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I asked my friends on Facebook to name their favorite classic Disney film. The responses were really quite interesting, and reflective of our ages. It also brought up the question as to what the term classic really applies to. In some circles that would be defined as something whose message stands the test of time.
For me, classic means the films that were made during Walt Disney’s lifetime. He died in 1966, about six years before I was born. But, his work had a huge impact on my childhood. Disneyland is my happy place. And the films that he created hold a special place in my heart.
Early in our marriage, my husband and I had decided not to have a television. We knew there were lots of better things to do with our time. Eventually a few years after kids came on the scene, a TV and VCR made it into our house. We relied on VHS tapes for our weekly movie nights.
Since our children were little and we were usually too exhausted to stay up later to watch a parent movie, we watched a lot of classic Disney. I love these films because they were made in an age of good vocabulary, clean language, classical music, and — let’s face it — they were favorite movies of my own childhood.
Recently, I scrolled through this list of all the movies made during Walt’s lifetime. I picked my personal favorites and culled them into one list. Once upon a time we owned almost all these on VHS tape. Unfortunately, our VCR finally bit the dust and I donated the ramshackle collection of movies to the local thrift store.
My littlest ones haven’t seen many of these thanks to those changes in technology, but I’m pleased to see that all of these are available in DVD or Blu-ray and that many are available on Amazon Instant Video. For a few bucks I can rent them and watch them with my little people.
Lately, we’ve been really stuck for movies that our younger set will enjoy. Since these are favorites of my bigger kids, too, I bet I could get them to sit through at least one screening on an upcoming Friday night.
Looking for a good family-friendly film? Here you go:
DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital – 1950
I bought Cinderella on VHS when my youngest brother was about 3 or 4 and still not speaking. He started speaking after watching this film every day for a month. Needless to say, I think he’s got a thing for Cinderella.
DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital – 1951
I remember listening to the soundtrack to Alice in Wonderland on a record player. Am I showing my age yet? The ride at Disneyland has got to be the slowest ever made, but it’s still part of the memories we’re making during our kids’ childhoods.
DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital – 1953
As a child, I often pretended to be a character in whatever film I was watching. Of course, I was Wendy in Peter Pan; Tinkerbelle was a stinker then.
DVD/Blu-ray – 1955
My elementary would often have a movie night featuring a Disney film. I remember watching Lady and the Tramp that way many, many moons ago. I had no idea that it was already a 20-year old movie.
DVD only – 1955
The ultrasound pictures of our fourth son are marked Davy Crockett’s brother. The three older FishBoys were going through a Davy Crockett phase. They showed up at the sonogram with coon skin caps on! The technician could not stop laughing. We were way big into Davy.
DVD and Digital – 1957
Likewise, the first year that we studied the American Revolution in homeschool, our kids reenacted all the scenes from Johnny Tremain. I have such sweet memories of my three big boys running around in tri-corn hats!
DVD and Digital – 1957
Yes, you will cry if you watch Old Yeller. And I’m not even a dog person. The book is better, though.
DVD and Blu-ray – 1959
Of the classic princesses, Sleeping Beauty is my favorite. (Of the modern girls, I prefer Merida and Mulan; they have mostly healthy relationships with their parents.) My favorite scene is probably when the fairies fight over what color her dress should be. I choose blue.
DVD/Digital – 1960
I feel a special kinship for Pollyanna. I love the book, and I love Hayley Mills. I was gonna be her when I grew up.
DVD only – 1960
Swiss Family Robinson is another of the films that really appealed to my boys when they were little. This movie is WAY better than the book. Ugh.
Hayley Mills’ dad is the dad in this film. I always thought that was interesting. Apparently, he was a heartthrob back in the day.
DVD/Blu-Ray – 1961
Part of the beauty of watching movies with your kids is watching their expressions. My little people absolutely pealed with laughter the first time they watched 101 Dalmatians.
DVD/Digital – 1961
The Parent Trap features Hayley Mills. So of course, as a child I loved this film, the story of two twins, separated as baby who meet each other for the first time at camp. A little twisted, but interesting. I read the foreign children’s book it was based on back when I was a kid and liked it.
Forget the remake. Blech.
DVD/Digital – 1961
I love The Absent-Minded Professor for a number of reasons, but mainly because that was our nickname for FishBoy13 when he was little. He could recite all kinds of factoids, but forget where he put his shoes. My kids watched this over and over again.
DVD/Digital – 1963
Summer Magic stars Hayley Mills. Need I say more? Okay, then. I love the music in this movie. My sisters and I watched it many times one summer on Disney Channel, singing along with the songs.
DVD/Blu-ray/Digital – 1964
Mary Poppins was the first movie I ever saw in the theater. I thought it was a new release, and that Julie Andrews was really young. It was actually 1980 and she wasn’t.
DVD only – 1965
This is my last plug for Hayley Mills. She, like every other Disney actress after her, went on to try to break the stereotypes that wholesome films had put her in. From what I read in her bio, I’m glad I grew up to me and not her.
I still like That Darn Cat! though.
DVD/Digital – 1966
Follow Me, Boys features Fred McMurray as a scout leader and Kurt Russell as the son he and his wife could never have. It’s a really sweet movie. I think I might cry watching it again. I usually do.
DVD/Blu-ray/Digital – 1967
The Jungle Book was the last Disney film to have Walt’s personal, direct influence. It was released after he passed away. He turned the darker Kipling story into a light-hearted musical. The music is fabulous. I love it! I have great memories of my big people dancing and singing the songs when they were little.
Now, The Jungle Book has been re-released on Blu-ray this month. Disney sent us a copy which I am thrilled to add to my tiny little collection of classic Disney. If you’ve got a copy on hand, this would make a great family fun night. Be sure to print off the activity pages below.
What’s YOUR favorite of the classic Disney films?