By: Amy Kawa
In a series of conversations I have recently had with an incredibly bright, insightful, and thoughtful student, one of those conversations in particular lent itself perfectly to a shout-out on Dreams on Main Street.
Disney movies are just for kids, right? They’re full of talking dogs, frogs, cats, and rats. What could one possibly learn about the meaning of life from this colorful world of characters and storylines? Well, as it turns out, a whole heck of a lot! Almost every Disney movie leaves the audience with at least a nugget of wisdom to ponder after the credits roll. Whether the wisdom comes in lines that are gravely serious in nature, carry a hint of sarcasm, or are downright goofy, there are some Disney quotes that just stick with you. The following quotes are ones that carry the greatest significance in my life. You’ll find some familiar lines that would undoubtedly find themselves on just about any list, but you’ll find others that maybe you won’t think are “quotes to live by,” but will see from my reasoning the gifts they have given me. Take or leave what I have to say, as some may see it as corny or “too much,” but Disney (and all its facets) plays such a HUGE role in my life that these quotes deserve their due.
So, let’s see what we can come up with! To infinity and beyond...
Please note, these lines are only from movies in the Disney Animation and Pixar canon. The quotes are listed in no particular order.
1. “Always let your conscience be your guide.” – Jiminy Cricket (Pinocchio)
The most recognizable quote from Pinocchio is also my personal mantra. Cliff Edwards’ voice (the voice of Jiminy) plays in my head just about every day. This quote helps guide the choices I make and the way I want to live my life. Just listen to this adorable, little cricket (and the Blue Fairy) and you can’t go wrong.
2. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” – Thumper (Bambi)
Why doesn’t everyone just follow this simple rule? Wouldn’t the world be such a better place if we all just thought a little bit harder before we said something hurtful? Sure, we all have moments where we need to vent, but I like to think I do so to heal and not from a place of spite or meanness. Overall, follow this rule from the cute bunny.
3. “You’re in the gang. The gang means family.” – Dodger (Oliver & Company)
After bit of a journey and letting down his guard just a bit, Dodger accepts Oliver into the gang after proving his stripes, which then makes him family. Family doesn’t have to be blood. The ties that bind friends can be much stronger than those that bind people a part of some family tree. If a dog can accept a cat into their gang, we can all make room for some new friends in ours.
4. “Oh yes, the past can hurt, but the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.” – Rafiki (The Lion King)
Confession time. Who hasn’t had something in their past that, at least in part, defines who they are? This quote is so simple, yet so profound, it freaks me out sometimes. Simba tried to run away and forget his responsibilities and problems, but one can’t run from his or her past forever. Running from the things that make you the person you are – even the bad things – causes you to lose your true sense of self. The past, no matter how bleak, shapes you, and the lessons learned make you a better version of yourself in the future. Simba stops running from his past to assume his rightful place atop Pride Rock. I’m not saying you have to be a royalty or anything, but be the king or queen of your own life!
5. “Remember who you are.” – Mufasa (The Lion King)
In this world, it feels like just about anything and everyone tries to tell you who you should be or what you should do. It can be incredibly easy to give into those pressures and lose your true identity – the interests, abilities, and qualities that make you uniquely you. As always, James Earl Jones is incredibly wise. We must look to those we trust most – in our past and present – to guide us to remember who we truly are so that we can become the best we can be.
6. “I’m surrounded by idiots.” – Scar (The Lion King)
This is another personal favorite quote of mine. While it is quite contrary to Thumper’s quote from Bambi (see #2 above), sometimes it just helps to remember that you’re the Scar of your life…surrounded by a bunch of hyenas.
7. “Life is not a spectator sport. If watchin’ is all you’re gonna do, then you’re gonna watch your life go by without you.” – Laverne (Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Poor Quasi Modo! What a horrible life just because he has a little bad posture and Claude Frollo is a total creep. Good thing he has some wise gargoyle friends to keep him company! What better advice than to get out in the world and live your best life!? There is a lot to be said for being selective in the things you try, but I remember this quote when I feel I’m becoming too complacent in my own life. Sometimes, you have to get off the sidelines and get in the game. Who knows? Something you never thought you’d try might be the best thing for you.
8. Megara from Hercules montage:
“I’m a damsel. I’m in distress. I can handle this. Have a nice day.”
“I’m a big, tough girl. I tie my own sandals and everything.”
“He comes on with his big, innocent farm boy routine, but I could see right through that in a Peloponnesian minute.”
- QUEEN! Bottom line: Meg doesn’t need a man to save her! She can save herself and is a true heroine. Plus (spoiler alert), if she doesn’t make the choice to push Hercules out of the way to save him from that falling pillar, this movie ends very very differently.
9. “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” – Emperor (Mulan)
This quote holds special significance to me for reasons too deep for a blog post. Life is full of adversity. Things happen that you can’t predict or plan for, and it is how you respond to these things that shows your true character. There is always hope, even in the darkest of times. I mean, Mulan saved China, so I’ll settle for doing some good even when things aren’t going my way.
10. “Ohana means ‘family.’ Family means no one gets left behind.” – Lilo (Lilo and Stitch)
Similar to Dodger from Oliver and Company (see #3), Lilo’s definition of “family” goes beyond blood lines. Lilo and her older sister Nani are the only blood relatives each other has (Yep, no parents. It’s a Disney movie). Stitch came into Lilo and Nani’s life at a time when Lilo desperately needed companionship. Stitch became family the minute Lilo accepted him into her home. He became part of their “gang.” Stitch is with Lilo and Nani through thick and thin. Family, blood or loyalty, is forever.
11. “The only way to get what you want in this world is through hard work.” – Tiana (Princess and the Frog)
There is no substitute for good, old-fashioned hard work. It can take you so far in life. Most days, there’s no glory for putting forth your best effort, but trust in the process and that the work you put in today will get you where you want to go. Tiana is my spirit animal.
12. Rapunzel: “I’ve been looking out a window for 18 years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be?” / Flynn: “It will be.” / Rapunzel: “And what if it is? What do I do then?” / Flynn: “Well, that’s the good part I guess. You get to go find a new dream.” (Tangled)
Personally, I don’t think this quote gets enough credit. Dreams are a funny thing. For many people, dreams remain just that – ideas of things you would like to do or accomplish one day. However, every now and then, the opportunity presents itself to live out your dream. While living out a dream is an exciting and awe-inspiring experience, the build-up, preparation, and thoughts you dedicate to that dream gives you purpose and a sense of identity. It can be scary to face a world without that passion that has consumed you while planning how that dream would play out. However, like Flynn says, there are always more dreams out there, so go find your new one!
13. “Some people are worth melting for.” – Olaf (Frozen)
You will find some people in life who are worth letting into your life. These people are the ones you can truly open up to, do anything for, and put their well being above your own. Disney has taught me to do everything I can to find these types of people and hold onto them.
14. “When I was a kid, I thought Zootopia was this perfect place, where everyone got along and anyone could be anything. Turns out, real life is a little bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker. Real life is messy. We all have limitations; we all make mistakes, which means – hey glass half-full – we all have a lot in common. And the more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be, but we have to try. So, no matter what type of animal you are, from the biggest elephant to out first fox, I implore you – try. Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with all of us.” – Judy Hopps (Zootopia)
Over the past 10 years, Disney has made some pretty timely movies in the sense that the themes and underlying messages of the film reflect things happening in the real world. Perhaps the most timely movie of the bunch is Zootopia. This movie is chalk-full of important messages, but Judy’s monologue wraps it all up like a nice, little bow. There is more that connects us to one another than separates us. We have more in common with the person sitting next to us than we could ever imagine, and if we realize that then we will treat others in a more neighborly way. We can’t control a lot of things in this world, but we can control how we treat others. Us Disney fans, who like all things magical, need to lead by example and help others see the good that exists in the world. Be the change you want to see.
15. “The one thing that makes Woody special is he’ll never give up on you…ever. He’ll be there for you, no matter what.” – Andy (Toy Story 3)
This quote is the exact reason I can’t get rid of any of my toys/stuffed animals. In relation to the Toy Story franchise specifically and where I was in my life when this movie came out, this is one of those lines that makes me ugly cry every time. What a perfect send-off/tribute to one of the most beloved Disney characters of all time. Some special things from your childhood see you through some tough times, whether they be talking cowboys, space rangers, stuffed animals, or dolls. They’ve seen you at your worst and your best. During these times, these inanimate objects seem so very real.
16. “Just keep swimming.” – Dory (Finding Nemo)
Having a bad day? This little mantra can help get you through it. Just keep your head down and push through. This too shall pass and calmer waters are ahead.
17. “Don’t fear failure. Be afraid of not having the chance. You have the chance!” – Sally (Cars 3) – which leads into…
18. Cruz Ramirez: “What was it like for you when you showed up to your first race? How did you know you could do it?” / Lightning McQueen: “I don’t know… I… I just never thought I couldn’t.” / Cruz: “I wish I knew what that felt like. Good luck, Mr. McQueen.” (Cars 3)
The first quote from Sally sums up one of my biggest fears. You can prepare and take all the necessary steps to succeed in something, but if you are never presented with the chance to show all your preparation, your knowledge, and your abilities, then all of that hard work just sits and waits for some opportunity to eventually come. These chances are oftentimes our of your control and left to fate, and as someone who likes to control things, that can be a difficult thing to accept. If you are blessed to have a chance in front of you to reach for something you want, jump on that!
Cruz Ramirez describes what just about every girl has faced at some point in her life, whether she realizes it or not. Gender stereotypes where girls feel “less than” are engrained into society and how we raise our children in so many ways. Of course, men have self-doubt too, but society reinforces a sense of confidence in boys, while girls second-guess their own successes or shy away from the spotlight. Even when equipped with all of the talent and preparation necessary to succeed, girls are still filled with such self-doubt, while many boys just go for it without a second thought. These trends are reinforced generation after generation. Something needs to change so that little girls, like little Cruz, realize all they are capable and never let their self-doubt stifle their growth in any way.
19. “That might sound boring, but I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most.” – Russell (Up)
Preach, Russell! If you ask me what I remember most when I was a kid, it’s not some huge birthday party, extravagant trip, or present I got for Christmas. I remember playing baseball with my cousins in my grandma’s backyard, running around the parking lot with my friends in grammar school, and sharing an ice cream with my grandpa at the Fair. It is these things and a whole bunch of other little memories that make up the majority of my childhood and what I look back on and smile or tear up. It isn’t as much about the “boring stuff” in those memories as it is the people in them.
20. “There are those who say fate is something beyond our command. That destiny is not our own. But I know better. Our fate lives within us. You only have to be brave enough to see it.” – Merida (Brave)
I love the idea that my fate isn’t left up to something outside of my own control. I have the power to steer my life in the direction I want and to find my own path, just as Merida did.
Alright, Dreamers. What did I miss? Which Disney quotes are your favorites?