10 Rarest Disney Movies Ever Made

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Walt Disney Pictures began releasing films in 1937 and has since become a household name all over the world. With such a large catalog of films – which is now even larger after the acquisition of Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios, Searchlight Pictures, Fox 2000 Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, National Geographic Documentary Films, Miramax Films, Dimension Films, ESPN Films etc. – countless Disney movies have become obscure. There are hundreds of lesser-known Disney films that are missing from its streaming service Disney+ and are out of print. This list contains a small sampling of some of the hardest to find Disney films out there.

Please note that this list was arranged by alphabetical order, with the exception of the rarest Disney movie on this list.

  1. The Watcher in the Woods
  2. Reason for Rarity: Limited home release
     Original Release Date: April 17, 1980
    Directed By: John Hough and Vincent McEveety
    Starring: Bette Davis, Carroll Baker, David McCallum, Lynn-Holly Johnson, and Kyle Richards
    Run Time: 84 Minutes
    The Watcher in the Woods
    photo source: Wikipedia

    The Watcher in the Woods is a live-action horror film, which is an atypical film genre for Disney, which explains the movie’s scarcity. Upon the movie’s initial release on April 17, 1980, The Watcher in the Woods was panned by critics and audiences, who hated the film’s opening and endings. Disney decided to re-cut the movie and filmed a new ending. The movie was then re-released on October 9, 1980. The revised version of The Watcher in the Woods was viewed more favorably.

    Following its theatrical run, The Watcher in the Woods was released on VHS in the 1980s. It was also released on DVD in North America and parts of Europe in the early 2000s, but there are currently no plans to add it to Disney+.

    Did You Know?

    Despite being critically panned and having limited availability, The Watcher in the Woods has developed a cult following in more recent years.

  3. Victory Through Airpower
  4. Reason for Rarity: Limited home release due to depictions of World War II
     Original Release Date: July 17, 1943
    Directed By: James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney, and H.C. Potter
    Starring: Alexander de Seversky
    Run Time: 70 minutes
    Victory Through Airpower
    photo source: Wikipedia

    Victory Through Airpower is an interesting piece of Disney film history, that was essentially propaganda for the American war effort during World War II. The goal of the film was to educate the American public on military aviation and long-range bombing. The movie was based on the non-fiction book of the same name, written by Alexander de Serversky. Although the film is primarily animated, there are live-action sequences featuring Alexander de Serversky.

    Following its release in 1943, Victory Through Airpower was not available on home media until a 2004 DVD release. Disney says that Victory Through Airpower will not be released on Disney+ because of its scenes of World War II, which may be offensive to modern Germans and Japanese.

    Did You Know?

    Disney’s main distributor, RKO Radio Pictures, refused to release Victory Through Airpower, so the studio turned to United Artists, making Victory Through Airpower the first and only Disney animated feature to be released by a different movie studio other than RKO or Walt Disney Studios.

  5. The Spirit of Mickey
  6. Reason for Rarity: Direct to video, never released again
     Original Release Date: July 14, 1998
    Directed By: Various
    Starring: Wayne Allwine, Tony Anselmo, Corey Burton, Jeannie Elias, Bill Farmer, Diane Michelle, and Russi Taylor
    Run Time: 83 Minutes
    The Spirit of Mickey
    photo source: IMDB

    The Spirit of Mickey is a direct-to-video film that has never been re-released since it first came out in 1998. The movie features heavily edited clips from The Mickey Mouse Club, The Wonderful World of Disney, and A Goofy Movie. All of the shorts are presented by Mickey Mouse and his friends to an audience of orphans. The shorts all feature Mickey Mouse in some way and were created decades before this collection was released.

    Did You Know?

    The Spirit of Mickey is the only Mickey Mouse home video that includes 11 cartoons.

  7. Something Wicked This Way Comes
  8. Reason for Rarity: Limited home release
     Original Release Date: April 29, 1983
    Directed By: Jack Clayton
    Starring: Jason Robards, Jonathan Pryce, Diane Ladd, and Pam Grier
    Run Time: 95 Minutes
    Something Wicked This Way Comes
    photo source: Wikipedia

    Something Wicked This Way Comes, based on the Ray Bradbury novel of the same name, is another 1980s Disney horror film that has had a very limited home release. Bradbury wrote the screenplay for the film and Disney also asked his input on selecting a cast and director. After test screenings of the director’s cut of Something Wicked This Way Comes failed to meet Disney’s expectations, the movie had several re-shoots and was also re-edited and re-scored.

    For whatever reason, Something Wicked This Way Comes has had very limited home releases and it is not streaming on Disney+.

    Did You Know?

    In 2014, Disney announced a remake of Something Wicked This Way Comes with Seth Grahame-Smith writing the script. The remake will focus on Ray Bradbury’s source material from the book.

  9. So Dear to My Heart
  10. Reason for Rarity: Limited home release
     Original Release Date: November 29, 1948
    Directed By: Harold D. Schuster and Hamilton Luske
    Starring: Bobby Driscoll, Luana Patten, Beulah Bondi, and Burl Ives
    Run Time: 82 Minutes
    So Dear to My Heart
    photo source: Wikipedia

    So Dear to My Heart is an early Disney film that combined live-action with animation. Walt Disney actually wanted the movie to be the Disney’s first completely live-action film, but his distributor RKO Radio Pictures, said that people expect to see animation when they see the name “Disney.” Disney eventually agreed and compromised with the combination of live-action and animation. So Dear to My Heart depicts life on a small farm in the American Midwest. This was the final film that Western actor and silent film superstar, Harry Carey appeared in.

    So Dear to My Heart is relatively unknown and the film has had occasional home release. The last time the movie was available was in 2008 as a Disney Movie Club exclusive.

    Did You Know?

    So Dear to My Heart was a personal favorite of Walt Disney because it reflected his childhood of growing up on a small farm.

  11. Rob Roy: The Highland Rogue
  12. Reason for Rarity: Limited home release
     Original Release Date: October 26, 1953
    Directed By: Harold French
    Starring: Richard Todd, Glynis Johns, James Robertson Justice, Michael Gough, Finlay Currie, and Geoffrey Keen
    Run Time: 81 Minutes
    Rob Roy: The Highland Rogue
    photo source: Wikipedia

    Rob Roy: The Highland Rogue is a really obscure British-American action film released by Walt Disney Productions in 1953. Following the success of Disney’s first live-action film, Treasure Island, Walt Disney wanted to produce live action films based on history. Rob Roy: The Highland Rogue is based on the life of Rob Roy MacGregor, a Scottish outlaw and folk hero.

    Rob Roy has not really had a wide home release, although it was available at some point as a Disney Movie Club exclusive. The film is not available for streaming anywhere.

    Did You Know?

    Rob Roy: The Highland Rogue was the last Disney film distributed by RKO Radio Pictures.

  13. Make Mine Music
  14. Reason for Rarity: Limited home release
     Original Release Date: April 20, 1946
    Directed By: Jack Kinney, Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Joshua Meador, and Robert Cormack
    Starring: Nelson Eddy
    Run Time: 75 Minutes
    Make Mine Music
    photo source: Wikipedia

    Make Mine Music is the eighth animated film that Disney ever released. The film is a collection of unfinished story ideas that were instead turned into short segments set to music. During World War II, a lot of Disney’s staff were drafted and those who remained were asked to make training and propaganda films for the U.S. government. To keep things afloat, Disney released anthology films like Make Mine Music.

    Over the years, Make Mine Music has had some home releases, but not enough to make the film widely known. Home release versions of Make Mine Music sometimes have The Martins and the Coys segment edited out because it depicts comic gunplay not suitable for children. The sexual imagery in All the Cats Join In has also been edited out.

    Did You Know?

    Make Mine Music is the only movie in the Disney animated canon not available on Disney+.

  15. The Happiest Millionaire
  16. Reason for Rarity: Limited home release
     Original Release Date: June 23, 1967
    Directed By: Norman Tokar
    Starring: Fred MacMurray, Tommy Steele, Greer Garson, Gladys Cooper, Geraldine Page, Hermione Baddeley, John Davidson, and Lesley Ann Warren
    Run Time: 118 Minutes
    The Happiest Millionaire
    photo source: Wikipedia

    The Happiest Millionaire is a live-action musical released by Disney in the late 1960s. The movie is based on the real story of Philadelphia millionaire Anthony J. Drexel Biddle. The story was adapted from the book My Philadelphia Father by Cordelia Drexel Biddle, the daughter of Anthony Biddle.

    Initially, Walt Disney didn’t want to make The Happiest Millionaire into a musical, but he changed his mind following the success of Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music. There is a long version and a short version of the film with running times of 172 minutes and 118 minutes, respectively.

    Did You Know?

    The Happiest Millionaire is the last live-action musical that Walt Disney produced because he died during the film’s production.

  17. The Gnome-Mobile
  18. Reason for Rarity: Limited home release
     Original Release Date: July 12, 1967
    Directed By: Robert Stevenson
    Starring: Walter Brennan, Tom Lowell, Matthew Garber, Karen Dotrice, Ed Wynn, Richard Deacon, and Sean McClory
    Run Time: 84 Minutes
    The Gnome-Mobile
    photo source: Wikipedia

    The Gnome-Mobile was one of the last films that Walt Disney personally supervised before his death in The movie is based on The Gnomobile book written by Upton Sinclair. The comedy-fantasy film is about two children and their lumber tycoon grandfather, who discover a pair of possibly the last gnomes in what is now the Redwood National Park, north of San Francisco. Eventually, the group discovers a community of gnomes in a different part of the woods and the grandfather gifts 50,000 acres of forest that were to be sold for logging to the gnomes.

    The obscure movie was never widely released to home video, but it was available for a limited time in the Disney Movie Club.

    Did You Know?

    The children in The Gnome-Mobile were played by Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber, the Banks children in Mary Poppins. This was Garber’s last film.

  19. Song of the South
  20. Reason for Rarity: Never received home release in U.S. because of racial issues
     Original Release Date: November 12, 1946
    Directed By: Harve Foster and Wilfred Jackson
    Starring: James Baskett, Bobby Driscoll, Luana Patten, Ruth Warrick, and Hattie McDaniel
    Run Time: 94 Minutes
    Song of the South
    photo source: Wikipedia

    Song of the South is perhaps the most infamous and rarest of Disney’s movies due to its depiction of racist and offensive stereotypes of Black people. From the very beginning of Song of the South‘s release in 1946, the movie has drawn criticism from a wide variety of people.

    Due to the ongoing backlash against Song of the South, Disney has never released the film on home video in the United States. However, Song of the South was released on VHS in some parts of Europe and Asia, as recent as 2000. Every once in a while these VHS copies of Song of the South, as well as some bootleg DVDs, pop up for sale on the internet. However, in an official capacity, at this time Disney says it has no intention of releasing Song of the South to home video or Disney+ streaming.

    Despite the unavailability of the Song of the South film, the Splash Mountain ride at Disney’s various theme parks around the world were based on the movie for many years. Amid the protests for racial justice in the U.S. in 2020, Disney announced that it was removing the Song of the South elements from Splash Mountain and replacing it with The Frog Princess, the first Disney film to depict a Black princess.

    Did You Know?

    Song of the South is based on a collection of African American folktales called Uncle Remus compiled and adapted by Joel Chandler Harris.


Head of Content at Rarest.org


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