The Walt Disney Animation Studios has turned out more than 60 films since releasing “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” back in 1937. Some have been massive hits while others left a lot to be desired. Several review sites that look at these films and have ranked them over the years. IMDB is one of the sites that has listed its top 10 Disney films. As of this writing, the top ten list raises some very important questions.


  1. The Lion King
  2. Zootopia
  3. Aladdin
  4. Beauty and the Beast
  5. Big Hero 6
  6. Tangled
  7. Wreck-It Ralph
  8. Fantasia
  9. Moana
  10. The Little Mermaid

As you can see, there is clearly some recency bias in this ranking. There are five films that make up the Disney Revival, four films that make up the Disney Renaissance and one film from Disney’s Golden Age of Animation. Given these sites are often visited by people who have most recently watched films from the 1990s onward, that recency bias is to be expected. But let’s take a closer look at this top ten.


It’s not surprising “The Little Mermaid” is in the top ten. The animated musical officially launched the Disney Renaissance and paved the way for Howard Ashman and Alan Menken to become Disney’s go to musical duo until Ashman’s untimely passing 1991. It’s a little surprising it’s this low, though. It’s an obvious choice for the top ten, but personally, I wouldn’t rank it any lower than number four.


Another film that’s not surprising to be in the top ten, but its recency may play a factor in its appearance. “Moana” is a strong film from Disney’s Revival Era that features some great music from Lin-Manuel Miranda and a very interesting voice appearance by Julliard-trained Alan Tudyk making chicken noises. I’m personally fine with this film landing at number nine.


While the inclusion of “Fantasia” due to the appearance of Sorcerer Mickey and how iconic that character has been for Disney over the years make sense, it’s still a little surprising. “Fantasia” is a hit or miss film depending on the viewer’s appreciation for classic animation and classical music. Those who love it, absolutely love it. But those who hate it, absolutely hate it. It wouldn’t make my top ten, but I like its inclusion.


From a personal perspective, I love seeing this film in the top ten on IMDB’s list. I love video games, and I really loved this film. Much like “Moana,” this wasn’t necessarily the Disney Revival Era film I expected to see in the top ten, but it definitely ranks in my top ten.


This is one of the two surprising inclusions on this list, in my opinion. That’s not to disparage the quality, because “Tangled” is  one film I wasn’t expecting to like as much as I do when I saw it. And while it was certainly a sign that doldrums of Disney’s Experimental Age of Animation were ending and we were headed for a revival, I still would’ve thought this would’ve fallen between 11 and 20 rather than in the top ten.


This is another one that is slightly surprising being this high. Much like the other Disney Revival films, “Big Hero 6” is high quality, so I don’t disagree with its inclusion, but I just wasn’t expecting it to be top ten. Still, it’s the only Marvel film made by the Walt Disney Animation Studios, and I’m a big fan of it.


The first Walt Disney Animation Studios film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, it’s no surprise that “Beauty in the Beast” is in the top five. This film continues to shine as one of Disney’s true masterpieces and a strong argument can be made that it should be number one.


This is my personal favorite Disney film and a strong contender from the Disney Renaissance. It’s one of the four major films that most consider when they think of Disney’s strong box office performances of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Much like “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast,” I can easily see why this film is in the top four. And, personally, I would put it number one.


This is the most surprising entry in the top ten. It’s not necessarily surprising that it is a top ten film, but it is certainly surprising that it lands at number two. It’s a fun film that I’ve enjoyed every time I’ve seen it, but “Zootopia” doesn’t crack my top ten. I would have eight of the other nine films in this top ten ahead of it without a doubt, and I can see an argument for “Fantasia.” This is an odd placement for me.


This may be the least surprising film on this list as “The Lion King” is viewed by many as the pinnacle of Disney animation. While Disney’s President of the Animation Division at the time, Jeffrey Katzenberg, didn’t think the film would break $50 million, it became the biggest financial hit of the Disney Renaissance and was the biggest financial hit for the company for a long time. This film can be as high as number one or as low as number three, but it should never be lower.


While there is no definitive way to determine if something should be in the top ten or not, there are some films that I, personally, am surprised that none of them made it into the top ten. These films include:

  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • Pinocchio
  • Cinderella
  • 101 Dalmatians
  • Frozen

“Snow White” is the first ever animated film and the most important. “Pinocchio” is viewed by many critics as objectively one of the best animated films with some even calling it “perfectly made.” “Cinderella” was Disney’s return to feature-length narratives in their animated films and features Walt Disney’s all time favorite animated scene. “101 Dalmatians” helped bring the studio back from the brink after “Sleeping Beauty” lost money at the box office. And, “Frozen” is the most financially successful Disney animated film of all time. While I’m not a big fan of “Frozen,” there’s no denying its impact in pop culture and among Disney fans.


This is one of the most interesting lists I’ve seen churned out by IMDB. While my personal rankings would look different, I can’t deny there are some strong contenders for best Disney animated film ever in this top ten.

What do you think are the top ten Disney films ever?

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Jeremy Brown

Jeremy has been a big Disney fan since he was a kid growing up during the Disney Renaissance. One day he hopes to go to every Disney Park in the world.

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