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The Best Animated Movies on Disney+ (December 2020)

Since Disney+ launched, millions of people have used the streaming service to revisit their favorite classic Disney films and new releases alike. Now, several months later, the budding library includes the vast majority of Disney’s content, as well as blockbuster films from Marvel, Lucasfilm, Fox, and — at least in one case — Broadway.

But the company’s bread and butter has always been animation, with its first theatrical feature release dating back to 1937 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. But now, with so many options to watch, including those from Pixar, it can be hard to decide which animated feature to watch next. Here, we’ve narrowed down some of the best animated options on Disney+ to choose from.

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The Princess and the Frog (2009)

The Princess and the Frog is iconic for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the film was the first Disney picture to feature a Black heroine, Tiana (Anika Noni Rose). It was also the last Disney movie to use 2D animation, and as such, it remains a visually unique title and a homage to Disney’s foundational past. An updated twist on a classic story, The Princess and the Frog follows Tiana, a waitress who yearns to own her own restaurant, and a prince, Naveen, who have both been turned into frogs by a voodoo magician. With the help of their colorful friends, Tiana and Neveen must find a way to break the spell. Combine the visual splendor with an excellent villain and a wonderful soundtrack — a menagerie of blues, gospel, and jazz — and you have a new-age classic worthy of any best-of list.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Comedy
Stars: Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Keith David
Directors: John Musker, Ron Clements
Rating: G
Runtime: 95 minutes

Watch on Disney+

Toy Story 3 on Disney+

Toy Story 3 (2010)

This may be a contentious choice, but we think Toy Story 3 is the best of the franchise. It brings the series’ animation to a whole new level, and its loving story of outgrowing childhood left many grown-ups crying in theaters. With Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and the rest of Andy’s toys accidentally dropped off at a daycare center run by a shady bear named Lotso (Ned Beaty), the gang must outsmart Lotso and his hench-toys and get back to Andy’s. Woody and Buzz’s primary arcs of the previous two films were centered around Andy (and getting back to him), which makes the end of Toy Story 3 a touching lesson in letting go, a conclusion that the fourth film didn’t quite live up to.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Genre: Comedy, Kids & Family
Stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, John Ratzenberger, Don Rickles
Director: Lee Unkrich
Rating: G
Runtime: 103 minutes

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Frozen II on Disney+

Frozen II (2019)

When Frozen came out in 2013, it was met with tons of praise and (for parents) enough singalong time and dress-up parties to last a lifetime. Six years in the making, no one could have thought a sequel could match the phenomenon of the original, but many believe that Frozen II not only stands up but is by and large the better film. The gang’s all here — Queen Elsa, Princess Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven — as the friends journey into an enchanted forest to learn the origins of Elsa’s icy powers and save the kingdom of Arandelle (again). But as Elsa is drawn to a mysterious voice beyond Arandelle, Anna learns the true history of some of her father’s acts as king. Shiver-inducing stuff.

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Kids & Family
Stars: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad
Directors: Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck
Rating: PG
Runtime: 104 minutes

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Inside Out on Disney+

Inside Out (2015)

Pixar is always pushing the envelope when it comes to story-telling in animated films, and they usually pack in some emotionally complex issues. Inside Out stands out in their filmography because of the way it handles those emotions: by presenting them fully on-screen. Riley is a young girl uprooted from her stable and happy life in Minnesota when her dad starts a new job in San Francisco. Inside, Riley’s emotions — Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Anger (Lewis Black), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) — are going haywire, especially when Joy and Sadness get lost inside the complex world of Headquarters where they live. Psychologists appreciated the film because it allows non-verbal children to express how they are feeling. Inside Out is colorful and entertaining, teaching children the different facets of their emotions, and showing audiences young and old that it’s good to acknowledge your emotions.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Genre: Kids & Family, Adventure, Comedy
Stars: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader
Directors: Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
Rating: PG
Runtime: 94 minutes

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Zootopia on Disney+

Zootropolis (2016)

First, don’t be confused by the name — known as Zootopia in the U.S., the film was dubbed Zootropolis in the U.K., and you’ll find it on Disney+ as such. Rest assured, it’s the same beautifully animated film set in the bustling titular city where its animal population has evolved past their predator/prey roles and has managed to live in harmony … or so it seems. Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is the first bunny on the Zootropolis police force, but in a world ruled by predators and larger, stronger animals, Judy finds herself having to continuously prove that she’s worthy of being more than just a parking attendant. Judy gets her chance when she is tasked with finding Mrs. Otterton’s missing husband. With the help of crafty but well-meaning fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), the unlikely team uncovers a conspiracy that could rock the foundation of the city. Zootropolis stands out from Disney’s other animated features, which usually focus on themes of love or family. Instead, it tackles themes of inequality in a way kids can digest — with cute animals. And it makes for a conversation starter for children about racism in our daily lives.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Comedy
Stars: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba
Directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
Rating: PG
Runtime: 108 minutes

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Coco (2017)

Disney has been making an effort to diversify its casts and its stories beyond princesses and knight-in-shining-armor tropes. Disney and Pixar’s Coco helps further that mission, representing and celebrating Mexican customs, with a huge focus on the Day of the Dead, a holiday for honoring and remembering those who have passed on. It is one of Pixar’s most beautiful and transporting films, telling the story of Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), a young boy who wants nothing more than to be a musician, despite his family’s insubordination. But Miguel wants it bad enough to steal a guitar from the mausoleum of the late great Ernesto de la Cruz, an act which curses Miguel to the Land of the Dead. There, Miguel learns about his family’s hidden past and must make his way back to the Land of the Living before sunrise or he’ll be stuck there forever. Coco is an emotional story of family, loss, and remembrance, and is one of Pixar’s most unique and appealing movies, and that’s why it earns a spot on this list.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Kids & Family
Stars: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal
Directors: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Rating: PG
Runtime: 109 minute

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Moana on Disney+

Moana (2016)

Much of Disney’s blockbuster hit Moana takes place on or in water. So it’s no surprise, then, that geniuses at Disney Animation Studios built a whole new software just to tackle the ocean — automating how it moves and reacts, shattering the boundaries of what was possible in 3D animation. That’s crazy. Moana is a beautifully told story about a young island girl (Auli’i Cravalho) who ventures out into the great blue ocean to discover her ancestral roots as a skilled wayfarer, oh, and to return the lost heart stone of an ancient god to save her island from a mysterious “darkness.” No biggie. Along the way she encounters the cocky demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson), who helps her return the stone. Heart-warming and hilarious, Moana is full of now-classic Disney tunes such as How Far I’ll Go and Johnson’s You’re Welcome.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Musical, Kids & Family
Stars: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Jemaine Clement
Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker
Rating: PG
Runtime: 103 minutes

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Onward on Disney+

Onward (2020)

Pixar’s films tend to carry more emotional weight than many Disney films, and Onward continues that legacy. After their late father leaves them a spell to bring him back to life for one day, teenage elf brothers Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) set out on a quest to complete the spell. It’s a touching film about brotherhood and letting go, and the fantasy backdrop gives it a fresh and whimsical atmosphere. There are some hilarious takes on classic fantasy creatures and enough emotional moments to leave any adult in the room crying.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Comedy
Stars: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Octavia Spencer
Director: Dan Scanlon
Rating: PG
Runtime: 114 minutes

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MOnsters, Inc. on Disney+

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Monsters, Inc. is a fan favorite among Pixar’s films, and for good reason. The hilarious film features iconic scare monsters Sulley and Mike Wazowski, the two top employees at Monsters Inc., a sort of power company that produces electricity from the screams of scared little boys and girls. Scully and Mike are played by John Goodman and Billy Crystal, respectively, and their chemistry alone adds so much to the characters’ dynamics in the film. It isn’t as emotionally complex as some of Pixar’s other films, but there are still a few tear-jerker moments, especially at the end. The movie was praised when it first came out, and still sits at a lofty 96% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Genre: Comedy, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Stars: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi
Directors: Pete Doctor, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich
Rating: G
Runtime: 92 minutes

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The Fox and the Hound on Disney+

The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Many of Disney’s early films were light-hearted affairs about princesses and damsels in distress. However, in the ’70s and ’80s, Disney films took a distinctly more serious tone. Films like The Black Cauldron and The Rescuers traded comedy and feel-good storytelling for something more emotionally detailed. That legacy of filmmaking culminated in The Fox and the Hound, arguably one of the saddest movies Disney has ever produced. After his mother is killed by a hunter, the young fox Tod (Mickey Rooney) is taken in by a kind farmer named Widow Tweed. Tod befriends the neighboring hound Copper (Kurt Russell), and they vow to be best friends forever. But as they grow older, their friendship frays, and they must reconcile their differences to salvage it. It is a hard-hitting movie that won’t spare anyone from tears.

Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
Genre: Kids & Family
Stars: Mickey Rooney, Kurt Russell
Directors: Ted Berman, Art Stevens, Richard Rich, David Michener
Rating: G
Runtime: 83 minutes

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Lilo & Stitch on Disney+

Lilo & Stitch (2002)

Lilo & Stitch is another essential in Disney’s collection. On that latter end of the 2D era, the film takes audiences from deep space to the beaches of Hawaii. It follows Experiment 626, a mysterious creature from space, who flees his creator and an alien government bent on destroying him. After crash-landing on Earth, he is adopted by Lilo (Daveigh Chase) and renamed Stitch. The majority of the film is about Stitch adjusting to family life and fighting his inner need for destruction. It’s an uplifting, ugly duckling tale that has memorable moments and a healthy dose of humor.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Stars: Daveigh Chase, Tia Carrere
Directors: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Rating: PG
Runtime: 85 minutes

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Mulan on Disney+

Mulan (1998)

There are so many reasons Mulan is an exceptional film. Asian representation through the retelling of a classic fictional story. Female empowerment and shattering stereotypes. Eddie Murphy as the lovable dragon Mushu. The film has it all, and we haven’t even mentioned the sinister villain, Shan Yu. As the story goes, the young Chinese maiden Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) disguises herself as a man to join the army in her frail father’s place, as her village prepares to defend itself against the invading Huns. Mulan’s struggle to earn a warrior’s respect makes for an epic tale of triumph against all odds, making a heroine of Mulan in the process. The soundtrack is one of the best that Disney has ever put out, and the movie is packed with several great action sequences. It’s a comedic adventure story that reminds us that anyone can be a hero.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Musical
Stars: Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy
Directors: Barry Cook, Tony Bancroft
Rating: G
Runtime: 88 minutes

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The Nightmare Before Christmas on Disney+

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The Nightmare Before Christmas is the movie that kicked off an entire sub-genre of animated movies: the claymation feature. It tells the story of Jack Skellington, the king of Halloweentown, who has become bored with the spooky holiday and wants something new and exciting in his life. That’s when he discovers the door to Christmastown and wants to take the holiday for his own. The soundtrack is spooky, the animation is endearing in a creepy way, and the whole movie became the backbone of the emo scene in the 2000s.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Genre: Family, Fantasy, Musical
Stars: Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara
Director: Henry Selick
Rating: PG
Runtime: 76 minutes

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A Goofy Movie on Disney+

A Goofy Movie (1995)

Everyone knows Disney for their mascot, Mickey Mouse, but it is actually his sidekick, Goofy, who has one of the best movies. A Goofy Movie is a bizarre and hilarious road trip movie that’s absolutely soaked in ’90s culture — from the terrible baggy clothes to the dance-pop of Powerline. It’s a movie that has developed a cult following with the people who grew up with it, and it is a great way to wax nostalgic about a bygone era. It’s one of those movies that has become necessary viewing for any Disney fan.

Rotten Tomatoes: 58%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Family
Stars: Bill Farmer, Jason Marsden
Director: Kevin Lima
Rating: G
Runtime: 78 minutes

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The Incredibles on Disney+

The Incredibles (2004)

Of any Pixar film, few have garnered the level of praise The Incredibles has. Even after 16 years, the film holds up in practically every way. That’s thanks in part to a stellar script and knock-out performances from the entire cast, which includes Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, and Samuel L. Jackson. After being forced into retirement by new laws banning superheroes, Mr. Incredible (Nelson), who has settled down with Elastagirl (Hunter) and their three kids, is having a midlife crisis. When a mysterious investor wants to hire him for secret work, it’s an opportunity that’s too good to pass up. The Incredibles 2 is also excellent, but it falls short of besting the original.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Family
Stars: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson
Director: Brad Bird
Rating: PG
Runtime: 115 minutes

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Big Hero 6 on Disney+

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Big Hero 6 takes us to the colorful fictional city of San Fransokyo, where Hiro (Ryan Potter) is a budding robotics expert. His older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) invites him to visit his university, where he meets the quirky supporting cast, including Baymax — the film’s fluffy and lovable helper robot that Tadashi invented. After Tadashi is killed in a fire, Hiro must turn the group into an unlikely band of heroes to find the truth behind a mysterious plot. Big Hero 6 is most notable in the visuals department, and it is drop-dead gorgeous at times.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Stars: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Daniel Henney
Directors: Chris Williams, Don Hall
Rating: PG
Runtime: 93 minutes

Watch on Disney+

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

The Emperor's New Groove on Disney+

The Emperor’s New Groove is another Disney movie that flew under the radar upon release but quickly gained a cult following when the film came out on video. This buddy comedy follows Kuzco (David Spade), a young and egocentric emperor who fires his long-time adviser Yzma (voiced by the original Catwoman, Eartha Kitt). Vowing to get revenge, Yzma invites Kuzco to her home to poison him. However, after her assistant Kronk botches the job, Kuzko is turned into a llama. From there, the movie turns into a 60-minute chase and focuses more on making you laugh than thinking too much about the plot. It’s a movie that doesn’t try to be more than what it is, and that’s why we love it.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Comedy, Kids & Family
Stars: David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton
Director: Mark Dindal
Rating: G
Runtime: 79 minutes

Watch on Disney+

The Lion King (1994)

The Lion King on Disney+

There is one movie above all others that demands to be on this list, and that is The Lion King. Of all of Disney’s animated films, this is the one that arguably holds up the best and has the most loyal fan base. You know the story: the lion cub Simba is betrayed by his evil uncle Scar, who dupes the youngster into believing he’s responsible for the death of his father, King Mufasa. The greedy Scar wants to be King instead, and Simba must find the strength to take back his rightful throne. Not a single song on the soundtrack misses, the voice performances are superb, and the animal kingdom’s Hamlet-like drama is thrilling and has an epic climax. For many fans, this is one of the foundational films of their youth, and it is just as good today as it was in 1994.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Kids & Family
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones
Directors: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
Rating: G
Runtime: 87 minutes

Watch on Disney+

Oliver & Company (1988)

Oliver and Company on Disney+

Oliver & Company isn’t a household name for Disney like Cinderella or The Little Mermaid are, but it actually is one of Disney’s finer films on Disney+. Released in 1988, it is a modern take on Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, and follows an abandoned kitten named Oliver who is taken in by a gang of dogs. Oliver is then adopted by Jenny, who is abruptly kidnapped by the loan shark Sykes. Together, Oliver and the band of dogs work to rescue her. The movie was released in the height of the Jeffrey Katzenberg era of Disney, before he started Dreamworks.

Rotten Tomatoes: 51%
Genre: Kids & Family
Stars: Joey Lawrence, Billy Joel, Chechen Marin
Director: George Scribner
Rating: G
Runtime: 72 minutes

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