Ben Ali Gator is a character from the 1940 feature film Fantasia. He is a tall and skinny alligator with a feather cap and a cape who appears in the segment Dance of the Hours. He and his cronies symbolize the somber hours of the night.
In the segment Dance of the Hours, Ben Ali Gator takes the role of Enzo Grimaldo, a Genoese prince. He is also the leader of the Dancers of the Night. This is deduced by the fact that he meets and falls in love with Hyacinth Hippo (who symbolizes Laura Adorno), and furthermore the flinging aside of his cape (symbolizing Enzo flinging aside his disguise upon discovery of Laura's body). When Hyacinth awakes from her sleep, she sees Ben Ali Gator and freaks out, but Ben Ali Gator tries to woo her by catching her with his strength. He tries this and fails, but Hyacinth seems to be interested in him anyway and they do a short dance with each other, then Hyacinth walks away does an odd gesture towards Ben Ali Gator, which attracts him and proceeds to chase her, setting the Grand Finale. In the end Ben Ali Gator dances with Hyacinth one last time in the segment and it is inferred that they became a couple.
Ben Ali and his gator accomplices were part of Minnie Mouse's skating routine. They are later seen in traditional artwork during the end credits. In this film, Ben Ali does not appear to be wearing his red cape from Fantasia.
Though he is named "Ben Ali Gator" and his name therefore indicates that he's an alligator, he looks more like a crocodile. He has a narrow snout, and his bottom teeth also stick out when his mouth is closed.
Ben Ali Gator's character design was created by John Lounsbery, one of Disney's nine old men Ben Ali Gator went through many iterations before his final design. Altogether, his height was originally shorter, he was fmore rotune, he had a purple ruff around his neck, his under jaw was wider, and at one point had hips similar to humans.
The whole setting of Dance of the Hours may just be a play rather than a real event. When Ben Ali Gator does the Grand Finale with Hyacinth, set pieces like a Greek column fall down, and it can be inferred that Ben Ali Gator failing to catch Hyacinth was a failed act.
Ben Ali Gator, as a character was conceived by Walt Disney himself during a story meeting early in Fantasia's production. Walt was dancing around the room, improvising his own take on Ponchielli's ballet when he suddennly stopped and Walt bares his teeth, snarls, and prances. "Slinky alligators would be swell, I think."
In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Madame Upnova and Hyacnith Hippo appeared as cameos. Originally Ben Ali Gator was planned to be a cameo as well, but was scrapped for unknown reasons.