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Best Movies on Disney Plus: 20 Comforting Classics to Lower Your Anxiety

on April 17, 2020, 12:00am

It’s possible that you’ve got a lot of free time these days and a lot more anxiety. Kidding aside, thanks to — gestures to the world — all of this, you might be watching a ton of TV and in the mood for something relaxing.

Though it’s no guarantee that any of these titles will truly chill you out, there are 20 different options on Disney+, from short films to documentaries to animated classics, you should try out if you want to put your mind at ease for a couple hours.

Let’s look at them in order of release.


Silly Symphony shorts (1929 – 1939)

This bite-sized relaxant predates Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. From adaptations like The Three Little Pigs to dialogue-free blends of animation and music like Flowers and Trees, the Silly Symphony shorts are a great way to bliss out during the quarantine.

Fantasia (1940)

But for the ultimate blend of music and animation, try Disney’s all-time classic Fantasia. Aside from introductions from opera commentator Deems Taylor, Fantasia has no chatter. Even with a demon-filled climax, this is the ultimate relaxing trip.

The Reluctant Dragon (1941)

Ever wondered how Disney animation got created back in the studio’s early days? Watch The Reluctant Dragon, a mix of animated shorts and live-action explorations of the Disney studio lot. It’s even got a soothing montage of paint being mixed. Really.

The Three Caballeros (1944)

At the peak of World War II, Disney made this film as a bridge between America and its Latin American neighbors. The Three Caballeros is a brightly designed, laid-back travelogue with some delightfully hallucinatory visuals that are zany yet chill.

Melody Time (1948)

Disney’s 1940s-era package films are among their less popular animated features. But they’re among the calmest films to watch on Disney+. Melody Time isn’t the best animated film you can watch right now, but it’s perfect if you want to forget about…life for 75 minutes.

The Living Desert (1953)

Though there were nature documentaries before The Living Desert, the first Disney True-Life Adventure is a trailblazer in the format. This Oscar winner set the template for most nature docs and is a low-key exploration of the American Southwest.

Mickey Mouse Club (1955)

These 1955-era episodes, early examples of Disney on TV, are full of comedy, drama, magic, and more. Back in the day when there were only a few channels, Mickey Mouse Club was one of the more charming and quaint shows available.

Pollyanna (1960)

The 1960 adaptation introduced the world to Hayley Mills, who received an Academy Juvenile Award for her performance. Pollyanna hearkens back to a turn-of-the-century small town, evoking soothing nostalgia for a past that never really existed.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

There’s no more calming Disney film than The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. This trio of shorts is perfect for the whole family and so blissfully relaxed that it doesn’t have a villain, let alone need one. The Hundred Acre Wood can be your happy place, too.

The Muppet Movie (1979)

Move right along with Kermit, Fozzie, and the rest of the gang with this film that depicted how The Muppets met each other and became rich and famous. The mix of sly humor and sweetness is charming on any day, especially when you want to forget your troubles.

Rookie of the Year (1993)

Baseball isn’t just the best American sport; it’s one of the least intense or visceral. The 1993 Fox comedy Rookie of the Year is one of the great family-focused sports movies, with a goofy and improbable plot and charm to spare.

The Santa Clause (1994)

It’s not exactly Christmas in July, but under quarantine, diving back into the holidays might be a nice distraction. Try it out with The Santa Clause, as Tim Allen’s harried dad inexplicably turns into Kris Kringle. It’s silly and slight, which is perfect for right now.

Frank and Ollie (1995)

For Disney aficionados and newbies alike, watch Frank and Ollie. This lighthearted documentary looks at the core working and personal relationship between animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two of Disney’s fabled Nine Old Men. It’s sweet, relaxed, and utterly charming.

A Goofy Movie (1995)

A Goofy Movie is an offshoot of the Goof Troop TV show that largely eschews having a villain in favor of a road-trip story between Goofy and his son, Max, that brings them closer together. It’s a charming and low-key diversion in these trying times.

Fantasia 2000 (1999)

Though it’s not as classic as its predecessor, Fantasia 2000 is very much in the same vein as Fantasia. It’s a mix of classical music and animation, with some striking imagery, too. Just kick back and turn your speakers up to get the full effect.

The Straight Story (1999)

You may not recall, but The Straight Story wasn’t just a David Lynch classic, but a G-rated Disney release. Based on a true story, Straight is about an elderly man driving a John Deere on a long trip to visit his brother. It’s got hidden depths of emotion, and it’s way more chill than any other Lynch film.

Aliens of the Deep (2005)

In between making Titanic and Avatar, James Cameron was obsessed with deep-sea diving while making documentaries like Aliens of the Deep. This fairly short feature explores the deepest reaches of the world’s oceans and its denizens. Like many great nature docs, it’s an instant balm.

Cars (2006)

Cars is one of Pixar’s longest films, and in a way, it makes sense because the audience has to slowly fall in sway with the small town of Radiator Springs, just like Lightning McQueen does. Cars takes the slow lane, which makes it very relaxing to watch now.

Chimpanzee (2012)

Disney’s recent nature documentaries are a mixed bag, with stories being forced on a natural habitat where stories don’t really exist. Chimpanzee benefits from having truly gorgeous footage of the forests of Africa, which is soothing enough in and of itself.

The Imagineering Story (2019)

Whether or not you’re a super-fan of the Disney theme parks, you’ll find plenty to be relaxed by with this six-part documentary series. Learn about how the men and women of Walt Disney Imagineering bring theme-park classics to life, in a calm, slick fashion.