The promise of Disney Plus is full access to Walt Disney’s outstanding and massive catalogue of beloved movies. The streaming service has come through on that promise. Hundreds of the best movies from all eras of film are immediately available with the touch of a button on Disney Plus. New movies, classic movies, even never before seen Disney original movies are there right now on Disney Plus.
While Disney Plus original shows like The Mandalorian have been getting all the press, data shows that the most watched items on Disney Plus are its movies, not its original shows. Specifically classic movies from the Disney vault.
Polling shows that 22% of all subscribers watch Disney vault movies like Mary Poppins or 101 Dalmations. Right behind those vault movies are other classics like Star Wars (watched by 21%), Marvel movies (15%) and Pixar movies (14%). Disney original TV shows are way down on the watched category list.
The survey breaks it down by age groups too. Baby Boomers and Gen Xer’s are most likely to watch Star Wars. Millennials watch Disney classics. Generation Z is most likely to watch Disney Channel original shows.
So unless you’re a little kid, odds are you’re using Disney Plus to watch movies. With so many great movies to choose from, where should you start? We suggest you start here, with the best Disney Plus movies, sorted according to critical consensus.
Toy Story | CRITICS SCORE: 100%
In Toy Story, the first ever movie from Pixar, Andy is a young boy who, like most young boys, has a treasure trove of dolls and toys. What Andy doesn’t know is, when he is away, his toys come to life. The toys are lead by Woody, a cowboy toy with a big heart. Woody is Andy’s favorite toy until Andy’s birthday, when his Mom gets him a Buzz Lightyear.
Buzz Lightyear is Woody’s opposite: Loud, arrogant and worst of all, Buzz doesn’t believe he is a toy but an actual astronaut. Buzz has all the bells and whistles and becomes Andy’s new favorite toy, turning the good-natured Woody jealous. When Woody and Buzz are accidentally left behind at a pizza parlor, they must find common ground.
Caroline Westbrook of Empire called Toy Story “just perfect” while the late great Roger Ebert said it was “a visionary roller-coaster ride of a movie”. Toy Story is a movie you can watch again and again with everyone you love on Disney Plus.
Pinocchio | CRITICS SCORE: 100%
Pinocchio is Disney classic in every sense of the word. It starts with a lonely woodworker named Geppetto who longs for is a child of his own. So, one night, on a falling star, Geppetto wishes for his puppet Pinocchio to come to life. Because Geppetto is a true, caring man; the Blue Fairy grants his wish. When Pinocchio comes alive, the Fairy tasks Jiminy Cricket to be the puppet’s conscience. But Pinocchio’s naivety lands him in the mean clutches of Honest John and a trip to the sinful Pleasure Island.
This Disney Plus movie is a timeless animated tale about honesty, truth, morals and a father’s love for his son. Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader said of Pinocchio that it, “…is probably the best in terms of visual detail and overall imagination as well as narrative sweep.”
Old Yeller | CRITICS SCORE 100%
This Disney Plus classic movie is the ultimate tale of love and heartbreak. In Old Yeller when the father of a small Texas ranch family goes off on a cattle drive, mom and the two boys are left to take care of the ranch. Enter that famous yellow dog, who causes a bit of mischief around the ranch. One of the boys tries to scare him off but is unsuccessful and it isn’t long after that mom and the boys begin to warm to Old Yeller. This warmth turns into outright love as Old Yeller saves one of the boys from a bear attack. In the fight though, Old Yeller receives wounds and concern for rabies overwhelms the family.
Dave Kehr from the Chicago Reader calls this gem “one of the most memorable of Walt Disney’s live-action films…”. Variety said, “Disney organizations flair for taking a homely subject and building a heartwarming film is again aptly demonstrated…” If you’re looking for a good cry on Disney Plus, Old Yeller is there to provide it.
Toy Story 2 | CRITICS SCORE: 100%
As the original movie did, Toy Story 2 hit the right note with audiences and critics everywhere. Woody and Buzz return with their amazing toy friends in a new adventure that sees Woody being stolen from Andy’s home. This sets Buzz into action and along with his friends, they set off to rescue Woody. But Woody has other plans as he is reunited with Jessie, Woody’s horse Bullseye, and Stinky Pete the Prospector.
Toy Story 2 garnered rave reviews on release. Paul Clinton of CNN said, “Toy Story 2 is a brilliant example of that rarest of Hollywood phenomena a sequel to a major hit film that’s as good, if not better, than the original.” The first three Toy Story movies are on Disney Plus and the fourth is being soon. You’ll need to watch them all, and the second movie is a vital stepping stone.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh | CRITICS SCORE 100%
Everybody’s favorite “silly ol bear” comes to life in Disney’s 1977 movie classic. The Hundred Acre Wood is home to three Pooh adventures, following Pooh and his classic friends as Pooh fights with a bundle of bees while trying to taste some of their honey, fights off a ferocious wind storm, and has the pleasure of dealing with the wildly hyperactive Tigger. It’s a delightful trio of stories, brought to life by the narration of Sebastian Cabot.
Dalton Ross of Entertainment Weekly says of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, “…this batch of honey couldn’t be any sweeter.” And Kevin Carr from 7M Pictures noted, “While Blustery Day won an Oscar, all three cartoons deserved it.”
Mary Poppins (1964) | CRITICS SCORE: 100%
While the recent return of Mary Poppins was a hit, the original classic movie starring Julie Andrews as a magical Nanny is the undeniable winner. Mary brings her magic to the Banks family in a series of heart, humor, and music, all in attempts to make this family a family again. Mary Poppins receives an abundance of help from Bert, the chimney-sweeping performer.
The New York Times said of Mary Poppins, “And what a wonderful, cheering movie it is…”. The Dissolve called it, “…a near-masterpiece.” The new Mary Poppins is also on Disney Plus but you’re better off sticking with the classic.
Treasure Island | CRITICS SCORE: 100%
Disney brought Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island to the screen as their very first live-action, non-animated movie, back in 1950. It’s the well-known tale of Jim Hawkins and the treasure map of the notorious pirate Captain Flint. Hawkins, along with Squire Trelawney and Dr. Livesy, embarking on a search for the treasure when they joined in their adventure by the infamous Long John Silver.
As a first live-action film, Disney hit it out of the park as the New York Times called it “a grand and glorious entertainment.” TV Guide Magazine said, “…it is, by far, the best film version of the familiar Stevenson story.”
Darby O’Gill and the Little People | CRITICS SCORE: 100%
Darby O’Gill just lost his job to a younger man. On his way home, Darby finds himself falling through a portal into a world of leprechauns. As Darby gets himself out of the portal, he accidentally takes with him Brian, the leprechaun king. The back and forth between these two is magical as Darby demands his three wishes. The results are humorous, touching and unexpected. Of note, the young man who takes Darby’s position and the heart of Darby’s daughter is none other than James Bond himself, Sean Connery.
The New York Times calls 1959’s Darby “an overpoweringly charming concoction of standard Gaelic tall stories, fantasy, and romance.” No Disney Plus journey would ever be complete without Sean Connery.
Finding Nemo | CRITICS SCORE: 99%
Pixar struck gold with their story about an overly protective father Marlin, clownfish, who stops at nothing to find his son, Nemo. After Nemo tries to prove to his dad that his foreshortened fin won’t hinder him. Nemo swims too close to the surface and is gobbled up by a diver. Marlin’s path takes him to one of Pixar’s most popular and humorous characters, Dory, a blue reef fish with almost immediate-short memory loss.
Entertainment Weekly said about Finding Nemo that “you could trawl the seven seas and not net a funnier, more beautiful, and more original work of art and comedy…”.
Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs | CRITICS SCORE: 98%
Disney’s very first animated movie debuted in 1937 and has become an all-time favorite and now its available exclusively on Disney Plus. The dark but fun narrative is by now a familiar tale. The wicked queen is jealous of Snow White’s beauty and orders the murder of her. Snow White is taken into the woods by the huntsman but is able to escape his clutches and finds herself at the cottage of those seven dwarfs. The evil queen eventually discovers Snow White and disguised as an old hag, sets out to finish the job herself.
This classic immediately set the Disney standard of storytelling and animation as the Daily News calls it, “perfectly delightful screen entertainment.” IGN has this to say about Snow White: “where Citizen Kane changed the way live-action films were looked at and made forever, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs did the exact same thing for animation.”
101 Dalmations (1961) | CRITICS SCORE: 98%
Disney’s hit classic 101 Dalmations has one of the most iconic songs on Disney Plus, Mel Leven’s Cruella de Vil. Not only was the song a hit, but the character herself is one of the most infamous villains ever to grace the silver screen. Cruella has a taste for Dalmatian fur and once she spies Pongo and Perdita’s litter, she will stop at nothing to make them hers. As the numbers grow, so does Cruella’s desire to get them all.
Time said this Disney Plus tale is “…the wittiest, most charming, least pretentious cartoon feature Walt Disney has ever made.”
Inside Out | CRITICS SCORE: 98%
Pixar’s Inside Out release follows young Riley as her world is turned upside down when her family moves San Francisco. Riley has a hard time adjusting. The story happens inside Riley’s head where her emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust, all try to work themselves out so Riley can better handle her life-changing event in this movie.
Peter Debruge of Variety says, “In execution, Pixar’s 15th feature proves to be the greatest idea the toon studio has ever had.” The Playlist chimes in, “Inside Out is not just fun and breezy, it’s also truly weird and wicked smart in its thoroughly heartfelt conclusions.”
Up | CRITICS SCORE: 98%
Pixar’s heartfelt Up will immediately pull at the heartstrings and then take you into a story involving a 78-year old balloon salesman Carl. Unable to take his deceased wife to Paradise Falls, Carl ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to South Africa. Things don’t go as planned when Carl he finds stowaway Russell on board.
Michael Rechtshaffen calls the movie Up “winsome, touching and arguably the funniest Pixar effort ever…”.
Toy Story 3 | CRITICS SCORE: 98%
Pixar’s third movie in the Toy Story series finds Woody and Buzz dealing with a grown-up Andy as he heads off to college. In the midst of Andy’s preparation Woody, Buzz and the gang end up in a box on the front curb ticketed for trash. Woody saves the day, but all his effort did was send his friends to a day-care center where kids don’t play nice with toys. Separated from the gang, Woody somehow must find his friends and help them escape.
In his 5 star review Giant Freakin Robot’s own head honcho Josh Tyler (at the time writing for CINEMABLEND) said of Toy Story 3, “I walked out of Toy Story 3 feeling as if my heart was too full, as if at any moment it would burst.”
Dumbo (1941) | CRITICS SCORE: 98%
Disney’s 4th turn at animated movies was the endearing Dumbo. While the film is a classic, its themes are fairly dark. In fact in its new home on Disney Plus the movie is preceded by a warning to viewers that it “may contain outdated cultural depictions”.
Dumbo was born with large ears, making him a joke around the circus. When he is cruelly taunted by kids, his mother becomes enraged, causing injury to those around her. She is locked away and Dumbo is forced to dress as a clown while performing dangerous stunts. It isn’t until Dumbo realizes his large ears can really make him fly that Dumbo finds his worth.
The New York Times gushed, “The most genial, the most endearing, the most completely precious cartoon feature film ever to emerge from the magical brushes of Walt Disney’s wonder-working artists!”
Who Framed Roger Rabbit | CRITICS SCORE: 97%
Who Framed Roger Rabbit’s blend of live-action and animation won Walt Disney Animation four Oscars. The movie tells the story of Eddie Valiant, a down-on-his-luck private eye called upon to look into an adultery scandal involving cartoon character Roger Rabbit’s wife, Jessica Rabbit. Eddie’s job gets that much tougher when the adultery scandal turns to murder. The live-action/ animation mix is seamless as the classic characters are brought to life.
Rita Kempley from the Washington Post puns of Roger Rabbit that, “…it’s a hare’s breadth away from legend.”
The Incredibles | CRITICS SCORE: 97%
Pixar did it again with the 2004 movie The Incredibles. Married superheroes Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, along with their kids Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack are forced to live life as ordinary folk after the government bans all super-power activities. As time goes on, the mundane is too much for Mr. Incredible and behind his family’s back, he goes out on a mission. What he doesn’t realize is that it’s a trap and the only way out is to have his family come to save him.
L.A. Weekly says about the movie, “The Incredibles creates so seamless a mood of exhilaration that we resent being pulled out of it.”, while CINEMABLEND calls it “a modern classic that’ll be hanging around for generations, a film that you won’t be finished with until you’ve seen it more than once.”
Ratatouille | CRITICS SCORE: 97%
Pixar once again pulled in the praises with the Oscar-winning movie Ratatouille. In a rat-phobic profession, all Remy could dream about was becoming a chef. His dream takes him to Paris where he puts all his culinary skills to the test. Trying to remain hidden while trying to cook is a tricky situation but Remy finally finds the chance to prove his culinary skills.
Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman keeps it simple when reviewing this Disney Plus movie: “Ratatouille is in fact great.” The Hollywood Reporter went a little further, “Brad Bird and Pixar recapture the charm and winning imagination of classic Disney animation.”
Monsters, Inc | CRITICS SCORE: 96%
Monsters, Inc tells the story of James P. Sullivan and Mike Wazowski, two monsters who work hard at the largest scare factory monster world has seen. They are both at the top of their game but unfortunately, their game comes crumbling down by way of a tiny girl, Boo.
Nell Minow of Common Sense Media said, “This movie has the same delicious mixture of heart, humor, and technical wizardry that made A Bug’s Life and the two Toy Story movies into instant classics. It’s utterly delightful.”
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back | CRITICS SCORE: 96%
Long considered the best movie of all the Star Wars movies, Empire Strikes Back is the second film made in the series. Luke, Leia, Han, Chewy, C3PO and R2D2 all make rousing returns in the never-ending fight between good and evil, dark and light… and the Force. Luke ventures to Dagobah to find the diminutive Yoda, a Jedi master who will help him learn the ways of the force, all leading to Luke’s ultimate duel with his father, Darth Vader.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported, “The balance between action and mysticism in The Empire Strikes Back provides fascinating energy.” The rest of the original Star Wars trilogy movies are on Disney Plus too, might as well start at the beginning with Star Wars: A New Hope.
Disney Plus launched with the promise of making the Walt Disney Company’s entire, massive library of content available to watch on the platform. It was never going to happen right away, but the idea was that as the licensing agreements Disney had with other company’s expired all the content would end up on Disney Plus. What no one expected is what is happening right now… Disney is yanking content OFF Disney Plus instead of adding more to it.
Though the Disney Plus app launched with big Disney franchise titles like Home Alone and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the service has recently been removing them. Those two aforementioned movies are either themselves or their sequels no longer available on Disney Plus. Dozens of others are recently gone too, including critically acclaimed classics like The Sandlot and movies like Dr. Doolittle (some kind of connection to the impending reboot?) and Strange Magic.
Disney offered up an explanation for why this is happening. Apparently it’s a licensing problem. Some specific titles have “pre-existing legacy deals” which require Disney to give them up to other services from time to time. This won’t be the last time it happens either. Disney spokesperson says a “very, very small” number of titles will periodically leave the service, only to return later in the future, due to pre-existing legacy deals with other content providers.
For example, under Disney’s pre-existing deal with Netflix, every Disney movie released between January 2016 and December 2018 will have to suddenly leave Disney Plus and return to Netflix in the year 2026.
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