To date, Walt Disney Animation Studios has released 55 films (November’s Moana will be the 56th). And that number doesn’t include the numerous direct-to-video films and animated features that aren’t part of the official Disney canon. Yet, when the time comes to watch a movie with the kids, it seems we always end up with the same select titles.
Cinderella, The Lion King, and Bambi are all great movies, but you can only watch them so many times before you’re yearning for some variety. Luckily, there ARE other options; some of them are not as well known or widely available as the others, but they’re all worth seeking out. Who knows? One of them could become your little one’s new favorite!
5) The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
If you’ve ever ridden Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland, then you’re intimately familiar with one half of this 1949 animated feature. It’s one of the few remaining rides that has been in operation since the park opened in 1955.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is actually two movies in one. The first, featuring Mr. Toad and his animal friends is based on Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s novel, The Wind in the Willows.
The second feature is based on Washington Irving’s classic tale, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” It’s a bit spooky, so it’s probably not best for very young viewers, but with Halloween coming up, now is the perfect time to check it out.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is available on Disney DVD and Blu-Ray.
4) Robin Hood
This 1973 Disney animated film is a fairly faithful adaptation of the Robin Hood legend, with one exception — instead of humans, the movie stars a cast of anthropomorphic animals.
Robin Hood and Maid Marian are both foxes, while the Sheriff of Nottingham becomes a fearsome wolf.
Unfortunately, Robin Hood is not as well regarded as other Disney classics and it suffers from some recycled footage from earlier works. Nonetheless, it’s an enjoyable tale with plenty of fun moments and bright songs that kids will enjoy.
Robin Hood is available on Disney DVD and Blu-Ray.
3) The Sword in the Stone
Another Disney film based on an old English legend, The Sword in the Stone brings the story of a young King Arthur to life.
It’s based on the book of the same name by T. H. White, which eventually became part one of his more famous work, The Once and Future King.
For some reason, The Sword in the Stone is not well remembered, but like Robin Hood it has many colorful characters and catchy songs, with a deep philosophical message.
The Sword in the Stone is available on Disney DVD and Blu-Ray.
2) Atlantis: The Lost Empire
This is by far the most recent film on the list, having been released in 2001. Though it was a modest box office hit, Atlantis: The Lost Empire came near the end of the Disney Renaissance period and has mostly been forgotten.
The film is much more of an action-adventure film than most Disney animated classics, even forgoing the use of songs to focus on its story. It involves a quest to save the legendary lost city of Atlantis.
Disney had grand plans for Atlantis: The Lost Empire, including the launch of a spin-off television series called Team Atlantis and a revamped Submarine Voyage ride at Disneyland. Three episodes of the aborted TV series were collected as a direct-to-video movie called Atlantis: Milo’s Return in 2003.
Despite its failure to catch fire with audiences, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a rousing and memorable tale, well worth a repeat voyage.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire is available on Disney DVD and Blu-Ray.
1) The Black Cauldron
Along with the controversial Song of the South, The Black Cauldron is often considered to be the black sheep of the animated Disney canon.
There’s good reason too; The Black Cauldron is dark, scary, and violent. It was the first Disney animated film to receive a PG rating and was a box office bomb. Disney didn’t even release it on home video until 1998.
Despite all of the criticisms, The Black Cauldron is still a good film. For fans of fantasy epics like The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, there’s a lot to love here. Just keep younger kids away, as it can be quite scary.
The Black Cauldron is available on Disney DVD, but has not been released on Blu-Ray.