Happy Father’s Day! As Father’s Day was approaching, I started thinking about the dads of Disney. As it happens, some of the dads in the Disney universe get the short end of the stick, but there are some really incredible Disney dads out there.
Most children’s television shows aren’t immune to the incompetent dad that is so common in many adult sitcoms and movies. We see fathers portrayed as well-meaning but ultimately clueless, time after time. They fall into pools, don’t know their kids’ interests, create extra work, and provide zany chaos for the moms. This negative stereotype is overplayed and not representative of the involved fatherhood that we see in many real-life dads today, here’s looking at you Clubhouse Dads (honorable mention to my husband & dad)!
Once again Walt and company were ahead of their time in showing different kinds of families before it was cool. I have tried many ways to format this article, but the best way I could think of is a tried and true top-10 list!
10. Geppetto (Pinocchio): He was not only a single dad, he was an adoptive dad of sorts and wanted to be a dad so badly that he wished on a star and the Blue Fairy granted his wish. This was way ahead of its time for the 1940s. Geppetto literally gets swallowed by a whale on a search to save his son. That’s dad dedication if I have ever seen it!
9. The Dad from Pixar’s “Float”: While we don’t know his name, you see a dad who only wants his son to be ‘normal’ learns to accept him and embrace him for who he is. He finds a way to relate to his son which strengthens their bond and shows the dad’s heart for his son. This short is so relatable for parents, particularly dads that are struggling to relate to their special needs children.
8. Jack Sturges (Man of the House): I would like to take you back to 1995 when Chevy Chase played Jack Struges to Jonathan Taylor Thomas (JTT, as he was known to those of us Tiger Beat readers… swoon) in Man of The House. Jack was trying to get in the good graces of his girlfriend’s son. Jack attempts to take on the father figure role in Ben’s life, while Ben is perfectly happy with the way things are with just him and his mother. Jack is willing to get out of his comfort zone and join the Indian Guides with Ben for a camping trip. This is one of the few movies at the time featuring a step-dad.
7. Carl Fredrickson (Up): Carl and Ellie tried unsuccessfully to have children. Carl meets and dislikes young Russell, who is trying to get his last Wilderness Explorer badge by helping the elderly. Through the course of their adventure together, Carl develops fatherly instincts toward Russell and wants to keep him safe. He ends up being a mentor to Russell and pins his final badges on him at his Wilderness Explorer ceremony, when Russell’s biological father is a no show. Carl shows that you don’t have to be blood related to be a father figure to someone.
6. Marlin (Finding Nemo, Finding Dory): Marlin is one of several widower dads represented in the Disney universe (sorry Disney moms, we all know it generally doesn’t go well for you!). I chose him as one of the awesome Disney dads because he is so overprotective and fearful of losing his son. When the inevitable happens and Nemo disappears, Marlin puts all of his fears aside and crosses the ocean to find Nemo. Marlin also grows throughout the two movies and ends up realizing that his son is more physically capable than he once believed, and that he is smarter and more resourceful than he knew as well. While Marlin might start out as the helicopter dad, in the end he grows into one of my favorite Disney dads.
5. Goofy (A Goofy Movie, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas, Goof Troop and countless others): Goofy, everyone’s favorite dog, is absolutely one of the ultimate Disney dads. Goofy always has Max’s best interest in mind, even if it doesn’t always (or ever) go as planned. Goofy is the embarrassing dad with a heart of gold. I could go on and on about the Goofster, but then I would just be gushing.
4. Mufasa (Lion King): How could we have a list like this and not include Mufasa?!?!? He is wise, fierce, kind, and firm. He is the aspirational dad for a lot of dads out there, maybe minus his last 30 seconds in the movie. He saved Simba from the hyenas, taught him life lessons, died saving him, and even guided him from the afterlife. Simba had forgotten who he was until Mufasa inspired him to return to his home and save the pridelands. That is a very powerful dad!
3. Bandit (Bluey): If you have not seen this show, do yourself a favor and watch it! As a mom, I have never felt more seen than in an episode of Bluey. Bandit and Chilli (the mom) are true partners, sharing both the parenting responsibilities and household chores. Bandit is for sure what you would call a girl dad (#girldad). He is fully involved with his girls, playing dress up and whatever game it is that they make up to play. In one episode, he even asks if there is a game where he could lay still and quietly for a while… been there! He goes to work, comes home and manages to play with his girls and occasionally teach them a lesson or two.
2. Disney Park Dads (Disney parks worldwide): This is for all of the AMAZING dads out there that work hard to take their family on a Disney vacation. They might not be into the Disney thing, but they go, face the crowds and don’t complain so that their children can have a magical vacation. Some of these dads do this time and time again, because their wives are obsessed with Disney and they have passed their love of Disney onto their children (Hi, Dad & Craig!). Some of these dads are Disney converts that were not expecting to enjoy Disney at all but end up having just as good or a better time than their kids. To all of these dads, you are INCREDIBLE!
1.Walt Disney: Walt is the ultimate girl dad and the ultimate Disney dad! He wanted to have a place that he could go and interact with his daughters, not just sit on the sidelines and watch. Not being able to find a place like this, he built one. He created his dream and in turn created the dream for so many others — a place where families can go and be together, play together, and make memories together.
All of these dads have one thing in common, they want what’s best for their kids. They go above and beyond to achieve that goal. So whether you are an adoptive father, a widower, a goof, a mentor, a bonus dad, or a dad just doing their best, you are AWESOME and I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day!
Tell me in the comments, who would you have added to this list? Who are your top ten Disney dads?
My name is Sarah Niswender and I have WDW in my veins, going to the parks several times per year as early as age 2. Growing up in SoFla I was fortunate enough to have a lifelong Disney education, thanks to my mother (and hardworking father)! I am now passing the love for everything Disney along to my daughter and somewhat reluctant husband. I have participated in several runDisney events and am looking forward to participating as a part of the WDWRadio running team. See you on Main Street USA!