I was thinking the other day how different life would be like without Disney in it. Not just how different life would be but how different I would be too. Disney is such a huge part of everyone’s lives and I am sure it has played a part in shaping every one of us.
I still remember the first Disney movie I got on VHS as a child – it was Snow White, I was ten and it came in a chunky purple case like all the others I got after that. Bambi, Fantasia, Lady and the Tramp, Pinocchio… I remember watching them as a child in awe, fascinated with the characters and immersed into this animated Disney world that was like nothing else I had ever experienced before.
Even now I find myself singing songs from those movies I watched as a child – Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins, Once Upon a Dream from Sleeping Beauty, Hi Ho Hi Ho from Snow White. Songs that are ingrained in my mind as clearly as recent pop songs on the radio.
I also quote lines from the movies in everyday life ‘You can call me flower if you want to’ is a line that I always have in my head and more recently, ‘I have only just met you and I love you’ and who can forget Wall-e calling ‘Eeeee-va’? I remember so much more from Disney movies than any other movies I have ever watched and I think that is because, ever since childhood, they have been movies that I can relate to, that I get drawn into and that really teach me, and everyone else, about life.
Disney movies show the good and the bad of life. They don’t shy away from the hard times and they really, really celebrate the good times. They are as true to life as you can get with dancing and singing animals, fantasy worlds and flying carpets but even with lands of make believe and fiction Disney has storylines and underlying themes that are so true to the life we live and with messages that everyone can take something away from.
Bambi was my first ever experience of death. It taught me about mortality and about the relationship between animals and humans. Later, the Lion King also taught me more about death but about the circle of life – people dying and people being born. It reinforced the messaged that Bambi introduced me to and later Up showed me how dreams can be shattered by the loss of someone close to you.
Wall-e showed me so much about the effect that humans are having on the world, the importance of recycling and what could happen if we just didn’t care about the natural world as much as we should. I remember watching Lady and the Tramp and thinking how sad it was that Lady was replaced by a baby, how they didn’t have enough time for Lady anymore and didn’t notice what she was getting up to. But when I had children I realised that this was so true – our cats were pushed down the list of priorities, not getting as many cuddles and having to remind us to feed them and let them out. I couldn’t believe how true that movie ended up being.
There were so many movies about princesses, which all had a love story, they all had a wicked witch or other bad character and they all had one thing in common – really strong stories of friendship and doing the right thing. Just like all Disney movies, they emphasise how good will always win over bad and how important it is to just make the right choices in life. Like Cinderella – having courage and being kind really is all that matters.
So many Disney movies have such strong female characters – as well as strong male ones – and I think Disney has always got the gender balance right. Both genders are given the same opportunities, the same amount of leading roles and so many have a main man and a main woman, creating such great role models for children and someone for children to look up to and find inspiration in.
Disney taught me so much as a child. It taught me to be nice, to appreciate my friends, to have faith in myself and to be as strong as I can, even through the dark times. It taught me that the dark times will pass, that family is so important and that in most aspects of life a good heart will conquer all.
I could talk about Disney all day – how Robin Hood is one of my favourite movies of all time, how it had so much love, so much friendship and so many beautiful characters. I could tell you about how Toy Story was one of the first movies I saw at the cinema – and how I have loved it ever since, feeling happy every time I’ve heard ‘You got a friend in me’ since and how I saw Toy Story 3 at the cinema and cried pretty much from that scary scene until the end. I could tell you about collecting Disney DVDs – and upgrading them to Bluray, about introducing them to LP and Little Man as soon as I could and about feeling so happy each time a new Disney movie is released or an old favourite re-made into a modern day classic.
But, really this post is just to say thank you to Walt Disney. Without him there would be no Disney World, no Disneyland Paris, no Disney channel and no Mickey Mouse. There wouldn’t be half the animated classics that there are today and there wouldn’t be half as many dressing up costumes either.
My imagination would be so much smaller and I am sure that my view of the world would be so different. Disney taught me good and bad, it taught me right from wrong and it taught me so much about morals, friendships and life. I know, my family and school also taught me these things but having Disney to reinforce them, to send me messages in a colourful, fun and entertaining way that would really resonate with me definitely helped me remember them, engage with them and live by them.
I think I would be a completely different person if I hadn’t had Disney in my life. Can you imagine a life without Disney in it? I really can’t and I am so glad I have Disney to pass down to my children too.