Want to know the best Disney+ movies for kids? We’ve got your back with these relevant and comical movies. There’s nothing mature here — only great family animated fun.
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Forget the 2019 remake. For true Disney magic, you have to watch the 1992 original. Robin Williams as the genie is unforgettable. I watched the original when I was 12 and to this day consider the character one of Disney’s best. Even now watching with young nieces and nephews, the movie is relevant. A strong-minded Princess and an image-conscious Aladdin come together with a poignant message of substance over style. That message is well masked behind non-stop, family-friendly humor, that makes Aladdin a timeless classic for adults and kids alike.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Everything with Disney seems to be getting a reboot. One of the first to get that treatment was Beauty and the Beast. The new 2017 version is a good live-action retelling, but with a more modern story that might be too scary for a pre-10 audience. Meanwhile, the original animation is perfect for all ages. Plus, the originals Lumière, who helps spark the flame of love between Belle and the Beast steals the show. Who would have thought a candle could be so funny!
Like in most Disney movies, it’s the comedy sidekicks that kids fall in love with. Mulan is no different. Eddie Murphy voices the disgraced dragon Mushu and is hilarious. Throughout the movie, Mushu and Cri-Kee’s antics are the highlight, with Mulan’s defiance and ascension ending in an emotional scene with the Emperor. Every character, from the wacky soldiers to the outspoken grandmother, is endearing. Disney is rebooting Mulan with an estimated release of 2020. Fingers crossed they do this classic justice.
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
My daughter loves llamas. All her friends love llamas. Based on what she’s shown me on YouTube, everyone loves llamas, so Disney was way ahead of the curve on this one. The Emperor’s New Groove is about a spoilt Prince getting turned into a llama. As funny as the llama and Jon Goodman’s Pacha are, it’s the villainous sidekick Kronk that hogs the limelight. The character is so dimwitted that he’s lovable.
Lilo and Stitch (2002)
Extra-terrestrial fugitive taught the meaning of family and love by a little kid. How very Disney! Somehow they combine the ridiculous into characters we all end up caring about. That is Disney’s magic, and there is no better example than Stitch. An angry alien hell-bent on causing havoc, who ends up acting like Elvis, it sounds weird and yet the montage scene in the movie is one of Disney’s best.
Hercules isn’t as funny as other Disney movies on this list. The villain Hades, voiced by James Woods, has two bumbling assistants. Unfortunately, they never quite reach the usual Disney standard — which isn’t a problem because Hercules has one of the better stories. Redemption and betrayal are among the poignant themes explored, and Hercules’ conflict and love story feed those concepts with unique Disney flair. Plus, if you love Disney songs, Hercules has some of the best. Only The Jungle Book and The Lion King have consistently better musical numbers.
The Jungle Book (1967)
Forget the 2016 remake done by Jon Favreau. I love that guy but it isn’t 1/10th of the original. The original was for everyone, evident in the ridiculousness of Baloo, the elephants’ parade and Kaa the snake. All these elements were more designed to appeal to a younger target audience. Disney also went all-out in creating a villain that is both terrifying but appropriate for kids. Shere Khan the tiger feels like a precursor to The Lion King‘s Scar. What stands out most about The Jungle Book is its music. My mother sang its songs to me, and I did the same for my daughter. The Jungle Book is a special Disney+ movie for kids.
The Lion King (1994)
The 2019 Favreau remake of The Lion King is pretty good. It’s not as good as the original, but if you can’t watch a classic Disney animation, the 2019 movie is great. I’ve chosen the original, though, because of its suitability to younger children. It has a star-studded cast including Mathew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, and the legendary James Earl Jones. That man has the greatest voice in movies! Not only is the story, cast, and comedy top-notch — The Lion King has the best songs, delivered by the rocket man himself, Elton John. Just try to avoid the sequels — they aren’t anywhere near as good.
The Little Mermaid (1989)
If I could, I would have just left one name here: Sebastian. This little crab not only makes The Little Mermaid the fun fest it is but turns it into one of the most memorable. It’s ridiculous what Disney animators and story writers can achieve. Sebastian the crab is one of the best characters Disney has ever made — and they have quite a list. Plus, The Little Mermaid has one of the catchiest songs going, “Under the Sea.” Check it out now, and see if you don’t end up singing along!
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