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In Disney's 1970 animated feature film the the Aristocats male lead, Thomas O'Malley, makes a reference to two characters riding on a magic carpet.

We shall fly to Paris on a magic carpet, side by side

In the context of the movie, this is a metaphor, rather than a literal magic carpet.

It would seem self evident that this is far too early to be referencing Disney's 1993 animated feature Aladdin, it's possible that it could be a reference to Aladdin and Princess Balroulbador riding on a magic carpet, in a later adaptions of the 1001 Nights source material, on which modern retellings of the story of Aladdin are based.

Is there any evidence, for example behind the scenes documentaries, or transcripts from panel events, that would confirm that a version of Aladdin was the inspiration for this, that it was down to something else?

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    Aaargh - (A) the idea of a "magic carpet" was and is completely commonplace in writing since at least the middle ages. (B) magic carpets have nothing, at all, in any way, to do with the movie Aladdin. Aladdin is just "yet another" song, tv show, or movie, that happens to mention or use "magic carpets".
    – Fattie
    Apr 10, 2023 at 15:04
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    @Fattie, yes, I said as much in the question. My question was whether this is a reference to the Aladdin and Princess Balroulbador. Apr 10, 2023 at 15:28
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    It's such a common phrase, there is almost certainly a - say - Lennon-McCartney song that mentions "magic carpet". If so, they were not making a "reference" to anything. It's just a common use of a completely common phrase in English. People have already mentioned the Steppenwolf song, and the "I dream of Jeannie" song, both of which mention a magic carpet. In both cases they were not making a "reference" to anything. It's just a common use of a completely common phrase in English. Honestly that's the whole story! When Terry Gilkyson wrote ".. magic carpet" there was no reference involved!
    – Fattie
    Apr 11, 2023 at 9:38
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    Yet again… you can't prove a negative. That an article about magic carpets makes no reference to either Aristocats, where it's a single line in a single song, with no relevance to the rest of the plot, or Aladdin, which we've already establish had no reference to magic carpets before Disney, 20 years later, should be considered sufficient evidence in the absence of proof. You really need to just accept this now & let the matter drop.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 19, 2023 at 7:11
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    You're not paying attention are you? This has already been explained until we are blue in the face. There is absolutely no chance of finding a quote saying "When we made the Aristocats, we never even considered the Aladdin story". They didn't have a time machine to see that Aladdin would use a magic carpet.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 19, 2023 at 18:30

3 Answers 3

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This cannot be a reference to the original Aladdin story, because the original Aladdin story didn't actually have a magic carpet in it. There is a carpet, laid between Aladdin's palace and the Sultan's palace as an invitation to Princess Balroulbador, but it appears to be of the non-flying variety and closer in function to a red carpet. The magic carpet seen in the Disney film was their own invention.

Magic carpets were a fairly common literary trope even before Disney came along: the Biblical King Solomon had one, and another of the Arabian Nights stories, Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Paribanou, has one of the protagonists purchase a flying carpet. As Tetsujin noted in their answer, the Steppenwolf song "Magic Carpet Ride" was a big hit just two years before The Aristocats released, so the notion of a magic carpet would have been fresh in the minds of viewers at the time.

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    Apparently, Disney merged two different stories from 1001, the other being about Prince Husain and his magic carpet - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… - so you're right, at the time of Aristocats, the ideas hadn't yet been combined. [i can't find mention of it back in panto at all, but Disney dominates any google search]
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 8, 2023 at 17:29
  • Isn't that a later retelling of an older version of the story? Apr 9, 2023 at 9:00
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    Isn't what a later retelling of what?? We've two people talking about half a dozen things here, you're going to have to be a whole lot more specific.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 9, 2023 at 9:09
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    It was a well known trope that was used in the marketing of the 60's TV series "I Dream of Jeannie".
    – Barmar
    Apr 9, 2023 at 15:57
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    Just to add to the confusion, Disney's Alladin owes more to the Douglass Fairbanks Sr. film The Thief of Bagdad and a later remake than to the Alladdin story. Also, while Solomon is a biblical figure, the magic carpet story comes from rabbinical literature, not the Bible.
    – David42
    Apr 10, 2023 at 19:02
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In the late 60s, the idea of 'flying off' from the world's troubles was a bit of a meme - probably closely linked to the hippy scene if not the drug scene directly.

1968 saw Steppenwolf actually use the 'magic carpet' idea directly. Others were more oblique.

Others used various flying machine references, silver machine, balloon, sun machine to name but a few off the top of my head [song links later if absolutely necessary]. There may be other direct references, but my memory is hazy that far back.

Bear in mind, long, long before Disney got hold of it, the world already knew of Aladdin, the 1001 nights & the tales of Scheherazade.
The first ever stage performance of Aladdin was in London, in 1788 & it has been performed as a pantomime for over 200 years. The story's actual origin is not clear, but it has been associated with the '1001 nights collection since the early 16th century.

See Wikipedia - Aladdin

Further research shows Disney likely merged two different 1001 nights stories, and took the magic carpet idea from Prince Husain and his magic carpet - Wikipedia - List of One Thousand and One Nights characters so the idea likely hadn't even been conceived at the time of The Aristocats.

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    No offense, but I doubt very much that Disney had that song in mind when they made the film, it's not a romantic song. Apr 9, 2023 at 8:56
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    I never said they did. I said the entire 'meme' of flying away was popular. As Aladdin the cartoon was 20 years off, & the story didn't yet contain any mention of a flying anything, all we can say is that certainly wasn't the influence.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 9, 2023 at 9:01
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    Indeed, before Disney, Aladdin was not associated all that strongly with the magic carpet, if at all.
    – vsz
    Apr 10, 2023 at 9:48
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    @AaarghZombies - the idea of a magic carpet is completely commonplace, for hundreds of years. Tetsujin is simply giving you one excellent example of the commonplace use of "magic carpet". Another extremely obvious one is the TV show "I dream of Jeannie". Your idea of a connection to the movie "Aladdin" is totally incorrect. Aladdin is just another song, movie or TV show that happens to reference "magic carpets", there are 1000s of examples.
    – Fattie
    Apr 10, 2023 at 15:13
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    A source for what? An idle speculation? It's almost impossible to prove a negative, you just have to look at the available evidence… The story of Aladdin didn't have a magic carpet until Disney put one in, 20 years later. Finding someone who was responsible for Aristocats discussing at the time that they thought to include mention of one because they'd seen plans for a movie 20 years in the future which incorporated the idea… forget it. You really need to give up on this whole idea now. The conjecture is yours & yours alone.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 13, 2023 at 8:04
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As others have said, the original Aladdin never even had a flying carpet, and this was actually a surprise to me. But I do want to point out just how familiar the trope has always been. That idea has long been familiar in the same way (if not quite to the same degree) as the idea of witches riding broomsticks. ngram graph showing "broomstick" 2-3 times as common as "magic carpet" in the past century

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    That ngram looks like it would include references to mundane, non-flying broomsticks as well... Apr 11, 2023 at 14:29
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    I checked the book references. People usually don't talk about broomsticks unless it's the flying variety. Otherwise it's just a broom. Apr 11, 2023 at 15:13
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    A surge in broomsticks around the time of the Harry Potter books, then movies...
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 11, 2023 at 16:26
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    You're clutching at straws now. You just have to accept that something which was two decades from being made & didn't at the time include the story element you are so desperately trying to tie in, cannot in fact be any influence whatsoever.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 11, 2023 at 17:15
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    I'm sure there's plenty of literary references of e.g. angry housewives chasing people out of the kitchen with a broomstick. Sure you don't call it that when you're just sweeping the floor, but when using the stick for another purpose, it comes up often enough. Apr 11, 2023 at 18:36

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