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The 9 Best Disney Animated Features of the Last 20 Years

March 22nd, 2023The 9 Best Disney Animated Features of the Last 20 Years

Get Tickets WISH opens November 22nd

Over the course of the past two decades, we have been treated to some truly amazing cinematic experiences, especially when it comes to animated films. Studios like Pixar, Sony, DreamWorks, and Studio Ghibli have continued to push the medium to new levels with incredibly heartfelt stories, and animation that seems to get more enriching and detailed with each passing year. And at the front of the pack is the tried and true Walt Disney Animation Studios, which has cranked out some of its best work during this stretch of time.

As we look toward the upcoming release of WISH, a movie starring Ariana DeBose and Alan Tudyk that will serve as an origin story of Disney’s iconic wishing star, we thought it’d be a good time to take a look at the best movies the studio has put out in the past 20 years. Here are the nine best Walt Disney Animation Studios features from the past two decades, listed in order of their release.


After a tough stretch of disappointing animated features, Walt Disney Animation turned to Pixar head honcho John Lasseter, and he helped produce the tender, warm-hearted yet action-packed 2008 animated adventure, BOLT. The movie stars John Travolta as a show-business dog under the impression he has actual superpowers, and follows him as he embarks on a cross-country mission to reunite with his “kid” (Miley Cyrus). Just a winner!

Watch Now BOLT


The Rapunzel story is as old as time. But the 2010 animated musical fantasy adventure, TANGLED gets extra credit for turning its lead into an innovative warrior and anything but a damsel in distress. Also, the animation to create Rapunzel’s flowing hair was next level, and the movie never stopped creating fresh and funny ways for Rapunzel to use it on screen. The cast, which consists of Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, and many other familiar voices, is also top-notch.


Wreck-It Ralph

Good chemistry can be so important, even between animated characters. Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) are the ideal pair for an adventure, with Vanellope bringing the energy and Ralph bringing the brawn. Introducing them into the land of video games helped WRECK-IT RALPH stand out when the reference-laden animated adventure was released in 2012. But it was Vanellope’s spin on the traditional “Disney Princess” that made this movie an all-timer.



Easily one of the biggest hits in the Disney catalog. What helped propel it? Initially, we’d say the music. Can you sing “Let It Go” right now if prompted? But the more you watch FROZEN, the more you are taken by the animation, the mythology, the humor (hello, Olaf), and the deep bond that is formed between sisters Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel). And the movie has remained just as popular with longtime fans and newcomers alike in the decade since its 2013 release.

Watch Now FROZEN

Big Hero 6

Released during a time when superhero movies were dominating the circuit, BIG HERO 6 stood out by focusing on a brilliant team of young inventors who create their powers out of science and math — a worthy twist on the hero genre, where the superpower is extreme intelligence. And then, there’s Baymax, the adorable, gentle and huggable character born in BIG HERO 6. He was an instant hit, and so was this 2014 movie inspired by one of the most exciting, and charming, Marvel Comics.

Watch Now BIG HERO 6


Every once in a while, the perfect actor lands on the perfect voice. For ZOOTOPIA, it was Jason Bateman as Nick Wilde, a small-time con artist fox. When he keeps crossing paths with an eager cop-bunny (Ginnifer Goodwin), it leads to a hilarious and inventive detective noir set in a world unlike any we’ve ever seen. The 2016 animated comedy has since received a TV spin-off, and there’s even a sequel in the works, which is good news for people who want more anthropomorphic mammals getting into all kinds of mischief.



Music can really elevate an animated movie, which is true for this 2016 animated musical adventure MOANA has an incredible soundtrack, thanks to contributions by "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Beyond the songs, the story of a restless adventurer destined to leave her island spoke to many in the audience. The animation was spectacular. And we got to hear The Rock sing, in addition to other iconic tracks that now populate Disney Radio playlists around the world.As Maui might say, “You’re welcome!”

Watch Now MOANA

Raya and the Last Dragon

A warrior princess (Kelly Marie Tran) trying to unite her people, an ancient dragon (Awkwafina) brought back to life by a mythical gem, and a group of outcasts looking for a family join together in 2021’s RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON. This epic fantasy adventure film is full of heart, redemption, and some of the most thrilling action sequences you’ll see in a Walt Disney Animation Studios production.



We don’t talk about Bruno, but everyone was talking about ENCANTO upon its release in late 2021. The musical comedy follows Mirabel Madrigal (Stephanie Beatriz), the only member of her family who doesn’t have some kind of magical gift, as she embarks on a journey to find out why everyone around her is losing their powers. With emotion, humor, and some of the catchiest songs this side of FROZEN, this Academy Award® winner has everything you’d want in a Disney movie and more!


If the next two decades are anything like the past 20 years, then Walt Disney Animation Studios is going to be in a very good spot for the foreseeable future. And that future becomes the present with the release of WISH in AMC Theatres locations nationwide this November.

Get Tickets WISH opens November 22nd

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