'The Lion King' (1994)
Moment: The opening scene, when Simba is introduced to the animal kingdom.
Why It's Magical: The movie starts, and the score immediately grabs your attention as the animals -- slowly at first, then in a rush of zebras, giraffes, elephants, even ants -- gather to witness the presentation of royal cub Simba to his father Mufasa's subjects. The moment is epic -- evocative, beautifully detailed (look how gently Rafiki anoints baby Simba), accompanied by soaring music, and consistently able to draw tears or gooseflesh -- or both -- from the audience.
'Beauty and the Beast' (1991)
Moment: Lumiere sings 'Be Our Guest.'
Why It's Magical: Dearly departed theater great Jerry Orbach's singing candelabra leads this show-stopping musical number worthy (literally) of a Broadway show. Like Belle, we "pull up a chair" to watch dancing flatware, synchronized-swimming spoons, singing steins, and revolving dishes so exquisitely choreographed and animated you'll want to burst into applause -- not to mention eat something French -- when it's all done.
'The Little Mermaid' (1989)
Moment: Sebastian sings 'Under the Sea.'
Why It's Magical: The movie credited with revitalizing Disney's animated films features several memorable moments, but our favorite is 'Under the Sea.' A delightful, impossible-to-get-out-of-your-head song led by the Caribbean-accented crab Sebastian (Samuel E. Wright), the number boasts a full-scale orchestra of sea creatures and hilarious lyrics "Under the sea/Nobody beat us, fry us and eat us/In fricassee ..." as the crab attempts to convince Ariel of her underwater home's superiority.
'Lady and the Tramp' (1955)
Moment: What else? The famous Italian restaurant scene.
Why It's Magical: It's not just huge musical numbers that make Disney movies unforgettable. In this classic tale of "forbidden" love between a posh Lady and a street-wise Tramp, it's the romantic moment when the two dogs slurp on the same noodle of spaghetti. As the chef and the waiter serenade the couple with 'Bella Notte' ("Oh, this is the night, what a beautiful night. And we call it bella note ..."), we can't help but swoon at the sight of the adorable dogs unexpectedly smooching.
'101 Dalmatians' (1961)
Moment: We meet Cruella de Vil.
Why It's Magical: Of the 49-plus villains in Disney history, Cruella de Vil is one of the most devilishly delicious. When composer Roger spots his wife's eccentric school-chum rolling up in her fancy car, he immediately starts singing "Cruella de Vil, Cruella de Vil. If she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will ..." perfectly setting the tone for the cruel and campy woman's appearance. What better way to meet someone who wants to skin puppies than with a jazzy tune referencing her evil?
Moment: The Fairy Godmother enchants Cinderella and her friends.
Why It's Magical: Poor Cinderella is cruelly dismissed -- her mouse-made outfit ruined -- and for the first time seems despondent about her situation. Enter the Fairy Godmother who, with a swish and a flick and a "Bibbidy-Bobbidi-Boo," transforms a pumpkin into a carriage, mice into stallions, a horse into a chauffeur and beautiful Cinderella into an unrecognizable knockout with a ball gown, up-do and glass slippers. If that's not magical, nothing is.
Moment: Bambi's mother dies
Why It's Magical: Disney films are filled with happily-ever-after moments, but there are also as many tear-jerking scenes. The one that tops the list is when sweet young Bambi loses his beloved mother to a hunter's rifle. There are no words to describe the impact this emotional sequence has on audiences, but like it or not, we still shed a tear every time we hear Bambi cry out "Mother! Mother!" alone, in the snowy woods. Sniff.
Moment: Sorcerer's Apprentice scene's dancing brooms.
Why It's Magical: As the Sorcerer's Apprentice, Mickey charms his broom to do his chores -- but after a dream reverie wakes up and accidentally creates hundreds of brooms that dance. There's no dialogue, just the dazzling visuals and the accompanying classical score -- in this case French composer Paul Dukas's titular orchestral work. The enchanted brooms are hands-down the most remarkable of the eight segments in the high-concept film.
Moment: Jiminy Cricket sings 'When You Wish Upon a Star.'
Why It's Magical: This is the song, more than any other, that is linked with the magic that Disney evokes in young children. Six words, in fact, and you're instantly transported to the world of Disney, where "anything your heart desires" may come true. In the film, Cliff Edwards' soothing voice accompanies the final scene, urging the audience to keep dreaming, like little Pinocchio. It's a simple, no-frills moment that lives on as the ultimate Disney anthem.
'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' (1937)
Moment: Snow White teaches animals to 'Whistle While You Work.'
Why It's Magical: Never has housework seemed so wonderful as when Snow White summons her woodland friends to help clean the Dwarfs' untidy cottage. It's difficult to resist the beautiful princess' (soprano Adriana Caselotti) sugary sweet voice urging her forest pals to scrub and sweep so hard the surfaces sparkle. This number -- and its hard-working birds, rabbits, chipmunks and deer -- has spawned countless imitations, from '9 to 5' to 'Enchanted.' If only it worked with kids.