What We Learned from Disney Insider: “Diary Days, Making Mulan, Animation Legends”

The second episode of Disney Insider celebrates Diary of a Future President, which just finished its first season on Disney+, the upcoming live-action adaptation of Mulan, and a look back at some Disney Legends of Animation. That last bit is exactly what I thought was missing from the premiere. With that, let’s dive into everything we learned from this episode of Disney Insider, titled “Diary Days, Making Mulan, Animation Legends.”

Diary of a Future President

Ilana Peña, creator of Diary of a Future President, takes us behind the scenes of episode 7 of the Disney+ Original Series, called “Foreign Relations.” She gives a tour of the set of the home and into the writer’s room. She explains that the goal of the show was to tell a story about “Girlhood with permission to be flawed and permission to be imperfect and still that piece of clay that isn’t totally molded.” She also shares her own diary from when she was in middle school, another source of inspiration for the series. Gina Rodriguez, who plays grown up Elena and Executive Produces the series, also stops by to talk about why it’s so important to her. And Editor Kyla Plewes offers a glimpse into the process of taking all the footage and turning it into the show you watched on Disney+.


Director Niki Caro offers a glimpse behind the lens of Mulan, Disney’s upcoming live-action reimagining. She was committed to shooting on real landscapes all over China rather than green screens or digital set extensions. The casting of the role of Mulan took over a year, with Liu Yifei going through intense physical training for the role. This set was led almost completely by women to keep the tone behind the scenes positive and less threatening. You’ll wish this segment was a lot longer than it is.

Animation Research Library

Disney Animation Legends Andreas Deja and Burny Mattinson take us on a tour of Disney’s Animation Research Library where original artwork is preserved from films and shorts that go all the way back to the origins of the Walt Disney Company. Fox Carney, Research Manager, pulled artwork from films they worked on together, including The Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, and Winnie the Pooh. The ARL is also where The Little Mermaid was animated and the two reminisce about what the building was like back in the late 1980’s. They examine some Walt-era artwork as well, with Burny explaining that Pinocchio was the film that made him pursue a career in animation.

Best Moment of the Episode

This episode was a lot stronger than the debut. I found the peek behind the curtain of Diary of a Future President to be really inspiring and the complexity of filming Mulan was really interesting. But as a Disney Animation fan, a rare look inside the Animation Research Library with two Disney Legends would be impossible to top. There’s a reason they saved it for last.

What was your favorite moment of this week’s Disney Insider?

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Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).