Creator / Disney Channel

Established in 1983 — a time when the Walt Disney Company seemed to be on its last legs, just before the arrival of Michael Eisner and company — it initially served as an outlet for the company's old theatrical shorts, movies, and television shows, a source of documentary shows about Disney Theme Parks and films, and a dumping ground for productions Disney had little faith in. Similar to Nickelodeon's early years, it didn't air around the clock until the "Disney After Dark" block, with PG programming for adults (including Going Home, a series of concert specials featuring mostly baby boomer-era acts, and A Prairie Home Companion), was added. (In the UK it still doesn't air around the clock, with midnight to 6am relegated to "previews." Although Disney XD does go 24 hours.) The channel also featured a colorful variety of family-oriented movies and series from other companies and countries, especially Canada. (The Anne of Green Gables films were popular enough that they led to the successful spinoff series Avonlea in The '90s.) Many Eighties kids feel very nostalgic for these early days, which included Dot and the Kangaroo and its sequels, the Unico anime adaptations, the Tales for All films, and the later seasons of Kids Incorporated, all accompanied by colorful, often stop-motion Ad Bumpers (but without the ads). It also is remembered in that time for being a premium service, and for the ugly brown box on top of the cable box (and $7-a-month fee) which was required to unscramble its signal.

In the early '90's, when the company and the channel started getting treated with more respect, shows such as The New Mickey Mouse Club, the aforementioned Avonlea, Flash Forward (a launching pad for Ben Foster and Jewel Staite), In A Heartbeat and The Famous Jett Jackson helped the channel improve. However, it eternally lagged behind the wildly popular Nickelodeon, in part because it was a pay cable service like HBO. It subsequently moved to basic cable in the summer of 2001 (though the transition had been under way before then, at least to 1997 and the three block approach to programming) and developed a unique format — instead of commercial breaks, pauses in programming are filled with promotions for other shows, Disney films and other Disney products like CDs and their sister radio network, Radio Disney, which are often their own promotional mini-shows. In addition, the adult-oriented lineup was replaced with "Vault Disney", a programming block that featured the vintage Disney shows that had been the channel's lifeblood for so long.

Then someone in the company had the idea for Lizzie McGuire. Its success led Disney to create more and more preteen sitcoms where the idealism is cranked Up to 11 and the Laugh Track never stops. The channel became very popular with teenage girls thanks to Hannah Montana, the High School Musical franchise, The Jonas Brothers and other, similar live-action series/stars, starting in 2006.

The channel is especially infamous for giving most of its show's stars a singing career. Whether it be singing Auto-Tune heavy covers of Disney classics, or pop hits penned by several writers, essentially every member of Hannah Montana or That's So Raven was singing some random song. Today, most Disney Channel stars (especially main cast) are picked specifically because they at least show a lot of singing promise, and the show ends up being built around promoting that talent (see Austin & Ally, A.N.T. Farm, Shake It Up!). Consequently, expect a lot of Do It Yourself Theme Tunes. Typically, these recordings are released through Hollywood Records

Toon Disney was a spinoff channel that focused on Disney animation, but as a result of Network Decay became Disney XD (The XD has no real meaning). Ironically, the network now has an increased focus on animation in recent years, especially with the success of Phineas and Ferb, Disney's ownership of the Marvel license bringing in animated cartoons featuring various heroes, and Star Wars Rebels. There are now two programming blocks on the main Disney Channel dedicated to re-airing Disney XD shows, one of which is in turn dedicated solely to animation.

The Playhouse Disney preschool-oriented morning block was a staple of the network for many years and underwent a number of shifts. On Valentine's Day, 2011 it was rebranded as Disney Junior (a website and a Youtube channel have been created) and in March 2012 it became a full 24-hour-network in the U.S., replacing SOAPNet — a very controversial move among Soap Opera fans. Some carriers are continued to provide an automated version of SOAPNet alongside Disney Junior until carriage agreements have been worked out. Playhouse Disney already existed as an independent network in many non-U.S. markets and have been rebranded as Disney Junior as well.

As part of the channel's 30th anniversary, the channel launched a classics block every Thursday midnights from 12 midnight to 6 am ET/PT which aired 2 episodes each from old Disney shows and/or an old Disney Channel Original Movie, called Disney Replay. However, after the block got shortened to 2 hours during 2015, it was phased out in favor of a similar block on Freeform, airing Mondays through Fridays.

See also DCLAU.

Shows Originating on The Disney Channel: (shows marked with an asterisk appear on the "Disney XD on Disney Channel" block)


Animated shows in both the "Playhouse Disney" and "Disney Junior" blocks

Animated shows in the Disney Junior block and 24/7 Disney Junior channel only

Animated shows airing only on the 24/7 Disney Junior channel

Animated shows in the "Playhouse Disney" block onlynote 

Live-action / puppetry shows in the "Playhouse Disney" block

Live-action / puppetry shows in both the "Playhouse Disney" and "Disney Junior" blocks

Also, at least seven The Disney Afternoon series which were made for syndication were "previewed" on The Disney Channel:

Live-Action / See also: DCLAU

Other Disney shows that were produced outside of the United States:
  • As The Bell Ringsnote 
  • Evermoor (Re-titled The Evermoor Chronicles after the pilot)note 
  • Soy Lunanote 
  • Stitch!note 
  • Violettanote 

Other Disney (or not) shows that originated elsewhere have aired on Disney Channel:

Well-known Disney Channel Original Movies:

Other Disney Channel Original Movies

Other Disney (or not) movies that originated elsewhere have aired on Disney Channel:

Among the popular celebrities who gained fame through this channel: