My young son and I recently watched Disney•Pixar’s “Cars” together for the first time. He loved it and by the end of the movie had begun pointing to the screen and saying, “Ca!” when a new car entered the scene. Although I had seen the movie before, what surprised me this time was how much I enjoyed the scenes that featured Lightning McQueen’s pal, Mater, who adds such an innocent comic relief to the film. A few days later, I happened to be walking through Disney’s Hollywood Studios past the new Lightning and Mater meet-and-greet, where I noticed a healthy line of guests waited excitedly to meet their racetrack heroes. Many were little kids in Cars T-shirts, autograph books at the ready.
These two recent encounters with Mater got me thinking about how all the great Disney characters have a best friend, a sidekick who often adds fun to a scene and helps the main character through a plotline of challenges. Where would Flynn Rider be without his rule-abiding horse, Maximus? Or Aladdin without wish-granting, joke-cracking Genie?
Which brings me to my next question: Who is your favorite Disney “sidekick” and where have you seen them at Disney Parks?
Here are my top suggestions. Feel free to add your favorite onto the list in the “comments” section below!
- Tinker Bell (Peter Pan)
Where would Peter Pan be without his clever little pixie pal? Catch her at Magic Kingdom Park at Tink’s Magical Nook in Adventureland during the day, and leading the Main Street Electrical Parade through the park at night.
- Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story franchise)
Buzz and Woody go together like peas and carrots (wait, that’s from a different Tom Hanks film). But what makes him such a great sidekick is that whenever Woody is in trouble, it’s “Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!” Find this dedicated space ranger at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Toy Story Mania!, at character meet-and-greet areas, and in the daily Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun parade. Or join him at the Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin attraction at Magic Kingdom Park.
- Dory (Finding Nemo)
When clownfish Marlin set off to find his son, Nemo, he never could’ve done it without his funny and forgetful friend, Dory. You can find her at The Seas with Nemo & Friends attraction at Epcot and at Finding Nemo – The Musical at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park (pictured above).
- Elliot the Dragon (Pete’s Dragon)
When orphaned youngster Pete moves to a little fishing village in Maine, he’s befriended by a colorful dragon named Elliot, who shows him adventure and eventually helps save a member of Pete’s new family. Look for Elliot’s impressive appearance in the nightly Main Street Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom Park with Pete riding high upon his back.
- Mickey Mouse (Plane Crazy)
Well, one could consider Mickey to be Walt’s sidekick – always there through thick and thin in the early days of Walt’s success. At one point, Walt even considered naming his first theme park “Mickey Mouse Park,” before he settling on the name “Disneyland.” Look for Mickey Mouse in parades and meet-and-greets at each Disney park around the world, or grab a FASTPASS ticket to meet him at Town Square Theater at Magic Kingdom Park.