Ever since the Disney+ streaming service graced our devices with the cornucopia of fond childhood memories spanning across all generations on Tuesday, Nov. 12, fans are relishing in the overwhelming content—making the decision of where to start more difficult than ever.
From the original movies to the many groundbreaking series, the Disney Channel vault reminds us of the impact the network’s major stars had on our lives.
Hilary Duff, Raven-Symoné and Miley Cyrus were the titans of the network’s golden era and laid the blueprint for the other girls to follow—making us all grab a wand, trace out the Mickey Mouse logo and practice saying, “You’re watching Disney Channel.”
Although “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club” in the early ‘90s gathered a cast of future superstars like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera, there is something to be said about the channel’s revamp in the early 2000s—starting with “Lizzie Mcguire,” which catapulted the idea of a series turning its lead actresses into multi-faceted stars.
Because of the success of “Lizzie McGuire,” Hilary Duff was able to transition into a spin-off movie. 2003’s “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” gave us the trip to Rome we’ve always dreamed of—exposing the Italian pop star Paolo for his lip synching ways and capping it off with a magical performance of “What Dreams Are Made Of.”
Duff was also the first Disney Channel lead actress to cross over and sign a record deal with Hollywood Records, which spawned the development of 2002’s “Santa Claus Lane” along with her second studio album “Metamorphosis” in 2003. The music videos for hits like “Come Clean” often played during commercial breaks—continuing to be the perfect opportunity to dramatically look out the window while singing, “Let the rain fall down/And wake my dreams/Let it wash away/My sanity.”
“That’s So Raven” established Raven-Symoné as the comedic mastermind of our generation—giving us the hilarious alter-egos we all know and love. From Liz Ania singing her rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In” in an effort to convince the local restaurant to bring Victor back to Sunshine singing about loving sweet corn in “The Ballad of the Salad,” Raven’s perfect timing made the show one of the highest-rated programs and was the first series in the channel’s history to produce 100 episodes.
Like Duff, Symoné went to star in multiple films. Being the channel’s first musical movie, Symoné starred as Galleria Gariboldi, also known as Bubbles, in “The Cheetah Girls.” In addition to sporting different colored velour tracksuits paired with cheetah print headbands, the girl group gave us empowering anthems in “Cinderella” and “Cheetah Sisters.” The movie continued into two sequels and later turned into a complete franchise—bringing in dolls, video games and platinum-selling soundtracks.
“Hannah Montana” gave a young Miley Cyrus the chance of a lifetime to implement everything Duff and Symoné brought to the table and took it even further. With the simple switch to blingy, rockstar clothes and a pristine blonde wig, the concept of Miley Stewart living a double life as an average schoolgirl by day and a pop star by night was simply genius.
Because the show was centered on music, Cyrus released multiple soundtrack albums as Hannah Montana to coincide with their respective seasons—even giving Cyrus a chance to introduce herself as an artist with the double-disc excellence of 2007’s “Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus.”
The show’s astronomical popularity soon led to touring with many arenas selling out in a matter of minutes. Switching back and forth between Cyrus’ two personas, the “Best of Both Worlds Tour” grossed over $54 million and was later adapted into a 3D film. Much like “The Lizzie McGuire Movie,” 2009’s “Hannah Montana: The Movie” also achieved commercial success in theaters—a step closer into Cyrus’ continued stardom with her larger than life pop music career.
Aside from all the success these three stars and many more big names brought to the channel, what remains is the great moments they provided for our young lives.
Now, Disney’s new streaming time capsule has given us the ability to reminisce and teach the new generation a thing or two about the original queens who paved the way.
Rylee Jackson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @rybyjackson.