13 Scariest Moments in Disney's Animated Movies

Updated on November 20, 2017
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Poppy Reid is a proofreader for Japan Info and a video game enthusiast. She lives in Tokyo and has two hamsters named Zelda and Hemingway.

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Disney's animated classics are well known throughout the world for heartwarming moments, charming characters, and unforgettable stories. The multi-million dollar company has theme parks and merchandise stores as well as new movies out every year, delighting generations of children for almost a hundred years.

But what about the darker side of Disney? Not every moment is happy singing and dancing. Here are the top 13 scariest moments in Disney's animated classic movies.

12. Gaston Stabs Beast (Beauty and the Beast, 1991)

Beauty and the Beast is a fantastic Disney movie that, as many people know, was remade in 2017 as a live-action film. In the animated version, Gaston tries to kill Beast by chasing him with a heavy blunt object and shooting him with arrows. The most frightening, however, was when he stabbed him, drawing blood and actually killing the poor Beast until the magic spell brought him back to life.

Seeing actual animated blood was quite scary as a kid - perhaps that's why they changed to guns in the live-action version.

11. Dumbo's Weird Drug Trip (Dumbo, 1941)

When Dumbo accidentally gets drunk - something that definitely wouldn't happen in the Disney films of today - he starts tripping. Hard. He sees dancing elephants and flashing images comparable to a weird acid trip. Maybe it wasn't only alcohol in that bucket.

This scene "Pink Elephants on Parade" was probably supposed to be funny or charming, but it really creeped me out as a child. Don't do drugs, kids.

10. The Chase Through the Meadow (Bambi, 1942)

Bambi's mother's death, also often dubbed as one of the saddest moments in Disney, is one of the most memorable scenes in the animated classics. Bambi and his mother are hunted by a faceless force that wants to shoot them dead.

With tense music and great animation, this is an incredibly tense scene that leaves you heartbroken as well as shaken.

9. The Hunter Stalks Snow White with a Knife (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is arguably a frightening film, especially for its time. One bone-chilling moment is when Snow White is picking flowers in the meadow, happily singing to herself and minding her own business. Then the hunter, as ordered by the queen, approaches Snow White with a knife. The music gets tense, he holds the blade, and a dark shadow falls over the poor princess. It was definitely a scary moment that deserved a spot on this list.

8. "Thirsty?" (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937)

As if the beautiful queen's transformation into an ugly hag wasn't creepy enough, she then creeps out of the castle through the dungeons to find Snow White to poison her. On the way out, there are the remains of an unfortunate prisoner, reaching out towards a jug of water. The queen mocks the skeleton, asks him if he's "thirsty?" and kicks the empty jug at him, declaring, "have a drink!" before cackling and shuffling off.

It always made me think how horrible it would be to die of thirst trapped forever in an evil queen's dungeon. The short scene freaked me out way more than it should have.

7. Quasi Modo's Torture (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1996)

Hunchback of Notre Dame is pretty dark by Disney's standards, which isn't surprising considering the novel it was inspired by. Although many things were tamed and toned for the children's version of this charming story, Frollo's cruelty - and, indeed, the cruelty of people against something they don't know or understand - was highlighted in this scene.

It was pretty disturbing to see this as a child and still makes me feel uncomfortable even as an adult.

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6. Shere Khan Attacks Baloo (The Jungle Book, 1967)

When Mogli is attacked by the self-proclaimed king of the jungle, Shere Khan the tiger, Mogli's trusty bear friend, Baloo, runs to his rescue by grabbing Shere Khan's tail. Thunder and lightning flashes and Mogli runs for his life from the angry tiger, and when Baloo lets go of the tail, Shere Khan declares, "I'll kill you for this!" and attacks Baloo, who is out of the shot.

What the evil Shere Khan does to poor Baloo is only left to the imagination as lightning flashes and sharp claws swipe at the friendly bear. That few short seconds are just terrifying.

5. Aurora Touches the Spinning Wheel (Sleeping Beauty, 1959)

"Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die!"

As if the dark prophecy of the evil witch, Maleficent, wasn't scary enough, seeing it actually come true was a frightening experience. Aurora goes into a sort of trance as she is put under a spell by the magic in the fireplace, led to a deathly spinning wheel, and forced to touch it, leading to her untimely death.

The creepiness of the scene made it a memorable scary moment in Disney's animated classics.

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4. Firewood (Pinocchio, 1940)

Pinocchio is one of the few Disney movies where most of the bad guys don't get punished for their bad behaviour. I could actually make an entire article on creepiest moments in Pinocchio alone, but I'll settle on this one for now.

Stromboli locks poor Pinocchio in a cage to keep him from escaping and declares that the wooden boy will make him lots of money. Then when the money runs out, he promises to chop our young hero into firewood.

This really made you realise that when you aren't useful to someone anymore, they are more than likely to discard you. This might be one of the scenes in Disney that affected me more as an adult than as a child.

3. The Monsters in the Forest (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937)

Snow White makes the top 13 scariest moments yet again with the scene that comes right after number 9 on this list. After the hunter warns the young princess of the evil queen's intentions to have her killed, he urges her to run away and never come back. Traumatised by her experience, Snow White flees into the woods, where she is so frightened she hallucinates about monsters.

This includes tree branches turning into hands and logs of wood turning into crocodiles. This scene was terrifying to watch as a child.

2. The Horned King (The Black Cauldron, 1985)

The Horned King is definitely one of the scariest villains in Disney and he makes quite the entrance in his dark castle, surrounded by piles of skeletons and with his own theme music. Add that with his dark pondering, horns, and skeletal appearance, and you have a formula for a simply terrifying baddie. The Horned King just bleeds evil, and you feel it with every single scene he appears in.

1. Transforming into a Donkey (Pinocchio, 1940)

Topping this list of Disney's most frightening moments is the donkey transformation in Pinocchio. "Stupid little boys" are collected and sent to Pleasure Island, where they go crazy and have fun... until they have to pay for it by being transformed into donkeys and forced to work in mines until they die.

The concept of this is scary enough, especially when you realise that the villain in charge of this operation, the coachmen, doesn't get in any trouble for his sins.

The poor boys, however silly they may be, didn't deserve to be transformed into animals and enslaved. After you see what happens to the others, you see Pinocchio's new friend, Lampwick, turn into a donkey, before Pinocchio grows his own tail and ears. His only hope is to escape the island before he transforms, too.

This is definitely the scariest scene in all of Disney's animated movies. Take a look for yourself, and tell me this doesn't upset you even a little!

Most Disney animated classics are heartwarming stories with sweet characters and happy endings. However, many stories have a dark undertone, and the animators and script writers of the time delivered some unforgettable moments that remained etched - perhaps scarred - in our minds. Do you agree with the above list? Are there any creepy moments in Disney that have been missed? Which one scared you the most?

© 2017 Poppy

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    • poppyr profile image
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      Poppy 4 months ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Yes, indeed. It's really unclear whether these were intentional hidden messages or just a recurring theme.

    • Mamerto profile image

      Mamerto I Relativo Jr 4 months ago from Cabuyao

      This proves that you cannot make a movie completely child friendly (only in a certain degree), nevertheless it's the reality of life.

    • poppyr profile image
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      Poppy 5 months ago from Tokyo, Japan

      The stampede was more cool and sad than scary to me, but it probably needs an honourable mention :p

    • poppyr profile image
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      Poppy 5 months ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Thanks, Angel!

    • poppyr profile image
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      Poppy 5 months ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Thank you!

    • Susan Sears profile image

      Susan Sears 5 months ago

      Yes, even Disney has a darker side-dumbo tripping always made me wonder what the heck they were doing over at Disney!

    • Angel Guzman profile image

      Angel Guzman 5 months ago from Joliet, Illinois

      Disney films are not all innocent as the average person would think. Great read!

    • satomko profile image

      Seth Tomko 5 months ago from Macon, GA

      Not the stampede and subsequent murder of Mufasa? I thought that would have been on there for sure. Right on about the Horned King, though.

    • nipster profile image

      nipster 5 months ago

      @ number 8: Hey mate, you gonna drink that? Can I have it?

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