When it comes to movies for kids, there’s nothing like a few Disney movies to fit the bill. We sorted through dozens of expert reviews and popular opinions in order to curate this list of the top 15 Disney animated movies of all time, so if you’re looking for endearing storylines and characters your littles can look up to, look no further. Scroll down to find your next pick for family movie night!

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

The first Disney movie to feature a Black heroine, this fun and sometimes spooky film has a great message for kids about ambition, hard work and friendship. Tiana is a girl whose goal is to open the finest restaurant in New Orleans, and she is very clear about the fact she doesn't need a prince to be happy. Of course, she inadvertently finds one anyway when she meets Prince Naveen, who has been turned into a frog by an evil witch doctor. Naveen convinces Tiana to kiss him to break the spell—which backfires when it turns her into a frog as well. Adventures ensue as the duo journeys through the bayou in search of a spell to turn them back into humans. 

Rated G

Recommended ages: 6+

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

If you've got kids who love video games, this is one way to switch up the screens and get them watching a movie instead. The story follows Ralph—a hulking brute who is tired of always being the bad guy in his video game and so sets out to prove he's not so bad after all. In his quest, he abandons his own game and hops through a variety of others—which causes some major trouble in the arcade world and threatens to wipe out everything. Through it all, of course, he learns important lessons about friendship.   

Note: There are some scenes with guns and shooting (they take place in shooter-style video games), plus some potty humor ("butt" and "doody") that kids will likely love. 

Rated PG

Recommended ages: 6+

Tangled (2010)

Rapunzel is no helpless maiden in this retelling of the famous fairy tale. This spunky modern heroine isn't afraid to stand up for herself, fight the bad guys, leap from towers and explore the big, wide world while searching for her true identity. There is mild violence—and the fact that Rapunzel has been kidnapped and manipulated by a witch who seeks only youth and beauty may be a bit heavy for kids who get it—but all in all, kids will love the action, music and romance in this sweet story that teaches kids to follow their dreams. 

Rated PG

Recommended ages: 5+

The Little Mermaid

Disney's musical retelling of the age-old Hans Christian Anderson story follows the innocently rebellious Ariel, a mermaid princess who gives up her life in the ocean in an effort to be with a human prince. Of course, she must make a precarious deal with a devilishly evil sea witch to make it happen. With award-winning songs (the movie won an Oscar for Best Original Score and a Grammy for "Under the Sea") and a fair share of peril and action, the story will satisfy even kids who aren't into mermaids or princesses. 

Rated G

Recommended ages: 5+

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

It's hard to believe that this is the first Disney movie of all time, as its story is as popular today as it was 83 years ago. The story of the "fairest of them all" and her plight to stay safe from the vain and wicked queen is a timeless one, though it does contain some dated concepts about women. There are some frightening moments, including when the queen orders her huntsman to kill Snow White and she must escape through a spooky enchanted forest (and, of course, there's that famous poisoned apple). But still, generations of kids have watched and loved this classic Disney film—and yours likely will, too.   

Note: Since this film was made in the early 20th century, it depicts dated gender stereotypes that some people might find offensive (i.e. Snow White decides that the dwarfs must need a woman around to clean their house). As long as you can put that aside, this movie still belongs on your go-to list of classics. 

Rated G

Recommended ages: 5+

Pinocchio (1940)

Disney's second animated film still holds timeless lessons about honesty and love. Pinocchio is a wooden puppet who must learn to listen to his conscience and resist temptations (like skipping school) in order to become a "real boy." While all ends happily, there are some scary visuals—including a scene where droves of naughty little boys are turned into donkeys and carted away, as well as another scene where Pinocchio and his father are swallowed by a giant whale. Goodness and heroism prevail, of course, so kids should be sufficiently cheered by the movie's end. 

Rated G

Recommended ages: 6+

Moana (2016)

Parents will love the fact the main character in this film is a girl who doesn't need a prince to find her happily-ever-after. Littles will love the catchy songs, fun characters (Dwayne Johnson's Maui almost steals the show) and lighthearted peril as they watch Moana, the daughter of the village chief, on her quest to restore her island's vitality and return the heart of the ocean. 

Rated PG

Recommended ages: 5+

photo: Common Sense Media

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

A. A. Milne's beloved classic stories come to beautiful life in this classic Disney film. Kids will learn sweet lessons about friendship and loyalty as they watch Pooh-bear bumble his way through the Hundred Acre Wood with his beloved pals. And, the fact there's no bad guys or scary parts means even the tiniest of Pooh-fans can get in on the fun. 

Rated G

Recommended ages: 3+

Cinderella (1950)

Cinderella may be the classic damsel in distress sort of fairy tale, but this kind cinder girl's journey toward happily-ever-after can actually be a great way to get your kids thinking about empathy and kindness (talking about how the stepsisters treat Cinderella, for one, is a good way to address the importance of kindness). Plus, who can forget those classic songs, including "A Dream is A Wish Your Heart Makes" and "Bippety Boppety Boo" There's a reason Cinderella has been Disney's most popular princess for 70 years now, so hop aboard the pumpkin-turned-carriage and let it take you away, too. 

Rated G

Recommended ages: 4+

The Lion King (1994)

The Circle of Life takes center stage in this dramatic story about a lion who steps up to fulfill his destiny and save his pride. There are some scary moments—namely, the orchestrated death of young Simba's father by a stampede of wildebeests as well as a vicious lion-on-lion fight—but the movie is, in the end, an inspiring one filled with memorable music (Elton John wrote many of the songs) and important lessons of bravery and responsibility. 

Rated G

Recommended ages: 6+ 

Frozen 1 and 2 (2013 and 2019)

If you haven't already gotten your share of "Let It Go" or "Into the Unknown," now's as good a time as any. With (clearly) Broadway-caliber showstoppers and a storyline that's as fun for adults as it is for kids, it's clear to see why these two were record-breaking blockbusters. Both films emphasize the importance of friends and family, with the bond between sisters Elsa and Anna prioritized above all. Kids will love seeing the sisters each surmount their personal challenges while staying true to themselves. There are a few scary moments in both films, but most kids over five will be unequivocally entranced. 

Rated: PG

Recommended ages: 5+

Melissa Heckscher

Featured image: iStock 

 

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