First, let's head back to 1933, September 16 to be exact, when Walt Disney released "The Pied Piper" as a part of his Silly Symphonies. From 1929 to 1939, Walt Disney Productions created a series of animated short films. These 75 Silly Symphonies were used to experiment with different processes, techniques, and other technologies in the world of animation, which would eventually lead to the first feature length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was released in 1937. You can watch Disney's 1933 version of "The Pied Piper" right here!
As you can probably tell, the story of the Pied Piper is the tale of a man who comes to the town of Hameln to rid the residents of rats. He does so, but the town refuses to give him the debt he is owed, so he takes their children instead. When I first came across this story, I actually made the connection to Once Upon A Time right away, and that's how I came to connect the story with fairy tales long before I realized the many other connections it has. In Season 3 of OUAT, the creators mix and matched two stories to created their own version of "The Pied Piper." Robbie Kay portrays the series' Peter Pan, who collects boys to bring with him back to Neverland by playing a tune on musical pipes. However, the twist is that only boys who feel unloved are able to to hear and are drawn to the sound. Of course, Pan never helps the town in the first place, only arriving to steal the children, but regardless, he is indeed The Pied Piper of Once Upon A Time.
This story, of course, has many different versions as well, and I'm certain that there are several other references out there in pop culture and maybe even in the Disney universe. Plus, who knows if the story actually had an influence on J.M. Barrie and Peter Pan!
Have a magical day!
(Note: This blog post was written on December 26).