Ranking the best Disney movies of all time
"It's kind of fun to do the impossible," said Walt Disney, and fans have marveled at his ability to do just that, bringing to life impossible and enchanting stories since Walt Disney Studios opened more than 75 years ago. Disney created a new genre of film, exploring mysterious worlds and making movies accessible to children.
While the Disney empire is now immense, many of us relate Disney films to classic, animated movies we watched as children. Everyone has their favorites. Some of us enjoy the classic fairy tales like "Cinderella" or "Snow White," while others prefer the adventures into the animal kingdom. From the African Serengeti in "The Lion King," to inside the video game world in "Wreck-It Ralph," animated Disney pictures offer something for everyone.
There are numerous Disney movies to choose from, and the team at PrettyFamous wanted to find the best. We ranked the top 33 animated Disney movies by our comprehensive Smart Rating. The Smart Rating is a score that takes into account ratings from Metacritic, IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and Gracenote, as well as the inflation-adjusted U.S. box office revenue.
See if your favorite Disney movie made the list. If not, Hakuna Matata — reviews and revenue can’t account for nostalgia, after all.
#33. Peter Pan
Smart Rating: 86.04
Disney's 1953 release of "Peter Pan" is an adaptation of the famous play by J.M. Barrie, which was published in 1904. "Peter Pan" is one of Disney's only animated features entered into the Cannes Film Festival, according to IMDb.
Smart Rating: 86.16
In 1997, Disney strayed from classic fairy tales and dove into Greek mythology. Although "Hercules" only loosely follows the legends of Zeus, Hercules and Hades, it is a classic Disney movie that answers the question, "Who put the glad in gladiator?"
#31. The Great Mouse Detective
Smart Rating: 86.36
"The Great Mouse Detective" follows Basil, the mouse version of Sherlock Holmes, as he uncovers a sinister plot against British Royalty — devised by his nemesis Professor Ratigan. Professor Ratigan was voiced by famous actor Vincent Price, known for his roles in classic horror films "The Fly" and the original "House of Wax."
#30. The Princess and the Frog
Smart Rating: 86.39
Disney's retelling of this classic fairy tale takes place in 1920s New Orleans, and was the first Disney film to feature an African-American princess. It was nominated for an Academy Award for best animated film, but lost to Pixar's "Up."
#29. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Smart Rating: 86.81
This 1949 Disney classic is an adaptation of the 1908 children's novel "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame. Although it's a jovial film that features cute talking animals, the film's song "The Headless Horseman" is considered one of Disney's darkest.
#28. Lilo & Stitch
Smart Rating: 86.94
In the first animated Disney picture set in Hawaii, 6-year-old Lilo befriends cute troublemaker Stitch, an alien creature. According to IMDb, the name "Lilo" can be translated as "generous one" or "lost." While critics enjoyed the original, Disney did not succeed with "Lilo and Stitch 2." The sequel received a 40 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
#27. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Smart Rating: 87.03
"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" was originally published by Victor Hugo in 1831. Disney recreated a sunnier version of this dark novel, although the song "Hellfire" is particularly morose. We do not expect to hear, "Don't let this siren cast her spell, don't let her fire sear my flesh and bone, destroy Esmeralda, And let her taste the fires of hell," from Disney.
#26. The Emperor's New Groove
Smart Rating: 87.33
David Spade and John Goodman star in this buddy comedy about selfish Emperor Kuzco and the predicament he gets into when he's turned into a llama. Although the titles are similar, this story is not based off of Hans Christian Anderson's classic, "The Emperor's New Clothes."
Smart Rating: 87.70
The Tarzan character first appeared in the novel "Tarzan of the Apes" in 1912. The 1999 Disney adaptation was a huge success. Audiences loved Rosie O'Donnell's comedic impression of young gorilla Terk, and Phil Collins’ soundtrack is celebrated as one of the best in Disney history. The song "You'll Be In My Heart" won an Academy Award.
#24. Winnie the Pooh
Smart Rating: 87.92
Since 1926, audiences have been familiar with Winnie the Pooh and his hodgepodge group of friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. British actor John Cleese narrates the 2011 version, and Disney favorite Jim Cummings (who is also heard in "The Lion King," "Shrek" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame") voices both Pooh and Tigger.
Smart Rating: 87.97
"Mulan" is Disney's adaptation of an ancient Chinese folktale. It was Disney's first animated film featuring an Asian heroine, and many people love that Disney flipped traditional gender roles around with a prince in distress, saved by a young maiden.
Smart Rating: 88.84
John Travolta and Miley Cyrus star in "Bolt," the story of an American white shepherd who believes he has magical powers, since he's lived his life as the star of a sci-fi TV show. When Bolt escapes from the studio, he's forced to face the real world without his superhero powers.
Smart Rating: 89.18
"Tangled" is Disney's modern take on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale "Rapunzel." According to IMDb, it was Disney's most expensive animated feature, costing over $260 million to produce.
#19. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Smart Rating: 89.67
The 1977 version of Winnie the Pooh combines three short stories originally written by British author A.A. Milne. According to Rotten Tomatoes, "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" is "perhaps the most faithful of Disney's literary adaptations."
#19. Alice in Wonderland
Smart Rating: 89.67
The book "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" was published by Lewis Carroll in 1865. Disney has since created two versions, the well-liked, animated version from 1951, and the 2010 film starring Johnny Depp (which only received a 52 percent rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes).
Smart Rating: 90.95
"Dumbo" is based off of an eight-page children's book, according to IMDb. From such a simple story, Disney created a harrowing film about loss and family. In 2010, TIME ranked Dumbo as one of the ten saddest kids movies of all time.
Smart Rating: 91.30
Another heartbreaking tale about loss, "Bambi" is the story of the baby deer who must survive after his mother is killed by hunters. The character "Man" was ranked as the 20th greatest villain in The American Film Institute's "100 Greatest Heroes & Villains," published in 2003.
#16. Wreck-It Ralph
Smart Rating: 91.58
This outsider story featuring the voices of John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman, along with Jane Lynch and Mindy Kaling, is a creative adventure inside the world of video games. It was nominated for an Academy Award for best animated picture in 2013, but lost to Pixar's film "Brave."
Smart Rating: 91.71
The enchanting tale of sisters Elsa and Anna has become a global phenomenon. A sequel is currently in the works, as well as a Broadway musical coming to the stage in 2018. "Frozen" is the highest-grossing animated film of all time, pulling in nearly $1.1 billion as of April 11, 2014.
#14. Lady and the Tramp
Smart Rating: 91.76
"Lady and the Tramp" is one of Disney's most quintessential love stories. Over 60 years after its release, fans fondly remember Lady and Tramp's adventures with the neighborhood animals and, of course, the classic spaghetti scene.
#13. Sleeping Beauty
Smart Rating: 91.80
"Sleeping Beauty" was originally a fairy tale written by the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. Acclaimed Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky famously adapted the story in 1890 into a ballet. The 1959 Disney version of the story is a favorite, although Princess Aurora only has 18 lines in the film.
#12. The Jungle Book
Smart Rating: 91.82
Rudyard Kipling published "The Jungle Book" as a group of short stories in 1894. Disney's version is a lot of fun, with cheery musical numbers like "The Bare Necessities." The live-action film coming out April 15, 2016, looks as though it's going to be much darker than the animated version.
#11. One Hundred and One Dalmatians
Smart Rating: 92.11
"One Hundred and One Dalmatians" was the highest grossing film of 1961 in the USA. Cruella de Vil is one of the most memorable, devilish villains created by Disney, but the 1996 live-action version starring Glenn Close is not nearly as adored as the original.
Smart Rating: 92.39
"Pinocchio" is based on the children's novel "The Adventures of Pinocchio" published by Italian author Carlo Collodi in 1883. Disney's 1940 version featured a very memorable soundtrack. "When You Wish upon a Star" ranked no. 7 in the American Film Institute's "Top Movie Songs of All Time."
#9. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Smart Rating: 92.81
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was Disney's first animated full-length feature. In 2008, the American Film Institute ranked this classic the number one animated movie of all time.
Smart Rating: 92.84
Originally a folktale and Brothers Grimm story, Disney chose to remove the more sinister aspects and replace them with singing mice and a sweet fairy godmother. In the original story, one of the stepsisters attempts to remove her toes to fit into the coveted slipper, and their eyes are gouged out by doves at Cinderella's wedding to the prince.
#7. Big Hero 6
Smart Rating: 92.89
In futuristic San Fransokyo, six diverse friends ban together to defeat Professor Callaghan as he destroys the city by unleashing hostile robots. "Big Hero 6" eclipsed other animated pictures including "The Boxtrolls" and "How to Train Your Dragon 2" when it won the Academy Award for best animated film in 2015.
#6. The Little Mermaid
Smart Rating: 93.53
Danish author Hans Christian Andersen wrote "The Little Mermaid" in 1837, a tragic love story in which the mermaid has her tongue cut off by the sea witch and ends up dissolving into sea foam at the end. Of course, Disney significantly lightened the story, adding a choir of singing sea creatures and a happy ending.
Smart Rating: 93.97
With a runtime of 124 minutes, "Fantasia" is the longest animated Disney film. The collection of songs and creative animations is Disney's highest rated film without a sequential plot.
Smart Rating: 94.69
The most recent movie on our list, "Zootopia" has climbed the charts in recent weeks. Audiences and critics alike love the story of Judy Hopps, a cute bunny with dreams of becoming a serious police officer in the giant city of Zootopia. The film has already grossed over $240 million since its release on March 4.
#3. Beauty and the Beast
Smart Rating: 95.05
This tale as old as time was written by French author Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740. Like "Cinderella," Disney lightened the story, creating a colorful assortment of characters from household items like Chip and Lumiere. The story was adapted into a Broadway musical in 1994.
Smart Rating: 95.18
One of Robin Williams' most memorable performances is his gleeful character Genie in "Aladdin." The film effortlessly combines humor and a marvelous soundtrack: "Aladdin" won the Oscar for best original score and best original song ("A Whole New World"). "Friend Like Me" was nominated for an Oscar as well. Like "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin" was also adapted into a successful Broadway musical.
#1. The Lion King
Smart Rating: 95.61
"The Lion King" reigns supreme as Disney's highest-rated film. Although "The Lion King" was released over 20 years ago, we all remember the collective heartache felt when Mufasa fell to his death, as well as Timon and Pumbaa teaching us the importance of the phrase “Hakuna Matata." In 1997, the musical debuted on Broadway, and it is now Broadway's third-longest-running show of all time.
Best Animated Disney Films