Great article ShrunkenNed!
I went through something very similar during adolescence, figuring I had "outgrown" Disney movies, especially after the Little Mermaid. I was at that age when a movie about a teenage mermaid and her love for a prince was too "girly" for me. And yet, something kept me watching it again. We had it on VHS and I secretly started watching it after school before anyone else was home. Whether it was the delightful cast of characters, the wonderful animation, or (more likely), Jodi Benson's sublime voice, TLM inspired emotions in me that I couldn't fully comprehend as a teenager. It led me to ride the wave of the Disney Renaissance of the 90s, and I rushed to every animated feature that came out in that decade.
But that would soon not be anough for me. As I started seriously looking at a career as an animator, I went back and rediscovered all the Disney films and media I had grown up on. In turn, I became nostalgic for my childhood earlier than I think I would have organically. I was raised on the 70s Disney animation, so the likes of Robin Hood, the Jungle Book, and the Rescuers brought back chilhood memories that I had forgotten. I daresay that this nostalgia has led to a stronger relationship with my parents as an adult, since revisiting my childhood made me value their presence in my life. I shudder to think of all the wonderful times we've had as peers over the past ten years or so that I might have missed if I hadn't come to appreciate my childhood so early.
The years have passed, and that connection of Disney to my childhood has only strengthened. Not just that, but it has been reinforced, grown and blossomed with memories of my twenties and thirties spent revisiting the old and discovering the new magic that Disney has provided, and with the people with whom I've shared those experiences. Whether it's the parks or the films, Disney is woven into the fabric of my life, much like the friendships we make as we travel along the paths of life. And to know that those friends are still out there and can be visited when we most need them is one of the most compelling parts of the Disney experience.