Magazine Decay: DA was once a nearly-educational magazine aimed at children, covering varied and sundry topics (one issue, for example, covered the Vikings and Norse Myth). As the years passed, however, it narrowed its scope to the point that it became yet another facet of Disney's marketing department. Near the end of its lifespan, it shifted away from Disney... only to have issues about other licensed properties such as SpongeBob SquarePants.
Literally, as well. The magazine switched from a glue binding to staples and a thinner, glossier paper in January 1998, and the staple-bound issues aren't as durable as the glue-bound.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Look at message boards: fans of DA in the 90s can't stand to talk about the editorial direction the magazine took after 1999.
"In order to write a cover story on Urkel, they had to somehow understand why he was popular, and this would not be an easy task by any means. I don't think they had any idea, and the pressure to click with kids was on, so they came to an easy conclusion: anything popular with us must be considered the epitome of cool by us. So....nerds must be cool now!"
The site goes on to state that when one reader wrote in to complain and call them nerds, they wrote back with: "Hey, thanks for inviting us into the Nerd Hall of Fame; we can't think of a cooler place to haaaang."
DA's increasing focus on popular non-Disney properties over Disney properties near the end of its run seemed to brush at this, considering Disney's Dork Age of 2000-2008 when their own new properties weren't selling.
One early letters section talked about Elijah Wood and Macaulay Culkin, and mentioned a then-upcoming movie starring both actors called The Good Son...
In one issue about UFOs and extraterrestrials, DA did a profile of the Queen Alien as a bad creature to tangle with. They even labeled her as Queen of the Universe, complete with a composite picture of the beast with a Miss Universe sash and a crown. And they even went into detail what the Xenomorphs did to people, even joking, "This one will give you a new meaning to the term 'Bellyache', literally!" This crosses into Nightmare Fuel territory, or at the very least, leaves you staring at that picture for hours, trying to decide if that was supposed to be funny, or scary as heck, or whatever...
In the run-up to the first High School Musical, an interview with Vanessa Hudgens has her explaining that her favorite film is RENT, a musical about a group of starving artists trying to survive in the shadow of the AIDS epidemic of the 80's.
The September 2004 issue has an interview with Daryl Sabara (of Spy Kids), who landed a role in the decidedly kid-unfriendly Father of the Pride, which was pointed out in almost every pre-release interview as having mature humor.