Witching and winning: 5 life lessons we can learn from classic Disney Halloween films

Photo of a Disney Halloween movie
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Warning: The following article contains spoilers.

“It’s a full moon tonight. That’s when all the weirdos are out.” — Dani, “Hocus Pocus”

Every Halloween, Disney is arguably on another level, especially when it pays homage to its iconic films of the late 1990s through the mid-2010s. Many of them, such as “Hocus Pocus” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” reside appropriately in our spooky season vernacular. Yet, why do we, as college students and beyond, still cue up the same movies we watched this time of year a decade or two ago?

Personally, sitting here watching “Twitches” unabashedly for the 15th time, I feel as though movies such as these bring out the kid in us all. They keep the Halloween spirit alive even when, as adults, we may not go trick-or-treating anymore. They take us back to the days when we waited in line at the cool house with the giant candy bars from Costco, probably shunning the well-meaning lady passing out toothbrushes.

We can all take some profound life lessons from these movies; their wise teachings are relevant even to the cynics among us who have since stopped watching them, who now perhaps see the world through a less magical lens.

Our first life lesson comes to us from the oldest movie on this list: “Hocus Pocus,” a tale of three witches essentially tormenting two pairs of siblings in two different centuries. Eventually, the pair living in the 1990s liberates the pair living in the 1690s from the witches’ grasp.

Sometimes, it may take a long time, even years, for something to happen. That does not mean we should stop fighting for what we want or lose our sense of determination. Every person has a different life journey that progresses at its own pace.

“Twitches” teach us our second life lesson. Tia and Tamera Mowry star in a classic about two twin witches, Alex and Camryn, who learn they are sisters on their 21st birthday. They then find themselves in the battle to defend the magical kingdom of Coventry from a hostile force known as the “darkness” — a villain who turns out to be their uncle Thantos.

Yet, “Twitches” goes beyond sharing an age-old tale of good conquering evil; it also spookily plays on the idea of twin intuition. Even before they met, Alex and Camryn have an undeniable penchant for wisdom, knowing about things before they come to pass. They teach us that sometimes it’s best to trust our guts and what’s in our hearts.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” brings us to the third lesson. In this movie, Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, tries to hijack Christmas by assuming Santa Claus’ duties, among other things, but fails miserably. This freaky blockbuster teaches us that no matter how many times we may think about it, we can never be other people. That’s okay, though, because we’re us, and everyone is unique and awesome even though we may not always think of ourselves as such. We may not be Halloween aficionadoes quite like Skellington or our extra next-door neighbor, but we each have our talents.

“Monsters, Inc.” can impart to us so much wisdom, but for our fourth lesson we can focus on the topic of acceptance. Like the other movies on this list, this classic spotlights the difference between a supernatural world and Earth, teaching us that we can reconcile the two. Monsters Sulley and Mike initially fear Boo, a human child, and vice versa. Eventually, the monsters and the little girl begin to care for one another. On one level, this teaches us that we should always be open to the possibility of being friends with all types of people, even if they are very different from us. Sometimes people who are polar opposites of each other make the best friends. The friendship between the monsters and Boo also invites us to make peace with our fears wherever possible.

Life lesson five does not necessarily come from a classic Disney Halloween film, but it is still extremely relevant. It comes from Disney’s “Maleficent,” which retells the story of the movie “Sleeping Beauty” from the point of view of its villain, the film’s titular character. We come to understand that Maleficent does not have evil origins and actually suffered grave mistreatment at the hands of Beauty’s father. This movie teaches us that athough we can never live another person’s life, we should never necessarily trust a one-dimensional story. We should always take the opportunity, if possible, to listen to both sides before believing one versus the other.

Contact Kristen Hull at [email protected].