#1

#1 - THE DRESS

Artful animation, captivating characters, a breathtaking princess and story for the ages: Cinderella captures the full brilliance of Disney. The lively animation sequences and enduring songs like “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and the Oscar-nominated “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” keep Cinderella atop fans’ all-time “best of” lists. The 1950 feature film that took six years to produce has been reflected in Disney’s very fabric – from theme parks and beyond – ever since. When the Fairy Godmother adorned Cinderella with the gown, Disney’s ability to create timeless magic was undeniable. It’s no surprise Cinderella was the first film to be worked on by all nine of the legendary "Nine Old Men" of the Walt Disney animation department. When it comes to Disney moments, look no further than Cinderella.

Fun Fact: In the movie, Cinderella's dress is white, but in promotional material, it's blue.

#2

#2 - Truth Be Told

Prior to social media and the 24-news cycles, movie fans watched their characters' fates unfold before their eyes. When Luke Skywalker learned his father was the Sith Lord himself, Darth Vader, the Star Wars faithful's jaws dropped, screamed a collective "nooooo", then ran to tell anyone who'd listen. 

Fun fact: In order to keep Luke’s father news under wraps from the public, cast and crew, George Lucas instructed David Prowse (Darth Vader) deliver the line, “Obi-Wan killed your father” while shooting the scene. Only later, during final production was James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader, given the script – which he couldn’t believe himself!

#3

#3 - Beginnings

"I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse." Walt Disney In 1928, the world said “hello” to Mickey & Minnie Mouse via Walt Disney’s first synchronized sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie. From here, the beloved characters and the Disney brand emerged to become one of the most recognizable on the planet. Iconic doesn’t do this piece justice. Historic may be more apropos, as it’s embedded into the fabric of Americana – all for the total production cost of $4,986.

Fun fact: Steamboat Willie premiered at Universal's Colony Theater in New York City and played ahead of the independent feature film Gang War, which is all but forgotten today.

#5

#5 - Let It Go

Love it or leave it, Frozen’s “Let It Go” became an instant timeless classic, with the similar infectiousness as Disney’s “It’s A Small World.” There was simply no escape from Elsa, Anna, Olaf and friends in 2013 – or even today – with parents and children alike humming and singing the tune. Some out of affection. Others from disdain. Nonetheless, countless critics and adoring fans considered the animated feature the best in Disney’s storied history, which launched the film into a massive global box office phenomenon. Frozen became the highest grossing 2013 film and the third highest grossing film ever in Japan. The movie’s anthem was also awarded the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It seems nothing could stop beloved ice princess. But as we learned, the cold never bothered her anyway….

Fun Fact:  “Let It Go” was written in a day.

#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.”

#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.

#10

#10 - A LONG TIME AGO

Few can deny the monumental effect that Star Wars has had on modern day culture, and in looking back to May 25, 1977 this epic opening scene sent galactic shockwaves throughout the world that changed cinema forever. Even today this scene seems to jump off the screen to capture a piece of us that is indescribable. George Lucas often said that the Flash Gordon series along with the films of Akira Kurosawa played a major role in creating this universe. With a massive 11 million dollar budget (at the time) he was quick to admit that all signs pointed to failure. 552 million dollars later its safe to say that he hit mark and brought us a space opera that has yet to be duplicated. This scene defines science fiction cinema as we know it and will never be matched.

Fun Fact: The original title of Star Wars was renamed to "Episode IV: A New Hope" in the theatrical re-release in 1981.

#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.

#15

#15 - The Lights

In 2010, Tangled became Disney’s 50th animated feature release. The film integrated a unique blend of both computer-generated imagery (CGI) and traditional animation, created the impression of a painting. At a reported cost of $260 million and six years to produce, Tangled became one of the most expensive animated films ever released, as well as the longest since Fantasia; however, the effort was quickly rewarded at the box office and with several Academy Award nominations. No scene better showcased this creative production method than the “I See the Light” sequence when Rapunzel and Flynn Rider gazed at the lit sky lanterns. 45,000 to be exact.

Fun Fact: Tangled was the first animated Disney "Princess" film to get a PG rating by the MPAA. All other Disney "Princess" films received a G rating.