The enduring magic of Disney is such a powerful, all pervading thing, it’s nigh impossible to imagine our childhoods without it. Our first memories of a Disney movie may be from the cinema, on TV with family at home, a DVD at a friend’s house. We dress up as Belle for our parties, share Mickey Mouse birthday cakes, collect figurines from The World of Miss Mindy Disney, sing our favourite songs from The Lion King.

Imagine a world without Donald Duck or Goofy. Elsa had us singing Let It Go; Cruella de Vil had us hiding behind sofas; Baloo had us tapping our feet; Buzz Lightyear had us at ‘To infinity and beyond.’ Woody et al even helped change animation itself. The charisma of Disney’s characters stretches far and wide. But with so many incredible characters to choose from, which are the most popular?

Here are our top 5 animated Disney characters of all time:

5. Baloo, The Jungle Book

Disney’s take on Rudyard Kipling’s famous creation, Baloo, was first introduced to us in 1967, as voiced by Phil Harris. The character was again brought to us in 2016, this time in brand spanking new CGI and with Bill Murray acting the part. Soon he’ll be re-imagined once more by Andy Serkis. Baloo’s got rhythm, he’s got class, he’s got a heart of gold.

4. Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty

If there have been more menacing villains among Disney’s creations, we can’t think of them. If there have been more stunningly imagined and realised characters, we know of them not. Beautifully, deliciously performed by Eleanor Audley in the 1959 Disney original, audiences were left in no doubt that this was an evil fairy to be reckoned with. Some decades later, Angelina Jolie attempted to reprise the role, this time in the eponymously named 2014 Disney title that centred on the magical baddie’s backstory. Jolie’s performance was a success, as was the film, but utter the name Maleficent, and it’ll always be Audley’s version that we think of first.

3.  Woody, Toy Story

The release of Toy Story heralded a new age in feature-length movie animation. Not only was the computer animation entirely groundbreaking, but the characters and story were just so well written. Despite all the bluster, backpack, gadgets and pyrotechnics from Buzz Lightyear, Woody is the undeniable hero of the story. Tom Hanks gave Woody so much personality, and almost made him human. With Woody, you are in the presence of a lanky, floppy cowboy that, while by no means perfect, is always loyal, brave and incomparably charming. If only all our friends were as reliable and loveable as Woody.

2. Dory, Finding Nemo

Ellen DeGeneres’s Dory, as well as highly forgetful, is silly, thoughtful, creative, determined and hilarious. Frankly, there are few characters put to the big screen that compare, so well written is this regal blue tang fish.

1. Genie, Aladdin

It could have been Dumbo, it could have been Mulan, it could have been Grumpy, but it’s Genie. Why? Simply because Robin Williams’s Genie is untouchably hilarious. When Genie hit cinemas in 1992’s Aladdin, it was the first time we’d experienced so much energy, improvisation and sheer, unleashed comedy in animation. Williams was given the freedom to go wild, and boy did he.


From Bugs Bunny to the Powerpuff Girls, we all loved cartoons when we were growing up. Yet we do not simply cease to interact with animation as we get older, just look at the popularity of shows that appeal to a more mature audience like Family Guy, American Dad and even The Simpsons. Businesses and marketers have taken note of this engagement from the older generation and now use the tool to appeal to these audiences.

But how much do you know about the world of animated characters? In this article we take a look at some of the most interesting facts about the art of animation.

1. Disney had little faith in The Lion King

The top management team at Disney allocated most of their experienced and top animation talent to the film Pocahontas. They then allocated first timers or fresh talent to creating the Lion King, as they had little faith that the film would be popular.

It went on to become the 7th highest grossing animated film of all time.


2. Hop and stamp

The first cartoon character to ever feature on a postage stamp was Bugs Bunny, that is a big claim to fame. However, the first ever cartoon character to have a statue erected in their honour was Popeye. It looks like promoting healthy eating pays off in the long run.


3. Halifax customers get catty

Did you know that in the latest adverts from UK based bank Halifax that feature famous cartoon characters such as The Flintstones, Scooby Doo and Top Cat came under heavy criticism?

Top Cat is used to promote the bank’s mortgage services and as a result were blasted by the public, highlighting that he and his friends traditionally live in a bin. Many comments on social media focused on how “you too could be living in a bin if you do not keep up with your mortgage repayments”.

Like any advertising, the use of the correct characters is paramount to success in animation.


4. Little green man

The commonly recognized Android logo, that is widely used in their advertising, was originally developed purely for the developer element of the Android platform. However, customers loved the logo so much that the company have now adopted it as the symbol of the company. The logo is now used to represent the company in their animated advertising such as in this example.


5. Hairy business

The character Sulley from the film Monsters Inc. has more than 2.3 million hairs on his body, all of which had to be created individually. Due to this fact, it would take Pixar 11 to 12 hours to individually render each frame he was featured in.

Not only was this massively time consuming, but also required a huge technological investment from Pixar to generate the processing power required to render Sulley and the other complex characters in the film.

Now that is dedication to the art of animation.


6. A healthy ad campaign

Aardman, the world-famous studio that created the series of films Wallace and Gromit, as well as renowned spin offs such as Shaun The Sheep, worked with the UK National Health Services to create a series of renowned adverts promoting the dangers of a poor nutritional diet.

This cross over between world famous studios and major advert campaigns is no new thing, you can check out all the adverts that Aardman have worked on and we bet you can recognise many of them. The outcome of collaboration with an animation studio is not associated only with cartoons anymore.


7. What do robots and donkeys have in common?

Probably two of the least likely cartoon characters to have anything in common, both Optimus Prime from the cartoon version of Transformers and Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh were both voiced by Peter Cullen.

Can you hear any similarities? We can’t.


8. Chipmunk Cheerios

Although there is no official statement that it was indeed paid product placement, the detail and frequency of the appearance suggests that Honey Nut Cheerios made a deal to have their cereal featured in The Chipmunk Adventure.

It isn’t uncommon to see the occasional product placement in animated movies and series.


9. Expensive cars

Famous animation is not just used for product placement and cameos. Products and merchandise are often big money makers for the creators of animated films. This is no small business, with Disney’s Cars being the top animated movie for merchandising, making a huge $10B.

10. 2 years to 2.5 minutes

Animation may appear seamless and free flowing, but the effort that goes behind high-quality animation is far from it. For example, during the production of The Lion King it took 5 animators over 2 years to create the 2.5 minute wildebeest stampede scene. Fortunately, it takes way less time to produce a standard animation of 60 seconds, which takes more less 6-8 weeks.

As we can see animation is a fascinating and very deep subject. Not only do animated series and movies grab the attention of the public, but crossover and independent marketing and advertising can work really well when animation is used as a tool for communication. We look forward to being astounded by more animation facts in the future.