The Best Disney Movies for Toddlers
It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Disney and Disney movies. I grew up on Disney and I love sharing some of my childhood favorites with my kids. However, as a parent, I’ve realized that not all of my classic favorites are (in my opinion) appropriate for younger kids. This is a list of the best Disney movies for toddlers.
When putting together this list of the best Disney movies for toddlers I considered 3 different movie aspects: scariness, inappropriate jokes or language and difficult subject matter. A lot of Disney classics contain material that is a little too mature for younger kids. I’m not saying that my kids will never watch them, but I will definitely make them wait until they are older. I steer clear of the scarier bad guys, like Maleficent, or straight up murder, looking at you The Lion King. I also try to avoid as much bullying language as I can, but it is very hard to find movies that never use words like stupid. I’m sure they could be avoided if I stuck to Disney Junior shows. This list is not inclusive of all of the movies that my kids have seen, just the ones that they watched as toddlers. Also, my youngest daughter has seen many more movies as a toddler than my oldest one did. That’s just something that happens when there’s more than one kid.
The Best Disney Movies for Toddlers
Cinderella is a Disney classic and great for younger audiences. It is filled with fantastic music, magic and fun little talking animals. While Lady Tremaine and the stepsisters certainly aren’t kind characters, they aren’t too scary as far as Disney villains go. The stepsisters do use bullying language, like “stupid,” both towards Cinderella and each other. There is also a scene where the king and Grand Duke smoke cigars.
Moana has been a favorite for my kiddos since it’s release. They love the music and the characters. The movie is rated PG, but I honestly find it more appropriate than some of the older Disney films. The story does include the death of the grandmother, but her spirit continues to guide Moana in parts of the film. My children never grasped that the grandmother died, so it did not spark that conversation. There is some bullying language and Moana does call Maui a “son of a” but the last word is completely cut off. The villain of the film, Te Ka, is a giant monster made of lava and may be scary to some kids. Her monster form is revealed to not be her true self, so my kids were never really afraid.
Frozen is another favorite in our house. The music is wonderful and it is very visually appealing. This film is also rated PG and definitely has some thrilling parts. There are a few intense scenes where it appears that Anna and Elsa may not survive, but they always do. I also love the message of “not marrying a man you just met” because that is the trend in so many other popular Princess movies. My girls have also seen Frozen II but I do a lot of fast forwarding through that one. I feel like the tone is much more serious and more mature than the first Frozen.
Finding Nemo (G)
I am honestly surprised that Finding Nemo is only rated G. The opening scene of the movie is extremely traumatic, as well as the kidnapping scene and the whole shark bit. This movie is only on my list of best Disney movies for toddlers because my kids LOVE it and it sparked a big interest in the ocean and sea creatures for them. However, they have never seen the opening scene where Nemo’s mom and all of his brothers and sisters are killed by a barracuda. I always fast-forward right past that part and start the movie at the title screen. My oldest daughter (when she was 2.5) cried during the scene where Nemo is taken by the diver. We watched the movie together so that she could see that he is reunited with his dad. My younger daughter was unfazed by that scene, so it really depends on your child and what they can handle. Again, this movie also has bullying language.
Finding Dory (G)
Finding Dory is a tamer version of Finding Nemo. Dory begins to remember her family in a series of flashbacks and goes off searching for them. The flashbacks are of Dory when she is young and could be sad for some kids. My children never quite picked up on the flashbacks being about Dory being lost for most of her life. But no one dies, or gets kidnapped. There is an incident where they are almost eaten by a giant squid. This movie also doesn’t contain as much bullying language, which is a plus. I think my kids may actually like Finding Dory more than Finding Nemo.
Wall-E is one of those movies that seems to be less well-known, but it’s so underrated! My kids LOVE Wall-E! The first half of the movie doesn’t have any dialogue. It’s just a little robot cleaning up a very dirty and messy Earth. The premise of the movie is that Earth became so polluted that all the humans had to leave. Robots are left behind to clean up the mess, but eventually they all break down, except for Wall-E. Wall-E is quirky and special and easily makes friends. There are some scenes where Wall-E and other robots get broken, but since they are robots and not people, none of them “die” and are easily repaired.
Mary Poppins (G)
Both of my kids LOVED Mary Poppins at two years old. It is hands down one of the best Disney movies for toddlers. I believe that is due to all of the music and the combination of animation with live-action. We just exited the Mary Poppins phase with Bellamy where she was asking to watch it over and over everyday for weeks. Mary Poppins was one of my favorites as a kid, so I don’t mind rewatching it. The only scene that could be a tad scary for kids is when the children run from their father at the bank. They end up in a dirty part of the city where a dog barks at them and an old beggar woman approaches them. It is a very short scene. Other than that, the movie is very fun and innocent for kids.
The Disney Fairies (aka Tinker Bell and friends) movies are more of the “straight to DVD” variety, but my kids love them. They are fun and exciting, occasionally a little perilous, but not scary. There isn’t bullying language, though in a few of the movies the fairies aren’t always friendly to each other. The biggest issue with these movies, in my opinion, is that sometime the fairies are a little too sassy and Tinker Bell gets angry and snaps at her friends. These scenes are usually used to teach a lesson of some sort and everyone apologizes in the end. I love Tinker Bell and think she is a very important piece of the Disney brand, so these movies are a great way to introduce her to little kids outside of Peter Pan. My oldest daughter actually refuses to watch Peter Pan. She is terrified of Captain Hook. The Disney Fairies movies are how I introduced her, and then her little sister, to Tinker Bell.
What do you think are the best Disney movies for toddlers? If there are any Disney movies you think I missed that your toddler loves, drop them in the comments! I’d love to give them a shot!