The Great Disney Movie Challenge: The First Ten

Disney Movies

 I started a HUGE project this January (2020)… watch every Disney movie ever made! To learn more about how this project came to be, how I compiled the list, and some of our initial thoughts, check out our intro post right here!

Because this is such a huge undertaking, we will be releasing blog posts that cover 10-15 movies at a time. I’ll be highlighting any connections to the parks around the world, sharing our impressions, suggesting activities or food to pair with the movie, and giving the official Jones Family Rating! For reference, we are a family of five; three daughters (ages 7, 10, and 12 1/2), plus my husband and I.

The first ten movies take us from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) to The Three Caballeros (1944), which spans almost the entirety of World War II and that is reflected in the tone and background of many of these films.

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Dec 21,1937)
2. *Swiss Family Robinson (Feb 8,1940)
3. Pinocchio (Feb 23,1940)
4. Fantasia (Nov 13,1940)
5. The Reluctant Dragon (Jan 2,1941)
6. Dumbo (Oct 23,1941)
7. Bambi (Aug 9,1942)
8. Saludos Amigos (Aug 24,1942)
9. Victory Through Air Power (Jul 17,1943)
10. The Three Caballeros (Dec 21,1944)

The First Ten

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
watched January 9th, 2020

Release Date: December 21st, 1937
Original Release: Theatrical release
Run Time: 83 minutes
Where to Watch: Disney+, YouTube, Google Play, Disney DVD/Blu-Ray
Awards: Academy Award (Walt Disney: Academy Honorary Reward, 1939)
Nominated for an Academy Award in 1938 for Best Musical Score
Jones Family Rating: 8 out of 10
Tagline: “The happiest, dopiest, grumpiest, sneeziest movie of the year. Still the fairest of them all!”

Disney Parks Connection:
– Disneyland: Snow White’s Scary Adventures (an opening day attraction), Snow White’s Grotto and Wishing Well (fun fact, that’s where Elisia got engaged!), and you can meet her at the Royal Hall in Fantasyland

– Walt Disney World: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and you can meet Snow White in the following locations: Cinderella’s Royal Table dining in Magic Kingdom, Germany pavilion in Epcot, and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway pavilion in Epcot
– Disneyland Paris: Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains (Snow White’s Adventure Ride), you can meet Snow White in the Princess Pavilion, and she is in the 25th Anniversary Parade
– Hong Kong Disneyland: Snow White Grotto, as well as two meet and greet locations
– Shanghai Disneyland: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (with a different ending than WDW!) and Once Upon a Time Adventure (where you walk through the Magic Mirror)
– Tokyo Disney Resort: Snow White’s Adventures

Snow White’s Scary Adventures in Disneyland

Snow White is a big deal because it’s the first full length animated film… ever. (Fun fact: they made the colour palette super muted because they were afraid people’s eye wouldn’t be able to take it.) And while we hail it as a kid’s movie, it wasn’t intended that way. It was based on the German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.

It premiered at Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles (if that name sounds familiar, it’s because there is a restaurant based off of it in DCA). Disney took a huge risk and thankfully it paid off! Cinema was the better for it. It was ranked as one of the worlds best 100 films by the American Film Institute. 

Our Impressions:
We had a bit of a fight with Addie (10) about this one… despite it being her favourite when she was 3, she was really concerned about how scary it would be. We decided that we would do puzzles at the same time so if it got too scary she would be distracted. This was a good plan… and within 20 min all 3 of our girls were REALLY into it. Remember, this was made as an adult movie. It wasn’t intended to be for kids. 

The songs are classic, the story is good, and the animals are enchanting. The girls all picked “Heigh-Ho” as their favourite song. Listening to this one again blew my mind. All my life I thought they sang “It’s off to work we go” when it’s actually “It’s home from work we go”. Mandela effect much? 

The one thing that ages it more than anything, though, is for sure Snow White’s voice. My favourite moment was when Lexie (our youngest) said, “I love this movie, but not her voice. It sounds like she has a nose bleed.” Overall, the girls enjoyed it, but it can be scary for some kids for certain. The story is engaging, it’s the first ever full length animated feature, and it has a ride in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, so as far as we are concerned, it’s a must watch!

Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train in Magic Kingdom at WDW  

Suggested Special Activities:
Candied apples would be fun, or really any sort of apple treat. A game with gems and gold coins would be good. For something simple, freeze dance with the songs from the movie is classic.

2. Swiss Family Robinson
watched March 18th, 2020

Note: This film was made by RKO Pictures, which was later acquired by Disney. When compiling my “chronological list of Disney movies,” I decided for my families list, we would add anything that’s on Disney+ in our challenge. Feel free to skip this one if it doesn’t fit your criteria. 

Release Date: February 8th, 1940
Original Release: Theatrical release
Run Time: 93 minutes
Where to Watch: Disney+, YouTube, Google Play, Disney DVD/Blu-Ray
Awards: Nominated for Best Special Effects at the Academy Awards (1941)
Jones Family Rating: 6 out of 10
Tagline: “The greatest adventure story of them all”

Disney Parks Connection: n/a

Disney Movies: Swiss Family Robinson

Fascinatingly, Walt Disney has been said to have bought the rights to this film to reduce and avoid comparisons to his version (which is a personal favourite of mine) from 1960. The Walt Disney Company owns exclusive rights to the film, and parts of it were released for the “Vault Disney” DVD release of their 1960 Swiss Family Robinson. Walt Disney disliked the 1940 film so much that he actually used it as an example of what he did NOT want to do!

This film is in black and white, possibly the first black and white movie my kids have seen. It is based on the novel of the same name. Leonard Maltin is quoted as saying it’s an “excellent adaptation of the book”, saying it “boasts impressive special effects, strong performances, and much darker elements than the Disney film Swiss Family Robinson”.

Our Impressions:
I told the girls we were going to watch this to compare to the Disney one; they were skeptical, but definitely enjoyed it! Truly doesn’t compare to the 60’s one, so I’m very excited to watch that again with them now that we’ve seen this one. In its favor, it’s not as long. There are four boys in this version, and it starts at their home which we really liked! We for sure enjoyed it and I’m very glad that we watched it.

Suggested Special Activities:
I think because the family has to make due, a good game would be “Deserted Island” where you all go around and talk as a family about what you would bring to a deserted island if you had a choice.
Another activity might be that you could ask everyone to come up with a snack with just what’s in the fridge or pantry.

Disney Movies

3. Pinocchio
watched January 11th, 2020

Release Date: February 23rd, 1940
Original Release:
Theatrical release
Run Time:
88 minutes
Where to Watch:
Disney+, YouTube, Google Play, Disney DVD/Blu-Ray
Awards: Won two Academy Awards (Best Original Song, “When You Wish Upon A Star” and Best Original Score), the first Disney film to win either
Jones Family Rating: 8 out of 10
Tagline: “The Wonder Tale The Whole World Loves! The story the whole world loves. When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true”.

Disney Parks Connection:
– Disneyland:
Pinocchio’s Daring Journey (opened in 1983, replacing the Mickey Mouse Club Theater), Storybook Land Canal Boats (go through Monstro the Whale, and see miniature versions of Geppetto’s Workshop and Pinocchio’s Village), “it’s a small world” (watch for Pinocchio in Italy), Fantasmic!, and in the central hub of the park there is a Pinocchio statue. Lastly, what is currently the Red Rose Taverne in Fantasyland, used to be Village Haus Restaurant (it is now Beauty and the Beast themed, but if you look carefully you can still see Pinocchio carvings).
– Walt Disney World: Pinocchio’s Village Haus Restaraunt in the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade, and in the central hub of MK (by the “Partners” statue) you will find a Pinocchio statue. You can also see him in Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios.
– Disneyland Paris: Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, the 25th Anniversary Parade, and La Bottega di Geppetto, a woodcarver’s cottage selling toys.
– Hong Kong Disneyland: “it’s a small world”
– Shanghai Disneyland: Pinocchio Village Kitchen
– Tokyo Disney Resort: Pinocchio’s Daring Journey (opened here first; a month and a half before Disneyland), “it’s a small world,” Pinocchio fountain, and Pinocchio statue. He is currently in two different parades, and there are two shops from the movie, “Pleasure Island Candies” and “Stromboli’s Wagon”.

An animated film set in a beautiful Italian village, this movie is about a woodcarver that longs to have a child of his own. He is granted a child from the Blue Fairy, but Pinocchio must prove himself to be a real boy through being “brave, truthful, and unselfish.” It has a strong moral lesson, one that is still relevant today. Walt was unhappy with early animated scenes by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, (“Frank and Ollie” helped create the studio’s signature style and there’s a movie later on the list about this dynamic duo, #421 at this time), and enlisted newer animators to better capture his vision for the film.

Jiminy Cricket was added a year into production on the film, and proved to be a huge reason for the success of the movie. The song “When You Wish Upon a Star” has a HUGE impact on Disney culture, and is referred to as “the representative song of the Walt Disney Company.” It has been used to accompany the Walt Disney Pictures logo at the start of film and television productions since the 1980s.

Disney Movies: Pinocchio

Our Impressions:
When I said this movie was next on the list, only my oldest daughter remembered watching it, so it was “new” for the younger two. Nothing scared them, which is great. I loved that it kept their attention, and that they sat without distraction for the whole movie. They enjoyed the story and the songs. There’s definitely some dated pieces in this movie… the smoking (Addie said, “Why is Geppetto smoking in bed?!”), and the use of “ass” in place of  “donkey.”

Overall, there are strong themes and lessons to be learned from Pinocchio; not giving in to peer pressure, and listening to your conscience. Thumbs up from all of us for Pinocchio, if for the only reason that it kept everyone’s attention for the entire movie. This movie was a favourite of mine for a long time when I was little, I watched it every day for 3 weeks 😂. Our poor mother. And if you are going to any Disney park, as you can see above, there are lots of reasons to watch it before heading to a park.

Suggested Special Activities:
An easy game to prep and play would be “Pin the Nose” on Pinocchio. A puppet show could also be very fun! 


4. Fantasia
watched January 15th, 2020

Release Date: November 13th, 1940
Original Release: Theatrical release (theatrical roadshow in 13 US cities)
Run Time: 126 minutes

Where to Watch: Disney+, Disney DVD/Blu-Ray
Awards: Academy Award (two Academy Honorary Awards, 1942)
Jones Family Rating: 6 out of 10
Tagline: “See the music! All the BEAUTY… All the DELIGHT… All the EXCITEMENT of the world’s greatest music!”

Disney Parks Connection:
– Disneyland: Fantasmic! (which is, in my opinion, THE show at any park), Mickey’s PhilharMagic (DCA), and I found one of the Sorcerer’s broomsticks inside Mickey’s House in Toontown!
– Walt Disney World: Fantasmic! (Hollywood Studios), Mickey’s PhilharMagic (Magic Kingdom), Fantasia Themed Pool (All Star Movies Resort),  Fantasia Gift Shop (Disney’s Contemporary Resort), and Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course (across from the Swan and Dolphin Resorts). In fact, there are a surprising amount of subtle nods to Fantasia throughout the parks and resorts.
– Disneyland Paris: Mickey’s PhilharMagic
– Hong Kong Disneyland: Mickey’s PhilharMagic
– Shanghai Disneyland: Fantasia Carousel
– Tokyo Disney Resort: Mickey’s PhilharMagic


Fantasia opens with a live-action sequence; a conductor and members of the orchestra prepare to perform. The Master of Ceremonies is Deems Taylor, who I don’t know anything about, but I suppose there was a good reason for including him at the time (he is referred to as the “Dean of American Music” according to the most reliable source known as Google).

Fantasia is comprised of 8 distinct parts:
1) “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” by Johann Sebastian Bach: Live-action shots of the orchestra fade into abstract patterns, animated lines, shapes and cloud formations.
2) “The Nutcracker Suite” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Ballet suite which accompanies and animated depiction of the changing seasons presented with fairies, fish, flowers, etc.
3) “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” by Paul Dukas: The highlight of the whole movie IMO, Mickey (as the apprentice) tries his hand at magic but doesn’t know how to control it.
4) “Rite of Spring” by Igor Stravinsky: Earth’s beginnings, followed by an epic dinosaur sequence.
5) “Intermission/Meet the Soundtrack”: Jazz section, and illustration of how sound is rendered on film.
6) “The Pastoral Symphony” by Ludwig Van Beethoven: Classical mythology is portrayed through music; featuring centaurs, cupids, and fauns.
7) “Dance of the Hours” by Amilcare Ponchielli: Very cute ballet in four sections: Madame Upanova and ostriches (Morning), Hyacinth Hippo and servants (Afternoon), Elephanchine and bubble blowing elephants (Evening), and Ben Ali Gator and a troop of alligators (Night), and then a grand finale with all of the characters dancing together.
8) “Night on Bald Mountain” by Modest Mussorgsky and “Ave Maria” by Franz Schubert: The Chernabog awakes and summons evil spirits and restless souls.

Our Impressions:
Okay, so this is a hard sell for any kid. I knew going in that they wouldn’t love it, so I suggested a puzzle and watching it at the same time. We had to split the movie into two sittings, which tells you something. They definitely didn’t love all of it.

There’s a lot of parts that are just not interesting… even when you try and point out the beauty in the music, listening for different instruments (I’m a piano teacher and love classical music)… but it still wasn’t very exciting for them. They LOVED “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”… definitely the best part of the entire movie. If you don’t want to commit to the whole film, give this a watch before you head to a Disney park! (If you’ve ever seen Fantasmic! in a Disney park, it really is the best!)

They liked the dinosaur sequence (“Right of Spring”)… until it ends (SPOILER ALERT!) with the stegosaurus dying. They were also fans of the mermaids and centaurs in “The Pastoral Symphony,” but there are some uncovered bums and other areas which generated lots of comments from the girls! “Night on Bald Mountain” is at the end and quite creepy, as there’s ghosts coming from the ground among other things that can’t be unseen for sensitive eyes. (Though seeing this does make you finally tie in that sequence during Fantasmic! I never knew that before watching Fantasia.)

This is a movie I recommend popping on while kids are coloring or doing a family puzzle. It doesn’t hurt anybody to have lovely classical music on in the background, and a lot of the sequences had the kids asking questions which is good!

Suggested Special Activities:
I think it would be fun to watch part of Fantasmic! on Youtube and then recreate it with your kids!

5. The Reluctant Dragon
watched on January 18th, 2020

Release Date: June 20th, 1941
Original Release: Theatrical release
Run Time: 74 minutes
Where to Watch: Disney+, YouTube, Google Play, Disney DVD/Blu-Ray
Awards: n/a
Jones Family Rating: 9 out of 10
Tagline: “A new world of Walt Disney wonders!”

Disney Parks Connection:
– Disneyland: The Animation Building in DCA, where you can learn to draw Disney characters at the Animation Academy; as well as the Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, CA.
– Walt Disney World: The Animation Experience at Conservation Station (Animal Kingdom), as well as some resorts that have “learn to draw” experiences. Journey into Imagination with Figment in Epcot (loosely affiliated), and Figment sightings during the Festival of the Arts in Epcot (highly recommended for any art fans; check out our post about it here).
– Disneyland Paris: Animation Academy (Walt Disney Studios Park)
– Hong Kong Disneyland: Animation Academy
– Shanghai Disneyland: Marvel Comic Academy (learn to draw a Marvel character)
– Tokyo Disney Resort: n/a
– Disney Cruise Lines: One of their restaurants is called “Animator’s Palate” and the decor starts in black and white, turning to colour as your meal progresses (just like in the movie itself)!

Going in, I knew absolutely NOTHING about this film before watching it. I loved learning about it… I had no idea that it was released during a Disney Animators Strike in 1941 (I didn’t even know there WAS an Animators Strike!) and it opened to strikers picketing the film’s premiere! The underlying issues with the strike were unfair business practices, lack of recognition, favoritism, and low pay.

I find this particularly fascinating because this movie is all about celebrating the animators and the behind the scenes work that it takes to put a film together! We loved that you get a sneak peek of upcoming projects, (which is an advantage to having the chronological list ahead of time) including Dumbo and Bambi.

At release, the film put off audiences and critics alike because it wasn’t a new animated feature. Maybe we needed time to appreciate it in all of its glory, but from our perspective it was absolutely incredible.

The movie is broken into two parts… and while it starts in black and white, it develops into colour! The first part is a Studio Operations Tour by Robert Benchley (an “American humourist”). It walks you through many parts of the studio, and you learn about the traditional animation process. The second part is the animated film of the “reluctant dragon,” which we thought had a remarkable resemblance to the one and only “Figment” dragon featured at Epcot. We looked it up and learned that The Reluctant Dragon is meant to be the Uncle of Figment!

Our Impressions:
Quite a few years ago now, Disney put out these collectible movies in tins. We got the ones that interested us, specifically the classic animated shorts, and have watched the Mickey and Donald discs to the point we worried we were wearing out the DVDs! The Reluctant Dragon is on one of these “Walt Disney Treasures” collections, entitled “Behind the Scenes at the Walt Disney Studios” and The Reluctant Dragon is on it. I swear we’ve watched it before, but my husband says that we haven’t.

Anyway, we went into the movie expecting it to be boring and we all LOVED it. Robert Benchley takes a movie pitch idea (Fun fact, did you know that Disney explicitly won’t let you pitch ideas to the company anymore? I had this amazing idea I wanted to pitch them… oh well!) and “gets lost” in the brand new, amazing Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. It was absolutely fascinating and we recommend it to anyone and everyone that considers themselves a Disney fan. All five of us watched it with complete enthrallment! It sparked a lot of convo, and is a great segue into The Imagineering Story on Disney+, which is one of our favorites (Disney+: What to Watch). It also definitely put a studio tour of the Animators Studio in Burbank at the top of our bucket list as well!

Suggested Special Activities:
Disney Parks has a really amazing YouTube Channel, and one of the things they offer is online “How-to-Draw” Series, with 42 different drawings! (I need this in my life on the regular!) This is great fun! You can find the whole series here. We found the longer ones simpler to follow. The shorter the video, the harder it was to follow along.

6. Dumbo
watched January 20th, 2020

Release Date: October 23rd, 1941
Original Release:
Theatrical release
Run Time:
64 minutes
Where to Watch:
Disney+, YouTube, Google Play, Disney DVD/Blu-Ray
Awards: Won the Academy Award for Best Score; Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song (for the song “Baby of Mine”)
Jones Family Rating: 7 out of 10
Tagline: “Braver than any beast alive!”

Disney Parks Connection:
– Disneyland:
Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Casey Jr. Circus Train in Fantasyland.
– Walt Disney World: Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Fantasyland (Magic Kingdom), which is part of an entire themed area called “Storybook Circus”… be sure to check out Big Top Souvenirs.
– Disneyland Paris: Dumbo the Flying Elephant
– Hong Kong Disneyland: Dumbo the Flying Elephant
– Shanghai Disneyland: Dumbo the Flying Elephant
– Tokyo Disney Resort: Dumbo the Flying Elephant


A classic, sweet, emotional story about an elephant named Jumbo Jr., who is teased and called “Dumbo” based on his over-sized ears. It hasn’t aged super well, in that it shows animals caged up, but it is a classic nonetheless. Interestingly, Walt Disney was asked by the studio before release to add 10 minutes to the film as it was deemed “too short” (it’s only 64 min long); Walt put his foot down and flat out refused. It has a significant impact on the Disney parks around the world, as all six parks have the childhood favourite ride, “Dumbo the Flying Elephant”. “Baby of Mine” is an exceptionally popular lullaby, and the movie is one of many classic Disney films that has a recent live-action adaptation (you can read our review of the live-action version here).

Our Impressions:
Dumbo is one of those movies that we’ve seen a bunch of times, but not recently. Firstly, it’s SO short. Secondly, it’s not super interesting, although there are a few endearing parts. We loved the Casey Jr. Train sections, because they show some early footage in The Reluctant Dragon, and we love the ride at Disneyland (there are extended scenes in The Reluctant Dragon that didn’t even make the final cut of Dumbo).

The kids find it very sad… which it is. It’s also really weird. There are some great takeaways from this movie, including a strong anti-bullying message… but I could do without the extended drunk scene for certain. This is one of the only movies that has not just one, but TWO rides dedicated to it in Disneyland, and a whole themed area in Walt Disney World, so if you’re going to the parks, it’s a must watch… thankfully it’s not too much of a time commitment and it’s definitely cute.

Suggested Special Activities:
Anything carnival-themed would work well here. A simple container of animal crackers would be a perfect snack, or Nutter Butters! A  “create your own” feather craft would be great too.

7. Bambi
watched January 23rd, 2020

Release Date: August 9th, 1942
Original Release: Theatrical release
Run Time: 70 minutes
Where to Watch: Disney+, YouTube, Google Play, Disney DVD/Blu-Ray
Awards: Nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Sound, Best Original Song, Best Score), won a Golden Globe in 1948 for “furthering the influence of the screen.”
Jones Family Rating: 9 out of 10
Tagline: “Enchanting entertainment for everyone!”

Disney Parks Connection: Strangely, this film seems to have little to no representation in the parks, which is somewhat surprising considering it’s one of the original films with Walt’s involvement. I did hear that there are Bambi shower curtains at the Grand Californian Hotel in Disneyland, and there was a small Bambi sequence in World of Colour at DCA. We also recently discovered that Disney’s Sequoia Lodge in Disneyland Paris was designed with “a touch of Bambi magic” and sits within a peaceful forest.

Flower and Garden: Bambi

This has to be one of the saddest films of all time. The main characters are Bambi and his parents, but the strong presence of his “sidekicks” makes this film very enjoyable… from Friend Owl to Flower to Thumper. Following Bambi from infancy to adulthood, we see Bambi and his friends grow up through the different seasons. There are a few things that you will want to be aware of if watching this for the first time, especially with kids (***SPOILER ALERT***).

Both the hunter scene and the fire scene are sad and quite intense. Reception was mixed, and hunters spoke out against the movie suggesting that it was offensive (maybe that was the point?) It is now a classic and gets you in the feels for sure. (Pretty sure during hunting season they specifically make doe’s off-limits because of fawns, so it was still wrong… as well as bucks under a certain age so that the species can continue… but either way I can see why they found it offensive to be villainized).

Our Impressions:
As sad as it was, we REALLY loved Bambi. The girls have been told it is “scary” from school friends, but other than the unmentionable sad part, they were utterly enchanted. We giggled and laughed and really enjoyed it. The movie is visually stunning, has wonderful songs, and really engaging scenes. Our stand out favourites were the ice skating scene in “Winter” and also the twitterpated scene. The girls couldn’t get over how funny those parts were.

Suggested Special Activities:
Since he grew up in a forest, I think a simple woodlands theme would do. “Woodland” berries, Thumper’s carrots, S’mores mix. I was thinking a fire for S’mores, but maybe not? (Too soon?). Even a waffle cone filled with berries would be a cute tie-in.

8. Saludos Amigos
watched January 24th, 2020

Release Date: August 24th, 1942
Original Release:  Theatrical release (premiered in Rio de Janeiro first, and a few months later in the United States)
Run Time: 42 minutes
Where to Watch: Disney+, YouTube, Google Play, Disney DVD/Blu-Ray
Awards: Three Academy Award nominations (Best Sound Recording, Best Original Song, Best Musical Score)
Jones Family Rating: 7 out of 10
Tagline: “Saludos Amigos! A fond greeting to you! A warm handshake or two, good friends always do”.

Disney Parks Connection:
Since this film has a large connection to The Three Caballeros, I cover the park associations under that movie instead. However, I DID find the Saludos Amigos! Greeting Dock in Tokyo Disney Sea, where you can meet Donald and other Disney characters. You can also find Jose Carioca in some meet and greets around the Disney Parks, and he’s also been in the Feliz Navidad celebration at Disneyland. 

Mexico Pavilion

As part of the Good Neighbour Policy, before the USA entered into WWII, the United States Department of State commissioned a Disney a tour of South America. A  number of Latin American governments had close ties with Nazi Germany, and the US was looking to counteract those ties. Mickey and his friends were popular in these Latin countries, and Walt Disney was able to act as an ambassador. So Disney and a group of 20 composers and artists visited South America; specifically Brazil, Argentina, Chili, and Peru.

“Saludos Amigos” is Spanish for “Greetings, friends!” This is a live-action/animation combo film and is set in Latin America. It has four different segments, and is the big-screen debut of Donald Duck and Goofy! It also introduces Jose Carioca, a Brazilian parrot. Because the film was so popular, they followed it quite quickly with “The Three Caballeros,” another film about Latin America (#10 on our chronological list).

The four segments in the movie are:
– “Lake Titicaca”: Donald Duck as an American tourist visits the area, the locals, and meets a stubborn llama.
– “Pedro”: A small, adorable plane from an airport near Chile takes his first flight.
– “El Gaucho Goofy”: American Cowboy Goofy is taken to the Argentinian pampas to learn how to be a native Gaucho. It was edited at one point to remove a scene with Goofy smoking a cigarette; but for Disney+ is seen in its original form, with a warning.
– “Aquarela do Brasil” (“Watercolor of Brazil”): The finale introduces Jose Carioca as he shows Donald Duck the sights of South America.

Our Impressions:
Truthfully, we weren’t sure what to expect, so we went in with an open mind. We like that it has different parts. And we love seeing the classic characters, and Jose is a hoot! We particularly liked “Pedro”… I did learn after the fact that it was boycotted by locals at the time because an outspoken cartoonist from Peru deemed it offensive. The Goofy sequence is hysterical and reminds me of the Olympic shorts and the “how to” series he starred in which I loved as a kid. We enjoyed it enough to really look forward to The Three Caballeros, so we recommend bending the rules and watching them as a double feature night.

Suggested Special Activities:
I wanted to make a night of the two Latin American films, so I put in some extra effort to make sure that it was a special night. I made Feijoada, the national dish of Brasil, for Saludos Amigos, and then Mexican Corn for The Three Cabelleros, and we made a night of it. (Side note:
Having an Instant Pot is a game-changer, as I was able to make a stew that is literally meant to “stew” all day in under an hour.) Both dishes were absolutely delicious! It was fun to watch these two movies together, as they are themed similarly. 

9. Victory Through Air Power
watched January 28th, 2020

Release Date: July 17th, 1943
Original Release: Theatrical release
Run Time: 70 min
Where to Watch: YouTube, Walt Disney Treasures DVD Collection
Awards: Academy Award Nomination (Best Musical Score)
Jones Family Rating: 3 out of 10
Tagline: “There’s a thrill in the air!”

Disney Parks Connection:
– Disneyland: One could certainly argue that the queue for Soarin’ Around the World, which features the history of air travel, is a nod to this film. Also, the “Grizzly Peak Airfield” area in DCA, with the old school planes and Smokejumpers Grill gives vibes that echo the movie.

– Walt Disney World: Soarin’ Around the World
– Disneyland Paris: n/a
– Hong Kong Disneyland: n/a
– Shanghai Disneyland: Soaring Over the Horizon
– Tokyo Disney Resort: Soaring: Fantastic Flight


The description of the film is as follows: An “illustration of long-range strategic bombing and the history of air combat”… which leaves a LOT to be desired. It is also wildly known as war propaganda, even going as far as to say that it is offensive to Germans and the Japanese. It is based on the book of the same name from 1942, and the author, Alexander P. de Severksy, appears in the film. Walt Disney read the book and felt it was important, so he financed the film himself.

Its primary purpose is to share Severksy’s theories to both the general public and the government, and it was released with urgency… instead of with the usual care indicative of Disney’s films.  This plays an important role in the history of Disney films because it was the beginning of the educational film genre, of which the studio still creates and releases today.

It begins with “History of Aviation” using animation. It introduces the idea of military airplanes, and speaks of a cross country flight with a train carrying extra parts and 15 (!) crashes, 49 days from Ohio to Pasadena. 4212 miles total.
How interesting to learn that First World War airplanes were considered useless for war. Then they added the machine gun, but the propeller got in the way! They then developed a synchronized device.
It continues with the history, telling of a flight around the world, all before the year 1918. It moves to 1939, with the Battle of Britain, “won by airplanes”, and ends with “ways to defeat Hitler”.

Our Impressions:
Truth be told, we were going to skip it. A war documentary with kids? But because its animation and free online. so we said “let’s do it!”. And you know what? There was lots of it that we enjoyed! It was super educational, and we learned a lot. While it isn’t riveting, it’s certainly informative. It’s interesting to think that it was made before the end of the war and that the outcome was uncertain. Loved hearing it “in today’s times”. It would make a very good history film for schools.

The quote at the beginning immediately gripped us: “Our Country in the past has struggled through many storms of anguish. Difficulty and doubt. But we have always been saved by men of vision and courage who opened our minds and show us the way out of confusion. One of these men who foresaw the present mortal conflict, who tried desperately to awaken and prepare us for the issues, but who was ignored and ridiculed was General Billy Mitchell”. 

Suggested Special Activities: Paper airplane contest would be excellent, and super simple. If you want to go real “on the nose,” we used to do a game with our youth group called The Great Egg Drop.” You give everyone an egg, a pile of supplies (egg cartons, Kleenex boxes, pipe cleaners, tape, cotton balls, etc.), and a time limit (we suggest 5-10 minutes), and then you take turns dropping the egg from various heights.

One rule we learned the hard way: you have to be able to see the egg so that you can check for cracks after each drop. Start at arm level to floor, then head to the floor, then on a chair to floor, then from a porch, roof, you name it. This activity works best outside.

10. The Three Caballeros
watched January 24th / 25th, 2020

Release Date: December 21st, 1944
Original Release: Theatrical release
Run Time: 71 minutes
Where to Watch: Disney+, YouTube, Google Play, Disney DVD/Blu-Ray
Awards: Two Academy Awards Nominations (Best Sound Recording and Best Musical Score)
Jones Family Rating: 7 out of 10
Tagline: “Old friends meet for a musical fiesta!”

Disney Parks Connection:
– Disneyland: “it’s a small world,” the Three Caballeros are there now!
– Walt Disney World: Gran Fiesta Tour stars the Three Caballeros in the Mexico Pavilion (Epcot), and you can meet Donald outside of the pavilion too! The main pool at Disney’s All Star Music Resort features a water fountain with the Three Caballeros.
– Disneyland Paris: n/a
– Hong Kong Disneyland: n/a
– Shanghai Disneyland: n/a
– Tokyo Disney Resort: “it’s a small world” and a character meet and greet with Jose.

Disney Movies: 3 Caballeros

This film celebrates Mexico in all of its glory. It is comprised of a bunch of segments (my understanding as to the main reason for this is because of the war many Disney employees were drafted leaving many projects half completed or unfinished), and it stars good ‘ole Donald Duck, who is joined by Jose Carioca the parrot and Panchito Pistoles the rooster.

There are seven segments in total:
– “The Cold-Blooded Penguin”: A penguin named Pablo longs for a warmer climate
– “The Flying Gauchito”: A little boy and his winged donkey
– “Baia”: Donald and Jose join with locals to dance the samba
– “Las Posadas”: A group of Mexican children celebrate Christmas
– “Mexico: Patzcuaro, Veracruz, and Acapulco”: Donald and Jose get a tour of Mexico City and the Mexican countryside from Panchito
– “You Belong to My Heart and Donald’s Surreal Reverie”: Donald falls in love with the (live-action) singer Dora Luz.


Our Impressions:
We didn’t totally agree on the rating for this… the girls were all over the place with the numbers. It’s fun, for sure. Donald Duck is always funny, and if it begins to get boring, a new sequence comes up.

There was one part where I looked at my husband like, “did you hear that too?!” when the narrator says “it’s hard for toucans to make love”… the kids didn’t seem to notice, but definitely with these older movies there’s just not the same sensitivities as more recent films, so be prepared to answer some questions! This film is also where we started to notice that Disney uses the same actors again and again. The girls noticed that “Narrator #3” was the same as the Stork in Dumbo (an advantage to watching the movies in chronological order).

Suggested Special Activities:
As stated above, we paired this with Saludos Amigos and made some Brazilian and Mexican food. If I was going to do this movie again, I’d make the “Disney Park Churros.” Head over to Danielle’s YouTube tutorial video, (she makes some excellent improvements to the recipe) here.

Phew, that was a lot! For the next 10 movies, check out our post about Movies 11-20.

Have you seen all of these movies? Which is your favourite?
We’d love to hear from you!

Have a magical day!
Erica, Heidi, Elisia and Danielle

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