Popular Culture

There’s A Long-Lost Disney Short from the 20s That Has Just Been Discovered

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

We’ve got some exciting Disney news for you! Some that doesn’t include CGI princesses or cast members reuniting, although we love those, too. But this news is slightly more exciting, about a short from the very early days of Disney that has been lost until now.

Film archivists have discovered a long-lost Walt Disney short film from the 1920s, a six-minute film named Sleigh Bells, and come the Christmas season, this newly discovered film will air in select theatres!

This is vintage Disney at its best, because it gives some insight into the pre-Mickey Mouse world, and also because it’s never been seen before, and will undoubtedly be exciting to Disney fans!

Instead of Mickey Mouse, Sleigh Bells stars Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a character that Walt Disney co-created in 1927 for Universal. He abandoned the character shortly after because he wanted one he could retain the rights for. Thus, Mickey Mouse was born

Sleigh Bells was created in 1928, the same year that Disney debuted Mickey Mouse as the face of the brand.

The Guardian reports:

“The film features Oswald in an ice hockey game against a winter wonderland backdrop and has surreal touches with the rabbit at one point removing his ear to make a balloon. There’s also an elephant and a laughing donkey, who gets the puck stuck in his mouth.”

Sounds like Disney to us.

The film, 87 years old, was entered into the archives over 30 years ago, but was dated incorrectly and was largely overlooked. A researcher at the British Film Institute recently discovered the print while browsing the online catalog of the archive’s contents. There’s but one print, and it will be the basis for preservation. The master print will be preserved and digital copies created.

Robin Baker, head curator at the BFI National Archive, expressed his enthusiasm at the discovery of the print:

“What a joyful treat to discover a long-lost Walt Disney film in the BFI National Archive and to be able to show Sleigh Bells to a whole new audience 87 years after it was made.

“The restoration of this film will introduce many audiences to Disney’s work in the silent period – it clearly demonstrates the vitality and imagination of his animation at a key point in his early career.”


The short will premiere in the UK as part of a series called It’s a Disney Christmas: Seasonal Shorts on December 12. No US release date has yet been announced, but here’s to hoping we Americans get to see it before Christmas!

Lisa Lo Paro
Lisa is a freelance writer and bibliophile living on the outskirts of New York City. She likes 2 a.m. with a good book, takes cream in her coffee and heavily filters her photos. Check out her blog The Most Happy, her Instagram, and Twitter.

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