Walt Disney with three of his grandchildren at the opening of Nature's Wonderland at Disneyland in 1960

Walt Disney with three of his grandchildren at the opening of Nature’s Wonderland at Disneyland in 1960

Ask almost anybody to name the most important things in their life, and chances are family will make its way onto the list. Family — or at least the idea of it — lies at the core of most people’s existence. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, God designed the family to be the catalyst for spiritual, physical, and emotional growth. The biblical idea of family is built around mutual respect and well-defined roles. You can find plenty of advice in the Bible on how to live life within the family:

“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16

“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Proverbs 1:8

“A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.” Proverbs 15:20

“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Colossians 3:20

“Fathers,do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Walt Disney lived these values too. He loved his daughters and grandchildren, and his ultimate goal was to provide quality entertainment for families. He designed his theme parks to be fun for parents as well as children, and his films and television series contained elements that the entire family could enjoy.

On the next few pages we’re going to look at the value of family in some of the classics in the Disney canon. The studio released four of these films during Walt’s lifetime, and one came out four decades after his death. Enjoy!