March Madness Tournament of Disney Movies

The sweet sixteen. The elite eight. The final four. If you follow college basketball at all, you know what these terms mean. It’s the time of year that college sports fans live for, March Madness! Time to root for your school and see if they can go all the way to the finals and be crowned the champions of college basketball.

On the other hand you might be one of the thousands, nay millions, who fill out that 64 team bracket, hoping you picked every game correctly so you can collect that big payoff. Or you may be like us. That nerdy group of people who doesn’t follow college sports, and to whom March Madness just means our favorite TV shows are going to be pre-empted for a few weeks. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take part in this annual tradition, we’ll just do it in our own, unique way. Last year on the Celebrations Disney Podcast, we hosted our inaugural Disney-Themed March Madness Tournament, where we pitted 64 of the best Walt Disney World attractions head to head to finally determine which was the greatest of them all. (For those of you who may have missed the action, the champion turned out to be the Haunted Mansion!)
This year, we’re going to switch things up by going to Hollywood. That’s right, this time around we’re going to gather up 64 of the best Disney movies of all time and see which one will win the title of Greatest Disney Film Ever. You can listen in to part one of our newest podcast episode (with part two, including the crowning of a new champion, airing in another week) to see who we picked. In the meantime, we thought we would share our brackets with you so you can take part in the tournament yourself, or better still, share it with your friends and see if you all agree!

We opted to split the field into four brackets of 16 movies each:
1) Classic Disney Movies (pre-Renaissance era)
2) Modern Disney Movies (Renaissance and post-Renaissance era)
3) Pixar films
4) Marvel films

But wait you say, what about Mary Poppins? 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? The Apple Dumpling Gang? We decided that there were far too many live-action films to squeeze into one bracket (who would we leave out?), so we’re going to revisit live-action movies in an upcoming tournament. (The same goes for Star Wars films, especially when you consider that most of the movies were made prior to the Disney acquisition, begging the question of “do they count?” But we can hold off that discussion for another time!)

You can listen in and see how we decided, but it’s even more fun to fill out the brackets on your own or with your friends! And just like us, you can use whatever criteria you’d like. You might judge the films on critical merit. Or perhaps historical importance. Or (and this is where the friendly arguments usually come in) simply pick the movie you like the best.

We’ve seeded each bracket from 1 to 16, 1 being the favorite and 16 being the underdog. And just how did we decide the seedings? I would like to tell you that a lot of in-depth analysis was at work, incorporating statistical data drawn from published reviews, financial reporting, and other well-researched datapoints – but the fact is that we largely winged it! (Once we got past the first few in any event.) But sometimes we “fixed” things so you’d get an interesting matchup…this is meant to be fun after all!

As with the actual March Madness tournament, you’ll see the movies paired off with the top seed taking on the last seed, the second-highest seed taking on the second-lowest side, and so on. The winner of each game (that you can write in the space provided on the PDF we’ve created for you to download, just click here) moves on to the next round. The process then repeats until you have one representative remaining for each bracket. This will be your Final Four, and from there you can decide the champion (no easy feat!).

One other note before we get started. We felt that there were a few movies that were so head-and-shoulders above the rest that we thought we would give them the honorary title of G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) and put them in the Hall of Fame. Hence, they do not appear on the list. Not only did this allow us to make the playing field fairer, but it also gave us the opportunity to include more movies.

Most importantly, we want to hear what YOU think! Leave us a note in the comments telling us who YOU crowned champion (and if you think we left anyone off the list who deserved to be there. Fans of Mars Needs Moms, I’m talking to you).
Ready? Then let’s begin!



Bracket One: Classic Disney Movies

We are using the Disney Renaissance (which began with the 1989 film The Little Mermaid) as the dividing line between “Classic Disney” and “Modern Disney.” (And don’t forget, live-action movies will be getting their own tournament at a future date.). This is the era that started it all, and we’ve designated the movie that started it all, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as our G.O.A.T., securing its place in our Hall of Fame. Snow White not only put the Disney Studios on the map, it served as the launching point for animated feature films period. To say that it’s historically important is one of the greatest understatements of all time. It’s no exaggeration to say that everything we know about Disney today, and even everything we know about animation today, is because of this film. And so, with Snow White and her friends properly honored, here is the bracket for Classic Disney Movies:

1. Cinderella
16. The Great Mouse Detective

8. The Jungle Book
9. The Fox and the Hound

5. Sleeping Beauty
12. Lady and the Tramp

4. Dumbo
13. One Hundred One Dalmatians

6. Peter Pan
11. Fantasia

3. Pinocchio
14. Oliver and Company

7. Alice in Wonderland
10. Robin Hood

2. Bambi
15. The Black Cauldron

(Don’t forget, in this first round, Cinderella goes up against The Great Mouse Detective, and so on down the line).



Bracket Two: Modern Disney Movies

It was a tough call, but we designated The Lion King as our G.O.A.T. for this bracket. A groundbreaking film when it came out, to this day it still holds the title of top-grossing traditionally animated film. (It’s also worth noting that the 2019 CGI remaking holds the overall record of highest grossing animated film, either traditional or computer).

1. The Little Mermaid
16. Encanto

8. Wreck-It Ralph
9. Tangled

5. The Princess and the Frog
12. Moana

4. Frozen
13. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

6. Mulan
11. Hercules

3. Aladdin
14. Tarzan

7. Zootopia
10. Pocahontas

2. Beauty and the Beast
15. The Rescuers Down Under



Bracket Three: Pixar Movies

In keeping with our tradition of honoring the “movies that started it all,” we gave Toy Story the honor of being the G.O.A.T. for this category. That also cleverly allowed to us to include the other Toy Story films in the same category (hey, it’s our tournament, we get to make the rules!), thereby freeing up three other slots for other well-deserving titles.

16. Onward

8. Finding Nemo
9. Luca

5. Up
12. Soul

4. A Bug’s Life
13. Turning Red

6. Coco
11. The Incredibles

3. Cars
14. Inside Out

7. Monsters, Inc.
10. Brave

2. Ratatouille
15. Elemental



Bracket Four: Marvel Movies

The MCU took the world by storm over the course of the last several years, so we thought we should include them in this year’s tournament. Plus, we’ll never pass up the chance to talk about Loki! Our G.O.A.T. for this bracket actually includes two movies: Infinity War and Endgame. We figured that if we included them both they would very likely be facing off for the title, so we opted to make the field a little more competitive. But let’s suppose those two films did make it to the final (in this bracket anyway), who would you pick? We wrestled with this topic on the podcast, and much to my surprise I was the only one who picked Infinity War. Turns out The Snap was too much for everyone else. (Just in case you’re the one person on the planet who hasn’t seen the movie yet, I’ll leave it at that so I don’t spoil anything.)

1. The Avengers (2012)
16. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

8. Black Widow
9. Captain America: The First Avenger

5. Black Panther
12. Doctor Strange

4. Iron Man
13. Captain Marvel

6. Guardians of the Galaxy
11. Thor

3. Captain America: Winter Soldier
14. The Incredible Hulk

7. Age of Ultron
10. Spider-Man: Homecoming

2. Captain America: Civil War
15. Ant-Man

We’ve put together a PDF with all the brackets broken down into handy charts which you can use to fill out your tournament. Don’t forget to listen in to the Celebrations Disney Podcast to see who won our award, and more importantly, let us know in the comments who YOU picked! Who won your individual brackets? Who won the overall title? Did we leave any of your favorites out?

And don’t forget to check back next year, when will hold our annual March Madness Disney Championship for 2025. Possible subjects include live-action films, characters…even songs! Which will it be? For that you’ll have to wait until next year, but at least we have until then to figure it out.

Click on the above image to download the complete March Madness Disney Bracket, or click the images below to download the individual pages

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