Top 10 Disney Box Office Animated Hits

Whether it’s a rainy day, a sunny day, a snow day or any day in between, there’s no wrong day to watch a Disney film—and there are scores to choose from. Since 1937 when Walt Disney Studios released its first full-length animated feature until today, Disney has regularly produced and released films of all kinds. There are classics that Walt had a hand in like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the “Renaissance” Disney films produced in the late 20th century like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast and the most recent films Disney has released with PIXAR Animation Studios, such as Incredibles 2. No matter which Disney film you choose to enjoy, you’re sure to love it, especially if you’re a Disney fanatic. And you’re in good company. Disney only makes great films, and those films in turn do very well at the box office. Here are the top 10 Disney box office animated films, based on worldwide gross revenue.


10. Monsters University, 2013

This 2013 prequel to Monsters, Inc. gives us a look into the collegiate lives of Mike, Sulley and Randall, and Disney and PIXAR fans paid a conglomerate pretty penny to get that glimpse. The movie had a worldwide gross of over $744 million. The trio of monsters have made it to the Monsters University School of Scaring, but only the scariest get to stay. A no-nonsense headmaster, Dean Hardscrabble, has no use for monsters who aren’t scary; after all, she’s a legendary scarer in her own right. The movie is full of chaos, challenges, frat life and Mike and Sulley’s plight to stay in the School of Scaring. They are ultimately dismissed, however, and we finally learn how they got their start at Monsters, Incorporated.

9. Coco, 2017

One of the latest Disney/PIXAR releases—and PIXAR’s 19th feature film—is Coco, which hit theaters around Thanksgiving 2017. The film follows the story of 12-year-old Miguel Rivera who—despite his family’s warnings—wants to pursue a musical career. Through a series of events, Miguel discovers he is related to the late famous singer Ernesto de la Cruz. Miguel accidentally enters the World of the Dead and meets many of his ancestors, including a trickster named Hector. It’s Miguel’s persistence in pursuing music and looking into his heritage that leads him to finally solve a mystery that has plagued the family for years and years. Things and people were not as they were thought to be, and it’s a beautiful surprise. Coco did very well at the box office, grossing over $807 million, making it Disney’s ninth highest-grossing animated film to date.

8. Inside Out, 2015

Grossing over $857 million worldwide, Disney/PIXAR’s Inside Out tells the story of Riley—an adolescent in the middle of a big move thanks to her father’s employment. She’s in a new house and a new school, both of which present new emotions and challenges for the 11-year-old girl. We are able to see into Riley’s mind, affectionately referred to as “Headquarters” by its regular tenants—the emotions of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear. Brilliantly written, the film allows us to also see into the deepest recesses of Riley’s mind where her long-term memory stores different colored balls that represent individual memories. The five emotions must work together to preserve Riley’s good memories and help her work through her current challenges.


7. Finding Nemo, 2003

Little Nemo is the only one of Marlin the clownfish’s offspring that wasn’t killed in an attack by a predator. Because of this, Nemo’s father is extremely protective of his son and rarely lets him try new things or approach new opportunities by himself, for fear of something happening to him. This creates a rebellious and defiant spirit in Nemo that lands Nemo in the hands of scuba divers. For the larger part of the film, Marlin searches for Nemo with the help of a very forgetful blue tang fish named Dory. Together Dory and Marlin face challenges and predators in their quest to find Nemo. Luckily, Nemo is found, but we won’t tell you how if you’re one of the few Disney fans who hasn’t yet seen the film. (There weren’t too many who didn’t see it, as evidenced by its worldwide gross of over $940 million!)

6. The Lion King, 1994

Disney’s The Lion King was a wildly successful film—grossing over $968 million—and long before computer animation was widely used. The 2-D animated The Lion King tells the story of Simba and his journey to take his rightful place as King, after his father is killed. It’s not an easy journey, as his Uncle Scar frames him for the killing of his father Mufasa. Simba exiles himself from the pride, wrongly believing for years that he was the cause of his father’s death. But when he’s an adult, he learns the truth about Scar and he is determined to honor his father by taking his place as King of the pride.

5. Zootopia, 2016

As Disney films go, Zootopia has less of a “Disney feel” to it—it seems to stand alone, but that didn’t keep fans from buying movie tickets—lots of them—to the tune of a worldwide gross of $1.023 billion. It’s a great story about a bunny named Judy Hopps who grows up, bound and determined to one day become a police officer. She is surrounded by nay-sayers, including her parents because it’s just simply never been done before. But Judy defies the odds and her nay-sayers’ predictions and graduates from the Police Academy, only to be given the job of meter maid. Judy comes across a slick and clever fox named Nick Wilde, who is able to pull the wool over her eyes. But through a series of events, the two become sleuths in a mystery that is plaguing the city of Zootopia.

4. Finding Dory, 2016

The year 2016 was a good one for Disney and PIXAR, as both of its major releases that year grossed over $1.02 billion. Finding Dory is a spin-off from the 2003 Finding Nemo, in which we learn about Dory as a child and how her short-term memory loss affected her long before she met Marlin and joined him on an adventure in search of Nemo. We are introduced to Dory’s parents, a beluga whale named Bailey who is sure his sonar skills aren’t working properly, a loon bird named Becky who has trouble following through with plans and an octopus—excuse me, septopus—named Hank who is an expert in camouflaging and helps Dory to make her ultimate escape from the Marine Life Institute. (His backstory involves the loss of a tentacle.)

3. Toy Story 3, 2010

The third installment of the Toy Story franchise grossed a cool $1.067 billion, making it the third highest-grossing Disney animated film so far. In this film, Andy is all grown up—and packing up for his move to college. Mom asks Andy to sort through things in his room and make a “keep” bag and a “trash” bag. The keepers include Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Rex, Hamm, Slinky and the Potato Heads, among others, but a switcheroo lands the toys in a trash bag on the street on trash day—unbeknownst to Andy. Luckily, the toys escape, but only from the frying pan to the fire as they end up in a donations box that is taken to the local daycare. Sunnyside Daycare is far from sunny, however, and the toys are soon faced with a bitter teddy bear named Lotso-Huggin’ Bear. He smells like strawberries, but his plans reek of evil and the toys’ demise. All hope is not lost, however, and the toys are able to escape—with Woody’s help. The story ends with Andy passing along his beloved toys to a little girl named Bonnie who he’s sure will love them just as much as he did. (I still cry at that ending every time—darn you, PIXAR!)

2. Incredibles 2, 2018

The Parrs are back for the long-awaited sequel to Disney/PIXAR’s 2004 The Incredibles. The new superheroes film was released in June 2018, and in just two short months, it has grossed $1.12 billion worldwide, $183 million on its opening weekend! Bob and Helen Parr and their children Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack look like a normal suburban family, but they’re anything but normal—Bob has superhuman strength, Helen can stretch herself to almost paper-thin, Violet can project dome-shaped protective shields over people, and Dash can run faster than any other human. And in Incredibles 2, we discover just how varied Baby Jack-Jack’s powers are. He can multiply himself, burst into flames, float through walls and more. And if you thought the evil Syndrome from The Incredibles was a force to be reckoned with, hang on to your seats for the Incredibles’ newest nemesis, the Screenslaver, who seeks to turn the public against supers once again. Helen Parr is chosen by a brother-sister duo from DevTech for a project to re-introduce supers to society and win them over for good. Helen returns to her role as Elastigirl, and Bob is left to play the role of Mr. Mom. It’s only later in the film that we learn the true identity(ies) of the Screenslaver and the evil mastermind behind him.

1. Frozen, 2013

Disney’s adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen is the world’s highest grossing animated film of all time—for Disney and for animation overall. Frozen follows the story of the royal duo, Queen Elsa and her sister Princess Anna, from the kingdom of Arendelle. But the queen has a terrible secret—anything she touches turns to ice. She does her best to keep her secret hidden, but at her coronation, she accidentally releases her powers after a disagreement with her sister Anna about her hasty plans to marry a stranger. Rather than face the music in Arendelle, Queen Elsa takes off for the North Mountain, where she constructs a palace of ice with her unwanted powers, and Anna follows, hoping to talk Elsa into coming back. Along the way, Anna meets a handsome ice harvester Kristoff and a lovable snowman named Olaf that she knows she’s met somewhere before. A series of events takes place, and Anna is told that only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart (Elsa’s). The story is written very well, and the animation is fabulous. No wonder it’s the highest grossing animated film in history!

About Rebekah Tyndall Burkett

Rebekah grew up in Forney, Texas and lives just outside of Dallas. She’s been a Disney superfan since childhood, experiencing the magic at Walt Disney World for the first time at the age of 11. Journeys to Neverland are at least a yearly occurrence for her, her husband and her four children (the Fab Four). When they go to the parks, they stay in Florida for three weeks at a time. Rebekah loves exploring the history of the parks, the genius behind the Magic in the person of Walt Disney, and she is intrigued by all things Disney World and Disney Imagineering. When in the parks, Rebekah and her husband Scott make the most of their time by enjoying every minute with their Fab Four, by delving deeper into Walt’s vision for the parks and into the history behind the Walt Disney World Resort, and by photographing the many different types of architecture at Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and on the World Showcase at EPCOT. When she’s not in the parks, Rebekah is excitedly setting travel dates and planning her family’s next adventure to their happy place deep within the Sunshine State. On breaks from planning her next trip, Rebekah is a writer, journalist and children’s author, penning children’s books about kids with special needs that she affectionately calls “believement-achievement” stories. Her hobbies include creative writing, paper crafting and interviewing Imagineers. She is also an advocate for Autism Awareness and for children with developmental disabilities of all kinds.