Top 10 Best Disney Movies for Toddlers: A Power Ranking
Whether you just need a minute or want to snuggle up on the couch and share your own love of Disney with your little one, finding a movie that will keep their attention for more than five minutes is no easy feat.
I won't lie to you: we've been relying heavily on screen time these days. From being pregnant while chasing around a toddler, to caring for a newborn and toddler under quarantine, Disney+, Netflix and YouTube have saved my sanity on several occasions.
But to say that the fan favorites (Little Baby Bum and Blippi, I'm looking at you) can become maddening for parents is an understatement.
So, when my daughter decided she was happy to watch an ongoing loop of "Frozen" and "Frozen 2," I was thrilled! The music is catchy, the storylines are entertaining, and the films are just simply well made. I'll take it!
Since then, we've found several titles -- new and classics -- that will hold her attention while delivering fire soundtracks. (My standards may have shifted since becoming a parent, but I make no apologies for that.)
Below, I present my Top 10 Disney Movies Power Ranking According to Toddler Watchability.
In creating this list, I combined my own personal experience with a one year old alongside a highly scientific system of chatting with mama friends and an informal poll on Instagram.
If you want to test your little one's interest before committing to a full-length, I'll include some of my favorite clips (aka songs) below to watch ahead of time.
Keep in mind, it may take a few introductions of each film, 10 to 20 minutes at a time, before a toddler will become truly interested in watching. But once they're hooked, it's on.
What can I say except, YOU'RE WELCOME!
While parental reviews of the film are mixed, Lin Manuel Miranda's uh-mazing soundtrack seems to be universally loved by mamas and minis alike. Plus, anything with an ocean theme is automatically a winner in my daughter's book.
P.S. If you're not already following Dwayne Johnson on Instagram, it's worth it purely to see his IRL renditions of "You're Welcome" with his daughter.
2. "Frozen" & "Frozen 2"
OK, so apparently there are some babies out there who have really strong feelings about this song, but I love it. It might be my favorite Disney song to date. (Don't @ me!) My daughter and I have a little dance party to it every time it comes on, and my newborn has never cried from it.
Personally, I prefer to watch the sequel, but both films hold equal billing in my daughter's eyes. Although... we are big fans of Oaken in this house, so "Frozen I" might be at a slight advantage.
3. "The Little Mermaid"
The very first movie my daughter started actually requesting, demanding: "Ariel! Ariel!" after a nap. Ariel is also the first Disney Princess on my daughter's radar. She has the pajamas, a plush doll, a sippy cup -- the works. She loves it all.
To be fair, this could be because of our frequent rides on The Little Mermaid's Undersea Adventure at Disneyland. Or possibly because of her aforementioned fascination with the ocean. Either way, I'm happy to sing along to "Under the Sea" and "Part of Your World" right along with her.
Hot tip: If your little one falls hard for Ariel, there's a sequel and a prequel also available on Disney+ that my daughter finds equally compelling to the original. Three movies for the price of one!
4. "The Lion King"
Don't waste your time on the 2019 live action garbage. (Sorry, Beyonce... don't @ me.) Go straight for the 1994 original and while you're at it, I highly recommend going down the IMDb trivia rabbit hole for some little-known facts that will blow your mind.
(Did you know that "The Lion King" and "Pocahontas" were in production at the same time, and the studio fully expected "POCAHONTAS" to be the superior film?! Or that Elton John's Oscar-winning ballad, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," was almost cut? Yeah, there's lots more where that came from.)
5. "Finding Nemo" & "Finding Dory"
It's true that Everly loves an ocean theme... but she does not love stories without music. But while she has no interest in "Finding Nemo" yet, other toddlers her age absolutely love it and will watch it on repeat.
6. The "Cars" Franchise
This one really depends on your child's interests. If you have a little boy or girl who can't get enough of cars and trucks on the road, Lightning McQueen is sure to be a hit on screen.
7. The "Toy Story" Franchise
I'm switching gears here to older toddlers. While Everly has watched a few minutes here and there of "Toy Story 4" (I stan for Forky and his trash lines), again, there's not enough catchy music to hold her interest on storyline alone. But from what I've heard of kids upwards of three years old, Woody and the gang are big hits in their homes.
8. "A Goofy Movie"
I'm including this one at the request of my husband, who is apparently Goofy's biggest fan. I must admit, having not seen this one since I was a kid, revisiting it was a joy. The soundtrack is A++ and the one-liners are hilarious for parents. If you can get your kid on-board with Goofy and Max, this is a really fun one to watch together.
Again, skip the live action garbage. (Sorry, Will Smith, but I feel like even you'd agree.)
10. "The Jungle Book"
If you have a little animal lover on your hand, try "The Jungle Book." According to my parents, it was my favorite thing before I could really even talk.
What are your babes' Disney faves? Did I miss any on this list?
Mom Needs Merlot