Disney movies are a part of everyone’s childhood. They represent a time in people’s lives when magic is real and love conquers all. There was never a situation that didn’t have a happy ending. The bad guys always lost and the good guys always won. And of course, the good guy would always get the girl.
Over the years, Walt Disney has released many animated features and still continues to do so; however, the films of the 90s are very distinct and characterize a time of simplicity and predictability. The Disney animated features of today are not able to posses that quality, nor should they. Kids today require more. They want high-tech images and more action-filled films. Don’t get me wrong, I love Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo, but they aren’t the same as the classics. Below are some of my favorite 90s Disney animated features.
The Little Mermaid
Released in 1989, The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite Disney movies. I think one of the reasons why I like it so much is because Ariel has red hair (I have auburn: red & brown). This movie is also a little empowering for little girls. It tells girls that it’s okay to have a mind of your own.
This is my second favorite Disney song. I love singing it. If you’ve seen Enchanted, also by Disney, you might like to know that Jodi Benson, the woman who plays Patrick Dempsey’s secretary, was the talking and singing voice for Ariel. I am pretty sure that The Little Mermaid is one of the only Disney movies in which one person does the talking and singing voice for the lead.
Everyone knows this song. It is probably sung at day camps everywhere, I know it was at mine. It’s such a fun song and fuels kids’ imaginations about the ocean.
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast was released in 1991. The main protagonist, Belle, is one of Disney’s most intelligent yet sweet and caring characters. This girl does not take crap from anyone, including Gaston (the village creep) and even the Beast, who at first seems a bit too territorial if you ask me.
I love this scene! It’s probably one of the most memorable scenes from a Disney animated feature. To a kid, this whole spectacle is amazing. Dancing plates, singing candlesticks and teapots, that just doesn’t happen in real life at the dinner table.
Of course, like every other Disney film, Belle and the Beast fall in love and live happily ever after. This movie has been re-made to fit more modern circumstances. There’s The Beautician and the Beast, starring Fran Drescher, and more recently, there is Beauty and the Briefcase, starring Hilary Duff. But the storyline is always the same: woman meets man, woman and man do not get along, and then there’s always a turning point when the woman and man realize that they actually have a lot in common, and they fall in love. Maybe that’s the appeal of this Disney movie. The fact that it truly is a timeless tale.
Aladdin, released in 1992, is my favorite Disney movie of all time. I own the original and both sequels as well. I even dressed up as Princess Jasmine one halloween. I love the music, I love the genie (played by the very funny Robin Williams) and I love the magic.
With this film, Disney brought back Cinderella‘s (1950) idea of a fairy godmother. Only this time, the character granting the wishes is a genie. As a little kid, this scene is great to watch. Who wouldn’t want all their wildest dreams to come true? I know I sure would.
And this is why every female blames Disney for putting delusional ideas about men in their heads. This is my most favorite Disney scene and song of all time. It’s so romantic and magical at the same time that I never get tired of watching or listening to it. I’m still waiting for my magic carpet ride.
The Lion King
The Lion King was released in 1994. I love this movie because it’s funny, and it’s different from all the others. Loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Lion King‘s characters are all animals.
This is such a fun song with which to sing along. Years ago, my old day camp was going to perform this play. To determine who would play the role of Simba, interested campers had to sing this song. Imagine my surprise when I won the part. I was so excited; however, we never ended up doing the play. I remember we practiced, but I can’t remember why we never performed.
“Hakuna Matata. What a wonderful phrase.” And what a wonderful message to kids. While this song shows how Simba is running away from his problems (which isn’t good), it also shows kids that you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff either.
Pocahontas, released in 1995, was loosely based on the true story of Pocahontas. She was in fact a real Native American. John Smith was also a real person. I loved the imagery of this movie. All the leaves blowing in the wind and beautiful skies. And yes, I also was Pocahontas one halloween as well. I guess I just really wanted to be a Disney princess. This movie also taught kids about the beauty of nature and tolerance.
This film is a little different than the others. Unfortunately, the guy doesn’t get the girl in the end. While Pocahontas saves John Smith from being killed, he ultimately has to leave and go back to his homeland, leaving Pocahontas behind.
Released in 1999, Mulan is a movie about female power. Unlike past Disney movies, where love is a central feature, the love in this film takes a back burner to Mulan’s quest to find herself and prove her worth.
In my post about Christina Aguilera, I mentioned this movie and song. Above is the version that was in the film. The same person who is the singing voice for Princess Jasmine is the singing voice for Mulan: Lea Salonga.
I love how this movie is empowering for girls. It shows that they can go off to war with the boys and kick some serious ass. But it wouldn’t be a Disney movie without a happily ever after. Mulan does find love with her captain.
Disney movies allow children to use their imagination and believe in a world where anything is possible. The 90s was a time when Disney was at its greatest. Kids will continue to watch these films for years to come because they are timeless. Their innocence speaks to all. Even though technology is always changing and allows for things to get bigger and better, I will always love watching these movies.