The history of Disney animation spans nearly 90 years. Much of it can be seen on Disney+, along with work from other Disney-owned animation studios, including Pixar. Here are the 10 best animated movies to stream on Disney+.
Update, 3/22/23. We’ve checked that all of our links work and we’re still confident that they’re the best animated Disney+ movies.
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Robin Williams steals the show as the voice of Gene Aladdin, and his appearance set the stage for more and more celebrity voices in future Disney animated films. But Williams’ manic performance is only one of the fun aspects of this film. Aladdin Also features great songs (including the huge hit “A Whole New World”), a memorable villain from the evil wizard Jafar, and a sweet central romance between the rogue thief Aladdin and the pampered princess Jasmine.
Kaiser new groove
Considered an anomaly for Disney when it was released in 2000, Kaiser new groove had a troubled production history and underwent many changes during its long development. The result is a zany, hilarious comedy that shows the filmmakers loosening up and throwing out any crazy idea they could think of. The story of a vain emperor who turns into a llama is closer to a Looney Tunes cartoon than the usual Disney fare, but its frenetic energy makes it a blast to watch, and it’s become a cult classic.
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In the earliest days of Disney animation, the 1940s Fantasy proved that Walt Disney and his team were not only interested in creating fairytale cartoons for children. The anthology film features excerpts from classical music, many of which are abstract and experimental. It also famously features Mickey Mouse The Sorcerer’s Apprentice sequence, offering silly cartoony stunts as a counterpoint to some of the bigger segments. It’s a testament to the artistic power of animation.
Disney Princess Musicals Reach Another Level With 2013’s Mega Hit Frozen, which re-established classic Disney style as a pop culture juggernaut while forging its own path. There are two princesses here, sisters Elsa and Anna, and the story is more about their sisterly bond than their romance with a handsome prince. When Elsa’s ice powers spiral out of control, Anna must renew that emotional connection to save their land from eternal winter. It’s a sweeping family heirloom story with fantastic songs (including the Oscar-winning Let It Go).
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Thanks to Disney’s ownership of Marvel, Disney+ is full of big-budget superhero movies, but Pixar’s The Incredibles: takes a different approach to the superhero story. Writer-director Brad Bird focuses on a world where superpowers are outlawed, and how a family of heroes (the Incredibles) must prove that having special powers can be a good thing. It’s a family comedy and action movie all rolled into one, with memorable characters in a distinctive, creatively designed setting.
Lady and the Tramp
Forget the lackluster live-action remake that helped launch Disney+, and look back to 1955. Lady and the Tramp instead, with its simple story of how two dogs from opposite social classes fall in love. The pampered lady and the free-spirited Tramp make an unlikely pair, but their bond is immediate and undeniable. The two dogs explore their beautiful town at the turn of the 20th century in a lyrical and leisurely paced film with beautiful animation. The story stakes are low, but the characters and setting are indelible.
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The so-called “Renaissance of Disney” began in 1989 Little mermaid, which brought back Disney animation after years of poorly received films. It’s easy to see why this film has become a classic, with its brilliant songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, its larger-than-life villain Ursula the Sea Witch, and its captivating heroine Ariel. The story of a mermaid who gives up her voice so she can find true love is an enduring favorite that still reaches children 30-plus years after its release.
Ron was wrong
Animation studio Locksmith Animation makes a promising debut Ron was wrong. Zach Galifianakis voices the titular character, a malfunctioning robot companion to departed child Barney Pudowski (Jack Dylan Grazer). All of Barney’s peers have state-of-the-art “B-bots,” but Barney is stuck with Ron, whose quirky personality gets Barney into trouble but also disrupts the conformity and detachment encouraged by modern technology. Galifianakis is funny and quirky, and the film’s quirky sense of humor balances out its subtle messages about friendship and acceptance.
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Released exclusively for Disney+ in the US by Pixar’s Soul is another emotionally rich film from the studio’s most sensitive auteur Pete Docter (who also directs Up and: Inside out) It follows the journey of jazz musician Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) as he enters the afterlife, reunites with an unborn soul (voiced by Tina Fey) and learns to appreciate every moment of his life. It’s a beautifully animated story with poignant meditations on regret and maturity.
Toy Story 2
The whole thing History of the toy the franchise that launched the Pixar animation empire is great, but the second installment is easily the highlight. Toy Story 2 features the fun, silly tricks of toys that come to life when humans aren’t around, led by cowboy Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and astronaut Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen). It also features the series’ poignant themes of cherished childhood possessions being left behind as children grow up. It’s as emotionally rich as it is lively fun.