The Walt Disney Company is currently in the process of taking over everything you love, and possibly the world. That being said, December 5th is Walt Disney’s birthday and the movies he helped make played a huge role in shaping many generations of kids. In honor of Walt’s birthday, I asked the Bleeding Cool staff to tell me the Disney movie that influenced them the most as kids and got some truly excellent answers.
Kaitlyn Booth: Editor-in-Chief
The animated Disney movies all hold special places in my heart. They were the movies I grew up with, the movies I would sing along to, the movies I could watch over and over again, and still love them. While Aladdin is the first movie I remember really falling in love with, there is something about The Lion King that just made my heart sing. The animation, the story, the way it didn’t shy away from tough subjects like death and guilt–I couldn’t get enough of it. It felt like I was watching it the first time, every time. It never lost its wonder. I’ve seen footage from the remake twice, once at D23 and once at CinemaCon, and I burst into tears both times. I got choked up watching the trailer when it dropped.
Bill Watters: Associate Managing Editor
There was once a time after the golden age of Disney’s animated films and before the current House of the Mouse ruling over nearly every aspect of pop culture when they were struggling desperately to find a voice and a direction. There were many failed attempts at live-action films and some decent ones, but they were after something different and out-of-the-box. Disney will probably never again have the fortitude for thinking beyond their comfort zone as they once did when they delivered The Black Hole, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Tron in relatively short order. As a kid at the time, these movies delivered something entirely new – things that could be scary, or thought-provoking, in a way that hasn’t really been done since. They have their creation machine dialed into a laser point now and can effectively print money. But, what brought me to admire Walt’s creations was that fleeting moment when their backs were up against a wall, and so they reached outside the box and reached for delivering something special and genuinely new.
Erin Wilhelm: TV and Film Contributor
I was 14 years old when Mulan came out in theaters, but it was the first Disney film that really spoke to me. Mulan wants to do the “right” thing so much that she is willing to sacrifice her own happiness for her family, and is then willing to sacrifice her life for her father’s. Later, when everyone writes her off again as “only a girl,” she uses it to save everyone. She was the first Disney woman to be a hero in her own right. Mulan made me want to be a hero too, not just to fall in love with one.
Jude Terror: Assistant Comic Editor
Can there be any doubt by any measurable, objective standard, that Mary Poppins is the greatest Disney movie (maybe even greatest movie, period) ever made? The songs, the dancing, Dick Van Dyke’s terrible accent, these are all factors. But for me personally, it’s the pangs of nostalgia invoked by the movie’s unadulterated whimsy that gives my lizard brain the same dopamine high as, for example, listening to Christmas music nonstop throughout the month of December. Happy Birthday, Walt Disney; may your cryogenically frozen head live forever in the sub-bowels of the Disneyland complex, or at least as long as your company’s lobbyists are able to extend U.S. copyright laws.
Jeremy Konrad: Toys and Collectibles Editor
From the time I was little, Disney Magic has always been in the back of my mind. I guess, like most, it started with the first Disney film I ever saw: Fantasia. The Sorcerers Apprentice is, of course, iconic and still my favorite version of Mickey, but the biggest impression that film left on me was the Night at Bald Mountain segment. Even at an early age, I found it to be beautifully well done and I can trace my love of horror back to that moment when I first viewed it. Fantasia was my first foray in epic storytelling, and it keeps the Disney Magic alive in me to this day.
Adi Tantimedh: Staff Writer
The Disney movie that influenced me the most might be The Black Hole. I saw it as a wee lad and it messed with my head for weeks. As Disney’s attempt at a space opera to get a piece of the Star Wars box office pie, it was a weird story that was more gothic horror than Science Fiction. It had cute robots and a menacing robot. It had a giant glass spaceship whose crew were zombies. It had two-dimension cardboard characters whose motivations were never truly clear beyond that of pulp fiction. Years later, I read that it was really a kind of biblical story of the Fall barely dressed up as Science Fiction. As a Science Fiction story, it was fundamentally broken and made no real sense but what else is new? The images haunted me for weeks because nothing in it was truly explained. Of course, years later, Bladerunner came out and that became my Science Fiction obsession and I all but forgot about The Black Hole.
Leigh Kade: Tabletop, Comic, and TV Contributor
Walt Disney’s Robin Hood was everything when I was a kid. I loved the folksiness of the whole production, and the little animal kids trying so hard to emulate Robin and his Merry Men still make me laugh. It’s uncynical, rambling, and wears its heart on its sleeve, and I love it all the more for that.
Tom Chang: TV and Film Contributor
The Disney movie that influenced me the most was Flight of the Navigator. I feel the film was designed to be an introduction to science fiction. The film was an allegory to the struggle of creativity versus conformity.
Ray Flook: TV Editor
Of all the Disney memories I have, the one that rises to the top was when I was 7 and saw The Rescuers for the first time, the same year it came out. I remember it because my family was visiting my Dad’s side of the family in Johnstown, Pennsylvania – and this was the first time I got to actually sit in a row by myself…with my friends! Well, didn’t I feel like “Captain All-Important”, throwing back popcorn and some obscenely bad-for-you candy with what I thought was the wittiest banter any 7-year-old could formulate. Didn’t matter my Dad was watching like a hawk two rows behind – for 77 minutes, I felt like “The Man”.
Oh…and three weeks later? The same theater would end up destroyed in The Johnstown Flood of 1977. Definitely another reason to never forget.
Kyle J. Steenblik: Film Contributor
I would say Disney’s 1963 Sword in the Stone had the most substantial impact on me as a child. I was obsessed with the idea of magic, history, and mythology—I was an unusual kid—I also had a fondness for the writer and artist Bill Peet. Sword in the Stone was unique in my eyes, not only was the animation beautiful in style, the humor seemed somehow more sophisticated than other Disney films. The interwoven musical numbers enchanted the antics of the whimsical wizard Merlin. As a kid I found these songs streaming through my head, often at inopportune times when concentration was needed. What really put this film over the top for me personally, was the idea that most of the film focused entirely on the education of young Arthur in the natural world. I could watch this film and see myself; I would say to myself ‘that’s me’ every time Merlin walked into frame.
Andy Wilson: TV Contributor
My favorite Disney movie as a kid was Walt’s last: The Jungle Book. I always felt kind of like a loner and out of place, so the idea that I would go wander around in the jungle and make new friends and family always appealed to me. And that soundtrack! “I Wanna Be Like You,” “The Bare Necessities,” and “That’s What Friends Are For” are still among my favorite Disney soundtrack songs. In middle school, my oddball friends and I would pretend we were the vultures and would sing their song at lunch or on the bus. We were weird kids. The Jungle Book fit for us.
Mark Seifert: CTO & Publisher
1977 was the year that science fiction blew up for me. Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind basically set my very young brain on fire. Still, there was a problem: lots of people didn’t get comics and science fiction in 1977. At all. It’s hard to overestimate how different things were in that regard for this sort of material. I vividly remember standing in my best friend’s living room, the two of us trying to get his mom to let him go see Star Wars with me (“What? It’s… what, now?).
The Cat from Outer Space (1978) was the first Disney movie I ever saw in the theater. It’s certainly not the best Disney movie of all time, but it was science fiction that my mom, dad, and little brother would go see with me. It was a tiny crack in the door. The literal fun for the whole family movie of its day, and while I’ve gone onto a career that’s been anything but all-ages, the importance of the concept of the gateway film (or comic, or book) has never been lost on me since then.
The answer is clearly different for everyone and whatever you might think of the Disney of today the company had likely had some impact on your life. Share the Disney movie that influenced you the most as a kid in the comments or vote in the poll below.