Disney movies hold a special place in many people’s hearts. For nearly a century, Disney has been creating magical films that captivate audiences young and old. But with dozens of animated classics and live-action blockbusters to choose from, which ones stand out as the best Disney movies of all time?
1. The Lion King (1994)
Arguably Disney’s most iconic film, The Lion King is a stunning achievement in animation and storytelling. When young lion cub Simba is exiled from his kingdom after his father Mufasa is killed by his evil uncle Scar, Simba must rediscover himself and accept his destiny as the rightful king. With its relatable coming-of-age story, Shakespearean themes, breathtaking African vistas, and classic musical numbers like “Hakuna Matata” and “Circle of Life,” The Lion King is one Disney movie that roars above the rest.
2. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
This tale as old as time remains one of Disney’s most beloved films. When bookish Belle trades places with her inventor father as the prisoner of a horrifying Beast, she discovers there is more to the cursed prince than meets the eye. With a brilliant lead duo, enchanting music, and stunning animation, Beauty and the Beast set the bar for Disney romance and adventure. The “Be Our Guest” dinner scene remains an all-time classic Disney movie moment.
3. Toy Story (1995)
As the first fully computer-animated feature film, Toy Story ushered in a new era of animation and launched Pixar Animation Studios. But beyond its technical achievements, Toy Story tells a heartwarming and hilarious story about the secret lives of toys. When cowboy doll Woody feels threatened by the arrival of flashy new spaceman toy Buzz Lightyear, their rivalry gives way to an iconic friendship. With Tom Hanks and Tim Allen perfectly cast as Woody and Buzz, Toy Story kicked off one of Disney and Pixar’s most beloved franchises.
4. Aladdin (1992)
Disney reached new heights with this rollicking animated adventure based on the Arabian Nights folktale. Street rat Aladdin embarks on a magical journey after finding the genie’s lamp, transforming into a prince to impress Princess Jasmine and defeat the evil Jafar. With its show-stopping musical numbers, hilarious Genie (brilliantly voiced by Robin Williams), and iconic magic carpet ride, Aladdin is a whole new world of Disney magic.
5. Mary Poppins (1964)
This beloved musical stars Julie Andrews in her Oscar-winning role as the practically perfect nanny Mary Poppins. When she flies into the lives of the Banks family in early 1900s London, her magical adventures teach the children — and their father — some of life’s most important lessons. With dazzling sets and animation, iconic songs like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and plenty of heart, Mary Poppins is a timeless Disney classic.
6. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Disney took a popular theme park ride and created one of its most popular live-action franchises. In the first swashbuckling installment, blacksmith Will Turner teams up with eccentric pirate Captain Jack Sparrow (played perfectly by Johnny Depp) to save the kidnapped Elizabeth Swann and lift the curse plaguing Jack’s pirate crew. With stunning visual effects, epic sea battles, and Depp’s hilarious, iconic performance, The Curse of the Black Pearl was both a critical and box office smash.
7. The Little Mermaid (1989)
This lively musical marks the beginning of the Disney Renaissance era and sparked a renewed interest in Disney princess films. Ariel, a passionate mermaid princess, makes a Faustian bargain with sea witch Ursula to experience life on land and chase her love, Prince Eric. Featuring gorgeous animation, Broadway-caliber show tunes like “Under the Sea,” and one of Disney’s most compelling princess heroines, The Little Mermaid gave Disney mojo back.
8. Frozen (2013)
Modern Disney princess fans have embraced Frozen and its empowering message for girls. When Princess Elsa’s uncontrollable icy powers trap her kingdom in eternal winter, she must go on a journey of self-discovery, aided by her sister Anna and a charm-machine snowman named Olaf. With its stunning icy visuals, powerhouse anthem “Let It Go,” and focus on the bond between sisters over romantic love, Frozen has resonated with 21st-century audiences.
9. The Jungle Book (1967)
With its jazzy music, colorful characters, and simple story, Disney’s 1967 animated adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s stories became an instant classic. Young man-cub Mowgli tries to navigate the jungle with help from easygoing Baloo the bear and stern panther Bagheera while avoiding the hypnotic snake Kaa and vengeful tiger Shere Khan. With iconic songs like “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wan’na Be Like You,” The Jungle Book is one of Disney’s most lighthearted, enjoyable films.
For nearly a century, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar have crafted instant classics that have defined many childhoods. With their magical music, lovable characters, emotional storytelling, and technical innovation, these 10 films represent the pinnacle of animated excellence. From the wilds of Africa in The Lion King to the fairy tale romance of Beauty and the Beast to the high seas adventure of Pirates of the Caribbean, these Disney movies have created magical moments for audiences worldwide. Disney films continue to evolve with each new release, but these classics have etched themselves into cinematic history.
5 Unique FAQs about Disney Movies
What was the first Disney movie ever made?
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs released in 1937 was Disney’s first full-length animated feature film.
What was Walt Disney’s favorite Disney movie?
Walt Disney reportedly had a special fondness for his classics Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi.
Which Disney movie was the highest-grossing?
2019’s CGI remake of The Lion King is Disney’s highest-grossing animated film worldwide, earning over $1.6 billion globally.
How many Disney movies have won Best Animated Feature Oscars?
As of 2023, 13 different Disney or Pixar films have won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature since the category’s inception in 2001.
What Disney movie had the biggest budget?
With an estimated $300 million budget, Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan (2020) is the most expensive Disney film made so far.