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Toddler development

12 Best Disney Movies for Toddlers

Let's dive into the House of Mouse!

By Courtney Leiva
12 Best Disney Movies for Toddlers

Walt Disney Pictures

Disney has always been a big part of our childhood—with catchy songs, beloved characters and heartwarming tales. If you're eager to share the magic with your kiddos, we've curated a selection of the best Disney movies for toddlers that little ones and grownups will love.

Not only are these movies perfect for family viewing, but they also come in various runtimes, just in case your little one isn't ready for a cinematic marathon.

Before you dive into the House of Mouse, we've got some insider tips from parenting expert and therapist Daniel Rinaldi, MA, on how parents can navigate the wondrous world of Disney movies with their little ones.

What should parents keep in mind about Disney movies for toddlers?

As kids, we all had Disney movies we loved. But Rinaldi suggests that parents should be careful when choosing Disney movies for toddlers because they might not understand the language or jokes in some movies. It's important to consider the themes, how long the movie is and the messages it sends to ensure it's suitable for your child to watch.

Themes

Rinaldi says it's essential to ensure that the themes of the film are appropriate for their age and convey positive messages. "I suggest that parents pick out movies that offer positive role models and teach understandable life lessons," he explains to Today's Parent.

"Parents should also observe their children's reactions to different films to understand what content resonates best."

In addition to considering a movie's age rating, Rinaldi recommends taking into account the film's tone and visual style. Overly complex or intense scenes may not be suitable for very young children. If a child becomes upset or frightened during a movie,  parents should immediately address their worries by pausing or stopping the movie to discuss their feelings and reassure them of their safety.

Film Ratings

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Rinaldi recommends parents consider movie ratings when selecting films for their children. These ratings can provide insight into a movie's content, such as the level of violence or questionable language, and help parents determine if it is suitable for their child.

Typically, Disney movies have ratings from G to PG-13. According to the Motion Picture Association (MPA), G-rated movies are suitable for all audiences and usually do not contain any content that would concern parents.

However, PG-rated movies may require parental guidance, as they could include content parents might find unsuitable for their children.

Film Length

Rinaldi recommends considering the length of Disney films before watching them with toddlers, as young children may not have the attention span for longer films.

"Keep in mind that young children might become restless during longer movies, so it's essential to choose a film that fits within this time frame," he explains."The appropriate time for toddler movies typically ranges from 30 minutes to one hour."

Cars (2006)

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Pixar films are perfect for toddlers, offering vibrant colors, humor, and unique animation that both young kids and adults can enjoy. While Finding Nemo, Toy Story and Monsters Inc. are popular Pixar choices, don't overlook the lively adventure of Cars.

This 117-minute film follows the journey of race car Lightning McQueen as he learns important lessons about friendship and personal growth while visiting Radiator Springs. Rated G, Cars feature a star-studded voice cast, including Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt and Larry the Cable Guy.

Watch Cars on Disney+ or rent and buy it on Google Play, Amazon Video and YouTube. Not an Amazon Prime member yet? Here's our link to free Amazon Prime movies and TV for 30 days. Be sure to check out all this other free stuff from Amazon, too.

Plus, if your little one loves the first movie, they'll also enjoy Cars 2 and Cars 3!

Cinderella (1950)

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If you have a little princess in your life, consider introducing her to the timeless Disney classic, Cinderella. Unlike its predecessor Snow White, which has a much scarier plot, Cinderella is a great choice for young children due to its G-rated magic, sing-along songs, and lack of too-scary moments.

Although toddlers may not fully understand the film's plot, Cinderella's 74-minute runtime is perfect for short attention spans.

Watch Cinderella on Disney+, or rent and buy it on Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Apple TV and Vudu.

FYI: There's also a live-action version for older kids starring Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden and Helena Bonham Carter.

Frozen (2013)

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Want more princess-filled fun? No problem! Frozen has become a favorite for both kids and adults, making it one of the best Disney movies for toddlers. The story follows Princess Anna on her journey to find her sister Elsa, and it's a heartwarming tribute to love, family and friendship.

This 102-minute film boasts an all-star celebrity voice cast, including Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel and Josh Gad, and is packed with stunning animation and memorable music. Just a heads up: this movie is rated PG, and some scenes might be frightening for little ones, so it's a good idea to have a grown-up nearby.

Watch Frozen, on streaming via Disney+ or rent and buy it on Apple TV, Google Play Movies and Vudu.

If you're not ready for the magic to end (see what we did there?), there's always Frozen 2 to watch on your next family movie night.

101 Dalmatians (1961)

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With its paw-some doggy heroes, fun tunes (especially Cruella Deville), and an off-the-leash plot, 101 Dalmatians is bound to be a surefire hit for the toddler age group. This 79-minute G-rated film is packed with messages about the importance of family, friendship, and overcoming obstacles.

Although Cruella Deville, the antagonist in the film, may frighten young children, her eccentric personality makes her less intimidating than Disney villains like The Wicked Queen or Maleficent.

Watch 101 Dalmatians on Disney+ or rent and purchase on Vudu, Apple TV, Google Play Movies and YouTube.

If your little one's a fan of live-action flicks, they'll love this live-action version of the film, starring Glenn Close as the delightfully devious Cruella Deville.

Aristocats (1970)

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For all the cat-loving families out there, Aristocats is the ultimate whisker-worthy delight! This charming film follows a Parisian cat family's enchanting adventure through the French countryside, serving up a delightful blend of family values and friendship in just 79 minutes. With no scary moments and a G rating, it's the cat's meow for toddlers.

Watch Aristocats on Disney+, or unleash the magic on Apple TV, Google Play Movies and YouTube.

Mary Poppins (1964)

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Step into the enchanting world of this Disney classic, where live-action and animation intertwine to create a timeless masterpiece. Set in the heart of old London, it weaves the charming story of two siblings under the care of the magical Mary Poppins.

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The only downside? Mary Poppins runs for 139 minutes, making it the longest Disney film on our watch list. Yet, with unforgettable performances by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, it's sure to captivate the little ones from beginning to end.

Watch Mary Poppins on streaming via Disney+, or rent and purchase on Prime Video, Apple TV and Vudu.

If you'd like to make it a Mary Poppins double-feature, consider adding Mary Poppins Returns to your watchlist. It stars Emily Blunt, Lin Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep, Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury, in a new adventure that the whole family will love.

Peter Pan (1953)

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For fans of Jake and the Neverland Pirates, this classic is a must-see, offering a charming look into the magical beginnings of Neverland. As one of the older Disney films, Peter Pan continues to captivate with its vibrant colors, memorable melodies, and familiar faces.

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At just 77 minutes, it's a relatively short and sweet adventure, perfect for young audiences. Plus, Captain Hook's amusing antics will surely bring a few giggles from the kids. So, gather your crew and set sail for an adventure with this film!

Watch Peter Pan on Disney+, or rent and buy on Prime Video, Apple TV and Vudu.

Elemental (2023)

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Elemental is the latest Pixar release that follows the touching love story of Ember, a fire element, and Wade, a water element living in Element City. While this film's main focus is the love story of the lead characters, it also explores important themes of inclusivity and understanding among the diverse elements in Element City.

At 101 minutes long, it is one of the lengthier films on our list. It also has a PG rating, so parents should be aware that some scenes of peril might be intense for young children. Despite this, Elemental is. a great movie for the whole family because it teaches important lessons about acceptance and unity.

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Watch Elemental on Disney+.

The Lion King (1994)

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If you'd like to introduce your toddler to classic Disney animated movies, The Lion King is a great option. This film combines elements of Shakespeare's Hamlet with stunning animation, humor, and unforgettable songs like "Hakuna Matata," "Circle of Life," and "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?"

The movie runs for 88 minutes and is rated PG, so it's suitable for family viewing. However, be aware that there are both sad and scary scenes, so you might need to pause the film to help your child process their emotions.

Watch The Lion King on Disney+ and then explore the live-action version featuring Donald Glover, James Earl Jones, Beyoncé and Seth Rogen.

The Tigger Movie (2000)

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The Tigger Movie is a great choice for toddler-friendly Disney content, as it features the classic appeal of Winnie the Pooh and his friends. With Tigger taking the lead, the film includes all the beloved characters from the Hundred Acre Wood. Rated G and running for 77 minutes, it's an excellent option for young children.

However, there is a scene where Tigger gets lost in a snowstorm, which may be a bit scary (or sad) for some toddlers. Despite this, the movie's positive messages about friendship make it a worthwhile watch.

Watch The Tigger Movie on Disney+. If you're a fan of Winnie the Pooh's adventures, the platform also offers other related movies like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin, and Pooh's Heffalump Movie.

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

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Yes, Beauty and the Beast is another Disney princess movie, but deep down, it's a timeless treasure that deserves to be handed down to the next generation. Based on the 18th-century French fairytale, this 84-minute animated film features memorable songs, endearing characters, and breathtaking animation reminiscent of Disney's golden age.

The movie conveys uplifting messages about love, kindness, and not judging others based on their appearance. However, parents should note that some scenes may frighten young children, as it is rated PG. Despite this, it remains a captivating and magical experience for the whole family, with the renowned Be Our Guest song being a standout moment.

Watch Beauty and the Beast on Disney+, including the live-action adaptation stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans and Josh Gad.

Lilo and Stitch (2002)

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In Lilo and Stitch, viewers can expect to find a colorful and entertaining journey that incorporates elements of humor, a heart-warming message of family, and music from Elvis Presley. This movie follows Lilo, a young Hawaiian girl navigating the challenges of growing up, as she finds companionship with an alien named Stitch, who becomes her beloved pet.

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This Disney movie is 85 minutes long and has a PG rating due to its action scenes, which may be too intense for young children. Additionally, at the beginning of the movie, Stitch is shown as destructive and angry, which might be frightening for toddlers.

As the story progresses, Stitch becomes more adorable and funny, so it’s important to explain this to children before you turn it off.

Watch Lilo and Stitch on Disney+ or rent and buy it on Amazon, Google Play and Vudu.

You'll also want to stay tuned for the live-action remake of this film coming summer of this year!

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