I am a ’90s kid.
I’m talking Oregon Trail (like the one that needed a floppy disk), Dunkaroos, VHS tapes, Tamagotchis, Nanopets, All That!, and dial-up internet. Most importantly, I grew up in a time when Disney released amazing original movies once a month. So today I’m taking you through some of the best Disney Channel Original Movies from the perspective of a ’90s kid.
As much as I love Zac Efron, there will be no High School Musical (1,2 or 3) on this list. Sorry, but they don’t make the cut.
As I was putting this list together, I realized how many actors and actresses got started with Disney Channel Original Movies. To name a few: Paul Walker, America Ferrera, and Katherine Heigl. Thank you Disney, for finding this talent. So let’s get started with a little trip back to 1995…
Disney Channel Original Movies
- Escape to Witch Mountain – While I do like this movie (and how cute is baby Erik von Detten), it this isn’t one of my all-time favorite Disney Channel Movies. A few years ago it was on and I realized that Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men) was the little girl in this…who knew?
- Wish Upon a Star – So before she was cutting Denny’s l-vat wire or trying on 27 Dresses Katherine Heigl got her start in Disney movies. She plays Alexia Wheaton, a popular Queen Bee who wakes up to find she’s switched bodies with her nerdy younger sister. Yup, it’s basically a complete rip off of Freaky Friday, but I loveeeed this movie.
- Susie Q – Say hello to Amy Jo Johnson, you know the Pink Ranger from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. In this movie, she plays a teen who dies on the way to Winter Formal back in the 1950s. She ends up coming back to her old house about 40 years later and the only person who can see her is Zach, who currently lives in the house.
- The Paper Brigade – The movie was about a group of paperboys out for revenge against bullies- how could you not love it?! I wanted to be a papergirl for all of like five seconds after just about every time I watched this movie. In my opinion, Crazy Man Cooper was probably the best character in the movie. Fun fact: Kyle Howard who played the main character of Gunther dated Laguna Beach/ The Hills star LC for a bit — so there’s that.
- Brink! – That’s right another Erik Von Detten (EVD) movie. Side note: I sadly can’t find what he’s up to. His last credit on IMDB is Toy Story 3 (2010)—come back, EVD! Anyways in Brink, we follow EVD and his Soul Skaters crew (hey, Taina!) through a rivalry with Val and the X-Blades. He joins the X-Blades to raise money for his dad, but in the end rejoins the Soul Skaters and wins a big competition.
- Meet The Deedles – R.I.P. Paul Walker. Now to be clear this wasn’t a Disney Channel Original Movie – this was actually released in theaters. However, it bombed and I remember it constantly playing on Disney Channel after reruns of Bug Juice. Basically, these two “totally dude” surfers end up as Yellowstone Park Rangers and mayhem/stupidity ensues.
- Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century – Zetus Lupetus! I’m not going to remind you of the plot, I’m just going to leave this wonderful clip here: Zoom zoom zoom, you make my heart go boom boom.
- Smart House – Plot reminder: Ben wins a fully automated dream house in a competition, but the house, Pat, starts to develop a mind of its own. Did you know LeVar Burton — Reading Rainbow — directed this movie? Also, one more video clip, because I need someone to remember the boy band, 5ive.
- Johnny Tsunami – So what I remember about this movie is that Johnny is basically some sort of child surfing prodigy and his grandfather is a surging legend and hero. His dad on the other hand hates surfing and uproots the family to Vermont. Johnny befriends The Famous Jett Jackson, gets a crush on Zenon and ends up being amazeballs at snowboarding because apparently waves and snow are basically the same thing. Oh and these hats!!!!
- Up, Up, and Away – Never have I ever loved Robert Townsend more in a role since The Five Heartbeats. To refresh your memory, the movie follows a little boy Scott whose parents, Bronze Eagle (Robert Townsend) and Warrior Woman are both superheroes. Sadly, he never developed his own superhuman abilities.
The Color of Friendship – Man watching clips from this movie while writing this post brought on the feels. Disney got all the way real and openly discussed politics, diplomacy, apartheid, and racism. Check out the clip below:
- Model Behavior – Back when Justin Timberlake still had ramen noodle hair, he launched his acting career with a this little gem. Why isn’t this movie on Netflix?
- Zenon the Zequel – Back in the day, when I still loved Raven-Symoné, I was livid that they switched she wasn’t in the movie playing Zenon’s trusty BFF, Nebula Wade. Now I don’t care as much, also I’m pretty sure I have all three movies on my DVR right now so guess what I’m doing this weekend. 🙂
- Motocrossed – In Case You Forgot: After her twin brother breaks his leg, Andrea (Andi) secretly poses as him to win the big motocross race. This movie proved girls could do everything that boys can, hello feminist Disney! What I didn’t realize until now is that this movie was based on William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Which is probably why this movie and Ten Things I Hate About You speak to me. Or it could just be Riley Smith and Heath Ledger.
- Jett Jackson: The Movie- R.I.P. Lee Thompson Young. So the movie was essentially a bigger, cooler (and longer) episode of the TV show, but I loved it so it makes the list.
- Gotta Kick it Up! – How many of you know the phrase Si, se puede because of this movie? Also, look at baby America Ferrera. Anyways, as a dancer, I loved any movie about dance, but this happened to be based on a true story so more points for Disney.
- Cadet Kelly
- Phantom of the Megaplex
- Under Wraps
What movies are missing from this list? Let me know in the comments below!