#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!

#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. 

#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.

#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”.

#16

#16- The Lover, The Dreamer, and Me

In the new era of massive Disney acquisitions most of us don’t remember the Muppets as the one that started it all. In the mid 80’s Jim Henson was seeing his product fade from the public eye as kids began enjoying a different kind of entertainment with the likes of Transformers, GI Joe and My Little Pony. To help breath new life into his passion he turned to Disney to help revive the franchise. Stories of the partnership are well documented but terms were finally reached and Henson would be joining Disney and major plans were in place for a Muppet revival not only on the big screen but also at the Disney Parks. Well, as we know, Mr. Henson, the brilliant entertainer, passed shortly after this partnership and Disney seemed to be lost with what to do next. With a few less than impressive tries to get the franchise back on the map Disney finally broke through with “The Muppets” in 2010 and the much underrated “Muppets Most Wanted” in 2013.  The most recognizable songs that Kermit and friends brings to us can be recognized around the world. Rainbow Connection not only tugs at the heartstrings of us nostalgic fans but also continues to paint a picture of hope for the dreamers of the world. Nothing epitomizes that better than the line The Lover, The Dreamer and Me…..

Fun Fact:  The Muppets will be back this fall on ABC doing what they do best and that is television. It may take on a more contemporary style but at this point it looks like they haven’t missed a beat. 

#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.

#19

#19 - The Great Escape

When Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom burst on the scene in 1981, college professor of archeology and quasi-hero Indiana Jones possessed a unique balance of cynicism, romance, imperfections and brilliance. Han Solo ~ I mean Harrison Ford ~ brilliantly embodied the believable treasure hunter. His pratfalls and near-misses only drew us closer to him, along with his abundance of strained relationships. With boulders crashing toward him, we cheered, we laughed, we were riveted.  Only moments later, we were equally drawn to the complex dramatic sequences on religion and faith. Indiana Jones is the complete package which has stood the test of time: just check the wait times for Indiana Jones Adventure attractions at Disney’s theme parks.

Fun Fact: Freeze-framing during the Well of Souls scene you can notice a golden pillar with a tiny engraving of R2D2 and C3PO from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). They are also on the wall behind Indy when they first approach the Ark.

#20

#21 - This is the Night

Lady & the Tramp holds a special place in Disney fans’ hearts. Released just a month prior to the opening of Disneyland in 1955, the feature checked all the boxes: animation, romance, music and comedy. It was also the first animated feature filmed in the CinemaScope widescreen film process, which created more realistic environments. Although the spaghetti eating sequence is now the best known scene from the entire film, Walt Disney was prepared to cut it, with the belief dogs eating spaghetti is not only not romantic, but would appear downright silly. Animator Frank Thomas was against Walt's decision and animated the entire scene himself without any lay-outs. So impressed with how Thomas romanticized the scene, it remained, and the rest is history. 

Fun Fact: The film's setting was partly inspired by Walt Disney's boyhood hometown of Marceline, Missouri.

#21

#21 - Flynn's New World

In many respects, the release of Tron in 1982 spawned the beginning  of the comic book, computer programming, video game and all-around geek cool culture. The revolutionary visual effects, coupled with the hybrid animation and live action sequences created a stunning adventure into the computer mainframe, better known as “the grid.” While the film was met with mixed reviews, the sensational special effects and computer graphics were a milestone in the industry, gaining appreciation and cult status over the years. In an era when Pac-Man and Pong were the extent of many people’s “grid” experience, Tron’s illuminated Frisbees, light cycles, fluorescent tank mazes and “bit” and “byte” references may well have been beyond our grasp and ahead of its time.

Fun Fact: The beloved arcade game Tron, which we all stood in line for hours to play, was a massive hit and actually outgrossed the film.

#23

#23 - Some Imagination

Fantasia was Disney’s 1940 animated release comprised of eight animated segments set to pieces of classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski. Those segments included live-action orchestral introductions. Most significantly, Fantasia was the first American film to use stereophonic sound.  Late in the production process, Disney decided to include an animated segment The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, which was designed to catapult Mickey Mouse’s waning popularity (believe it or not…). Here, Mickey Mouse, the young apprentice of the sorcerer Yen Sid (yes, it’s Disney backwards), attempts some of his master's magic tricks but doesn't know how to control them. For most, this segment represents the most memorable of the film due to the Mickey’s familiarity. Over the years, Mickey’s sorcerer costume has been parlayed into merchandise and the foundation for the Disney theme park Fantasmic! production.

Fun fact: To this day, Disney reports receiving complaints from parents claiming the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence terrified their children.

#25

#26 - Stow Stopper

The Marvel blockbuster’s most notable highlight didn’t appear until two hours into the film: after the defeat of Ronan the villain, the redemption of Peter Quill and the unification of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Amidst the brilliant action sequences and salty language, Baby Groot’s innocent emergence and dance quickly became an instant adorable classic.

Fun fact: Groot could originally speak. In Groot’s first comic appearance (Tales to Astonish #13,) he arrived on Earth ranting and raving he would take an entire city back to his Planet X for study, even turning a nearby forest into his own personal army. His comic demise came at the hands of, ironically, a pile of specially bred termites….

#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.” 

#28

#28 - What's This
When the dark, yet comical Nightmare Before Christmas hit theaters in 1993, most of us said “What’s this?” Founded through inspiration when he saw a Halloween display in a store being replaced by a Christmas one, the juxtaposition between Tim Burton’s two favorite holidays presented the perfect backdrop for the first full-length stop-motion animated fantasy. After three years of painstaking production, Nightmare premiered with Burton himself being used as a marketing tool, with his name above the title even though he ultimately decided not to direct the project. Composer Danny Elfman’s musical creativity drove the storyline, as much of the movie is told through song. 

Fun Fact: The elaborate and painstaking stop-motion production process required an entire week of shooting to create one minute of film.

#29

#29 - Super Suit

In 2004, The Incredibles was Disney/Pixar’s sixth feature length film, but ironically the first to showcase an entirely all-human cast. Fans adored the first-family of “Supers” – Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Dash, Violet and Jack-Jack – during a retro-style “Golden” era alternate universe. Director and writer Brad Bird created a unique blend of action, inter-personal relationships, suburban life and humor, with Lucius Best, better known as Frozone (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) embodying it all! Super hero crime fighting one day, bowling another, with an occasional misplaced super suit is about as “real” – and adorable – a super hero film can get.  

Fun Fact: Brad Bird got the idea for the film in the early 1990s, basing the story on his own experiences trying to balance a career with family.

#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).