There were plenty of cartoons in our childhoods that either snuck surprisingly mature moments into episodes, or were even pretty messed up in general. However, it’s Disney, the most squeaky clean and kid-friendly of companies, that often had some of the absolute scariest moments in their best movies. These 12 are just some of the examples of this.
The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh – Heffalumps And Woozles
Pooh’s first encounter with Tigger is silly and funny… until he has a nightmare about the Heffalumps and Woozles that Tigger warns him will try to steal his honey. Then things turn into a creepy mix of Lovecraftian nightmare-scapes and surreal imagery.
Pinocchio – Pleasure Island
Pleasure Island is supposed to be a haven for boys who skip school and behave badly, but it turns out the giant park has some kind of power that turns the kids into donkeys. They can still talk and cry… which they do plenty of while being shipped off to freaking SALT MINES.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Hellfire
One of the most surprisingly mature songs to be found in a Disney movie, Judge Claude Frollo laments his lust for the gypsy Esmarelda, resolving to either make her his by force or else have her burn in the fires of Hell. The lyrics are rough enough, but add in the imagery and this song is chilling.
The Little Mermaid – Ursula
From her lair in the deepest depths of the ocean, to her transformation into a giant, ship-smashing monster, everything about Ursula is genuinely creepy.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – The Queen’s Transformation
The Evil Queen in Snow White is plenty terrifying as it is, thanks to her constant angry expression and unblinking eyes. However, it all comes to a head with her transformation into an old witch; a scene which feels genuinely evil.
Dumbo – Pink Elephants On Parade
Dumbo takes a real sharp turn into creepy territory with this hallucination scene. The elephants’ lack of eyes and weird movements combine with the pure black background to create something genuinely unsettling.
Click to the next page for even more creepy Disney scenes.
Darby O’Gill and the Little People – The Banshee
In this forgotten gem from 1959, an Irish man seeks help from a group of Leprechauns in order to save his daughter from the affections of a brutish man from the village. However, their supernatural meddling leads to the appearance of the Banshee, which even to this day is legitimately terrifying.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol – Scrooge’s Grave
In any version of A Christmas Carol, the scene where Scrooge is shown his grave by the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come is easily the creepiest scene in the whole story. Not to be outdone, Disney ends it with a shot of Scrooge literally trying to save himself from falling into Hell!
Sleeping Beauty – Aurora Hypnotized
Sleeping Beauty has plenty of creepy moments thanks to its villain, Maleficent. By far the creepiest is when Princess Aurora is hypnotized by the demonic witch into pricking her finger on the spinning wheel that curses her into a deep sleep.
The Black Cauldron – The Horned King
Looking like a monster from beyond the grave and voiced by John Hurt, The Horned King is by far one of the most terrifying Disney villains in history. Every scene he’s in is completely unsettling.
The Princess and the Frog – Friends On The Other Side
Speaking of great Disney villains. Dr. Facilier, a voodoo witch doctor who curses the lead character, gets one of the best, and most creepy, villain songs.
Fantasia – Night On Bald Mountain
Probably the most genuinely terrifying moment in Disney’s entire canon. The “Night on Bald Mountain” segment of Fantasia features a gigantic demon (called “Satan” in the movie but the Slavic deity “Chernobog” in all material surrounding the movie) who plays with the souls of the damned before destroying them. Yeesh.