Happy Lunar New Year! Starting today, we’re officially in the Year of the Dragon. According to Chinese myth and legend, dragons symbolize potent power and luck. In honor of this auspicious year, meet my five favorite Disney dragons, presented in no particular order (because it’s never wise to injure the feelings of dragons):
(from the classic 1959 Disney film Sleeping Beauty)
The Mistress of All Evil obviously isn’t really a dragon, but it seems to be her shapeshift of choice. Not the best looking dragon on this list by far, Maleficent is the most badass! During the final battle in Sleeping Beauty, Prince Phillip gets her right in the snout with his sword, and nothing! And, even after her life is lost, she goes down snapping and tries to take Philip with her. It’s pretty inspiring. Dragon Maleficent is my favorite part of Hollywood Studios’ Fantasmic! The puppet is incredible, and I won’t thumb my nose at the ability to set the entire show river on fire.
(from the 1977 classic feature Pete’s Dragon)
Clumsy and fiercely loyal, Elliott might just be my favorite of the Disney dragons. Though this green-hued, pink-haired ‘monster’ never utters an English word, Elliott expresses the full range of human emotions over the course of Pete’s Dragon, chief among them love. He breathes fire, can fly and pops in and out of visibility, but Elliott’s most charming attribute is his complete lack of awareness regarding his own size and strength. As a kid, I desperately wanted to eat roasted apples with him in a grassy field, and as an adult, I’d still play tic-tac-toe with him in Passamaquoddie or anywhere else. Usually, though, I have to settle for watching him pass me by during Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Electrical Parade.
(from EPCOT Center’s Journey Into Imagination dark ride, introduced in 1983)
Small, purple and mischievous, Figment is unique on this list, and in general, because he doesn’t appear in any Disney films; he was created for Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion in the early 1980s. I can’t tell you why I love him so much, only that he is intimately tied to my love of Disney World. My stuffed Figment sat on a shelf in my room, watching over me as I slept, for years and years after my first trip to Disney World. And though we haven’t seen him posing for photo ops in the Parks for at least five years, I still hold out hope that, one day, I’ll be able to get my photo taken with him one last time. Because, with F-I-G-M-E-N-T, you can see things differently!
(from the 2010 Tim Burton revision of Alice in Wonderland)
Don’t get me wrong. I know he’s evil. He’s got the snaky tongue and purple fiery breath to prove it. When he overtakes Alice as she stands on a rocky tower precipice, he is a fearsome sight to behold. Terrifying, even. But Alice did bring his old nemesis, The Vorpal Sword, to the party, and I can’t help but think that, under the right circumstances, The Jabberwock might be a nice fellow. I mean, he speaks so eloquently. Besides, how can a dragon that has inspired such an amazing YouTube tribute be all bad?
The Reluctant Dragon
(from the 1941 animated short The Reluctant Dragon)
Clearly the least violent dragon on this list, The Reluctant Dragon is more interested in flowers, poems and jam sandwiches than in being a proper formidable beast. He reminds me a bit of the original animated Mad Hatter: sort of silly and lovable, but not quite all there. He writes verses, you know! He may be a little prickly at first, but his enthusiasm and charm win me over every time, as he revels in his ability to breathe fire and zealously overacts his own death. (If you’ve never seen this classic Disney short, head over to YouTube! Here’s Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.)
Honorable mention goes out to Queen Narissa, from Enchanted. She is spiteful, vindictive, very large … but never crazy. Narissa, if you’re reading: Please don’t drag my husband to the top of any buildings.
Do you have a favorite Disney dragon? Tell us about it in the comments or join the conversation on our Facebook page.