The Sorcerer's Apprentice is the third and most famous segment in Disney's Fantasia and went on to be the only returning segment in its sequel, Fantasia 2000. Based on the poem of the same name by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the musical piece, it stars Mickey Mouse as the titular apprentice.
Unlike most of the tracks in the film, which were recorded by the Philadelphia Orchestra, this composition was the first to be recorded for the film by an ad-hoc 100-piece handpicked orchestra of Los Angeles-based session musicians, which Stokowski conducted. The recording was done in January 1938 at the Pathe Studios in Culver City.
The scene starts with Sorcerer Yen Sid, who is working on his magic as his apprentice Mickey does the chores. After some magic, Yen Sid puts his hat down, yawns, and goes to his chambers.
When he goes out of sight, Mickey puts the hat on and tries the magic on a broom. He commands the broom to carry buckets of water to fill a cauldron. Since Mickey is satisfied, he sits down on the chair and falls asleep.
He dreams he was a powerful sorcerer high on top of a pinnacle commanding the stars, planets, and water. Mickey wakes up to find that the room is filled with water, but since the cauldron is overflowing, the broom is not stopping. Mickey tries to stop the broom, but with no success, the broom walks right over him, bringing more and more water. Finally, when the water keeps rising, Mickey, in desperation, grabs a huge axe, and chops the broom into pieces. Just when it is all over as Mickey is away, the little split pieces, lying quietly on the floor, begin to come alive, stand up right, grow his arms out of their sides, and turn into more brooms with buckets of water. They keep going to the vat and fill it up. Mickey tries to get the water out, but finds that there are too many brooms. Mickey goes to a book and looks for a spell to stop the brooms. Mickey finds himself in a whirlpool. Just then, Yen Sid comes in and sees this, and with a wave of his hands, the water descends and the army of brooms decreased to one broom.
Yen Sid glares at Mickey, who gives him back his hat and the broom. He picks up the buckets and started back slowly to finish his chores. At the end, as Yen Sid whacks Mickey from behind with the broom, Mickey runs out out of the room and leaves.
After the piece is over, Mickey runs to Leopold Stokowski and congratulate each other and Mickey exits and Leopold waves goodbye.
Originally, at the part when Mickey uses an axe to chop the broom into pieces, instead of just showing their shadows, they were going to show all of Mickey chopping the broom. After chopping the broom to smithereens, the axe had appeared to have its blade broken. Mickey pouted in disgust, threw the axe away, then sighed in exhaust. This was considered to have too much grim drama, so, in the end, they only showed their shadows. Also, in comparison, the axe had a much rougher edge than in the final animation. The deleted animation was included as a bonus feature on the DVD and Blu-ray releases of the two Fantasia films, as well as the Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume 2 DVD set.
While the film Fantasia 2000 was produced in 1:85:1 widescreen format , The Sorcerer's Apprentice was originally produced in the fullscreen Academy ratio and format (1:37:1), since it was originally created for the original Fantasia film. When this segment was added into the sequel, the segment retains its original fullscreen aspect ratio, as opposed to being cropped to fit the sequel's widescreen aspect ratio, though the Mickey/Leopold Stokowski part at the very end of the segment has been cropped to widescreen in the sequel.
Also, in Fantasia 2000 Mickey's lines of dialogue in the Mickey/Leopold Stokowski part at the very end of the segment has been re-dubbed by his then-current voice actor Wayne Allwine.