For the scene in which miniaturized Nick Szalinski drops into a bowl of Cheerios cereal, a tank was filled with 16,000 gallons of a milk-like substance made from chlorinated water, food thickener, and pigment. The Cheerios were made from tractor inner tubes, twelve feet in diameter, coated in foam.
The neighborhood seen in the film is not real, it was built at the back lot of Churubusco Studios. An English garden located at the studio served as the "backyard," and the houses were cleverly placed around the garden to hide the studio buildings from most directions.
The Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL) awarded "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" with its 1989 Dunce Cap Award, citing the title's grammatical error of using the word "shrunk" instead of "shrank." An unnamed Disney executive responded that the incorrect usage was on purpose and directly referenced a line of dialogue.
Sets and props took more than nine months to build. A May/June 1989 Disney Channel Magazine article reported that twelve houses, complete with front and backyards, were built in addition to a ten-foot-tall oatmeal cookie made from polyurethane foam and real cream filling, forty-foot-tall urethane foam blades of grass, and a giant mechanical ant that required a dozen puppeteers to operate. The ant was constructed using latex foam core and horse hair, and recreated for stop-motion sequences in which the children rode atop the insect.
Quark, which is the dog's name in the movie, is an elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter. Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons, the most stable of which are protons and neutrons, the components of atomic nuclei.
The theatrical release included a seven-and-a-half-minute animated short which preceded the film titled Tummy Trouble (1989), featuring "Roger Rabbit" from Disney's recent blockbuster Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). Tummy Trouble marked the first animated short Disney had released since 1965, and it cost $1.8 million. After an initial trailer devoted entirely to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids played in theaters for three months, another trailer for the film devoted its first two-thirds to the short, aiming to draw in Roger Rabbit fans.
Composer James Horner incorporated Raymond Scott's jazz piece, "Powerhouse," into his score without paying royalties or providing attribution. Scott's estate threatened to sue Disney after the movie was released. After prolonged negotiation, Disney paid the estate an undisclosed sum in an out-of-court settlement. While on-screen credits were not changed, cue sheets for the movie do note the use of Scott's piece.
Critical reception for this film was generally positive, and the film was a box-office success, grossing $22.2 million in its first week of release. First-week earnings surpassed Disney's "previous highest single-week record of $20.6 million recorded by 3 Men and a Baby (1987). This film went on to gross $130 million in theaters and became the sixth-highest grossing home video of 1990. A 28 Jun 1989 LAT article called Disney's decision to pair Tummy Trouble (1989) with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids "a master stroke," and suggested the film benefited from moviegoers who were unable to secure tickets to sold-out releases of Batman (1989), the highest-grossing release with the same opening weekend as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
Screenwriter Jeffrey Kouf sued Disney, claiming the idea for Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was stolen from his screenplay about "a boy who invents a people-shrinking formula." The lawsuit was rejected by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld an earlier ruling by a federal judge that the works were not "substantially similar."
The scenes involving the adult characters were shot first, followed by special effects-heavy scenes in which the children worked on oversized sets. To blend the normal-sized and miniature worlds, footage from first and second units was combined with blue screen material, special effects shots, and Vistavision reductions.
Walt Disney Pictures was on board to produce Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, with Stuart Gordon attached to direct. However, Gordon became ill and dropped out, prompting Smith to recommend former ILM art director Joe Johnston as his replacement. Johnston suggested changes to the screenplay, which he found too special effects-heavy and lacking in dimensional characters, and Tom Schulman was brought on for a rewrite.
(at around 40 mins) When Ron and Amy are separated from Nick and little Russ, they are bickering. While bickering, Ron says "Your face will be on a milk carton." Jared Rushton, was in Big (1988) and the main character (David Moscow) ends up on a milk carton.
If we take the ages of the actors as the ages of their characters, Matt Frewer's character Big Russ Thompson would have been only 14 when little Russ was born and his wife would have only been 16 as Frewer was born in 1959, Thomas Wilson Brown was born in 1972, and Kristine Sutherland was born in 1957.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
(at around 1h) When the cops get back in the car and see a missing children report for Szalinski, the previous record for the Szalinski household states 12 counts of Disturbing the Peace. This is definitely consistent with Big Russ' feelings towards Wayne and his experiments.
(at around 1h 27 mins) Thomas Wilson Brown (Little Russ Thompson) asks Amy O'Neill (Amy Szalinski) to the school dance right before they are returned to normal size. She asks if he can dance, and he tells her no. In real life, Brown spent many years studying classical dance as a boy.