Disney has become a household name and one of the most famous brands of family friendly entertainment ever. For more than eighty years, the House of the Mouse has delivered beautiful animation, endearing characters, memorable stories, and songs you can sing anywhere. Everyone has a favorite Disney movie and character.
While it are well known for its hits, not every moment in every Disney movie manages to keep the viewer enchanted. Some moments thoroughly jar the viewer out of the experience. It’s all based on audience expectation and engagement, so there are many ways these scenes can be jarring.
Some of them show something so totally unexpected that the scene draws attention to itself, while others are more jarring to view as adults because there are unexpectedly mature themes or images you didn’t notice as a kid. Some also betray an outdated sensibility that doesn’t mesh well with the sensibilities of a modern audience.
Whatever the reason, there are just some moments in Disney films that pull the viewer out of the overall movie. Even Disney’s best movies have their fair share. They’ll never overshadow their overall greatness but they still stand out.
Here are the 15 Jarring Scenes That Take You Out of Disney Movies!
15 “FOOT SIZE DOESN’T MATTER” (FROZEN)
Frozen is one of Disney’s most successful recent franchises ever. It’s gotten so popular that Disney is making a real full-blown theatrical sequel. The movie is full of family friendly humor and positive messages for young girls.
However, that didn’t stop Disney from sneaking in some thinly disguised adult humor, over the heads of its target audience.
When Anna and Kristoff are taking the sled ride up the mountain, Kristoff becomes incredulous when he hears that Anna got engaged to Prince Hans on the same day that they met. He starts asking her simple questions about him including, “Foot size?” Anna replies, “Foot size doesn’t matter.”
The most jarring part is that based on the tone of the characters it could imply that Kristoff knows he’s making an adult joke, but Anna doesn’t. It goes by so fast, but it’s so thinly veiled for adults that it draws attention to itself.
14 THE GARGOYLES (HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is definitely darker and more ominous than most Disney movies. The story deals with heavy themes of social ostracism and oppression and has Frollo as one of the most realistically terrifying Disney villains ever. The music is weighty and dramatic with plenty of minor key themes.
Then there are the gargoyles. A trio of gratuitous comic relief characters that show up at the worst times.
Most of their humor is generic slapstick and overly long running gags.
It doesn’t help that they get their own musical number that is easily the most forgettable of the movie’s soundtrack. They are so jarring as their own characters that many fans doubt they actually exist in the world of the movie. Instead, they think that the Gargoyles are imaginary friends of Quasimodo, brought forth by his isolation.
13 CENTAUR HEAD (HERCULES)
Disney’s Hercules is based on the heroic figure from Greek myth. Hercules the man has become a legendary example of classical strength and masculinity. The Disney movie draws heavily upon Greek art styles and idealization of the body for its visuals. However, there’s one visual in the movie that’s almost explicitly lewd.
When Hercules encounters the Centaur with Meg on the river, he picks a fight because he’s eager for the experience, and to save the lithe, beautiful Meg. Hercules beats the Centaur easily once the fight gets going.
The Centaur gets launched into the sky and his horseshoes come crashing down on his head, making a long thick phallic wart. What really makes it jarring is that, along with his thick pouty eyebrows, the centaur's head looks like a male reproductive organ.
12 JIM CROW (DUMBO)
There are plenty of lazy racial stereotypical characters in Disney’s earlier animated features. It might have been fair at the time but looking back on some of them today is pretty jarring. One of the laziest characters appears in Dumbo.
The murder of crows that Dumbo and Timothy meet later in the movie are all clearly based on stereotypical African American personalities and mannerisms.
They don’t get proper names in the movie except for their distinguishing clothes or job, like Straw Hat Crow or Preacher Crow.
What is the name of their leader? Jim Crow-- yes, really. Disney thought it would be funny to make a stereotypically Black crow character based on the name of the laws that still enforced racial segregation at the time that the movie was released.
11 THE DEATH OF BAMBI’S MOTHER (BAMBI)
The death of Bambi’s mother has become the most famous part of Bambi the movie. It traumatized a whole generation of children when Disney released it in 1942, and still traumatizes young first time viewers.
Even after decades of the tragic death being known to audiences, the scene itself is still jarring. At the start, Bambi and his mother are grazing as the snow melts. Then poachers set upon them both and shoot Bambi’s mother while he gets away.
Not only is the scene traumatic and tonally unique in the movie, it’s almost immediately followed by a scene of birds singing about the mating season. So it is doubly jarring. Disney even considered having Bambi’s mother die on-screen, but decided that it would be too much for the young audiences.
10 THE END OF “A GIRL WORTH FIGHTING FOR” (MULAN)
For most of the first half of Mulan the main characters do not directly encounter the horrors or terrors of the Huns. By the time Mulan assumes her identity as a man and gets to the camp, most of the musical numbers are exciting. The songs also play up the traditional masculine roles of the setting, like being a strong man in the army.
“A Girl Worth Fighting For” also puts Mulan in an awkward position while the other men in the unit fantasize about the kind of women they want. It’s jaunty and humorous and then the song doesn’t even end properly before the troops come upon the battlefield littered with dead.
Shang’s own father is assumed dead in the fight.
It’s such a jarring transition from happy to tragic, but it is an important taste of real war and loss for the heroes.
9 ALADDIN IS UNWELCOME (ALADDIN)
In “One Jump Ahead”, we’re introduced to Aladdin and his desperate life on the streets. He steals in order to survive and gets into all kinds of acrobatic hijinks in order to avoid the city’s guards. Midway through the song, Aladdin stumbles into a house full of alluringly clad women.
The ladies offer him no sympathy or refuge and throw him right back out of another window onto the street. Why do they do this? It’s not explicit, but many fans who watched the movie again as adults have a scandalous idea.
It seems as though the ladies are women of the night and that the real reason they’re critical of Aladdin is that he has no money to afford their services. Apparently there’s no camaraderie among thieves and night workers in Agrabah.
8 HYENAS MARCHING (THE LION KING)
The Lion King is among the most famous and beloved Disney movies ever, with some of the most memorable characters and songs in the studio’s whole catalogue.
This includes Scar, voiced by the smooth Jeremy Irons, along with his villain song “Be Prepared”. The song and the visuals are both grandiose and dramatic. However, there is one sequence that drives the themes of the song home in startling fashion.
The Hyenas are all on board with Scar’s plan to Kill Simba and Mufasa and become his enforcers. Half way through the song, Scar appears on a rock that oversees the Hyenas all goose-stepping in lined formations.
The similarities to the Third Reich are easy to draw.
For a Disney movie, it’s a jarringly dark allusion to real life politics and history.
7 KING TRITON DESTROYING ARIEL’S COLLECTION (THE LITTLE MERMAID)
For most of the first act of The Little Mermaid, King Triton seems harsh in enforcing the rules of his kingdom, especially with Ariel. He’s loud and dismissive. It seems as though he thinks it’s the only way that Ariel will listen to him. We get to see just how excited Ariel is by the idea of visiting the land with numbers like "Part of Your World".
However, then King Triton finds Ariel’s collection of artifacts from the human world and learns that Ariel saved a human from drowning. In this moment, he becomes monstrous.
His delivery is so harsh that it still scares young kids today. In the scene, lighting warps his face into something demonic.
Ariel’s desperate cries of “Daddy stop!” make the scene even more uncomfortable. Triton has some looks of doubt in the aftermath but the jarring damage to Ariel and the audience is done.
6 JUDY’S SPEECH TO THE PRESS (ZOOTOPIA)
Zootopia might be the most on-the-nose message movie Disney has ever produced. However, it’s a credit to the studio that the movie is so earnest in its exploration of prejudice and racism while being so enjoyable.
There are plenty of scenes in the first half of the movie where the allusions to race relations and racism are humorous or interesting, like when Judy’s parents give her the Fox repellent.
Then there’s Judy’s speech to the press, where she lets her assumptions get twisted into an anti-predator panic.
She stereotypes predators to Nick and reflexively reaches for the repellent when he gets upset at her. Especially with the timing of the release of the movie, it was a hauntingly familiar moment than shoved a jarring mirror in the face of the audience.
5 GASTON PROPOSING TO BELLE (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST)
Gaston may be one of the most fabulous of all Disney villains, but in a certain sense he’s also among the most despicable and scary. He gets violent whenever his delusions of entitlement get denied. He’s horribly misogynistic and egotistical. One of the early scenes where we see this the most is when Gaston proposes to Belle.
The movie treats the scene as a comedic moment where Belle rebuffs Gaston and gets him face planted in mud. However, more mature audiences can spot some pretty dangerous undertones.
He lays his muddy boots right on the open book that Belle was reading. Gaston repeatedly corners Belle throughout the scene, advancing on her without consent. He doesn’t even entertain the idea of any of his children with Belle being girls. How would he treat them if they were girls? That might be the scariest idea of all.
4 CARICATURES IN “EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE A CAT” (ARISTOCATS)
There are plenty of movies in Disney’s catalogue that use lazy racial stereotypes for their characters. The vast majority of them are in Disney’s earlier works. However, this one in The Aristocats, a decade before Disney’s Renaissance, is especially jarring.
The Aristocats is more reliant on classist characters than racist ones. Duchess and her kittens are clearly meant to be cats of selective breeding compared to O’Malley or the alley cats.
“Everybody Wants to be a Cat” is probably the most famous song from the movie.
It’s fun and catchy and dynamic, but it does have one absolutely jarring racist caricature that’s totally gratuitous.
The Siamese cat who plays chopsocky music on the piano with chopsticks and rambles with Oriental phrases comes out of nowhere and isn’t in keeping with the musical style of the rest of the song.
3 CHARLOTTE (THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG)
The culture of New Orleans plays a significant role in The Princess and the Frog. Everything from music, to food, to the accents of the characters feels authentic to the setting. There’s one character that most fans feel goes a little overboard with the southern drawl and the theatricality to the point of being ridiculous, though.
Charlotte LaBouff is the spoiled daughter of a “Big Daddy” LaBouff. Fabulously blonde, naïve, romantic, and more than a handful, she’s dominates almost every scene that she appears in.
Her appearance and behavior are so over the top, especially during the sequences at the masquerade ball. Perhaps her most jarring moment is when she makes a show of adjusting her bosoms in her dress before heading back out to the festivities. Thankfully, she turned out to be a good friend to Tiana.
2 SCUTTLE DURING “KISS THE GIRL” (THE LITTLE MERMAID)
Once Ariel loses her voice and gets transformed into a human, she has to secure a true-love’s kiss from Prince Eric. Eventually the two end up on a romantic boat ride and Ariel’s undersea friends put on an entire musical number to coax Ariel and Eric into locking lips.
“Kiss the Girl” is a fantastic song in a movie full of fantastic songs. It’s steady and melodic and a great orchestral number for Sebastian. However, he’s not the only named animal character that tries to sing it.
Scuttle has also been trying to help Ariel find and kiss Prince Eric.
In the song, his help is not appreciated. Right at the start of the final chorus he jumps in with his own raspy voice. Then the flamingos have to strangle him to shut him up. It’s an unnecessary, jarring distraction.
1 “YODEL-ADLE-EEDLE-IDLE-OO" (HOME ON THE RANGE)
Home on the Range isn’t the most widely or fondly remembered Disney animated feature. It’s a generic story with mostly forgettable characters and music. Alameada Slim, a yodeling cattle wrangler, is the antagonist of the movie.
Some fans claim that he’s the best redeeming feature of the movie, and it could be because of his entirely unexpected villain song. Instead of a dark or darkly-fun song, Slim gets “Yodel-adle-eedle-idle-oo”. It’s a yodeling song, which you could certainly expect to find in a movie set in the Old West.
However, it includes a whole bunch of trippy, colorful switches to the cows who are supposedly hypnotized by Slim’s yodeling. It’s a surprising and jarring combination, as though the movie is pulling at straws to find a pandering level of fun appeal for children’s sensibilities.
Are there any other scenes from Disney Movies that took you out of the experience? Let us know in the comments!