Rejoice my fellow Disney fans, for we now live in a “post-Disney+” world! No longer will Disney fanatics have to wait for the vault to open to enjoy most of their favorite classics. But Disney+ isn’t just full of the hits that everyone remembers and loves. The service launched with an impressive lineup of roughly 500 movies and 7,500 TV episodes. With this much content, many lesser-known titles can slip through the cracks. So with the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, let’s take a look at 5 hidden gems perfect to binge on your holiday break!
If you enjoy the Disney Channel’s Descendants films, then you’ll want to give this classic Disney musical a watch. Even though the movie didn’t make a big splash when it hit theaters in 1992, it’s since endured as a fan-favorite. The uplifting story follows a group of New York City newsboys in 1899 as they battle a corrupt newspaper tycoon. The music was composed by Disney Legend Alan Menken and is so catchy you’ll have “King of New York” firmly stuck in your head until at least Christmas. The film is also notable for starring a young Christian Bale and directed by Kenny Ortega who’s known for his work on Hocus Pocus, the High School Musical series, and Descendants.
The Reluctant Dragon (1941)
Although this title looks just like any other classic Disney animated feature, there’s a lot more going on than just a cartoon about a dragon. The Reluctant Dragon is actually a behind-the-scenes tour of the Walt Disney Studios and an in-depth look at what it took to bring Disney cartoons to life with a few cartoon shorts mixed in. The film is hosted by radio comedian Robert Benchley as he takes a tour of the then-new studios and begins in black and white. The film transitions to color as he enters the fantastical world of Disney filmmaking. There are some great interactions with Disney Legends like Ward Kimball, Fred Moore, Norman Ferguson, and Clarence Nash as well as an appearance from a rather young Walt Disney.
Disneyland Around the Seasons (1961-69)
If you’re a fan of the theme parks (and I’m assuming you are since you’re on this site!) then you’ll want to spend some time checking out this special. Disneyland Around the Seasons is a collection of presentations featured in the Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color TV specials. It was originally compiled and presented to the public on December 18, 1966, just three days after Walt’s death as a tribute to his legacy. The movie features footage from historical Disney events like the opening of “it’s a small world” in Disneyland as well as backstage looks at the development of attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. The special ends with a look at Disneyland’s Christmas Fantasy on Parade, making it perfect for the holiday season.
Return to Oz (1985)
Fans of the Wizard of Oz may have missed this Disney produced sequel when it appeared in 1985. While not doing very well at the box office, it’s endured over the years to have a cult following for its creepy interpretation of L. Frank Baum’s work. The film picks up after the events of the Wizard of Oz as we find Dorothy (Fairuza Balk) heading back to rescue the Emerald City from a mysterious dark force that has turned her friends to stone. The film features some impressive effects for the time and presents a darker tone than the original film. This makes Return to Oz a bit unsettling for younger viewers, and might not be suitable for all ages.
Melody Time (1948)
The 1940s are considered one of the best eras in Disney animation. During this period the studio produced some of it’s most beloved classics and cemented the company as the leader in animated entertainment. Melody Time is a beautiful snapshot of this fruitful period and features seven short films showcasing the mastery of Disney musical storytelling. A few of the shorts included have become known as some of Disney’s best, like the stories of Johnny Appleseed and Pecos Bill. There’s even an appearance by Donald Duck as he gets caught up in a spicy samba musical number. This is a great title to watch with the whole family and is sure to delight viewers of all ages.
Photos Courtesy Disney