My Five Favorite Disney Animated Films

Last week, I blogged about my favorite attractions at each of the Disney Parks around the world.  This week, I thought I'd blog about my top 5 favorite Disney Animated Features.  This was, perhaps, the hardest list I had to put together because it was like trying to ask me which one of my nephews is my favorite.  To narrow things down, the list is chosen from the 53 films released by what is now known as Walt Disney Animation Studios.  So, no Pixar, no DisneyToon Studios, no Nightmare Before Christmas, etc.  Also, please remember that this is a list of MY favorite Disney animated films and not a hierarchical ranking of achievement.

5. Tangled  (2010)
Of all the animated features in this 3rd Golden Age of Disney animation, Tangled is my favorite.  I simply love it.  For me, the success of the film lies in its two main characters - Rapunzel and Flynn Rider.  I think they were the most fleshed out characters in a Disney Princess movie at the time. I began to see the potential of how Disney Princess films could move in the future, not as necessarily a princess narrative, but as a romantic comedy.  What I liked about Rapunzel is that she was a strong character, but, yet, not without her vulnerabilities. She is "pink," but with the soul of "blue." (I'm referring to Flora and Merryweather's color war in Sleeping Beauty and not the stereotypical gender colors).  Flynn Rider is just a joy to watch.  While he can be comedic and starts off annoyed with Rapunzel, you can see his care for her genuinely grow.  The chemistry between the two is quite magical.  Throw in the fabulous Mother Gothel who, to me, is just as fabulously villainous as Lady Tremaine or Madame Medusa. The film makes me happy and I really never tire watching it.

4. Three Caballeros (1944)
I remember watching this film when I was first in college and just being absolutely entranced by this film.  It's one of the more unorthodox films from Walt Disney Animation Studios, having been produced as a package film during Walt Disney's work with the government to promote the Good Neighbor Policy with Latin America.  The film is just such a beautiful collection of experimental animation and wonderful music.  I love this film mostly because this is one of the films in which we really start to see Mary Blair develop her signature style.  The "Bahia" train and the "Las Posadas" sequences are some of my favorite Mary Blair work.  Another one of my favorite sequences is the "Os Quindins De Yaya" in which Donald and Jose Carioca appear again live action with Aurora Miranda and a bunch of Brazilian dancers.  Not only is it one of my favorite songs (and my favorite versions of the song), but the whole sequence makes me smile.  Top that with the wonderful addition of Panchito Pistoles to form the Three Caballeros in what is probably my favorite things Ward Kimball has animated just makes this one of my favorite Disney animated features of all time.

3. The Rescuers (1977)
The Rescuers makes my top 5 favorite Disney films lists because it is the first Disney animated film I remember watching in its original release and I absolutely loved it as a child.  I was also a big fan of the Margery Sharp books on which The Rescuers was based, so to see the characters jump to life in animated form was so magical to me.  In fact, it is probably one of the Disney films I've watched the most.  While it might not technically be one of the best Disney animated features, there's a lot of wonderful things in the film and it has such heart.  First of all, I love the pairing of Bernard and Bianca. I love the juxtaposition of Bob Newhart's more grounded Bernard with Eva Gabor's more ethereal Miss Bianca.  They don't seem odd together, but the perfect yin and yang.  And, it contains one villain that I wish deserved more respect.  You never really hear many people talk about her, but Madame Medusa, I think, is one of the most evil of the Disney villains.  She actually forces a child into slavery and would risk that child's life for her own personal gain. Milt Kahl's animation of her combined with Geraldine Page's performance just makes for such a fabulous character.  And, if I'm honest, I love the soundtrack to this film.  Yes, it's a very dated soundtrack, but, there's something very haunting to Shelby Flint's vocals that make me rewind the songs every time I listen to it.  This film will always have a special place in my heart.

2. Peter Pan (1953)
There are so many things that I love about Peter Pan.  First of all, I think this film has the message that most Disney fans carry in their souls - this idea of never growing up.  But, at the heart of it, it's just a gorgeous film to watch.  It's my favorite version of Peter Pan mainly because Never Land, as it is in this Disney film, is a place I'd actually like to go.  Other versions portray it as a darker place filled with danger.  But, why would I want to actually want to stay there and remain young?  It would be like wanting to remain with the kids from Lord of the Flies.  Never Land in Disney's Peter Pan is an inviting and colorful place full of adventure, yet, still not without danger.  Captain Hook may be a little comedic, but he does actually try to kill Peter Pan and he tries to make the Darlings and the Lost Boys walk the plank.  A big part of the success of the look and feel of Never Land is, of course, Mary Blair's concept art which is some of my favorites of her work. But, if I had to choose one thing that really makes this one of my top favorite Disney animated films, it's something that doesn't happen in Never Land.  It is the "You Can Fly" sequence that happens in the Darlings' nursery and above London.  It's enchanting and the way the song is built in is so seamless to me.  I almost feel like I can fly by thinking of a wonderful thought.

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Most people might be surprised by my favorite Disney animated feature.  I also consider it the best animated feature of all time.  Yes, it is the very first - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Admittedly, when I was younger, I thought this film boring being about some princess who's waiting for her prince to come.  But, later in life, I really began to appreciate the majesty of this film.  To me, it AMAZING how the animators at Walt Disney Studios went from the rubber hose animation that it started with in 1928 with the Mickey Mouse shorts and, 9 years (NINE years!) later, they created this full color, full animated feature film.  But, technical achievements aside, I actually love watching this film.  I love all the personalities of the Dwarfs and how fun they, but, my favorite character is the heroine Snow White herself.  She's no feminist, but this was a different time and there is something refreshing about how innocent and pure she is.  I also like the fact that she is not defined by a singular color dress.  And, truth be told, I love her cape.  Her innocence, though, also makes the Evil Queen seem even more threatening and evil.  Lucille La Verne's performance is very chilling and helps make this character one of the most "beloved" of Disney villains. And, the songs are some of my favorite Disney songs, including, yes..."Someday My Prince Will Come."  Again, it's Snow White's purity that really makes this song work for me because you long for her not to be tormented by the Evil Queen anymore.  I am always in awe when I watch this film and, for that, it is my favorite Disney animated feature.


  1. Tangled is my #1. :)

    I have never seen The Three Caballeros and I just recently watched The Rescuers for the first time.

    1. Tangled, for sure, is one of my favorite films. It was really, really hard to rank them, too.

      The Three Caballeros is one that is very different because it's basically a bunch of animated shorts and musical sequences tied together, but I just absolutely love it.

      And, when I think of Disney in my childhood, the two that I most fondly remember are The Rescuers and Pete's Dragon.


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