The Mouse who Saved Disney: It Might Not Be Who You Think


Photo: Disney

The Mouse who Saved Disney

By Heather M. Leber


It all started with a mouse. A common phrase any Disney fan knows. Mickey Mouse is known around the world. But what about the mouse who saved Disney? He is less known than his fellow cohort, but he is a sleuth who likely saved Disney animation. His name is Basil of Baker Street, also known as The Great Mouse Detective.

With Walt Disney’s untimely passing in 1966, the company found themselves in uncharted waters when it came to animated films. Without Walt’s personal oversight of the films, they were on their own for what seemed like the first time. Some critics believe Walt’s passing started the company’s infamous dark age. It was during this time that the animation department turned small profits and produced movies that seemed lackluster in comparison to what was once produced. The studio struggled to make movies that were reminiscent of Cinderella and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.



After the failure of The Black Cauldron, the Animation Studio was in need of a hit. This success would come in the form of a sleuth. Basil of Baker Street took the stage and brought about a movie that in turn would fund the movie to launch the Disney Renaissance.

Forced to work with a small budget, the film depicts a Sherlockian mouse saving a family in peril. The film isn’t long, only running about 74 minutes, but after the flop of The Black Cauldron, Walt Disney Animated Studios was in need of a film to prove it was still viable. The Great Mouse Detective proved to be that film. To the surprise of many, the movie was a hit, grossing $38.6 million at the box offices. Basil showed the Disney corporation that the animation department was still viable and still the staple to their company.

But how did Basil of Baker Street save Disney? The animation studio was struggling to prove they were still an integral part of the company. With the development of The Great Mouse Detective, the animators were out to prove there was still magic to be made. Without the profit the film made, The Little Mermaid may have not happened. With the money the film made, the animators were able to tell Ariel’s adventure. Without Basil and his sidekick Dr. David Q. Dawson, Ariel may have never had her chance to swim across the screen. Some could argue that the Disney Renaissance started with Basil.



The company was in desperate times, but the movie brought them hope. The budget was small, but the heart of the movie is big, causing it to resonate with so many people. This hear is what led to save the company needed. Without Basil, Toby, Dr. Dawson and Olivia, we may not know what Hakuna Matata means, or being singing Let It Go. A small mouse and a kidnapped father saved a studio that is more than just a part of childhoods. Without Basil, we may not have the magic we know today. Without The Great Mouse Detective, we would know a different Disney Corporation.

Without the sleuth, we might have lost some of the magic we know and love. Mickey Mouse may have started it all, but it is Basil of Baker Street who saved it all.

Heather M. Leber is a volunteer writer for WDWKingdom. If you enjoyed this article please comment below and say hi to Heather! If you want to be a volunteer blogger and writer for WDWKingdom please us the contact us form.

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Heather M. Leber started writing for WDW Kingdom 2016 with her first article โ€œGrowing Up Optionalโ€ going live on the forums in January 2017. She has since written several more articles detailing the history of Disney movies as well as experiences of her last trip to Walt Disney World back in 2015. A graduate of Colorado State University, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing in December of 2013. If she isn't writing for WDW Kingdom or dreaming of her next Disney trip, she can be found working on her debut novel or reading books ranging from fantasy to history books on Disney parks. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband, weimernar and corgi.

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