Disney has a knack for making the magic continue long after the original story is over. Direct-to-video films are often dismissed as lower quality than the films they’re based on, but these Disney sequels build off of the classic films in smart, funny, and even original ways, making them worthy of your time.
If you’ve ever wondered what life is like after happily ever after, check out some of these sequels!
The Little Mermaid – The Little Mermaid II: Return to Sea and The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning
Return to Sea is a logical follow up to The Little Mermaid. It shows Ariel raising her daughter Melody, and how she relates to the human and the mermaid worlds. Melody really does look like Ariel and Eric’s daughter, and since she’s the first official child of a Disney Princess, getting to know what happens to her makes this movie automatically worth a watch.
Ariel’s Beginning is actually a prequel, and reveals a lot of backstory about Atlantica and its inhabitants, including more about Ariel’s mother and how music became important to the kingdom. This movie is also notable for its fantastic animation, which is great for a direct-to-dvd film!
Why you should watch them: Ariel’s Beginning has great animation and interesting backstory, while Return to Sea lets us see what happens when a Disney Princess becomes a Disney mother.
Beauty and the Beast – Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas
Enchanted Christmas tells us more about Belle’s stay with the Beast during one of the most exciting and romantic of holidays – Christmas! It features new songs and new characters, including an evil (and frankly creepy-looking) Pipe Organ voiced by Tim Curry. It’s a great holiday movie, and really expands on what “Something There” only glances over.
Why you should watch it: It’s an even deeper look at how Belle and the Beast’s relationship developed + Tim Curry as the villain!
Aladdin – The Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves
In my opinion, The Return of Jafar is a pretty solid sequel. Even though the animation quality is way below Aladdin‘s, the songs are catchy, and the film gives closure to Jafar’s story.
King of Thieves is an even better addition to Aladdin – it picks up right at the beginning of Aladdin and Jasmine’s wedding, only to reveal that Aladdin’s background is more complex than he realized. This movie shows his struggle with his identity (which is weirdly cool to see in a Disney movie) and develops a lot of the relationships between the original movie’s characters.
Why you should watch them: They build upon the original Aladdin, expand the story, and give us even more genie (which is always great!).
The Lion King – The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride and The Lion King 1 1/2
Simba’s Pride is, to me, just as iconic as the first film. Featuring Kiara, Simba and Nala’s daughter, and Kovu, a cub from Scar’s pride, the movie expands on the conflict between Simba and the banished lions through the lens of a Romeo and Juliet-esque story. The animation is quite good, and the songs are just as catchy as the first film’s!
The Lion King 1 1/2 also has great animation and music, but takes audiences into a lesser known aspect of the Lion King world – how Timon and Pumba met and ended up in the Pride Lands! You can be that with Timon and Pumba acting as narrators, the story becomes even more funny (and, at times, even profound).
Why you should watch them: Simba’s Pride is a great follow up to The Lion King, and The Lion King 1 1/2 is a hilarious take on the original classic.
Cinderella – Cinderella II: Dreams Come True and Cinderella III: A Twist in Time
Dreams Come True is made of segments that happen after the original Cinderella. These stories tell us more about different characters, showing us fun, unexpected aspects of Cinderella’s world like her struggle to adjust to a “royal” lifestyle, and her sister Anastasia’s desire to find love.
A Twist in Time, however, turns all the story upside down. Set during Cinderella and Prince Charming’s one year anniversary, the film shows Lady Tremaine using The Fairy Godmother’s wand to travel back in time and expand the glass slipper to fit Anastasia rather than Cinderella. The film is then an intense battle between Lady Tremaine and Cinderella, who tries to set things right. It’s a fast-paced film full of twists, making it a great sequel to the original.
Why you should watch them: Dreams Come True shows us how Cinderella and her friends adjust to her new life as a princess, while A Twist in Time shows us a more empowered Cinderella facing an intense conflict.
Mulan – Mulan II
Mulan II gives us what we want: a Disney couple who fights. This movie is all about how relationships are formed and maintained, and shows how Mulan and Shang adjust to life after the honeymoon period ends. This, along with the interaction of some old characters with new ones and excellent voice acting from stars like Lucy Liu, Sandra Oh, and Lauren Tom, make this movie worth the watch.
Why you should watch it: The ultimate message – that balance is important, especially in relationships – mixes really well with the many funny moments of the film.
A Goofy Movie – An Extremely Goofy Movie
The premise of this movie is that Max leaves for college, prompting Goofy to try and get his college degree as well. There hilarious study montages, a surprising love-interest, and even a disco. It’s very fun, very nostalgic, and very goofy.
Why you should watch it: It’s a sweet take on parent-child relationships, especially when under the pressure of growing up.
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