Disney movies are a staple in our household, and Disney+ has been an absolute gift thanks to the plethora of classic films and shows featured on the streaming platform. But, there are some classics on Disney+ I'm not ready to show my kids yet.
While I'm just as excited as anyone to marathon watch my childhood favs with my kiddos, there are a few films that I can look back on and understand why watching them as a child might not have been the best idea. Movies with unnecessary deaths, tragedy, and downright scary scenes just don't make sense to show my young kids right now. Honestly, I'm still getting over watching Bambi's mom's death as a child myself, and I truly don't want to set my kids up to have to process their feelings about these movies later on in life either.
The bottom line is, if I can't handle the tears, I know they can't either.
I know my kids will watch all of these Disney movies eventually — they are classics, after all — but I can still be mindful about what they're exposed to and when. Obviously, your child might handle viewing certain movies better than mine (or better than me for that matter) but I'm holding off on these seven classics on Disney+ for now.
Who didn't cry buckets of tears when Bambi's mom was shot by the hunter? Watching this scene in Bambi marked my childhood with such malaise that I still shudder thinking about the thoughts it brought on as a child. No kid wants to think about another child (although a deer child in this care) losing their mom, but that is exactly what happened when I watched Bambi.
Also acutely traumatic is the raging fire that rips through the picturesque forest where these adorable animals dwell. Although this is an actual occurrence in the world today, it can be frightening for kids to witness the homes of characters that they are attached to be destroyed by fire.
Aside from the obvious issue of racial stereotypes used in the film, Dumbo is one classic Disney film that I plan to wait to show my kids because of its extremely sad premise. Yes, it is inspirational and Dumbo himself with his gigantic ears is adorable, but I cannot look past the intense feelings of sadness that this movie stirs up when Dumbo is separated from his mom. Not to mention the horrid bullying that Dumbo endures. It just makes me want to burst into tears. I can't even bring myself to watch the 2019 re-make because I just know how sad the storyline is.
The issue of the film showing outright drunkenness is also one to be considered when debating whether or not to show Dumbo to young kids. While it could serve to start an important conversation, if your kids aren't quite ready for that yet, things could be dicey.
If you haven't re-watched Tarzan as an adult, this is one that begs the viewing by a mature eye before deciding if your kids can handle watching it. Personally, my 5-year-old has an extreme fear of getting lost, so presenting him with Tarzan — a lost kid alone in the jungle being raised by gorillas — would be frightening.
And how about the morbid hanging (yes, hanging) of Tarzan's nemesis Clayton at the end of their epic battle? He literally gets tangled up in vines and winds up stuck hanging by his neck, and while the body isn't shown, it's still a gruesome illusion. I'm not ready to explain that one to my kids yet.
When I was a kid, Fantasia absolutely terrified me. The music is thrilling, but the dark imagery (like skeletons, lightening, bats, and ghosts) throughout the film makes the exciting music seem almost haunting. It's like the entire film is one big intensity blast that makes my heart pound way faster than it should, and I definitely don't want my kids to experience that feeling until they're ready.
I may be alone in this, but even the broomsticks dancing around like disembodied zombies was nightmare-inducing. And when the dinosaurs kill each other? Nope, nope, nope. Sad and scary? Count me — and my kids — out for now.
5. 'The Hunchback Of Notre Dame'
Even if you can get past the adult themes of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, there are several specific scenarios that can be hard for kids to digest. Kids may not understand the overt sexuality of Esmerelda, but it reaches nearly uncomfortable levels in the film. Plus, the entire song "Hellfire" is just cringe-worthy, and I don't want to sit next to my little ones watching it.
Quazi's mom dies in the film, which is admittedly tragic and incredibly sad, but he's also mercilessly bullied with tomatoes thrown at him and then he's tied up. Although this is ultimately a story about acceptance, the bullying could be triggering for kids who may be dealing with similar struggles. Plus, the abundance of gargoyles and fire is just downright scary.
6. 'The Fox & The Hound'
How could the sweetest buddy movie about the unlikely friendship between a fox and a hound dog that you remember from your childhood be too much for little kids? Well, consider that the entire movie starts with fox's mother getting shot and then he's abandoned by the humans caring for him in the woods — all alone and confused.
If death and abandonment aren't enough to make you reconsider showing your kids The Fox and The Hound, maybe the aggressive hunting tactics, steel traps, plenty of chasing, and shooting will put your guard up. At one point, the hunter's trap chomps a log in half to depict what would happen to a fox if it gets caught in the trap.
Obviously Tod and Copper's relationship is absolute gold, but the realities of a dead mom, an abandoned little fox, and some intense hunting can be too much for some kids. Oh, and did I mention there is an incredibly ferocious bear?
7. 'The Lion King'
I understand that this one is controversial, but please hear me out. My kids have seen the original 1994 version of the film, as well as the 2019 re-make. However, if I had it to do all over again, I would hold off on showing them this particular film.
Although the message of The Lion King is undoubtedly endearing, the music is unparalleled, and the entire film is just spectacular, Mufasa's death is extremely traumatic. It has been so hard for my 5-year-old to process the stampede scene that he now asks to fast forward through it anytime we watch the movie.
As an adult, it is incredibly hard for me to hear the heartbreak in Simba's tiny little voice as he attempts to wake his dad, and even harder still to watch Scar blame poor Simba for killing his dad, so I can only imagine the impact this has on a child. Death may be a normal part of life, but I personally wish I would have waited a bit longer before exposing my kids to this sad scene in particular.