4K Blu-Ray Review: Walt Disney’s “Cinderella” Finally Gets the Restoration it Deserves

Walt Disney’s Cinderella saved the studio when it was released in 1950, and it has remained one of the company’s most beloved classics ever since. And yet, for nearly twenty years, the version of the film made available on DVD, Blu-Ray, Digital, and Disney+ has used a controversial restoration. At long last, wrongs are righted with a 4K restoration that will please cinephiles everywhere with the new Disney100 branded 4K release, available now from Disney Movie Club and getting a wider release this fall.



Adapted from Charles Perrault’s version of the timeless fairytale, Cinderella tells the story of a girl who lives as a servant in her childhood home, working for her wicked stepmother and mean stepsisters. Through her oppression, Cinderella maintains her kindness, befriending mice who live in the house. So when her dreams of attending the ball are dashed, her Fairy Godmother appears to give her the night of her dreams. Through her journey, Cinderella will learn that her philosophy on life is correct – that “no matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”

The 2005 restoration that has been in use ever since was criticized for a number of reasons. Chief among them, it relied heavily on automatic Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) techniques that obliterated film grain, scrubbing away animation details in the process. Frame-by-frame comparisons with previous laserdisc releases displayed the extent of the issues, with the film literally losing some of its magic by way of the magic dust created by the Fairy Godmother. In other words, Walt Disney’s favorite animation sequence of his studio’s history (Cinderella’s dress transformation) had been scrubbed of some of its luster. In addition, brightness and contrast were dialed way up, with unfaithful colors to the filmmaker's original intent.

The new 4K remaster represents Cinderella in a faithful way to how it appeared 73 years ago. There is minimal film grain present, but it’s nonetheless perceptible. Colors feel accurate to film stills and marketing material of the initial release. And line art that was obliterated in the previous version is back. In other words, this is the best the film has looked since it was first released, a literal dream come true for film purists and Disney fans. And best of all, this release replicates this restoration across all included versions, meaning the restoration is available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and Digital in addition to 4K Ultra-HD.

Bonus Features

  • In Walt’s Words: The Envisioning of Cinderella (1:24:25) – Transcripts from story meetings with Walt Disney and his story team are brought to life through voice actors in this feature-length visual commentary that includes concept art, storyboards, pencil animation, behind-the-scenes photos, and script excerpts stylistically juxtaposed against the film as it plays. It includes many legends of Disney Animation, including Ward Kimball, Milt Kahl, and Ham Luske. (Note: This feature uses the 2005 restoration and has not been updated)
  • Try This Trivia on for Size (4:48) – Stars of the Disney Channel series Sydney to the Max Ruth Righi and Ava Kolker reveal some fun facts about the film in an upbeat kid-friendly style.
  • Diane Disney Miller Introduction (1:16) – Filmed for the Diamond Edition from the Walt Disney Family Museum, Walt Disney’s daughter introduces the film and promotes her San Francisco museum.
  • From Rags to Riches: The Making of Cinderella (38:27) – This Platinum Edition documentary features Disney Historians, luminaries, and archival animator interviews discussing the making of the film and its historical significance in the Disney story. The film clips in this documentary predate the controversial 2005 restoration and feature colors that are more familiar to fans who grew up with the film in the 20th century.
  • The Cinderella That Almost Was (12:34) – Don Hahn reveals some storyboards and production artwork from previous attempts Disney made to adapt this story to animation.
  • The Magic of the Glass Slipper: A Cinderella Story (10:03) – Christian Louboutin creates his take on glass slippers in this short film that includes animated mice helping him find inspiration.
  • The Real Fairy Godmother (11:50) – Art Director Ken O’Connor based the Fairy Godmother on his wife, Mary Alice O’Connor, who was recognized throughout her community for her volunteer work and helpful spirit.
  • Alternate Opening Sequence (1:13) – Storyboards for a different way the film could’ve opened.
  • Storyboard to Film Comparison: Opening Sequence (6:49) – A laserdisc bonus feature that shows how the storyboards inspired the final film and also reveals a few intended differences for the “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” sequence.
  • From Walt’s Table: A Tribute to the Nine Old Men (22:09) – Joel Siegel hosts this Platinum Edition bonus feature about Walt Disney’s legendary team of mentor animators through a roundtable at the Tam O’Shanter restaurant with animators and directors who were mentored by them.
  • The Art of Mary Blair (14:58) – Walt Disney’s favorite artist is explored in this short feature that leads into her work on Cinderella.
  • Behind the Magic: A New Disney Princess Fantasyland (8:17) – Ginnifer Goodwyn hosts a tour of the “upcoming” New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World, a promotional piece that was more relevant in 2012 on the Diamond Edition release and one that has little to do with Cinderella.
  • 1922 Laugh-O-Grams: Cinderella (7:24) – Walt Disney’s first version of Cinderella was made in Kansas City and was set in the 1920s as a modern fairytale.
  • Excerpt from The Mickey Mouse Club with Helen Stanley (3:55) – The live-action reference model for Cinderella meets the Mouseketeers and recreates “The Work Song” sequence.
  • Radio Programs
    • Village Store Excerpt (2:35) – Ilene Woods promotes the upcoming film with a radio appearance shortly after being cast in 1948 by singing “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
    • Gulf Oil Presents (5:25) – Ilene Woods recounts her casting process for Cinderella in a 1950 radio interview.
    • Scouting the Stars (4:25) – Another promotional visit by Ilene Woods
  • Theatrical Trailers
    • 1950 Original Release Trailer (0:24)
    • 1965 Reissue Trailer (2:21)
    • 1973 Reissue Trailer (1:26)
    • 1981 Reissue Trailer (1:32)
    • 1987 Reissue Trailer #1 (1:57)
    • 1987 Reissue Trailer #2 (1:25)


Typically, a hand-drawn animated film’s jump in quality from Blu-Ray to 4K isn’t this spectacular. But with the 2005 restoration being handled so poorly, there’s really no competition. The artistry of Walt Disney Animation Studios during its silver age is fully restored, and you can essentially toss out previous disc and digital releases of the film now that this version is here. Since this set includes the same restoration on multiple mediums, the 4K disc only marginally improves upon the Blu-Ray transfer, primarily where color is concerned. In the dress transformation sequence, for example, the black background feels marginally richer in 4K, but there isn’t necessarily an added level of detail. The DVD disc also includes the new transfer, although it is plagued by compression artifacts that seem shockingly poor even by the medium’s earliest standards.


Curiously, the 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track used on the previous Walt Disney Signature Collection release (2019) has been replaced. It’s not a great loss, as a film originally released in mono doesn’t have the source files to make it sound that much richer with an extra two speakers. As it stands, the English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix on both the 4K and Blu-Ray discs does a fine job of allowing elements of the score to travel to the rear channels, while most of the action is set in the three front channels. The 4K disc also includes a 2.0 Descriptive Audio track, plus French, Spanish, German, and Japanese 5.1. The included Blu-Ray disc features  English 5.1, 2.0, and Descriptive Audio, plus French and Spanish 5.1.

Packaging & Design

This 3-disc set from Disney Movie Club is housed in a standard black 4K case with a hinged disc holder. Only the 4K disc contains artwork (of Cinderella just after her dress transformation). A slipcover is included in the initial pressing, which features a pearlescent sheene and adds glitter accents to the magic dust around Cinderella.

The main menu across all three discs is reused from the Walt Disney Signature Collection release, featuring scenes from the film set inside the glass slipper (the clips are from the 2005 restoration). There aren’t any trailers.

Final Thoughts

For hand-drawn animated films, the jump from Blu-Ray to 4K typically only yields marginal boosts in detail and color. But since the previous disc releases of Cinderella had such a bad restoration, this one feels like a tremendous upgrade. This “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” from Disney Movie Club honors one of the company’s most significant films as part of the Disney 100 celebration. And while a wider release is planned (August 1st as a Best Buy exclusive SteelBook, October 17th for a general release), Disney Movie Club has branded this version as their own exclusive, likely meaning that the DVD disc will be omitted from the wide release. If you’re a big fan of Disney animation, upgrading your copy of Cinderella to one that shows the film’s actual level of artistry seems like a no-brainer.

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Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).