In the life of a film critic, there will always be one particular question that inevitably comes our way; what was the first film that started it all? For most of us, it was the first film we saw in a cinema that truly sparked our love of movies. Much like generations of children before me, my first trip to the cinema was to see a Walt Disney Animation Studios film. And I've been in love with Disney's special brand of magic ever since. The year was 1990 and...

The one that brought an era to a close. Throughout its seven decades of animated features and shorts, Walt Disney Animation Studios had created some of the most indelible icons in pop culture history. While it was all started by a mouse named Mickey, Disney's cavalcade of animated stars had ballooned to dozens upon dozens of adorable animals, brave heroes, and nefarious villains. But if there was one character to challenge Mickey's status as the face of the studio, it was undoubtedly that chubby little cubby all stuffed with...

The one that marked a turning point for Disney animation. When then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner announced the end of traditional animation in 2002, he almost caused a revolt amongst the studio's animators. Several of the animators who survived Eisner's extensive layoffs weren't entirely convinced computers should replace the art of hand-drawn animation, causing a fierce divide amongst the team between those already experienced in computer animation and those resistant to the idea of adapting their skills. Desperate to resolve the situation, then-president of Walt Disney Feature Animation David Stainton begged...

The one that started the second Disney Renaissance. Since the revival of Disney animation in the late 1980s, the studio had (occasionally) strived towards crafting animated films featuring more diverse characters to juxtapose the decades of exclusively white narratives of Disney's past. While the animation studio had delivered their first Asian and Native American heroines in Mulan and Pocahontas respectively, the studio had yet to produce an animated feature film headlined by an African American, either male or female. To put it mildly, Disney's history with its depiction of people...

The one that you probably forgot existed. With the much-maligned Michael Eisner gone and the highly-respected Bob Iger now in charge of The Walt Disney Company, spirits within the studio began to rise again in 2006, particularly amongst the animators at Walt Disney Feature Animation. For over a decade, Pixar had been the envy of the animation industry, and now two of its leaders, Edwin Catmull and John Lasseter, were at the helm of leading Disney animation through the difficult transition from traditional animation to fully computer-generated films. Both Catmull...

The one that honoured Walt's legacy. At the dawn of the new millennium, the management of Walt Disney Company was in utter chaos and morale amongst the ranks at its animation studio was disastrously low. After a string of box office failures, the days of traditional animation were over and then-CEO Michael Eisner was fumbling his way through Disney's transition to computer animation, while also mishandling negotiations with then-Pixar CEO Steve Jobs over the future of Disney's distribution deal of Pixar titles. In late 2003, Eisner and his board of...

The one that fumbled the launch of a new era. When production on Disney's last traditional animated film Home on the Range finished in 2002, then-CEO Michael Eisner laid off most of the employees at the Feature Animation studio in Burbank, downsizing the department to a single unit. The Paris studio closed in 2003. Walt Disney Animation Florida followed suit in 2004. And, with that, Disney was officially out of the business of producing traditional animated feature films. With the company now solely focused on producing computer animation productions, morale...

The one that signalled the end of traditional animation. When big-budget animated space blockbuster Treasure Planet debuted in 2002, it was hoped the film would herald a new age of traditional animation for the Disney studio. After its spectacular failure at the box office, the polar opposite occurred and the Disney executive team could no longer deny the inevitable end of traditional animated feature films had finally arrived. Audiences had moved on, and, sadly, it was time for Disney to follow suit. As such, then-CEO Michael Eisner made the difficult...

The one that arrived a decade too late. After the death of Walt Disney in 1966, the Disney studio found itself desperately attempting to find a winning formula to continue creating successful animated films without their fearless leader. When The Aristocats proved to be a surprise smash hit in 1970, the studio felt they'd uncovered the secret to success; talking animals. For the next two decades, the studio would almost exclusively focus on releasing animated films starring a menagerie of adorable animals. Despite the staggering success of The Lion King,...

The one that flopped spectacularly. For over a decade, directors Ron Clements and John Musker had been desperately seeking approval from Disney's executives to produce their dream project, Treasure Island in Space. While no one at the studio shared Clements and Musker's unbridled enthusiasm for the pitch, the duo relentlessly pushed the idea for the better part of 15 years before they were finally given the green light. As fate would have it, Disney was entirely right to be cautious and a box office bomb like few others was...

The one that proved Disney still had it. By the late 1990s, the Disney animation department was back on the chopping block. Despite several artistically impressive animated features, the box office results continued to dwindle. With Pixar continuing to capture huge audiences with its 3D computer animation, then-CEO Michael Eisner was beginning to question if the days of traditional animation were coming to a close. It didn't help the studio already had several big-budget titles in development, with few looking likely to elicit the hefty profits of Disney's early 90s...