With the version of Pete’s Dragon now in theaters, I thought it would be a good time to rank the Disney dragons. I had to make some tough calls, but I think I have made the right decisions. So without further ado… the top 10 Disney dragons:
# 10 —Queen Narissa
While Enchanted evokes Disney’s animation legacy by having Queen Narissa transform into a dragon for the film’s climax, it inherently can’t help but feel like a retread. And while the CG dragon can be menacing, Susan Sarandon’s voice is not as dragon-like as you might expect.
#9 — Lilly
While a technical accomplishment, Lilly’s debut continues to be a bit confusing. The dragon, developed by Walt Disney Imagineering, was promoted through a social media campaign by the folks at Disney marketing. Therefore, it was puzzling why her only flight was reserved for a media-only event being held at New Fantasyland. Disney PR being a tease ended up overshadowing the technical mastery.
#8 — La Taniere Du Dragon
The dragon underneath Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant was at one time the largest audio-animatronic figure in the world. This dragon, which is not based on Sleeping Beauty, might not have the back-story that provides an emotional connection that resonates with other dragons on this list, yet you can’t help but be impressed in Disney pushing the technical envelope (in 1992).
#7 — Elliot
The dragon from 2016’s Pete’s Dragon is noticeable at first glance for being furry. The dog-like dragon is not as goofy as Pete’s other dragon, but critics and audience members seem to have fallen in love with him.
Animated by Disney Legend Frank Thomas, Mad Madam Mim’s wizards duel with Merlin sees her transform into a menacing, grotesque purple dragon. Thanks to Merlin, we learn that dragons are not immune to infectious diseases as he wins the duel by transforming into a germ.
There is no question that Mushu is a dragon and not a lizzard as he doesn’t do that “tongue thing.” The travel size dragon features the body of a snake, the horns of an elk, the claws of an eagle, the face of a camel, and the voice of a donkey.
#4 — Figment
Two tiny wings, eyes big and yellow. Horn of a steer, but a lovable fellow. From head to tail, he’s royal purple pigment. Did you know Figment was originally going to be green? As the story goes, Kodak was not to pleased with the mascot of their attraction being the color of Fuji film. Of course, Figment has the distinction of being a figment of our imagination, as opposed to the real dragons on this list.
#3 — Maleficent
Some dragons are friendly, some are not. Maleficent, imbued with all the powers of hell is the latter. Perhaps the most iconic Disney dragon, her fame has increased due to her role in the climax of Fantasmic! at both Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
While the film may not be the biggest success in the history of the Walt Disney Studios, the animation of Elliott is historic. As the first film that none of the Nine Old Men animated, the clumsy and childlike dragon was a major step in future animation legends Don Bluth, Glen Keane, and Randy Carthwright’s development. Of course, Elliott’s role in the iconic Main Street Electrical Parade has kept him top of mind while the film has moved into the background.
Perhaps the forgotten Disney dragon, The Reluctant Dragon brings us a “punk poet” dragon. Despite being the titular character, the dragon does not appear in the film, which was designed as a tour of the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, until the end. Here we meet a dragon that has no desire to fight, despite the human’s wishes that Sir Giles fight the dragon to the death. In the end, the dragon enters society with the following oath: “I promise not to rant or roar, and scourge the countryside anymore!”