#6

Walt Disney Productions’ 1953 animated feature Peter Pan wasn’t only a huge box office success (and re-released theatrically in 1958, 1969, 1976, 1982, and 1989) but was also one of Walt’s personal favorite stories. In fact, Peter Pan was initially intended to be Disney’s second feature after Snow White, yet he wasn’t able to secure the rights until much later. The classic’s production was also caught in the midst of World War II.  After Pearl Harbor, the U.S military took control of the studio and commissioned them to produce war propaganda films, delaying Peter Pan as well as other Disney productions (Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows, Song of the South, Mickey and the Beanstalk, etc.) to be put on hold.

In the end, Peter Pan continues to have social relevance and tremendous popularity, including  several subsequent film/television productions such as the Tinker Bell film series (at last count six feature-length films as well as a short film) and the Disney Channel television series Jake and the Never Land Pirates (includes Hook and Smee as the main characters, as well as being set in Never Land.) For decades, Disneyland’s Peter Pan’s Flight continues to anchor the Fantasyland attractions. Peter Pan certainly has generous portions of Disney’s pixie dust throughout, and appropriately so.

Fun Fact: The melody for "The Second Star to the Right" was originally written for Alice in Wonderland (1951) for a song that was to be called "Beyond the Laughing Sky.”

#8

#8 - THE CHOSEN ONE

The Lion King, Walt Disney’s 32nd animated feature released in 1994 became an instant classic. The epic musical had everything – dramatic animated panoramic landscapes, high profile voice actors (Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, etc.), memorable songs and gripping storytelling. The movie’s “circle of life” tale focuses on Simba, the young lion who is to succeed his father, Mufasa, as king. After uncle Scar murders the king and plays a few head games with the young cub, Simba runs away, only to ultimately return to take his rightful place on Pride Rock. Along the way, Simba encounters countless characters, many of whom remain as popular today. Simba, Timon, the hyenas, Nala, Rafiki, the list goes on. Through in Elton John, a couple Academy Awards and you’ve broken into the top 10 Disney Movie Moments! In 1997, The Lion King became a New York Broadway musical, which since has become the fourth longest-running show and highest grossing Broadway production in history.

Fun Fact: Until 2013 The Lion King held the record for being the highest grossing animated film in history, until it was surpassed by Frozen (2013), another Disney movie. 

#9

#9 - THE AWAKENING

True love’s kiss. A timeless tale, but not quite captured as well as Walt Disney Productions’ 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty. Ironically, at the time of original release, this was the last Disney fairy tale adaptation for several years due to lackluster box office receipts and mixed critical reception. Not until three decades later with The Little Mermaid, did Disney make another attempt. Today, Sleeping Beauty is regarded a true storytelling, visual masterpiece. Under the direction of some of Walt Disney’s most experienced animators – Les Clark, Eric Larson and Wolfgang Reitherman, the animated feature took nearly the entire decade of the 1950’s to complete. Sleeping Beauty was also the first animated film to be photographed in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen process, which allowed for more detailed and complex backgrounds and environments then ever before.

Fun Fact: Princess Aurora's long, thin, willowy body shape was inspired by that of Audrey Hepburn.

#12

This tale truly is as old as time, with the earliest known Beauty & the Beast work being Italian author Giovan Straparalo in 1550. Disney’s adaptation in 1991 took nearly four years to produce with the full time help of over 600 animators, artists, and technicians, over 226,000 individually painted cels and over one million drawings. Beauty and the Beast pioneered combining traditional animation with computer animation scenes together to create new visuals of grandeur for the audience. The ballroom sequence was a defining moment,  featuring the first computer-generated color background to be both animated and fully dimensional,  creating a more dramatic effect.

Fun Fact: Belle is the only person in her village who wears blue, which is meant to symbolize how different she is from everyone else.

#13

It would be hard to imagine a world without Mary Poppins and her famous words supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. The film, which was released in 1964, was the culmination of a 20 year journey that Walt Disney embarked on after a promise to his girls. This magical journey featured two of the darling of Disney in Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke at the pinnacles of their career. This film solidified Walt Disney Studios as a pioneer in the film industry as it introduced new generation of optical printer, which enabled the Studio to combine live-action and animated films together. Not only was the film a commercial success it also was a massive hit with critics with it being nominated for a Disney best 13 Academy Awards and ended up taking home 5.

Fun Facts: The illustrious Sherman brother wrote 30 songs for the movie, some of which didn’t debuted until the Broadway show in 2006 including the hit “Practically Perfect”.  The Movie also featured Walt’s favorite song “Feed the Birds”.

#17

#17 - Puny god

In 2012 when The Avengers burst onto the scene, Mark Ruffalo’s reprise of the Incredible Hulk certainly stole the show. Ruffalo drew his inspiration for the role by watching Bill Bixby’s portrayal in the original 1970’s television series – purple jeans and all! And believe it or not, the green goliath only has one line in the entire movie, which during the initial screenings, many fans missed due to the laughter as Hulk thrashes Loki about. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Hulk’s performance was that it was the third attempt in a decade to make the character work on the big screen.

Fun Fact: Edward Norton was originally set to reprise his role from The Incredible Hulk (2008) but negotiations between him and Marvel Studios broke down. Norton was replaced with Mark Ruffalo who had also been considered for the role in the prior movie.

#18

#18 - Part of Your World

In 1989, Ariel and her quest to become human, became Disney's first animated fairy tale since Sleeping Beauty (1959). The Little Mermaid is widely credited for launching the Disney Renaissance, an era of renewed creativity, brilliance and box office success for the company's animated features. Mermaid was followed by several subsequent hits, including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, were again relevant and profitable. In addition, the film earned three Academy Award nominations, making it the first Disney animated film to earn an Academy Award nomination since The Rescuers in 1977. The film won two of the awards - Best Song ("Under the Sea") and Best Score.
Ironically, the iconic tune "Part of Your World" was almost cut from the wildly popular 1989 animated film because test audiences thought it slowed the film.

Fun Fact: Jodi Benson, who performed both Ariel's speaking and singing voices, recorded "Part of Your World" with the studio lights turned down low to get a better underwater feel.

#22

#22- Again

After five years of production, Pixar released Monsters, Inc. in 2001. The film is centered in Monstropolis, where super-sized furry James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman) and his one-eyed green partner and best friend Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) generate the city's power by scaring children. Then came Boo, the adorable child who wanders into Monstropolis, threatening to “contaminate” the entire city and striking fear into the monsters themselves. In early drafts, Boo was to be six years old, however writers ultimately decided to make Boo younger as it would make her more dependent on Sulley. Pixar animators also found new ways to render fur and cloth realistically for the film, which contributed to the instant box office success and popularity of the franchise.

Fun fact: About 3:26 into the movie, when the simulation is ended and the monster reaches for a knob on the control panel to review the videotape, just below and to the left of the knob is an indicator which reads "510-752-3000", Pixar's phone number.

#26

#26 - Forget Me Not
What do you get when you combine an Marlin, an overprotective clownfish and a regal tang named Dory? The highest grossing G-rated film of all-time (until Toy Story 3 overtook it), 40 million DVDs sold and three Academy Award nominations. Finding Nemo catapulted Pixar into another stratosphere, with critics overwhelmingly gushing over everything from the underwater animation to the unique play on parental anxiety. Ellen DeGeneres’ enchanting portrayal as Dory captured our hearts through a funny, touching and clever human – I mean fish – story. 

Fun Fact: A sequel, Finding Dory, is in production currently scheduled for release on June 17, 2016.

#27

#27- Never Had a Friend Like Me...

There’s good casting and there’s ideal roles. Robin Williams embodied the Genie in Disney’s 1992 release, Aladdin. That’s not surprising, as the part of Genie literally was written for Williams. Williams’ appearance in the feature also marked the beginning of a transition to the use of celebrity voice actors. As only Williams’ was capable of pulling off in an animated movie, much of Williams’ dialogue was ad-libbed. He was often given general topics and dialogue suggestions, translating into brilliant, timeless improvisation.  The quirkiness worked, as Aladdin was the highest-grossing movie of 1992 and the first animated movie to gross more than $200 million.

Fun Fact: During preview screenings, no one applauded after the songs, so as a joke, the animators added an “Applause” sign over Genie at the end of “Friend Like Me.” 

#30

#30 - Jack

Jack Sparrow’s endearing drunken quirkiness alone deserves a place on our top 30 moments. Add the Black Pearl, the action and theme park attraction tie-ins and we had an instant classic! The infamous pirate of the seas, Jack Sparrow and Pirates of the Caribbean resurrected pirate-mania, similar to that of the cowboy and western craze in the 1950’s. With Sparrow’s character based on a combination of Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards and Pepe Le Pew, it’s not surprising fans were captivated by Johnny Depp’s portrayal. The first release in 2003, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, was an instant success, and has parlayed a franchise topping $3.7 billion worldwide with a fifth film currently in production.
 
Fun Fact: Robert De Niro was offered the role of Captain Jack Sparrow, but declined under the belief the movie wouldn't do well in the box office as many other pirate movies in the past. He was proved wrong and subsequently accepted the role of Captain Shakespeare in the movie Stardust (2007).