The Animation Corner: Top 10 Disney Moments


Author’s Note: In honor of “Zootopia” opening March 4, I thought I’d share my top 10 Disney moments. This list only entails films Walt Disney Animation Studios has created, so companies Disney has worked with, like Pixar, Studio Ghibli and Touchstone, are excluded.

10. T-Rex attack from “Meet the Robinsons”
The reason this scene beats out other great moments is T-Rex’s line: “I have a big head and little arms.” When I first saw the film, I had to cover my mouth I was laughing so hard. Even today, the image of the dinosaur flailing its flimsy arms gets me to chuckle.

9. Pooh stuck in Rabbit’s door from “Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree”
There’s something about Winnie the Pooh that transcends generations. Over the past 50 years, Disney has produced 18 films/featurettes and five television series. The best moment is still from the very first movie: Pooh’s derrière gets stuck in Rabbit’s doorway, so naturally Rabbit turns it into wall décor.

8. Spirit in the Sky from “The Lion King”
As a kid, I remember wondering if Mufasa somehow turned into God when he appears as an ethereal spirit in the clouds to tell adult Simba to “get his ___ together”. Okay, that’s not quite what Mufasa says, but it has essentially the same effect.

7. First flight from “Big Hero 6”
I believe that Hiccup and Toothless from Dreamworks’ “How To Train Your Dragon” have a better first flight, but Hiro and Baymax’s is still amazing. The city of San Fransokyo is spectacular to study and it’s an opportunity for Disney to showcase the advanced and meticulous animation that went into the movie.

6. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from “Fantasia”
Fun fact: Dopey was originally supposed to play Mickey Mouse’s iconic role. At the time “Fantasia” (1940) was made, Mickey was losing popularity while “Snow White” (1937) was an instant classic. Fun fact two: though he was never named, Disney animators nicknamed the Sorcerer “Yen Sid” because it’s “Disney” spelled backward.

5. Friend Like Me from “Aladdin”
Two words: Robin Williams. There’s nothing else I need to say.

4. “Out There” from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”
Even though I think “Hellfire” is a better song, I think “Out There” is a better sequence. The song highlights the intricate gothic architecture as well as the film’s thematic usage of lighting and shadowing. The part where Quasimodo slides down the water trough as the camera sweeps around him is still one of my favorite Disney cinematic shots.

3. Copper saves Tod from “The Fox and the Hound”
Tod deals with abandonment issues throughout the film—his mother, Widow Tweed and even Copper all at one point leave him behind. So when Copper stands in front of Tod and prevents Amos from shooting the fox, it’s an incredible moment of forgiveness and friendship that always makes me a little bit emotional every time.

2. Leopard fight from “Tarzan”
Tarzan’s rite of passage is a brilliantly staged fight scene. There’s the background of Sabor killing Tarzan’s parents and Kala’s child but also the need for Tarzan to prove his worth to the gorillas. Even though you know they aren’t going to kill the title character halfway through the film, it’s still a tense, high-intensity scene. Plus, that yell as he raises Sabor’s body is epic.

1. Avalanche from “Mulan”
The moment when the Huns appear at the ridge of the mountain and begin their cavalry charge is cinematic gold. That smirk Mulan gives after she starts the avalanche is even better. Every moment in this scene is absolutely perfect, from Mushu pulling Shan Yu out of the snow by the hair to Yao lamenting, “I let them slip through my fingers.”


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