Our Top Picks for Families

Are you mindlessly scrolling through Disney+? Looking for a great movie to watch? We have been there! We know how hard it is to find something different to watch. Therefore, we have selected our top picks for families. Watch these movies right now on Disney+. We guarantee that these are the top movies from the 1980s. Furthermore, our lists are complete with runtime and MPAA ratings. So, what are the best movies of the 80s on Disney Plus?

We carefully look at online rankings and not just select any old movie to complete our list. In fact, we have selected movies that our family loves and other families do too. We guarantee you will find something your entire family loves on our list. Additionally, we have crafted our list into animated and live-action movies to make it easier for your family to pick a movie.

There was a reason that the 1980s, specifically 1981-1988, is called Disney’s Dark Ages. During this period, very few films were produced that were stand-out hits. After the death of Walt Disney, there were several years of films that Walt had his hands in. However, once those movies were finished, Walt Disney Pictures failed to live up to the animation and film studio created by the legend. 


Our Top Picks for the Best 80s Movies – ANIMATED 

The Little Mermaid – November 17, 1989

Rating: G; Runtime: 1 hour, 22 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes 91%; IMDb 7.6 The Little Mermaid is known as the first animated film that was a hit and finally got Walt Disney Productions out of their dark period. Furthermore, this animated classic is such a hit that Disney developed a live show in Hollywood Studios (now closed), and a ride in Magic Kingdom. After The Little Mermaid, at the end of the 80s, Disney went on to produce Beauty and the Beast, starring Angela Lansbury, and Aladdin, starring Robin Williams.

Ariel is a mermaid who wishes to have legs and walk in the human world. However, when Ariel fights with her father, and he forbids her to go to the human world, she seeks the help of Ursula, the sea witch. Ursula promises her that all her dreams can come true. The cost is just her voice. And if she gets the prince to kiss her by the 3rd day, she will live as a human forever. Starring: Jodi Benson, Pat Carroll, Rene Auberjonois, Buddy Hackett, and Samuel E. Wright.

The animated Little Mermaid Ariel splashing up from the sea with water around her and holding onto a rock.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit – June 22, 1988

Rating: PG; Runtime: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes 96%; IMDb 7.7. This film mixes animation with live-action. Private detective Eddie Valiant once worked with toons. However, his brother was murdered by a toon and now the detective hates them. He is hired to investigate an adultery scandal involving Jessica Rabbit and Roger Rabbit. When Jessica’s lover is found murdered, Roger if framed for the crime. Roger’s only hope is Eddie Valiant. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis and stars Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy, and Charles Fleischer as the voice of Roger Rabbit. Additionally, this film won Academy Awards for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects, and a Special Achievement Award for Richard Williams’ animation direction.

The Fox and the Hound – July 10, 1981

Rating: G; Runtime: 1 hour 23 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 78%; IMDb 7.2 This adorable but sad movie tells the story of a fox named Tod and a hound named Copper who become friends as pups. They vow to stay friends forever. However, as they grow up, they face the challenges of their roles in life. Copper is a hunting dog who is expected to hunt foxes. Starring: Mickey Rooney, Kurt Russell, and Pearl Bailey.

The Great Mouse Detective – July 2, 1986

Rating: G; Runtime: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score 76%; IMDb 7.1 Patterned after detective Sherlock Holmes, this animated film is based on the book, Basil of Baker Street. It’s 1987 in London, and a mouse named Olivia seeks Basil’s help to find her missing father. Starring Vincent Price, Barrie Ingham, and Val Bettin.

Our Top Picks for the Best Movies of the 1980s – Live Action Films

The Princess Bride – October 9, 1987

Rating: PG. Runtime: 1 hour, 38 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes – Certified Fresh 98%; IMDb 8.0. What a film. In fact, The Princess Bride is everyone’s favorite in my house and one of the best films out there! This is the story of a swashbuckling farmhand named Westley who must rescue his true love, Princess Buttercup, from Prince Humperdinck. Additionally, the story is a book being read by a grandfather to his sick grandson. However, this film was not produced by Disney. It was originally distributed by 20th Century Fox, which Disney has acquired. This fantasy adventure comedy film was directed and produced by Rob Reiner. Stars Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Fred Savage, Peter Falk, Carol Kane, Billy Crystal, Chris Sarandon, and André the Giant. 

The Princess Bride is streaming on Disney+

Big – June 3, 1988

Rating: PG, Runtime: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes – 98%; IMDb 7.3 A young boy makes a wish at a carnival fortune-teller machine named Zoltar. He wants to be big, and he wakes up the next day, and his wish has been granted. However, he learns that what you wish for doesn’t always turn out as you hoped. It features the FAO Schwarz toy store and the iconic scene with Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia dancing on the big floor piano and starring Tom Hanks and Elizabeth Perkins. Produced by 20th Century Fox.

Tom Hanks in Big streaming on Disney+

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back – May 6, 1980

Rating: PG, Runtime: 2 hours, 4 minutes. 

Rotten Tomatoes 95%; IMDb 8.7. The second adventure has Luke Skywalker begin his Jedi training with Yoda. Meanwhile, his friends are being pursued by bounty hunter, Boba Fett. 

Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark – June 12, 1981

BE AWARE: While this movie has a PG rating, it was rated before the PG-13 rating was available. Today it would have a PG-13 rating due to the violence. This movie is not suitable for younger audiences.

Rating: PG, Runtime: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%; IMDb 8.4. This classic film starring Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones never gets old. Directed by Steven Spielberg and Written by George Lucas. This is definitely in the list of classic movies, and it was nominated for an Oscar for the Best Picture in 1981.

Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark poster

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi – May 25, 1983

Rating: PG; Runtime: 2 hours, 1 minute

Rotten Tomatoes 93%; IMDb 8.3. This movie features the rescue of Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, and the daring attempt to destroy the new Death Star. Luke Skywalker confronts his father, Darth Vader, and attempts to bring him back from the dark side. Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Alex Guinness, James Earl Jones (voice of Darth Vader), and Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda. Return of the Jedi won an Academy Award in the Special Achievement division for Visual Effects. Additionally, Industrial Light and Magic, which is the visual effects division of Lucasfilm Ltd, did an amazing job. Lucasfilms is now owned by Walt Disney Studios. The special effects at the time this film was made were superb.

Journey of Natty Gann – September 27, 1985

Rating: PG; Runtime: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes – Certified Fresh 91%; IMDb 7.0 First, this is an adventure film starring John Cusack, Meredith Salenger. Natty Gann’s father finds himself out of work during the Great Depression. While he heads west to work as a lumberjack in Washington, he leaves Natty in the care of a women named Connie. However, he promises to send for Natty as soon as he can pay for her train fare. Natty overhears Connie planning to report Natty as an abandoned child, which causes Natty to set out on her own to reunite with her father. 

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – May 24, 1989

Another movie rated PG-13, and not suitable for all audiences. Rating: PG-13, Runtime: 2 hours, 7 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes – 84%; IMDb 8.2. This movie is the third in the Indiana Jones series. It again brought Steven Spielberg and George Lucas together. This is my favorite of all the Indiana Jones movies. Starring: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones and Sean Connery as Henry Jones, Sr.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade movie poster

Flight of the Navigator – August 1, 1986

Rating: PG; Runtime: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes – 84%; IMDb 6.9 A science fiction cult classic starring Joey Cramer, Paul Reubens, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Cliff De Young. When a young boy travels into the future, and returns home 8 years later. While he hasn’t aged, he finds that his life is now vastly different.

The Great Muppet Caper – June 26, 1981

Rating: G; Runtime 1 hour, 35 minutes.

Rotten Tomatoes 78%; IMDb 7.1 When Miss Piggy is framed for a series of jewel heists, Kermit the Frog, Gonzo, and Fozzie Bear travel to London to get to the bottom of who is stealing the jewels. Additionally, this family favorite film is a musical comedy! Additionally, this is a classic Muppet Movie that is worth seeing. Stars Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Charles Grodin, John Cleese, Diana Rigg, and Peter Ustinov. 

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids – June 23, 1989

Rating: PG; Runtime: 1 hour, 30 mins.

Rotten Tomatoes – 76%; IMDb 6.4. When inventor Wayne Szalinski designs a ray gun machine capable of shrinking and growing objects and then goes out of town for a conference, what could possibly go wrong? Wayne’s kids and their friends accidentally shrink down to the size of bugs. Will Wayne find his shrunken children before disaster strikes? Starring: Rick Moranis, Matt Frewer, Marcia Strassman.

Tron – July 9, 1982

Rating: PG; Runtime 1 hour, 36 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes – Certified Fresh 73%; IMDb 6.7 Science fiction/fantasy movie  Kevin Flynn is an engineer who finds himself transported into the world of video games. This cult classic movie from the 1980s, now has a ride in Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort. Starring Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, and David Warner

Tron Movie Poster

Amy – March 20, 1981

Rating: G

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 72%; IMDb 6.4 While this film is not at all popular and most people have never heard of it, This film is about a woman (Amy) married to a wealthy man. She leaves her husband to teach at a school for the deaf, and learns how to love. Starring: Jenny Agutter, Barry Newman, and Kathleen Nolan

Adventures in Babysitting – June 19, 1987

Rating: PG-13; Runtime: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes 71%; IMDb 6.9 A babysitter thinks she will have a relaxing evening with the 3 kids she is watching. However, her friend calls and needs a ride home from downtown Chicago. Hilarious antics ensue. Stars Elisabeth Shue, Maia Brewton and Keith Coogan. This is a Touchstone Pictures film which was a division of Walt Disney Studios.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why isn’t my favorite movie on the list?

First, there weren’t many movies produced by Disney Studios in the 1980s. However, there are some movies that are cult classics, such as The Black Cauldron, that just do not have a high enough rating to be included. Additionally, there are some movies that have great ratings but are not on Disney+, such as Dragonslayer. Another reason some movies aren’t on this list is that they may not be Disney movies and aren’t on Disney+. 

Yes, I have watched all of these movies. I saw Some of these movies when I was in high school, some when I was in college, and some after I already had a child. It is great to have such a great list of movies from the 80s on Disney+ streaming service. Make sure to check them out. Let me know which ones you have watched below!

Do you have other movie lists?

Yes! Yes, I do. Here are the best classic old movies on Disney+. Additionally, I have a list of 100+ of the Best G-rated movies on Disney+.

What other streaming services have classic movies from the 80s?

You can find other movies from the 1980s on Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime.

Are you looking for a complete list of all the Academy Award nominees (and winners of Best Picture).

The Best Movies of the 80s on Disney+

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