Best animated space movies for kids

Best animated movie for kids_WALL-E patting couch_WALL-E_Disney PIXAR
(Image credit: Disney/PIXAR)

The best animated space movies for kids will introduce your little ones to the concept of intergalactic travel while allowing you to kick back and enjoy some entertainment, too. There are few media forms as captivating as animation, which can hold the attention of adults and children alike.

We’ve created this shortlist for this very purpose, rounding up the best animated space movies for kids that’ll let both big and little kids explore the universe. You’ll find a mix of cult classics and family favorites below, with the mood and plot of each movie clearly explained, so you can quickly pick your next watch from the list. Then, when the kids are a little bit older, you can introduce them to our selection of the best space movies.

WALL-E - Best for life lessons

WALL-E and EVE exploring the Axiom spaceship_WALL-E 2008_Disney PIXAR

(Image credit: Disney/PIXAR)
  • Release date: June 21, 2008
  • Recommended age: 10 and above

Both a tear-jerker and a lesson in the dangers of consumerism, WALL-E is a firm favorite that you’ll find at the top of every list of the best animated space movies for kids. The movie is set in 2805 and follows a compactor robot, WALL-E, who’s tasked with cleaning up the Earth after humans turn it into a giant trash pile. During routine trash collection, WALL-E encounters an egg-shaped robotic creature, EVE, who has been sent out as a probe by the spaceship Axiom. Following his new robot friend, WALL-E is eventually transported to Axiom, where he conspires with EVE and the ship’s captain to rekindle life on Earth. There are a couple of layers of added authenticity in this movie, which will delight space enthusiasts: Pixar animators visited NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and watched a recording of a Mars Rover to make sure the animations of the robots felt realistic. And, the design of Axiom is said to have been inspired by 1960s paintings of NASA.

Planet 51 -  Best for new perspectives

Planet 51_TriStar Pictures

(Image credit: TriStar Pictures)
  • Release date: November 14, 2009
  • Recommended age: 10 and above

Ever wondered how aliens would react to humans? Planet 51 takes that question and makes it into a parody sci-fi movie. The green extraterrestrial beings in this film occupy Planet 51, a civilization that greatly resembles the suburban ‘murika of the 50s. The peaceful lives of these lovable ETs are interrupted with the accidental arrival of Charles T. Baker, an astronaut from Earth who is confused for an alien zombie by the general of the army on Planet 51. It’s a fairly playful film, with Dwayne Johnson taking the lead of the confused astronaut. There are a few little Easter eggs that adults will enjoy spotting (such as the alien dog being named Ripley), while kids should be kept entertained by the fairly broad humor.

Treasure Planet - Best for imaginative types

Treasure Planet_Walt Disney Studios

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)
  • Release date: November 17, 2002
  • Recommended age: 10 and above

Treasure Planet is an animated, sci-fi adaptation of R. L. Stevenson’s famous Treasure Island, but instead of pirate boats on the great wide ocean we’re treated to ships floating in space for this fantasy adventure. Set in a fictional layer of space called “Etherium”, the movie follows Jim, a young boy, as he embarks on a solar-powered ship to find the titular Treasure Planet. Threatening his mission are mutinous pirates, black holes, and space storms. It’s not the most scientifically accurate movie, but what it lacks in accuracy it makes up for with imagination, creating a parallel galactic universe with space-borne flying sea creatures (Orcus Galacticus) and shape-shifting, parrot-like pets (Morph). 

Titan A.E. - Best animated space action

Screenshot from Titan A.E

(Image credit: Getty/ 20th Century Fox)
  • Release date: June 13, 2000
  • Recommended age: 12 and above

A mega space opera, Titan A.E. is a post-apocalyptic, cult classic sci-fi animation which is why it’s secured a spot on our best animated space movies for kids list. It tells the story of humans on the verge of extinction, who struggle to survive in outer space after the decimation of Earth (the A.E. in the title refers to “After Earth”). Central characters Cale and Akima encounter and fight several intergalactic creatures during the movie. The visualization of space is awe-inducing in this film, introducing kids to the sheer scale of the universe. Titan A.E. steers clear of the usual goofiness in kids animated films - it’s a must-watch for anyone who enjoys high octane action sequences and cool sci-fi concepts. 

Space Jam - Best for laughs

Michael Jordan playing basketball_Space Jam_Warner Bros.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)
  • Release date: November 15, 1996
  • Recommended age: 8 and above

Is it a sports movie? Is it a cartoon? Space Jam is a bit of both and a wholly unique take on sci-fi with lovable cartoon figures. The Looney Tunes are abducted and brought to Moron Mountain, a fictional amusement park set in space. The only way to gain freedom is through a competitive game of basketball, so Bugs Bunny and the Tune Squad kidnap legendary basketball star Michael Jordan. The fictional visualization of outer space is juxtaposed against actual shots of the basketball court, which makes for some trippy visuals. The goofy interaction between cartoon characters and Michael Jordan should delight younger viewers and give adults a healthy dose of nostalgia, making it not only one of the best animated space movies for kids, but for an older audience, too. 

The Iron Giant - Best for heartwarming story

  • Release date: August 6, 1999
  • Recommended age: 8 and above

The Iron Giant_AccuSoft Inc.

(Image credit: AccuSoft Inc.)

This isn’t strictly set in space, but it does feature an alien giant so we’re counting it and adding it to our list of best animated space movies for kids. A heartwarming animated sci-fi movie, The Iron Giant tells the story of a friendship between a 50-foot tall metal alien and a young boy named Hogarth. While the alien is eager to learn about - and appreciate - life on Earth, the U.S. government is not so happy to have him hanging around. Set in October 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik-1 (Earth’s first artificial satellite), the film takes the audience back to when the space race first began between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.

Pinocchio in Outer Space - Best space fairy tale

Pinocchio in Outer Space

(Image credit: Getty/ Belvision)

A classic fairy tale set in space? Sign us up! Pinocchio in Outer Space pre-dates the first moon-landing; this makes the cartoon film all the more fascinating to watch, as the 60s movie presents pure fantasy in terms of space exploration. Beloved children’s character Pinocchio is joined by a space alien, Nurtle, who drives him around Mars on a spaceship as they try to locate Astro, an intergalactic murderous space whale. In order to turn into a little boy from a puppet, Pinocchio must destroy Astro. An easy to follow re-telling of a children’s classic story, it encourages the children to think about concepts like space travel and aliens. It's also just a beautiful example of early animation – it can be tricky to track down, but try hunting on Amazon for used VHS tapes...

  • Release date: December 22, 1965
  • Recommended age: 6 and above

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Anisha Saigal is an arts and culture researcher and writer from New Delhi, India. Previously working in publishing, Anisha now writes a weekly column on television and films online. A doctoral candidate at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, she’s terminally distracted with all things films and TV and spends her waking hours streaming trivia on the same.