The Disney Channel is a family network that features television shows geared toward children of all ages. Disney Junior provides entertainment for children in preschool and airs during the morning and early afternoon on the Disney Channel. Entertainment for school-aged children is broadcast in the late afternoon and evening.
The History of the Disney Channel
The Walt Disney Company originally focused on major animated motion pictures, and the idea for a dedicated television network that would give the company an outlet for material found at its studio was not developed until 1977. It took five years for the idea to gain enough support in the studio to become a reality, and the Disney Channel was launched in 1983 under the direction of Alan Wagner.
Early shows featured classic Disney animation with musical interludes that were geared toward children. Live action shows that became popular as the network evolved in the late 1980s included the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, a show that allowed many modern stars including Ryan Gosling and Christina Aguilera to get a start in show business.
In the late 1990s, the Disney Channel moved from being a premium cable channel to being a basic cable channel. The transition was difficult and involved working closely with cable providers to ensure that the channel was available through basic cable. Cable companies that did not make the change were not allowed to offer the network at all.
The late 1990s also brought the introduction of Playhouse Disney. Playhouse Disney, now known as Disney Junior, provides entertainment for preschoolers. Programming for preschoolers is currently offered during the day on the Disney Channel and 24 hours a day on a dedicated Disney Junior channel.
The network began airing movies that were specifically made for the Disney Channel in 2003. Since 2007, the focus of the channel has been on exclusive shows. Prior to this shift, the network was known to regularly run reruns of shows that originally aired on other networks.
Sister networks of the Disney Channel include Disney XD, Disney Junior, ABC, ABC Family and Soapnet.
The network’s website can be located at http://disney.go.com/disneychannel/.
Top Disney Channel Shows
Disney Channel shows typically feature live action story lines that run for the duration of the main characters’ childhood. The most popular shows that are currently being broadcast on the Disney Channel are detailed below.
• Good Luck Charlie tells the story of the Duncan family in Denver, Colorado. Teen daughter Teddy Duncan, played by Bridget Mendler, is the main character. Teddy’s goal throughout the series is to provide life advice for her little sister Charlie, played by Mia Talerico, by making a video diary. The Duncan family also includes mom Amy, dad Bob and sons PJ, Gabe and Toby.
• Jessie is about the adventures of Jessie Prescott, played by Debbie Reynolds, who moves from Texas to New York City in search of fame and ends up as the nanny of the Ross children. As Jessie struggle to fit in as a country girl in the big city, the dynamics of the Ross clan provide plenty of distraction.
• Austin and Ally pairs outgoing singer Austin Moon, played by Ross Lynch, and shy songwriter Ally Dawson, played by Laura Marano as a dynamic musical duo living in Miami, Florida. Shy Ally is unable to sing in public because of her fears, and Austin has little talent for writing music. The fictional show follows the two as they combine their talents to enjoy a lucrative music career.
• Shake It Up follows friends Rocky Blue, played by Zendaya, and CeCe Jones, played by Bella Thorne, as they dance on fictional television show Shake It Up Chicago and navigate the complications of life in high school.
• Phineas and Ferb is one of the animated offerings that the Disney Channel airs. Step brothers Phineas Flynn and Ferb Fletcher work together to build elaborate machines that help them make the most of their summer break while their sister Candace tries time and time again to get her mother to see the boys’ inventions.