It would be a pretty daunting task to rank every single animated Disney movie, whether it’s Disney/Pixar movies such as Up (2009) and Monsters, Inc. (2001), traditional animated Disney movies like The Little Mermaid (1989) and The Lion King (1994), or CG-animated Disney movies (known also as “3D” movies) like Tangled (2010) and Frozen (2013).
We’d love to compare every single animated Disney movie, but by the time we’re done, robots like WALL-E would be roaming the planet while the human race is living among the stars, doing nothing but watching Disney+! What we have decided to rank, however, is the most popular CG-animated Disney movies.
As hard as it may be, for now, forget the likes of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Toy Story, and every other movie in the House of Mouse’s extensive library that isn’t exclusively Disney and CG-animated!
So here are the most popular CG-animated Disney movies, ranked from worst to best…
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11. Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2
It’s always painful to place a movie we wanted to love at the bottom, but unfortunately, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (2018), which sees the return of Ralph (John C Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), while fun, is everything the original movie isn’t.
Wreck-It Ralph (2012) takes mostly obscure video games and uses them to create a unique retro world that feels inviting. Its sequel, however, while vastly innovative in its own way, goes in the opposite direction, relying on trendy Internet-related and a ton of Disney Easter eggs to impress.
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While there’s really no denying that Frozen is a Disney movie that exploded into a global pop culture phenomenon, owing thanks largely to Idina Menzel’s hideously infectious track, “Let It Go”. But one also can’t dispute the fact that, in terms of storytelling, the movie is on thin ice.
And just like thin ice, Frozen‘s attempts to cash-grab are transparent (two Disney Princesses in Elsa and Anna, and two side-kick creatures in Olaf and Sven). Frozen is a lot of fun, but to anyone who still think it’s best Disney sing-along of all time — sorry, but it’s time to let it go.
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There are many people who would argue that Dinosaur (2000) should be at the bottom of the list, even if it is a lot better than Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur (2015). But there are some positives about this Disney movie, which was bookended by Toy Story 2 (1999) and Monsters, Inc.
For many, Dinosaur is a trip down memory lane, back to a time when Disney didn’t own huge IPs like Marvel and Star Wars. With that said, those same people will probably admit that Dinosaur is essentially a carbon copy of The Land Before Time (1988), but with only half the charm.
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8. Frozen II
Having Frozen II (2019) almost as low as Frozen might seem unfair, but we don’t actually hate any movie on this list. While the story in the hugely anticipated sequel still leaves a lot to be desired, Frozen II still has more of it than its predecessor, and with a huge upgrade in animation.
The movie is also seems more interested in having fun than selling merchandise (though let it be said that this is hardly on the back of the movie’s mind). And where its title track, “Into the Unknown”, is concerned, we think Frozen II is enough to give “Let It Go” a run for its icicles.
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7. Raya and the Last Dragon
Upon its theatrical release during the pandemic, Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) was dual-released on Disney+. However, it’s easily one of the least talked-about CG-animated Disney movies, at least when compared to others on this list (perhaps that will change over time).
One of the biggest takeaways from this Disney movie is its incredible computer animation, as well as its action sequences and combat choreography, two things seldom seen in Disney movies. Kelly Marie Tran is also perfect as Raya, while Awkwafina shines as the dragon Sisu.
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Moana (2016) isn’t just a breath of fresh air because it’s set on a gorgeous tropical island and on the illuminating waters of the Pacific Ocean — while Moana is indeed a Disney Princess, there’s no love interest in this Disney movie, something that has long become a tired tradition in these films.
To save her home island from a dark power, Moana embarks on a journey across the water to return a powerful stone to its rightful place on the island of Te Fiti, and along the way she meets Maui (Dwayne Johnson). The title track, “How Far I’ll Go”, is also an underrated Disney song.
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5. Big Hero 6
Big Hero 6 (2014) follows young genius Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), who lives in the fictitious San Fransokyo. But when his brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) is mysteriously killed at a robotics expo, Hiro turns to his brother’s AI “healthcare assistant”, Baymax (Scott Adsit), for support.
Big Hero 6 is something of a cocktail of genres, reminiscent of movies from E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1980) to Marvel’s Avengers (2012). At heart, it’s a sci-fi comedy drama, but it’s also a Disney superhero movie, and one that’s as innovative as its leading character.
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To say that Frozen was lightning in a bottle is an understatement, and though it seemed unlikely that it could ever be bested by a future CG-animated Disney movie (even Frozen II didn’t reach the heights of its predecessor where global domination is concerned), along came Encanto (2021).
We know what you’re thinking — why isn’t Encanto at the top? That’s a good question, but there’s some decent competition ahead! Encanto is an explosion of music, color, and stunning animation, and its songs are among the most brilliantly written and executed in any Disney movie.
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Here’s an interesting fact — Disney originally planned on calling this movie “Rapunzel”, the name of the original Brothers Grimm tale. However, worried that the title would limit audiences to a female demographic only, the title was, at the last minute, changed to Tangled.
And thank Mickey it was! Although this Disney movie is still nowhere near as popular as others on this list, which is part of the reason why it deserves a high ranking. That, and because it’s an absurdly charming romp that evokes memories of the golden age of traditional Disney animation.
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2. Wreck-It Ralph
It might be a stretch to say, but when Wreck-It Ralph was released in theaters, we don’t think Disney had had this much with creating unique characters and exciting new worlds since the likes of Toy Story way back in the ’90s. And the animation on offer is pretty superb too!
Wreck-It Ralph might just be the most hilarious film in our ranking, and the relationship between Ralph and Vanellope, as they set about saving their world (Litwak’s Arcade), is infectious. It’s also great fun to indulge in all the many nostalgic references throughout this Disney movie.
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Zootopia follows Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), a small town rabbit who wants to make it big in the city as a detective. However, after being put on parking ticket duties, she meets crook Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), and decides to put her investigative talents to the test.
Even at surface level, you can have huge fun Zootopia — the attention to detail given to the titular city and all its different “districts” is second to none. Meanwhile, the themes of prejudice that are woven into the plot, help set this Disney movie apart from every other on this list.
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How would you rank all of these CG-animated Disney movies? Let us know in the comments below!
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