15 Disney Movies That Mirror The Magic of Life

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Anastasiya Tkachenko

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Hi, I'm Anastasiya

I’m sure the person behind the screen reading this is an adult who either still believes in magic or someone who’s lost it, but craves it.

I remember a moment when I was 15 and I stepped outside on my balcony to look at the moon and night sky and I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing, completely numb.

To say the least, I was terrified.

I was thinking, I’m so young how could it be that I don’t feel any magic in me, any hope, or any spark? It was scary because I had no idea where it went or how to get it back.

The moon, stars, and galaxy always enchanted me. It was my source of inspiration, the only evidence of real magic in our world, and a reliable friend that I would talk to when I had no friends.

So then when I was standing outside, staring at the full moon, and felt numb, I knew I had to figure out why that was and how to maintain the feeling of magic of life inside of me, especially as I was getting older.

Now, at 27, I realize that as we go through life, hardship, trauma, cruelty, war, expectations, loss, and failure, all these things fill us up little by little overtime with sadness, disappointment, or exhaustion and take over the space where optimism, hope, and joy used to live.

This means the sensation of magic is completely lost over time, and maybe re-appears once in a blue moon. If anything, most adults reject any idea of anything magical and call it “childish”.

That’s sad, isn’t it?

What is magic other than a feeling of “wow”, or excitement surging through us, or a moment of joyful surprise?

It’s different than happiness, it’s wonder.

Here’s the Oxford definition: a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.

Sounds about right, don’t you think?

After years of working hard to never lose a childlike amount of wonder, here are 5 things that I know for sure:

  • The magic of life is everywhere, but it requires a mindset of appreciation.
  • Other than natural wonders like mother nature, animals, space, and the earth, magic is created by people.
  • Our perspective dictates how we perceive the life around us: if we exude negativity, negativity rebounds to us. If we exude positivity, positivity is reflected around us.
  • Whatever we think is true: if we believe magic exists, it’ll find us. If we think it doesn’t, then it’ll never find us.
  • People will try to tell you that magic is only for kids and you’re being childish. This is only because they’re scared to believe in something good, and have been too disappointed by people and life to feel hope again.

Don’t forget, the people who are bold enough to believe that magic (of any form) exists, usually end up finding it.

Never let people cloud your mind with the idea that life is meant to be lived only a certain way: “realistically”.

Remember what Hans Christian Andersen said once, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale.”

Next to life itself, Disney is the best at bringing magic to life.

And although nearly every movie they make incorporates the idea of wonder, there are a certain few that I think really mirror the magic of life around us that I want to tell you about.

To many people, Disney may seem like an adventure that’s only meant for children and should eventually be grown out of. But to me, the best way to not only survive this difficult life but to feel it deeply is by seeing it through child-like eyes.

After all, the majority of life-changing ideas start with a sense of wonder…

So, if you need an injection of magic, hope, and adventure in your bloodstream, do yourself a favor and grab some snacks, make a drink, turn down the lights, get cozy, and turn on one of these movies and just let yourself feel the magic come through the screen.

Extra points if you build a fort…fyi.

Disney Movies That Mirror The Magic of Life

Hercules

Honestly, have you seen Hercules? If you have, then you’ll understand exactly what I mean when a movie mirrors the magic of life…

Hercules is in my top 3 favorite Disney movies, it has to be one of the most vibrant, colorful, hilariously written, and perfectly crafted movies out there. The epic story of going from zero to hero, the romance between Hercules and Meg, the music, ugh, it’s everything you want and need.

Somehow, Hercules makes you want to be a better person.

Aladdin

Need I say more?

Do you cry every single time Aladin and Jasmine sing “A Whole New World” on their magical carpet ride? Okay, good, me too. 

Maybe in our everyday lives we don’t have a magic carpet, but if we’re lucky and open, we’re given a person who makes us feel like we’re flying. Some of us are lucky enough to meet people that we want to travel the world with or bring adventure into our lives.

Everything about Aladin makes me feel like magic is just around the corner.

Ratatouille

If you’re anything like me, Paris is the city of your soul.

If I were to describe magic as a city, it would be Paris. Especially the Paris that’s shown in Ratatouille.

Remy is the perfect example of romanticizing life – he sees the magic in everything, especially in the simple things like the sweet, robust combination of a mushroom with smokey cheese and rosemary, or as he falls in love with the dreamy view of the city of love from his window.

Even as he watches Chef Gusto’s commercials, his eyes light up with admiration. Nothing stopped Remy from living out his dreams of being a chef, even when the world told him no.

Is there anything more relatable?

Encanto

From beginning to end, Encanto encompasses the best gift life has to offer us: family.

Encanto so beautifully shows us that although a person may have many gifts and talents, the greatest gift of all is loving people simply for who they are, and remembering that every single person has their own story, their own struggles, and needs to be seen and loved.

By the end of the movie, you’ll want to kiss and hug the people you love most in your life.

It’s such a joyful, funny movie that reminds me of how wonderful life is when we focus on the good and use any occasion to celebrate the joys of life.

Soul

What better way to appreciate our time on earth than by watching Soul?

Joe, the main character, is probably the most relatable, everyday character you’ll meet in a Disney movie. He represents so many people who live their whole lives waiting for life to start, only to realize that life is all around them, they just need to pay attention.

To see his experience literally coming back to life is a lesson for all of us, and mimics reality so well in every way.

You gotta see it ASAP.

Peter Pan

Don’t we all wish and wonder for our most magical, outlandish dreams to come true like Wendy’s?

Peter Pan will always be a classic that I keep close to my heart. The live-action version, Hook, with Robin Williams is also just as fantastic.

I love how this movie shows us the beauty of our dreams. How pure and joyful like can be when we allow ourselves to fly, metaphorically and maybe even literally.

This story shows us that just because we get older, it doesn’t mean we have to give up our dreams to fly.

The Lion King

We could never forget to include the Circle of Life.

The epitome of loss, failure, pride, family, coming-of-age, and community, The Lion King is a movie that I struggle to watch, but I think it’s because it represents life so deeply. Even though it’s an animated movie, the characters’ journeys are so much like ours.

It’s painful, but that’s what makes this movie so wonderful. It shows us that no matter what happens to us in our lifetime, we will always carry our loved ones in our hearts, be protected, and be carried by our communities.

Meet The Robinsons

To me, this has got to be one of the most underrated Disney movies.

I think what I love most about this movie is that it shows us that the quality of our lives depends on the quality of our thoughts, also even when we’re met with problem after problem, our lives can change for the better in just one moment, and our future is dependant on what we do today.

I love that we get to see the aftermath of what happens to a person when they walk through life blaming the world for their misfortune, and then see what happens when that same person decides to take responsibility for the quality of their life.

It’s a message for all of us: we are capable and responsible for saving ourselves and creating the futures that we want.

Walle-E

Who would’ve thought we could learn a thing or two about love from a robot?

Wall-E shows us one of the greatest blessings life has to offer: companionship. 

Some of us live years of our lives somewhat like robots, doing the same thing over and over day after day without looking up or looking around.

It seems like this movie, in particular, represents what life looks like today: we’re surrounded by people but feel lonely, or, we even choose to see others through screens rather than acknowledge the person next to us, not realizing that we’re all more similar than we are different.

We crave companionship but fear taking risks. We choose the comfort of discomfort rather than stepping outside of our comfort zones.

Big topics for a Disney movie, right? But Wall-E does it so elegantly that you think you’re watching a pleasant, out-of-this-world animated movie while subtly noticing very human needs and wants.

Plus, Wall-E will just warm your heart with his pure curiosity for life and joy to show EVA all of the treasures that he’s collected.

UP

You will cry, but you will also see life a little differently.

Up will forever be a wonderful Disney classic that animates the purest, truest kind of love between two people, and what happens to a heart when their forever person is gone.

I think many of us have experienced a time when someone that our soul deeply loves is taken away, and then going on a journey of finding meaning, joy, and adventure again. Plus, the new life that we create when we decide to take the necessary, yet scary, steps forward out of the darkness.

It’s simply a beautiful movie that anyone should watch if they’re scared of the unknown, but know they need to keep moving forward.

Frozen II

Ooof, Frozen II always makes me weep…in the best way.

Like many people in the world, we’re alienated for being different, in big or small ways. Too often, we’re told we’re too much, or too little, or disrupt the flow, or aren’t this or that, it’s always something.

Naturally, this constant push-back from people leaves us feeling lonely, or self-critical, or more often than not, makes us feel like we’re constantly the problem. Well, lovely Elsa shows us that our rareness is our superpower and during all those years of looking for someone to rescue us, we realize that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for our whole life.

Oh goodness, when Elsa finds Ahtohallan and finally accepts herself in her truest form, oy, I ball like a baby, it’s wonderful.

It’s wonderful to see a character who also struggles with her self-identity and finally has the strength and the courage to see herself for who she is, and realizes that she was never the problem, she’s the solution.

Moana

Moana is not only the ultimate adventure, but the animation is incredibly cinematic and makes you want to leap into the movie and live it.

It’s not too often we find a young, adventure-hungry girl as the lead of a Disney movie. But, Moana gives every girl, and boy, the courage to go after their deepest dream, even if that means upsetting other people.

Too often, we’re told not to do something or to not go follow our ambitions because they’re too far away, out of reach, or the road is unknown. The people telling us this though are the ones who were and are too afraid of leaving the comfort of what they know, and think they’re protecting us, but are actually just projecting their own fears, or judgments, onto us.

Moana shows us that taking the risk, getting on the boat, and sailing across the sea is what saves us.

This risk comes with unbeknownst challenges, unexpected defeats, and difficult life lessons, but if we can weather the storm and come out the other side, then it will all be worth it for the stronger person that we become.

Coco

The other movie that leaves me in a puddle of happy tears, Coco is a masterpiece.

The music, the vibrant colors, the story, the celebration of Dia De Los Muertos, every single thing about this movie makes my heart so utterly happy. Plus, there are so many meaningful messages about family, acknowledging past traumas, following your destiny, and so much more.

What sticks out the most to me is how impactful and necessary it is to bring to light the demons of the past, acknowledge them, and face them in order to move forward and release the weight of the past. But even more importantly, how much backlash a person can have for wanting to release the past while others refuse.

Do yourself a favor and watch Coco tonight, you’re gonna love it.

Toy Story 4

Even thinking about the ending of Toy Story 4 feels like knots in my stomach…but for a very good reason.

I love how the entire Toy Story saga is mostly focused, if not entirely, on friendship and loyalty. In general, seeing toys come to life brings me utter joy, but watching Woody’s dedication to his kid Andy, then Bonnie, is a lesson for all of us.

But, seeing Woody say goodbye to his friends to find a new adventure without belonging to a kid is just amazing, and a familiar feeling that I think every single one of us has felt.

The feeling in the pit of our stomach that it’s time to move on, but the fight to hold on, even though we no longer fit into where we are. The scariness of letting go and leaving the people we love most, but knowing it’s exactly what we need to do.

Ugh, it’s probably one of the toughest and most gut-wrenching feelings, but once we’ve officially left, we realize the hardest part was always taking the first step to leave. Everything after that falls into place.

So there you have it, 15 Disney movies that mirror the magic of life.

How many of these movies have you seen and which ones have you added to your watchlist?

Love,

Anastasiya

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