There's nothing more magical than when Disney sees your love for a cartoon classic and decides to move forward with producing a sequel. Sure, the creation of a sequel following the success of a film is often a sad truth about the movie industry — if a format has worked for audiences once, than surely it'll work again, right? — but, sometimes, when the stars align and the sequel is good, it is good. That's why we're all tentatively waiting for Frozen 2 to hit screens in the near future. But, while some follow-ups can be poignant, relevant, and just damn enjoyable, there are many more animated Disney sequels that aren't so great.
But now, good or bad, we're gonna celebrate all of them — even the ones that you didn't know existed before scrolling down. I've watched enough of these Disney sequels to gauge what falls where on the Spectrum of Quality. So, because I am a dedicated journalist, I compiled an extensive list that ranks 21 animated Disney sequels accordingly.
Feel free to disagree, but here is my quasi-official ranking of 21 Disney sequels... from just as magical as the original, to not so magical at all.
21. Cars 2
Sorry, not enough Woody. OK, yes, not a Toy Story sequel, but, still. Never enough Woody.
20. Atlantis: Milo’s Return
This sequel was a mystery to us all.
19. Cinderella II: Dreams Do Come True
Cinderella, bless her heart, is typically the favorite Disney princess of your most vanilla friend.
18. Cinderella III: A Twist In Time
"I really wish we got to spend more time with Cinderella's step-sisters who were super mean to her." Whatever floats your boat, dude.
17. Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World
Once you learn about the real Pocahontas in your Women in American History class, it's inevitable your view of the Disney film will change just a bit. Unfortunately, this follow-up movie continues to be just that — a movie. Don't use it for any upcoming study sessions.
16. The Hunchback Of Notre Dame II
One of the big sells about the original Hunchback is that, in retrospect, it's a very dark movie. And though Quasimodo gets a huge self-esteem boost, he doesn't get the girl, which is a heavy dose of realism there. This one sticks him with Jennifer Love Hewitt.
15. The Jungle Book 2
It's hard to imagine many people at the edge of their seats waiting for more Jungle Book... but, then again, we all saw that Jungle Book trailer.
14. Return to Neverland
Really, the trip to Neverland just isn't as good the second time around.
13. The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea
My entire stance on The Little Mermaid is that Ariel shouldn't reproduce. So. You can imagine my feelings on this.
12. Bambi II
First thoughts: "There's a Bambi II?" Second thoughts: "Oh my god, this looks hilarious." It's utterly unnecessary, but, hey, whatever. Cute animals.
11. Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure
There's nothing in here you couldn't get from the OG Lady and the Tramp. But, hey, for those of you who just need more Scamp, knock yourself out.
10. Kronk's New Groove
Love Kronk, he is a delight, but I loved his first groove aplenty.
9. Mulan II
Mulan came to a really beautiful conclusion that was free of a need to become a bride, which makes a sequel surprising. I'm very pro-Li Shang, but there's something questionable about a film centering on the importance of marriage, be it for love or alliance-building.
8. The Return of Jafar
It's hard to be super amped up about the return of your fifth favorite Disney villain.
7. Aladdin And The King Of Thieves
This is like the third Aladdin movie, and second straight-to-video sequel, yet I remember watching it all the time as a kid. Maybe my love of weddings makes me biased, but, hey, I'm the one writing the list here.
6. The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride
If someone suggested watching this again, I would be open to it, and that's all I can offer. This sequel didn't need to happen, but Kovu makes for an interesting character, and all those weird dramatic lion dynamics are intriguing.
5. An Extremely Goofy Movie
Sometimes, sequels can be great if you stick with something innocuous. Case and point: An Extremely Goofy Movie. It's great because it isn't revolutionary; all it wants to do is play.
4. Monsters University
In terms of the plot, this would qualify as a prequel. Whatever though, it's a great film nonetheless. It definitely follows all the expected college tropes, but it's so fun to see them reenacted by Mike and Sulley.
3. The Lion King 1 1/2
I'm not sure if The Lion King 1 1/2 counts as a "real" sequel, because the bulk of it is just the story told from Timon and Pumbaa's perspective. However, it is a piece of art and absolutely hilarious, so I'm giving it a high ranking.
2. Toy Story 2
Toy Story 2 was a sensational sequel that managed to inject new characters in a natural way. The only reason it's a step below the third film is because it didn't make me ugly cry. Just normal cry.
1. Toy Story 3
Likewise, what can I say that hasn't been sobbed before? Toy Story 3 is the culmination of a decade long story that touched the lives of an entire generation. So that, and hey, it's independently funny on its own. A+!
Images: Walt Disney Home Video