Thursday, December 5, 2013

How Disney Changed my Life

I've always loved Disney movies, not just as a kid, but as a teenager, young adult, and as an adult. I'm not sure why they are so magical, but they are. Maybe it's because Disney (and the Disney/Pixar collaboration) movies always have an inspiring tale, wonderful characters, and amazing art and music to accompany them. Or maybe it's more of a nostalgic thing, I'm not sure. But what I do know, is that I LOVE them. 

My family has always been "Disneyland people". We have been very blessed and fortunate to go; my parents have always taken us every couple years, since even before I was born (I'm the baby out of 5 kids). We just got back from our Disneyland trip a couple weeks ago, and as always, it was wonderful. I NEVER get tired of it! Even the rides I've ridden a hundred+ times are special every time I go. This time was unique in the fact that we had little ones with us (my handsome nephews) who are 7 & 4, and could actually ride all the rides this time. It was special to watch how they lit up when they got to meet Mickey and Minnie and the gang or watch them beam through the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups. Needles to say, this time was amazing indeed. Growing up and in our adult years, Disneyland was serious business. Our goal was to ride all the big rides as many times as was possible- we were always rushing from one thing to the next! And when you have little ones, you just can't do that. [Potty breaks alone for the little ones (and maybe sisters too) are more frequent and we also had my beautiful niece who is 6 months old, so we'd take a break to feed her too.] But I actually enjoyed it more. Seeing their faces and how excited they were for the rides and experiencing Disneyland was something I will never forget. And it brought me back to my childhood. 

Riding the rides and being around everything Disney reminded me of how much I loved it as a child and still love it today. It reminded me of everything I learned from watching Disney movies and I wondered if our generation would be the same had Walt never realized his dream. How much of who we are comes from our beloved Disney movies, watched in the "formative years" of our development? It would probably take many in-depth longitudinal studies to figure that out, but I know that for me, it definitely played a part in who I was and who I've become. So I give you, How Disney Movies Changed my Life.

Disney's Robin Hood is the first memory I have of a Disney movie. As a very young child (age 3 ish), it was my favorite. Many people don't think you can remember things from when you were that young, but I do. My Grandma lived around the corner from me and while my Mom was in nursing school and my dad was at work, I'd go over to her house and she'd watch me every weekday. And we'd watch Robin Hood and House on Pooh's Corner every day together. They were my favorite things! Most people know the story of Robin Hood, so I won't recount it, but what I learned was that you have to do what's right, even if (or especially when!) it goes against the grain. [I'm not saying stealing is okay, but you get the idea.]

When this movie came out in 1993, I fell in love with it. I'm not sure why as a little 5 year old I loved this so much, maybe because I loved Halloween, but I do remember that my favorite part in the movie was when Jack goes into the forest and stumbles upon the different "holiday door" trees. I loved that part because next to the Christmas tree (which Jack enters) is the Thanksgiving tree, and that was my birthday! Through the years my love for this movie (and all things Tim Burton) has grown as I have. One of the things I love MOST about Christmas time in Disneyland is that the Haunted Mansion turns into Nightmare Before Christmas! What I learned most from Nightmare was that you have to go after what you want and make it happen. Sure, kidnapping Santa Clause wasn't Jacks greatest idea, but he always had good intentions and he wanted to make everyone happy and share with them the feeling he got in Christmastown. Also, this was probably my first example of true love as a 5 year old, with Jack & Sally...who doesn't love them?!

From Snow White I learned to never eat candy (er...I mean fruit...or anything really) from strangers...especially ones who look like old decrepit witches. 

Belle (my favorite Princess) from Beauty And the Beast taught me that you have to look beyond people's appearances and some times how they act. Everyone has a "story", and a lot of times, it can change the way they act towards others, even if it's not who they truly are. Take the time to try to understand where people are coming from and to see who they really are before you judge them or write them off. You never know who's under that beastly exterior.

I love this movie! It's no wonder why it became so popular. The animation is incredible and the characters are lovable and the writing is genuinely funny. Plus, it was quite the epic under sea journey! But what I loved best was Dori's phrase to "just keep swimming". I really took that to heart. A lot of times in our lives, we get bogged down with so many things, it can feel like we're just treading water. When your life feels chaotic and you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, just remember to keep swimming. It will get easier, we just have to hang in there until it does. [Also, listen to your parents. For the most part, they know better than you do, so trust them and do what they say. If you don't you might swim right into a trap. ;) ]

Okay, this is one of my favorites! David Spade in a Disney film? I'm in. Every time. It's hysterical but it's still got a really good message (would it be Disney if it didn't?!): who we are and what we do catches up to us at some point. It's like the old adage "you reap what you sow", but Disney-fied. Kuzco (David Spade) is a greedy and selfish Emperor of ...some place with lots of goats and llamas... and after he fires his adviser-person, she tries to poison him... but the potion actually turns him into a llama instead...I know, sounds amazing right? IT IS! His journey to get himself turned back into a human teaches him, of course, to be a better person and to put other people before himself, which is a good thing for everyone to learn, right?! Whatever you put out there comes back to you, so make sure you're only putting out good things!

This might seem like an odd list of Disney movies to use, but they are some of my all-time favorites! Plus, I feel like I talk about Disney a lot, so I'd hate to be repetitive with the movies too. I can't wait for my kids to one day experience both Disney movies and Disneyland. They are some of my favorite memories. And after all, Disneyland is the happiest place on earth and the only time it's socially acceptable for adults to act like little children and wear festive mouse ears for three days straight! ;)

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