The Sugar Rush racer Minty Zaki is a tribute to Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, of whom John Lasseter (executive producer of the film) is a huge fan. Lasseter hosts introductions for the Disney release DVDs of a number of Miyazaki films.
The bartender game which appears, Tapper (1983), was controversial in real life. The game featured a bartender serving mugs of Budweiser beer. The game was intended for adults to play in real life bars, but eventually made its way into kid-friendly arcades where parents became upset at the content. Consequently, Bally Midway recreated a nearly identical version called Root Beer Tapper, with a soda jerk character instead of a bartender. The version in Wreck-It Ralph combines the bartender character of the original with the root beer of the later version.
Disney first began developing an animated film about the world of video game characters in the 1980s. At that time the project was called "High Score" and in the 1990s was titled "Joe Jump." In the 2000s, when the movie was finally pushed forward, the first two months of story development focused on Fix-It Felix Jr. as the main character.
Early in production it was considered to keep all characters in their native graphic quality, essentially making Ralph look 8-bit the entire time. This was deemed too difficult for making Ralph a sympathetic, lovable character.
The graffiti in Game Central Station contains many inside jokes and references to famous video games. One says "Aerith Lives," in reference to Final Fantasy VII (1997). Another says "All your base are belong to us," from the infamously poor English translation of the game Zero Wing (1989).
Outside of King Candy's castle, Oreo Cookie soldiers are shown marching outside and chanting "Or-e-o, Or-eee-o!" This is a parody of a scene from The Wizard of Oz (1939), in which the Winkie Guards are marching outside of the Witch's castle, chanting a wordless phrase, "Oh-we-ho, yo-ho!" Many "Oz" viewers have mistaken this chant for real words such as "All we own, we owe her," or "Oh we loathe, the old one," or a naming of Oreo cookies.
Several popular video game characters make an appearances in this movie, including but not limited to: M. Bison, Zangief, Ken, Ryu, Chun Li and Cammy from the Street Fighter (1987) Series, Q*bert (1982) and his cast of enemies, Puckman (1980) and the orange ghost Clyde, Bowser from the Super Mario Bros. (1985) series, Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), and Dr. Robotnik.
During the storyboard process Sugar Rush contained many more mini-games spread throughout the Kingdom that Ralph and Vanellope had to play to win parts for their car. This was all condensed into the bakeshop scene and many Sugar Rush characters were left unused.
At Fix-It Felix Jr's party, Ralph is enraged by Gene and smashes the cake. The cake splatter around the room and on Ralph resembles the shape of an alien in Space Invaders (1978), an iconic early arcade game.
In the beginning of the movie when Ralph first enters Felix's apartment there is a waterfall sculpture in the apartment on the left side of the screen. The speed, size, and pattern of the waterfall is almost identical to the waterfall featured on the start screen of the classic NES game The Hyrule fantasy: Zeruda no densetsu (1986).
There is a piece of graffiti on the right side of the tunnel which reads "Leerooooy", a nod to Leeroy Jenkins, a World of Warcraft (2004) player who obtained Internet fame from a video of him running head-long into battle while shouting his own name.
"Wreck-It Ralph" won five Annie Awards for Best Animated Feature, Director, Music, Voice Acting (Alan Tudyk as King Candy), and Writing in an Animated Feature Production. It is the first time an animated feature film made by Walt Disney Animation Studios has taken the top prize at these awards presented by the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, since Mulan (1998) prevailed in the 1998 awards ceremony.
In early production, Dr. Wily, the villain of the Mega Man game series, was included in the storyboard process in the "villain support group" scene, but was ultimately written out due to pacing reasons.
The character Ralph and his game "Fix-it Felix Jr." draw inspiration from Donkey Kong (1981). Both games are about a handy-man character climbing up and around a building structure toward the villain on top. (Mario was a carpenter in the DK games before changing to a plumber.) The villains Donkey Kong and Wreck-it Ralph are both large angry characters with wide hands that toss down objects at the hero. Additional inspiration comes from Rampage (1986), where players played as various monsters (including Werewolf Ralph) that smashed buildings with their hands and plucked characters from the building and threw them. The goal was to destroy as many buildings as possible without being killed.
When Ralph is looking in the lost and found for a medal, he pulls out an exclamation mark and the sound from the video game Metal Gear Solid (1998) is heard. This is the same exclamation mark and sound heard in the game when you are spotted by the enemy.
The donut-shaped police who harass Ralph in the "Sugar Rush" game are named Wynnchel and Duncan, a sly reference to two U.S. donut chains: Winchell's Donut House and Dunkin' Donuts. Also, when Ralph meets King Candy, he asks, "Who are you? The guy that makes the donuts?" - a reference to a series of 1980's commercials that featured a harried, mustachioed Dunkin' Donuts baker named Fred going to work every morning, while grumbling, "Time to make the donuts."
Jerry Buckner & Gary Garcia, a songwriting duo, had a very popular novelty-rock hit called "Puckman (1980) Fever," in 1982. Though Garcia passed away in 2011, his partner Buckner wrote a new song for the Wreck-It Ralph soundtrack under the Buckner & Garcia name called "Wreck-It, Wreck-It Ralph."
The guns used by the soldiers in Hero's Duty make the same sound effects as the laser weapons seen in the opening scene of Terminator 2 (1991). Also when King Candy opens the secret vault that contains the game's code, the exact same sound effect of the Cyberdyne vault opening can be heard. Gary Rydstrom was the sound designer on both films.
Director Rich Moore was inspired to create the character of Vanellope after reading the memoir "The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee" by Sarah Silverman and eventually cast Silverman as the character.
When Wreck-It Ralph is interrogating Sour Bill, he muses "I wonder how many licks it would take me to get to your center." This is a reference to a 1970's commercial that asked the question, "How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?"
The sheriffs release "devil dogs" as trackers. Devil Dogs were cream-filled devil's food cake snacks from Drake's. It is also a long-standing nickname for the U.S. Marine Corps, which was supposedly coined by the Germans during WWI.
In the shot showing the characters in Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (1991) deciding to go to Tapper (1983) for some drinks, the cabinet next to the Street Fighter machine is a "Dragon's Lair" machine - a 1983 game that used a Laserdisc player to give high quality video. The animation in Dragon's Lair (1983) was provided by the group founded by Don Bluth, a former Disney animator.
While in the "Hero's Duty" game, Ralph stumbles upon a bunch of eggs that look very similar to the eggs from Alien (1979). When the eggs hatch, an infant cybug jumps out and latches onto Ralph's face, in a much gentler parody of the attack on Kane from that movie.
Hidden Mickey: In an exterior shot of Litwak's Family Fun Center, a billboard is visible advertising for "Double U Dee's", with a dancing mouse mascot. "Double U Dee's", of course, is another way of saying "WD's", or "Walt Disney's."
There is an arcade cabinet called FATAL ASSAULT, a completely fabricated game that features cameos by Tiny The Dinosaur and Lefty The Octopus from Meet the Robinsons (2007). Tiny is also seen in the background of the game central station.
While Felix and Calhoun are talking before entering Sugar Rush, there is graffiti on the wall in the background which says, "Sheng Long Was Here". This is a reference to a hoax about Street Fighter character by that name.
Felix repeatedly refers to Ralph as his brother. They are indeed technically brothers, since they were created by the same developer. More interestingly, they are also much more similar in appearance than it might seem at first. In particular, they both have the same exact shape and positioning of the eyes (though in different color), eyebrows, noses, ears, mouths, and the same hair color.
The start of the mini-game where Ralph and Venelope build a car, resembles the 1983 ZX Spectrum game "Cookie", where the object of the game is to knock flying ingredients into a mixing bowl while knocking the flying trash into trash cans
During the opening time-lapse sequence, the arcade is shown in its normal semi-dark state, except for several frames in which the ceiling lights flash brightly for a brief moment. These flashes represent late evenings when the arcade is being cleaned after closing time. At each brightly lit frame, the arcade is empty and a cleaning bucket is standing on the floor.
The racers' names in Sugar Rush are Taffyta Muttonfudge, Crumbelina Di Caramello, Gloyd Orangeboar, Adorabeezle Winterpop, Citrusella Flugpucker, Torvald Batterbutter, Nougetsia Brumblestain, Sticky Wipplesnit, Minty Zaki, Snowanna Rainbeau, Rancis Fluggerbutter, Jubileena Bing-Bing, Swizzle Malarkey, and Candlehead. Only three of them - Gloyd, Rancis, and Swizzle - are boys, and the rest are girls (including Torvald, even though it's a boys' name).
The film has cameo appearances from the video game Street Fighter (1987), a video game published by Capcom. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Capcom published video games of several Disney TV shows and movies such as Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers (1988) and Aladdin (1992).
Although technically there are 14 racers in Sugar Rush (not counting Vanellope and King Candy), only 10 of them are "real" characters. The remaining four (Citrusella Flugpucker, Torvald Batterbutter, Nougetsia Brumblestain, and Sticky Wipplesnit) are filler figures, used only to pad up the number of racers at the start line to 14. They (and their karts) don't have a unique design like the others - they are simply re-colored duplicates of Jubileena Bing-Bing, Minty Zaki, Adorabeezle Winterpop, and Minty Zaki again, respectively. They never speak, their (and only their) names are never spoken, and they appear only in the background at the start line scenes. In particular, they (and only they) are not part of the mob that destroys Vanellope's hand-made kart, they (and only they) don't appear on the front side of the game cabinet, and after the final race starts they (and only they) are never seen again.
The Disney animators had spent their entire careers learning to animate people in motion moving very fluidly. When they were animating the characters from "Fix-It Felix Jr." moving in 8-bit style, they had to unlearn everything they'd been taught.
The name Fix-It comes from the 1990 LucasArts game Night Shift (1990), where the two playable characters are Fred & Fiona Fixit. The game itself was originally called Fixit but re branded with a new name at the suggestion of LucasArts.
Although this movie is not promoted in the Disney Parks as much as other movies, the end credits song by Owl City, "When Can I See You Again", was rearranged by Adam Young for Disneyland's 60th Anniversary Celebration. It is the base of the Paint the Night Parade's soundtrack.
In one scene during the first 'Sugar Rush' sequence, when Ralph is trying to get his medal back, he ends up covered in syrup and candy, and trapped in a cupcake - very much similar to the end scene in the Disney live-action movie 102 Dalmatians (2000), where Cruella De Ville ends up covered in syrup and candy, and trapped in a giant cupcake.
This film was originally intended to be released in March 2013 under the title "Reboot Ralph", but it was pushed forward to November 2012, after Monsters University (2013)'s release was moved from then to June 2013. This was in keeping with the idea that 2012 was the thirtieth anniversary of Fix-It Felix, Jr., and it allowed Dreamworks Animation to release The Croods (2013) on the originally intended date.
Since 2012 was the year of the film's release, it's fair to assume that it's also the year during which the film takes place. The script says that it's the 30th anniversary of Ralph's and Felix's game. That means that Fix it Felix Jr was released in 1982.
Rancis Fluggerbutter (the yellow-haired, chocolate-themed boy racer) is repeatedly seen admiring his own reflection in a kart mirror - a classical sign of narcissism. Fittingly, the name "Rancis" is an anagram of "Narcis".
At one point Vanellope jokes to Ralph "I bet you really gotta watch where you step in a game called 'Hero's Doodie'!" Ironically enough, one does have to watch where one steps in "Hero's Duty", as Ralph demonstrated earlier by clumsily stepping on one of the Cy-bug eggs.
At the end of the mini-game where Vanellope and Ralph build a car, there's a poster on the wall which says "Leave everything in mint condition", with the word 'mint' in boldface. The drawing on the poster is a round, red and white (in grayscale) peppermint candy.
Both John C. Reilly (Ralph) and Rich Moore (Sour Bill) would later go on to voice Sheep Characters in later Animated Films. Reilly later voiced Eddie Noodleman in Illumination's Sing (2016) and Moore later voiced Doug Ramses in Zootopia (2016) by the same studio, both these films released in 2016.
Wreck-It Ralph (2012) along with Big Hero 6 (2014) are the only 2 Animated Disney Films with November releases to not release on Thanksgiving, as well as one of the 4 Disney Animated Feature Films of the 2010s to not have a Thanksgiving release, along with Winnie the Pooh (2011) and Zootopia (2016).
The Moppet Girl is voiced by Stefanie Scott, a Disney channel Star who played Lexi Reed on Disney Channel's A.N.T. Farm (2011) and Julianne in the Disney Channel Original Movie Frenemies (2012), in addition to the voices of Briana and Emma on Disney Junior's Special Agent Oso (2009).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
King Candy's safe is secured with a Nintendo Entertainment System controller. The password he enters (UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, START) is a common cheat code used by game developer Konami in most of their titles, most famously in the game Contra. That's why this cheat code is widely known as "Konami Code." Some websites even adopted this code to hide Easter Eggs.
The character Vanellope is depicted as a glitch in the game who is not supposed to play in the game. This is actually very common in video games. Developers will often create characters and other elements but decide not to include them in the end. It is actually more trouble to delete the code that contains the character because it may cause a chain reaction that glitches into other things, so the characters are simply "locked away" into the code.
The "glitch" shown in the Walt Disney logo at the end is intended to look like the infamous "Pac-Man Bomb Screen", a bug that manifests itself when reaching the 256th level in the original Puckman (1980) arcade game.
There are several hints foreshadowing the big reveal that King Candy is really Turbo: When learning Ralph game-jumped, he overreacts and accuses Ralph of trying to take over his game; He has access and knowledge of Sugar Rush's code room, which he goes into to get the medal; He is a powerful racer who hates losing; In the flashback containing Turbo, Turbo's voice sounds remarkably similar to King Candy's; He bears no resemblance to the other racers' Anime Style, but instead looks more like a 1940's cartoon character; He is the only character in Sugar Rush who easily recognizes Ralph, since the Turbo Time cabinet was right next to Fix-it Felix Jr. before being unplugged; King Candy's code box is noticeably larger than the other code boxes, and has a purple color (all others are blue); When attacked by Ralph near the Diet Cola mountain, King Candy appears to be genuinely scared. Since he's really from another game, he can be killed permanently, and he knows it.
During the time-lapse sequence near the start of the movie, the audience is shown the various different arcade machines being installed and moved around as the years pass. The Sugar Rush machine is installed to the right of screen, and Vanellope can be seen on the side of the cabinet, exposing King Candy's lies about her from the start of the movie.
Foreshadowing: Before Vanellope learns she's actually a princess, she asks Ralph if he's using "the royal 'we'" and later has him kneel before her to receive a homemade medal and says "Now rise, my royal chump!" She's also the only character whose name contains the preposition "von", which signifies nobility.
Ralph makes an observation that the castle's interior is pink - the fact that King Candy tries to downplay. Pink is traditionally associated with girls, thus further alluding to the fact that King Candy is an impostor, and that the castle actually belongs to a princess.
Ralph describes Sugar Rush as a "candy-coated heart of darkness." Joseph Conrad's novel 'Heart of Darkness' describes a soldier's trip into a foreign land, which he conquers and makes his personal territory (as Turbo did with Sugar Rush). The same novel also served as the inspiration for the film Apocalypse Now (1979).
Vanellope can also be seen on the front of the Sugar Rush Cabinet at 21 minutes into the movie, shortly after Ralph makes the young girl lose her game in Hero's Duty. She is the top left racer, just under the "S" in "Speedway."
When Ralph and Vanellope go into the secret area below the Diet Coke mountain, Vanellope describes it as a possible mini-game area that was never used. This is another allusion to the way games were programmed. Just as discarded game characters were sometimes "locked away" in a game's code to prevent them from being used, the same happened with areas. Games such as Metoroido (1986) and Super Mario Bros. (1985) contained 'secret areas' that were only accessible by following a series of actions, even though they were never meant to be used.
Sonic the Hedgehog appears in the movie when Ralph is first walking through in Game Central Station as an announcer on the screen monitors warning video game characters not to die outside their own game. Sonic is also at the party celebrating Fix-it Felix's 30th anniversary and is seen briefly getting hit by Ralph's escape pod as it barrels uncontrollably through Game Central Station, as well as a guest of the wedding at the end.
Sergeant Calhoun's full name is Tamora Jean Calhoun. Her last name is spoken only once (by Ralph), one minute before the movie ends, and also appears in the credits. Her first and middle names aren't revealed in the movie at all, and only appear in the accompanying material, such as the official movie website.
At Felix's wedding Vanellope feels very uncomfortable in her princess dress, but doesn't take it off. Beside the obvious explanation (one must be well-dressed at a wedding), there may be another reason for it - she must assume a Princess form in order to leave her game (the wedding takes place in Hero's Duty), because she can't leave her game in a Glitch form. Arguably, the end credits animation (in which she can be seen in other games in her Glitch form) doesn't count, though in the Sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (2018) she's seen exploring the internet in the same outfit she wore as a glitch, implying that her warping after Sugar Rush resetted might not actually be glitching.
King Candy's line to Ralph -- "You wouldn't hit a guy with glasses, would you?" -- is a common movie trope dating back at least to Groucho Marx or The Three Stooges. Another movie with the same gag is Batman (1989).
The kart that Vanellope uses to save Ralph at the Diet Cola mountain belongs to Crumbelina Di Caramello - one of the few that hadn't crashed during the race (most other karts, including Vanellope's, were heavily damaged by that point). Crumbelina can be briefly seen abandoning her kart at the rainbow bridge during the evacuation (she appears to be the only racer who drove to the bridge), so her kart is conveniently positioned right in Vanellope's way as she glitch-runs toward Ralph.
In the Pixar short film Toy Story Toons: Small Fry (2011), Buzz Lightyear's movement when he is in the toy gathering replicate those of Ralph's when he is in the Bad Guy gathering. Buzz finds himself in a circle with the head of the gathering just opposite of him, much like Ralph in a circle just opposite from Clyde, the orange ghost. There is a pledge for each meeting, in which Buzz does not say, and Ralph does not say either. During one of the gathering sequences, Buzz leans forward with his left foot forward and his left elbow resting on his leg with his arm at a right angle. Ralph also does that exact motion. Buzz passes off the first meeting and escapes, but comes back later to report good news. Ralph also does so, and comes back to report good news as well toward the end of the movie. Jane Lynch, who voices Calhoun in this movie, also did the voice of Queen Neptuna, the head of the gathering, in the short.
The picture of Vanellope on the side of the Sugar Rush console contains a subtle clue indicating that she was the ruler of the game before she became a glitch. The picture shows her in a kart that is identical to King Candy's. That kart is evidently the one used by the ruler of Sugar Rush.
At the beginning of the movie, when Ralph is saying how lucky he is for his game to still be around, he mentions asteroids saying "All those guys from Asteroids, Poof! Gone." Exactly when he says poof, you see the game disappear.