Back to Neverland, also styled Back to Never Land, is a theatrical cartoon short directed by Jerry Rees. It features Robin, Walter Cronkite, Bruce W. Smith, and the Toon version of Captain Hook, as well as that of Tinker Bell, that of the Tick-Tock Crocodile, that of Peter Pan, and (in cameo appearances) those of the Neverland Mermaids and those of the Darling children Wendy, Michael and John.
Disneyland guest Robin is dragged by warm, grandfatherly television host Walter Cronkite into a magical demonstration of cartoon-making that ends with Robin himself temporarily transformed into a toon and sent on a real adventure in a cartoon version of Neverland, facing frighteningly real-looking cartoons of Captain Hook and the Crocodile…
Behind the scenesEdit
This cartoon short was released in 1989 at the Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park, as part of the Magic of Disney Animation exhibit/attraction, and can also be seen in other worldwide parks' recreation of that attraction.
The short evokes the style of the Disneyland anthology series, not only in its style (which is heavily reminiscent of the opening of An Adventure in Color or certain parts of The Reluctant Dragon) but also in the presence of an animated Tinker Bell (in this case, her Toon counterpart) interacting with the live-action host and causing cutaways through spraying the image with pixie dust, and the fact that Walter Cronkite (playing himself) appears to be doing his best impression of Walt Disney as "uncle Walt", from body language to accent — an effect heightened by the fact that throughout the film, Robin only calls him "Walter" or "Walt".
Back to Neverland predates the similarly-named, canon sequel Return to Neverland by thirteen years, and, amusingly, Hook (another sequel to the Peter Pan story starring Robin Williams) by two years. This was also the first Disney role of Williams, who would go on to star in Aladdin a few years later as the Genie, a casting decision supposedly inspired by this very short. (That rumor is unconfirmed, though the fact that both of Williams's characters have lively-animated sequences of rapidly morphing into a number of pop-culture icons, and the Genie's outfit in the last scene of Aladdin mirrors the costume worn by Robin at the beginning of Back to Neverland, it seems far from absurd.)
According to certain sources, after the use of computers for coloring animation frames became prevalent in the Walt Disney Studios, the brief sequence during which the toonified Robin is painted was replaced with a newly-shot one that saw him shoved into a computer and trying on a number of odd color schemes until he gives up on trying to pick his own colors and let the artists do "whatever [they] want". However, no footage of this replacement scene has surfaced on the Internet as of yet.