If you're as excited about the new Disney+ streaming service as we are, chances are you've probably got your list of favorite movies and series already picked out. Films like Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit are all well and good, but what about some of the unsung heroes of the Disney library?
Sure, you could hit up all the mainstream classics, but we're interested in some of the lesser-known affairs released by Walt Disney Studios. These movies aren't bad in the least, but they've kinda been cast aside due to a plethora of outside factors. If you're looking for a different taste of Disney, here are some flicks we recommend.
10 The Sword in the Stone
The last film that got Walt Disney's personal approval was this magical Arthurian adventure released in 1963. Though it had Walt's own magic touch and gave us possibly the most recognizable form of Merlin the Magician, it's not exactly been in the mainstream media for a few decades.
In this animated prequel to King Arthur, Merlin becomes the once and future king's tutor, friend, and advisor before he pulls the titular sword from the stone. With Merlin's madcap magic and Arthur's curiosity, we get a mellow medieval movie with a few laughs along the way. Underrated, under-watched, and underappreciated, definitely add this film to your watchlist.
9 Bedknobs and Broomsticks
If you enjoyed the magical charms of Mary Poppins, you'll definitely get a kick or two out of Bedknobs and Broomsticks. It's got similar Sherman Brothers tunes, a blend of live-action and animation, and definitely some stellar performances by Angela Landsbury and David Tomlinson. It's also pretty fun to see suits of armor beat up the Nazis, that alone should be worth a watch.
Though considered the poor man's Mary Poppins to some, nothing could be further from the truth. This film is charming, distinct, and wonderfully weird enough that it bears repeating. Let Miss Price put a spell on you this November.
8 The Black Cauldron
The Black Cauldron is one of those films that we just can't seem to stop talking about. It's by no means a perfect film, but, because of its reputation, use of classic fantasy elements, and its too-dark-for-Disney tone, we have to continue to bring it up. It has its flaws, yes, but when it's good, it's golden.
This film definitely earns the title of "the Disney black sheep," but that's all the more reason to watch it. Disney hasn't dared to go this dark again, though Hunchback of Notre Dame came close. If not for the plot, which is a little bananas, watch for the shock factor.
7 Oliver and Company
Where The Black Cauldron could easily be considered a product of the 70s with its Dungeons and Dragons-inspired imagery, Oliver and Company is easily a product of the 80s. From the stylistic New York City backdrop to the performances by Bette Midler, Huey Lewis, and Billy Joel, this film is simply some of the best features of the era.
It's the story of Oliver Twist with a Disney flavor, complete with talking/singing animals. It might not be the brightest jewel in Disney's crown, but who wouldn't want to see Billy Joel as a cartoon dog?
6 The Rescuers Down Under
The Rescuers was cute and definitely distinctly Disney, but its sequel is leaps and bounds better than the first. Considered the lost feature of the Disney Renaissance, this adventure in the Australian Outback is more than worthy of a watch when Bernard and Miss Bianca's travels take them to rescue a little boy protecting a golden eagle from a devious poacher.
With its gorgeous, sweeping views, beautifully-drawn traditional animation, and a criminally underrated performance from George C. Scott as the evil McLeach, there's a lot to love. If the original Rescuers left you a little high and dry, this is definitely a breath of fresh air.
5 Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin
If you only see one Winnie the Pooh flick in your entire life, make it this one. This isn't your average trip to the Hundred Acre Wood though. Pooh's Grand Adventure is probably the darkest and most dramatic outing in the bear's filmography. We know that all sounds a bit silly, but we know what we're talking about.
We see Pooh, Tigger, and company take on a treacherous quest out of the wood to search for a missing Christopher Robin. They cross thorn-infested forests, jagged mountain peaks, and dangerous chasms all while on the run from the Skullasaurus. Trust us, this movie will definitely hit you right in the feels and awaken your sense of adventure.
4 Muppet Treasure Island
Easily one of the best films in the Muppets collection, but not because of the antics of Kermit, Gonzo, or Miss Piggy. In fact, the star of this swashbuckling adventure isn't a Muppet at all, but the one and only Tim Curry.
Tim Curry definitely outshines every one of his fur and felt-clad cast members, and we love every minute. The man was just born to be a professional pirate. That all being said, the Muppets do still do their A+ material in every scene in this adaptation of Stevenson's work. Forget the Muppet Christmas Carol, this is where they all truly shine.
3 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Essentially Disney's answer to the Lord of the Rings series, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe has got everything fans of both C.S. Lewis's and high fantasy, in general, could ever want. It has swords, sorcery, and a divine lion king, what more do you need for your fantasy epic?
Where Tolkien's world was grand, epic, and enormous, Lewis's Narnia is enchanting, charming, and bright, and Disney's adaptation gives us that in spades. There's more than enough to love about this first entry into the studio's Narnia trilogy, and we'll always recommend another trip through the Wardrobe.
2 Fantasia 2000
The original Fantasia was nothing short of creative genius. The beautiful blend of animation and music resulted in what many consider one of Disney's greatest films. The sequel, though not bad by any means, just kinda came and went. True, some of the music and designs can be found in Disney properties today, but can anyone really identify the sequences outside of Sorcerer Mickey?
At times, the visuals and music surpass the ones in the original (who really remembers "Tocatta En Fuge?), and the interaction with the hosts are very engaging. Fantasia 2000 isn't a sequel, it's an equal to its predecessor, and it desperately deserves a second chance.
1 Atlantis: The Lost Empire
We've already dedicated a full article to this criminally underrated and underappreciated masterpiece, so we'll just give you the Cliff Notes here. Atlantis is Disney's steampunk/sci-fi adventure that would make Jules Verne beam with pride. Take a team of rag-tag adventurers and a beautiful lost city and mix it with some Disney magic, you've got a classic on your hands.
This film definitely needed more love than it received when it first premiered in 2001. It's one of those rare gems that satisfies both kid and adult audiences. If you're subscribing to Disney+, be sure this is one of the first films on your list.