Disney has been producing some of the best musicals for decades. As a company, they have built an entire world around imagination, music, and fun. Both children and adults love Disney movies, cartoons, and musicals. With hundreds of Disney productions, there are quite a few memorable musicals. But which ones are the best?
We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 Disney musicals you need to see. However, there is no hierarchy among them since they belong to different genres. These musicals are some of Disney’s best, captivating fans and critics alike. If you’re a fan of Disney musicals, you’ll want to keep reading for a bucket list of the best ones. Which one will be your favorite?
10 Disney Musicals You Have to See
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas
This musical premiered in 1993 and was created by the kooky, brilliant mind of Tim Burton. The movie has become a cult-fan-favorite, with people still loving its weirdness decades later. The story revolves around the Pumpkin King, Jack. Jack, who is from Halloween, takes over Christmas. It’s full of ghoulish, creepy spirit that seems off-kilter for Disney.
The movie’s macabre feel is completely toned down by its beautiful music. The songs are bright, fun, and catchy. Each song compliments the amazing visual surroundings perfectly, and the movie has a terrific way of blending together both the spirit of Halloween and Christmas. The Nightmare Before Christmas also exudes a terrific message of being true to your own self. This Disney musical uses stop-motion puppetry and music to portray a world of creepy, fun fantasy.
2. High School Musical
Disney may be more known for their animated movies, but their live-action productions are certainly not lacking. High School Musical came out in 2006 and quickly became one of the most popular of Disney musicals. It involves 2 main characters who discover their love for music (and each other). Troy and Gabriella also happen to have phenomenal voices and dance moves. The characters appeal to children, teens, and adults alike.
This musical won 2 Primetime Emmys and 3 Teen Choice Awards, and it’s easy to see why. Not only does this musical feature awesome talent, but the soundtrack itself is fresh, young, and fun. In fact, the soundtrack became a number one hit on American charts. High School Musical became so successful, that it would be the only Disney Channel Original Movie of its time to have a sequel.
3. Hunchback of Notre Dame
As far as popularity is concerned, this movie may not have the fan-following of some others. But Hunchback of Notre Dame is quite arguably one of the greatest and deepest Disney musicals out there. It tells the story of Quasimodo (a hunchback) who watches the world around him from atop his tower. Through emotional music, viewers get a taste of what life is like for Quasimodo.
This musical shows not only the cruelty of humanity but also the compassion. Quasimodo finds his strength and himself; along with the help of some friends. Each song is brilliantly mastered in this musical to show you a step-by-step guide to Quasimodo’s journey through a world that sees him as ‘different.’ The unforgettable music is saddening, self-revealing, and rewarding all at the same time. Hunchback of Notre Dame is a must-see.
Disney musicals have been pushing boundaries for decades. Mulan is no exception. It came out in 1998 and totally defied the “typical” princess expectations of every other Disney movie. It followed the story of a Chinese woman who went against gender norms to enlist in the Army; in order to save her father. Not only does she take his place, but she learns to fight and becomes a top soldier.
In addition to the idea that not every woman needs to be a princess, Mulan really enforces the idea that women (and men) can truly become anything they choose to be. The musical is absolutely filled to the brim with diverse songs. Considering it’s a war film, the music is delightfully fun, fierce, and honest. Mulan is a Disney musical that speaks to the inner-us: always trying to find our place.
5. The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid started an entire generation of incredible Disney musicals. It really showed what the company was made of in 1989. During its initial release, it earned an impressive $84 million at the box office. The movie is full of songs that are still commonly sung today; with catchy choruses and pitch-perfect key changes.
Each song features amazingly unique characters like Sebastian the crab or Ursula the sea-witch. Ariel, a beautiful mermaid, wishes more than anything to be free from the sea. After making a deal with the evil Ursula, she is determined to be with her love Prince Eric. But soon enough, Ariel learns that you should be careful what you wish for. The Little Mermaid uses entrancing music to speak to the adventurer, and mermaid, in all of us.
Back in 1997, Disney came out with Hercules. This musical involved Greek mythology, bright animation, and some pretty cool characters. Not only does the movie involve some great Greek stories, but the music is great as well. It follows Hercules on his mission to become a God and rejoin his father Zeus. But becoming a God isn’t that easy, and Hercules discovers it takes a lot of sacrifice. Selflessness is the keyword in this Disney musical.
Hercules blends together some awesome studio voices with some awesome character voices. Each song is funny, entertaining, and oddly dark. If you’re looking for a feel-good Disney musical, give Hercules a try. It will have you laughing (and crying) from the time you see little Hercules as a baby in the very first scenes.
7. Into the Woods
Disney has been putting a lot of effort into live-action movies recently, and Into the Woods could be one of the most uunderratedones. It debuted in 2014, and featured amazing stars like Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, and Chris Pine. This is one of many musicals geared toward an older generation, but still suitable for children. It creates a maze of music that entangles you from the very beginning.
Into the Woods is a story of many characters and how their stories relate to each other. A witch convinces a couple to take magical items from fairy tales you know and love, for her own benefit. The couple does the witch’s bidding because they desperately want a child of their own. The musical involves a wide array of cool characters, plot twists, and non-stop singing. If you’re a fan of musicals that never stop, Into the Woods may be for you.
Forget musicals, Aladdin is one of the most-remembered Disney movies that has ever been created. Disney did everyone a huge service by enlisting the help of Robin Williams, who took the Genie character to completely different heights. His hilarity is only matched by the incredible soundtrack that features fun and loveable music.
Aladdin is a street rat who desperately wants to be more than what he is. With the help of great friends and crazy adventures, Aladdin realizes that he is everything he chooses to be. Aladdin uses a beautiful princess, a loyal monkey, and a loving Genie to produce some of the greatest music seen in Disney musicals. Children and adults from every generation love Aladdin, and we can’t blame them one bit.
9. The Lion King
This Disney musical saw sequels, spin-off shows, and Broadway productions after it exploded onto the scene in 1994. The Lion King truly uses grown-up situations to drive home a very important message. It follows the story of a young lion cub, who must take his place after experiencing many hardships throughout his life. Not only does it teach about the impact of death, but also the light that can come after it.
While many saw the death of the main character (and the loss experienced by a child) as a crazy move by Disney, it became one of the most memorable moments in movie history. Children and adults alike shed tears during this brilliant movie, which was made more astounding by the soundtrack created by Elton John. Each song has an eclectic, diverse sound that will have you tapping your toes in no time.
10. Beauty and the Beast
It’s easy to see why Beauty and the Beast topped TIME’s list of “The Disney Renaissance From Worst to Best.” Between the animation and music, this movie was a game-changer in the Disney world. It contains a wonderful story, with great characters, and even better music. The movie contains many messages, like following your dreams, never judging a book by its cover, and that love conquers all.
Belle is smart, strong, and complex; a far cry from previous Disney princesses. Each character, situation, and the song is multi-dimensional and beautiful. The music in Beauty and the Beast has long-since been known as some of the best composition work in any movie. There are love songs, fun songs, and inspirational ones. From beginning to end, Beauty and the Beast shows us the very best that Disney musicals have to offer.
From dark and macabre, to light and fresh, these musicals from Disney have been enchanting people for years. And while Disney continues to make some of the most incredible productions known to man, you can catch up on the best Disney musicals found on this list. Which is your favorite?
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