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Every Walt Disney Animated Movie, Ranked

From 1937’s ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ to 2023’s ‘Wish’, we’ve ranked all 62 films from the dream factory

Disney animated movies ranked


IS THERE A more recognizable brand on earth than Disney? The studio has, of course, gone far beyond the modest dreams of Walt and Roy Disney, who began the company 100 years ago sketching away in a garage. They could never have predicted their humble beginnings turning into an enormous corporation with thousands of films, shows, games, and more under its belt.

Though the company has seemingly infinite facets, Disney is still known for one thing more than any other, and that’s animation. Walt Disney Animation Studios has led the way in animation since its inception, from its Silly Symphony shorts to the first feature-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in 1937, and beyond. Wish, out Nov. 22 and centered on a 17-year-old girl (Ariana DeBose) who wishes upon a star to help save her kingdom of Rosas from an evil king (Chris Pine), marks Disney’s 62nd animated classic.

But which of Disney’s 62 animated movies reigns supreme? Which films capture that Disney magic effortlessly, and which ones make you wish they were never part of our world? Be our guest and dive into our ranking of every single Walt Disney Animation classic.

From Rolling Stone US


‘Fantasia 2000’ (1999)

Nearly 60 years after the first Fantasia came its spiritual successor Fantasia 2000, which brought several new segments linked to classical music. The film was released in dazzling IMAX. Some of the best things Disney has ever produced — namely “Rhapsody in Blue” and “The Firebird Suite” — are here, but so is “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” airlifted from the original and placed here again. Great as it is, it feels especially disappointing in a film that’s only 75 minutes long.


‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ (1996)

Speaking of obnoxious sidekicks, the worst thing to come from the Disney Renaissance are the three gargoyles in the otherwise masterful The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Disney’s darkest film since Pinocchio, the film gave us fantastic music, stunning visuals, and unforgettable characters — especially the single most menacing villain, Follow. But the gargoyles aren’t just a thorn in the side. They capsize the entire film for comic relief that nobody asked for and isn’t remotely amusing.


‘Lady and the Tramp’ (1955)

Though it’s now a warm slice of unabashed nostalgia, Lady and the Tramp was a considerably more contemporary film than Disney’s typical offerings. It’s best remembered for the glorious and often imitated scene where Lady and the Tramp kiss while sharing spaghetti, but the whole movie is a compelling story about the fear of becoming obsolete and finding family in unexpected places. The widescreen compositions are some of Disney’s very best.


‘Frozen’ (2013)

Disney’s most successful franchise began with Frozen, a story of a sisterly bond between Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel). With the exception of the momentum-stopping “Fixer-Upper,” which needed to be left on the cutting room floor, the songs are brilliant. Every parent may be sick of hearing “Let It Go,” but it’s practically defined a generation. The story is slight, but the emotions are anything but cold.


‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ (2018)

The rare sequel that surpasses the original, Ralph Breaks the Internet is Disney’s most modern animation by a long shot: it’s all about the internet. It’s frequently over the top, with things in the background constantly vying for your attention — a clever metaphor for being online. Its surprising meta twist of bringing every Disney princess together manages to not feel gimmicky and sets up the best Disney song of the last decade, the satirical masterstroke “A Place Called Slaughter Race.” The film also has an unexpected and wickedly funny mid-credits scene. This is a film that intimately understands the attention economy and anxiety in the social media age. While so much animation looks at friends getting together, Ralph Breaks the Internet explores how being apart is OK, too.


‘Zootopia’ (2016)

Another surprising change of pace for Disney, Zootopia is a delightful, fast-paced buddy comedy meets procedural with an all-animal cast. Bunny Judy Hopps (Gwendoline Christie) dreamed of being a cop her whole life, and she’s finally got her shot — but being a rabbit in the enormous city of Zootopia is far more than she bargained for. Her relationship with fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) is thoughtfully developed, and the film has an effective message about prejudice and racism.


‘The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh’ (1977)

Determined to capture the spirit of A.A. Milne’s books, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh packaged three previously-released shorts together, including the Oscar-winning Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. The result is an irresistibly lovely time at the movies. So much of the voicework is phenomenal — Sterling Holloway as Winnie the Pooh, John Fiedler as Piglet, and Paul Winchell as Tigger defined these characters for generations to come.


‘Pocahontas’ (1995)

Keen to repeat the Best Picture nomination of Beauty and the Beast, Disney set out to make a major prestige romance in Pocahontas, the studios first-ever film about a real person. Disney also worked on the film while delegating a secondary team to work on a little film called The Lion King. Despite making a film about a historical figure, there’s little accuracy to be found here. Still, this is one of Disney’s most breathtakingly hand-drawn films, loaded with exquisite detailing, bold character designs, and a masterful use of color. The score is a powerhouse, and the songs, including “Colors of the Wind,” “Mine, Mine, Mine,” and “Savages”, composed by Alan Menken and written by Stephen Schwartz, could make a run for Disney’s finest. The film lacks where it needs it most: the romance. Pocahontas (Irene Bedard) is enormously compelling, but John Smith (Mel Gibson) is dull as dishwater.


‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ (2021)

Released in the heat of the pandemic, Raya and the Last Dragon was largely completed at home. That didn’t stop the film from becoming one of the most cohesive and exciting outputs of the last 10 years. Lone warrior Raya (an exuberant Kelly Marie Tran) sets off on an adventure to find the mythical last dragon, who holds the key to stop the evil Druun spirits from annihilating their world. This rollicking adventure is expertly paced, with a loveable cast of characters (Con-Baby!) and some of the richest detail CGI animation can offer, bringing distinct villages to vibrant life. Filled with terrific action, it’s the closest thing Disney animation has to an MCU movie — though it’s better than the vast majority of them.


‘Tangled’<em> (</em>2010)

To date, with a budget of $260 million, Tangled is Disney’s most expensive animated movie, costing $23 million more than Avatar. The reason? Rapunzel’s (Mandy Moore) hair. It took software engineer Kelly Ward six years to create software that allowed the hair to move the way animators wanted. Rapunzel is delightfully spunky, and Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) is swoon-worthy — no surprise since the animators had a “hot man meeting,” inviting 30 women from the studio to talk about what they considered most attractive in a man to ensure Flynn was the best-looking male lead in the studio’s history. Their romance is the single most developed romance of any Disney princess movie. It sometimes leans too heavily into cheap humor instead of heart, but Tangled is effortlessly rewatchable and frequently hilarious.


‘Fantasia’ (1940)

From here on out, you could make a legitimate claim for any one of these films to be the very best. Walt Disney took an enormous leap with Fantasia, eschewing traditional narratives for a series of shorts set to classical music. The scale of ambition was massive — the studio wanted to install a new sound system called Fantasound exclusively for Fantasia at theaters across America before pesky costs got in the way. All the effort paid off handsomely: Fantasia is both a powerful artistic expression and a deeply entertaining watch. Those averse to classical music won’t be after watching studio-defining sequences like “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”and “Night on Bald Mountain.”


‘Mulan’ (1998)

The first film to be made in Disney’s no-defunct Florida studio, Mulan is a thrilling film about Mulan taking the spot of her father to protect him from military service. Since women cannot serve, Mulan must impersonate a man to take his place. This rousing adventure drew from sketches by production designer Hans Bacher, who honed in on the essence of China, while character designer Chen-Yi Chang brought a curvature and elegance to make the characters work in this world. A unique look at honor, pride, family, and duty,


‘The Lion King’ (1994)

Originally considered a second-thought to prestige picture Pocahontas, 1994’s The Lion King wound up becoming the most successful hand-drawn movie in the studio’s history (not adjusting for inflation), raking in $968 million at the global box office. It’s no surprise a movie this electric became this popular. The voice acting is top-notch, with Jeremy Irons giving perhaps the best performance of his career as villain Scar. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Disney’s own Bambi, the film features one of the most impactful character deaths in movies, wonderful songs from Elton John, and an excellent blend of high-stakes drama and humor. The Lion King provided an opportunity for a lot of the newer employees to make their mark — and what a mark they made.


‘Dumbo’ (1941)

After finding themselves in financial difficulty after poor results for both Fantasia and Pinocchio, Disney cut back the costs on Dumbo, favoring things like watercolor paints and limiting costly special effects. While the result is more cartoonish than previous efforts, that had no impact on Disney’s exceptional storytelling, nor the quality of animation, with the Pink Elephants sequence providing animators the chance to do something experimental and sensational. The tale of Dumbo, an elephant endlessly ridiculed and tormented for his big ears, is heartbreaking, but also inspirational — no amount of torment stops Dumbo from achieving his dreams. At a mere 64 minutes, Dumbo packs in better pacing and more pure emotion than longer films could only dream of.


‘Cinderella’ (1950)

After a string of mediocre results with the package films in the Wartime Era, Disney returned to the successful formula of Snow White, delivering their second princess film, Cinderella. The film ushered in the Silver Age, characterized by the return of grand narratives and artistic innovation, and what’s grander than a literal rags-to-riches tale? The film was a smash hit, and Cinderella is Disney’s most underappreciated princess; she’s no pushover and has a wide range of capabilities. Animators used live-action actors for reference to ensure realistic movements. The animation pushed boundaries: the “Sing, Sweet Nightingale” sequence makes innovative use of bubbles, and Cinderella’s dress transformation, animated by Marc Davis, was cited by Walt as his favorite example of animation.


‘Sleeping Beauty’ (1959)

The next princess film after Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty massively underperformed at the box office, and combined with huge expenses, the film nearly tanked the entire studio. Made to take advantage of the Super Technirama 70, animators had to work with far larger canvases than they were used to, creating exorbitant costs and significant delays. But the results were absolutely worth it. This is unquestionably Disney’s most beautiful-looking movie — no other Disney film looks anything like Sleeping Beauty. Under the guidance of the exemplary Eyvind Earle, whose work was inspired by pre-Renaissance European art, every frame is a work of art, and its unique styling, including square trees, leaves a lasting impression. It doesn’t hurt that it has one of the all-time great villains in Maleficent, who wreaks havoc on Princess Aurora because she wasn’t invited to her birthday party. 


‘Aladdin’ (1992)

A rambunctious, high-energy adventure, few films are as successfully crowd-pleasing as Aladdin. The Genie is often hailed as Disney’s greatest sidekick and for good reason. Robin Williams’ voicework here is masterful, and the Genie is brought to exquisite life by Eric Goldberg. Everything here works, from plucky protagonist Aladdin, a princess longing for more in Jasmine, and a dastardly villain in Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) — not to leave out his quippy sidekick Iago, voiced by Gilbert Gottfried.