Disney Movies Through the Years

Image Credits: Photo by PAN XIAOZHEN on Unsplash

For so many people around the globe, the very word Disney evokes a sense of joy and nostalgia like no other. We’ve all grown up watching and loving Disney’s creations but don’t quite know how its journey of filmmaking and animation evolved.

The Beginning: Even Before Mickey Mouse

Most of us think that Mickey Mouse was Disney’s first creation, but that’s not it. Mickey Mouse was only Walt Disney’s first popular success. He ventured into animated filmmaking with his brother Roy Disney under the banner of Disney Brothers Studio, and their first creation was a series of animated films called “Alice Comedies.”

The success of ‘Alice Comedies’ inspired the brothers to create Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. The fan favorite, cheerful and mischievous Mickey Mouse was created only in 1928. The character was first launched in ‘Steamboat Willie’, a film that became quite the sensation for being the first animation film with voice and music.

Snow White and the New Era of Animated Feature Films

After the massive success of Mickey Mouse and his friends, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto, Disney made one of their riskiest moves. They began the production of what would turn out to be a five year project, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Watching it today might not leave you awestruck, given the high quality of today’s Disney movies, but it was their first feature length film and received widespread release and publicity back in the day. Disney was also given seven tiny Oscars, each representing Snow White’s seven dwarves, along with a regular sized one, for the film.

World War II Propaganda Films and Live Action Films

In the period between 1944 to 1950, Disney ventured into propaganda films and live action films, both of which didn’t go down very well with the audience, which was used to the light hearted fairy tales and animated characters.

During the war, Disney produced two films, Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros, at the request of the State Department. These films were also a combination of animation and live actionWhen the war ended, it was difficult for the studio to regain its pre-war footing.

Collaboration with Pixar and Marvel

Disney acquired Pixar in 2006 and revolutionized animation. Movies beginning from Toy Story (1995), which used digital animations, managed to capture a much larger audience with its innovative graphics and visuals.

In 2009, Disney bought Marveland although the latter began way before Disney’s acquisition and was extremely popular by then, the association of the two media giants changed the face of entertainment forever. ‘The Avengers’ (2012) was the first film to be distributed by Disney post-acquisition. Today, their collaboration has produced over 16 fan favorite films and they continue to work and grow together through the 2020s.

Just Some Facts

  • Donald Duck first appeared in a 1934 cartoon called ‘The Wise Little Hen’.
  • Mary Poppins was the first Disney film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar
  • During the Second World War, animators were encouraged to make films that made Americans feel patriotic and confident in the war effort.
  • The last hand-drawn Disney movie was ‘Winnie the Pooh’ in 2011.
  • Walt Disney was the original voice of Mickey. The first words spoken by the famous Mouse were ‘Hot Dogs!’ in Disney’s ‘The Karnival Kid’ (1929).
  • Wayne Anthony Allwine, who voiced Mickey for 32 years, was married to Russi Taylor, the voice actress who played Minnie Mouse.
  • Merida, from Disney/Pixar’s movie ‘Brave’ (2012), is the only Disney princess who does not sing in the entire film.
  • Even though we know him as Prince Charming, we never actually find out the real name of the Prince character in Cinderella.
  • Elsa was supposed to be the villain in Frozen, but the producers loved “Let It Go” so much as an empowering anthem that they changed her storyline.
  • Dumbo is the only title character that never speaks in a film.


Radhika Shenoy