#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.

#4

#4- The Forbidden Fruit

The Evil Queen. The woodland vultures and Old Hag. The manipulative cackled voice. “Just wait until you taste one, dearie…” The poison apple sequence in Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs is symbolic of Disney’s earliest animated storytelling brilliance. The poisoned apple which, when bitten, will send its victim into the “Sleeping Death” –  revived only by love's first kiss – became a foundation for countless plots to reflect a character’s dramatic demise and rebirth.

Fun fact: Lucille La Verne, the voice of the Wicked Queen, was able to achieve the raspy Old Hag’s voice by removing her dentures.

#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.

#7

#7 - FRIENDS FOREVER ...AND BEYOND

Let’s be honest, as Woody and pals headed down the conveyer belt toward the incinerator, there wasn’t a dry-eye.  This powerful sequence reminded us what personal connections we had built with our Pixar friends since the film’s first installment in 1995. Rather than struggle, the gang’s final traumatic moments were hand-in-hand, huddled closely, accepting of their ultimate destiny. It’s this insight into mortality, even if through the eyes of inanimate plastic toys, which makes this moment so relatable and personal.

Fun fact: Toy Story 3 is the first sequel to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar without any of its predecessors being nominated.

#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.

#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.

#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.

#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.

#24

#24- Nonsense

Disney’s 1951 unorthodox yet classic animated musical fantasy-comedy adventure Alice in Wonderland was based primarily on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with several additional elements from Through the Looking-Glass, which likely contributed to the film’s initial criticism and disappointing box office receipts. Accused of “Americanizing” classic literature, Disney’s adaptation was certainly abundant of memorable characters, including the Queen of Hearts, the White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter. As Alice celebrates her “unbirthday” during the mad tea party, the “Very Happy Unbirthday” sequence is just curiouser and curiouser enough to remembered for a lifetime. 

Fun Fact: Kathryn Beaumont who voiced Alice, also voiced Wendy Darling in the 1953 Disney film Peter Pan.

#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….

#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.