Common thief Aladdin is cunned by Jafar into stealing a lamp from the Cave of Wonders that was home to an all powerful Genie, only to realize the Genie can help him win the heart of his true love Princess Jasmine.
The story takes place in the mystical city of Agrabah, which is based mainly on the medieval city of Baghdad, the home of the 1001 Arabian Nights, and there are some inconsistencies in the time period. The sultan (who is never given a name) of Agrabah is secretly being controlled by his grand vizier, Jafar. Jafar, who is also a sorcerer, wants to be the sultan himself and rule Agrabah; to further his goals, he has spent years searching for the Cave of Wonders, so he can harness the magical mystical power of the genie of the lamp found within. However, Jafar discovers that only one person, a metaphorical "Diamond in the Rough", can enter the cave, or anyone accompanied by that person.
The sultan, meanwhile, is having problems with finding a prince for his daughter, Princess Jasmine, to marry. By mesmerizing him with his magical snake staff, Jafar convinces the sultan that Jafar needs the sultan's ring to find Jasmine a husband. Jafar actually needs the ring to discover the identity of the "Diamond in the Rough."
Jasmine, who does not want to be married off, decides to run away disguised as a peasant girl. In the anarchy of the streets, she is saved by a street urchin named Aladdin, though she doesn't learn his name. Meanwhile, Jafar discovers that Aladdin is the "Diamond in the Rough", and he sends palace guards to "capture the street rat." When Jasmine asks what happened to her savior, Jafar lies to Jasmine by saying he had been executed at dawn for "kidnapping the princess."
Later, Jafar, disguised as an old man, shows Aladdin a hidden passageway out of the dungeon to free and take him to the Cave of Wonders. Jafar tells Aladdin that if he brings back the lamp, he will be rewarded. The Cave's tiger-shaped head allows Aladdin to enter, but he can only touch the lamp. Inside the Cave, Aladdin successfully finds the lamp, but his pet monkey, Abu, loses control and attempts to take a jewel, causing the cave to melt around them. Aladdin and Abu manage to escape with the aid of a flying carpet named Carpet. Upon his escape, Aladdin hands Jafar the lamp, and Jafar decides to give him his "eternal reward", preparing to attack with his dagger. Abu saves Aladdin by biting Jafar's arm, and Abu and Aladdin fall back into the cave as it closes.
Aladdin, Abu and Carpet are all trapped inside the Cave of Wonders. Jafar discovers, to his dismay, that Abu got the lamp from him before they disappeared. Aladdin discovers that the lamp is home to an eccentric, fun-loving genie (simply named "Genie"), who will grant him any three wishes, excluding wishes to force a person to fall in love, to kill someone, to bring someone back from the dead, or to give his master extra wishes.
Aladdin tricks Genie into getting them out of the cave, without technically wishing for him to do so. Once out of the cave, Aladdin gets to know Genie, and asks him what he would wish for if he had the chance; Genie says he'd wish for freedom, but that can only be granted if his master is benevolent enough to free him with a wish. Aladdin promises to set Genie free with his last wish.
Aladdin, who has fallen in love with Princess Jasmine, is disappointed that he can't wish to make her fall in love with him. However, the law states that only a prince can marry a princess, so he wishes to become a prince.
Meanwhile, Jafar, who is worried that the princess might have him beheaded as punishment for supposedly having Aladdin executed, comes up with the idea to convince the sultan to let him become her husband with the help of his parrot, Iago. He later tries to mesmerize the sultan into granting this request with his staff, but is interrupted when the sultan is startled by the noise from Aladdin's approaching consort.
As "Prince Ali Ababwa", Aladdin returns to Agrabah and, although offending Jasmine by appearing as another typical rich and self-important prince, eventually wins Jasmine's love by taking her on a romantic ride on the flying carpet. Afterwards, Jasmine tricks Aladdin into admitting he's the street urchin she met in the marketplace. Aladdin naturally wishes to impress her, so he deceives her by telling her that he really is a prince and had just pretended be a commoner in order to escape the restrictions of palace life, much like what Jasmine did.
Jafar, who is afraid that "Prince Abooboo", as he incorrectly calls him, may win Princess Jasmine over, ruining his own evil plans to marry her, orders Aladdin out of the way. He orders the guards to have Aladdin gagged and tied up in shackles (which is not a problem, as Razoul, the chief guard, is plagued with a lust for killing). He tells him that he has "worn out his welcome," and a guard hits Aladdin over the head, knocking him unconscious. Aladdin comes to when the guards drop him over a cliff into the sea. They have attached a large metal ball-and-chain to his ankles, so he sinks very quickly. He hits the bottom, and his turban floats down. The lamp tumbles out and he begins to struggle towards it (which is difficult as the ball-and-chain attached to his ankles pulls him back), but passes out from lack of oxygen before he can reach it. Aladdin, bound and gagged, slides down towards the lamp, and rolls over, causing it to rub against his fingers. Genie appears, and saves Aladdin, using up his second wish. Aladdin and Genie return to the palace and Aladdin confronts Jafar over trying to have him killed. Jafar uses his staff to try to convince the sultan that Aladdin is lying, but Aladdin, seeing what he is doing, grabs the staff and shatters it. He then shows the sultan that Jafar has been controlling him and plotting against him. The sultan calls for the guards to arrest Jafar, but he manages to escape, and, before doing so, sees the lamp in Aladdin's possession. The sultan is convinced that his troubles are over as Jasmine has finally chosen a suitor.
All seems well, but the weight of his future responsibilities begins to distress Aladdin. He begins to consider going back on his promise to free Genie so he can keep a wish in reserve, which severely offends the spirit. Chastened, Aladdin decides to tell Jasmine the whole truth of the matter. Unfortunately, Aladdin leaves the lamp in his chamber and Jafar sends Iago to steal it. Lamp in hand, Jafar becomes Genie's next master, and wishes to become sultan. When the former sultan and Jasmine refuse to bow to him, he wishes to be the most powerful sorcerer in the world. With his new powers, Jafar forces them to bow to him.
Jafar then uses his magic to reveal that "Prince Ali" is merely the street urchin Aladdin, and after Jafar slaps Aladdin in the face, he banishes him to "the ends of the earth", in one of the palace towers. "The ends of the earth" appear to be Antarctica, the Arctic or possibly the Himalayas. Luckily, Abu and Carpet were banished with him, and Aladdin is able to fly back to Agrabah, with the intent of reclaiming the lamp.
Meanwhile, Jafar, who is angry that Jasmine does not wish to become his queen, makes a wish for Genie to cause her to fall in love with him. Genie tries to tell him that he cannot grant that wish, but Jafar does not listen. Jasmine, who sees Aladdin sneaking into the palace, pretends that the wish has taken effect, much to Genie's surprise, in order to distract Jafar. She even goes so far as to kiss him, causing Aladdin, Abu, the Genie and even Iago to blanche. At first it seems to be working; Jafar, however, sees Aladdin's reflection in Jasmine's crown and confronts him before he can reach the lamp.
Jafar uses magic to imprison or transfigure all the good characters other than Aladdin himself so they cannot steal the lamp back. Jafar eventually turns himself into a giant cobra and fights Aladdin. When Aladdin appears to be defeated, Jafar tells Aladdin that he was a fool for thinking he could defeat "the most powerful being on earth." Aladdin reminds Jafar he is not the most powerful being on earth and that honor belongs to Genie, since he gave Jafar his power in the first place.
Jafar decides to use his final wish to become the most powerful genie in the world. Jafar is at first convinced that his new powers will allow him to rule the universe, but he realizes too late that Aladdin tricked him, since as a genie, Jafar is no longer free. Jafar is imprisoned in his own lamp along with Iago. Genie sends them to the Cave of Wonders.
Of course, Aladdin is now no longer a prince and is not eligible to marry Jasmine. Genie insists that Aladdin use his final wish to make himself a prince again, but nevertheless, he keeps his promise and wishes for Genie's freedom. When all seems lost for Aladdin and Jasmine, the sultan decides that, between his loyalty to Genie and his courage in defeating Jafar, Aladdin has proven his worth; the sultan therefore changes the law so that "the princess shall marry anyone she deems worthy" meaning Aladdin and Jasmine can be married. Genie flies away to see the world while the happy couple begin their new life together.
- Aladdin: Scott Weinger (speaking); Brad Kane (singing)
- Jasmine: Linda Larkin (speaking); Lea Solonga (singing)
- Genie: Robin Williams
- Jafar: Johnathan Freeman
- Iago: Gilbert Gottfried
- Abu: Frank Welker
- The Sultan: Douglas Seale
- Arabian Nights
- One Jump Ahead
- Friend Like Me
- Prince Ali
- A Whole New World
- Prince Ali (Reprise)
- A Whole New World (Reprise)
- In an attempt to boost box office sales by increasing boy's interest in the film, Aladdin was featured more in the previews than Jasmine.
- When Rajah changes back to his normal self, his head turns into Mickey Mouse's for a split second.
- Seven different video games based on the movie were produced. Each one released for the Sega Genesis, Sega Game Gear, Super Nintendo Entertainment System (later ported to the Game Boy Advance), Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Sony PlayStation. The PlayStation version is actually an alternate sequel to the film, telling a whole new story compared to the theatrical release or either of its direct-to-video siblings.
- Robin Williams, the voice of the Genie, also voiced the Merchant. This is because the Merchant was originally supposed to return at the end singing a reprise of the opening song "Arabian Nights", revealing that he himself was at one time the Genie but had transformed into a human. This was changed during production and the Merchant only reappeared at the end of Aladdin and the King of Thieves, singing the "Arabian Nights" reprise that had already been recorded for the original movie.
- The Genie of the Magic Lamp (played voice of Hans Conried) in the 1981 movie 1001 Arabian Nights.
- The genie's appearance is similar to that of the genie in the 1940 movie, The Thief of Bagdad. That film's villain, an evil vizier named Jafar, is virtually the same character as Jafar in Aladdin -- from his appearance to his manner of speaking to his actions (bewitching the sultan, wooing the princess so he can become sultan himself). The film also features a human sidekick named Abu.
- The movie was also featured in the video game Kingdom Hearts, mirroring the plot of the movie loosely, but was cut down and altered to fit the game. In Agrabah, Aladdin teams up with Sora to fight off the Heartless invading his home. Princess Jasmine was kidnapped by Jafar and the Heartless, as she was revealed to be one of the Princesses of Heart. Once the Keyhole was sealed, Genie joins up with Sora as a summon under Aladdin's request to help them save Jasmine. A facsimile of Agrabah was also used for Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories for the Game Boy Advance. The world returns for Kingdom Hearts II, although the story involves more elements from The Return of Jafar, with the peddler from the start of the first film replacing Abis Mal.
- Some of the original songs before the story was rewritten and half of the characters were cut: "Proud of Your Boy" (supposed to be sung by Aladdin to his mother [who was later removed from the story] while she was sleeping), "Call Me A Princess", "Why Me", "Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim", "Humiliate The Boy" (sung by Jafar, cut as it was considered too cruel for the film), "High Adventure", and "Count on Me" (which was something Aladdin sung to his friends and family), which was changed to "A Whole New World". Rough versions of "High Adventure" and "Proud of Your Boy" can be found in the Special Edition Soundtrack. "Why Me" was recorded in the studio with Jonathan Freeman and can be found on the compilation album Aladdin: Magical Selections.
- Vocal doubles were used for the singing voices of the three major characters--Brad Kane for Scott Weinger (Aladdin), Lea Salonga for Linda Larkin (Jasmine), and Bruce Adler for Robin Williams (The Merchant), although Williams did do his own singing voice for the Genie.
- In 2003, Disney's California Adventure opened "Aladdin--A Musical Spectacular," a stage show based on the movie. The show has been quite popular due to the fact that while roughly 90% of it is scripted, the dialogue of the Genie constantly changes to reflect popular culture of the time. The show also carries an additional song by Jasmine that was cut from the movie "To Be Free."
- While in this film, the Genie only transforms twice into another Disney character; throughout the entire trilogy, he performs such transformations 12 times (not counting a second appearance as Jafar).
- In The Story of Prince Ahmed and Periebanou, a story found in the 1001 Arabian Nights, "Prince Ali" is the name of a brother of Prince Ahmed, the hero of the story.
- It has been said that Bill Plympton was originally considered to animate the Genie, as his animated shorts tend to feature many transformations.
- The Prince bitten by Rajah at the start of the film is addressed by the Sultan as Prince Achmed. Possibly a reference to the 1926 animated film The Adventures of Prince Achmed.
- The design of the Genie resembles that of a character shown in a 1959 Disney short, "Eyes in Outer Space" which can be found in the Walt Disney Treasures: Tomorrowland DVD set.
- The animated character of Aladdin was originally designed based on actor Michael J. Fox but during production it was decided that he wasn't "appealing enough" and they decided to draw to instead resemble actor Tom Cruise.
- Aladdin was one of the American Film Institute's 500 nominees for the 100 Funniest American Movies, but it did not make the final list.
- This is the first Disney movie to mention Allah or any other religious figure outside of Christianity.
- Plans were to re-release this movie in theaters in Fall 1998 and Spring 2004.