Thomas Atkinson-Towers (24) was born and raised in Bournemouth (UK), and has fond memories of his childhood, which was saturated in 90s Disney.
“As with many other 90’s kids, my first Disney memory is sitting down to watch The Lion King on a VHS that our parents rented from Blockbusters. The storyline just emotionally attaches to you no matter your age. Many times, I remember stealing my sister’s lion teddy to re-enact the Simba scene on Pride Rock, at the beginning of the film.”
For Thomas, Disney was a big part of his life, growing up in the 90s.
“We had the glory days of the Disney Channel! I have fond memories of Kim Possible, Emperors New School, Ducktales, Talespin - to name a few. I also grew up owning a Sega Mega Drive and playing the impossible Aladdin and Lion King games. Back then, dying in a game meant starting all over again, so I had many hours of enjoyment dying again and again. When I got older, I got a PlayStation 1 which was the finest period of Disney games in my personal opinion. I enjoyed Tarzan, Hercules, Mickey’s Wild Adventure and Toy Story 2. Those games were really hard for my age back then but that was part of the enjoyment. It was such a moment of achievement finally beating Mickey’s Wild Adventure a few years ago!”
As an adult, this love and nostaligia for Disney has led him to engage online with other Disney fans, sharing his interests and pictures of his amazing collection with other like-minded Disnerds. He has also picked up a job at a movie cinema, which has allowed him to watch all the Disney films multiple times.
“Whilst it’s not the best job in the world, it’s fun when the latest Disney film releases – and I get to keep the merchandise posters! And, of course - the free tickets to all the Disney films. I watched Moana 21 times including the singalong version.”
Like many Disney fans, Thomas collects a bit of everything, and keeps his precious Disney items in every nook and cranny.
“My collection is a mix and match. From the outside, it probably looks a disaster - bunched up from odds and sods. I normally just impulse buy a new item every month or find more pieces at a boot sale. I collect mugs, snowglobes (just started), Limited Edition Dolls, and bits and pieces in characters that I like.”
Of course, Thomas also has his favorite pieces, but couldn’t pick just one.
It’s a draw between three items!
- "My Maquette Elsa which is one of 5000. The dress sparkles in a completely majestic fashion
- The Moana snowglobe from Disney Store. Whilst it may not look like one of the finest items in my collection, I adore the way the water will light up and have the globe blast out “We Know The Way” from Moana
- The third piece would be my Evil Queen Limited Edition Doll from Disney Store. I woke up at 7am just to purchase it online before it sold out alongside my Snow White Limited Edition Doll. I have always found the villains to be forgotten about sometimes and the fabric work on her is stunning."
For Thomas, Disney is not just about having collectables at home. He is sure to enjoy Moana wherever he goes, is already preparing for a Disney Christmas!
“I also have some Christmas decorations that I picked up last week for my Christmas tree, ready for December. I get some odd looks when I go out thanks to owning a Moana phone case that I got from the Disney Store.”
Many Disney collector’s will relate to Thomas’ quest to find enough space for his collection.
“Most of my collection is stored in glass cabinets in my room but I also have one on the landing just outside of my door because I’m running out of space. Even then I compare my collection to others, I feel the need for a Game of Thrones style walk of shame.”
The struggle is real, Thomas. We feel your pain.
Thomas has some specific favorites when it comes to Disney films and characters. He has more than one favorite film – three films that were beloved and special to him as a child, and still resonate with him as an adult.
“I have always said that my favourite three Disney movies are The Lion King, Beauty and The Beast and Mulan. These are not your typical manly picks, but all three of these share truly fascinating storylines whilst being much more than they seem. Especially The Lion King, as it showed our 90s generation the magical world of Disney, in the same way Frozen has for the current generation.”
Thomas also has a certain affinity for three special characters from the Disney canon.
“Princess wise, it would have to be Rapunzel for being trapped in a tower and wanting to be free. She eventually gets free and lives a happy life with Flynn. Also, Belle. This is because of her love for books and ability to see past someone's cover and see the inner heart. My favorite Prince would be Flynn Rider. He’s a perfect role model for the guy I wish to be - caring, friendly, kind and is not always thinking about himself (well not at the end anyway).”
Despite having so many beautiful Disney items in his collection, there are several things that Thomas still wants, including a Disney tattoo.
“I would get the enchanted rose from B&TB! I also want the Serena Valentino villain books – they are back stories of many of the Disney characters, and the Liz Braswell twisted tale series. My grail item is the limited-edition Rapunzel doll, but it’s worth over $1000.”
Some items can also be difficult for Thomas to obtain, since he is in the U.K.
“From the Disney collector groups on Facebook, I can see most collectors are US based. This makes it so hard obtaining a lot of items since we get limited amounts this side of the Atlantic. Sadly, I have also never been to Disney, since it’s so far away, but I plan on going in the near future!”
Thomas takes every opportunity he can to experience Disney, and has had the opportunity to watch several Disney productions on the West End.
“In the past years I have watched Lion King on the West End which was truly magical and I would recommend it to any fan of the film (It actually topped the film for me!). I also saw Aladdin on the West End just last week. The genie is quite something - he somehow manages to add so much personal touch to the role. I also plan on going to Disney on Ice this December in London if I am able to get the time off work.”
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