30 Best Disney Movies of All Time
From animated happily-ever-afters and live-action fairy tales to decades-old classics, we've got the best Disney movies ever
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Disney movies for the whole family
Without question, many of the best movies that have been produced over the past century have come out of Walt Disney Studios. From the best cartoon movies like The Lion King and Toy Story to classic family movies like Mary Poppins and the original Parent Trap, Disney is the studio that gets the credit. And it all started with Walt Disney himself. Thanks to his dream of entertaining the masses, we have a long list of the best Disney movies ever created.
Since Disney’s very first film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, premiered in 1937, the company has been at the forefront of animation and innovation. For many (especially Disney trivia savants), the nostalgia of childhood is inextricably linked to the best Disney movies, the most-listened-to Disney soundtracks and the most famous Disney movie quotes.
But when it comes to narrowing down the best Disney movies, it can be tough: The company has produced 61 animated films and plenty more live-action theatrical releases. With that much original content, it can be overwhelming to choose what to watch. While all the titles on our list are family-friendly, we’ve got action and adventure movies, musicals, princess films and more, so there’s sure to be something for everyone.
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Memorable quote: “To infinity and beyond!”
All four Toy Story films deserve spots on a list of the best cartoon movies of all time (there’s even a fifth film that’s been announced), but for this roundup, we’re including the original because it kicked off the franchise. Tom Hanks stars as Woody, a well-loved but old cowboy doll that belongs to a boy named Andy, while Tim Allen stars as Buzz Lightyear, Andy’s newer, shinier toy astronaut. The two toys begin as rivals, only to become best friends for, well, infinity. The supporting cast is a who’s who of great actors and comedians: Don Rickles, John Ratzenberger, Annie Potts and Wallace Shawn all appeared in the original and many of the sequels.
Memorable quote: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”
Julie Andrews made her feature film debut in Mary Poppins, one of the best Disney movies of all time. In the film based on the classic children’s book, Andrews starred as the stern but loving nanny to the mischievous Banks children, and the film has remained a classic, thanks to its blend of live action and animation, amazing music and the chemistry between Mary and her chimney-sweep pal Bert (Dick van Dyke).
Memorable quote: “If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff.”
One of the great funny family movies on our list, Ratatouille stars Patton Oswalt as a lovable rat named Remy who has a gift for cooking and who idolizes the late chef Auguste Gusteau. After Remy finds himself at the chef’s Parisian restaurant, he teams up with the garbage boy, a human named Alfredo Linguini (Lou Romano), to cook in the kitchen. Remy hides in Linguini’s chef hat and tells him what to make, and despite having to hide Remy from the world, eventually the restaurant becomes a sensation.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Memorable quote: “Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”
When Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length feature film from Walt Disney Studios, premiered in Hollywood in 1937, audiences were enthralled. They had never seen this style of animation in technicolor before. Although animation styles have evolved in the 80-plus years since the film’s release, Snow White is still considered one of the best Disney films of all time, paving the way for those after it. In the enchanting film, a young girl is poisoned by a wicked queen and can only be saved by her true love’s kiss. It was “Disnified” with the addition of Snow White’s loyal companions, the seven dwarfs, who provided comedic relief. Funny enough, of all the things banned from Disney movies (smoking, beheading and impalement), feeding someone a poisoned apple isn’t one of them.
Memorable quote: “And now we’re going to hear a piece of music that tells a very definite story. As a matter of fact, in this case, the story came first and the composer wrote the music to go with it. It’s a very old story, one that goes back almost 2,000 years: a legend about a sorcerer who had an apprentice.”
Fantasia was the third full-length Disney animated movie, and it has become one of the company’s signature films, thanks in part to the imagery of Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment. Each of the film’s eight segments features a classical symphony, including Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, brought to life with visual stories animated to accompany each song—you might even consider them the very first music videos. The seemingly simple innovation of blending beloved classical music with gorgeous full-color animation underscores why some of the older Disney films are among the best the company has to offer.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Memorable quote: “Honey, I shrunk the kids. And the Thompson kids too. They’re this big. They’re in the backyard. And, I threw them out with the trash.”
Among the best ’90s movies you can stream now, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids stars Rick Moranis as inventor Wayne Szalinski, whose latest invention (a shrink-ray machine) accidentally zaps his own two kids and the neighbors’ kids, shrinking them down to the size of ants. After Wayne accidentally throws them out in a garbage bag, they have to fend for themselves in the backyard, riding ants to get around and eating crumbs off the ground, until their father can blow them back up to normal size.
Memorable quote: “A dream is a wish your heart makes.”
An all-time classic film and one of the best Disney movies ever, Cinderella is the reason we talk about things like glass slippers, and the reason Walt Disney World’s Cinderella castle is as iconic as it is. Perhaps one of the earliest versions of a rags-to-riches story, it features the young, hardworking Cinderella, who’s employed as a servant by her wicked stepmother and evil step-sisters. After being invited to attend a ball in honor of the Prince, she’s locked away by her stepmother, but with the help of her mice friends Gus-Gus and Jaq and a fairy godmother, she arrives in style in a pumpkin coach and glass slippers and, well, the rest is history.
Memorable quote: “Eve!”
On one hand, you could say that WALL-E is a prime example of a sci-fi movie, since it features a robot whose job is to clean up an uninhabitable, garbage-filled Earth that has been destroyed by humans. On the other hand, it’s a tender tale of friendship, as the main protagonist, WALL-E, a robot who has spent its entire existence alone, searches for fellow robot Eve after they have a brief encounter on Earth. After Eve leaves, WALL-E travels the galaxy in pursuit of his best friend.
Memorable quote: “You don’t talk much. I like you!”
In Disney/Pixar’s Up, classic sitcom veteran actor Ed Asner (best known from The Mary Tyler Moore Show) plays Carl Frederickson, a widower who decides to fulfill a lifelong dream he had with his wife, Ellie, to travel to Paradise Falls in Venezuela. Carl turns the house he shared with Ellie into a makeshift airship buoyed by helium balloons and, along with a young Wilderness Explorer named Russell and his trusty dog named Dug, they travel to South America. The adventure-filled movie is full of heart and packed with laughs, and the first 10 minutes, which tell the story of Carl and Ellie’s relationship (one of our favorite Disney couples), is almost like a wonderful, heartbreaking movie within a movie.
Memorable quote: “Hi, I’m Olaf, and I like warm hugs!”
You might consider this surprising Disney fact controversial, but despite their incredible popularity, Anna and Elsa are not considered Disney princesses, even though they’re the daughters of a king and queen. While the two sisters, voiced by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, are the main characters in Disney’s Frozen, they’re actually not among the canonical Disney princesses, like Cinderella and Snow White. Weird, huh? Despite that, Frozen, the story of the young queen Elsa, who accidentally turns her home into an ice kingdom using her hidden powers, and it’s sequel, Frozen II, are the two highest-grossing animated films of all time. And good news: There’s a third movie in the works.
Memorable quote: “You meet, you have lunch and you get married.”
Disney spent the better part of the 20th century producing animated films about princesses who found their happily-ever-after in the arms of a handsome prince. But in 2007, they released Enchanted, a live-action Disney movie starring Amy Adams that turned all the familiar fairy-tale tropes on their head. Adams stars as Princess Giselle, an animated princess who gets pushed down a well by an evil queen (and future mother-in-law) and winds up in New York City as a human version of herself. While she’s still pretty sure she’s a cartoon princess living in a fairy tale, Giselle has to adapt to the new world, so she does what any princess in New York City would do: befriend the rats and pigeons she meets. Meanwhile, her handsome Prince Edward (James Marsden) tries to bring her back home. And since this is a parody of traditional fairy tales, their happily-ever-after is not what they thought it would be.
Memorable quote: “We don’t talk about Bruno.”
Encanto was the No. 1 streamed movie on Disney+ in 2022, and for good reason: The musical is charming, exciting and filled with a memorable movie soundtrack, including the now-famous “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.” In one of the best Disney movies of the past decade, a young Colombian girl named Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) appears to be the only member of her family not blessed with some kind of gift—Mirabel’s sisters, Luisa and Isabel, possess the gift of great strength and beauty, respectively. Then, Mirabel begins to have visions that her family’s beloved home, Casita, in their magical village of Encanto, will be destroyed. The last person in her family to have visions like these was her uncle Bruno (John Leguizamo), who was banished from the family. Mirabel struggles to convince the ones she loves most that her visions are real and their home is in danger.
Memorable quote: “Honoring your parents sounds great, but if you take it too far, well, you might forget to honor yourself.”
Easily one of the funniest movies Disney has released, Turning Red is a coming-of-age movie that addresses everything from puberty and boy-band obsession to the not-so-simple life of a teenager, all with heart and laughter. In the film, Mei Lee (Rosalie Chiang) is a 13-year-old Chinese Canadian girl who wakes up one day to discover that she has inherited a family curse where she morphs into a giant red panda any time she feels a strong emotion. While Mei strives to please her parents (Sandra Oh and Orion Lee) and be a perfect, dutiful daughter, this new development in her life creates chaos. That’s until she learns to embrace it as part of who she is. The story of Mei’s family struggles is perfectly balanced with the humor that stems from Mei’s loyal friendships with her best friends (and her passion for the fictional band 4*Town).
Lilo & Stitch
Memorable quote: “Ohana means family.”
Lilo & Stitch is the story of a lovable little alien who crash lands in Hawaii. After an alien escapes from an intergalactic experiment and its shuttle lands in Kauai, it befriends a young girl named Lilo (Daveigh Chase), who lives with her sister Nani (Tia Carrere). Lilo names her new friend Stitch, and she pretends the alien is a dog to avoid suspicion from the locals. But Stitch is also on the run from the scientist who is looking for his experiment. Lilo and Stitch both find themselves causing chaos wherever they go, and the strength of their bond prevails over everything else.
Memorable quote: “When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming.”
A classic Father’s Day movie, Finding Nemo follows a widowed clown fish named Marlin (Albert Brooks), who is incredibly overprotective of his son, Nemo (Alexander Gould). Tired of his dad’s rules, Nemo swims too close to the surface and is caught by a diver, leading Marlin on a hunt across the ocean to find his son. Along the way, Marlin meets a blue reef fish named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), who has no short-term memory, a shark named Bruce and a laid-back turtle named Crush, who help reunite the father and son. DeGeneres’s character was such a hit, she received her own spinoff film, Finding Dory.
Memorable quote: “This may come as a shock to you, but in my game, I’m the bad guy, and I live in the garbage.”
While many of the best Disney movies feature the voice talents of great comedians, Wreck-It Ralph may hold the record for the number of hilarious actors they’ve crammed into one film. John C. Reilly stars as Ralph, one of the characters in an arcade game called Fix It Felix Jr. When the lights go off each night at the arcade, all the characters from his game and others socialize together. When Ralph accidentally launches himself into a different video game, he realizes they all run the risk of being labeled “out of order” or worse—being unplugged. Ralph goes on an action-packed adventure to prove he’s a hero, alongside the film’s killer comedian co-stars Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, Jack McBrayer, Mindy Kaling and many more.
Memorable quote: “One, two, three, four, get the kid back through the door!”
Monsters, Inc. is the story of two monsters who live in the city of Monstropolis, a place powered by the screams of human children. In order to meet the city’s energy needs, monsters like Sulley (John Goodman) and his wisecracking best friend Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) are employed by the Monsters, Inc. factory. They enter the human world through bedroom closets, and then harvest screams. But when a human girl named Boo accidentally enters Monstropolis, Sulley and Mike learn that her laughter is more powerful than her screams.
The Princess and the Frog
Memorable quote: “Like I told y’all, kissing a princess breaks the spell.”
Set in 1920s New Orleans, The Princess and the Frog is the story of Tiana (Anika Noni Rose), a young woman who dreams of opening her own restaurant. Things become complicated when a spoiled prince, Naveen, decides to marry Tiana’s best friend, Charlotte. But through a voodoo spell, Tiana and Naveen are turned into frogs. The pair must find a way to turn themselves human again or risk being frogs forever. The story turns the classic fairy tale The Frog Prince into a jazz-infused celebration of all things New Orleans, with music by Randy Newman and a hit single performed by Ne-Yo.
Memorable quote: “There are those who say fate is something beyond our command. That destiny is not our own. But I know better. Our fate lives within us. You only have to be brave enough to see it.”
Merida (played by Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald) is a Disney princess unlike most others. The daughter of Scottish King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), she’s a skilled archer and rejects the life her parents want for her. Not happy to settle down and marry, Merida seeks help from a witch to put a spell on her domineering mother. But the curse, in which Elinor is turned into a bear, is worse than Merida bargained for. She and her mother must put their disagreements aside and work together to break the spell. With Brave, Disney/Pixar embraces themes of women’s empowerment and forging your own path.
Memorable quote: “We should lock the door and scream that curse word we know.”
Many of the movies Disney makes with Pixar are simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking—the first 10 minutes of Up and the trash compacter scene in Toy Story 3, for instance. Inside Out puts the full spectrum of human emotions at the forefront of the plot, literally. In the film, a young girl named Riley moves with her family to San Francisco, and her inner emotions (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger) all compete inside her mind to help her navigate the tumultuous time. Joy, played by Amy Poehler, tries to keep Sadness (Phyllis Smith) at bay, but in the process, she unintentionally mixes all Riley’s memories and feelings, causing Riley to become despondent, until Joy manages to set things right again.
Memorable quote: “Do you think when she falls asleep, she counts herself?”
In 2016’s Zootopia, Ginnifer Goodwin plays Judy Hopps, a police officer who joins forces with a con-artist fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) to solve the mystery of why certain formerly tame animals in their city are becoming violent predators. The incredible supporting cast includes Idris Elba, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate and Shakira (who blesses us with a musical performance in the film).
Big Hero 6
Memorable quote: “Hello, I am Baymax, your personal healthcare companion.”
Big Hero 6 tells the story of a young robotics genius named Hiro (Ryan Potter), who teams up with Baymax (Scott Adsit), a robotic medical assistant who was created by and worked for Hiro’s brother Tadashi. After Tadashi dies, Hiro and Baymax avenge his death by finding the person responsible for it. While not the most popular movie on the list, it combines action-packed mystery with humor and a surprisingly tender heart.
The Lion King
Memorable quote: “We are all connected in the great circle of life.”
Young Simba is the heir to his father Mufasa’s throne, but when Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones) is killed by his wicked brother Scar (Jeremy Irons), Simba runs away, believing the death is his fault. Years later, with the help of his friends Nala, Timon and Pumba, Simba returns to claim the throne that’s rightfully his. The Lion King has become legendary thanks to a combination of the heartfelt story and the music, penned by Elton John and Tim Rice, including songs like “Hakuna Matata,” “Circle of Life” and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.” The movie was eventually turned into one of the most successful Broadway musicals ever.
Memorable quote: “Sometimes our strengths lie beneath the surface. Far beneath, in some cases.”
Maui is not just a great Hawaiian island to visit, it’s also the name of Dwayne Johnson’s character in Moana, the Disney film that takes place in ancient Polynesia. The film tells the story of Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), a teenage girl who has been chosen to help save her village from a destructive force. She sets off on an ocean voyage with the help of Johnson’s Maui, a demi-god who helps guide her on her quest to save her people and ultimately discover who she really is. The perfect feminist movie for children, Moana is not only the first Polynesian princess, she also doesn’t have a love interest and is the definition of female empowerment.
Memorable quote: “Oh, look. Another glorious morning. Makes me sick!”
In the 30 or so years since its first release, Hocus Pocus has become a cult classic Disney Halloween movie and part of many people’s holiday routines. Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker star as the three Sanderson sisters, witches who once lived in Salem, Massachusetts and are resurrected when the magical Black Flame candle is lit by a group of unassuming teens. Pretty much everything about the movie is part of the Halloween lexicon these days. The film is so beloved by generations, it got a resurgence in 2022 with the premiere of the sequel, Hocus Pocus 2.
The Sword in the Stone
Memorable quote: “Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil is rightwise king born of England.”
Many early Disney films were simply retelling of classic fairy tales, often featuring princesses in distress, but 1963’s The Sword in the Stone featured a young boy who would be king. In this version of the tale of King Arthur, a young orphan under the tutelage of a wizard named Merlin becomes the only person in England who is able to remove the mythical, magical sword embedded in a stone. The film features many of the classic characters from the tale of King Arthur, including Merlin and Arthur’s foster brother, Sir Kay. The Sword in the Stone was the final film released by Walt Disney Productions before Walt Disney’s death in 1966.
The Parent Trap
Memorable quote: “Don’t do this to me. I’m already seeing double.”
Filmmaker Nancy Meyers is responsible for some of the greatest early 2000s films, including It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give and romantic Christmas movie staple The Holiday. But one of her most-loved flicks is the family-friendly remake of the Disney classic The Parent Trap. Lindsay Lohan was 11 when she made her film debut (make that debuts) in the 1998 version, playing Hallie and Annie, twins who were separated at birth. When the girls meet for the first time at camp, they scheme to switch places and get their estranged parents, Nick and Elizabeth (played by Dennis Quaid and the late Natasha Richardson), back together. The film also features an excellent supporting performance from Elaine Hendrix as Meredith Blake, Nick’s delightfully awful fiancée.
The Parent Trap
Memorable quote: “I’ve never seen her before in my life. ”
There are two types of people in this world: those who think the 1998 version of The Parent Trap is the best, and those who prefer the 1961 original, which stars Hayley Mills as twins Sharon and Susan. The plots of the two Parent Trap films, like the twins themselves, are virtually identical, but there’s a certain charm about the original that comes from Mills’s dual roles, as well as from her co-stars, Brian Keith and Maureen O’Hara. And let’s not forget the classic performance of the song “Let’s Get Together.”
Memorable quote: “Girls, come on! Leave the saving of the world to the men? I don’t think so!”
Another Disney/Pixar production, this 2004 superhero movie about a family that possesses special powers is one of the best Disney movies of the past 20 years, receiving four Oscar nominations and winning two of them. In The Incredibles, Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter star as husband and wife Bob and Helen Parr, also known as Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl. When the government bans all superheroes from using their powers, Bob and Helen commit to a nice, normal suburban life raising their three kids, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack, all of whom have special skills of their own. But when Bob is offered the chance to work on a secret superhero mission, he realizes he misses his old life. Turns out he can’t do it alone and needs the help of his wife and kids to defeat the evil villain named Syndrome.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Memorable quote: “What’s this? There’s color everywhere! What’s this? There are white things in the air! What’s this? I can’t believe my eyes, I must be dreaming; wake up, Jack, this isn’t fair!”
The Nightmare Before Christmas features that classic, creepy Tim Burton aesthetic, but for kids. The film seamlessly bridges the gap between a Halloween film and a Christmas movie, since both holidays are featured prominently in it. In the stop-motion animated musical directed by Henry Selick and produced by Burton, Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon) is the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town. Jack becomes tired of Halloween, and his life turns upside down. When he discovers Christmas Town and its leader Sandy Claws, Jack decides he should take over Christmas Town himself. Disney was initially concerned that the film might be too dark for kids, but in the time since its 1993 release, Nightmare Before Christmas has become a cult classic (and was re-released in 3D in 2006) and is one of the most-watched kids Christmas movies on Disney+.