Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus

Of all the companies to enter the streaming wars, Disney has perhaps the greatest built-in advantage with Disney Plus. It can draw from a deep vault of its own animated and live-action movies and from popular shows on its own cable networks. It can cherry-pick selections from company properties like Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and 21st Century Fox. And that’s not counting the platform’s original TV shows and movies, like the Star Wars series “The Mandalorian” and the new live-action version of “Lady and the Tramp.”

That’s a lot of material — nearly 500 films and 7,500 TV episodes at the time of its debut. Below is our regularly updated guide to the 50 best titles on Disney Plus, arranged in reverse chronological order with an eye toward variety. As the service continues to build its catalog, this list will change too.


Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Pedro Pascal in “The Mandalorian.” Lucasfilm/Disney

‘The Mandalorian’ (2019-present)

Created by Jon Favreau, who kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe with “Iron Man,” “The Mandalorian” is by far the biggest production in Disney Plus’s launch slate. It’s an eight-episode “Star Wars” series that strikes out to a galaxy far, far away from the movies. Opening five years after the events of “Return of the Jedi” and 25 years before the emergence of a new generation of heroes in “The Force Awakens,” the show is a space western that focuses on a Clint Eastwood-like bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) with no clear allegiances. Screeners weren’t made available to journalists in advance, but the details alone make the series well worth checking out. Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, Gina Carano and Giancarlo Esposito are among the eclectic cast.

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Mickey Mouse, as seen in the series “The Imagineering Story.” Disney

‘The Imagineering Story’ (2019-present)

A six-episode, six-hour documentary series about the Disney theme parks may sound like a stealth advertisement or a shameless bask in the company’s own innovations. While “The Imagineering Story” isn’t innocent of either of those charges — making the current chief executive, Bob Iger, the first talking head isn’t a promising start — the series has the space to go deep into the history of Disneyland, Disney World and all the associated parks and to acknowledge the artisans and engineers who keep them beautiful and on the technological cutting edge.

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
From left, foreground, Frankie A. Rodriguez, Sofia Wylie and Lauryn Carino in a scene from “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” Fred Hayes/Disney

‘High School Musical: The
Musical: The Series’ (2019-present)

Disney has been raiding its intellectual property for sure-fire winners lately, including many of the launch titles on Disney Plus, but nothing beats the cannibalization of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” which cleverly updates the original Disney property by pushing it into the Hall of Mirrors. In East High, the same Albuquerque school where Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens first batted eyes, a new generation of students puts on its own production of “High School Musical” while replicating much of the kid-friendly bonding and romantic comedy behind the scenes.

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from the Pixar series “SparkShorts” Pixar

‘SparkShorts’ (2018-present)

Produced under limited budgets and a six-month time frame, this series of Pixar shorts was devised as an outlet for individual animators to develop themes and techniques that might be out of place in the company’s features. Many of the first six are wordless and sentimental, like “Float,” about a child who can fly, or “Kitbull,” about the bond between a stray cat and a mistreated dog. Others are message-heavy, like “Purl,” an allegory about a feminine ball of yarn in a male-dominated office. All have a distinct personal touch.

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from “Gravity Falls.” Disney

‘Gravity Falls’ (2012-16)

Crossing the leisure-time sibling dynamic of “Phineas and Ferb” with a much smarter version of the comic mysteries of “Scooby Doo,” this lively and sweet animated series is about Dipper and Mabel Pines, 12-year-old twins who are shipped away to the middle of Oregon to live with their crazy “Grunkle” Stan. Stan runs a beaten-down tourist trap called the “Mystery Shack,” which becomes the nexus of supernatural happenings. Voiced by Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal, the twins have a winning banter that’s underscored by real affection.

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from “Phineas and Ferb.” Disney

‘Phineas and Ferb’ (2007-15)

“There’s 104 days of summer vacation,” starts the theme song to this endlessly clever animated series, and two stepbrothers — the motor-mouthed Phineas and the deadpan Ferb — fill that time with crazy backyard inventions and globetrotting standoffs against their nemesis, Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz … all while their sister tries desperately to tell on them. Meanwhile, their pet platypus, Perry, has a double life as a spy. “Phineas and Ferb” is an ideal gateway for younger children into fast-paced, absurdist comedy. Our critic wrote, “‘Phineas’ spoofs everything, but with such skill that it seems smart, not cheap.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from “Kim Possible.” Disney

‘Kim Possible’ (2002-07)

The concept for this witty animated series is a James Bond twist on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”: What if a teenage girl devoted her unique physical gifts toward fighting evil while also dealing with the pressures of high school? Here, Kim gets some help from her less-competent best friend, Ron Stoppable; his naked mole rat, Rufus; and Wade, a 10-year-old computer genius. But mostly she faces the mad scientist Dr. Drakken and other supervillains on her own. She is also humbled by the more typical headaches of being an adolescent.

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from “X-Men: The Animated Series.” Marvel

‘X-Men: The Animated Series’ (1992-97)

Even by the modest standards of Saturday morning cartoons, the ‘90s animated “X-Men” is often rudimentary, but that crudeness masks a surprisingly ambitious treatment of the Marvel heroes, including several multipart episodes that took on the comics’ most talked-about story arcs. Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Beast, Magneto, Professor X and other characters cycle in and out of the series, which makes room for the apocalyptic time-hopping of “Days of Future Past” and a third season heavily devoted to the Phoenix and Dark Phoenix sagas.

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A promotional image from “The Simpsons.” Fox

‘The Simpsons’ (1989-present)

Let’s face it: Of the 31 (and counting) seasons of “The Simpsons,” only about the first nine are any good, but that legendary run had such a cultural impact that quotes from and references to it have become a linguistic shorthand. The creator Matt Groening and his animators conceived the Simpsons and the town of Springfield as an endlessly elastic source of colorful characters and sharp jibes about American families, institutions and values. Our critic called its animation “ingenious” and its scripts “consistently inventive.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from “Duck Tales.” Disney

‘DuckTales’ (1987-90, 2018-present)

The original four-season run of “DuckTales,” totaling more than 100 episodes, expanded on a corner of Carl Banks’s duck universe by focusing on the treasure-hunting and hoarding exploits of Scrooge McDuck and three grandnephews — Huey, Dewey and Louie — who come under his care while Donald Duck fights for the United States Navy. A gallery of colorful villains, like Flintheart Glomgold and Magica De Spell, are constantly after Scrooge’s fortune, particularly the Number One Dime that started it all. Both the original and the new “DuckTales” have rambunctious energy to spare.


Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from “Lady and the Tramp.” Disney

‘Lady and the Tramp’ (2019)

The new live-action version of “Lady and the Tramp” sticks closely to the 1955 version — dubious elements like the Siamese cat song excepted — and replaces the cartoon dogs with C.G.I.-assisted real dogs. The transition isn’t seamless, and the film’s racial blind spots are conspicuous, but the production values are high, and the star-crossed romance between a pampered cocker spaniel (Tessa Thompson) and a streetwise Schnauzer (Justin Theroux) is still irresistible. It also sets the level for Disney Plus original movies: not quite good enough for theaters, but better than straight-to-video.

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Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Alex Honnold in the documentary “Free Solo.” Jimmy Chin/National Geographic

‘Free Solo’ (2018)

Daredevils among daredevils, free solo climbers scale rock faces without the aid of a rope, so any false step or slip of the fingers means certain death. “Free Solo” documents the astounding effort of the world-class climber Alex Honnold to top the granite monolith El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, a feat that requires a rare combination of heedless courage and meticulous planning. Jeannette Catsoulis called the documentary “an easy sell to extreme sports enthusiasts.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Madina Nalwanga and Lupita Nyong’o in “Queen of Katwe.” Edward Echwalu/Disney

‘Queen of Katwe’ (2016)

Disney live-action films don’t exactly have a tradition of gritty realism, but with “Queen of Katwe,” the director Mira Nair scrapes some of the gloss off the rousing true story of a Ugandan girl whose prodigious gifts as a chess player allow her to see the world beyond a Kampala slum. By taking the time to detail the day-to-day struggles of a desperately poor family, Nair adds power to the girl’s efforts to maneuver around the board. If “Hoosiers” made you cry, predicted A.O. Scott, “‘Queen of Katwe’ will wreck you.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Oona Laurence, left, and Oakes Fegley in “Pete’s Dragon.” Disney

‘Pete’s Dragon’ (2016)

The goofy 1977 musical comedy turns into a sincere drama about an orphaned wild child (Oakes Fegley) who befriends a big green dragon in the Pacific Northwest. By playing this story completely straight, the director David Lowery links an earnest environmental message to a touching affirmation of family. Reviews were mostly kind, though our critic found it “sentimental.

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
The Big Friendly Giant (voiced by Mark Rylance) and Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) in “The BFG,” directed by Steven Spielberg. Disney

‘The BFG’ (2016)

Working from an old script by Melissa Mathison, who wrote his “E.T.,” the director Steven Spielberg appeals in his first Roald Dahl adaptation to a much younger set with this effect-laden story of an orphan (Ruby Barnhill) who befriends a lonely, put-upon giant, voiced by Mark Rylance. The sweetness of their relationship balances out the lowbrow silliness of the green, blasting farts the giant dubs “whizpoppers,” which not even a meeting with the Queen can suppress. A.O. Scott called it “a small, friendly movie” and singled out Rylance’s “unique blend of gravity and mischief.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Joy and Sadness in a scene from “Inside Out.” Disney/Pixar

‘Inside Out’ (2015)

When an 11-year-old girl moves to San Francisco from the Midwest, the personified emotions that control her mind — Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) — go haywire. Ranking near the top of Pixar tearjerkers, “Inside Out” is about how children develop into complex emotional beings and the important role that melancholy plays in making it happen. A.O. Scott called it “an absolute delight—funny and charming, fast-moving and full of surprises.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Paul Rudd in “Ant-Man.” Zade Rosenthal/Disney

‘Ant-Man’ (2015)

Though it arrived 12 films deep into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Ant-Man” didn’t get integrated into the larger story until later, a delay that allowed this feather-light action-comedy to play in its own space. As an engineer who reluctantly suits up to save the world, Paul Rudd has a low-key comic style that underscores the modesty of a superhero who rises to the occasion by shrinking to near-microscopic dimensions. They were perhaps too modest for A.O. Scott, who called it “a passable piece of drone work.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
From second left, Diane Lane, Nelsan Ellis, Otto Thorwarth and John Malkovich in “Secretariat.” John Bramley/Walt Disney Pictures

‘Secretariat’ (2010)

Disney’s answer to “Seabiscuit” hews closer to its inspirational sports-movie formula, but the historical record gives it a boost because Secretariat, one of the most storied racehorses of all time, won the Triple Crown after a 25-year drought. Diane Lane and John Malkovich make an appealing odd couple as a naive-but-determined Denver housewife and an eccentric French-Canadian trainer who stake their shaky reputations on a promising colt that takes a wayward route to glory. Our critic Manohla Dargis called it “a gauzy, gooey, turf-pounding, Bible-thumping tribute.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Tiana and Prince Naveen in a scene from “The Princess and the Frog.” Disney

‘The Princess and the Frog’ (2009)

“The Princess and the Frog” represented two milestones at once: a brief return to the gorgeous hand-drawn style of classic Disney and the studio’s first animated feature with an African-American princess. With catchy original songs and a teeming gumbo of New Orleans cuisine, music and mythology, the film ties the aspirational story of a waitress who dreams of starting her own restaurant to the fairy tale of a frog in need of a smooch. Manohla Dargis called the film “gorgeously animated,” even if it “strenuously avoids” issues of race.

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Sam Worthington, left, and Zoe Saldana in “Avatar.” 20th Century Fox

‘Avatar’ (2009)

Made at the height of the 3D boom, James Cameron’s sci-fi-action spectacle so thoroughly immersed audiences in the aquamarine verdancy of Pandora, a resource-rich planet, that it became the biggest box-office attraction in history until the “Avengers: Endgame” overtook it. Cameron’s story about a human invasion of this psychedelic utopia may not hold up as well on smaller 2D screens, but its mix-and-match of elements from films like “Aliens” and “Titanic” makes it a compelling all-ages primer for his other work. Manohla Dargis admired its “meticulous and beautifully colored alien world.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from “Wall-E.” Disney/Pixar

‘Wall-E’ (2008)

The first third of “Wall-E” is a high watermark for Pixar, quietly and wondrously detailing the solitary life of the only trash-compacting robot left on an uninhabitable future Earth. The film doesn’t drop off much, either, when the robot befriends a sleeker android sent to the planet to search for signs of life — and perhaps hope for surviving humans to return home. “We’ve grown accustomed to expecting surprises from Pixar,” wrote A.O. Scott, “but ‘Wall-E’ surely breaks new ground.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Robert Downey Jr. in “Iron Man.” Zade Rosenthal/Paramount Pictures

‘Iron Man’ (2008)

The Big Bang event that started the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Iron Man” established the template for more than 20 superhero movies and counting. But it owes much of its success to Robert Downey Jr.’s performance as Tony Stark, an arrogant military contractor who turns himself into the most advanced weapon in creation. While later Marvel movies were burdened by mythological baggage, “Iron Man” still feels as sleek and fleet as the superhero himself. A.O. Scott called it “an unusually good superhero picture.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from “Ratatouille.” Disney/Pixar

‘Ratatouille’ (2007)

Riding high off a nonstop run of hits after “Toy Story,” Pixar gambled on the almost perversely unappealing premise of a Parisian rat with a passion for finessing haute cuisine. But “Ratatouille” pays off in the fast-paced kitchen slapstick of a rodent on the loose, a sensual appreciation for food and a rousing message about pursuing your dreams, no matter your seeming limitations. A.O. Scott called it “a nearly flawless piece of popular art.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Kurt Russell, center, in a scene from “Miracle,” based on the true story of the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team. Chris Large/Walt Disney Pictures

‘Miracle’ (2004)

The Disney vault is overloaded with inspirational sports movies, including one where a mule kicks field goals, but “Miracle” stands out as the rare example of real life conforming to feel-good formula. Kurt Russell has the perfect raggedy energy as Herb Brooks, the hockey coach who led an overmatched assemblage of college all-stars to the gold medal over a fearsome Soviet Union squad at the 1980 Winter Olympics. Our critic called the storytelling “rote” but praised Russell’s “cagey and remote performance.”

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Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Lewis McGibbon, left, and Alex Etel in a scene from ‘‘Millions.’’ Giles Keyte/Fox Searchlight Pictures

‘Millions’ (2005)

When a duffel bag full of ill-gotten loot drops from a high-speed train, a motherless 7-year-old boy sees it as a gift from God, but his older brother has other ideas. Director Danny Boyle brings the pop energy of films like “Trainspotting” to a children’s fantasy that’s full of whimsy — yet serious about the religious and ethical issues that money can raise, even among the young and naive. Manohla Dargis found it “unexpectedly moving” while also praising its “infectious sense of fun.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from “The Emperor’s New Groove.” Disney

‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ (2000)

Because of a troubled production and disappointing returns, “The Emperor’s New Groove” was considered a rare misstep in the Disney animation renaissance of the ’90s and early ’00s. But this fleet, anarchic, hilarious buddy comedy about a self-absorbed king turned llama (David Spade) and a humble peasant (John Goodman) is a chance to see what Disney animators could do if they were allowed to channel the manic energy of their Warner Brothers peers. Our critic admired its “cheeky effervescence and spunk.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) and Woody (Tom Hanks) in a scene from “Toy Story.” Disney

‘Toy Story’ (1995)

The first feature-length Pixar movie was also the first entirely computer-animated feature, representing an evolutionary leap for Disney on par with “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” The sequels would add a more emotional component, but the original “Toy Story” may be the funniest and most fast-paced, scoring jokes off the interplay and adventures of Woody, Buzz and other toys that come to life when they’re not being watched. Our critic called it “the sweetest and savviest film” of 1995.

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Touchstone Pictures

‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993)

Tim Burton’s reputation as an eccentric with strong commercial instincts is borne out in a stop-motion musical fantasy that lays claim to Halloween and Christmas at the same time. Joining the galley of misunderstood weirdos in Burton’s filmography, Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon) is the “Pumpkin King” of Halloween Town, but after discovering a forest portal to Christmas Town, he plots a spooky holiday takeover. Our critic called this offbeat, disarming gem a “delectably ghoulish fairy tale.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Billy Campbell in The Rocketeer.  Disney

‘The Rocketeer’ (1991)

Though it flopped at a time when superhero movies were neither common nor a sure thing, “The Rocketeer” is crackerjack entertainment, a pulpy retro adventure about the F.B.I. and the Nazis fighting over a Howard Hughes invention in 1938 Los Angeles. Bill Campbell plays a go-getting stunt pilot who stumbles upon a jetpack that transforms him into a self-styled hero but makes him a wanted man. Our critic found the overall effect merely “benign,” but conceded that it’s a “bustling, visually clever film.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from “Beauty and the Beast.” Disney

‘Beauty and the Beast’ (1991)

The renaissance of Disney animation that started with “The Little Mermaid” peaked with this romance between the book-smart Belle and the tempestuous Beast, a former prince who holds her captive in his enchanted castle until the curse that turned him into a monster is broken. The technical and artistic contributions are first-rate all around, none greater than the songs by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, which include “Be Our Guest” and the title number. Our critic praised its combination of “the latest computer animation techniques with the best of Broadway.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Bob Hoskins with Roger Rabbit, as voiced by Charles Fleischer in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” Disney

‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ (1988)

Walt Disney Studios had experimented with live-action-animation hybrids for decades before “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” but it never achieved anything close to the fluidity and sophistication of Robert Zemeckis’s one-of-a-kind noir. Through the story of a hard-boiled private detective (Bob Hoskins) who helps a cartoon rabbit on a murder rap, the film pays homage to Disney and Warner Brothers animation while delivering an all-ages “Chinatown.” Its best moments, our critic wrote, “are so novel, so deliriously funny and so crazily unexpected that they truly must be seen to be believed.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Fairuza Balk in “Return to Oz.” – Buena Vista, via Everett Collection

‘Return to Oz’ (1985)

Disney would come to regret making a sequel to perhaps the greatest children’s film ever made, but Walter Murch’s “Return to Oz” has picked up a deserved cult following over the years for its half-wondrous, half-nightmarish reading of L. Frank Baum’s Oz novels. This time, Dorothy (Fairuza Balk) goes back to a far less enchanting place, with the Yellow Brick Road and the Emerald City in ruins, her old friends turned to stone and the land patrolled by people with wheels instead of hands and feet. Our critic warned that “children are sure to be startled by [its] bleakness.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Meredith Salenger and John Cusack in “The Journey of Natty Gann.” Buena Vista Pictures

‘The Journey of Natty Gann’ (1986)

A fascinating anomaly among both Disney live-action movies and ’80s commercial cinema in general, “The Journey of Natty Gann” evokes the hardships of the Great Depression in impressive detail as it follows a tomboy (Meredith Salenger) who rides the rails cross-country to reunite with her father. Along the way, she finds kinship with an abandoned wolfdog and befriends a fellow traveler, played by a young John Cusack. Our critic had a muted response, calling it “enjoyable but rather slow.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Joey Cramer in “Flight of the Navigator.” Buena Vista Pictures, via Everett Collection

‘Flight of the Navigator’ (1985)

A 12-year-old Florida boy (Joey Cramer) falls down a ravine, gets knocked unconscious and wakes up to discover that eight years have passed. And that’s only the beginning of a strange journey that jettisons him through outer space aboard a chatty alien ship. “Flight of the Navigator” attempts a lighter play on Steven Spielberg fantasies like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “E.T.,” making family fun out of a personal cosmic quest. Our critic called it “constant fun” and speculated that it “may well be the best family film around.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from “Tron.” Buena Vista

‘Tron’ (1982)

What did the future look like in 1982? Not many people cared to find out at the time, but this Disney science-fiction-adventure has endured as a cult favorite and technological curio, presaging inside-the-grid scenarios like “The Matrix.” It also provides a jaundiced look at corporate-controlled tech realms, pitting a computer engineer (Jeff Bridges) against the Master Control Program in a virtual environment. Our critic Janet Maslin praised its “nonstop parade of stunning computer graphics,” even if they weren’t accompanied by more “old-fashioned virtues.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
From left, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford in a scene from “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.” Lucasfilm

‘Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back’ (1980)

The best of the original “Star Wars” trilogy — and maybe the best of the franchise, period — “The Empire Strikes Back” irons out some of the awkwardnesses of George Lucas’s first “Star Wars” and amplifies the spectacle and emotional stakes. This is the film with the AT-AT walkers, Cloud City and Lando Calrissian, and a light-saber duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader that hands the Rebel Alliance a necessary setback. Our critic was less impressed, calling it “as personal as a Christmas card from the bank.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Kermit the Frog in “The Muppet Movie.” Henson Associates

‘The Muppet Movie’ (1979)

In the first of what turned out to be many big-screen adventures, Jim Henson’s beloved puppet creations are showcased in a cheerfully ramshackle road movie that doubles as an origin story. Starting in a Florida swamp, where Kermit the Frog sings “Rainbow Connection,” and ending in Hollywood, the film picks up key members of its supporting cast along the way, including Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and other favorites. Our critic believed the film “demonstrates once again that there’s always room in movies for unbridled amiability when it’s governed by intelligence and wit.”

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Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from “The Love Bug.” Disney, via Everett Collection

‘The Love Bug’ (1969)

With its compact, rounded body and saucer-eye headlights, the Volkswagen Beetle was born to be anthropomorphized, and “The Love Bug” cleverly reworks the boy-and-his-dog formula to accommodate a down-on-his-luck driver (Dean Jones) and a loyal, mischievous pup on wheels named “Herbie.” The car does it all: posts improbable comeback wins on the racing circuit, plays matchmaker for its owner and spits oil on the bad guy’s shoes. Our critic called it “a long, sentimental Volkswagen commercial,” but Herbie rode four more times.

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music.” 20th Century Fox

‘The Sound of Music’ (1965)

A year after “Mary Poppins,” Julie Andrews’s ebullience proved even more crucial in boosting the three-hour adaptation of this Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, which sets a bright songbook against the grim backdrop of Nazi-occupied Austria. Andrews plays another maternal-figure-for-hire, a struggling nun who leaves the convent when a widower (Christopher Plummer) asks her to look after his seven children. Memorable songs like “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi” and the title number help her do it. Our critic didn’t care for the Broadway hit, but admired Andrews’s “air of radiant vigor.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Julie Andrews in “Mary Poppins.” Disney

‘Mary Poppins’ (1964)

In this boisterous musical, Julie Andrews descends from the sky to bring discipline and magic to two spoiled English schoolchildren — and she did the same for a studio that had struggled to make live-action fare on par with its animated classics. With a twinkle in her eye, Andrews’s nanny leads the children through chores with “A Spoonful of Sugar” and more whimsical numbers like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Feed the Birds.” Citing the legacy of P.L. Travers’s original novel, our critic praised it as “a most wonderful, cheering movie.

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Hayley Mills playing twins in “The Parent Trap.” Disney

‘The Parent Trap’ (1961)

Set aside the implausibility — and cruelty — of divorced parents’ including identical twins among the assets they divide, and “The Parent Trap” is a delightful screwball comedy, with Hayley Mills playing 13-year-old twins who meet for the first time in summer camp. The two decide to switch parents in a crazy scheme to bring their mother and father back together, assuming that they never remarried because they still love each other. Our critic admired Mills’s “cheerfully persuasive lead performance.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from “Sleeping Beauty.” Disney

‘Sleeping Beauty’ (1959)

Photographed in Super Technirama 70, “Sleeping Beauty” is notable especially for eye-catching color and spectacle that sprawls across its widescreen frame — particularly during a climax when a prince confronts a hedge of thorns and a fire-breathing dragon. Yet it’s just as elegant when Princess Aurora, cursed to eternal slumber by the vengeful Maleficent, dances to “Once Upon a Dream” against a lovely forest backdrop. Our critic encouraged readers to see it on a large screen to appreciate its “gorgeous and stirring vistas.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
A scene from “Perri.” Disney

‘Perri’ (1957)

Part of Disney’s “True-Life Adventures” series, “Perri” builds a semi-documentary framework around a novel by Felix Salten, who also provided the source material for “Bambi.” Much like its animated counterpart, the film emphasizes the beauty and terror of nature in equal measure, following a vulnerable young pine squirrel as it evades predators, meets a mate and makes its way through an idyllic patch of Technicolor forest. Our critic admired “the extremely adroit easing of actual incidents into the story flow.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Kevin Corcoran in “Old Yeller.” Disney, via Everett Collection

‘Old Yeller’ (1957)

The gold standard of all boy-and-his-dog movies, “Old Yeller” once seemed like a rite of passage for children who learn to understand that they’ll inevitably outlive the pets that they love — even if the experience might not be this heartbreaking. Before its devastating ending, the film details the bond between a teenager and a stray yellow dog on a 19th-century Texas homestead, where nature offers opportunities for adventure and self-sacrifice. Our critic called it “a nice trim little family picture.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
James Mason in “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” Disney, via Everett Collection

‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ (1954)

Taking advantage of the new technologies developed to address the threat of television, Walt Disney himself supervising production on this eye-popping adaptation of the Jules Verne adventure, photographed in CinemaScope and Technicolor. A series of mysterious ship-sinkings leads a master whaler (Kirk Douglas) and his crew to an incredible submarine commanded by Captain Nemo (James Mason), and the many wonders of the deep include a battle with a giant squid. Our critic called it “as fabulous and fantastic as anything [Disney] has ever done in cartoons.”

Top 50 Shows to Watch on Disney Plus, Wustoo
Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn in “Miracle On 34th Street.” 20th Century Fox

‘Miracle on 34th Street’ (1947)

“Miracle on 34th Street,” which turns on the heartwarming revelation that a department store Santa is the real thing, has become a classic Christmas movie — though the promotion for its release in the summer of 1947 never mentioned the holiday. Poor Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) gets dragged through an insane asylum and a courtroom and rebukes the impact of commercialism on Christmas. Our critic advised readers to “catch its spirit” and called it “maybe even the best comedy of the year.”

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A scene from “The Three Caballeros.” Disney

‘The Three Caballeros’ (1945)

Disney’s first crack at mixing live action and animation came in this anthology-like tour of Latin America, which makes up in variety and creative energy what it occasionally lacks in cultural sensitivity. Each segment is set up as a birthday gift to Donald Duck from his Latin American friends — from a documentary about a penguin who paddles to the Equator to Brazilian song-and-dance with Aurora Miranda. Our critic called it “a brilliant hodgepodge of Mr. Disney’s illustrative art.

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A scene from “Bambi.” Disney

‘Bambi’ (1942)

No one can forget the trauma of watching a hunter kill a young deer’s mother. But after that notorious moment, “Bambi” is watercolor poetry, following the fawn as he learns and grows alongside his woodland friends and eventually becomes a father himself. Without spelling it out in a big production number, the film quietly teaches children about the “circle of life” in all its beauty, wonder and occasional loss. “The colors,” our critic raved, “would surprise even the spectrum itself.”

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A scene from “Pinocchio.” Disney

‘Pinocchio’ (1940)

When the Italian woodworker Geppetto wishes upon a star that his marionette Pinocchio will become a real boy, a Blue Fairy brings the puppet to life, but that’s only the beginning of a difficult odyssey before Geppetto’s dream comes true. Modern audiences may be shocked by how dark Pinocchio’s journey becomes, particularly when he arrives at Pleasure Island, but the beauty, horror and moral simplicity of the film are still resonant. The movie bombed on initial release, but our critic praised it as Walt Disney’s “happiest event since the war.”

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A scene from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the first feature-length animated film. Disney

‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (1937)

The first full-length animated feature remains a treasure and an institutional touchstone, establishing the outsized clashes between good and evil, the comical interludes and the lush house style that would endure as Disney hallmarks for decades. A princess’s beauty, a queen’s vanity, a magic mirror, a poisoned apple and a cottage full of diminutive miners are among the classic elements plucked from the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale. Our critic called it “sheer fantasy, delightful, gay and altogether captivating.”

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