10 Disney Movies You Have to Rewatch Now With Your Kids

Family movie nights are a staple in my house and many others when it comes to spending quality time together, but the key to a meaningful shared experience is choosing a movie everyone can engage with and enjoy. Over the years, Disney has amassed a treasure trove of feature films that appeal to kids and adults alike, albeit sometimes for different reasons.

The past decade has definitely been a renaissance for Disney animated features, giving us strong narratives and more of the character representation we need. These movies take important themes like acceptance and inclusion, confronting prejudices, identity, female empowerment, family heritage, and so much more, wrapping them up in clever Disney storytelling sprinkled with (sometimes covertly adult) humor. Movies like Moana, Zootopia, Finding Dory, Inside Out, Coco, Raya and the Last Dragon, Luca, and Encanto are some of our kids’ favorites and part of our regular family movie night repertoire, but when we have exhausted the Disney releases of their lifetime, we love rewatching earlier-era Disney gems that we can appreciate on a grown-up level. Here are ten Disney movies you should consider rewatching with your kids for family movie night. 

The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Photo Credit: Disney.

If you’re a fellow fan of Sherlock Holmes or Basil of Baker Street, this one is a must-watch simply for all of its clever references. Many adults my age don’t seem to remember this movie, but as the first Disney feature to use extensive computer animation, it was actually a huge critical and commercial success. There are no lulls in the well-written story, and the finale, in which Basil and criminal mastermind Rattagan (Vincent Price) duke it out among the clockwork inside Big Ben, is properly thrilling.

Robin Hood (1973) 

Photo Credit: Disney.

Between Don Bluth’s hand in the animation department (Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, The Land Before Time) and Roger Miller’s voice on the soundtrack, there’s already a lot to appreciate about this retelling of the legend of Robin Hood, as portrayed by an ensemble of anthropomorphic forest animals. This unassuming Disney classic essentially has everything: charming and distinctive characters, romance, action, slap-stick humor at its best, and some really great songs. In fact, the soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy, and the song “Love,” which plays during the legitimately touching engagement scene between Robin Hood and Maid Marion, was nominated for an Oscar.

This was my favorite Disney animated feature as a kid, and it totally holds up. I’m not embarrassed to admit I am just as invested in the relationship between Robin Hood and Maid Marion re-watching this now with my kids as I was as a young, British fox smitten 8-year-old.

Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Photo Credit: Disney.

Full of light-hearted nonsense and silliness, Disney’s adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s books is as much a thought-provoking exploration of the unconscious mind as it is a diverting escape from the trappings of adulthood. The whimsical, philosophical, unfriendly, and at times downright sinister nature—we’re looking at you, Queen of Hearts—of the characters in Wonderland can be perceived as a manifestation of Alice’s subconscious urges, fears, desires, and beliefs. 

And if you’re like me, you might find yourself relating to Alice’s lament—“I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it”—on a deeper level, having already experienced the angst of coming of age. As an added bonus, artist and Disney legend Mary Blair did the concept art for Alice, and it shows in the design and color composition of the finished film.

Tarzan (1999)

Photo Credit: Disney.

Considered to be the last animated feature from Disney’s Renaissance period of the 90s, there’s a lot for grown folks to love about Tarzan, starting with some powerhouse songs by Phil Collins. In a departure from the Broadway musical formula, Disney uses the percussion-driven soundtrack as a narrative companion to the gorgeously animated action on the screen, and I’m here to tell you: it works. The story is solid, the standard momentum-stalling interruptions from comic-relief characters notwithstanding (although I don’t even mind that too much, because it’s actually funny at times), and the characters are interesting (Minnie Driver’s Jane, in particular), with nice arcs and authentic relationships. Parents might need some tissues for the “You’ll Be in My Heart” scene when Kala adopts Tarzan as her own son among other poignant moments in the movie.

The Parent Trap (1961)

Photo Credit: Disney.

Hayley Mills was kind of a big deal in my house growing up, and this movie starring Mills at age 14 as identical twin sisters separated at birth and coincidentally reunited at summer camp was a recurring Friday night rental. Mills exudes early-adolescent charm, and the on-screen chemistry between Maureen O’Hara (a magnetic force in her own right as the twins’ mother, Maggie) and Brian Keith is palpable. The Parent Trap is full of live-action Disney magic from the comedic animated intro to the hilarious climax, which pits the twins against their indoorsy, money-hungry step-mother-to-be in the California wilderness. The ending is so satisfying, its predictability hardly matters, and watching as an adult, I was even more thoroughly absorbed than my kids.

Fantasia (1940)

Photo Credit: Disney.

Granted, the concept of an animated symphony concert doesn’t appeal to everyone, but if you appreciate classical music and the art of Disney animation, this one is worth viewing as an adult with your kids. They may not sit through an entire two hours and five minutes of sound and color with minimal dialogue, but chances are, they will enjoy at least certain segments. Personally, I loved several pieces of Fantasia when I was young, including The Nutcracker Suite, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and The Pastoral Symphony, and I would watch the rest of the film on VHS just to avoid having to fast forward the tape. As an adult, I have a better appreciation for some of the more abstract segments, like Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, and the winged, Baltic-folklore-inspired demon Chernabog and his band of lesser ghoulish beings provide a darkly compelling accompaniment to Night on Bald Mountain.

Finding Nemo (2003)

Photo Credit: Disney.

This Pixar original just hits differently when watching as a parent. You’ll still appreciate the beautiful animation, humor and adventure, Dory’s sound life advice (“just keep swimming!”) and clever scenarios like the aquarium in the dentist’s office, Nemo’s ceremonial initiation into the “fraternal bonds of tankhood,” and the Shark 12-step program. At its core, though, Finding Nemo is really a story about learning to let go of our fears for our kids and empowering them by allowing them to try things independently, even if it means they might fail. When Marlin asks Crush how we know when our kids are ready to do something on their own, Crush answers, “Well, you never really know, but when they know, you know, y’know?”

Another key moment that will give you all the parenting feels comes when Marlin despairs being trapped inside the belly of a whale and unable to continue his search for Nemo. He says, “I promised I’d never let anything happen to him.” Dory replies, “Hmm. That’s a funny thing to promise,” and then, “Well you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.” Wise words to remember for this Marlin-relating parent.

Lilo and Stitch (2002)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Lilo and Stitch‘s authentic portrayal of modern Hawaiian culture, ground-breaking representation of native Pacific Islanders, and non-traditional family dynamic set it apart from the other lackluster films Disney Animation Studios was making in the early aughts. Lilo and Stitch provides commentary on complex social, racial, and political issues with a subtle grace that is as powerful as it is surprising. This movie is ahead of its time, and I find more to love about it with every re-watching. It’s subversively funny and deeply heartfelt without being too saccharine.

The hammock scene in which Nani sings goodbye to Lilo (Aloha ‘Oe) still rips my heart out, but it makes their reunion in the end that much sweeter. Also, I find David to be the most underrated male Disney character of all time. Sensitive, supportive, fun-loving, nurturing, respectful, and steadfast, David balances out Nani’s intensity well, making him a great partner for her and a positive presence in Lilo’s life.

Despite the vastly unpopular former Magic Kingdom attraction (Stitch’s Great Escape) inspired by this title, the movie is a treasure that is definitely worth re-watching. To read more about the attractions that currently exist at Magic Kingdom, be sure to check out our guide to Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, including details on dining, rides, and more. 

A Goofy Movie (1995)

Photo Credit: Disney.

A cult classic for a reason, A Goofy Movie is a valuable re-watch for parents, especially those with tweens and teens. As a coming-of-age tale, it’s surprisingly complex, emphasizing the importance of communication in a parent/child relationship. If you related to Max as a child of the 90s, you may find yourself empathizing more with Goofy this time around. Get ready to fall apart when Max tells Goofy, “I’m not your little boy anymore, Dad! I’ve grown up! I’ve got my own life now!” and Goofy answers, “I know that! I just wanted to be part of it.” I get a little bit teary just thinking about it. Bonus points for this one just because fictional pop-star Powerline is still so cool, and the songs are all undeniable bops that also reinforce the messages in the movie.

Mary Poppins (1964)

Photo Credit: Disney.

Arguably the quintessential Disney movie, Mary Poppins is a joy to revisit at any age. The cinematic adaptation of P.L. Travers’ now-famous nanny is full of magic… and lessons. After popping into chalk drawings, tea parties on the ceiling, a spoonful of memorable music by the Sherman brothers, and a sooty jaunt along London’s rooftops, Bert’s lyrical reminder that “childhood slips like sand through a sieve” is a sobering truth to swallow that leaves this parent with a sense of immense urgency equal to George Banks’ imminent need to go fly a kite at the end.

You can read our thoughts on the pristine Mary Poppins-themed Victorian-style rooms at the Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort in our review

12 Movies You MUST Watch Before Your Disneyland Vacation

Photo Credit: Disney Parks.

Several of Disneyland’s rides and lands are based on Disney movies! To stir up some excitement for your Disneyland trip, and to fully appreciate the incredible world-building of attractions and locations at the park, check out our list of 12 movies you should watch before your Disneyland vacation

NEW Rides and More Coming to Disneyland 

There are several exciting developments coming to Disneyland in the future, including new attractions, new and reimagined lands, and more. To read more details of what you can look forward to, be sure to read our guide on everything new coming to Disneyland. 

One-Day Itinerary at Hollywood Studios—Everything You Need to Do and See!

During your visit to Hollywood Studios, there are several attractions, dining options, and experiences to choose from. Consult our 1-Day Itinerary at Hollywood Studios for everything you need to know about making the most of your time at the park! 

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About Jessie Nichols

Jessie is a writer with a degree in literature, a background in education, and years of experience penning prose for various individuals, organizations, and websites. She is a life-long lover of Disney animation and storytelling and a frequent visitor to Disney Parks with her family. As an East Tennessee girl, Walt Disney World is her home resort, and she loves experiencing a different resort hotel to the fullest each time she goes. Simple Disney pleasures like watching the Electrical Water Pageant from a resort beach or savoring a frozen treat from Sunshine Tree Terrace while soaking up the atmosphere in Adventureland are where it's at for her, and some of her favorite attractions include Pirates of the Caribbean, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Living With the Land, Guardians of the Galaxy - Cosmic Rewind, and Expedition Everest.

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