America’s Favorite Kids Movies
The Lion King reigns as America’s favorite—but some regions say differently.
Everyone feels strongly about the films they enjoyed as a kid. It’s why we get so upset when our favorites are rebooted or readapted for a new generation—and why our spite-filled curiosity drives us to watch the new installments anyway.
With the new live-action Pinocchio reboot coming to Disney+ on September 8 (just ahead of D23), we were curious which kids movies America liked best.
So using our CableTV.com magic, we polled 1,126 Americans across nine regions. Here’s what they said.
America’s most popular kids movies
1994’s The Lion King won Americans’ hearts by a landslide. (Or a stampede. Too soon?) 8.47% of Americans loved the feline Hamlet adaptation, while 7.11% preferred 1995’s Toy Story.
Rounding out the top three is a classic live-action movie: The Wizard of Oz (1939). 3.95% of Americans love to visit the merry old land of Oz.
The most popular kids movies by region
Like with most things here in the US, the vote for best kids movie was far from unanimous. The Lion King may have won overall, but not in every region.
The Lion King (four regions)
Your average Lion King fan is probably located in a big chunk of land comprising the East North Central, East South Central, and South Atlantic regions. That includes everything from Wisconsin to Florida and Mississippi to Virginia.
But be prepared to find some Lion King stans if you visit the West Coast, too; the film also ranked number one in the Pacific region.
This might be a good time to mention that despite their usual disagreements, self-identifying conservatives and liberals all agreed on one thing: their love for Simba and his pals. (Moderates prefer Toy Story.)
You can watch The Lion King on Disney+.
Toy Story (two regions)
Speaking of Toy Story, the Pixar film has friends in the West North Central and West South Central regions, including Minnesota and Texas. That’s a big chunk out of the middle of the country—like the slinky part of Slinky Dog.
You can watch Toy Story on Disney+.
The Wizard of Ox (Middle Atlantic)
The biggest Wizard of Oz fans aren’t in Kansas anymore. They’re in the Middle Atlantic region comprised of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. We can’t help but wonder if Broadway had an impact here. . . .
You can watch The Wizard of Oz on HBO Max.
Shrek (New England)
In true New England fashion, the region has layers. The responses there favored Shrek (2001), Dreamworks’ anti–fairy tale that spun into a monstrous franchise.
Personally, we’re eager to see whether those Shrek-heads in New England will be enough to bring Puss in Boots: The Last Wish box-office success this December or whether Avatar: Way of the Water will win that particular duel.
You can watch Shrek on Peacock Premium.
Our friends in the Mountain region have let go of nostalgia and picked 2013’s musical hit Frozen. Maybe they love watching the film with their kids, or maybe enough of Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona is enveloped by hot weather that the concept of an endless winter seems appealing.
You can watch Frozen on Disney+.
America’s top three kids movies by region
|Region||Most popular||Second-most popular||Third-most popular|
|East North Central||The Lion King (1994)||Toy Story (1995)||Aladdin (1992)|
|East South Central||The Lion King (1994)||Home Alone (1990)||The Jungle Book (1967)|
|Middle Atlantic||The Wizard of Oz (1939)||The Lion King (1994)||Toy Story (1995)|
|Mountain||Frozen (2013)||The Wizard of Oz (1939)||Toy Story (1995)|
|New England||Shrek (2001)||Toy Story (1995)||The Lion King (1994)|
|Pacific||The Lion King (1994)||Toy Story (1995)||Shrek (2001)|
|South Atlantic||The Lion King (1994)||Toy Story (1995)||Frozen (2013)|
|West North Central||Toy Story (1995)||The Lion King (1994)||The Sandlot (1993)|
|West South Central||Toy Story (1995)||The Lion King (1994)||Cinderella (1950)|
Because we at CableTV.com love the little details, here’s a deeper look into the top three kids movies in each region. The Lion King and Toy Story still have a hold over much of the country, but it’s interesting to note the outliers; Aladdin, The Jungle Book, Home Alone, and The Sandlot make appearances for the first time.
The Sandlot is also an interesting choice because it doesn’t show up in our list of the top ten kids movies overall. As far as we can tell, it’s only that popular in the West North Central region, which is kind of funny since the movie takes place in California.
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America’s favorite kids movies by generation
Here’s where things get a little interesting. You’d think that our favorite kids movies would be the ones in theaters when we were young—that each generation’s favorite movie would be roughly a decade or two apart.
However, this isn’t the case: while baby boomers love 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, Gen Xers and millennials both miss the ’90s. The former group chose 1995’s Toy Story as their favorites, while the latter picked 1994’s The Lion King. Gen Z, perhaps more predictably, broke free of the ’90s kid craze and went with 2010’s Tangled.
America’s top ten favorite kids movies
|Rank||Kids movie||% of votes|
|1||The Lion King (1994)||8.47%|
|2||Toy Story (1995)||7.11%|
|3||The Wizard of Oz (1939)||3.95%|
|4||The Little Mermaid (1989)||3.27%|
|7||Home Alone (1990)||2.82%|
|9||Beauty and the Beast (1991)||2.71%|
Disney reigns supreme over America’s top ten favorite kids movies, with picks from The Lion King to Aladdin. (Although, notably, the originals of both titles, not the recent live-action reboots.)
This list is also overwhelmingly animation-centric; the only live-action flicks are The Wizard of Oz and Home Alone.
What does this all mean for Disney+’s upcoming live-action Pinocchio reboot? The original 1940 film didn’t make our list, but it’d take a pretty amazing adaptation for the new one to break the top ten.
That being said, the new movie might be popular with all of those Toy Story fans; Tom Hanks is playing Geppetto, after all.
We polled 1,126 Americans in June 2022 about their media preferences. We then segmented the Americans who had a favorite kids movie into 9 regions.
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