Aubrey Day (Editor-In-Chief)
The first Disney film my folks took me to see at the cinema. A little research now reveals it was seen as a ‘return to form’ for the studio. Of course, I didn’t know that. I just thought the Rescue Aid Society was kind of like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. But, you know, with mice...
Anyway, it seemed ace. And I think we got a McDonalds after.
Rosie Fletcher (News Editor)
The first film I ever saw at the cinema. The whole thing feels so deeply attached to the idea of innocence and childhood, not just in the themes of the story but also the simplicity of the animation, the forest as this place of wonder and terror and Adriana Caselotti's twinkly crystal voice.
Apparently I slept through all the really scary bits the first time round... Lovely escapism.
Andy Lowe (Digital Editor)
Because it’s bleak and beautiful but also unsentimental. Because of the way it flows like a living watercolour. And because of the line, “Your mother can’t be with you anymore...”
Josh Winning (Freelance Contributor)
Yeah, yeah, girly choice, whatevs. As a kid, my main draw to this was Ursula - a cunning, bewitching foil for the titular flipper-footed heroine. She's large, in charge, and has a seriously wicked sense of humour.
Also, she gets the best song of the lot ('Poor Unfortunate Souls', replete with in-camera booby jiggle, massive kudos).
But aside from boasting the best Disney villainess this side of Cruella, The Little Mermaid is also notable for its stellar animation (check out those twinkly jewels scattered across the ocean surface), and completely adorable, not-annoying sidekicks in the form of Skuttle and Flounder.
Even now, it's the perfect hangover cure.
Jamie Graham (Deputy Editor)
It’s got the lot: unfussy, painterly animation; a joyful, jazzy score; a roster of memorable players including lovable lug Baloo, King of the Swingers Louie and two great villains (the oily voiced Shere Khan and the oily skinned Kaa); and a bittersweet ending that delivers its message with startling deftness.
I adored it as a kid and my five-year-old goddaughter – who gave a big thumb’s down to Toy Story 3 , btw! - adores it now. Timeless.
Richard Jordan (Production Assistant)
The peak of modern-age Disney boasts the catchiest songs this side of The Jungle Book, a dream voice cast (Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg…) and enduring, colourful characters.
For me though, its power lies in the stampede sequence – a breathtaking mix of stunning, CG-tinged animation, thunderous sound design and Shakespearian tragedy.
In fact, I was pretty much a wreck by the point Simba nuzzles into Mufasa’s broken, lifeless body. A masterpiece.
Kevin Harley (Freelance Contributor)
Aside from Dumbo, which scared me, it's the only one I remember seeing when I was a kid.
And it has everything: yearning in Pinocchio's longing to be a real boy, the carnivalesque clamour of Pleasure Island, the surreal terror of the boys turned into snorting donkeys by the creepy Coachman, the sinister Stromboli the showman, the trippy plunges underwater that presage Finding Nemo (and Pinocchio's absolute joy at seeing the under-sea vistas open up ahead of him).
Then there's the awful sadness of Pinocchio's near death (eat that, ET!), the body-quaking man-sobs of Geppetto and the sublime brilliance of When You Wish Upon A Star, expertly alighted on by Spielberg for Close Encounters .
Absolutely magical: no strings.
Louise Brock (Designer)
There are far too many, but I’ll go with Sleeping Beauty because it’s got a really cool angular/medieval character style and the backgrounds are highly detailed and painterly.
Maleficient is suitably evil what with turning into a dragon to fight Prince Philip, and the three good fairies changing Aurora’s dress from pink to blue always sticks in my mind.
Dan Goodswen (Digital Production Editor)
This seemed to be playing constantly on the family VHS when I was growing up. The fox Robin Hood is hands down the greatest screen incarnation of the legendary character - sorry, Errol - and everything about this film wins.
The tone, which switches from light and comedic to genuinely threatening, the anthropomorphised animals who fit so well with their characters (Sir Hiss, the snakey aristocrat to name one - as voiced by Terry Thomas!), and the trademark Disney sense of fun and adventure. Never fails to put a smile on my face just thinking about.
Nathan Ditum (Freelance Contributor)
101 Dalmatians enthralled me as a child, and as a parent is a godsend alterative to endless Princess weekends.
It's also the most sophisticated animation in the Disney locker - the first to wrench free of fairytales and lands Far Far Away to relocate in a contemporary setting, and with a red-bus-and-Regents-Park Englishness that sets it apart from the studio's typically American flavour.
The film has a rougher, sketchier style to match its lack of commercial gloss (a result of new studio animation techniques) but still delivers breathless action ( that removal truck getaway) and of course, one of cinema's all time best/worst villains in Cruella De Vil.
Jane Crowther (Associate Editor, Features)
This was the first film I ever saw at the cinema and I remember the terror of watching Snow’s scary, psychedelic wander through the dark forest in an equally dark cinema.
Though she’s a bit of wet princess, SW is still one of Disney’s prettiest heroines and her coterie of animal helpers still illicit awws and jealousy (where can I get house-cleaning birds?).
Even in these days of mo-cap and 3D malarky, the animation is superlative – clever, technicolour loveliness, creating real visual depth (especially in that forest) and promoting lumps in throat when Snow gets, well, a lump in HER throat.
Plus that queen/witch is badass, the mirror genuinely creepy and the prince rocks that blouson sleeve. Pure magic.
George Wales (Freelance Contributor)
The first Disney film I can remember being genuinely excited about as a young 'un, and for my money still boasts the best collection of songs in the entire Disney canon.
Robin Williams' genie is brilliantly OTT without making you want to boot the telly in, whilst the effects (remember the CGI Cave of Wonders?) were amongst the best on show among pre-Pixar animations.
Oh, and Iago the parrot is the best avian henchman ever committed to celluloid. Bar none.
Ceri Thomas (Freelance Contributor)
The Bear Necessities? I Wanna Be Like You? Trust In Me? Forget talking animals, singing critters trump them hands (paws?) down.
Walt and the boys turn Kipling's story into a tight buddy-buddy road movie that not only answers the searing question of just who would win in a fight between a bear and a tiger (c'mon, you've always wanted to know that one, right?), but also let a generation of small boys know that girls just couldn't be trusted (they'll always split up your gang…).
Phil Davies is brilliant as the voice of Baloo and no-one but jazz god Louis Prima could be the king of the Oran-u-tangs.
And they're not even the best voice in it. Oh no, that prize goes to the incredibly urbane George Sanders whose drawling upperclass tones make man-eating tiger Sher Khan into one of the screen's greatest baddies.
Holly Bowman (Web Manager)
There are four obvious reasons why The Lion King is brilliant: it was a visual fiesta for its time; the sound track is great; the storyline is nicked from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and; Jeremy Irons is the bad guy.
None of those matter though. The real reason is because it makes you care. It doesn’t matter that Simba is a lion and not a boy (Jungle Book) or even a deer (Bambi), his belief that he is responsible for his father’s death is unbearable.
But, Hakuna Matata, it all works out well and there are more catchy tunes.
Sarah Tully (Pictures Editor)
Watched it when I was about 3 and remember being petrified of the evil stepmother and all the crazy shadows when she would appear.
Kathryn Twyford (Production Editor)
Nothing beats this Disney take on the classic fairy tale. Great characters, memorable songs and amazing animation gets me every time.
I’m actually too excited at the prospect of its imminent DVD re-release, after all, who doesn’t love a talking candelabra with a French accent...
Simon Kinnear (Freelance Contributor)
The first in-house Disney flick to react overtly to Pixar's bar-raising drops the schmaltz in favour of irreverent verve and pace, practically a feature-length toga party.
Print the legend? Hardly: in Disney's hands, we get a delirious, tongue-in-cheek mash-up of high culture and trash aesthetics, with the ultimate mythological hero dropped into a very modern celebrity world of merchandising deals and Rocky-style training montages.
With angular, Gerald Scarfe-influenced character designs, a pop-Gospel soundtrack and a leftfield cast to rival Tarantino (an OTT, mile-a-minute James Woods as the villain? Yes please!), it's one of the most striking examples of Disney's oft-unappreciated ability to move with the times.
Matt Maytum (Freelance Contributor)
60 minutes of animated perfection. Admirably simple, it sticks to Walt's old adage that for every laugh there's got to be a tear (I defy anyone not to well up during the 'Baby Mine' sequence), and it's packed with quality songs and inventive animation, and boasts the cutest Disney hero ever.
Too many magical moments to mention from the stork's visit to the 'Pink Elephants on Parade' trip, via circus train Casey Jr.
You'll believe an elephant can fly!
James Mottram (Freelance Contributor)
Released five years before I was born, it was the first film I ever saw. At least, that's what my mother claims, who took me countless times during one of its numerous re-releases if only to satisfy her own love for the film.
But she was right: The humour was pitch perfect - not overly sentimental nor too slapstick but somewhere in between. The Kipling-inspired story was wonderful. And who can forget those songs - The Bare Necessities and I Wan'na Be Like You?
It remains - at least until Star Wars came out - the film of my childhood.
Matt Glasby (Freelance Contributor)
I guess if pushed, I'd go with Snow White And The Seven Dwarves , because it inspired the stupendous visuals of Suspiria .
Elena Goodinson (Pictures Editor)
The saturated colours of the film are ingrained in my memory. The Gothic background imagery was the creation of Eyvind Earle, who I am a big fan of.
The film is a fitting testament to the perfect 1950s palette.
Primrose Tricker (Freelance Contributor)
Being shown this film as a young child (along with the reverential treatment that everyone else gave the family cat) probably is the reason why I hold cats in high regard.
I still have a deep rooted secret desire for my cat to really play the piano, sing and dance, and solve crimes. In reality, she treats me with disdain, and spends her time sleeping and ignoring me.
Nevertheless, this is my favourite disney film, because of the catchy tunes (EVERYBODY wanted to be a cat), the clever quips ("Drunk? He's MARINATED"), and the classic drawing style (there's something Junglebook about Thomas O'Malley's face).
But above all, the best thing about this film is Uncle Waldo. The drunk goose. Genius.
Tarun Ram (Digital Designer)
Like most people of my generation, growing up I remember being captivated by the distinctly memorable drama and humour of Disney films, especially in an animation, as it gave you the feeling that this was something quite magical, and just for you.
The fact Robin Hood was regularly played on tv during xmas time, meant that watching with my family - and all enjoying it together - were the fondest memories.
Matthew Leyland (Reviews Editor)
Like all good, proper fairytales, it puts the fear of God into you; Snow White’s journey through the midnight forest may well be the scariest thing in cartoon history.
And the spiteful, jealous Queen is the greatest of all villainesses.
I also really admire the dwarves’ work ethic.
Neil Smith (Freelance Contributor)
Rumours of a Disney renaissance abounded at the end of the 80s, but at the time it seemed to me like another false dawn. That was until I saw The Little Mermaid and was swept away by its captivating mix of fantasy, comedy and romance.
Being as much a Broadway musical as a feature-length cartoon, it was entirely fitting I caught it first in New York during my first ever visit to the Big Apple. Two decades on I still get a shiver down my spine every time I hear 'Part Of Your World'.
"Bright young women, sick of swimmin', ready to staaa-nd..." Enchantment under the sea indeed.
Sam Ashurst (Deputy Digital Editor)
While it’s obviously not a patch on non-Disney animation Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron , which is obviously the greatest cartoon of all space and time, Lilo & Stitch (released in the same year as Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron ) is still quite good, as Stitch is fairly cute and it features loads of Elvis songs.
Sure, it isn’t an epic western tale told from the perspective of a non-anthropomorphised horse with more heart, soul, and, yes, spirit in its left hoof than the complete Disney back catalogue, but then what is?
Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron is.
So, Lilo & Stitch then. Brilliant.