What’s a Warner Brothers character doing in a Disney movie?
In 1964, Warner Brothers released “The Incredible Mr. Limpet,” staring the hilariously talented (and future Disney veteran) Don Knotts. The story, partly animated and partly live-action, follows the story of one Mr. Limpet and how, after falling into the ocean, he is magically changed into a fish and becomes a WWII hero, using natural sonar to aid allied ships in the war effort.
The film was a hit, but what does Disney have to do with all of this? Mr. Limpet’s character designer and animation director was Disney veteran Vladimir “Bill” Tytla, well-renowned for bringing to life such Disney legends as the demon Chernaborg in Fantasia, the puppeteer/villain Stromboli in Pinocchio, and even when baby Dumbo takes a bath in Dumbo!
Later on, in the late 1980s, when Disney was hard at work on the Little Mermaid, animators working on the film couldn’t help but pay homage to a legendary artist who helped inspire them to carry on the legacy of animated excellence. Thus, at the end of the “Under the Sea” number, when all the fish are in their frozen pose, one can spot the incredible Mr. Limpet among the school of fish.
But Mr. Limpet’s story doesn’t end there! Later on, when imagineers were building “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure” attraction at Disney’s California Adventure, a Mr. Limpet animatronic gets to play his part as well!
In the “Under the Sea” scene, just after you past Ariel, behind and to the right, hidden behind a clamshell and seaweed is the indelible Mr. Limpet, watching with his iconic Don Knott’s grin as Flounder dances with the Carmen Miranda fish.
Disney believes in its past and is optimistic for its future. It remembers those who played a role, even if they have gone on to other things, and continues again and again to pay homage to the people who laid the groundwork for what they are accomplishing today!
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".