Top 10 Life Lessons Learned From Disney Films

If you’re a true Disney fanatic, you don’t really need a reason to watch a Disney movie. It doesn’t have to be a rainy day. You don’t have to be home sick from work or school. There’s just something about Disney films that is timeless and keeps us coming back for more. Most of the films never grow old to us, and we gain something each time we watch one. Over the years, we’ve even gleaned wisdom and insight from some of Walt’s genius and PIXAR’s handiwork—here of the top 10 things we’ve learned, thanks to some really great Disney films.


10. True beauty is on the inside – Beauty and the Beast

“But she warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within.” – Narrator

Belle taught us to never judge someone or a scenario on an outward appearance. (And if we do, give them a second look, minus the judgmental mindset.) Beast was exactly that—a creature with a beastly and monstrous appearance. What could she possibly see in him? Well, if you’re familiar with the “tale as old as time,” you know that Belle saw everything in Beast, including love and a future. And they lived happily ever after. Minus that beastly curse, of course.

9. Never let your past hold you back, and don’t let your background define you – Ratatouille

“You must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul.” – Chef Gusteau to Remi

Not that we’re down with a rat serving up gourmet dishes in the kitchen (or being in the kitchen at all!), but let’s think of Remi the Rat as the symbol of someone who’s got big dreams, big goals, big hopes and the passion and determination to pursue and achieve them. (I mean, Remi was an amazing chef!) But then that very capable, very determined individual is held back because of his roots. Regardless of his talents, he’s denied comparable opportunities to the ones his peers enjoy, simply because he doesn’t fit the mold. Or simply because he grew up underprivileged, unaware, etc. How dare we as a society limit someone like that? And if Remi is the symbol of that person, then he’s welcome to cook in my kitchen any day!

8. Keep dreaming, despite all the obstacles – Cinderella

“No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.” – Cinderella

Of all the Disney princesses, none was more hopeful, more believing, more deserving than Cinderella. If we’re honest, in her shoes, a majority of us would be tempted to give up on our dreams and accepting instead of someone’s leftovers (think blue beads and pink sash). Cinderella was ever deserving of her carriage, her dress, her Godmother and ultimately her prince. And she landed it all because she never stopped dreaming or believing.


7. Never forget who you are or from whence you came – The Lion King

“You are more than what you have become.” – Mufasa to Simba

Gusteau told Remi not to limit himself because of his beginnings. And Mufasa wanted very much for Simba not to forget his beginnings. Simba was deceived by a power-hungry uncle who doubles as the villain in the film. He was deceived into believing terrible things about himself—not because they were true, but because he had been manipulated and lied to. But Mufasa knew the truth—the truth about what happened during the stampede and the truth about Simba’s potential and his place as King of the pride. Simba had to be reminded about who he was. He had to realize that there was so much more to him than he was allowing himself to be. And the day he accepted who he really was, was the day that he also took his rightful place as King.

6. Follow your heart and do what’s right – Pinocchio

“Always let your conscience be your guide.” – Jiminy Cricket to Pinocchio

If only we could be sure that every individual on earth would let his conscience be his guide—in daily interactions, in business transactions, in relationships. But alas, some seem to be lacking a conscience altogether. The world would still be vastly different—in a positive way—if everyone with a conscience put it to good use, instead of trying to ignore it.

5. Never, ever give up. Ever. You might just be on the brink of your miracle – Finding Nemo

“Just keep swimming.” – Dory

In Finding Nemo, it’s really Dory that carries the story in so many ways. She has every reason to not keep swimming—a lacking memory, only a few friends, no family—yet she’s not willing to let her circumstances supersede her determination to keep on keeping on. Finding Nemo taught us to never give up—especially since we might just be on deck for something amazing—our turnaround, our deliverance, our rebirth.

4. Keep growing. Keep exploring. Keep doing. Keep moving. – Lady and the Tramp

“There’s a great big hunk of world down there with no fence around it.” – Tramp to Lady

Ok, so Tramp was a little rough around the edges. He had commitment issues. He needed Lady to keep him grounded, but Lady needed Tramp because he taught her that it was ok to step outside of a restrictive comfort zone—to keep learning, keep experiencing, keep growing. (Dory could have played a cameo role in this “just keep” sequence.) We learned that there is more to life than the mundane and that it’s ok to explore and grow beyond limitations others have set for us.

3. Be nice or hush up – Bambi

“If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” – Thumper, repeating what his Mama taught him

Sad that we needed a Disney film to teach us this. What a wonderful world it would be if we spoke only life, encouragement, hope and peace over others—and held our tongues when we were feeling less than kindly. The tongue is a double-edged sword, and we’ve got to remember to use it for good.

2. A little bit of crazy is a good thing. And it’s fun too. – Alice in Wonderland

“Sometimes, I’ve imagined as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” The Queen of Hearts to Alice

No, you don’t hear this quote in the animated Disney film from 1951. But you’ll read it in Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, which served as the inspiration for this beloved Disney film. And if you’ve read the book or seen either of Disney’s versions (the animated or the live-action film), no doubt you’ve noticed that the Queen of Hearts must have had something in her life that made her a terribly angry person. She’s mad in every scene. And then she’s mad—as in crazy to boot!—as most of the characters act or claim to be in the film. But we’ve got to give a nod to the angry queen at least for this quote. In this part of the story, the Queen is telling Alice that she hasn’t really lived unless she dreams up impossible, imaginative, non-sensical and creative things on a daily basis. You’ve got to admit that a little bit of crazy makes life interesting. And sometimes, as Walt said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

1. True love really is forever. It truly has no end. – Up

“Thanks for the adventure—now go have a new one.” – written by Ellie to Carl in her adventure book

In the last scene of the film, Carl Fredrickson is sitting in his armchair, looking through the book titled “My Adventure Book.” Ellie has passed away, and Carl is heartbroken daily over his loss. He peruses the book, slowly turning the pages and meditating on each photo of his beloved Ellie. And then he comes to a picture the couple took from a vacation brochure of Paradise Falls, onto which Carl had affixed a picture of his house, which made it look like his house was sitting on the plateau above the falls. And then he notices the words at the bottom of the page—“Thanks for the adventure. Now go have a new one. Love, Ellie.” True love really does last forever.

About Rebekah Tyndall Burkett

Rebekah grew up in Forney, Texas and lives just outside of Dallas. She’s been a Disney superfan since childhood, experiencing the magic at Walt Disney World for the first time at the age of 11. Journeys to Neverland are at least a yearly occurrence for her, her husband and her four children (the Fab Four). When they go to the parks, they stay in Florida for three weeks at a time. Rebekah loves exploring the history of the parks, the genius behind the Magic in the person of Walt Disney, and she is intrigued by all things Disney World and Disney Imagineering. When in the parks, Rebekah and her husband Scott make the most of their time by enjoying every minute with their Fab Four, by delving deeper into Walt’s vision for the parks and into the history behind the Walt Disney World Resort, and by photographing the many different types of architecture at Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and on the World Showcase at EPCOT. When she’s not in the parks, Rebekah is excitedly setting travel dates and planning her family’s next adventure to their happy place deep within the Sunshine State. On breaks from planning her next trip, Rebekah is a writer, journalist and children’s author, penning children’s books about kids with special needs that she affectionately calls “believement-achievement” stories. Her hobbies include creative writing, paper crafting and interviewing Imagineers. She is also an advocate for Autism Awareness and for children with developmental disabilities of all kinds.