Aladdin's Genie and Sebastian

Even casual Disney fans have likely noticed that the studio’s various animated features often contain subtle nods at each other. Rapunzel from Tangled has Disney fairy tale books in her collection, Nani from Lilo & Stitch has a Mulan poster, et cetera. But what if these aren’t mere sight gags from playful animators. What if, instead, they’re hard evidence that all of these movies take place in the same universe?

In an homage of sorts to Jon Negroni’s The Pixar Theory, Josh Butler posits that 30 of Disney’s animated features share a world. His thesis requires some suspension of disbelief — for one thing, it involves a lot of magic and time travel — but it’s fun to think about nonetheless. Hit the jump to see how Butler’s theory shakes out.

In a lengthy, entertaining post over at his blog (via Laughing Squid), Butler jumps between locations and eras, ultimately weaving together everything from 1937′s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to 2010′s Tangled. Surprisingly, Timon, Pumbaa, and Stitch emerge as some of the keys to unlocking this bizarre universe.

The connections get a little messy at times. To swallow Butler’s full theory, you have to buy into the notion that magical beings like Aladdin‘s Genie can peer through time and space, that the Disney princesses are reading books about one other, and that Bambi’s mom is really… well, I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.

That said, the pieces fit together much better than you might expect at first glance. Plus, Butler’s obvious glee in drawing patterns out of apparent chaos makes the whole endeavor a lot of fun.

True, it’s highly unlikely that Disney set out to create a single, coherent universe stretching from Hercules‘ ancient Greece to Treasure Planet‘s Treasure Planet. On the other hand, do you have a better explanation as to how the Genie pulls Sebastian from The Little Mermaid out of his recipe book in Aladdin?

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