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Disney vs. Pixar: Surveying American Preferences [2022 Data Survey]

Alex Miller's image
Alex Miller
Alex Miller's image

Alex Miller

Founder & CEO

Countries Visited: 34U.S. States Visited: 29

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business...

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“Cars” or “Cinderella?” “Moana” or “WALL-E?” “The Lion King” or “Toy Story?”

Disney and Pixar have come out with tons of great movies, and there’s no denying that one of these might be your favorite. Are you passionate about one being better than the other? Do you believe that the animation of Pixar is superior to that of classic Disney? You’re not alone!

In order to determine the correlation between ticket sales and movie preferences, the team at Upgraded Points conducted a nationwide survey and found each state’s favorite Pixar and Disney animated movies and compared them to box office sales. We also determined which franchise ultimately reigns supreme in every state. Grab your popcorn and let the reading begin.

Disney vs. Pixar: The Top Franchise in Every State

U.S. map showing Disney vs. Pixar in every state
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Diving into the data, we mapped out whether each state preferred Disney or Pixar-animated films. State preferences were almost split throughout the country! While just a narrow margin, 54.7% of states favor Pixar films, while 44.2% of states prefer Disney films. If you’re someone who just can’t decide between 2great options … that’s alright! Kentucky also had trouble: it is the only state in the U.S. that resulted in a 50/50 tie!

Both studios are known for their spectacular animation films, and for their themed family attractions. Both the Disney amusement parks and Pixar-themed “lands” have attracted their fair share of movie-loving families and enamored children. As both Disney and Pixar were founded in California, residents have the luxury of visiting both Disneyland and Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure. That being said, California locals prefer Pixar movies. However, this was a close split with 56% of Californians preferring Pixar films and 44% preferring Disney. If you live on the East Coast, you may be more familiar with Walt Disney World and Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida. However, 52% of Florida residents favor Pixar animated films over Disney films.

Infographic comparing popular Disney and Pixar movies
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Disney and Pixar films are undeniably popular in the U.S., so we wanted to go a step further by comparing the most popular movies among respondents to those grossing the highest in box office sales. When asked to make a guess, 63% of respondents said they thought Disney ranked higher than Pixar in box office sales on average — and they were right. The highest-grossing Disney movie, “Frozen,” brought in $1.28 billion while Pixar’s leading film, “Finding Nemo,” brought in $871 million.

Olaf may say that certain movies are worth melting for, as the Disney film “Frozen” topped the box office with $1.281 billion in sales. However, no state claimed “Frozen” as its favorite Disney movie. On the other hand, 25 states, including Arizona and Wisconsin, selected “The Lion King” as their favorite Disney animated film. Additionally, the film placed second in box office sales with $1.083 billion. 

When viewers think of Disney movies, characters like Aladdin, Princess Belle, Mulan, and Ariel may be some of the first to come to mind, yet these timeless tales did not place among the highest-grossing movies at the box office. The second-favorite Disney movie, according to fans, is “Aladdin.” ranking high in 9 states, followed by “Beauty and the Beast,” which was ranked in 3 states: Kentucky, North Carolina, and West Virginia. “Mulan” also ranked in 3 states, including Nebraska, New Jersey, and New York. The last Disney film rounding out our top 5 is “The Little Mermaid,” coming in as Nevada’s favorite. However, some states, like Colorado, favored more niche Disney films like “The Emperor’s New Groove.” Shockingly, only 1 out of the 5 fan-favorite Disney films landed on the list of highest-grossing movies.

The Disney box office sales did not reflect the popularity of the fan-favorite movies collected in our data. Recent films released over the last 8 years, such as “Zootopia,” “Big Hero 6,” and Rhode Island’s favorite Disney movie, “Moana,” have ranked among Disney’s top 5 grossing films.

Despite 55% of America preferring Pixar movies over Disney, the box office sales indicated otherwise. The top 3 highest-grossing Disney films generated over $1 billion, whereas the highest-grossing Pixar film was just under $900 million. Finding Nemo” ranked number 1 in box office sales at $871 million and was the most popular Pixar movie in 3 states: Alabama, Indiana, and Kansas. Buzz Lightyear went to infinity and beyond as “Toy Story” topped the list as the most popular Pixar movie in 35 states, including Illinois and Massachusetts. Pixar recently released the new spin-off movie “Lightyear,” which surely has those 35 states jumping for joy!

“WALL-E” was the next favorite Pixar movie ranking in 3 states, Louisiana, Oregon, and Utah, while “Monsters, Inc.” won 2 states, Idaho and Rhode Island. “Inside Out,” “Coco,” “Up,” and “The Incredibles” rounded out the top-grossing films at the box office, although they did not capture the heart of any state in particular when respondents were asked their favorite Pixar film.

Perceptions Towards Disney and Pixar Films

Chart illustrating various statistics around Disney and Pixar films
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Beyond just finding each state’s favorite Disney and Pixar films, Next, we wanted to dig into the perceptions of Disney and Pixar animated movies to determine how fans really feel about each franchise.  While two-thirds of individuals do not feel a significant quality difference between the films, there are a few notable distinctions highlighted by respondents.

 Walt Disney believed in the power of imagination. He created enchantment in stories like “Pinocchio,” “Snow White,” “Peter Pan,” and “Cinderella.” It is difficult to top some of the classic Disney movies and the majority of individuals would agree, as only 45% of Americans say that Disney movies have improved over time. On the other hand, 3 out of every 4 individuals believe that Pixar animated films have improved with time.

Disney is known for its magic, and 66% of people feel that Disney films have more happy endings than Pixar movies. One thing both Disney and Pixar films have in common is having some catchy soundtracks; however, the soundtracks designed for Disney films are preferred by 63% of people over Pixar soundtracks.  

Disney and Pixar movies might be geared towards young viewers, but that doesn’t mean that a few jokes for the older audience aren’t thrown in for the parents’ entertainment! 76% of respondents believe that Pixar is more adult-friendly than Disney movies. Pixar and chill? Who wouldn’t love to binge on some classic Pixar movies like “Cars,” “Up,” “WALL-E,” and “Monsters, Inc.”? Pixar ranked higher in preference for both first date and road trip movies.   

Methodology

In April 2022, we surveyed over 3,100 people over the age of 18 across the U.S. We asked participants questions about their overall preferences, opinions, and attitudes towards Disney and Pixar movies. Due to insufficient sample sizes, Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming were not included.  

Our survey focused on movies from both studios that have a reputation for being well-known and well-loved. We strayed away from asking about sequels and live-action remakes to focus on original, animated movies from both Disney and Pixar.

Final Thoughts

While Disney might have more happy endings and better soundtracks, Pixar takes the cake with better storylines and star-studded casts. The casts and storylines might have been what gave Pixar the edge in winning over 54.7% of America’s hearts. In addition, these features make Pixar the ultimate go-to for any occasion, from first dates to road trips.

No matter your preference, there’s no denying that both of these incredible studios have given us some of the best movies. From “Cinderella” to “Encanto,” “Toy Story” to “Turning Red” — you really can’t go wrong with watching a movie from Disney or Pixar!

Alex Miller's image

About Alex Miller

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business, The New York Times, and more.

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