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Disney Characters Offer Timeless Friendship Lessons

July 30, 2020 | By | Reply Continue Reading
Mickey & Friends Stay True

Mickey & Friends Stay True (Credit: Kim Raymond for Disney)

They are called the Sensational Six: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pluto and Goofy. The on-screen, enduring friendship (and popularity) of these Disney superstars has survived their playful  antics, mishaps and misunderstandings. The characters endure for generations because they possess many of the same qualities we find in our friends. 

What can young people (and old) learn about the secrets of long-lasting friendships from these wacky characters? In celebration of International Friendship Day, the Walt Disney Company sought to distill some of the “behind-the-scenes” secrets that inspire long-lasting friendships. 

The Disney ‘Mickey & Friends Stay True’ poll

As part of its global Mickey & Friends Stay True campaign, the company polled 1000 adults in the UK between June and July 2020, asking them about the foundations of solid friendships. The survey team found that loyalty was the number one trait that defined a “best friend” (notably portrayed on screen by Pluto, who is always by Mickey’s side).

The survey also found that the average Brit has four best friends. Not surprising. How can one best friend meet all of anyone’s needs? People are complex and so are their friendships. 

Differences as well as similarities make people attractive as friends: Friends with different cultural backgrounds, interests, hobbies, outlooks and temperament can add zest to a relationship. Moreover, having a group of besties, particularly when we are young, can encourage us to develop different aspects of our personality. On-screen, the six Disney characters coalesce as a group because they accept and embrace each other’s quirks, traits and temperaments. They recognize that no one is perfect.

Another survey finding: Two out of three best friendships (66 percent) were made before the age of 19. Two-fifths of adults (41 percent) said that their childhood best friend was still their best friend. This may seem  somewhat surprising given all the changes that have taken place in society. People are more mobile, more likely to leave their hometowns for work, education and/or marriage. 

But, perhaps, the burden of distance is mitigated by new modes of communication (e.g. chats, email, social networking sites and videoconferencing) that have made it possible to stay in touch over the miles. 

The study found that the most popular way for friends to communicate are WhatsApp (29 percent), phone calls (24 percent) and social media (31 percent). Only one in five persons (21 percent) said they see their best friend every day.

The essence of lasting friendships

Mickey & Friends (Credit: Kim Raymond for Disney)

Mickey & Friends (Credit: Kim Raymond for Disney)

Based on an analysis of more than 600 hours of Disney films, shorts, and featurettes featuring the Sensational Six, Disney historian Brian Sibley looked at some of the traits that define friendships.

Beyond loyalty, which ranked #1, the campaign identified nine other traits that characterize lasting friendships:

  1. Loyalty 
  2. Trustworthiness
  3. Kindness
  4. Accepting of faults
  5. Sharing the same values
  6. Embracing differences
  7. Supportive
  8. Shared sense of humor
  9. Available when you need them
  10. Thoughtfulness

Disney is calling on friends of all ages, around the world, to share their friendship stories using the hashtag #MickeyFriendsStayTrue on Instagram. A number of celebrities including Gigi Hadid and Chance the Rapper will be sharing their stories to mark the occasion.


Is there a trait or characteristic you would add to the list?

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Category: Child and adolescent friendships

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