If I asked you to name a movie your kids were obsessed with when they were little or a movie that was one of your own childhood favorites, chances are high that answers to both would be a Disney title. My older daughter’s first obsession — Disney or otherwise — was the movie Bambi (don’t worry, we only let her watch until spring, and man, came to the forest). Her first word, just like Bambi’s, was “bird.”
Her first best friends resided in The Hundred Acre Wood and on Pride Rock. The first movie she saw in a theatre was The Little Mermaid, and I spent the entire movie watching her absolutely transfixed by the wonderful world of Disney. She was enchanted by it all, and my husband and I were enthusiastically on board because Disney had hooked us as kids, too.
As a child I was captivated by Disney’s animated movies, but even more so by the quirky and magical live-action movies that were wildly popular in the 1970s like Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Shaggy D.A., Freaky Friday, and Escape to Witch Mountain. The first movie I remember seeing in a theater (and actually appreciating the comedy of) was The Apple Dumpling Gang.
While we didn’t have the opportunities to watch our Disney favorites on repeat or have anywhere near the merchandising deluge our kids had back then (which I’m not sure was fortunate or unfortunate) we still got exactly what our kids got: pure Disney magic.
Fast-forward several (cough) decades later through the brilliant advancement of animation and the delightful introduction of Pixar; over the countless hours spent watching not only movies but all of the annoying Disney Channel TV shows with your kids (I’m looking at you, every single episode of Hannah Montana); work your way through about eight princess infatuations and one never-ending High School Musical; then take a short (i.e., ridiculously long) detour through the new Star Wars sagas; and you’ll arrive in the present day with the mind-boggling introduction of Disney’s new on demand streaming service, Disney+ (something you might not have thought you needed in your life now that your kids are getting older, but something I’m here to tell you that you do).
Since our family sits on the far end of the Disney infatuation spectrum — besides being super-fans of all the movies, our older daughter has been a Disney Professional Intern for the past year, and at age 50 my husband and I became annual passholders, visiting the parks as many times in the past year as we have in the previous 10 — we’ve been looking forward to the Disney+ release for months.
But I’m not sure any of us were prepared for the immediate excitement and waves of nostalgia that hit when we all logged on for the first time. The FaceTime calls and texts with my girls — each one over 1,300 miles away from me in opposite directions — led to immediate screams of excitement as we all talked over each other shouting titles of movies and shows that have countless memories attached to them.
Shows like Kim Possible and Wizards of Waverly Place and movies like Monsters, Inc. and A Bug’s Life defined huge parts of my kids’ childhoods, and because I spent countless hours watching with them and countless dollars on the related toys (which we probably still have), shows that defined that time of my life as well.
And they’re all there. All of them. Every single movie and show you remember. The depth of the catalog is mind-boggling.
But Disney+ isn’t just for kids, classic animation lovers, or for feeding your secret adult obsession with Disney Channel’s annoying-yet-somehow-addicting teen sitcoms and movies (don’t worry, your secret is safe with me), the service really has something for everyone.
It’s an easy access vault of all the Star Wars and Marvel movies (Disney acquired the Star Wars empire in 2012; Marvel in 2009), National Geographic documentaries as well as new series (as of March 2019 Disney is owns a part of NatGeo); all the beautiful Disneynature films, and a lot of interesting documentaries and docuseries on everything from Imagineering to everyday heroes. And yeah, of course it has all of those old fantastical movies I loved in the 70s (I’ll be watching The Shaggy D.A. trilogy this weekend, in case you were wondering).
Many of these movies and shows that are ingrained in the fabric of our family’s memories are ones that I bet are ingrained in yours, too. I’m sure you have your own vaults of memories tied to Disney – whether it is a movie your child watched on repeat, a television show that drove you crazy (or one you genuinely loved to watch), or a favorite toy from a movie that your child couldn’t live without … and then suddenly could. (Cue “When Somebody Loved Me” and a million tears. Sorry, I couldn’t help it.)
And now that Disney+ has arrived just after my kids have grown up and out, it’s almost as if I get a small part of them — and even my own childhood — back. If that’s not Disney magic, I don’t know what is.
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