ByKristin Lai, writer at
MP Staff Writer, cinephile and resident Slytherclaw // UCLA Alumna // Follow me on Twitter: kristin_lai
Kristin Lai

In this day and age, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who didn't grow up watching Disney movies. Personally, these films not only taught me about life, but also played an integral role in shaping my love of movies.

While most of the lessons were about friendship, kindness, acceptance, and love, they also taught us about loss and hardship. Those more difficult lessons sometimes came with a hefty dose of trauma attached. A few of these movies left their mark because they were sad, and others because they were downright terrifying. With that, here are my top 10 scarring Disney moments:

10. Cinderella’s Destroyed Dress - Cinderella

As one of three sisters, I really empathized with poor Cinderella here. She and her animal friends worked so hard on that dress! Not to mention, the way the background goes red as they start clawing at her is pretty scary.

9. Clayton’s Death - Tarzan

Yeah, Clayton was a pretty bad guy, but did we need to see his body hanging? Even though it's only a shadow, I think it could have been eluded to with the same effect.

The other thing particularly creepy about Clayton's death is the crazed look in his eye as he cut himself down to his demise. Most other Disney villains would have likely saved themselves if given the option. Clayton was just too immersed in his rampage. Scary stuff.

8. Pink Elephants on Parade - Dumbo

Watching this as a child was like going on a drug trip that I in no way asked for. I remember watching Dumbo, loving the elephants and such, and then having to leave the room when this scene came on. Not only was it totally creep but it was really long! Well, it's over four minutes, which is pretty long for a toddler.

Also, special mention goes to the scene where Dumbo's mom is locked up singing "Baby of Mine" while all of the other animal babes sleep with their parents. I weep for you, baby Dumbo.

7. Claude Frollo's "Hellfire" - Hunchback of Notre Dame

Have you ever actually listened to the lyrics of this song? My GOD I can't believe I was allowed to watch this as a child. Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful song, but it's kind of about Claude Frollo being sexually attracted by Esmeralda, and then blaming her for it.

Choose me or
Your pyre
Be mine or you will burn

Whaaaaa? Cut that out, Frollo.

6. Snow White Haunted Forest - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

This was another one I had to leave the room for as a kid. This video perfectly describes the feeling of being surrounded by darkness and the unknown. What's out there? A log? Nope. Probably an alligator or a giant tree monster.

Special mention goes to the Queen's transformation scene. Her spell haunted my nightmares and gave me an irrational fear of old people for far too long. I just couldn't tell if they were an Evil Queen in disguise.

5. Night on Bald Mountain - Fantasia

Okay, pretty much all of Fantasia feels like some kind of weird fever dream, but "Night on Bald Mountain" has got to be the scariest part. In case you've forgotten, or blocked it out because it was too scary, this is the scene where Chernabog summons all of his demon and ghost friends.

Apparently Disney still gets complaints about this scene scaring their children and I can completely see why.

4. Boys Turning to Donkeys - Pinocchio

Talk about traumatic! True, these boys weren't exactly good boys, but did they deserve to be turned into donkeys and kept away from their families? No way! And did Pinocchio save any of them? Nope. How's that for your conscious, Jiminy Cricket?

3. The Incinerator - Toy Story 3

To be fair, pretty much all of Toy Story 3 had me in tears. At the time I was packing up and leaving for college, so this was a very difficult time to begin with. Now throw in the fact that some of my favorite Disney/Pixar characters were faced with death? Game over, man. Game over.

Another special mention goes to when Andy gives his toys to Bonnie. My theater seat could have been renamed "Weep City: Population 1". Of course, the lesson there is that we shouldn't throw any of our toys away. Ever. Or anything, for that matter. Let's all become hoarders, okay?

2. Mufasa's Death - Lion King

Do I really even need to talk about why this scene scarred me for life? For many of us, this was our first brush with death. Mufasa didn't deserve this end, and Simba didn't deserve to go on his whole life blaming himself. The Lion King was my favorite Disney movie growing up, but I think it took about a decade before I began to forgive the makers of this film (I still haven't forgiven them completely).

1. Bambi’s Mom Dying - Bambi

I actually saw Bambi for the first time after seeing The Lion King, so at this point I understood what was going on, but it didn't make it any less painful. If anything, it exacerbated the feeling of loss I felt for Bambi.

I still can't fully handle when Bambi says, "We made it, Mother!" Tears start to stream from my face and begin pooling at my feet.

Honorable mention: Up's Opening Scene

This one for me was as beautiful as it was sad. While it was devastating, it's hard to say that it was traumatic or really scarring. Forget The Notebook, this is the greatest love story of our time.

Honestly, if you didn't cry during this scene, I'm sorry to tell you that you have no soul. There's no way around it.

There you have my list of the top 10 darkest, saddest, and most memorable Disney scenes. Again, these are just mine and there are plenty of Disney movies throughout the course of time that may have scared the bajeezus out of you, or kicked you right in the feels.

If you have any horrifying memories of these nightmarish scenes, please let me know in the comments! You can find me crying in a corner and rocking back and forth for the rest of the day.


Which of these scenes scarred you the most as a kid?


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