#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.”

#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.

#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”.