The Parisian bridge on which the confrontation between Rasputin, Dimitri, and Anastasia occurs is the Alexander III bridge, named after the real Anastasia Romanov's grandfather on the occasion of his state visit to France in the 1870s.
In real life, Olga really did say that Anastasia's drawing looked like a pig riding a donkey. This was stated by Anastasia in a letter to her father, and the image used in the movie is an actual reproduction of the original picture.
The portrait in the ballroom of the whole family includes a spaniel. The spaniel existed. The spaniel, named Joy, belonged to Anastasia's brother, Alexei, and was found alive at the house where the family was killed. Anastasia's own dog, Jimmy, did not survive.
When Meg Ryan was offered the role of Anya, she could not decide if she wanted to accept it or not. Upon hearing of Ryan's indecision, Fox took an audio clip of Ryan talking in Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and created a short animated sequence of Anya speaking the lines. They sent the clip to Ryan, and she was so impressed that she changed her mind and accepted the role.
The drawing the Empress holds when she and Anya are reminiscing (the same one we see little Anastasia give her at the beginning of the movie) is a picture the real Anastasia had drawn for her father in 1914.
When Anya returns to the palace in St. Petersburg and is in the ballroom you can see the painting of the coronation of Alexandra and Nicholas on the left hand side being the first picture, which is a real painting.
The character of Vladimir is based on Count Vladimir Frederiks, Tsar Nicholas' Chief Court Minister. He was very close to Tsar Nicholas and his children and remained in Russia for years after the revolution, wearing his court uniform in protest.
In real life, Gregori Efimovich a.k.a. Rasputin was a very controversial figure who, in fact, was the Romanov's advisor and Tsarina Alexandra's most trusted confidant. Rumor has it that Rasputin told the Tsarina he was about to be assassinated and that if one of her relatives killed him, all the Romanov family would die within a year. While of course these facts were too dark to be included in the movie, there is a reference: during the song "A Rumor in St. Petersburg", an old woman tells Dimitri to buy "Count Yussupov's pajamas", while offering a pair of ragged clothes. Yussupov, who actually was a prince, really existed, was indeed related to Alexandra Romanov and was the one who killed the real Rasputin, along with a group of noblemen.
Liz Callaway was called at the last minute by Flaherty and Ahrens to substitute for a singer who couldn't make the recording session of the temp tracks for Fox. Her tracks of the songs were liked so much they led to her subsequent casting as the singing voice of Anastasia.
The character of Dimitri was based on a European prince who vouched for Anna Anderson's identity as Anastasia. The prince had only met Anastasia once and during her childhood, though, so he was not considered a very credible source.
Bernadette Peters was not pleased with the design for her character. According to Gary Goldman, Peters was very physically fit at the time of production and was disappointed that Sophie was drawn so heavyset.
When Anastasia and her Grandmother are running away from the palace they are chased by Rasputin who then fell through the ice allowing them to escape. In real-life, Rasputin was murdered and his body was dumped into a hole in the ice of the Malaya Nevka River.
When Don Bluth and Gary Goldman began researching the actual events, they discovered the history of Anastasia and the Romanov dynasty was too dark for their film, and decided to use the basic facts of the Romanovs' demise and the Russian Revolution as a starting point and ask, "What if this girl escaped, and what would have happened to her?" opting to "'tell a myth or a fairy tale.'" Bluth also did not take into consideration depicting Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks as the villains, and instead incorporated Grigori Rasputin, explaining "We wanted to stay out of politics." In reality, Rasputin was already dead when the Romanovs were assassinated. In addition to this, Bluth created the idea for Bartok, the albino bat, as a sidekick for Rasputin. "I just thought the villain had to have a comic sidekick, just to let everyone know that it was all right to laugh. A bat seemed a natural friend for Rasputin. Making him a white bat came later - just to make him different."
Don Bluth later admitted that he didn't like Vlad's character design. He felt the more comically exaggerated appearance of Vlad looked out of place against the more realistic designs of Dimitri and Anastasia.
Upon receiving two Academy Award nominations at the 70th Annual Academy Awards in 1998, Anastasia (1997) become not only the first Don Bluth/Gary Goldman film, but also the very first non-Disney and non-Pixar animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award following An American Tail (1986). In fact, Anastasia received more Academy Award nominations, that year, than Disney's Hercules (1997).
Right from the very beginning, directors Don Bluth and Gary Goldman wanted to film Anastasia (1997) in CinemaScope; to give the film the right scope, vision, and depth the story needed. Anastasia marked the first film to be completely shot in CinemaScope since In Like Flint (1967). Bluth and Goldman would use CinemaScope, one more time, to film their next and final film, Titan A.E. (2000). Titan A.E. was the last film to be filmed in CinemaScope, until Frozen (2013), thirteen years later.
In May 1994, The Los Angeles Times reported that Don Bluth and Gary Goldman had signed a long-term deal to produce animated features with Twentieth Century Fox with the studio channeling more than $100 million in constructing the animation studio. For the location of the new animation studio, Phoenix, Arizona was selected because the state offered the company about $1 million in job training funds and low-interest loans for the state-of-the-art digital animation equipment, with a staff of 300 artists and technicians, including a third of which worked with Bluth and Goldman in Dublin, Ireland for Sullivan Bluth Studios. For their first project, the studio insisted they select one out of a dozen existing properties in which they owned where Bluth and Goldman suggested adapting The King and I (1956) and My Fair Lady (1964), though Bluth and Goldman felt it would be impossible to improve on Audrey Hepburn's performance and Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's score. Following several story suggestions, the idea to adapt Anastasia (1956) originated from Fox Filmed Entertainment CEO Bill Mechanic. They would later adapt story elements from Pygmalion with the peasant Anya being molded into a regal woman.
Before Meg Ryan was cast, Broadway actress and singer Liz Callaway was brought in to record several demos of the songs hoping to land a job in background vocals, but were liked well enough by the songwriters that were ultimately used in the final film.
Characters that were deleted from the film where a cat and rat duo named Masha and Jean Claude that were going to be the original story tellers of the film, a rat named Rodan that was going to be a partner to Bartok, demon minions who serve Rasputin, a cat named Tilly that was a kitten of the Dowager Empress Marie that has a friendly rivalry with Pooka and a man named Phillipe that was latter reworked into Dimitri.
Don Bluth: [the music box] Grand Empress Marie gave the music box to young Anastasia so that she'll have something to remember her by before she returns home to Paris. Only the two knew the music from the music box as it is the "Once Upon a December" lullaby that Marie sings to Anya at bedtime. That music box, as well as Anya's memorization of its music, were to prove to Marie that Anya is her long-lost granddaughter, Anastasia.