There's a reason some of the first movies children ever watch are animated films. They are magical and full of whimsy. Animated movies take viewers on beautiful adventures where talking animals abound, and you can be whisked off to the high seas, outer space, and so many fanciful locales that only exist in these special films. Dive into this list of the very best modern and classic kids animated movies the whole family will enjoy.
101 Dalmatians (1961)
101 Dalmatians has been made into several versions since its first animated release in 1961. Most recently, a live-action version was created featuring the film's villain. Children get lost in the joy and fun of Cruella de Vil and her mad hunt to make a coat out of dalmatians. Kids will laugh, cheer, and root for the pups as they try to make their way home to Roger and Anita, with some help from a few furry friends.
A Bug's Life (1998)
It's hard to stand up against a bully. Now imagine being a tiny ant trying to stand up against a bully. With the help of a few circus bugs, it might be possible. While not the warrior bugs Flik thought they were, the ants and the circus bugs pull together to defeat the grasshoppers. Because alone you might be little, but together you are mighty in A Bug's Life.
Take a trip deep into the Arabian Desert to a little place called Agrabah. Get a jump on the adventures of Aladdin, Genie, and Jafar. Through the greed of Jafar, Aladdin finds a magic lamp. Thanks to Genie, he's able to meet Jasmine by making a wish. However, things don't go exactly as planned. And if you like the animated version, Disney also has a live-action movie to enjoy.
All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)
Do dogs go to heaven? You bet they do. You can watch Charlie's adventures in heaven as he goes from a bad dog to a good one. All it took was the right owner to find him and show him the importance of love. While this might leave your little ones a little teary-eyed, it's a great animated classic. And if you enjoyed this one, you can also check out the 1996 sequel.
An American Tail (1986)
Join Fievel Mousekewitz on the adventure of a lifetime. During his family's emigration from Russia, he gets separated and goes to New York in a bottle. He encounters all kinds of danger and adventure, but thankfully meets a friendly cat to help him find his family. He does reconnect with his family after a whirlwind of action, adventure, danger, and singing.
Anastasia is an animated classic that tells the story of a missing princess. Raised in an orphanage, Anya wants to know who she is. However, she runs into the conman, Dimitri, trying to create a fake princess Anastasia for the queen. Instead, he found the real thing. He doesn't realize that, however. Throw in evil sorcerer Grigori Rasputin, and a love story, and you have a surefire winner with kids.
Though the beginning of Bambi starts a bit somber, Bambi meets several lovely friends including Flower and Thumper along the way. These friendships help Bambie to grow up and become the king of the forest, like his father.
Big Hero 6 (2014)
Welcome to the fantastical world of San Fransokyo, where Hiro and Tadashi Hamada, a pair of robotic geniuses live. Due to a mysterious fire, Tadashi dies. Distraught by his brother's death, Hiro brings to life Baymax, Tadashi's medical robot creation. This loveable, inflatable robot helps Hiro and his friends find out the cause of Tadashi's death to bring Hiro closure.
This lovable, animated film follows the antics of a pup named Bolt, an action TV star who doesn't know his life is a TV show. He gets lost in the real world and tries to fight crime, only to find out he's not a superhero, and his whole life was a lie. Thankfully, he has Mittens to show him how life as a stray needs to be lived.
Who needs a prince when you can be the hero of your own story? The feisty redhead Merida doesn't want to be forced to marry. And she'll do what it takes to be master of her own fate. However, her determination leads to her mother and brother turning into bears. She must use the power of love to get her family back.
When superstar race car Lightning McQueen gets lost in the middle of nowhere, he doesn't know what to think. However, through the antics of Mater and the coaching of Doc Hudson, McQueen learns to find his speed once more. Sometimes, it takes getting lost to truly find yourself. You can see more Cars action on Route 66 through the sequels.
Cinderella is the classic story of an orphan who must bow to the whim of her evil stepmother and stepsisters. Cinderella is forced to cook, clean, and work as a servant. All she wants is the love of her family. When a message comes about attending a fancy ball, she wants to be part of it and even makes her own dress. While her family tries to stomp on her dreams, magic makes her wish come true. If you love this animated film, check out the live-action version.
Could you imagine loving music but being forced to stay away from it? That is the fate of Miguel, the budding musician, in Coco. His love for music leads him into the Land of the Dead. It's here that he uncovers a vicious plot that will change his family forever.
Do you like to add a bit of creepy to your animation? Welcome to the world of Coraline. Frustrated with her family life, she slips into an idealized world. However, everything isn't as wonderful as it seems. And the secrets could be blinding.
An old classic, Dumbo, tells the story of a fabulous little elephant with extraordinary ears. While he is teased and bullied, he finds a friend who likes him just how he is. And when things at the circus go awry, it turns out Dumbo has a little secret of his own. Like many Disney favorites, you can also check out the live-action version of this lovable animation.
Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992)
Do you believe in magic? Zak didn't. But he quickly learns the errors of his ways in Ferngully after meeting the fairy, Crysta. She is determined to save her forest from the evil Hexxus, who loves pollution. Things get a little batty along the way, but it's a beautifully animated adventure with a powerful message about saving the planet.
Finding Nemo (2003)
Nemo is a little clownfish with a bad fin and an overprotective dad. While Nemo is ready and waiting to go to school, Marlin is a bit hesitant. All Marlin's fears come to life when Nemo is accidentally taken and put into an aquarium. It's up to Marlin and his new friend Dory to find Nemo and bring him home. And if you can't get enough of the forgetful but lovable Dory, check out Finding Dory.
The Fox and the Hound (1981)
A fox and a hound being friends sounds like an impossibility. However, it magically happens between two buddies, Copper and Tom. They have adorable, playful adventures as children, but everyone has to grow up. As adults, they realize just how hard it is for a fox and a hound to be best friends.
Dive into a frightening comedy animation your little horror lover will adore. Young Victor doesn't take the loss of his little friend Sparky well. So using his science smarts, he creates a Frankenweenie of his own. While resurrected Sparky worked out, the results are a bit dangerous when others start resurrecting pets.
Upon its release, Frozen was an instant classic. Millions of children adored the songs, and the powerful bond of sisters was hard to ignore. Join Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf on a magical adventure to acceptance and love. Everyone has their own unique story and differences. If your child adores the characters, they can see more of them in Frozen II.
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
When you are a Viking in Berk, fighting dragons is the name of the game, unless you are Hiccup. Determined to prove he can fight dragons, Hiccup captures one of his own, a rare night fury. Hiccup and Toothless form a beautiful bond and show the world that Vikings and dragons are better together. The popularity of this movie has spawned several sequels.
Ice Age (2002)
Families come in all shapes and sizes. Just ask Manny from Ice Age. While traveling during an ice age migration, a strange mesh of wooly mammoth, saber-tooth tiger, and sloth are bound together trying to get a human baby home. Through their adventures, they learn about one another and form an unbreakable bond. You can also enjoy several other cute films in this franchise.
The Incredibles (2004)
Hiding that you're a superhero isn't easy. The Incredibles are trying to live a normal life, but they are anything but ordinary. With the abilities of super speed, incredible strength, and invisibility, it's hard to stay out of the limelight. Explore their struggles and how they learn to use their powers for good. The sequel gives you more of this fun family.
Inside Out (2015)
Feelings can be challenging, especially for tweens. In Inside Out, Riley's move to a new home is having her feel emotions that she's not used to. These feelings are hard for her to process, just ask the emotion center in her brain. Meet all her emotions and find out what happens when Joy and Sadness get a little lost, leaving room for Anger, Fear, and Disgust. Thankfully, everyone gets back to headquarters, and Riley learns to accept her new home.
James and the Giant Peach (1996)
Magic and spiders take the stage with James and the Giant Peach. After getting possession of a bit of magic, James grows a colossal peach. But it's what's inside that counts. With the help of a few bugs, James can escape his mean aunts and find a magical odyssey.
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)
Jimmy Neutron is known for more than just his big hair; he's got the brains to back it up. When aliens suck up the adults in Retroville, he needs to put those brains into action to get them back. Join Jimmy and his friends as they save the day.
Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
Is your child a fan of action, adventure, and kung fu? Then Kubo and the Two Strings is just the animated movie for them. Set in feudal Japan, this movie follows Kubo. Living in a village with his mother, he makes a living through magical powers. He uses that power to bring down the evil Moon king and find his father's armor.
Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Keeping up with the kung fu craze, meet Po, a special panda with some mad kung fu skills. Despite his father's wishes, Po joins a kung fu tournament to become part of the Furious Five. Chosen by the Grand Master, Po finds out he's destined to become the Dragon Warrior. It just takes him a minute to find his warrior powers. While you're introduced to this comical panda in the first movie, your family can enjoy two more films in the Kung Fu Panda series.
Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Dogs, dogs, and more dogs are the stars of the show in Lady and the Tramp. This classic animated film follows the heartwarming story of a beautiful dog named Lady and her encounters with a comedic Tramp. While their relationship starts off a bit rocky, Lady falls in love with Tramp through their adventures.
When a troop of zoo animals decide to make a break for it, you know it's going to be hilarious. Marty, Melman, Alex, and Gloria do just that in Madagascar. See what happens when they find out the jungle isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Meet the Robinsons (2007)
When the orphan Lewis creates a time machine, he can't imagine the implications it can have on the future. This is especially true when he meets Wilbur, who needs a little help. The Robinsons family sucks him in, and he doesn't want to go back. However, changing the future can have a few unwelcome consequences.
Does your little one love superheroes? While Megamind isn't your classic superhero, this animated movie allows the supervillain to take the stage. Follow the antics of Megamind and his nemesis as they battle around Metro City.
Moana knew she was destined for greatness out on the open ocean. Except for the fact that her family keeps her away from the water. With the help of a demigod Maui and a steadfast chicken, Moana sets out to show the world she's a master wayfinder. She also might save her people in the end.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014)
Parents come in all shapes and sizes. Just ask Mr. Peabody! This genius dog is raising Sherman to be an intelligent and well-rounded individual with a little help from a time machine. However, when an incident leads the world to tell Mr. Peabody can't raise a human, he works to prove them wrong.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Not every day can be Halloween. Or can it? For the residents of Halloween Town, it is. That is, until Jack Skellington happens on to Christmas Town. But you can't send a skeleton to do Santa's job. Thankfully, Santa can restore the order and show those in Halloween Town the true meaning of Christmas.
Oliver and Company (1988)
It's hard to be a cat in a dog world. Well, not if you are Oliver. This lost kitten finds his way into a ragtag family of mutts and a sweet little girl ready to give him love. That is, until the villain tries to keep them apart. If the story doesn't draw your child in, the songs definitely will.
It can be hard to see the dead. Just ask Norman. While he might see his gift as a curse at first, he quickly realizes that it's up to him to save the town. ParaNorman makes a perfect family flick to watch near Halloween.
Rango goes from pet to protector in the blink of an eye. Finding himself lost in the desert, a pet chameleon takes his destiny into his own hands. The town of Dirt needs a law enforcement officer, and Rango takes the position.
Some rats will eat anything. But a select few have a particular palette. In Ratatouille, Remy was one such rat. Using his magical nose to whip up culinary masterpieces, Remy finds a friend and confidante in Linguini. Together the two make flavorful magic after a few bumps along the way.
Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)
Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, and the gang are an unstoppable force kids can't get enough of. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is full of scares, monsters, and most of all, laughs. Watch the gang as they investigate a swashbuckling spirit. And if your kids can't get enough of the hungry pair, you can enjoy several Scooby-Doo animated films and a few live-action movies.
Are you looking to have a hilariously good time with a movie that's fun for kids and adults alike? Shrek might be just what you are looking for. While Shrek isn't much of a people ogre, he's ready to get the magical creatures out of his forest. Add in a sassy donkey and an enchanted princess, and you have a delightful evening. The fun doesn't have to end here either, since there are a few other movies in the franchise.
In Calatonia, not everyone is happy with their mundane life. Buster Moon gives a talented group of animals the opportunity to step out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary through a talent competition to save his theater. Through a bit of miscommunication and a lot of hilarity, a true star is born.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
In case you haven't noticed, Disney is full of famous princesses. Snow White is a princess living with a cruel stepmother forcing her into servitude. When the magic mirror tells the evil stepmother that Snow White is prettier than her; she's got to go. Thankfully, she meets up with seven unique dwarves, and her adventure begins.
Take a unique trip into the world of The Great Before. Tired of his boring life, Joe was finally going to get his shot. But, it all slips away. Now, he's trying to show a wayward soul what it means to truly live. Soul is a beautiful mashup of comedy and music that kids will love.
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)
Spirit is the touching story of a wild mustang that refuses to be tamed. Taken into captivity to become a military horse, Spirit is taken away by a Lakota warrior. He finds trust in people at the Lakota village. Through many twists and turns, Spirit finds himself in the wild once more with the love of his life.
Surf's Up (2007)
It's time to hang ten and get a little gnarly in this fun flick covering the Penguin World Surfing Championship. Cody Maverick is determined to put his name in the history books and meet his idol, Big Z. But it turns out Big Z isn't everything he imagined. Though they have a rocky start, Big Z teaches Cody that winning isn't everything.
Rapunzel is a sassy teen with a dream of seeing the lanterns. While her mother keeps her and her secret locked away, Rapunzel takes a chance by running off with Flynn Rider, a famous thief. Though they have a few misadventures, Flynn learns the power of love, and Rapunzel finds her true family.
Tarzan and Jane take center stage in this endearing story of a boy raised in the jungle and the woman that claims his heart. Realizing that he's not a gorilla, Tarzan takes his first steps to enter the human world. But it's not all it's cracked up to be.
Bee Movie (2007)
With the lead voice of Jerry Seinfeld, you know Bee Movie is guaranteed to be funny. Follow Barry B. Benson as he tries to acclimate to life as a honey maker. But when he gets caught up in the human world, Barry takes the destructive nature of humans by using the law.
The Iron Giant (1999)
When a gentle iron giant is rocketed to earth, it's up to a boy to save him. While keeping a secret this large isn't easy, Hogarth Hughes is up for the task. While it's hard to keep the Giant out of the curious eyes of the government, the giant proves his love for the town and Hogarth.
The Lion King (1994)
Hakuna matata (no worries) is how Simba learns to live his life after the death of his father at the hands of his uncle. As an adult, Simba goes back to Pride Rock to avenge his father. He becomes the true lion king. In addition to the sequels, you can also check out the live-action version on Disney Plus.
The LEGO Movie (2014)
LEGO comes to life in this animated film. Determined not to be stagnant, Emmet Brickowski goes from a construction worker to the savior of the LEGO world. It took an accident and a vision, but Emmet knows what he has to do to stop the human world from gluing them in place. Enjoy more LEGO action through The LEGO Movie: The Second Part.
The Little Mermaid (1989)
The mysteries of life on land are hard to ignore when you are a little mermaid. Ariel is fascinated with the life above the water. But it's not until she meets Prince Eric that she decides to become human. Ursula will grant her wish, but is it worth the cost?
The Peanuts Movie (2015)
Join Charlie Brown and his crew on a new adventure to win a girl's heart. But getting noticed is harder than it appears. Thankfully, Charlie Brown has Snoopy and others to help him along the way.
The Princess and the Frog (2009)
Would you kiss a frog? In The Princess and the Frog, Tiana decides it's worth it to make her dream restaurant a reality. Little did she know that one fateful kiss would turn her into a frog too. After a heart-stopping adventure, Tiana and Prince Naveen find their happily ever after.
The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
Everyone wonders what their pets are doing while they are away. The Secret Life of Pets goes down the rabbit hole and looks at the fascinating life pets have when their parents aren't home. Get a look into how pets live by joining the adventures of Max and Duke.
The pea-sized princess, Thumbelina, is a bit lonely in a world where she doesn't seem to fit in. That is, until she meets a fairy prince. When she gets captured by a toad, she works to make her way back to her mother and prince.
Toy Story (1995)
Cowboys and space adventurers galore, Toy Story, takes you into the world of Andy's toys. Woody is used to being the big man on campus until Buzz Lightyear takes center stage. Afraid he might lose his place in Andy's heart, Woody comes up with some somewhat shady antics that lead them into the hands of Sid. Thankfully, Woody has a lot of friends. The story doesn't end with the original either. Children can join new toys on their adventures in the other Toy Story films.
Princess Poppy is ready to party. But that party leads to her friends being captured by the Bergens. Determined to save her friends, Poppy sets off on a harrowing adventure with love, music, and forgiveness. And if you can't get enough of Poppy and Branch, you can find them in Trolls World Tour.