20 Best Disney Movies Of All Time


  • Walt Disney Studios has a rich legacy in animation, producing timeless films that have resonated for generations.
  • The best films chosen on this list were co-produced directly by The Walt Disney Studios, showcasing their storytelling excellence.
  • From classics like Pinocchio to modern hits like Tangled, Disney continues to innovate and captivate audiences with their varied storytelling techniques.



Since their first film in 1937, The Walt Disney Studios has been a leading force in animation and storytelling, producing some of the finest films in the entertainment industry. The best films selected are ones co-produced by The Walt Disney Studios. Therefore, though Disney is known for its acquisitions of Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm, and for founding Touchstone Pictures, those films are not included.

For generations, Walt Disney Studios has played an important role in the lives of many and the company recently celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2023. As time moves forward, the studios’ influence shows no signs of stopping. From live-action films to animation, Walt Disney Studios has got it all covered.

20 The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

A Christmas Carol Retold With The Jim Henson Characters

The Cratchit family in The Muppet Christmas Carol

Brought to life by the titular characters, The Muppet Christmas Carol is a heartwarming adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Alongside a brilliant performance from Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge and the Muppet Gonzo narrating as Dickens, the other Muppets take audiences on a musical journey of the classic Christmas tale, exploring themes of generosity and second chances. However, the music began to feel repetitive at times and the differences from Dickens’ story were too much for some critics. The Muppet Christmas Carol is an ambitious film within the franchise, but not Disney as a whole.

19 Pinocchio (1940)

Pinocchio Is Recognized As Some Of Disney’s Best Animation

Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket

Loosely inspired by Carlo Collodi’s children’s novel, Pinocchio is just as magical as its central story, which follows a wooden puppet who wishes to be made into a real boy. Pinocchio is one of Walt Disney’s darker movies and sometimes acts as a horror film for younger audiences, turning some audiences away. Still, it includes emotional, provoking storytelling and innovative animation that would become hallmarks of the studio. Jiminy Cricket’s song, “When You Wish Upon A Star,” has also become Walt Disney’s official theme.

18 The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1996)

The Children’s Film Featured More Adult Themes

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Quasimodo singing

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a surprisingly serious film that showcased the risks the animation studio was willing to take in their storytelling. Much of the dark tone and themes present in the movie are driven by Claude Frollo, one of Disney’s most sinister villains. The story is derived from Victor Hugo’s novel, but added characters, such as the gargoyles, and musical numbers lighten up the story, making it fitting for young audiences. Despite this, controversies and protests sprouted as a response from upset parents who disapproved of the film being marketed towards kids.

17 Tangled (2010)

Higher Levels Of Comedy Are Included In The Classic Tale

Flynn and Rapunzel dancing and smiling at the festival in Tangled

Retelling the classic folktale of Rapunzel, Tangled is led by the lively voice of Mandy Moore, who perfectly embodies the trapped princess’ curiosity and genuine excitement about the outside world. While adventure is a central theme in Tangled, this isn’t always translated by the animation in the film. It may not be the most groundbreaking project from Disney, but Tangled, especially during the time of its release, was a peak in the promising future of the company as classic and more modern modes of storytelling were implemented in the princess film.

16 Ratatouille (2007)

A Peaceful Portrait Of An Aspiring Rodent Chef

Ratatouille (2007) Trailer Thumbnail

Following the endeavors of Remy, a rat, who aspires to be a chef, Ratatouille is one of Walt Disney and Pixar Studios’ quieter films. Mouth-watering visuals of Gusteau’s finest offerings are paired with a Parisian landscape and an endearing bond between Remy and a wannabe chef at the restaurant, Alfredo Linguini. Audiences are given plenty of moments of laughter as the two come up with discreet ways to help one another reach their dreams. As artful and technically skilled as Ratatouille is, this gets overshadowed by the thrilling adventures in other films.

Collage of Stuart Little, Ratatouille and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
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15 Frozen (2013)

Sisters Attempt To Rekindle Their Bond After Years Apart

Frozen - Elsa Quotes -NeverClosingThemAgain

The legacy of Frozen is undeniable as the film was a massive box office and critical success. From the animation to the earworm hits, especially Elsa’s power ballad sung by Idina Menzel, “Let It Go,” earned widespread acclaim. Frozen dominated as one of the biggest movies of the year and one of the biggest Disney movies in a while. However, not all the awarded praise went towards Frozen‘s story and characters. A few critics felt as though the characters were standard for a Disney film and were not explored further than that until the film’s final act and biggest plot twist.

14 The Jungle Book (1967)

A Young Boy Is Raised By Animals In The Jungle

Baloo, Mowgli, and Bagheera in The Jungle Book

Compared to other films produced by Walt Disney Studios, The Jungle Book doesn’t get discussed as extensively. Though the film is not wholly flawed, there isn’t much in the story to rave about either. Loosely based on stories in Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 book, The Jungle Book is a fairly simple story with catchy songs. That being said, the animation of the various animals in The Jungle Book is among the strongest takeaways from the film. The style of animation acted as inspiration for other animals in films like The Lion King and Aladdin.

13 Pocahontas (1995)

A Romanticized Depiction Of Pocahontas And John Smith

Pocahontas paddling a canoe with a racoon in Pocahontas.

Hoping to replicate the romance from Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas was made to be a romantic film about the titular figure and English settler, John Smith. Pocahontas is full of breathtaking imagery of the outdoors, as sung about in the Academy Award-winning song, “Colors of the Wind.” The ballad is a tribute to the Powhatan tribe’s relationship to their land, but such respect was not given to the accuracy of the film’s central relationship. In addition to a tonally confused story, the historical inaccuracies about their relationship are one of the biggest harsh realities about Disney princesses.

12 Inside Out (2015)

Exploring Inner Emotions By Tugging On The Heartstrings

The Emotions at the control panel in Inside Out.

Inside Out understands the importance of each personified emotion in Riley’s mind. The colorful group of emotions, from Joy to Fear, helps guide Riley as she experiences the hardships of growing up. Pixar Animation Studios are accomplished at bringing audiences to tears and Inside Out is no different. Ensuring to depict the impact Joy and Sadness’ absence has on Riley, Inside Out is constantly going back and forth between the emotions’ journey back to Headquarters and Riley’s emotional state without them, causing the film to feel hectic at times.

11 The Little Mermaid (1989)

The Vast Ocean Feels Restricting For The Titular Mermaid

Ariel Singing Part Of Your World In The Little Mermaid 1989.jpg

Kicking off the renowned Disney Renaissance, The Little Mermaid is a captivating watch. From skilled underwater animation to the memorable songs penned by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, The Little Mermaid was a much-needed refresh for the company, and it has a quality that manages to hold up beyond the context surrounding its release. There are a few questionable choices made by Ariel and, as a female protagonist, her journey doesn’t reshape the Disney princess mold, but The Little Mermaid hits the mark in every other regard.

10 Up (2009)

Full Of Adventure And Heart Beyond Its Beginning

Carl and Ellin laying in the grass in Up

Up is most remembered for its tear-jerking opening sequence set to Michael Giacchino’s score that sums up a years-long love story in just a few minutes. Following an elderly man who teams up with a young boy for an adventure of a lifetime, much of Up is remembered for the aforementioned opening and the rest of the film doesn’t make as strong of an impact. However, that’s not to say the remainder of Up‘s runtime is spent poorly. The formation of Carl and Russell’s bond is endearing and the breaking through the former’s tough shell is rewarding.

9 Mary Poppins (1964)

Fantasy Is Presented Through Means Of Animation And Live-Action

Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins

The first live-action film mentioned within the list, Mary Poppins mixes the style with animation, acting as the epitome of Disney’s expertise in fantastical storytelling. With Julie Andrews giving a wonderful performance as the magical nanny, Mary Poppins continues to entertain young audiences with its theatrical tunes and fantasy plot. During its release, a few critiques were made about the film for its departure from P. L. Travers’s original book series, but those didn’t reflect the general consensus and it didn’t hinder the long-lasting success of the film.

8 Aladdin (1992)

The Magical Journey To Royal Status

Aladdin and Jasmine at the end of the movie

Introducing one of Disney’s best sidekicks, Robin Williams’ Genie, Aladdin is a colorful story about an ordinary man aspiring to royal status and a princess dreaming of a normal life. When looking at the animated film with a modern lens, by far the weakest parts of Aladdin are its poor cultural depictions. Aside from this, Aladdin has some of the best songs and comedic bits to this day. A large part of this is credited to Williams’ unforgettable performance as the eccentric wish-granting creature that opened the door for Disney to allow for more mainstream celebrities in their animated casts.

7 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003)

The Beginning Of An Influential Action Franchise

Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom as Jack Sparrow and Will Turner dueling in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

What started as an eager and ambitious attempt to enter the swashbuckler genre, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is the first entry in what ultimately became a popular and audience-drawing franchise. The Curse of the Black Pearl is connected to the Disney brand through the theme park ride and, like the attraction, the film is a wild adventure that is most appreciated for its compelling action sequences and leading performances. Just like the following Pirates of the Caribbean installments, The Curse of the Black Pearl has a gallant score composed by Klaus Badelt.

6 Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937)

The Soft-Spoken Princess Made A Strong First Appearance

The prince carrying Snow White in the 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs movie

Imperfect pacing and characterization prevent Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from earning the number one spot, but on legacy alone, the ranked position is rightfully earned by the 1937 film. Setting up Disney for success, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a great animation achievement, and the seamless blend of various tones in the film, from thriller to fantasy, gives it an everlasting quality. The titular princess tends to get overshadowed by the amusing personalities of her seven companions at times, but even with the lengthy history of the company, the film isn’t easily forgotten.

5 Hercules (1997)

Inspired By The Greek Mythology Tale Of The Hero’s Journey

Hercules Pegassus and Phil peeking through the bushes in the 1997 film

An animated adaptation of the Greek mythological tale of the leading hero, Hercules stands out from other Disney films because of its Greek influences and soundtrack spanning a variety of genres. Greek art acts as the biggest influence on Hercules‘ architecture and character design. These influences make the film feel cohesive, unlike its soundtrack, largely sung by Hercules‘ strongest side characters, the Muses. From doo-wop to gospel, the soundtrack offers something for every audience member to sing along to.

Custom image of Rapunzel from Tangled and Genie from Aladdin.
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4 Toy Story 2 (1999)

The Sequel That Proved The Series’ Assured Success

Bullseye, Jessie, and Woody all looking surprised in Toy Story 2

A great sequel is never guaranteed, but luckily, Toy Story 2 is a stellar follow-up to the first film. Toy Story 2 achieves the desired outcome of improving on the original film without discarding all that made it beloved in the first place. Pixar’s villain track record shows no signs of stopping with Stinky Pete and the addition of Jessie and Bullseye to Andy’s group of toys only feels right. Famous storytelling trademarks of Pixar were also established in Toy Story 2 as audiences are presented with Jessie’s heartbreaking backstory.

3 Beauty And The Beast (1991)

Love Story Earning An Academy Award Nomination

Beast & Belle Dancing In Beauty and the Beast 1991.jpg

The first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture, Beauty and the Beast is, as the eponymous song says, a “tale as old as time.” The unanticipated understanding and compassion Belle has for the Beast is truly romantic and has audiences rooting for the relationship despite the specifics of their connection being questionable. Additionally, Beauty and the Beast has grandiose musical performances that are delightfully theatrical, such as the welcoming song “Be Our Guest,” performed by Lumière, or the self-titled anthem by the arrogant Gaston.

2 The Lion King (1994)

A Young Lion Competes With His Uncle For The Throne

The Lion King Pumbaa Timon Simba singing Hakuna Matata

The Lion King is considered by many to be one of Disney’s greatest films and rightfully so. Getting inspiration from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Lion King tells a fascinating story of a young lion facing his villainous uncle for the role of king. The characters are full and well-written, even side characters like Timon and Pumbaa, and the strongest voice-acting performance comes from Jeremy Irons, who takes full control as the ruthless Scar. Of course, just as many Disney films do, The Lion King also has a saddening death scene whose emotional effects are still going strong.

1 Toy Story (1995)

An Ambitious Animation Project That Paid Off

Woody laughing at an unamused Buzz on Andy's bed in Toy Story

Toy Story‘s animation, especially when looking at its sequels, isn’t impressive at first glance, but the Pixar film is the most ambitious project since its parent company’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs decades earlier. On top of Toy Story being a breakthrough in computer-animated films, there’s also merit found in its plot. With fully realized characters from Andy’s toy box, Toy Story has a meaningful message about friendship and connection, fused with humor and iconic catchphrases. The sequel films include memorable songs, but nothing sums up the heartfelt themes quite like Toy Story‘s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” by Randy Newman.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is not on this list because it was not co-produced by Disney. If it had been, it would’ve come in fourth place.

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