First Disney Movie to Use CGI

Since the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, Disney has been a powerhouse in the animation industry. With classics like The Lion King and Aladdin under their belt, Disney has always pushed the envelope when it comes to animation technology. In 1995, they announced that their next movie will be the first-ever to use CGI animation. Fans were already speculating about what this new movie might be about—could we finally see an updated version of The Little Mermaid? Only time will tell! In the meantime, here's a look back at Disney's first and some of the other groundbreaking animated movies.

First Disney Movie to Use CGI

Table of contents:

What was Walt Disney's first animation?

The first animated film produced and released by Walt Disney Studios was Steamboat Willie, a cartoon starring Mickey Mouse. First released on November 18, 1928, the third of four sound cartoons created in the silent-film era (1928–1929), it is considered by most critics to be the debut of Mickey Mouse and his girlfriend Minnie. First released by Celebrity Productions (Decca Records), the cartoon was directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks.

Although test screened for an audience in late 1928, Steamboat Willie (originally named The Little River Boat ) was not released to the public until May 20, 1929. First publicized as a Tebo and Kaye Production released through Columbia Pictures, it had however been commissioned by Walt Disney for Celebrity Productions who co-produced the film with Columbia Pictures because Walt Disney lacked sufficient funding to release the film under his own name.

First, it was made using a mixture of live action and animation. Then soon introduced as an unnamed Steamboat Willie in the 1929 cartoon The Karnival Kid, the character was first given the name "Mickey Mouse" by Ub Iwerks (who would continue drawing the mouse as such over the course of his career) after asking Walt Disney for permission to make the mouse a less-detailed and simplified version of himself.

When did Disney stop hand drawing?

The answer is 1991 with the release of The Rescuers Down Under.

However, most people still think that Disney has used CGI in their movies since Toy Story in 1995.

Before then most movies were created using traditional hand drawn animation techniques. First starting off by drawing on cels and later transitioning to computers during the late 80s.

The very first computer-generated imagery (CGI) was used in the 1984 Disney movie, "Tron". The plot of this film pits a hacker against an evil Master Control Program that has taken over the mainframe of his former place of work. For that period, it was mind blowing to see computer-generated images (CGI) on the movie screen which was entirely done by Disney Studios.

What Disney movies use CGI?

The First Disney movie to use CGI was "The Rescuers Down Under" in 1990.

Disney's "Bambi" was the first feature-length animated movie to use it in some scenes, though not throughout. Also, the first full-length movie made entirely on computer graphics was Toy Story in 1995. The First full-length 3D CGI animation on a PC with off-the-shelf hardware was Walt Disney Animation Studios' The Man 1. This movie was a feature-length animated movie that used it throughout was 1986's "When the Wind Blows."

Including the full-length 3D CGI on a PC with motion capture was Walt Disney Animation Studios' Dinosaur (2000), released on May 24, 2000. The first feature-length movie computer animation in the United States was "Toy Story," which was released in November 1995. The first full-length animated movie produced by Pixar was "Toy Story," which was released in November 1995.

What was Disney's first 3D movie?

Disney's first computer-generated movie was "A Bug's Life," which premiered on November 25, 1998. The 3D IMAX version of the film opened on January 1, 1999.

Disney originally planned to release the film in fall 1998 under its original title, "Army Ants." However, Pixar Animation Studios changed the title of this film to "A Bug's Life" in order to avoid confusion with DreamWorks' movie, "Antz," which premiered on October 2nd.

Disney's first 3D movie was officially released in theaters on November 25, 1998. It had a $120 million budget and earned over $360 million worldwide. Although the film was released in 1998, it was completed in 1996.

"A Bug's Life" tells the story of an individualist and pessimistic grasshopper (Kirk Douglas), who discovers that his whole colony are working for an ant (Danny Glover). He then decides to help them fight off grasshoppers led by Hopper (Dave Foley).

The film used a mix of actors and computer-generated images (CGI) to depict insects. It also represented the second time Disney used CGI for their animation, but only one year after they released "Toy Story."

What was Disney's first 2d animated movie?

First, a little background information to use as knowledge, but not to copy verbatim. Disney's First animated movie was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Disney's first CGI film was Dinosaur, released in 2000. Dinosaur is a story about an underdog dinosaur who overcomes obstacles to win the day.

The Walt Disney Company hit upon success by producing animated movies aimed at children rather than adults, so it was surprising when they made their first computer-generated animated feature with Dinosaur, released in May 2000.

The hand-drawn and computer-animated family adventure was a box office success and received mixed reviews from critics. The first CG animated feature for Disney was Dinosaur (2000), which blended computer animation with live-action, similar to what Pixar had done in Toy Story (1995) and A Bug's Life (1998).


In the early days of animation, Walt Disney's first film was a short called "Laugh-O-Gram." His studio went bankrupt in 1924 because he couldn't find investors to finance his expensive hand-drawn cartoons. He eventually switched to using cheaper and faster CGI when Snow White came out in 1937. Some notable movies that use computer generated imagery are The Lion King (1994), Frozen (2013), and Moana (2016). It took until 1989 for Disney’s first 3D movie - Honey I Shrunk the Kids - but their very first 2d animated movie was Alice Comedies released back on July 27th, 1923! Buy all your favorite classics on 4k Ultra HD now at with Prime.