18 Best Animated Children’s Movies Before 2000

Perfect for end of term fun or as a reward for good behavior, here’s our rundown of the 18 best animated children’s movies made before the year 2000.

  1. Toy Story (1995) – Woody, a good-hearted cowboy doll who belongs to a young boy named Andy, sees his position as Andy’s favorite toy jeopardized when his parents buy him a Buzz Lightyear action figure. Even worse, the arrogant Buzz thinks he’s a real spaceman on a mission to return to his home planet. When Andy’s family moves to a new house, Woody and Buzz must escape the clutches of maladjusted neighbor Sid Phillips and reunite with their boy.
  2. Toy Story 2 (1999) – Woody is stolen from his home by toy dealer Al McWhiggin, leaving Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang to try to rescue him. But when Woody discovers that he’s actually a valuable collectible from a once-popular television show called “Woody’s Roundup” and is reunited with his horse Bullseye, Jessie the yodeling cowgirl and his faithful sidekick, Stinky Pete the Prospector, he doesn’t want to leave.
  3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – The film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same annual routine of frightening people in the “real world.” When Jack accidentally stumbles on Christmastown, all bright colors and warm spirits, he gets a new lease on life — he plots to bring Christmas under his control by kidnapping Santa Claus and taking over the role. But Jack soon discovers even the best-laid plans of mice and skeleton men can go seriously awry.
  4. Beauty and the Beast (1991) – An arrogant young prince and his castle’s servants fall under the spell of a wicked enchantress, who turns him into the hideous Beast until he learns to love and be loved in return. The spirited, headstrong village girl Belle enters the Beast’s castle after he imprisons her father Maurice. With the help of his enchanted servants, including the matronly Mrs. Potts, Belle begins to draw the cold-hearted Beast out of his isolation. 

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  5. The Lion King (1994) – This Disney animated feature follows the adventures of the young lion Simba, the heir of his father, Mufasa. Simba’s wicked uncle, Scar, plots to usurp Mufasa’s throne by luring father and son into a stampede of wildebeests. But Simba escapes, and only Mufasa is killed. Simba returns as an adult to take back his homeland from Scar with the help of his friends Timon and Pumbaa.
  6. The Rescuers (1977) – Bernard and Miss Bianca, two New York City mice, are members of the Rescue Aid Society, an international team that operates beneath the United Nations and comes to the aid of those in need. After receiving word that Penny, a young orphan, has been abducted by Madame Medusa, an evil woman seeking a precious diamond, the two set out to bring her back home, with help from other animal friends.
  7. The Aristocats (1970) – When a retired opera singer leaves her inheritance to her cat, Duchess, and three kittens, the woman’s butler drugs the cats and abandons them in the countryside in order to inherit the fortune himself. Lost in unfamiliar territory, Duchess and the kittens meet Thomas O’Malley, an alley cat willing to help them return to their home in Paris. They meet several kooky characters along the way, including two English geese and an alley cat jazz band.
  8. Pinocchio (1940) – When the woodworker Geppetto sees a falling star, he wishes that the puppet he just finished, Pinocchio, could become a real boy. In the night, the Blue Fairy grants Geppetto’s wish and asks Jiminy Cricket to serve as the wooden boy’s conscience. But the naive and trusting Pinocchio falls into the clutches of the wicked Honest John, who leads him astray to the sinful Pleasure Island. 

    Pinocchio (Two-Disc 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition) (DVD)


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  9. Antz (1998) – Z the worker ant strives to reconcile his own individuality with the communal work-ethic of the ant colony. He falls in love with ant-Princess Bala, Z strives to make social inroads, and then must save the ant colony from the treacherous scheming of the evil General Mandible that threaten to wipe out the entire worker population.
  10. Hercules (1997) – Disney tackles Greek mythology in this animated feature. Hercules, a son of gods, was snatched as a baby by Hades and forced to live among mortals as a half-man, half-god. Now a teenager, Hercules needs to perform a rite of passage on Earth to prove himself worthy of living with the gods on Mount Olympus. With his plucky satyr sidekick, Philoctetes, along for the ride, Hercules must learn how to use his strength to defeat a series of evil creatures.
  11. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) – The Grimm fairy tale gets a Technicolor treatment in Disney’s first animated feature. Jealous of Snow White’s beauty, the wicked queen orders the murder of her innocent stepdaughter, but later discovers that Snow White is still alive and hiding in a cottage with seven friendly little miners. Disguising herself as a hag, the queen brings a poisoned apple to Snow White, who falls into a death-like sleep that can be broken only by a kiss from the prince.
  12. Dumbo (1941) – A young circus elephant is born with comically large ears and given the cruel nickname Dumbo. One day at a show, he is taunted by a group of kids, inciting his mother into a rage that gets her locked up. After Dumbo’s ears cause an accident that injures many of the other elephants, he is made to dress like a clown and perform dangerous stunts. Everything changes when Dumbo discovers that his enormous ears actually allow him to fly, and he astounds everyone at the circus with his new talent. 

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  13. Bambi (1942) – In a classic Disney animation, a fawn named Bambi joins his new friends, a young rabbit named Thumper and a skunk kit named Flower in happily exploring the woods. Bambi is captivated with a young doe named Faline, and he learns from his doting mother and his father — the Great Prince of the Forest — that besides the delights of the forest, there is danger in open meadows where hunters can see them. Though fear and tragedy touch Bambi’s life, another spring brings renewal.
  14. The Jungle Book (1967) – In this classic Walt Disney animation based on Rudyard Kipling’s book, Mowgli, an abandoned child raised by wolves, has his peaceful existence threatened by the return of the man-eating tiger Shere Khan. Facing certain death, Mowgli must overcome his reluctance to leave his wolf family and return to the “man village.” But he is not alone on his quest: Aided by Bagheera the panther, and later by the carefree bear Balloo, he braves the jungle’s many perils.
  15. The Little Mermaid (1989) – In Disney’s beguiling animated romp, rebellious 16-year-old mermaid Ariel is fascinated with life on land. On one of her visits to the surface, which are forbidden by her controlling father, King Triton, she falls for a human prince. Determined to be with her new love, Ariel makes a dangerous deal with the sea witch Ursula to become human for three days. But when plans go awry for the star-crossed lovers, the king must make the ultimate sacrifice for his daughter.
  16. Aladdin (1992) – When street rat Aladdin frees a genie from a lamp, he finds his wishes granted. However, he soon finds that the evil has other plans for the lamp — and for Princess Jasmine. But can Aladdin save Princess Jasmine and his love for her after she sees that he isn’t quite what he appears to be? 

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  17. A Bug’s Life (1998) – Flik is an inventive ant who’s always messing things up for his colony. His latest mishap was destroying the food stores that were supposed to be used to pay off grasshopper Hopper. Now the strong-arming insect is demanding that the ants gather double the food — or face annihilation. To avert disaster, Flik goes on a journey to recruit fighters to defend the colony. When he meets a band of high-flying circus insects, he thinks he’s found his salvation.
  18. Fantasia (1940) – Released in 1940, represented Disney’s boldest experiment to date. Bringing to life his vision of blending animated imagery with classical music. What had begun as a vehicle to enhance Mickey Mouse’s career blossomed into a full-blown feature that remains unique in the history of animation.

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