Robin Williams Revives as Genie: A Tribute in Disney’s Centennial Celebration

The iconic Genie from Disney’s classic “Aladdin” has made a grand return in Disney’s 100th-anniversary short film, “Once Upon A Studio.” This time, the Genie’s voice resonates with the familiar and beloved tones of the late Robin Williams, taking fans on a nostalgic journey.

Key Highlights:

  • The Genie’s character is reintroduced in Disney’s centennial celebration short, “Once Upon A Studio.”
  • Robin Williams’ unused voice lines from the original “Aladdin” film were sourced to voice the Genie.
  • The short film combines live-action, hand-drawn animation, and CGI to bring 543 classic Disney characters to life.
  • “Once Upon A Studio” premiered on ABC on October 15 and is now streaming on Disney+.

A Magical Return:

The Genie’s reemergence in “Once Upon A Studio” is not just a mere coincidence or a simple throwback. Originally introduced in the timeless Disney film “Aladdin,” the Genie’s character has been a fan favorite for decades. This return is especially poignant as Robin Williams, who originally voiced the Genie, passed away in 2014. Disney, in a move to preserve the authenticity of the character, delved into its archives to retrieve unused voice lines from Williams’ original recordings for “Aladdin.” With the blessing of Williams’ estate, these lines were incorporated into the new short.

A Blend of Old and New:

The short film is a visual spectacle, seamlessly blending live-action sequences with hand-drawn and CGI animations. It revives 543 classic Disney characters, including icons like Mickey Mouse, Elsa and Anna from “Frozen,” Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Pan. The narrative unfolds in Disney’s studios after hours, with characters coming to life and engaging in playful antics, paying homage to Disney’s rich animated legacy.

Behind the Scenes:

Bradford Simonsen, the producer, shared insights into the making of the short. He emphasized the significance of Robin Williams’ Genie to fans worldwide and the team’s dedication to involving him in this special project. Director Dan Abraham played a pivotal role, sifting through outtakes from Williams’ original recordings to find the perfect snippets to use. The collaboration also saw the return of Eric Goldberg, the original animator of the Genie, ensuring that the character’s essence remained intact.

Celebrating a Century of Magic:

“Once Upon A Studio” is more than just a short film; it’s a tribute to Disney’s century-long journey in animation. The characters, old and new, come together in a heartwarming narrative that showcases the magic of Disney. As Mickey Mouse whispers, “Is that it? They all gone?” in the teaser trailer, it sets the stage for a delightful trip down memory lane, celebrating 100 years of unparalleled animation.


Disney’s 100th-anniversary short, “Once Upon A Studio,” marks the return of the beloved Genie from “Aladdin,” voiced posthumously by Robin Williams using archived recordings. The film is a blend of various animation styles and features a plethora of classic Disney characters. It serves as a testament to Disney’s enduring legacy in the world of animation, celebrating a century of magical storytelling.

About the author

William Johnson

William J. has a degree in Computer Graphics and is passionate about virtual and augmented reality. He explores the latest in VR and AR technologies, from gaming to industrial applications.