As today is Thanksgiving in the US, in place of my usual column, I decided to take a moment to list a few of the characters Disney has gifted us with over the years, and explain why I am thankful for them. As well as wonderful characters, Disney has been a huge influence on my life in many ways with their films and songs, and while this list is by no means exhaustive, it does contain some of my most magical Disney memories created by characters I have come to treasure.
10. Stitch from Lilo and Stitch
Like a demented toddler on acid, Stitch tore across our screens as a delighted Lilo screamed “Puppy!” and I fell completely in love. If it was at all possible to have an experiment 626 all of my own, I would. In fact, maybe I do as my son is quite similar. Hmm. His love for all things Elvis and his complete inability to behave appropriately only endears him to me further. He’s a loveable, cute and cheeky little ball of bouncing blue fur and holds a special place in my heart.
9. Timon and Pumbaa from The Lion King
Impossible to separate them, so they must come as a pair for the purposes of this list. The Lion King is one of my favourite ever films for many reasons, not least the incredible soundtrack, but Timon and Pumbaa stole the show. A neurotic Meerkat and a loveable but slightly dim Warthog with a flatulence problem might not seem like the cutest couple, but they have the sweetest, most caring friendship and my heart always soars when they decide to adopt Simba and raise him as their own. They are hilarious, often unintentionally, and their role in the Lion King III is the stuff of legends. Watch it for the full explanation on why all the animals bow when baby Simba is presented to them. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
8. Buzz and Woody from Toy Story
Again, impossible to separate the two here, because what is Buzz without Woody and vice versa? Although they don’t get off to the smoothest of starts, their friendship, when it comes, is glorious. I am so ridiculously thankful that there is to be a Toy Story 4, because I can never get enough of this genius pairing. They bounce off one another with practised ease, yet are always there for each other and the rest of the toys when the going gets tough. This is friendship at its best.
7. Dumbo from Dumbo, surprisingly enough.
Adorable, sweet and cute little Dumbo makes this list for one reason only; the heartbreaking scene he shares with Mrs Jumbo. Locked away and declared a public menace for daring to defend her darling son, Mrs Jumbo is heartbroken and so is Dumbo, when a kind Timothy Mouse takes him to the truck where she is held behind iron bars. He can’t see his mummy, but she snakes her trunk out of the bars and cradles him, rocking him gently as “Baby Mine” softly plays.
I can’t even talk about the scene without crying, but I am thankful for it as each time I watch it, it reminds me of how thankful I am to have cradled my own babies and how blessed I am to be a mother.
6. Captain Jack Sparrow from The Pirates of the Caribbean movies
Why am I thankful for this rum soaked hapless attempt at a buccaneer? Well, quite simply because he brings such happy joy to my life. From the way he runs, to the way he never seems to think anything through until it’s too late, Captain Jack Sparrow has made me laugh countless times and provided Tumblr users with some of the best reaction gifs ever. Johnny Depp brings him to life so perfectly that you can see how much he really ‘lives’ his character. You forget you are watching an actor on screen; Sparrow is as real as they come.
5. Elsa from Frozen
I have a lot to thank Elsa for: endless gift ideas for my son and niece, a power ballad which I can belt out loudly (beautifully) and take all my frustrations out upon, countless hairstyle ideas for my daughter… I could go on. What I am most thankful to Elsa for though, is her flaws and her love for her sister. Elsa teaches a whole generation of children that it’s okay to be afraid; that it’s okay to be scared of stepping out there and that you can have these wonderful talents and still not be perfect. Her relationship with Anna strengthens me. It reminds me of my younger sister and me, because I know either one of us would sacrifice ourselves for the other, and I love that Frozen is about true love between siblings.
4. Carl and Ellie Fredricksen from Up
Another sad moment, the beautiful yet heartbreaking montage scene at the start of Up makes me thankful for all the special moments I have been lucky enough to share with my husband, and what’s to come. The highs, the lows, Carl and Ellie go through it all together, side by side, which is why he’s determined to complete one more adventure.
3. Winnie the Pooh from The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh
Yes, I know a lot of people have issues with Disney’s take on A.A Milne’s classic bear, but Disney’s Winnie the Pooh has been the love of my son’s life since he was born. He sucks his thumb with his Gra-Gra-Baboo, a Winnie the Pooh comfort blanket which was given to him by his Grandma, he has Winnie the Pooh bed covers, Winnie table wear, pyjamas, towels, underwear and, at the last count, no less than 27 soft toy versions. Watching the love and dedication with which he tends to his ‘Baboos’ has been a joy and a privilege and for that, I am thankful for this beautiful bear.
2. The Genie from Aladdin
While we are all still saddened by the loss of Robin Williams this year, I am forever thankful that he gave life to one of the best animated characters of all time. The Genie is a whirlwind, rollercoaster ride of a character with a heart of gold, and Robin Williams gave us all of that and then some. He is and will continue to be, very deeply missed, but his magic will live on, and what a better way to remember him than by this performance?
1. Mickey Mouse
Where would we be without the one that started it all? Making his official debut in Steamboat Willie way back in 1928, it is hard to ever imagine life without him. He paved the way for all the characters listed above and more, and is, apparently, the most recognised ‘icon’ in the entire world. I don’t care how old you are, there is always something so completely magical about meeting Mickey Mouse at a Disney Park. He has given us hours and hours of endless joy, fun and laughter with his gang of friends and is the absolute epitome of all things Disney.
Of course, there is one person we should be thankful for, without whom this list wouldn’t be possible at all: Mr Walt Disney, we salute you, and thank you for all you have given us.
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