12 Disney Moments That Hit Different When You’re A Parent

List Rules

Parents: Vote up the moments that hit hardest.

We're not crying… you're crying! There are so many Disney moments that make parents cry. It turns out that being at the forefront of animated film for nearly a hundred years has given the House of Mouse more than a handful of scenes that just hit you a little bit differently when you grow up.

Remember when Dumbo's mom rocks him in her trunk while trapped behind bars? Or when Mulan's father throws the priceless gifts given to his family by the emperor to the ground to embrace his daughter? Or when Max and Goofy have a heartwarming reconciliation over a cup of soup in A Goofy Movie? Animated Disney flicks may lack the tear-jerking nature of something like Schindler's List, but that doesn't mean they don't have moments that tug at your heartstrings. 


  • It's nearly impossible to overstate just how big of a hit The Lion King was in 1994. Like, it nearly grossed a billion dollars worldwide back when that simply didn't happen. An animated musical inspired by Shakespeare isn't supposed to be that kind of success. It just doesn't happen. The Lion King became a phenomenon that spawned numerous sequels, a Broadway hit, and endless waves of animal-based merch.

    How did this happen? Take a look at the emotionally devastating scene following Mufasa's death for a clue. If you don't tear up at the young Simba pleading with his recently deceased father to “get up” before pleading for help, then you just might not have a heart. 

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  • 1941's Dumbo may have legendary status among the House of Mouse fandom, due in part to the iconic theme park ride, but it is not a film that has aged as well as other Disney classics like Pinocchio or Fantasia. The animation undoubtedly holds up, although it's a weirdly dark movie with some controversial elements and a very scant run time of 64 minutes. The one aspect that shines has to be the tragic relationship between Jumbo Jr. (AKA Dumbo) and Mrs. Jumbo.

    After the mother and son are forcibly separated following Mrs. Jumbo's rage-fueled outburst to protect her child, we get a fantastically touching scene where the imprisoned elephant uses her trunk to lovingly rock her offspring through her prison bars. That's also when we get to hear “Baby Mine,” the lullaby that has become a Disney staple in the many decades since release.

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  • While enjoying the film's incredible blend of family-friendly comedy, impressive action, and catchy songs, it can be easy to forget Mulan is about a daughter who impersonates a man to take her ailing father's place in the army. It is a genuine act of self-sacrifice and love as her dad, Fa Zhou, surely would've lost his life in service.

    After Mulan saves the emperor (and everyone else, for that matter) from Shan Yu and his Hun army, she is given the emperor's crest and Shan Yu's sword as gifts. Upon returning home, she offers these gifts to her father as a showing of honor. Happy to see his daughter return home, Zhou tosses the priceless items aside. “The greatest gift and honor is having you as a daughter," he says as Mulan sheds a tear.

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  • Andrew Stanton and the rest of the Pixar production team behind 2003's Finding Nemo decided the best way to open the film was a gut-punch of the highest order. Clownfish parents-to-be Marlin and Coral have just moved into a lovely anemone in the Great Barrier Reef, with their numerous eggs waiting to hatch in a nearby cove. So far, so good! Not for long, however, as Coral and all but one of the eggs are killed in a devastating barracuda attack.

    Yep… just a Pixar movie that continues the Disney tradition of including harrowing moments of serious drama in kids' movies. After the scrum, Marlin manages to find a lone, damaged egg that the barracuda missed. He promptly picks it up and utters, “I promise I will never let anything happen to you.” Gut. Punch.

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