The last time Heidi visited WDW, her family tried to watch all of the animated Disney movies together before they left. With our big Walt Disney World trip coming up I decided that we had to do it too. Now that Disney+ is available, it’s much more doable to start at the beginning and watch (almost) all of them starting with the first Disney movie. Note: Since I started working on this blog post COVID-19 happened and now we aren’t able to visit WDW in May. The upside? More time to watch the movies before we go!
Here’s the problem is… there are over 1000 movies. 1043 and counting, to be exact!
Now before you close this blog post because of the crazy talk, this includes ALL movies. Animated, live-action, made for TV… and all sequels (even direct to VHS/DVD). If the full list doesn’t interest you, that’s ok! I’ve made it so that you can only watch the movies that pertain to Disney Parks. Also you can print it and check off as you go, and skip the ones that don’t interest you. But for the brave, you have the option of watching each and every Disney movie like us! I’m not a full list kind of gal, just give me the highlights!
I have an addictive personality… and because of that, I’m either all the way in or all the way out. This is how I ended up with a list of over 1000 movies. IF you watched one a day, it would take you over 3 YEARS to complete! Well, we are going to do our very best. We are committed at this point. And while there have been some REALLY awful movies, there’s also been some real surprises! The most surprising thing of all is how it makes me feel like I am getting to know Walt a lot better. There’s just something about watching them in order, reading and learning about them. I love knowing that at least for the first 50 or 60 movies, Walt had a hand in making each of these films.
First things first… make a checklist. I did look online but couldn’t find one that worked for me; so I, of course, created my own. I had a really hard time finding a good chronological list so I’m very thankful for Erica’s Type A personality which created a great list for us to use… even if we don’t do it 100%. I spent over 100 hours making a chronological list of all the movies. It was a RIDICULOUSLY long project; I had absolutely NO idea it was going to take that long.
One of the reasons why there isn’t an “official” master list available that I could find is because there are different criteria as to what constitutes a “Disney” movie. Beyond the movies that have “Disney presents” above the title, you have different film studios that have been brought under the Disney umbrella (ex. 20th Century Fox, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, National Geographic, Studio Ghibli, etc.) and different distribution labels within Walt Disney Studios itself (ex. Touchstone Pictures).
Plus, you also have TV Disney movies… some which are for sure movies (Disney Channel Originals anyone?), and some that are in a grey area (multiple episodes of “The Magical World of Disney” that technically form one “complete” film). My husband and I nearly lost our marriage to what he calls the “canon of inclusion.” Deciding what went on the list and what didn’t was a SCENE!
For instance, no one is actually going to say that X-Men or Ice Age are Disney movies, but you’ll find them on the list. My husband and I have had a LOOOOOOONNNNNGGGGGG debate about this, believe me. And I’m fine with being wrong. But as for me and my house; if it’s on Disney+, and is now owned by Disney, it’s on my list. I’m with Danny on this one, I would not consider those to be Disney. But, they are now owned by Disney so what can I say. We did our very best to include only what is considered a Disney movie by multiple sources, and we used the following criteria in making the final decision:
- Produced by the Walt Disney Company
- Owned by the Walt Disney Company
- Available on Disney+
- Associated attraction in a Disney Park
In the end, if you don’t agree with my list I figure it’s easier to take one off the list than to add it later, so feel free to adjust it to your preferences as needed!
We also created this legend of symbols for quick reference:
- Movies in BOLD have attractions in a Disney Park and we suggest you watch the movie before you head to the parks.
- Movies in ITALICS debuted on TV and did not have a theatrical release.
- Movies with a (*) mean they were produced by another film studio, which Disney either purchased or acquired the distribution rights.
- Movies with a (^) were released by Touchstone Pictures / Hollywood Pictures.
- Movies with a (~) were direct to home releases (VHS, DVD, etc.).
- Movies with a (+) are Disney+ Original films.
- Movies highlighted in YELLOW are not yet available on Disney+ (many of which we found available to rent on YouTube though).
Ok, lets talk about Disney+ for a minute here. I would love to be a fly on the wall during the meetings that decided what movies got priority to be on Disney+ in the first months of release. As you will see on the list, there is no rhyme or reason (at least to my eye). How did some movies make it on and others didn’t? Sure, you’ve got the issue of who has rights to what, but there are hundreds of Disney movies released direct to TV.
SO many aren’t on there yet… some of which played a significant role in Disney history (Susie Q, for instance, which has a large cult following). Even some of their animated films are mysteriously missing… The Brave Little Toaster isn’t there, but The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars is available.
Now keep in mind this is going to be a “living document,” in that we plan to update it as needed. Adding new movies as they get released, or as films (old and new) become available on Disney+. (One more thing to note; we are in Canada. What is available to us on Disney+ might be different than what is available to you, depending on where you live.)
Ok, enough explanation… here it is, in all of its glory! Chronological Disney Movie Checklist.
The Challenge Begins
We did, of course, start from the beginning. Thankfully the first couple have aged super well and the girls were really interested in watching them! (We’ll see if this trend continues…)
Watching them in chronological order has helped us see things we wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and has also given us an appreciation for the gradual development of animation, storytelling, use of color… all of it! Yes! My kids love piecing together which voices are the same in different movies and watching the progression of art style and how animation evolves. They are also curious to figure out when credits switched from the beginning of the movie to the end. (So are we!!)
Another reason I am loving it (my family is sticking to the classic animated Disney films), is because some of the older movies my kids haven’t seen since they were little. At nine there would be no other way to get my son to watch Winnie the Pooh, but he laughed all the way through it! Some of the older movies are a hard sell… there is just so much that is different culturally, and some that are quite dry. Overall though, I feel like this has been a bonding experience for us as a family. I certainly feel more connected to Walt and the company he created, particularly through watching these earlier films!
Because this is such a huge undertaking, we will be releasing blog posts that cover 10 Disney movies at a time. I’ll be highlighting any connections to the parks around the world, sharing our impressions, suggesting activities or food to pair with the movie, and giving the official Jones Family Rating! For reference, we are a family of five; three daughters (ages 7, 10, and 12 1/2), plus my husband and I.
Here’s a sneak peak of what you can expect, below.
To read about the first 10 Disney movies, head here!
watched January 9th, 2020
1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Release Date: Dec 21st, 1937
Original Release: Theatrical release
Run Time: 83 min
Where to Watch: Disney+, YouTube, Google Play, Disney DVD/Blu-Ray
Awards: Academy Award (Walt Disney: Academy Honorary Reward, 1939)
Nominated for an Academy Award in 1938 for Best Musical Score
Jones Family Rating: 8 out of 10
Disney Parks Connection:
– Disneyland: Snow White’s Scary Adventures (an opening day attraction), Snow White’s Grotto and Wishing Well (fun fact, that’s where Elisia got engaged!), and you can meet her at the Royal Hall in Fantasyland
– Walt Disney World: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and you can meet Snow White in the following locations: Cinderella’s Royal Table dining in Magic Kingdom, Germany pavilion in Epcot, and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway pavilion in Epcot
– Tokyo Disneyland: Snow White’s Adventures
– Hong Kong Disneyland: Snow White Grotto, as well as two meet and greet locations
– Disneyland Paris: Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains (Snow White’s Adventure Ride), you can meet Snow White in the Princess Pavilion, and she is in the 25th Anniversary Parade
– Shanghai Disney: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (with a different ending than WDW!) and Once Upon a Time Adventure (where you walk through the Magic Mirror)
The Disney movie all of Disney movies. Snow White is a big deal because it’s the first full length animated film… ever. (Fun fact: they made the colour palette super muted because they were afraid people’s eye wouldn’t be able to take it.) And while we hail it as a kid’s movie, it wasn’t intended that way. It was based on the German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. It premiered at Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles (if that name sounds familiar, it’s because there is a restaurant based off of it in DCA). Disney took a huge risk and thankfully it paid off! Cinema was the better for it. It was ranked as one of the worlds best 100 films by the American Film Institute.
We had a bit of a fight with Addie (10) about this one. Despite it being her favourite when she was 3, she was really concerned about how scary it would be. We decided to do puzzles at the same time so if it got too scary she would be distracted. This was a good plan… and within 20 min all 3 of our girls were REALLY into it. Remember, this was made as an adult movie. It wasn’t intended to be for kids.
The songs are classic, the story is good, and the animals are enchanting. The girls all picked “Heigh-Ho” as their favourite song. Listening to this one again blew my mind. All my life I thought they sang “It’s off to work we go” but they sing “It’s home from work we go”. Mandela effect much?
The one thing that ages it more than anything, though, is for sure Snow White’s voice. My favourite moment was when Lexie (our youngest) said, “I love this movie, but not her voice. It sounds like she has a nose bleed.” Overall, the girls enjoyed it, but it can be scary for some kids for certain. The story is engaging, it’s the first ever full length animated feature. And it has a ride in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, so as far as we are concerned, it’s a must watch!
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom at WDW
Suggested Special Activities:
For a treat, we recommend Red Candy Apples! Game ideas include a game with gems and gold coins, like a treasure hunt. For something simple, freeze dance with the songs from the movie is classic.
Will you be joining us on our Disney Movie challenge?
We’d love to hear from you!
Have a magical day!
Erica, Heidi, Elisia and Danielle