Bewildered, bored, delighted? The Disney classics my kids loved – and the ones they couldn’t finish squib

Not everything has aged well, but the animator’s storytelling skills still strike a chord with 21st-century children

Princesses, overpriced theme parks and a rapacious commercialisation of childhood: these would have been my suggestions if I’d been asked six months ago what I thought were Walt Disney’s legacies. Which isn’t to say that I’m anti-Disney. At all. Every generation has their Disney, and just as I grew up singing along to Ariel in The Little Mermaid and Mrs Potts (so superior to Belle) in Beauty and the Beast, so my children are regularly babysat by Frozen and Encanto. I watched the films on a VHS, my children stream them, but the effect is the same: just one glimpse of the Magic Kingdom icon at the start of a Disney film acts like a stun gun on them, silencing them mid-argument then pinning them to the sofa.

At moments like that, man, I love Disney. At other times, I feel less positively inclined. When I get on my highest of horses, I will argue that Disney has done to pop culture what McDonald’s has done to fast food: homogenising it and boiling it down to the most quickly digestible basics, dealing in broad strokes and gender stereotypes. By now, the Walt Disney Company owns – as far as I can tell – every last bit of entertainment that isn’t Amazon or Netflix, and we live in a Disneyfied world, with little girls wearing Elsa fancy dress and boys opting for Captain Jack Sparrow. But what really is Walt’s legacy?

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