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Waking Sleeping Beauty

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Waking Sleeping Beauty is a 2009 American documentary film directed by Disney film producer Don Hahn, and produced by Hahn and former Disney executive Peter Schneider, which documents the history of Walt Disney Feature Animation from the making of The Fox and the Hound in 1981 to the release of The Lion King in 1994. The film covers the rise and fall of Disney's animation division, the effects the new corporate team of Michael Eisner, Frank G. Wells, and Jeffrey Katzenberg had on the division, the pivotal role of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the introduction of the home video format, and the newfound success the studio had with the releases of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King between 1989 and 1994, during the midst of the so-called Disney Renaissance.

Unusual for a documentary film, Waking Sleeping Beauty uses no new on-camera interviews, instead relying primarily on vintage interviews, press kit footage, in-progress and completed footage from the films being covered, and personal film/videos shot (often against company policy) by the employees of the animation studio.

Narration is by Hahn, with new audio-only interviews by several of the principal figures, including executives Eisner, Katzenberg, and Roy E. Disney and animator/directors Mike Gabriel, Rob Minkoff, Roger Allers, Gary Trousdale, and Kirk Wise. The footage includes filmmakers Tim Burton, John Lasseter, Don Bluth, Ron Clements, John Musker, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Richard Williams, and George Scribner, and musicians Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Sir Elton John, and Tim Rice. A significant portion of the personal film used was shot by and features Disney animator Randy Cartwright, which is used to bookend the film.

Waking Sleeping Beauty debuted at the 2009 Telluride Film Festival, and played at film festivals across the country before its limited theatrical release on March 26, 2010 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It was released on DVD on November 30, 2010, and was also shown on Turner Movie Classics as part of Treasures from the Disney Vault on June 28, 2016.


  • Directors: Don Hahn
  • Writers: Patrick Pacheco
  • Producers: Don Hahn, Connie Nartonis Thompson, Peter Schneider


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