November 17, 1989: The Little Mermaid is released nationwide, ushering in the Disney Renaissance of Animation. It is the first time in three decades a traditional fairy tale serves as the basis of an animated feature. The film brings home Academy Awards for Best Song (“Under the Sea”) and Best Original Score.

Little Mermaid SignatureSebastian SignatureUrsula Signature

Art prints signed by the voices of Ariel, Sebastian, and Ursula


Original sketch by Disney artist Stacia Martin


Animator Glen Keane featured in this 1989 press photo

November 22, 1991: The studio’s second consecutive hit, Beauty and the Beast, debuts in theaters. It garners the first-ever Best Picture nomination for an animated feature, as well as nominations in three other categories: Best Song (winner: “Beauty and the Beast”), Best Song (“Belle”), Best Song (“Be Our Guest”); Best Original Score, and Best Sound.

November 25, 1992: Aladdin arrives at the box office. It nets two Oscars: Best Song for a “Whole New World” and Best Original Score.

Disney Report 1992

1992 Walt Disney Company Annual Report, pronouncing the “New Golden Age of Animation”

June 24, 1994: Multiple-Oscar-winner The Lion King (Best Song for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and Best Original Score) opens around the country. It will become one of the highest grossing films of all time, spawning one of the highest grossing Broadway productions of all time.

June 23, 1995: Pocahontas, the first animated feature based on a true story, is released to the public. It wins Best Song (“Colors of the Wind”) and Best Score at that year’s Academy Awards.

Disney Report 1996

Pocahontas graces the cover of the ’94 annual report, in anticipation of the film’s Summer 1995 release

June 21, 1996: The Hunchback of Notre Dame opens. Not receiving a single nomination, it marks the end of a five-film streak of victories at the Academy Awards.

June 27, 1997: Greek mythology gets the Disney treatment: Hercules hits the box office.

June 19, 1998: Mulan, the first film to be completed primarily at Walt Disney World’s feature animation studios, is released.

Mark Henn

Mark Henn, Supervising Animator for such Renaissance-Era protagonists as Ariel, Belle, Princess Jasmine, Simba, Pocahontas, and Mulan

June 18, 1999: Disney closes out the decade, as well as the Renaissance Era, with the Oscar-winning Tarzan (Best Song: “You’ll Be in My Heart”).

Disney Report 1998

Tarzan fronts the company’s annual report ahead of his big-screen debut

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