A List and Information on All 56 Disney Animated Classic Movies
All 56 Films in the Disney Animated Canon
Here's the complete list of all 56 Disney Animated Classics in the order of their release. All the animated films in the canon have been produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, though not all of their movies are part of the lineup. Some of these might be unavailable as Disney only periodically releases their classic films and distributes them for a limited time. It can be hard (and expensive) for the collectors out there to find the whole set! I have also included facts and trivia about each film.
Disney Animated Classics From 1937-1949
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (December 21, 1937): This is the Disney classic movie that started it all. An evil queen, jealous of her beautiful stepdaughter, orders her to be killed. After hearing the plan of the wicked queen, Snow White flees to the woods and is befriended by a group of seven dwarf miners. While already famous for making shorts, this film put Walt Disney on the map. He made the film with the hopes of making animation a more respected art form. This became the highest grossing film at that point until it was overtaken by Gone with the Wind in 1939. For more interesting facts about this film, check out this article.
- Pinocchio (February 7, 1940): Pinocchio is the story of a carpenter's puppet who is brought to life by a fairy. Pinocchio then goes on a quest to become a real boy, learning right from wrong along the way. Carlos Collodi, the son of the author of The Adventures of Pinocchio, hated Disney's adaptation because he felt it took too many liberties with the narrative. He tried to sue the studio for misrepresenting his father's work. The is the only Disney Animated Classic to have a score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
- Fantasia (November 13, 1940): This film is probably most famous for the inclusion of Mickey Mouse as an aspiring magician. Fantasia is a collection of animated shorts set to classical Western music. The "Rite of Spring" segment was originally planned to cover the age of mammals and end by showing early humans discover fire. Disney removed this portion out of fear of upsetting Creationists.
- Dumbo (October 23, 1941): Dumbo tells the story of a baby elephant with a big problem. His oversized ears are causing trouble in the circus and the other elephants are treating him cruelly. When his mother is put into solitary confinement, Timothy Mouse steps up to become Dumbo's friend. He offers the support he needs to find his incredible talent! This is the shortest feature film on the list; its runtime is 64 minutes. It is also the first film in the canon to be set in contemporary times.
- Bambi (August 9, 1942): Bambi tells the tale of a young deer growing up in the wild after his mother is shot by a hunter. The film had poor earnings due to World War II preventing an international release. This film would mark the end of Disney's golden age as they scaled back on the massive production budgets that their previous films had.
- Saludos Amigos (August 24, 1942): A compilation of shorts, Saludos Amigos shows live-action footage of Disney animators traveling through various Latin American countries and telling stories through animation. It features Donald Duck in his first feature film. This film was made as a gesture of good faith as part of Franklin Roosevelt's Good Neighbor Policy, which planned to create reciprocal trade agreements with Latin America. This would be the first film in the canon's package age, which were films that were a collection of shorts.
- The Three Caballeros (December 21, 1944): Donald Duck receives gifts from his friends Joe Carioca the parrot and Panchito the rooster. These magical gifts take him on a tour of South America with his friends serving as guides. A blend of live-action and animated shorts, this film is set to a soundtrack of lively Latin music. This film had its world premiere in Mexico City.
- Make Mine Music (April 20, 1946): This is a collection of animated shorts set to contemporary (at the time) blues and jazz. It features actress Dinah Shore and jazz musician Benny Goodman, who was known as the King of Swing. While the film never had a wide rerelease, segments from it were used individually in Disney Channel programming.
- Fun And Fancy Free (September 27, 1947): Fun and Fancy Free stars Mickey, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Jiminy Cricket in two animated shorts. This film marked the last time Walt Disney did the voice of Mickey Mouse. Segments include "Bongo," which is about a circus bear who escapes to get back to the wild. There is also "Mickey and the Beanstalk," which is an original fairytale with a sprinkling of Disney magic.
- Melody Time (May 27, 1948): This is another collection of music-based animated shorts. Seven stories are featured, such as Donald Duck in "Blame it on the Samba."
- The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (October 5, 1949): The last film of the package age, this film includes two animated adaptations of classic stories; The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Wind in the Willows. The two stories were initially planned as individual feature-length films. They were merged into one film when Disney lost a large portion of their work force due to the draft of World War II.
A scene was cut in 'Cinderella' where the titular character overhears her stepmother and stepsisters talk about the girl that Prince Charming danced with at the ball, much to her amusement. Walt Disney removed the scene since he felt it made Cinderella look vindictive and made her less sympathetic.
Disney Animated Classics From the 1950s
- Cinderella (February 15, 1950): This is the classic fairy tale retold the Disney way. A young girl is forced by her stepmother and ugly stepsisters to wash and clean all day. Her only friends are the mice that live in the attic. One day, the kingdom is invited to a party at the castle. However, Cinderella is forced by her stepmother to stay at home. She then receives a visit from her Fairy Godmother. With a little bit of magic, she makes her dreams come true. This film marked the beginning of the canon's silver age.
- Alice in Wonderland (July 26, 1951): This is an adaptation of the Lewis Carroll story. Alice tumbles down a rabbit hole and meets strange characters in a new, magical world! Walt Disney actually disliked how the final film came out. He felt the original story had no real plot and was not really fit to be adapted to film. He saw to it that the film was never rereleased in theaters during his lifetime.
- Peter Pan (February 5, 1953): Peter Pan is the little boy who never grew up. He befriends Wendy and her brothers and invites them to the magical world of Neverland. This was intended to be Disney's second feature-length film. The studio couldn't get the rights for the story until 1939. The start of World War II also halted development. Walt Disney was not a fan of the titular character as he felt he was not likable.
- Lady and the Tramp (June 22. 1955): Lady, a tidy and proper Cocker Spaniel, meets Tramp, a rough and playful stray. This is a love story of two worlds coming together. This was the first Disney Animated Classic to be produced in a widescreen format.
- Sleeping Beauty (January 29, 1959): This is an adaptation of another classic fairytale and features one of Disney's most popular princesses. Aurora is cursed to die before her 16th birthday. Only a handsome prince and her three fairy friends can save her. Despite being the second-highest grossing film in its release year ($5.3 million), the film failed to turn a profit with its exorbitant budget of $6 million. This led to Disney no longer adapting fairy tales until The Little Mermaid in 1989. It also made the studio stick to smaller budgets.
The fairies repeatedly changing the dress color in 'Sleeping Beauty' was inspired by the arguments between the animators. They really couldn't decide on the color for Aurora's dress.
Disney Animated Classics From the 1960s
- 101 Dalmatians (January 25, 1961): Pongo and Perdita are two Dalmatians. After the birth of their 15 puppies, the evil Cruella De Vil steals them to make a fur coat. The brave parents travel across the country to save their pups, only to discover a little more than they bargain for when they find them! The was the first Disney animated film to use xerography during the inking process. This allowed the animation of all the Dalmatians and their spots.
- The Sword in the Stone (December 25, 1963): A young King Arthur meets a wise but clumsy wizard, Merlin, during a hunting trip in the woods. Merlin tries to offer the boy an education. He uses magic to teach the boy lessons in life because he believes that the boy is destined to be much more than his older brother's squire. This was the last film that was released while Walt Disney was alive.
- The Jungle Book (October 18, 1967): Rudyard Kipling's short story is given a musical Disney makeover. Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther try to raise Mowgli, a boy they found as a baby stranded in the jungle. Together they learn the "Bear" necessities of life while on the constant lookout for the tiger Shere Khan. This was the last film to be overseen by Walt Disney during production. This movie marks the end of the studio's silver age.
Louie Armstrong was originally going to be the voice of King Louie in 'The Jungle Book.' This was scrapped when Disney realized there would likely be controversy in having an African American portray an ape. The vultures were also going to be voiced by The Beatles but John Lennon ended up nixing the idea.
Disney Animated Classics From the 1970s
- The Aristocats (December 11, 1970): Duchess and her family of Parisian cats are taken from their plush home by a jealous butler. Now, with the help of smooth-talking tomcat Thomas O'Malley, they set out to get back home. This was the final feature that Walt Disney personally greenlit. This was the first movie of the studio's bronze age.
- Robin Hood (November 8, 1973): This was Disney's spin on the English fable of Robin Hood. Robin and Maid Marion are foxes, Little John is a bear, and the evil Prince John is portrayed as a cowardly lion! After Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham heavily tax the villages, Robin comes to rob from the rich and give to the poor. The film initially started out as an adaptation of the legend of Raynard the Fox.
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (March 11, 1977): Based on the stories by A. A. Milne, this was the last film with any personal involvement from Walt Disney. Some of the segments released in the film were produced while he was still working in the studio. His original intention was to release a full-length feature film, but he decided to make three short segments to familiarize American audiences with the characters of the story.
- The Rescuers (June 22, 1977): This is the first of the two Rescuers movies. The Rescue Aid Society is a collection of mice from all around the world who are ready to help anyone that needs it. Miss Bianca (the Hungarian mouse representative) and Bernard (the RAS janitor) are sent to help Penny, an orphan held prisoner by the evil Madame Medusa. This film infamously had an image of a naked woman snuck in by the animators. It is visible for two frames.
When Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel, was recording the song "Part of Your World," the lights in her studio were dimmed to give her the sense of being underwater.
Disney Animated Classics From the 1980s
- The Fox and the Hound (July 10, 1981): Tod is a fox orphaned by hunters. Copper is a hunting dog puppy. The two animals become unlikely companions, but their friendship is put to the test when Copper is trained to hunt out his best friend! The film had the likes of John Lasseter and Tim Burton on the animation team. Both men hated the experience of working on the film since the budget was fairly restrictive. Burton also hated having to draw cute, four-legged animals.
- The Black Cauldron (July 24, 1985): Taran, a young pig-keeper, and his team of unlikely heroes must stop the Horned King from possessing the magical powers released from the Black Cauldron. The film took over 12 years to make, including five years of production. It was also the first Disney animated film to receive a PG rating!
- The Great Mouse Detective (July 2, 1986): Basil, the mouse equivalent to Sherlock Holmes, sets out to save a kidnapped toymaker. While investigating the kidnapping, he discovers a threat to the Royal Family by Profesor Ratigan (voiced by Vincent Price). John Cleese was originally planned to voice Basil until Barrie Ingham was given the role.
- Oliver & Company (November 18, 1988): Oliver the kitten leads a similar life to that of Oliver Twist in this tale of friendship and dreams set in New York. After being down on his luck, Oliver meets Dodger, a street-smart city dog who teaches him how to live in the big city. But when he is adopted by Jenny, Oliver discovers where he truly belongs. Despite being successful at the box office, this film was not released on home media until 1996. It is believed that Disney, who like their films to feel timeless, was unhappy at how the film was very much dated to the 80s. This film marked the end of the studio's bronze age.
- The Little Mermaid (November 17, 1989): Ariel, the princess of Atlantica and daughter of King Triton, is obsessed with human life. After falling in love with a human prince, she is given the chance to become human herself by the evil Ursula. But Ariel must sacrifice her voice, and Ursula has other plans for her and her father. Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of Walt Disney Studios at the time, wanted the song "Part of Your World" removed because he thought it was boring. The animators eventually convinced him to leave it in. This film would mark the beginning of a period fondly known as the Disney Renaissance.
Jeremy Irons, the voice of Scar, couldn't hit the high notes in the last verse of the song "Be Prepared." Veteran voice actor Jim Cummings replaced him for those few lines.
Disney Animated Classics From the 1990s
- The Rescuers Down Under (November 16, 1990): This is the second outing for the Rescue Aid Society's Bernard and Miss Bianca. This time they're sent to Australia to help protect a young boy and his rare eagle pal from the clutches of a poacher. Future Rescuer films were planned, but all future releases were scrapped after Eva Gabor (who voiced Miss Bianca) died in 1995. This was the first film to ever be completely produced digitally.
- Beauty and the Beast (September 29, 1991): Belle, the daughter of an inventer, must sacrifice her freedom after a mysterious beast imprisons her father in his castle. But after spending time with the Beast and his enchanted staff of maids and butlers, she learns to love the man hidden within. The is the only entry in the canon to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.
- Aladdin (November 25, 1992): Aladdin, an Arabian pauper, comes across a magical lamp that is home to a hyperactive and excitable Genie (voiced by Robin Williams). Genie grants Aladdin three wishes. Meanwhile, Jafar, the grand vizier to the sultan, wants the lamp for his own evil purposes. Aladdin, accompanied by his monkey sidekick Abu and Princess Jasmine, must stop Jafar from obtaining the lamp at all costs! This was the first animated film to gross over $200 million at the box office in North America. Robin Williams had a clause in his contact that prohibited Disney from using his voice in promotional material and merchandise. Disney used his voice for these purposes and Williams never voiced the Genie again.
- The Lion King (June 15, 1994): This is quite possibly the most beloved Disney film of all time. The Lion King tells the story of the lion cub Simba. He is banished from his pride after being falsely accused of murdering his father. Simba learns some valuable life lessons from the most unlikely of pals, the meerkat Timon and the warthog Pumbaa. Eventually, he discovers that his pride is in trouble, and only he can save his family! The studio actually believed this film would be mere filler until their release of Pocahontas the following year. Pocahontas ended up underperforming while The Lion King would go on to be the most successful traditionally-animated film of all time. Its worldwide gross would be over $968 million.
- Pocahontas (June 23, 1995): Pocahontas tells the tale of the titular princess as her tribe deals with the English settlers of Jamestown. She must discover a way for the visitors to live in harmony with her people. This is the only Disney Animated Classic to be inspired by a true story.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame (June 21, 1996): Quasimodo, the bell-ringer of Notre Dame cathedral, must help his friend Esmerelda and save her home from being destroyed at the hands of Frollo, the man who raised Quasimodo. The family of Victor Hugo criticized Disney for this film. They felt it commercialized his novel and they were upset that his name was not advertised for the film.
- Hercules (June 16, 1997): Hercules is the son of Zeus and Hera. When his status as a god is stripped from him, he must claim it back as a human on Earth. In doing so, he becomes a real hero. In one scene in the film, the character Phil is seen cleaning himself up with a lion skin. The more eagle-eyed viewers may spot that the skin is drawn to resemble Scar from The Lion King!
- Mulan (June 19, 1998): This is Disney's take on the legend of Hua Mulan, a Chinese girl who joins the army to save her aging dad from enrolling. She trains to fight off the invading Huns. When her ancient ancestors find out, they send Mushu the dragon (voiced by Eddie Murphy) to bring her back. Unable to break her will to leave the army, he helps her fight off the invaders. This was the first Disney movie to be released on DVD! If you're a fan of this film, you should check out this article for some more facts on Mulan.
- Tarzan (June 12, 1999): Tarzan was raised in the jungle by apes after being orphaned as a baby. When he discovers the truth about his family and encounters humans, he must decide where his loyalties lie. This movie marked the end of the Disney Renaissance.
- Fantasia 2000 (December 17, 1999): Similar to the original Fantasia, this version features more classical pieces set to Disney animation. A segment from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is also included. The film was initially released exclusively in IMAX theaters. This created smaller box office revenue since there were less than 100 IMAX screens in the US at the time that played mainstream movies. The practice of simultaneously releasing an IMAX and regular version of a film had not been implemented yet. The film was later released in regular theaters in the summer of 2000. This film is considered to be the start of Disney's experimental era.
'Mulan' didn't find much success in the box office in China. This was the result of the Chinese government being upset at Disney over releasing the film 'Kundun,' a biography on the Dalai Lama that was critical of the government. They threatened to no longer allow any future releases in the country. 'Mulan' was eventually released a year later during the time of New Year celebrations, when major domestic films are released. This led to 'Mulan' struggling to gain an audience there.
Disney Animated Classics From the 2000s
- Dinosaur (May 19, 2000): An Iguadon egg is separated from its family. It hatches near a pack of lemurs, who name him Aladar and raise him. When a meteorite shower threatens the animals' survival, Aladar and his family must travel to find sanctuary. This was the first Disney film that was not made by Pixar where CGI was used. The characters were CGI while the scenery was live-action. The original plan for the film was to have no dialogue; only a narrator would be heard. This was scrapped when the studio felt that the movie came off as a documentary. The UK actually has a different list of entries in the lineup of Disney Animated Classics and Dinosaur is excluded from the list. It was replaced by The Wild, a film not made by Walt Disney Animation Studios.
- The Emperor's New Groove (December 15, 2000): Emperor Kuzco plans to build himself a new water park for his birthday, which requires destroying one of the villages in his kingdom. However, Yzma is planning to take the throne from him. In a failed assassination attempt, Kuzko is turned into a llama and is found by the llama herder Pacha, whose village is due to be demolished. Pacha finds out the llama's true identity and offers to help the emperor reclaim his throne if he agrees to move his water park. Sting was asked to perform the theme song, but he declined. He said that Disney needed someone hip and younger. They recruited Tom Jones, who is 11 years older.
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire (June 3, 2001): Historian Milo (voiced by Michael J. Fox) joins a group of explorers who set out to find the lost city of Atlantis. But when their expedition takes an unexpected turn, the explorers go from exploring the city to protecting it. This was only the second Disney Animated Classic to receive a PG rating! While not a big hit, the film does have a cult following. A ranking of the most underrated Disney films has Atlantis at number one.
- Lilo & Stitch (June 21, 2002): Stitch, an alien experiment, makes a crash landing in Hawaii after escaping imprisonment. Lilo, a young Hawaiian girl, takes him in thinking he's a dog. Not only must Stitch stop his cover from getting blown, he also needs to keep away from two Galactic Federation representatives who are out to capture him and take him back to prison! Director Chris Sanders did the voice for Stitch and continues to do so even after leaving Disney.
- Treasure Planet (November 27, 2002): Treasure Planet is a sci-fi take on Treasure Island. The film sees Jim Hawkins travelling across the universe in a futuristic space galleon. After befriending the robot cook John Silver, the crew of the ship encounter many obstacles until John Silver reveals himself to be a pirate with intentions to start a mutiny. This movie proved to be a box office bomb as its gross fell $30 million short of its $140 million budget. The studio didn't really support the film with a strong advertising campaign as they felt it did not fit their image.
- Brother Bear (November 1, 2003): After a hunter kills a bear in the forest, he is transformed into a bear himself. Accompanied by a young cub named Koda, he must learn the true value of brotherhood. Disney originally planned to do a spin-off series (similar to Lilo and Stitch or The Lion King) with the characters Rutt and Tuke, but this idea was scrapped.
- Home on the Range (April 2, 2004): When an outlaw tries to take control of the Patch of Heaven dairy ranch, it is up to the residents (a group of determined animals) to protect their home! Judi Dench and Steve Buscemi lend their voices in this film. Music is provided by kd lang, Tim McGraw, and other country legends. This was the last film in the canon to receive a wide release on VHS.
- Chicken Little (October 30, 2005): Chicken Little stirs his town into a panic when he thinks the sky is falling. But when aliens visit the town, he and his group of friends must convince the town, and more importantly his father, that this time the threat is real! This was the first full CGI film in the canon.
- Meet the Robinsons (March 23, 2007): Lewis is a 12-year-old genius. When one of his inventions is messed up by a mysterious man in a bowler hat, he receives a visit from someone from the future. He travels to 2037 and meets the Robinson family. Here is where Lewis finds out the truth about the Bowler Hat Guy and gains the courage to keep moving forward. This film was delayed for a year when John Lasseter took over the studio and had about 60% of the film redone.
- Bolt (November 21, 2008): Bolt has his own TV show where he uses his superpowers to protect his owner Penny. But when he's accidentally seperated from Penny in the real world, he must find her without the powers he's always believed were real. Chloe Moretz was originally the voice of Penny and had actually recorded all her lines of dialogue. Disney recasted Miley Cyrus, their top star at the time, in the role and re-recorded her lines. The film marked the end of the experimental era.
- The Princess and the Frog (November 25, 2009): Everyone knows the fairy tale The Frog Prince. The frog turns into a dashing prince when the girl kisses him. But what if the princess turns into a frog instead? She and the Frog go on an adventure to find a way to turn back into humans. This film features Disney's first African-American princess, Tiana. This movie had middling success at the box office due to being released around the same time as Avatar. The Princess and the Frog is considered to be the start of the period known as the Disney Revival.
There was a spike in tourism in Norway thanks to the popularity of 'Frozen.'
Disney Animated Classics From the 2010s
- Tangled (November 14, 2010): This is the story of Rapunzel retold by Disney. Rapunzel is kidnapped as a young girl and locked away in a tower by Gothel, a woman pretending to be her mother. When Rapunzel becomes a teenager, she and Flynn Rider, a man who breaks into her tower, travel to the neighboring kingdom to discover who she really is; the daughter of the king and queen of the kingdom. This film broke the streak of a series of box office slumps; it grossed over $590 million.
- Winnie the Pooh (April 15, 2011): This is a sequel to the 1977 film and adapts three stories written by A.A. Milne. Jim Cummings, the voice of Pooh and Tigger, and Travis Oates, the voice of Piglet, are the only actors to reprise their roles from the original film. This is currently the last traditionally-animated movie in the canon. This film is excluded from the UK list of Disney Animated Classics. Unlike Dinosaur, no film replaced this one.
- Wreck-It Ralph (October 29, 2012): Ralph is the antagonist of a video game. The hero, Fix-It Felix, is adored by everybody while Ralph is shunned. Fed up with this, he goes on a journey to become the hero of his own game. The film featured many cameos from classic video game characters. Nintendo's Mario was initially planned to make an appearance. The filmmakers cut him from the film since they felt he was too important for a cameo but they were unable to think of a substantial role for him.
- Frozen (November 19, 2013): This is a loose adaptation of the fairy tale The Snow Queen. Princess Elsa hides a secret; her ability to conjure ice. The kingdom discovers this on the day of her coronation. She flees from the kingdom, which falls under an eternal winter. It is up to her sister Anna to bring Elsa back and stop the endless snow. This was the first Disney Animated Classic to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It is the highest grossing film in the canon as it has made over $1 billion worldwide.
- Big Hero 6 (October 23, 2014): In San Fransokyo, Hiro Hamada meets Baymax, a robot created by his brother. They work together, along with Hiro's friends, to stop a scheme that threatens to destroy the city. This was the first movie in the canon to be adapted from a Marvel comic and the first superhero film from the studio. Disney and Marvel agreed to separate the Big Hero 6 team from the Marvel Universe. This meant that no other Marvel properties would be mentioned in the film and that the team would no longer appear in future comics.
- Zootopia (February 10, 2016): Judy Hopps dreams of being a police officer in the big city of Zootopia. While on patrol, she meets Nick Wilde, a fox conman. The two work together to overcome their differences and stop a plot that plans to turn the citizens of the city into feral beasts. This film was seen as just a holdover until Moana released the following year. Zootopia ended up becoming the second-highest grossing film in the canon; it's right behind Frozen at $1.024 billion in box office revenue.
- Moana (November 14, 2016: Moana is set to become the next chief of her tribe. When a darkness threatens her village, she goes on a quest to investigate the source. The spirit of the ocean guides her as she receives assistance from the demigod Maui. The Maori dub changed the dialogue in the scene where Moana is angry at the ocean to be more comedic. This was because of a rule in Maori culture that prohibits cursing at the ocean or turning your back to it.
Disney has recently begun a new initiative in giving some Disney Animated Classics a live-action remake. The venture arguably began in 2014 with the release of Maleficent, which revisited the story of Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the antagonist. This has been followed up with more traditional adaptations of Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast. Remakes that will come in the immediate future include Christopher Robin, Dumbo, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Mulan.
What Is in Your Collection?
Apart from the big titles like Snow White and Bambi, many of the films I've mentioned so far are often overlooked, but how many do you own?
So there you have it, all 56 Disney Animated Classics! Which is your favourite? Which your least favourite? Are there any movies that have a special place in your childhood? Are there any new entries coming up that you're excited for? Leave a comment and see what other people think!