These Disney Movies From Your Childhood Now Come With Content Warnings

They may have been your childhood staples, but parents today may shy away from sharing these Disney movies with their kids.

Happy daughter and father looking at laptop on couch at night
Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

When screen time limits completely went out the window due to the coronavirus pandemic and more time was spent indoors as temperatures dropped, my husband and I turned to letting our then 2-year-old watch more TV and movies than we otherwise would. When we couldn't take one more Blue's Clues episode or Trolls rewatch, we broke out the next tool up our sleeves: Disney+, Disney's streaming service.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Moana, and Toy Story were all hits—we had a major Buzz Lightyear fan on our hands—but when it came time to watch 1953's Peter Pan, we were struck by how outdated it was.

I certainly didn't remember all of the racism and sexism. Between Peter Pan telling Wendy that "girls talk too much," the guns (!!), Tinker Bell attempting to murder Wendy over jealousy, and the treatment of Native Americans ("What makes the red man red?"—seriously?!), I was happy when my son walked away to play with his toys and just wasn't that into it.

Happy daughter and father looking at laptop on couch at night
Westend61/Getty Images

In 2021, Disney+ placed restrictions on some titles—including Dumbo, Peter Pan, Swiss Family Robinson, and The Aristocats—to prevent children under 7 from viewing them on their own profiles. This update came as part of Disney's campaign to review its library and release appropriate advisories—like the addition of content warnings about racist depictions in some older films—on some of its classics to flag outdated stereotypes and racism.

Parents can still allow their kids to watch these movies from their profiles, of course, but turn on Peter Pan, Dumbo, or Lady and the Tramp and you'll see the following message:

"This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures," the warning reads. "These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together. Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe."

According to an survey, 18% of parents were pretty unaware of just how inappropriate and outdated some Disney films are. However, 62% of parents surveyed said they didn't have an issue with watching these types of movies, and more than half said they would still let their kids watch them.

"I don't think you should shield your children from anything. These films were made in a time, and as long as you explain it, and teach them that it's not acceptable, then I don't see anything wrong with it," one parent said.

Another parent says that certain movies are just going to be off-limits in their home: "I don't want my children watching these old films. I have a son and a daughter, and I don't think either of them should be seeing those kinds of attitudes towards women, or the roles taken up by women. That combined with some of the awful racist stereotypes means it's a no-go for my kids!"

The most inappropriate Disney movie, as voted by parents? Dumbo, hands down. Here's the full list of movies parents ranked—from least (1) to most problematic (10):

  1. Toy Story 3
  2. Bambi
  3. The Little Mermaid
  4. The Jungle Book
  5. Snow White
  6. The Aristocats
  7. Fantasia
  8. Beauty and the Beast
  9. Peter Pan
  10. Dumbo

Now many of these Disney movies are super nostalgic for parents. They're the ones we grew up with as kids. So some parents are going to allow, or even encourage, their children to watch. If that's the case, these could be good opportunities to talk to your kids about racism, tolerance, and diversity. Nearly 30% of parents surveyed said they might let their kids watch the outdated and inappropriate movies, but cited their children's age as a factor so they could explain things a bit more.

As for my family? We're probably going to be a little more selective about which movies we show our son until he's old enough to have bigger conservations about them.

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