Best 90's Disney Animated Movies!

The '90s were a time of memorable pop music, iconic sports moments, and arguably, the greatest era of Disney Animation Studios films ever made. There's not much to say beyond the fact that these movies shaped many of our lives; from Little Mermaid to the Lion King, the iconic studio pumped out some of the most incredible stories of our lifetime. Let's be clear, we're aware that The Little Mermaid was released in 1989, but it came out in November, so really, it's about as close to the '90s as one could get. Additionally, we're here to talk about Disney Animation Studios, not Pixar, so you're not going to read anything here about Toy Story or A Bug's Life - those are fit for another list. Today, we're going to list our Top 5 Disney Animation Studios films, and we cannot wait to share with you. Before we get to that, though, we do want to Let's get started!

5. Mulan (1998)

While not our favorite movie of the '90s, Mulan fits the bill of a "classic" extremely well. From the start of the film, you can feel a genuine tension between the reality that Mulan is facing and the expectations of her culture, and it really only gets better from there. On top of that, the animation of the movie itself is awestriking and beautiful - leaving you with a feeling of connectivity to a culture that many of us could not have imagined as children. 

The basic message of the story, that honor, and family are most important in life, is both a morally strong premise and a timeless truth. Mulan strikes to the core of what being yourself is all about, and it finds a way to do so with humor and lightheartedness sprinkled throughout. Eddie Murphy was incredible as our red dragon friend, and the featured song, "I'll Make a Man Out of You" is one of the better songs from any '90s movie. 

All-in-all, Mulan is deservedly in the Top 5 list, and writing this makes us want to watch it again!

4. The Little Mermaid (1989...late 1989)

We mentioned this already, but we'll reiterate the message - we know that The Little Mermaid was not technically a '90s movie. However, it's on our list and we're sticking with it. Ariel, Sebastian, Ursula, and company came splashing onto the movie scene at a time in which Disney wasn't really crushing it with animated movies and they absolutely knocked it out of the park. 

While the story was written originally by Hans Christian Andersen, the Disney version featured a funny, lighthearted twist to the predecessor. However, that's not to say that there aren't some emotional themes that leave you feeling a bit "blue" if you will. There are some really strong messages throughout the movie, but what makes the whole thing come together is the songwriting and singing.

The decision to format the script and score to mirror a Broadway musical turned out to be a stroke of genius, and songs like "Kiss the Girl" and "Part of Your World" are not just memorable favorites, they're actually pretty brilliantly written. 

The creators and Disney struck gold with The Little Mermaid, and we are all better off for it.

3. Aladdin (1992)

Here's the deal, Aladdin and Genie's relationship might be the best Protagonist/Supporting Character relationship in any Disney movie. You might disagree, but it's certainly a friendship that highlights what it means to care about one another, and that's what Disney is all about. 

Robin Williams was electric in this movie, so much so, that we forget at times that the movie is about Aladdin and Jasmine. His portrayal of the Genie is outstanding, loveable, and heartwarming and that's just the tip of the iceberg for this movie.

What really seems to stand out is that this might actually be the funniest animated Disney movie ever, but it's also a passionate love story about a familiar archetype that we've grown to be used to. What sets this movie apart from the traditional narrative, though, is the fact that it takes place in a completely different setting with a fresh perspective.

All this without mentioning the score and soundtrack, which are both stunning.

Deservedly, Aladdin sits in the top 3 Disney movies of the '90s. 

2. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

While some of the Disney movies of the '90s left us feeling happy, and others sad, it was the varying emotional range of Beauty and the Beast that really made it a masterpiece. At times, the movie was truly sad and had you feeling as though no possible positivity could arise, and at others, we were feeling happy, hopeful, and joyous. 

The relationship between Beast and Belle is also not something to be overlooked. Although somewhat dark, the true "beauty" of the film shines through in their character arcs. Additionally, through their relationship, we are awarded some of the best songs in the movie (although, our favorite song is "Be Our Guest"!)

Finally, the animation in the movie really sets it apart. The idea to bring clocks and candlesticks to life and to create incredible characters out of them is not something to be overlooked as far as genius goes. Beauty and the Beast is the 2nd-best movie of the '90s, which only leaves room for one more. 

1. The Lion King (1994)

This is it. We've arrived at the pinnacle of movies and Disney Animation Studios? Don't agree? That's fair, but let's point out the facts. The Lion King was not the first "talking animals" movie that Disney had ever done, and it wouldn't be the last, but they found a way to make that theme far more exciting and magical than any who had ever done it before.

Beyond the traditional story arc of Prince claiming his rightful throne as King, The Lion King is based on a Shakespeare classic and follows the story without ever breaking character. Never once do you feel like, "I've seen this story before" - it's fresh, it's original, and it's captivating. The movie also jumps right into some of the darkest and most-adult themes that Disney has ever tackled, from the death of Mufasa to the banishment and near-starvation of Simba, you're certainly not comfortable the entire time. 

However, they found a way to strike joy and awe in our hearts amidst these themes, with the relationship between Timon and Pumbaa, Zazu, and even the laughing hyenas, helping us to find new meaning in classic ideas like mortality, legacy, and honor. 

We haven't even touched on the music, which absolutely blows you away each time you see (or listen to) it. Maybe it's the inclusion of Elton John, maybe it's the full-choir, or maybe it's just the fact that Hans Zimmer wrote the score. Regardless of what's responsible, the myriad of incredible tracks makes this movie even better than it already was. 

We have no shame naming The Lion King the best movie of the '90s - there's just too much greatness to ignore!


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