprises Inc.

© 2016 Disney Enterprises Inc.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Check out more Disney fun in the gallery below.

10 of the best Disney sidekicks ever
See Gallery
10 of the best Disney sidekicks ever

Where would Simba have been without the help and riduculous banter of Pumbaa and Timon in "The Lion King." The unlikely duo of a meerkat and a warthog made this pair one of the best sidekick duo's in Disney history. 


Dressing up as a male to impersonate a warrior in the Chinese military would have been pretty difficult for Mulan without the help of Mushu: Guardian of the Fa family. Despite Mushu's early failings as a guardian, the feisty dragon was a constant support for Mulan with his sound advice, loving demeanor and fast-thinking in a pinch. 

If one must be holed up in a castle with a ghastly beast, it's best to have Cogsworth, Lumiere and Mrs. Potts on your side. Each brought a special sidekick quality to the table. Cogsworth was safe and practical, Lumiere always had romance and Belle's heart on his mind and Mrs. Pott's provided a motherly vibe. The trio were ultimate sidekicks for Belle in "Beaty and the Beast." 

Everyone needs a buddy and Flounder was just that for Aerial in "The Little Mermaid." Admittedly, Flounder wasn't always the best sounding board for the red-headed swimmer, but he made a good sidekick since he was always down for an adventure. 

What do a hummingbird and a raccoon have in common? They were both besties and sidekicks for indian princess Pocahontas. In the 1995 flick, Meeko and Flit provided just the right amount of comedy without ever saying a word. Now that's tricky. 

Any sidekick that will let you float down a river on their tummy is alright by us. Baloo the Bear and Mowgli were the best of pals in "The Jungle Book," and the best part about Balloo was he was always ready to dance and sing. We like that in a sidekick. 

Scheming, selfish and funny aren't exactly three words that you'd want in a sidekick, but Abu usually let his conscience take over when he and Aladdin were up to no good. Plus, he busted Aladdin out of a jail, dressed up as an elephant and more in order to help out Ali. 

Olaf was an immediate hit with everyone in "Frozen." The inherently happy snowman sprung to magical life in order to help Anna chase down Elsa and help end the snowpocalypse that would have ruined the kingdom. Daring and happy? Talk about a good mix.  

High five for Hercules and Pegasus! Not only does the winged horse regularly rescue the Greek god from many precarious situations, he also really cares about Hercules. So much so that he gets a bit jealous when Herc falls head over heels for Meg. But best friends are definitely supposed to do that -- because they have your best interest at heart. 

Tinker Bell definitely has a bit of an attitude problem, but she makes up for it by bringing a bit of sparkly magic everywhere she goes in Neverland. Even though she's a bit selfish and has a temper, she proves her worth when she's willing to go down in sparkly flames in order to protect Pan. 

More on AOL Entertainment:
Yes, of course Donald Trump wanted O.J. Simpson on the Celebrity Apprentice
Kristen Stewart and St. Vincent are your new cool girl couple, according to report
The Chainsmokers throw shade at Rihanna and Lady Gaga in new interview
Read Full Story

Sign up for Entertainment Insider by AOL to get the hottest pop culture news delivered straight to your inbox!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.