Recently, I had the opportunity to check out Disney+’s newest series, PROP CULTURE. Hosted by film historian and prop collector Dan Lanigan, the series takes viewers on a journey through some of their favorite films as Dan “reunites iconic Disney movie props with the filmmakers, actors, and crew who created and used them in some of Disney’s most beloved films.” The films that are featured in this first season are Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Mary Poppins, The Muppet Movie, Tron, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
As someone who collects, mainly horror related items, I was very intrigued by the premise of the show. The host and co-creator, Dan Lanigan, has an energetic personality that makes it easy to be drawn into what he’s talking about. One thing I noticed right away was just how passionate he was about not only the props but these particular movies in general. It’s clear that these films had an immense impact on him and that’s something that we see through clips of him sharing these movies with his family. He’s not passive in his excitement for these much-appreciated relics and that’s a sign of a true collector. It’s enjoyable to watch as his eyes light up upon seeing these props, especially since most of us would give anything for a chance to be in the same room as them. As a collector, it made me appreciate Dan even more because of his genuine enjoyment and knowledge of these items.
What’s so great about this series is that there is truly something for everyone. For me personally, I absolutely loved The Nightmare Before Christmas and Who Framed Roger Rabbit episodes because I’m drawn to darker material. You’ll be hard-pressed to not get jealous when you watch as Dan handles some of the most iconic props in not only Disney history but film history in general. Watching Dan interact with the original prototype sculpture of Jack Skellington filled me with a mixture of envy and joy. However, more importantly, it filled me with a sense of nostalgia as The Nightmare Before Christmas holds a special place in my heart. It reminded me of when I was younger and would watch the movie on both Halloween and Christmas with my family. That said, I think the nostalgia factor plays a hugely important role in the show. I felt it hit again like a ton of bricks during the Who Framed Roger Rabbit episode when, during an interview with Christopher Lloyd, they showed the scene of him as Judge Doom dipping the sweet, poor cartoon shoe into the Dip. That scene filled me with fear as a child and I can definitely attribute that to being one of my first instances experiencing unsettling imagery.
I’m sure it’s no surprise that Disney, nostalgia, and creepy imagery is something I enjoy which Is why I’m glad that PROP CULTURE gave fans a brief look into those types of films. However, that doesn’t mean that the other episodes are any less compelling. For example, one of the most interesting things I learned from the entire series was how the original Mary Poppins bag found its way back to the Disney Archives. I’m not going to spoil it for you but it’s quite the tale. That said, seeing the journey that some of these pieces have gone on is quite fascinating. Fans will also enjoy seeing Dan as he travels all throughout the country reuniting these supposed lost artifacts with those who were responsible for making them or those who acted alongside them. Those moments, in particular, are quite magical. If you are wondering if your heartstrings will be pulled, the answer is yes. Seeing these folks come into contact with items that made a huge impact on their lives is really quite beautiful and powerful to see.
In all, PROP CULTURE is a docu-series that not only Disney fans and collectors will go wild for but also those of us who enjoy learning more about the history surrounding these items. For me personally, not every episode was a home run but I think that’s largely due to where your emotional attachments lie. However, as a whole, this series is definitely one that the family can enjoy together, especially during the quarantine we have found ourselves in. As with The Imagineering Story, I hope Disney+ continues to put out similar content as this allows for both new and old Disney fans to learn more about the movies they love so much. All 8 episodes of PROP CULTURE are now available to stream on Disney+.