Music and song play an important role in learning and development, and through singing and dancing, children can find new ways to express themselves. As such, musicals are a great way to expand minds and unlock doors to a whole new way of thinking, and can also provide hours of entertainment.
In this post I am serving up a collection of musicals which are perfect for children. The musicals listed below cover animated adventures and live-action extravaganzas, running the gambit from well-known classics to over-looked tales ripe for a re-visit.
If you are searching for a musical movie (or three) for your little ones to watch during the holidays, make this post your starting point. I guarantee there is something for everyone in this list.
First up, a young boy befriends a wish-granting genie in Disney’s superb musical adventure, Aladdin. The movie is loaded with memorable songs, a fab cast of characters, and a story about love and friendship.
Quest for Camelot (1998)
Next up, Gary Oldman, Eric Idle, Andrea Corr, and Celine Dion all feature in Quest for Camelot – an animated fantasy film, set during medieval times. The movie tells the story of the legend of Excalibur and includes the Golden Globe-winning song, The Prayer.
FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)
In this wonderful environmentally-focused animated movie, a tree logger is shrunk down in size to see what life is like for the wildlife he often overlooks. After experiencing the majesty of the world around him, he teams up with fairies and animals to fight back against the destruction of the rainforest, while belting out a few tunes.
Boasting a cast that includes Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, and Cameron Diaz, Annie is a modern update on the classic musical about an orphaned girl looking for her forever home. Will Gluck directs, while Quvenzhané Wallis takes on the title role.
Sister Act (1992)
A real treat for the whole family, Whoopi Goldberg brings songs and laughter in this hilarious musical comedy about a lounge singer masquerading as a nun. The gags come thick and fast in a story packed with memorable tunes and loveable characters.
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)
Whoopi returns for yet another dose of hilarity and hip-swinging tunes. This time around, she is tasked with transforming the fortunes of a rundown school, leading to a showstopping finale filled with music.
The Little Mermaid (1989)
In this delightful animated musical, a mermaid sets out on an adventure to win the heart of a prince. Along the way she sings her heart out, takes on a fearsome sea witch, and proves that love is worth fighting for.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
Set during the Second World War, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a wonderful movie which blends live-action with animated characters. Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson lead this delightful Disney movie, from director Robert Stevenson.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Henry Selick directs this stop-motion animated picture about the King of Halloween Town, and his newfound discovery – the joy of Christmas. The voice cast includes Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, and Paul Reubens.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Adapted from the Roald Dahl novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this movie is an imaginative musical about a boy who wins the trip of a lifetime – an epic tour around Willy Wonka’s bizarre chocolate factory. Gene Wilder stars, Mel Stuart directs.
Prince of Egypt (1998)
DreamWorks Pictures tells the story of Moses in The Prince of Egypt, an animated film from directors Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, and Simon Wells. Hans Zimmer provides the movie’s score, while the voice cast includes Val Kilmer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Patrick Stewart and Sandra Bullock.
Don Bluth and Gary Goldman direct this animated musical, loosely based on the legend of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia. The cast includes Meg Ryan, John Cusack, and Kelsey Grammer, while songs include the Oscar-nominated tune, Journey to the Past.
The legendary Greek hero takes centre-stage in this superb action adventure movie from Walt Disney Pictures. Songs include Go the Distance, A Star is Born, and Zero to Hero.
Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story about a miniature girl and a fairy prince, gets the musical treatment in Thumbelina. The Little Mermaid’s Jodi Benson takes on the role of Thumbelina, while the rest of the cast includes John Hurt, Carol Channing, and Gilbert Gottfried.
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (1999)
Everyone’s favourite Sesame Street character, Elmo takes to the big screen for a colourful, musical adventure perfect for the youngest members of the household. Songs include Together Forever, Take the First Step, and Make it Mine.
The story of The Snow Queen is given a delightful reworking for this incredibly popular animated movie, crammed with hit songs and imaginative characters. Frozen is arguably one of the best-loved Disney movies and is a frost-filled treat with superb songs.
Help! I’m a Fish (2000)
Alan Rickman, Terry Jones, and Aaron Paul provide voices in this animated adventure about a special potion that can transform humans into fish. The movie includes the song Help! I’m a Fish (Little Yellow Fish).
The Swan Princess (1994)
Based on the ballet Swan Lake, The Swan Princess is an enchanting animated movie featuring the voice work of John Cleese, Jack Palance, and Michelle Nicastro. The movie includes the Golden Globe-nominated track, Far Longer than Forever.
The story of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes has been told and re-told countless times, but all of the adaptations pale in comparison to this one. Disney weaves some animated magic to bring the classic character to life, while Phil Collins provides the soundtrack.
The Tigger Movie (2000)
Winnie the Pooh’s hyperactive friend, Tigger takes top-billing in this adorable and heartfelt movie about family and friendship. The Tigger Movie is a wonderful story, packed with songs, a little bit of drama, and some loveable characters.
Trolls is an all-singing, all-dancing animated comedy for the whole family. The movie tells the story of the diminutive Trolls, and their dealings with the gruesome Bergens, and offers a real shot of heart-warming fun, guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face.
Trolls World Tour (2020)
The Trolls return in another all-singing big screen adventure featuring more songs, more characters, and more funshine. The cast includes Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, James Corden, and Ozzy Osbourne.
The Road to El Dorado (2000)
Elton John, Tim Rice, Hans Zimmer and John Powell provide the music for this feature-length cartoon starring Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh. The story focuses on two con artists and their search for the legendary City of Gold.
The Jungle Book (1967)
Based on Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale, The Jungle Book is a well-loved, well-remembered Disney movie which dates back to the late ‘60s. But despite its age it still feels as fresh as it was upon release and boasts a fantastic collection of songs including The Bare Necessities.
Sing is a fun and frothy animated movie about a group of anthropomorphic animals who take part in a singing competition. The cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, and Scarlett Johansson, while Garth Jennings directs.
Camp Rock (2008)
Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers star in this live-action Disney movie about a young girl who aspires to be a singer. The soundtrack to Camp Rock was a huge success upon release, while the film proved popular enough to spawn a sequel.
In Moana, a young girl leaves her home village to embark on an adventure out at sea. Along the way she meets a demigod, who becomes an important friend and ally and who also knows how to knock out a tune!
Amy Adams stars in this live-action Disney movie (with animated sequences), about a cartoon character who finds herself transported into the real-world. Here she has to contend with the harsh reality of life (i.e. it’s not all singing-and-dancing), while trying to find her ‘happy ever after’.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Based on Ian Fleming’s novel, Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car, this is a beloved musical adventure film starring Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, and Adrian Hall. A popular family favourite, ideal for everyone – just watch out for the Child Catcher.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Disney outdoes itself with an animated tale about a young girl, a beast, and a magical curse. Arguably one of the best animated movies of all time, this film never gets old and deserves a re-watch.
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
A live-action remake of the animated classic (see above) which is just as fun and wonderful as the original. Emma Watson plays the role of Belle, while Dan Stevens plays the Beast.
School of Rock (2003)
Jack Black takes the lead role, playing a rock star turned substitute teacher in School of Rock – a musical comedy from director Richard Linklater. This movie offers fun for the whole family.
Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009)
Miley Cyrus takes on the title role for this teen musical comedy, based on the television series of the same name. Peter Chelsom directs, while the supporting cast includes Billy Ray Cyrus, Lucas Till, and Vanessa Williams.
The story of Pocahontas is retold through the eyes of Walt Disney Pictures in this big screen reimagining. The movie boasts a gorgeous colour palette, as well as a wealth of songs.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Continuously re-told, but never bettered, MGM’s The Wizard of Oz is a live-action musical which continues to stand the test of time. The movie is packed with heart, a collection of memorable songs, and a mean ol’ witch.
An American Tail (1986)
The story of young mouse who gets lost when his family emigrate to the US is a delightful tale which continues to wow audiences. The movie was a big success when it was released in 1986, with lead character Fievel Mousekewitz becoming a firm favourite with young audiences.
The story of a wooden puppet brought to life has never looked better than in Disney’s Pinocchio. The movie is stuffed with standout moments, but it is the songs which really make this film fly, including When You Wish Upon a Star, Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee, and I’ve Got No Strings.
Descendants follows the story of a group of teenagers, descended from iconic Disney villains (Jafar, Maleficent etc). The movie is packed with a collection of songs and a cast that includes Booboo Stewart, Cameron Boyce, Kathy Najimy, and Kristin Chenoweth.
The Lorax (2012)
Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, and Betty White provide voiceover duties for The Lorax – an animated tale based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same name. The movie tells a cautionary tale about deforestation, and features a cast of colourful characters.
The Greatest Showman (2017)
Hugh Jackman takes on the role of P. T. Barnum – the eponymous ‘greatest showman’ in this smash-hit musical. Featuring the songs A Million Dreams, Never Enough, and This is Me, The Greatest Showman is perfect viewing for the whole family.
The classic tale of Rapunzel gets a reworking in Disney’s Tangled – a fantastic animated film from the Mouse House. Featuring a toe-tapping collection of songs and an ensemble of loveable characters, Tangled is great movie for all the family.
High School Musical (2006)
High school has never looked so much fun in director Kenny Ortega’s toe-tappin’ Disney movie, High School Musical. Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens take the lead, belting out a collection of tunes including the fan-favourite, Breaking Free.
The Princess and the Frog (2009)
In this magical, musical fantasy film, a hardworking waitress sets out on an exciting adventure, after she finds herself transformed into a frog. Beautifully animated, The Princess and the Frog is a real-treat of a movie, and certainly one of the best-looking Disney movies.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
The Muppets serve up a musical reworking of A Christmas Carol, with Kermit as Bob Crachit and Gonzo narrating the story as Charles Dickens. Michael Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge, while Brian Henson directs.
The Lion King (1994)
And finally, Disney’s beautifully animated musical about a lion cub who embarks on a journey of self-discovery is a real winner for all ages. Featuring songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, The Lion King is an unforgettable picture which looks and sounds sublime.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post about kids’ musical movies. I hope this list of films points you in the right direction if you’re looking for holiday amusement for the kids.
To save you some time from scrolling back through this post to make some notes, here is the list in full.
- Aladdin (1992)
- Quest for Camelot (1998)
- FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)
- Annie (2014)
- Sister Act (1992)
- Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)
- The Little Mermaid (1989)
- Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
- Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
- Prince of Egypt (1998)
- Anastasia (1997)
- Hercules (1997)
- Thumbelina (1994)
- The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (1999)
- Frozen (2013)
- Help! I’m a Fish (2000)
- The Swan Princess (1994)
- Tarzan (1999)
- The Tigger Movie (2000)
- Trolls (2016)
- Trolls World Tour (2020)
- The Road to El Dorado (2000)
- The Jungle Book (1967)
- Sing (2016)
- Camp Rock (2008)
- Moana (2016)
- Enchanted (2007)
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
- Beauty and the Beast (1991)
- Beauty and the Beast (2017)
- School of Rock (2003)
- Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009)
- Pocahontas (1995)
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- An American Tail (1986)
- Pinocchio (1940)
- Descendants (2015)
- The Lorax (2012)
- The Greatest Showman (2017)
- Tangled (2010)
- High School Musical (2006)
- The Princess and the Frog (2009)
- The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
- The Lion King (1994)
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