How The Outrageous Creature Names In Disney's Strange World Came To Be [Exclusive]

Walt Disney Animation Studios's 61st animated feature, "Strange World," is posed to bring a breath of fresh air to the nearly 100-year-old studio. The film feels unlike what the studio has been producing in recent years, a straight sci-fi adventure influenced by pulpy sci-fi novels by the likes of Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs. It feels in many ways like a second attempt at an "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" or "Treasure Planet" movie, which once offered a bright and different path for the studio.

"Strange World" comes to us from Oscar-winning director Don Hall, who previously helmed the last 2D Disney film, "Winnie the Pooh," and the studio's first fantasy adventure in decades, "Raya and the Last Dragon." The film boasts a great cast that includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Jaboukie Young-White, and Lucy Liu. "Strange World" follows the Clades, a Swiss Family Robinson-like family of explorers on a mission to a mysterious planet.

Like "Atlantis" and "Treasure Planet," this film is set to introduce some fantastic locations, and more importantly, very marketable alien creatures. The trailers for the film tease a world full of weird little critters that look straight out of the life-simulation video game "Spore." More importantly, "Strange World" has some incredibly silly creature names.

Meet Poop Pickles

The creatures we see in "Strange World" are all boneless and faceless, which makes them feel even more alien and, well, stranger. Head of Animation Justin Sklar told /Film's Vanessa Armstrong that, in order to get across the idea of tentacled monsters with no face but with drool and tongues, they "worked on bringing that idea into these creatures by having them feel messy and wet." 

This is all well and good, but we're a serious journalism outlet here, and we care about the cold, hard facts. Creature designs are fascinating and important sure, but even more important is the name you give an alien creature. Do you give it a scientific Latin name? Do you try to be funny?

The answer, it seems, is as silly as you'd imagine. According to Sklar, they had no initial idea for most of the names. "And then someone would make up a name at a meeting, and then there would be 30 people suggesting names in a Slack channel. And then the funniest one usually is what we ended up calling them."

Head of Environments Sean Jenkins added, "We were really just looking at the designs and trying to figure out what could we name all of these things," some of these creature names? "The whoopy cushion plant; we had gummy shrooms; we had bubble shrubs."

When asking the crew of the film, one name quickly rose as the favorite amongst several key players involved in the film, "Poop Pickle." Co-directors Don Hall and Qui Nguyen named "Poop Pickle" as their favorite creature name, as did Smeed.