Looking back at the late 90s and early 2000s, Disney Channel gave us over 100 TV shows and movies that become staples of our childhood. We grew up watching shows like “That’s So Raven” and “Hannah Montana” and viewing movies like “High School Musical.” Disney Channel is far from young and is now turning 40 years old. To celebrate this significant milestone, we are looking back at all of the Disney Channel’s original movies and ranking the very best. Here are the greatest Disney Channel original movies of all time:
6. “Let It Shine”
“Let It Shine” does not get enough credit as a Disney original. This is partly because the movie was released in 2012 and so many forget about the film since it is a late Disney original. But don’t let that fool you because “Let It Shine” is an absolute must-watch. The film follows a teenage boy Cyrus (Tyler James Williams), and his friend Kris (Trevor Jackson), who both enter their own songs for a contest to sing with pop star Roxie (Coco Jones). Although Cyrus wins the contest, the producers mistakenly think that Kris is the one who wrote the song. Cyrus decides to stay out of the limelight and let Kris pretend to be him after discovering that his friend has a crush on Roxie.
Like most Disney Channel original movies, “Let It Shine” discusses the importance of pursuing one’s dreams and not letting anyone stop you from doing what you love through an endearing storyline. Also, you can’t forget the fantastic soundtrack. The music creator of “Let It Shine”, Richard Gibbs, was able to incorporate genres such as hip-hop, rap and gospel that Disney viewers had yet to see and spin all these sounds into Disney hits. Some notable songs are “Don’t Run Away” and “Me and You,”. These tunes are so catchy they will have you humming along as you watch.
5. “Jump In”
The “High School Musical” star Cordon Bleu got his first Disney Channel solo in “Jump In,” and he did not disappoint. This movie follows a young boxer named Izzy (Bleu) who fills in for his friend Mary’s (Keke Palmer) skipping team after one of her members drops out at the last minute. Izzy finds himself loving the new sport and starts questioning whether boxing is what he really wants to do.
This movie had everything from an outstanding storyline that touches on masculinity and following one’s heart to amazing tunes like “Push It to the Limit.” In addition to these merits, the film influenced countless children towards learning how to both jump rope and box.
Disney Channel during Halloween was one of the best times growing up. Watching our favorite Disney Channel shows feature Halloween specials and Disney Channel playing their Halloween movies had every child looking forward to the spooky season. “Twitches” was one of those movies that everybody played on repeat during that season and, years later, nothing has changed. The film had the beloved twins from “Sister, Sister,” Tia and Tamera Mowry playing long-lost twin sisters who reunite and discover they possess magical powers. This movie had the perfect balance of light-hearted fun with the portrayal of witches’ magical powers while also being slightly frightening with the force of darkness, making it one of the best Disney Channel Halloween movies.
3. “Camp Rock”
Disney Channel fans were obsessed with Disney’s original movies telling fun stories through song and dance. Following that formula, Disney outdid itself by creating “Camp Rock.” What child didn’t want to go to a rock summer camp where you just sing and dance? The film follows Mitchie (Demi Lovato), a shy teen who desperately wants to spend her summer in a rock camp. But, she can only get in by working in the kitchen. One day while setting up lunch for the camp rockers, she is overheard singing by superstar Shane (Joe Jonas), but he doesn’t get the opportunity to see her. So, he sets out to find the girl behind the voice. Although the movie followed a similar Cinderella-style plotline, the film displayed an edgier side through the soundtrack and choreography, making it all the more unique. Also, having the Jonas Brothers make their acting debut in the movie was every child’s dream come true.
2. “High School Musical 2”
Having “High School Musical 2” on the list instead of “High School Musical” may be controversial to the masses. But to be fair, “High School Musical 2” was such a summertime staple growing up that it slightly beats its predecessor. The opening scene of students on the last school day at East High, anticipating for summer to start, perfectly captured the euphoria that most students experience on the last day of school. Plus, the Wildcat crew stepping outside East High and spending the summer season at the Lava Springs country club was refreshing and fun to watch. Also, of course, it wouldn’t be a hit Disney Channel Movie without the soundtrack, and this film knocks it out of the park with songs like “Fabulous,” “Bet On It” and “I Don’t Dance.”
For the No. 1 Disney Channel movie of all time, it has to be none other than “Cheetah Girls.” The film was based on the book series by Deborah Gregory that follows four friends on their journey to superstardom. What makes this movie so iconic is the music. The “Cheetah Girls” had an outstanding soundtrack with songs such as “Cinderella,” “Girl Power” and “Cheetah Sisters”. These tracks had influences from Destiny’s Child that you could never get tired of listening to. Every child at the time used to sing those songs and learn the choreography imagining that they were a part of the Cheetah Girls group. And let’s not forget that the Disney Channel queen Raven Symoné starred in the film alongside Adrienne Bailon, Sabrina Bryan and Kiely Williams. The sheer star power of the cast ranks this movie as one of the best original movies Disney Channel has offered.
All movies are available to watch on Disney+.