Once upon a time, Disney began with the brother duo of Walt and Roy Disney; they began to develop animated shorts for the Winkler Productions studio.
It was in 1928 that Walt Disney formed his studio and animation company called: Walt Disney Animation Studios, abandoning his previous creation to make way for Mortimer Mouse, who was later renamed, Mickey.
The secret to Disney’s enormous success was his constant search to improve his work, reinventing classic techniques, or adapting new ones to his recent short films.
Walt Disney animation studios have been on the market for almost 97 years, but the truth is they didn’t always go through festive seasons. Walt Disney was a company that had problems like any other, from economic losses, loss of public interest, and even military conflicts.
For this reason, the studio’s various animated films were separated into different eras. And then we will show you each one of them from 1937 to 2021.
Among the most outstanding Disney Eras we can find:
Disney Golden Age Movies – (1937-1942)
Disney had already become one of the most successful animators in the country. His shorts had developed a whimsy of their own with the look of color cinema and the Silly Symphonies.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937): The first animated feature film and the first animated work to use the multiplane camera create an illusion of three-dimensionality.
- Pinocchio (1940): The first animated feature film to win two Academy Awards in the best soundtrack and original song categories.
- Fantasia (1940): This was an experimental Disney project in which musical segments were animated using different classical music pieces; its premiere was a failure.
- Dumbo (1941): Dumbo was a film designed to recoup the failed investment of Fantasia; therefore, to this day, it is one of the most superficial Disney films.
- Bambi (1942): This was the first Disney film to include a story centered on a talking animal.
Disney Wartime Era Movies – (1943-1949)
In this era, the United States had joined the war and many artists enlisted in the military. This is why the films of this Disney era were mostly anthologies, to reduce production costs.
- Saludos Amigos (1943): A four-part movie that includes live-action and animation highlighting Latin America. The film portrayed well-dressed citizens and tall skyscrapers which came as a surprise to the American audience.
- The Three Caballeros (1944): A live-action and animation musical film about Latin America to follow up Saludos Amigos. The film is packaged together in a goodwill message attempt for neighboring Latin America.
- Make Mine Music (1946): Considered part of the wartime propaganda and training package of films, Make Mine Music is a collection of songs and animation.
- Fun and Fancy Free (1947): A two-part movie about a circus bear named Bongo and a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk with Mickey, Donald, and Goofy.
- Melody Time (1948): The fifth package film made up of animation and several popular songs, similar to Make Mine Music released earlier.
- The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949). It adapts two literary classics: The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving.
Disney Silver Age Movies (1950-1967)
Also known as the postwar era or the Disney era of restoration, it is characterized not only by returning to large productions but also by being very innovative on a visual level.
- Cinderella (1950): Cinderella was the first movie to have exact details and an anatomical study so that the movements of the characters were very realistic.
- Alice in Wonderland (1951): Originally, this film would be made with real actors and animation; this film presents a good balance with different styles and drawn characters.
- Peter Pan (1953): The famous movie Peter Pan involved the 9 “original” animators who started and made the empire that was Walt Disney Animation Studios.
- Lady and the Tramp (1955): This is the first Disney animated film produced in CinemaScope anamorphic format.
- Sleeping Beauty (1959): This famous film used a color palette with an emotional, dramatic purpose, which caused an aesthetic similar to a painting.
- One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961). This film was produced using the Xerox process to copy multiple images to represent the different Dalmatian puppies.
- The Sword in the Stone (1963): This movie is iconic because it was the last movie to hit the market before Walt Disney’s death in 1966. Despite its poor reception from critics, it was a box office success.
- The Jungle Book (1967): Due to the fall of Disney after Walt’s death, this film had several complications, and animation designs that appeared in other works had to be rejected.
Disney Bronze Age Movies (1970-1988)
This was a time of plot experimentation in which classic tales were avoided.
- The Aristocats (1970): A musical comedy about a family of aristocratic cats that befriend an alley cat and team up to save the family fortune after a kidnapping.
- Robin Hood (1973): Brave and generous citizens of Nottingham fight back against the escalating taxes of Prince John to steal from the rich and give back to the poor.
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977): This was the last film in which Walt was personally involved. This film arose from a meeting of various short films gathered in a film.
- The Rescuers (1977): The Rescue Aid Society saves orphans from all over the world. Two mice set out to rescue an orphan girl who is being held, prisoner.
- The Fox and the Hound (1981): This was one of the most expensive Disney movies. Many consider it one of the best Disney movies in which Walt Disney himself did not participate.
- The Black Cauldron (1985): Based on a series of books, it was planned to be the first in a series of films. However, it is considered one of Disney’s biggest failures.
- The Great Mouse Detective (1986): Thanks to the box office success this film produced, it allowed Disney to begin producing Amblin and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
- Oliver and company (1988): This is a free adaptation of Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, set in the 80s.
Disney Renaissance Era Movies – (1989-1999)
Around this time, Disney decided to go back to its roots and pick up adapting classic fairy tales to animated films. The songs and the simple plot structures, returned, adorned with techniques learned in the Bronze Age.
- The Little Mermaid (1989). The Little Mermaid’s enormous success was due to Alan Menken’s music, which opened the doors for Disney to enter the field of musical theater.
- The rescuers from Down Under (1990). This was Disney’s first sequel to a feature film. This is the continuation of The Rescuers.
- Beauty and the Beast (1991): This is the first from Disney to include digitally created scenes and segments to create the illusion of an actual shoot.
- Aladdin (1992): The success of this incredible film spawned DisneyToon Studios, which were responsible for creating the various direct-to-video sequels to Aladdin and many other Disney works.
- The Lion King (1994): The Lion King was one of the Disney projects that spent the most time in pre-production. This started in 1988 ending in 1994.
- Pocahontas (1995): Pocahontas is a film that, despite being full of historical contradictions, is a film much appreciated for its incredible music and beautiful aesthetics.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996). This movie is considered one of Disney’s darkest when it comes to torture, religious persecution, lust, and genocide.
- Hercules (1997): Hercules, despite being one of the least successful films of its time, is an incredible film that perfectly mixes Greek mythology, musical theater, and comedy.
- Mulan (1998): Mulan was the first film to be entirely produced at Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida, where usually only a few minutes of each film were animated.
- Tarzan (1999). This was an exceptional movie because it was the first to be musical. Phil Collins did the composition and interpretation of the music.
Disney Post-Renaissance Movies – (1999-2009)
In this Disney era, most films changed the plot and visual styles to create stories that touch on family, personal growth, and the search for one’s own identity.
- Fantasia 2000 (1999): Similar to Fantasia, this film shows several animated segments of classical music introduced by celebrities.
- Dinosaur (2000): This was the first Disney film to be shot in real locations and digitally generated prehistoric animals.
- The Emperor’s New Groove (2000): This movie was initially intended as an epic adventure. However, it was decided that this would have more humor and meta-comedy.
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001): A young man discovers a book of secrets that leads him and a small group to try finding the lost city of Atlantis.
- Lilo and Stitch (2002): This story about a girl and her friendship with an alien owes its success to its distinctive featureless graphic style and watercolor backgrounds.
- The treasure planet (2002). This film was truly innovative as it introduced a process called Virtual Scenarios, in which a 360º environment is generated for the animated character to interact.
- Brother Bear (2003): This was the last traditional animated film produced only at Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida, then closed for digital animation.
- Home on the Range (2004): Three cows and a group of farm animals pull together to a bad cattle rustler and save their farm from foreclosure.
- Chicken Little (2005). The studio’s first animated film made in 3D digital format was an incredible success at the box office.
- Meet the Robinsons (2007): An orphan child inventor attempts to use his wits and genius to locate his birth parents.
- Bolt (2008). Critics celebrate this film and consider it an essential part of the next era of Disney animation. However, it did not do very well at the box office.
Disney Revival Era Movies – (2009 to 2021)
In the current Disney era, the study focuses on using all the techniques learned during the past to implement them in more classical works of the first renaissance, but with a current vision.
- The Princess and the Frog (2009): This film uses traditional animation to reinvent a classic fairy tale, but starring African-Americans and settling in New Orleans.
- Tangled (2010): Tangled is a film with a total cost of 260 million dollars and was in production for six years, making it the most expensive animated film.
- Winnie the Pooh (2011): Pooh and his close friends set out on an adventure to save Christopher Robin and enjoying Pooh’s favorite food along the way, honey.
- Frankenweenie (2012): A Tim Burton film about a boy who attempts to bring his dog back to life after an unfortunate accident.
- Wreck-It Ralph (2012): A video game villain decides he is tired of being the bad guy and instead ventures out to become a hero.
- Frozen (2013): Family and friends track down the fled princess with magical icy powers to try to save the kingdom from eternal winter.
- Big Hero 6 (2009): Once Disney bought Marvel, I looked to reinvent some of the publisher’s characters to create a heroic animated universe that matches the MCU.
- Zootopia (2016): This was a movie that touched on current issues, such as gender equality and much older issues such as racism and prejudice.
- Moana (2016): A young island princess is chosen by the ocean to return a magical relic gem to the goddess Te Fiti to save her tribe.
- Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018): Ralph tries to help his good friend Vanellope
- Frozen II (2019): Anna, Elsa, and friends go on an adventure to an enchanted forest to discover the origin of Elsa’s powers and what happened with her parent’s past.
- Raya and the Last Dragon (2021): Raya goes on a quest to find the last dragon learn to trust and save her people.
The Silent Era (1923-1937)
The Golden Era (1937-1942)
The Wartime Era (1943-1949)
The Silver Age (1950-1967)
The Dark Age (1970-1988)
The Renaissance Age (1989-1999)
The Post-Renaissance Age (2000-2009)
The Revival Era (2009-2021)
The Dark Age of Disney is from 1970 to 1988 and also know as the Bronze Age when Walt Disney passed away.
The Disney Golden Era was from 1937 to 1942 and include the first batch of full-length animated feature films.
The Disney renaissance age was from 1989 to 1999.