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Movies to Watch Before Going to Disney World: A Year’s Worth of Planning

Last Updated on September 27, 2021

Disney is a machine that holds a massive portfolio of intellectual property. Disney isn’t new to this whole money making thing, so it knows it can use the same intellectual property in more than one way to rake in even more. You may be asking yourself, “What should I do before going to Disney World?” Watching movies is a great place to start. There are plenty of movies to watch before going to Disney World to brainwash get your kids excited.

Most people plan their trips for about a year, so you can watch one a week if you are really in it to win it.

What Are The Best Movies to Watch Before Going to Disney World?

52. Soul

51. The Emperor’s New Groove

50. Maleficent

49. Lady and the Tramp

48. Pinocchio

47. 101 Dalmatians

46. Elena and the Secret of Avalor

45. Mulan

44. Mary Poppins

43. Wreck-It Ralph

42. Brave

41. Tangled

40. Pocahontas

39. Inside Out

38. The Incredibles

37. Sleeping Beauty

36. Fancy Nancy

35. Lilo & Stitch

34. Swiss Family Robinson

33. Tom and Huck

32. DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp

31. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

30. A Bug’s Life

29. The Muppet Movie

28. The Three Caballeros

27. Aladdin

26. UP

25. Indiana Jones

24. Vampirina

23. Doc McStuffins

22. Twilight Zone: The Movie

21. Monsters, Inc.

20. Cars

19. Dumbo

18. The Princess and the Frog

17. Pirates of the Caribbean

16. Winnie the Pooh

15. Jurassic Park

14. Alice in Wonderland

13. The Lion King

12. Fantasia

11. Peter Pan

10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

9. Frozen

8. Finding Nemo

7. The Little Mermaid

6. Avatar

5. Beauty and the Beast

4. Toy Story

3. Star Wars

2. Cinderella

1. Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Going Disney movie Mickey

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One Year’s Worth of Movies to Watch Before Going to Disney World

Note: As of the time of this writing, most shows and Disney character appearances are temporarily suspended due to COVID-19. Restaurants and resorts also have limited offerings, so check to see what is open at the time of your trip.

52. Soul

Soul is brand spanking new as of the time of this writing and one of the best Disney movies ever in my book. It is worth a watch regardless of whether you are going to Disney World, as long as you are ready to have some potentially tough conversations with your children about the afterlife. It hasn’t taken over Disney World yet, but there is one place already on property with which you will associate it.

Movie Rating: PG

Where to Find Things Resembling Soul at Disney World

Resort

A. All-Star Music

51. The Emperor’s New Groove

The Emperor’s New Groove Disney is an animated movie about an emperor who turns into a llama. You know, a typical Friday. It’s about two decades old, but still a good option when exploring movies to watch before going to Disney World.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find The Emperor’s New Groove at Disney World

Emperor’s New Groove Disney World Game

A. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (Magic Kingdom)

50. Maleficent

Maleficent is a live action movie about the villain in Sleeping Beauty starring Angelina Jolie. She really tapped into her inner weirdo for this one. The plot is similar to Sleeping Beauty, except she decides she likes Aurora and things turn out differently. It is a great Walt Disney World movie because its dragon is featured in dramatic ways at the parks.

Movie Rating: PG

Where to Find Maleficent at Disney World

Maleficent Disney World Game

A. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (Magic Kingdom)

Parade

A. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom)

Shows

A. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

B. Happily Ever After (Magic Kingdom)

Characters at Animal Kingdom

49. Lady and the Tramp

Lady and the Tramp is a nice stroll down memory lane to a time where women were subservient to men and smoking was cool. The dogs are cute, which cancels out the other not so great parts.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Lady and the Tramp in Disney World

Dining

A. Tony’s Town Square Restaurant (Magic Kingdom)

Shows

A. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

B. Once Upon a Time (Magic Kingdom)

48. Pinocchio

Pinocchio is really old and all kinds of disturbing. The father of a live puppet sends him off to his first day of school unaccompanied (like they would let in a puppet anyway). Along the way, he encounters a smoking fox who kidnaps him, and he ultimately ends up locked in a cage. With that said, it is an iconic Disney movie that ends well, so it is still worth a watch.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Pinocchio at Disney World

Pinocchio Disney World Dining

A. Disney World Pinocchio Village Haus (Magic Kingdom)

Parade

A. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom)

Shows

A. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

B. Once Upon a Time (Magic Kingdom)

47. 101 Dalmatians

101 Dalmatians is a movie about a crazy woman trying to steal more dogs than any family should ever have in one house. It has both animated and live action versions available. The animated one is similar to other older Disney movies, in that they smoke and make some interesting life choices. The live action version is from the 1990s, so it is updated. Like Mrs. Doubtfire is updated.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find 101 Dalmatians at Disney World

Game

A. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (Magic Kingdom)

Resort

A. All-Star Movies

Show

A. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

46. Elena and the Secret of Avalor

In this movie, Elena gets trapped in Sofia the First’s amulet. I’m sure that makes sense to someone, but I am at a loss. Elena of Avalor is also a television show, so the characters may be familiar to your child. This would be a great choice if you want to collect Disney princess autographs.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Elena of Avalor at Disney World

Elena of Avalor Meet and Greet Disney World

A. Princess Elena Meet and Greet at Princess Fairytale Hall (Magic Kingdom)

Show

A. Let the Magic Begin (Magic Kingdom)

45. Mulan

Mulan is very “woman hear me roar”, as the main character has to disguise herself as a male warrior to take care of business. There is both an animated and live action version. The live action version is well reviewed, but takes it up a notch in the intensity department. The animated version might be better for younger kids. If your child likes this movie, the Disney character greetings will be fun.

Movie Rating: G (Animated Version), PG-13 (Live Action Version)

Where to Find Mulan at Disney World

Disney World Mulan Meet and Greet

A. Meet Mulan Epcot (Epcot)

what characters are at epcot globe

44. Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins is a story about a no-nonsense nanny with the ability to fly using only an umbrella. Disney World was supposed to create a Mary Poppins attraction, but seems to have canceled that for now. However, it is still worth a watch. The Disney character interactions with the possibly faux British accent have to be priceless.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Mary Poppins at Disney World Orlando

Mary Poppins Disney World Dining

A. 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian)

Shows

A. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

B. Let the Magic Begin (Magic Kingdom)

43. Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph, followed by Ralph Breaks the Internet, is a hilarious series about characters inside video games. I am not a video game fan, so I was expecting to be bored. How wrong I was. It is one of the best updated movies to watch before going to Disney World. These Disney character experiences will make for great photos at the theme parks.

Movie Rating: PG

Where to Find Wreck-It Ralph at Disney World

Wreck-It Ralph Disney World Meet and Greets

A. Meet Ralph and Vanellope (Epcot)

Shows

A. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

42. Brave

Brave is a movie about a fiery redhead who likes to shoot arrows. The movie is cute enough, particularly if you enjoy a Scottish accent and feminism. It is one of the more unique items on the list of movies to watch before going to Disney World.

Movie Rating: PG

Where to Find Brave at Disney World

Brave Disney World Meet and Greet

A. Meet Merida at Fairytale Garden (Magic Kingdom)

Parade

A. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom)

Shows

A. Happily Ever After (Magic Kingdom)

B. Let the Magic Begin (Magic Kingdom)

41. Tangled

Tangled is the story of Rapunzel, yet another princess who grows crazy long hair and ultimately uses it to lure a man, Flynn Rider. This movie will appeal to princess-loving children and make meeting Disney princesses more exciting. It is one of the movies to watch before going to Disney World because the theme parks really capitalize on this franchise in their shows.

Movie Rating: PG

Where to Find Tangled at Disney World

Rapunzel Disney World Meet and Greet

A. Meet Rapunzel at Princess Fairytale Hall Disney World (Magic Kingdom)

Parade

A. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom)

Shows

A. Happily Ever After (Magic Kingdom)

B. Let the Magic Begin (Magic Kingdom)

C. Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire (Magic Kingdom)

40. Pocahontas

Pocahontas is an animated movie about a Native American woman who falls in love with someone in the 1700s. Some of the songs took off for awhile there, but the movie has not really held on to its popularity. It is family friendly and suitable for all ages.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Pocahontas at Disney World

Meet Pocahontas Disney World

A. Pocahontas Meet and Greet (Animal Kingdom)

Game

A. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (Magic Kingdom)

Shows

A. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

B. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

Magic Kingdom Characters Castle

39. Inside Out

Inside Out is an adorable movie starring Amy Poehler, one of the funniest women ever. In this movie, characters who don’t always agree hang out in a girl’s brain and control her emotions. It is well done, and also has a “your children are going to grow up and leave you” vibe. I’m sure the meeting will ooze positivity when your child gets this Disney character signature. This movie is more heavily represented at Disneyland, but you can find it at Disney World as well.

Movie Rating: PG

Where to Find Inside Out at Disney World

Inside Out Meet and Greet Disney World

A. Meet Joy (Epcot)

Show

A. Happily Ever After (Magic Kingdom)

38. The Incredibles

The Incredibles features a family of odd ducks with superpowers. The original movie is from 2004, with a sequel, Incredibles 2, released fourteen years thereafter. The movies are cute, made more special by the fact that they star Coach Hayden Fox. Disneyland features the Incredicoaster, a roller coaster themed around the movie, but you won’t get as much of them at Disney World.

Movie Rating: PG

Where to Find The Incredibles at Disney World

The Incredibles Disney World Meet and Greet

A. Meet the Incredibles (Hollywood Studios)

Show

A. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

37. Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty is a Disney movie from the 1950s wherein princess Aurora is cursed into a deep sleep and awoken by a prince kissing her. Disneyland’s castle is themed around this movie, but it is not as heavily represented as other Walt Disney World princesses in Florida.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Meet Aurora in Disney World

Dining

A. Akershus (Epcot)

B. Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)

Show

A. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

36. Fancy Nancy

If you want to skip this one, I completely understand. It is about a fancy six year old. Fascinating, I know. Fancy Nancy can also be found on Disney Junior. She isn’t all over the place, but you can definitely find Disney Junior at Disney World.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Fancy Nancy in Disney World

Fancy Nancy Meet and Greet Disney World

A. Meet Fancy Nancy at Disney World (Hollywood Studios)

Dining

A. Hollywood & Vine (Hollywood Studios)

35. Lilo & Stitch

Lilo & Stitch is an animated movie circa 2002 wherein a Hawaiian girl with dead parents (like the main character in every Disney movie ever) adopts a demented space creature. It is relatively clean cut and suitable for all ages. Magic Kingdom used to feature an awful attraction, Stitch’s Great Escape, but it has now been discontinued. I have a pretty good guess why.

Movie Rating: PG

Where to Find Lilo & Stitch at Disney World

Lilo & Stitch Disney World Dining

A. Ohana (Polynesian Resort)

Resort

A. Polynesian

Shows

A. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

B. Let the Magic Begin (Magic Kingdom)

C. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

Best character meals at Disney World Eeyore

34. Swiss Family Robinson

Swiss Family Robinson is an old movie about a shipwrecked family chilling in a treehouse. Pirates show up, but it’s not a problem. I don’t know that it will hold the attention of the children of today, but it is family friendly.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Swiss Family Robinson at Disney World

Swiss Family Robinson Disney World Exhibit

A. Swiss Family Treehouse Disney World (Magic Kingdom)

33. Tom and Huck

JTT in the house. The Home Improvement heartthrob from whom we have not heard since the 90s goes on an adventure with Brad Renfro (who did not fare as well as Jonathon Taylor Thomas). There is some violence and murder, but they emerge victorious in the end of Tom and Huck.

Movie Rating: PG

Where to Find Tom and Huck at Disney World

Tom Sawyer Disney World Exhibit

A. Tom Sawyer Island Disney World (Magic Kingdom)

32. DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp

DuckTales is a stroll down memory lane for children of the 90s. Scrooge McDuck is still trying to make it rain, while the nephews and Launchpad McQuack come along for the ride. You can explain to your children what a VCR is while you watch. This is a great addition to your list of movies to watch before going to Disney World.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find DuckTales at Disney World

Resort

A. All-Star Sports

Show

A. Donald’s Dino-Bash! (Animal Kingdom)

31. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Things get a little dark and booby in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, so this may not be for everyone. This movie features a cameo from several Disney World characters, including Pluto.

Movie Rating: PG

Where to Find Who Framed Roger Rabbit at Disney World

Who Framed Roger Rabbit Disney World Character Meet and Greet

A. Meet Pluto (Epcot)

Dining

A. Garden Grill (Pluto) (Epcot)

Parade

A. Festival of Fantasy (Pluto) (Magic Kingdom)

Resort

A. Pop Century

Show

A. Donald’s Dino-Bash! (Pluto) (Animal Kingdom)

B. Fantasmic (Pluto) (Hollywood Studios)

Movies to Watch Before Going to Disney World Pluto

30. A Bug’s Life

A Bug’s Life is a 90s movie about a war between ants and grasshoppers. The grasshoppers can be a little scary, but overall, it should be fine for small children. The Disney World attraction, however, may not. It is terrifying. Proceed with caution.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find A Bug’s Life at Disney World

A Bug’s Life Disney World Show

A. It’s Tough to be a Bug! (Animal Kingdom)

29. The Muppet Movie

The Muppets are a legendary pack of puppets that existed well before most of the characters kids recognize today. The movie is old, so the production quality isn’t the greatest at this point. Regardless, Kermit and Miss Piggy are bomb. It is worth a watch.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find the Muppets at Disney World

The Muppets Disney World Show

A. Muppet Vision 3D – Hollywood Studios

28. The Three Caballeros

The Three Caballeros is a movie from 1944 starring Donald Duck wherein he allegedly learns about Mexican and Brazilian culture. That’s probably all you need to know.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find The Three Caballeros at Disney World

Resort

A. All-Star Music

The Three Caballeros Ride at Disney World

A. Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros Disney World (Epcot)

27. Aladdin

Aladdin is a favorite for 90s children, starring a crafty poor man with a clever monkey and the funniest genie of all time. Recently, a live action version was released in addition to the animated one. Aladdin is a fun character for young kids to meet. This is a great place to start for Disney World character signatures.

Movie Rating: G (Animated Version), PG (Live Action Version)

Where to Find Aladdin and Princess Jasmine at Disney World

Aladdin and Jasmine Disney World Meet and Greets

A. Meet Aladdin and Jasmine Magic Kingdom (Magic Kingdom)

B. Disney World Princess Jasmine Meet and Greet (Epcot)

Dining

A. Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)

Game

A. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (Magic Kingdom)

Aladdin Disney World Ride

A. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin Disney World (Magic Kingdom)

Shows

A. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

B. Happily Ever After (Magic Kingdom)

C. Let the Magic Begin (Magic Kingdom)

D. Once Upon a Time (Magic Kingdom)

E. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

26. UP

UP stars a crotchety old man who misses his dead wife. Sounds great, right? After you get past the reminder that we’re all going to die, it is a really cute movie. There are balloons and dogs galore. It is one of our favorite movies to watch before going to Disney World.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find UP at Disney World

Up Characters Meet and Greet

A. Meet Dug and Russell (Animal Kingdom)

Shows

A. UP! A Great Bird Adventure (Animal Kingdom)

B. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

Animal Kingdom Characters

25. Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones is a series of a whole bunch of movies about an archaeologist. The plots will most certainly fly over little kids’ heads. The action may hold their attention. Maybe.

Movie Rating: PG and PG-13

Where to Find Indiana Jones at Disney World

Indiana Jones Disney World Orlando Show

A. Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! (Hollywood Studios)

24. Vampirina

Vampirina is mainly a show with an Addams Family vibe, but there is also a movie available. It is a must watch for Disney Junior fans. Everyone else can skip it.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Vampirina at Disney World

Vampirina Disney World Meet and Greet

A. Meet Vampirina (Hollywood Studios)

Dining

A. Hollywood & Vine (Hollywood Studios)

Show

A. Disney Junior Dance Party (Hollywood Studios)

23. Doc McStuffins

Doc McStuffins is mainly a show. There are products for sale on Disney movies, but they appear to be a series of episodes rather than a single movie. The main character is a child doctor of stuffed animals. Use the same judgment you used for Vampirina to decide whether to watch it and visit Disney Junior characters at Disney World. A Doc McStuffins autograph is easy to snag.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Doc McStuffins at Disney World

Doc McStuffins Meet and Greet

A. Meet Doc McStuffins (Hollywood Studios)

Dining

A. Hollywood & Vine (Hollywood Studios)

Show

A. Disney Junior Dance Party (Hollywood Studios)

22. Twilight Zone: The Movie

Twilight Zone is not for small children. This is science fiction, horror, mumbo jumbo that doesn’t appeal to the same audience, as, say, Frozen.

Movie Rating: PG

Where to Find The Twilight Zone at Disney World

Twilight Zone Ride Disney World Florida

A. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Hollywood Studios)

21. Monsters, Inc.

Monsters, Inc. stars John Goodman and Steve Buscemi, and who doesn’t love John Goodman and Steve Buscemi? Am I right? White tornado, anyone? In this movie, monsters enter the rooms of children to scare them, because screams generate power. Obviously. That sounds terrifying, but is is actually cute and family friendly. There is also a sequel of sorts, Monsters University.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Monsters, Inc. in Disney World

Monsters, Inc. Disney World Meet and Greet

A. Meet Sulley (Hollywood Studios)

Monsters, Inc. Shows Disney World

A. Happily Ever After (Magic Kingdom)

B. Disney World Magic Kingdom Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor (Magic Kingdom)

Disney World Rides Based on Movies Watermelons

20. Cars

Cars is a series of movies about a racecar that is down on his luck and the hillbilly cars that help him get through it. Disney California Adventure has an entire land centered around this movie, but there is some representation at Disney World as well.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Cars at Disney World

Resort

A. Art of Animation

Shows

A. Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy (Hollywood Studios)

B. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

19. Dumbo

Dumbo is a little acid trippy. The elephant accidentally gets drunk, in addition to other odd happenings. There is both a cartoon and live action version available. Dumbo isn’t heavily represented at Disney World, but the ride based upon this movie is one of the most iconic attractions in the theme parks.

Movie Rating: G (Animated Version), PG (Live Action Version)

Where to Find Dumbo at Disney World

Parade

A. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom)

Dumbo Disney World Ride

A. Dumbo the Flying Elephant (Magic Kingdom)

18. The Princess and the Frog

The Princess and the Frog is an animated movie featuring New Orleans culture. The music is fun. It also celebrates diversity, making it a great Disney World princess movie.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find The Princess and the Frog at Disney World

Princess and the Frog Walt Disney World Meet and Greet

A. Meet Princess Tiana at Princess Fairytale Hall Magic Kingdom (Magic Kingdom)

Game

A. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (Magic Kingdom)

Parade

A. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom)

Resort

A. Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

Princess and the Frog Disney World Ride

A. The Princess and the Frog (coming soon to replace Splash Mountain) (Magic Kingdom). I would avoid Song of the South, the movie around which the current Splash Mountain is themed, because it is about as racist as they come (hence the refurbishment).

Shows

A. Happily Ever After (Magic Kingdom)

B. Let the Magic Begin (Magic Kingdom)

C. Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire (Magic Kingdom)

D. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

17. Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean is a series of movies about thieving, drinking, fighting, and generally making bad decisions. The language is relatively mild, but this will be a bit much for young children.

Movie Rating: PG-13

Where to Find Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney World

Game

A. A Pirate’s Adventure ~ Treasures of the Seven Seas

Pirates of the Caribbean Disney World Ride

A. Pirates of the Caribbean (Magic Kingdom)

16. Winnie the Pooh

The Winnie the Pooh franchise, starring a fat bear wearing a belly shirt and his socially awkward friends, goes back a long time. There is an animated movie, as well as a live action movie, Christopher Robin. Christopher Robin moves slow like molasses, but the cartoon, while a little odd, is certainly cute. It is one of the best movies to watch before going to Disney World for small children.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Winnie the Pooh at Disney World

Winnie the Pooh in Disney World Meet and Greet

A. Meet Winnie the Pooh and Tigger (Magic Kingdom)

Winnie the Pooh Walt Disney World Dining

A. 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian)

B. The Crystal Palace Disney World (Magic Kingdom)

Winnie the Pooh Disney World Ride

A. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Magic Kingdom)

Shows

A. Once Upon a Time (Magic Kingdom)

B. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

Movies to Watch Before Going to Disney World Winnie the Pooh

15. Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park is not a Disney movie. Universal currently owns the rights to this movie, and it has its own land at Universal Islands of Adventure. However, Disney offers several things that look a whole lot like Jurassic Park, so it is still worth a watch. PG-13 seems to have meant something much different in the 1990s than it does today. Jurassic Park and its sequels are bloody, scary, violent, and involve people losing limbs and getting eaten off of toilets. This is best for older kids.

Movie Rating: PG-13

Where to Find Things Resembling Jurassic Park at Disney World

Dining

A. T-Rex Restaurant (Disney Springs)

Exhibit

A. Dino-Sue (Animal Kingdom)

Rides

A. DINOSAUR (Animal Kingdom)

B. TriceraTop Spin (Animal Kingdom)

14. Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland takes you on a nice ride down Shrooms Lane. There are plenty of things you would not find in a cartoon today, like smoking and baby oyster murder, but it is still one of the best movies to watch before going to Walt Disney World.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Alice in Wonderland at Disney World

Alice in Wonderland Walt Disney World Meet and Greets

A. Meet Alice in Wonderland Walt Disney World (Epcot)

B. Meet Alice in Wonderland (Magic Kingdom)

Dining

A. 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian)

Parade

A. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom)

Alice in Wonderland Ride Disney World Florida

A. Mad Tea Party (Magic Kingdom)

Shows

A. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

B. Let the Magic Begin (Magic Kingdom)

C. Once Upon a Time (Magic Kingdom)

D. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

13. The Lion King

The Lion King is available in both animated and live action versions. The animals, colors, and songs are fun. A lion murders another lion at the beginning, and there is a relatively violent clash between two lions at the end that results in the bad lion getting eaten by hyenas. Other than that, all good. The Lion King characters at Disney World are unique.

Movie Rating: G (Animated Version) and PG (Live Action Version)

Where to Find The Lion King in Disney World

The Lion King Disney World Florida Meet and Greet

A. Meet Timon and Rafiki Animal Kingdom (Animal Kingdom)

Dining

A. Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge)

B. Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge)

C. Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge)

D. Tiffins (Animal Kingdom Festival of the Lion King Dining Package)

Game

A. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (Magic Kingdom)

Resorts

A. Animal Kingdom Lodge

B. Art of Animation

Lion King Walt Disney World Shows

A. Disney Junior Dance Party (Hollywood Studios)

B. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

C. Festival of the Lion King Disney World Show (Animal Kingdom)

D. Happily Ever After (Magic Kingdom)

E. Once Upon a Time (Magic Kingdom)

F. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

12. Fantasia

Fantasia is old, kind of boring, and crazy creepy in certain scenes. The devil gets involved at one point. This would not fly today. However, Disney World bases some major attractions around it. Maybe just watch the part where the brooms carry buckets of water and move on. It is one of the more important movies to watch before going to Disney World because the nighttime shows are Fantasia-heavy.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Fantasia at Disney World

Dining

A. Fantasmic! Dessert & VIP Viewing Experience

Resort

A. All-Star Movies

Shows

A. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

B. Mickey’s Philharmagic (Magic Kingdom)

C. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

11. Peter Pan

Peter Pan is old. Really old. It definitely has some undertones that would be considered racist today, and they really don’t appreciate their dog enough. With that said, the movie is a classic. There is a more recent live action version as well. It is worth a watch, because obtaining Disney World character autographs from Peter Pan will be interesting to say the least.

Movie Rating: G (Animated Version), PG (Live Action Version)

Where to Find Peter Pan at Disney World

Meeting Peter Pan and Tinker Bell

A. Meet Peter Pan and Tinker Bell Disney World (Magic Kingdom)

Dining

A. Pirates & Pals Fireworks Dessert Voyage (Contemporary)

Parade

A. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom)

Peter Pan Disney World Ride

A. Peter Pan’s Flight (Magic Kingdom)

Shows

A. Let the Magic Begin (Magic Kingdom)

B. Once Upon a Time (Magic Kingdom)

C. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

Hollywood Studios Characters

10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is about a girl running from her murderous wicked stepmother. Naturally, she picks a random house with seven old men and moves in. The original animated version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was made in the 1930s. There is also a recent live action version, Snow White and the Huntsman.

Movie Rating: G (Animated Version), PG-13 (Live Action Version)

Where to Find Snow White at Disney World

Disney World Snow White Meet and Greet

A. Meet Snow White Disney World (Epcot)

Dining

A. Akershus (Epcot)

B. Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)

C. Story Book Dining at Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge)

Parade

A. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom)

Snow White Ride in Disney World

A. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Magic Kingdom)

Shows

A. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

B. Happily Ever After (Magic Kingdom)

C. Let the Magic Begin (Magic Kingdom)

D. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

9. Frozen

Unless you have been in quarantine without a television for the last eight years in anticipation of COVID-19, Frozen has been all up in your face for a long time. More dead parents, but otherwise family friendly. The songs from this movie have taken off like no other. For good measure, there is a sequel, Frozen II, to “enjoy” as well. Even if Frozen isn’t your thing, this is one of the best movies to watch before going to Epcot.

Movie Rating: PG

Where to Find Frozen in Disney World

Frozen Disney World Florida Meet and Greets

A. Anna and Elsa Frozen Meet and Greet Disney World (Epcot)

B. Meet Olaf (Hollywood Studios)

Frozen Walt Disney World Dining

A. Disney World Frozen Ever After Dessert Party (Epcot)

Parade

A. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom)

Frozen Disney World Ride

A. Frozen Ever After Disney World (Epcot)

Shows

A. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

B. For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration (Hollywood Studios)

C. Happily Ever After (Magic Kingdom)

D. Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire (Magic Kingdom)

E. Once Upon a Time (Magic Kingdom)

F. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

8. Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo is an adorable movie starring a lost fish who encounters lots of sea creatures on his journey home, including sharks and the sea turtle version of Paul Rudd’s character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The sequel, Finding Dory, was even more popular than the original.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Finding Nemo at Disney World

Dining

A. Coral Reef (Epcot)

Finding Nemo Walt Disney World Exhibit

A. Bruce’s Shark World (Epcot)

Resort

A. Art of Animation

Finding Nemo Disney World Ride

A. The Sea with Nemo and Friends (Epcot)

Shows

A. Finding Nemo the Musical (Animal Kingdom)

B. Turtle Talk with Crush (Epcot)

C. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

7. The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid is another childhood favorite for middle-aged women across the country. Ariel the Mermaid really wants to be human because she needs to marry a prince, making this the only Disney movie ever to involve royalty. The story is cute, the songs are fun, and there is a solid phallic symbol that somehow made it past the editing floor.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Meet Ariel at Disney World

Ariel Meet and Greet Disney World

A. Ariel Walt Disney World Meet and Greet (Magic Kingdom)

Dining

A. Akershus (Epcot)

B. Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)

Game

A. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (Magic Kingdom)

Parade

A. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom)

Resort

A. Art of Animation

The Little Mermaid Ride at Disney World

A. Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid (Magic Kingdom)

Shows

A. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

B. Happily Ever After (Magic Kingdom)

C. Once Upon a Time (Magic Kingdom)

D. Voyage of the Little Mermaid (Hollywood Studios)

E. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

6. Avatar

I’m not going to lie. Avatar is a giant snoozefest and not appropriate for/interesting to small children. However, Disney missed that memo, because one of its newest lands, Pandora – The World of Avatar, is centered around it. Note, I said an entire land, not a single attraction. Avatar makes this list of best Disney World movies because of its immersive land.

Movie Rating: PG-13

Where to Find Avatar at Disney World

Avatar Disney World Animal Kingdom Character Meet and Greet

A. Meet a Pandora Ranger (Animal Kingdom)

Avatar in Disney World Dining

A. Satu’li Canteen (Anmal Kingdom)

B. Pongu Pongu (Animal Kingdom)

Avatar Walt Disney World Rides

A. Disney World Animal Kingdom Avatar Flight of Passage (Animal Kingdom)

B. Na’vi River Journey (Animal Kingdom)

5. Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney’s most popular stories, with both an animated and live action version available. The live appliances in the Beast’s castle really push it over the edge to make it great. This is one of the best Disney movies to watch before going to Disney World because it is heavily represented throughout the parks. A Belle autograph is easy by which to come.

Movie Rating: G (Animated Version), PG (Live Action Version)

Where to Find Beauty and the Beast in Disney World

Beauty and the Beast Walt Disney World Character Meet and Greets

A. Meet Belle Beauty and the Beast Disney World (Epcot)

B. Meet Gaston Beauty and the Beast Disney World (Magic Kingdom)

Beauty and the Beast Disney World Restaurants

A. Akershus (Epcot)

B. Be Our Guest ( Magic Kingdom)

C. Gaston’s Tavern (Magic Kingdom)

Parade

A. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom)

Shows

A. Beauty and the Beast Sing Along Disney World (Epcot)

B. Beauty and the Beast in Disney World – Live on Stage (Hollywood Studios)

C. Enchanted Tales with Belle (Magic Kingdom)

D. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

E. Let the Magic Begin (Magic Kingdom)

F. Once Upon a Time (Magic Kingdom)

G. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

Movies to Watch Before Going to Disney World Toy Story

4. Toy Story

Toy Story is a cute story about talking toys with some seriously depressing undertones about kids growing up. Kids don’t pick up on the fact that the movies accelerate their mothers’ midlife crises, so they are family friendly movies overall. Disney really stretched this one out, with four movies spanning twenty-four years. Disney World loves this franchise so much that it got its own land, Toy Story Land Disney World. These are great characters from whom to collect Disney World autographs.

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Toy Story at Disney World

Toy Story Characters in Disney World

A. Meet Buzz Lightyear (Magic Kingdom)

B. Meet Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear (Hollywood Studios)

Walt Disney World Florida Toy Story Land Dining

A. Roundup Rodeo BBQ (Coming soon to Hollywood Studios)

B. Woody’s Lunch Box (Hollywood Studios)

Toy Story Rides at Disney World Orlando

A. Alien Swirling Saucers (Hollywood Studios)

B. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (Magic Kingdom)

C. Slinky Dog Dash (Hollywood Studios)

D. Toy Story Mania at Disney World (Hollywood Studios)

Shows

A. Green Army Drum Corps (Hollywood Studios)

B. Green Army Patrol (Hollywood Studios)

C. Happily Ever After (Magic Kingdom)

D. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

3. Star Wars

Star Wars is a series that spans decades with a loyal following of nerds diehard fans like no other. The movies are somewhat violent and won’t appeal to young children, but one is worth a watch if you haven’t seen it before. This franchise is so high on this list because it is everywhere in Disney World, including an entire land of its own, Star Wars Hollywood Studios: Galaxy’s Edge Orlando.

Movie Rating: PG and PG-13

Where to Find Star Wars in Disney World

Star Wars Disney World Park Galaxy’s Edge Characters

A. BB-8 Astromech on Duty (Hollywood Studios)

B. Encounter Darth Vader (Hollywood Studios)

C. Meet Chewbacca (Hollywood Studios)

Star Wars Disney World Florida Dining

A. Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo (Hollywood Studios)

B. Oga’s Cantina Disney World (Hollywood Studios)

C. Ronto Roasters (Hollywood Studios)

D. Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party (Hollywood Studios)

Exhibit

A. Star Wars Launch Bay (Hollywood Studios)

Star Wars Disney World Orlando Florida Game

A. Star Wars: Datapad on Play Disney Parks Mobile App

Star Wars Disney World Resort

A. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser (Coming soon)

Star Wars Disney World Rides

A. Star Wars Land Disney World Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run Ride (Hollywood Studios)

B. Star Tours – The Adventures Continue (Hollywood Studios)

C. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Disney World

Star Wars at Disney World in Florida Shows

A. Star Wars Disney World Jedi Training Academy (Hollywood Studios)

B. Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular

C. Star Wars Disney World Launch Bay Theater (Hollywood Studios)

2. Cinderella

Cinderella is about a girl with a lot of chores and a mean stepfamily. A fairy godmother turns it all around for her, so she can become, wait for it, a princess. There is both a cartoon and live action version. It is one of the best movies to watch before Disney World because Cinderella is the first thing you see, with the iconic Magic Kingdom castle themed around this story. Cinderella is perfect if your child wants to meet Disney princesses.

Movie Rating: G (Animated Version), PG (Live Action Version)

Where to Find Cinderella at Disney World

Cinderella Meet and Greet Disney World

A. Meet Cinderella at Princess Fairytale Hall (Magic Kingdom)

Dining

A. Akershus (Epcot)

B. Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)

Cinderella Walt Disney World Exhibit

A. Cinderella Castle at Disney World (Magic Kingdom)

Cinderella in Disney World Orlando Experience

A. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (Magic Kingdom)

Parade

A. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom)

Ride

A. Prince Charming Regal Carrousel (Magic Kingdom)

Shows

A. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

B. Let the Magic Begin (Magic Kingdom)

C. Once Upon a Time (Magic Kingdom)

D. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

Mickey Mouse at Disneyworld

1. Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Mickey’s Christmas Carol is a classic Disney holiday movie starring the most popular characters at Disney World. You can see Mickey, Minnie, Scrooge McDuck, Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Jiminy Cricket, and Chip and Dale, all in one shot. Meeting Mickey Mouse is the highlight of any Disney trip for young kids, so this movie is key.

While this is a Christmas Disney movie, it is great way to introduce your kids to the characters in the event they have been living under a rock and have managed to avoid them to date. It also teaches generosity and blah, blah blah….

Movie Rating: G

Where to Find Mickey’s Christmas Carol Characters at Disney World

Mickey’s Christmas Carol Disney World Character Meet and Greets

A. Meet Mickey Mouse and Minnie (Animal Kingdom)

B. Meet Minnie Mouse, Mickey, and Donald Duck at Disney World (Epcot)

C. Meet Mickey and Minnie (Hollywood Studios)

D. Mickey, Donald, Daisy, Minnie, and Goofy Meet and Greets (Magic Kingdom)

Dining

A. Chef Mickey’s (Contemporary)

B. Garden Grill (Epcot)

C. Hollywood & Vine (Hollywood Studios)

D. Tusker House (Animal Kingdom)

Parades

A. Festival of Fantasy (Magic Kingdom)

B. Move It! Shake It! MouskeDance It! Street Party (Magic Kingdom)

Resort

A. Pop Century

Rides

A. Barnstormer (Magic Kingdom)

B. Mickey & Minnie’s Runway Railway (Hollywood Studios)

Shows

A. Disney Junior Dance Party (Hollywood Studios)

B. Donald’s Dino-Bash! (Animal Kingdom)

C. Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios)

D. Let the Magic Begin (Magic Kingdom)

E. Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire (Magic Kingdom)

F. Vacation Fun – An Original Animated Short with Mickey & Minnie (Hollywood Studios)

G. Wonderful World of Animation (Hollywood Studios)

Final Thoughts – Movies to Watch Before Going to Disney World

Planning and anticipating a Disney World trip is half the fun of going. Watching movies is an easy way to get the kids involved and excited. This list is a guideline to decide what movies to watch before going to Disney World. Tweak it based upon your priorities.

Visit Disney World. You will not regret it.

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40 thoughts on “Movies to Watch Before Going to Disney World: A Year’s Worth of Planning

  1. Omg I absolutely love this, it reminds me of my childhood and all of the wonderful movies I want to show my son. I am planning his first Disney trip for 2022 and this will be a great recourse to have.

  2. This is such a fantastic list! I do wish my kids had seen Swiss Family Robinson because the house would make a lot more sense with it. But otherwise we’ve seen most of these.

  3. I love how this list is formatted. I’m not a mom, but I could see doing a weekly family movie night and then building up to a Disney Trip (post covid). Thanks for sharing

  4. This is such a great list! I 100% agree with needing to watch Soul! Not only did my little enjoy it, but we all loved watching it and it was a reminder of why and how much we love Disney

  5. What a fun list! We were tentatively planning a trip to Disney before the pandemic hit. This is a great list to work through until we can actually get there! Thanks!

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