Rare 1920s Disney character to make first U.S. appearance at Disneyland Resort


A rare cat character from the early days of Disney animation will take a star turn alongside her bunny boyfriend during the upcoming Lunar New Year festival at the Disneyland resort.

Ortensia the Cat and Oswald the Rabbit will play starring roles during the Lunar New Year festival running from Friday, Jan. 20 to Feb. 15 at Disney California Adventure.

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Ortensia and Oswald will make meet-and-greet appearances dressed in Lunar New Year attire in DCA’s Paradise Gardens gazebo — taking turns posing separately for photos and signing autographs during the month-long festival.

Ortensia and Oswald are the faces of the Lunar New Year festival at Disney California Adventure that celebrates the Year of the Cat in Vietnam and the Year of the Rabbit in China and South Korea.

Oswald will wear custom embroidered shorts in rich golds with an ocean wave motif and a matching hat. Ortensia will wear a golden skirt with lotus, apricot and peach flowers inspired by the traditional Vietnamese ao dai gown and a matching Vietnamese khan dong headpiece embroidered in reds, pinks and golds.

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While Oswald makes regular appearances at DCA, Ortensia’s debut on Friday will be the meet-and-greet character’s first appearance at a Disney theme park in the United States. Ortensia made her Disney theme park debut as a meet-and-greet character in 2018 during the Disney FanDaze event at Disneyland Paris, according to the Disney Parks Blog.

The anthropomorphic black cat made her first on-screen appearance as the love interest of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in the 1927 short film “The Banker’s Daughter.”

Oswald’s girlfriend has been known as Kitty, Sadie and Fanny through the years before Disney animators finally settled on Ortensia — giving the pair alliterative names like the more famous Mickey and Minnie.

More recently, Ortensia appeared in the “Epic Mickey” video games and had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo role in “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.”

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Oswald and Ortensia were drawn by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks for a series of Universal Pictures cartoon shorts. Mickey and Minnie Mouse were created in 1928 after Disney lost the rights to the Oswald cartoons. The Disney company acquired the rights to Oswald from Universal in 2006.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was developed by Disney and Iwerks in response to a glut of cartoon cat characters in the 1920s — including Felix the Cat, Krazy Kat and even the Disney and Iwerks-inked Julius the Cat.

Disney animated films are full of felines that could have filled the role of Year of the Cat mascot during the DCA Lunar New Year festival: The Cheshire Cat in “Alice in Wonderland”, Figaro in “Pinocchio”, Lucifer in “Cinderella” and Marie, Duchess and dozens more in “Aristocats.”

But Ortensia was an obvious choice once Disneyland settled on Oswald as the Year of the Rabbit mascot for the DCA fest from an equally-long list of Disney bunny candidates. The classic Disney animation couple also pair nicely with the yearlong Disney100 event starting next week that celebrates the 100th anniversary of Disney animation.

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