Disney’s Animated Films: Ranked

The Best & Worst Disney animationsI don’t think I’ve ever mentioned the fact that I have a little brother. 16 months and approximately 240 pounds, Maclane has the same passion for one movie in particular as I did, Toy Story. Similar to me, he watches it (intermixed with the sequels) pretty much daily. While I do believe that the Toy Story series are some of the best animated films ever made, taking up two of my top five slots, there is only so many times you can watch one movie back to back.

Therefore, I decided to watch some other Disney films my family owns in order to find some others he may like. This eventually evolved into attempting to watch every single Disney animated film from Aladdin to Zootopia. There are some exceptions, as I either wasn’t able to find some of these films, mostly being the direct to DVD sequels like Brother Bear 2 or older films like Ichabod and Toad. However, besides those, I did a pretty good job finding these, as I watched a total of 69 animated Disney films since May 1st, 2019, (disregarding the six I had seen before and did not rewatch for this event) and boy was it difficult!

I enjoyed a large amount of these films, but there are some bad films on this list! Those are mostly the straight to DVD sequels, but there are still some bad, or at least mediocre, originals on this list. So because it would take forever to go in depth will all of these movies, despite their short length, I’ll be splitting them into five tiers of quality. So without further ado, here is the bottom tier of the Disney animated films.

Tier 5

So I have to either swallow a tapeworm, or watch one of these films again? Fine, give me the worm.

So, at the bottom tier of these 75 films stands a lot of sequels. In fact, sixty percent of this section is sequels, including the movie occupying the very last slot, Belle’s Magical World, which is also fits into the category of “TV Shows that got cancelled so they got turned to anthology films” which you’ll also see with a lot of these lower ranked sequels. Other examples of that kind of film in the trash area are the horribly animated Tarzan and Jane and the very boring Cinderella: Dreams Come True.

Still from Oliver & Company

© Disney

Anthology Sequels aren’t the only kind of sequels here though. The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2, Jungle Book 2, and both Little Mermaid sequels also are here. Those films are here because 1) They really have no reason to exist, especially Hunchback 2, but they also are some of the most hackney stories imaginable (Jeweled Bell). Some films that aren’t sequels on this part of the list are Oliver and Co. and Chicken Little. Oliver and Co. almost made it to Tier Four, but then after looking at my notes, I couldn’t think of one thing I liked besides that one Billy Joel song. Overall, this section shows off just how bad Disney can be when they don’t try.

Tier 4

I’d need a Coma-inducing amount of Cough Syrup in order to sit through these movies again.

Starting here is where I’ll get some pushback, as even I was surprised looking at how so many Golden Age Disney films fell in this area. Films like Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland are most likely the two films that most people would be surprised about with them falling this low, but they were both fairly close to Tier Three. My main problem with those was either ways of storytelling that I didn’t enjoy too much, or just a lack of character development. That being said, Captain Hook is great.

There are a few sequels here as well like Mulan 2, Kronk’s New Groove, and Fantasia 2000. Mulan 2 was definitely the worst of the sequels here as it has a poorly done story, awkward animation, and turns Mushu, probably the originals best character, into an unlikable maniac trying to split up the main couple. Somehow, this wasn’t in the bottom tier, which should say something about the quality of those bottom films. The one thing that all the films in this section have in common is the fact they all are below average, but have some redeeming qualities to enjoy, whether it’s a good villain, Space Whales, or the song Bare Necessities. They’re better than Tier 5, but not by much.

Tier Three

I didn’t want to savagely attack the closest person to me when watching these, so there’s that.

We’re finally to the good movies, and this section is about 50% sequels, 30% classics, and 20% of weird spin-offs Disney did that I enjoyed. Those spin-offs are Buzz Lightyear of Star Command and Tinker Bell, as well as one of its sequels, The Pirate Fairy. These films, while they aren’t amazing, are enjoyably flawed.

The classics here include Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Dumbo, and Robin Hood. These three all are great examples of the third tier because there is really only one part of the movie that is hoisting it above the pits of the lower tiers. Snow White is mainly here because of the dwarves, who provide the film with all the personality for the protagonists. Dumbo is here for the Pink Elephants scene, as well as the crows.

Still from Dumbo

© Disney

While they haven’t exactly aged well, the crows have probably the best quote “I’ve seen a dragon fly, a horse fly, even a house fly, but not an Elephant fly.” Also, they’re the ones who get Dumbo to fly! Are they politically correct? No, but they are still probably the best thing about the movie.

Both sequels to Aladdin are also here, but I actually preferred Return of Jafar to King of Thieves. I felt Return of Jafar, while it still has no reason to exist aside from the prospect of a payday for Disney, I enjoyed the story, songs, and characters of Return of Jafar more. That being said, neither of them even come close to the original. That wraps up the middle tier, and the fact that I actually like most of these movies is a good sign for the top two tiers, especially when it comes to animation and storytelling.

Tier Two

I would actually want to watch these movies again!

This section contains a total of one sequel, that being Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time. It shouldn’t work, the first Cinderella sequel was awful, and this one throws time travel and magic on top of it. Somehow, it works, and it’s the best Disney sequel as it gives character to the prince, who in the original is just a yawn and heavy eyeliner, as well as just being a funny and entertaining film.

Other films in Tier Two include Fantasia, which while The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is an amazing segment of animation with some amazing music, the rest of the film didn’t really stand out to me. Not even Night on Bald Mountain grabbed me, even though it was animated really well. Some other films are The Rescuers, which was carried to this spot by the song over the opening credits and the villain, The Great Mouse Detective, which is the only Disney animated film I would actually want a sequel for, and The Lion King.

I know it’s a lot of people’s favorite, but while I did really enjoy it, I had some problems with the second half of the film. I didn’t enjoy Hamlet that much either, so that could contribute. Overall, these rank from good to great films that for the most part got sequels that sucked. (COUGH-Tarzan)

Tier One

The Creme da la Crem, the Top of the Pyramid, the Best Disney films.

Here we are, the top tier. What two months of research led to, what are the best films of the entire eighty two year history of full length animated Disney films. Well, it’s occupied with films from all eras of Disney’s history, and has virtually every kind of movie except sequels. Starting at the movies which just got in, we have some classics like Lady and the Tramp, Beauty and the Beast, and Wreck-It Ralph. Films that why they don’t really have too many problems, don’t really have enough to push it to the top ten.

Films in the top ten but missed the top five include Mulan, Zootopia, and Cinderella. All great films with stylish animation and in the case of Mulan and Cinderella, some really great music.

Still from The Little Mermaid

© Disney

However, none of those are quite good enough to reach the top five, which are, in order, Princess and the Frog, 101 Dalmatians, Hercules, Aladdin, and the number one film on the list, The Little Mermaid. Now, each of these films has something that makes it magical, fun, and really entertaining. The two things that they all have is an enjoyable villain and a marvelous soundtrack.

Out of the five villains, my favorite is probably Hades. James Woods is magnificent as Hades with his quick fire humor and fun to watch animation. Best Soundtrack is certainly The Little Mermaid, home of my two favorite Disney songs out of all of these movies, Under the Sea and Kiss the Girl. Out of those two, I’d probably pick the latter as my favorite, but the entire soundtrack is great. These five films are the best of the best of Disney, at least for me.

Disney Movies are probably the most open ended type of movie that people can really just like what they like and not many people will argue with you about it. However, if you do like Belle’s Magical World, not only will I argue with you about it, you will die by my hand. From the highs of Cruella De Vil, Friend Like Me, and the character of Meg, to the very low depths of Daffy Duck flirting with live action women, the ugly animation of Chicken Little, and… well, you can take your pick on what to say about Home on the Range, I’m sure Disney will be around for plenty more years to come.

The Best & Worst Disney Movies

  1. The Little Mermaid
  2. Aladdin
  3. Hercules
  4. One Hundred and One Dalmatians
  5. The Princess and the Frog
  6. Cinderella
  7. Zootopia
  8. Frozen
  9. Mulan
  10. Tangled
  11. The Emperor’s New Groove
  12. Wreck-It Ralph
  13. Beauty and the Beast
  14. Lady and the Tramp
  15. Moana
  16. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  17. The Lion King
  18. Cinderella III: A Twist in Time
  19. Lilo and Stitch
  20. Pocahontas
  21. Sleeping Beauty
  22. Aristocats
  23. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  24. Fantasia
  25. Tarzan
  26. The Great Mouse Detective
  27. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  28. A Goofy Movie
  29. The Rescuers
  30. The Return of Jafar
  31. Stitch! The Movie
  32. Tinker Bell
  33. Bambi
  34. Buzz Lightyear of Star Command
  35. Hercules: Zero to Hero
  36. Leroy and Stitch
  37. Melody Time
  38. The Rescuers Down Under
  39. Lilo and Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch
  40. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  41. The Pirate Fairy
  42. Robin Hood
  43. Aladdin and the King of Thieves
  44. Dumbo
  45. Bolt
  46. Peter Pan
  47. Alice in Wonderland
  48. Atlantis: Milo’s Return
  49. Fantasia 2000
  50. The Jungle Book
  51. Fun and Fancy Free
  52. Kronk’s New Groove
  53. Make Mine Music
  54. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy: The Three Musketeers
  55. Mulan 2
  56. Pinocchio
  57. The Sword in the Stone
  58. Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast
  59. Big Hero 6
  60. Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World
  61. Oliver and Co.
  62. Tarzan II
  63. The Black Cauldron
  64. Cinderella II: Dreams Come True
  65. The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea
  66. Meet the Robinsons
  67. The Jungle Book 2
  68. Chicken Little
  69. The Hunchback of Notre Dame II
  70. The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning
  71. Home on the Range
  72. Tarzan and Jane
  73. Mickey’s House of Villains
  74. The Three Callebros
  75. Belle’s Magical World

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