Animated Adventures That Make For a Great Family-Friendly “Staycation”
When you're stuck inside for long stretches of time, you can start to develop some cabin fever. While movies and TV shows are a great remedy for that feeling, they pose another problem: Which program will satisfy the whole family?
Don’t fret. We’ve rounded up the best of the best (non-Frozen) animated adventures streaming right now. From TV shows worth marathoning to throwback films that still capture a sense of wonder, these animated flicks will keep your kids — and you — entertained for days.
10. The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
While we stand by more "traditional" Disney classics like The Lion King (1994), there are quite a few incredible, under-the-radar films that are worth a rewatch. Case in point? Disney’s underappreciated buddy comedy The Emperor’s New Groove (2000).
9. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018-Present)
Created by Eisner Award-winning comic writer/artist Noelle Stevenson, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is a reboot of the 1985 series She-Ra: Princess of Power — a spinoff of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The series’ protagonist is Adora, a teenager who trained alongside her gal pal Catra under Lord Hordak in the evil Horde army.
8. The Iron Giant (1999)
If you’re a fan of Pixar’s The Incredibles (2004), you owe it to yourself to check out Brad Bird’s incredible directorial debut, The Iron Giant (1999). Unfortunately, the film wasn’t the blockbuster it deserved to be — we have Warner Bros.’ poor marketing campaign and lack of faith to thank for that — but it has since grown a giant cult following.
7. Ponyo (2008)
There’s nothing better than being transported to a beautiful, animated fantasy world. This staycation, we recommend trading Disney’s The Little Mermaid for the legendary Studio Ghibli’s aquatic adventure Ponyo (2008). Written and directed by the iconic Hayao Miyazaki, Ponyo won the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year.
6. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2014); Revived for a Final Season (Airing Now)
Set between the Star Wars prequel films, Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Clone Wars chronicles the eponymous galaxy-wide war. While the show focuses on the relationship between Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) and his Padawan Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein), it also shines a light on the franchise’s peripheral characters and storylines.
5. Mulan (1998)
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Disney’s live-action remake of their cartoon classic Mulan was pulled from the studios’ release schedule. That means there’s no better time to revisit the 1998 animated musical. Thanks to a gripping plot, memorable songs and one of Disney’s most well-written leading women, Mulan is a timeless masterpiece.
4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Sure, we’ve seen quite a few Spider-Man origin stories on the silver screen, but let’s do this just one more time. In this iteration, our hero is Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a Brooklyn teenager who fears not living up to his father’s high expectations. As Spidey fate would have it, Miles is bitten by a radioactive arachnid. Our hero runs into Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man, who dies while battling the Green Goblin and Kingpin (Liev Schreiber).
3. Steven Universe (2013-2019) and Steven Universe: The Movie (2019)
Created by Rebecca Sugar for Cartoon Network, Steven Universe tells the coming-of-age story of the titular boy (Zach Callison). Although Steven’s dad is a car wash-owning rock musician, his mom, Rose Quartz, was a gem — a magical, humanoid alien from outer space. Years ago, Rose led the Crystal Gems, a rebel group, in war to protect Earth from the clutches of her alien Homeworld.
2. Moana (2016)
Looking to belt out some memorable and incredibly catchy tunes? Great. Interested in full-on belly-laughing? Of course. Want to watch a more-than-relatable character go on a difficult-yet-transformative journey of self-discovery? We thought so. Luckily, Moana (2016) has all that and more. Yes, have the tissues nearby, but be prepared to feel inspired too.
1. Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008)
Created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino for Nickelodeon, this three-season adventure is the perfect show to marathon while on a staycation. In the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender, some people ("benders") can manipulate one of the four classic elements (earth, air, water or fire) and the world is divided into the Four Nations, each one correlating with one of the elements.
Honorable Mention: The Magic School Bus (1994-1997); Rebooted as The Magic School Bus Rides Again (2017-2018)
During a staycation, school may be out of session, but that doesn’t mean your kids have to forego "hitting the books" altogether. Instead, you can curl up on the couch and enjoy a few insightful episodes of the PBS classic The Magic School Bus together.