Tag Archives: disney

Happy Hauntings: The Magic of Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion

“When hinges creak in doorless chambers, and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls. Whenever candlelights flicker, where the air is deathly still — that is the time when ghosts are present, practicing their terror with ghoulish delight!”

Many years ago in the Victorian Era, the Louisiana located Gracey Mansion was alive with parties and guests, with love and hope. Wealthy landowner Edward Gracey was in love with Elizabeth Henshaw and asked her hand in marriage. At a grand fete Gracey proposes and Elizabeth sends a note with her response, apparently rebuffing a love he thought they shared. Finding her body after she takes her life with poison throws him into turmoil. He ultimately decides he cannot face life without her, and hangs himself in his garden atrium. And so the Gracey manor fell into disrepair, until a hundred years later when a descendant of the Gracey family who desires to sell the home contact a couple involved in Real Estate, Mr. and Mrs. Evers. Their own marriage is on some rocky ground due to long work hours, Mr. and Mrs. Evers along with their two children, stop at the house on the way out of town for vacation.

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Kind Courage: The New Cinderella

“Have courage, and be kind,” our heroine’s mother tells Ella before she passes away.

The theme resonates through the story, as Ella is joyous amid her troubles—when banished to the attic by her wicked stepmother, she rearranges the scraps of furniture and shakes out a dusty blanket, before she tells the mice how much she enjoys solitude. Continue reading

A New Maleficent

Just how do you rework a classic fairy tale, offering something new and different to audiences whilst still maintaining the magic? Maleficent (2014) balances new and old in this wave of live-action adaptations of old animated classics. Interestingly, unlike Cinderella (2015) and Beauty and the Beast (2017), Maleficent is the Wicked-esque version of Sleeping Beauty (1959) where the titular Maleficent receives a rich backstory. This twist on the classic tale has not been used for any other Disney live-action adaptations. Maleficent is unique in not only being able to keep to the bare bones of the original, but also insert some new twists and subversions of fairy tale tropes. Continue reading

Tangled: Realizing a Dream



Haven’t any of you ever had a dream?” Rapunzel asks a group of thugs hanging out in a tavern. In Disney’s Tangled the power, importance, and the fulfillment of dreams play an important role in Rapunzel and Flynn’s stories. She dreams of visiting the source of the floating lights she sees every year from her window. When Flynn Rider ends up at her tower, on the run from the king’s guards, she decides to take matters into her own hands and enlists him to help her achieve her dreams. Continue reading

Pocahontas: Savages



Like many others, I grew up on Disney. I figured out which films I liked and watched them over and over, until maturity took me into more “grown up” forms of entertainment. Yet, as I look back, Disney in many ways, shaped me into the person I am today, and still holds valuable lessons for those willing to look past the obvious to the true heart of each of its stories.

My favorite films in Disney cannon are The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Lion King, but I think Pocahontas has the most important lesson for modern audiences. On the surface, it looks like an exploration of spirituality and independence, or perhaps a manipulation of history into a love story, but in truth, it is about division and prejudice. Underneath the stunning animation and music is a tale centered around two races unable to find common ground due to their strong traditions, prejudices, and miscommunications. Even the hero, John Smith, enters the tale believing the Indians are “savages,” and boasting that he has killed some in his time. He sees the “new world” as a place to be exploited until Pocahontas teaches him to experience and value nature in its purest form. Continue reading

The Evolution of Tinker Bell



When a new baby laughs for the first time a new fairy is born, and as there are always new babies there are always new fairies.” – J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

There is only one character apart from Mickey Mouse that is synonymous with Walt Disney Animation; the character of Tinker Bell. For years, at the beginning of every Disney movie, Tinker Bell would flick her wand over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, a shimmer of fairy dust would appear, and the movie begin. It was always a magical moment of anticipation, like she was lending some special power to the film. Continue reading

Beauty & the Beast: Taming the Beast



Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It can also be skin deep.

It is a tale as old as time: a beautiful girl sees through the outer shell of a hideous man and through true love, transforms his life.

For years, Disney worked to create an animated version of the classic tale Beauty and the Beast. It was shelved twice but then after the extraordinary success of The Little Mermaid, the Disney crew was inspired once again. The third time was the charm. Gone were the days when all a heroine had to do was be a damsel in distress and wait for a dashing prince to rescue her. This version of the story featured a young woman who could take care of herself and in the end save the prince too. Also, it is possibly the only Disney movie that doesn’t have the hero and heroine fall in love at first sight. For them, love comes gradually. Continue reading

Part of the Disney World: The Changes of The Little Mermaid



From it’s early beginnings with short films about a mouse named Mickey to it’s latest three-dimensional features with the Pixar company, Disney is known for it’s animated work. This monopoly on cartoons has made the name Disney synonymous with family entertainment. Even the live-action films the studio has produced over the years have had little to no objectionable material. This tradition has led many moviegoers to feel the Disney output can be dismissed as bland with no risk-taking at all. However, one classic Disney animated film is an example of how a story can be changed to adhere to the Disney trademark characteristics and still be a worthwhile viewing experience. The Little Mermaid features quite a few changes from the original fairytale which cast it firmly in the Disney mold but also serve as part of an excellent film. Continue reading

Atlantis, The Lost Empire: Steam and Dreams



“…in a single day and night of misfortune, the island of Atlantis disappeared into the depths of the sea.” —Plato, 360 B.C

We all remember the one Disney animated movie we saw and were summarily distressed by. For me, it was a tie between Pinocchio and Dumbo. Both were what I consider “experiment films” of Walt Disney’s: there was odd, almost clunky animation with stereotypical characters and lots of drinking, smoking, and misbehaving going on. Yet, for some reason or other, a lot of people remember them with fondness and love. Well, that’s how I remember Atlantis: the Lost Empire and Treasure Planet. They were “experiment films,” a blending of traditional animation at its highest quality with CGI elements that made the worlds alive and vibrant. Some things haven’t changed: characters still drink, smoke, and misbehave, but the clunky style and stereotypes are gone, replaced with unique and funny characters that touch the heart. Continue reading

Make ‘Em Laugh: Why The Sword in the Stone is My Favorite Disney Movie



I’m a bit of a girly girl, and have always loved fairy tales, so you might expect that my favorite Disney animated classic would be a princess movie. And it’s true that for a long time I was all about the princesses. I saw Cinderella three times as a child (trust me, before DVD players, that was a big deal). Beauty and the Beast didn’t come out till I was in high school, but I fell hard for it anyway. But my all-time favorite animated Disney classic doesn’t have a princess in it; it’s about a poor but plucky young boy, and instead of a fairy godmother, it has a wonderfully wacky wizard.

The Sword in the Stone came out in 1963, years before I was born. It was based on T. H. White’s novel of the same name, the first part of his famous Arthurian trilogy The Once and Future King. (This trilogy was fertile ground for adapters; Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe later made it the basis for the Broadway musical Camelot.) Continue reading