The Disney Channel has had hundreds of original movies premiere on their network, ranging from a house that comes to life (Smart House) to a boy who finds out he’s part leprechaun (Luck of the Irish). Aliens, witches, twin sisters who never knew the other existed, children of villains – you name it, and Disney Channel has made a movie about it. And to make it better, most of the movies are under an hour and a half, so it’s perfect if you want to host a marathon of old Disney Channel movies! While there is a vast list of movies that make up Disney Channel’s roster, here’s a list of some of the best, ranked.
Updated on September 19th, 2023, by Soniya Hinduja: This article has been updated with additional content to keep the discussion fresh and relevant with even more information and new entries.
15 Smart House (1999)
Before Siri and Alexa took over our homes and ultimately our lives and made us annoyingly dependent on technology, Disney brought the concept of a smart home to life in this classic that is way ahead of its time, not because of the execution but because of the idea. Smart House is a funny little Disney Channel Original Movie following 13-year-old Ben, who thinks that his father and little sister are his responsibility after his mother passes away. Ben enters a competition and wins an intelligent dream house automated by a virtual assistant named PAT.
However, when Ben goes to reprogram the house so that his father Nick would realize its human value, he ends up angering PAT, who creates a holographic housewife just out of spite. Technology wasn’t as advanced pre Y2K and people were anxious with all the change it was enforcing, which is accurately captured in the movie. Moreover, the comedic factor and the absurd adventure between kids and parents really made for a fun viewing.
14 Brink! (1998)
Around the time when sports movies and underdog stories became a “thing” in cinema, Disney dropped this wildly entertaining original centered around Andy “Brink” Brinker, a skater dude always at odds with the corporate moguls wanting to convert a sport that’s made for fun into a profitable business.
Erik von Detten’s character is the embodiment of the decade’s teens spending their time skating around. But when Andy’s family is caught up in a financial problem, he is forced to shake hands with the same corporate sponsor that threatened to home their spot. Now broken up with his gang, Andy must balance his motivations as well as smooth his friendships. Brink! has a sick soundtrack to match its enthusiastic vibe. And while the film’s central idea is to showcase skater culture, it also manages to challenge authority and make a point.
13 Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century (1999)
In the 1990s, Disney Channel Original Movies had two primary goals – to entertain its viewers, which were mostly kids, and to give positive messages about kindness and female empowerment in the process. Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century accomplishes both in a span of 90 minutes.
As a futuristic roller coaster set in the year 2049, the film follows Zenon Kar, a thirteen-year-old girl who finds herself breaking major protocols of the space station she’s lived in her whole life and eventually getting in trouble with Chief Windom. Zenon is banished from her home but she’s determined to expose the evil that is Windom, so she gets help from some earthlings. The movie is full of millennial one-liners and exciting dance battles, but what makes it so classic is the quirky message of girl power that encourages you to believe in yourself.
12 The Luck of the Irish (2001)
15-year-old Kyle Johnson is nothing if not lucky. As an intelligent student and a star basketball player, Kyle hasn’t really had to work for anything in his life. However, he gives the entire credit to a gold coin that he’s had since he was a kid. One day, while visiting an Irish festival with a friend. Kyle gets carried away and dances around before getting home late. The next day when Kyle wakes up, he notices something strange about himself after school.
He realizes that a streak of bad luck has found him scared and confused. When Kyle returns home he finds that his mother has shrunk to one foot tall and that his mother and he are actually leprechauns. Now, it is upon Kyle to recover the coin he lost and regain his human form again. The Luck of the Irish is a freewheeling romp with good acting and a decent narrative that keeps things fresh and interesting throughout.
11 The Even Stevens Movie (2003)
Another hilarious Disney Channel Original Movie that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, The Even Stevens Movie stars Shia LaBeouf and Christy Carlson Romano in their early roles. Apparently, the Stevens family is over the moon when a suspicious man offers to sponsor their vacation to a gorgeous location.
However, once the family reaches this exotic island and checks into their lavish beach house, it comes tumbling down. All the other guests, staff, and natives start blaming them for bringing bad luck to the island. But soon, it is revealed that the entire thing was staged and that they were on camera. Filled with that initial vibes of the 2000s where family movies were all about physical pranks and family shenanigans, the film is a perfect trip down memory lane.
10 The Thirteenth Year (1999)
This 1999 movie is about a young teenager, Cody, who was adopted as a baby when his birth mother, a mermaid, left him on a boat in order for him to be raised by human parents. When Cody turns 13, he gets more than he bargained for, as he starts to turn into a merman; forming scales whenever he gets wet, and soon learns that he can talk to fish.
Cody eventually meets his birth mother, the mermaid, and the two of them swim off for the summer at the end of the movie; Cody wants to know more about his life and how to handle being a merman. The Thirteenth Year is a special movie that might make any young child wish they were a mermaid/merman.
9 Jump In! (2007)
If there’s one thing Disney is best at, it’s having a main character who’s living two different lives to appease their parents. In this Disney Original, Corbin Bleu stars as Izzy Daniels, a teenager whose life revolves around boxing and making his father proud, until his friend Mary (Keke Palmer) needs his help.
Mary has a group of friends who jump rope, and once Izzy tries it for himself, he soon realizes he has a passion for something other than boxing. Izzy has to be secretive when it comes to the Double Dutch competitions since he’s convinced that his father won’t approve of his new-found hobby. In the end, Izzy’s dad comes to the competition to cheer his son on, and every conflict is made right because it wouldn’t be a true Disney film if it didn’t.
8 The Color of Friendship (2000)
Based on true events, The Color of Friendship is about two girls from opposite sides of the world, coming together to eventually band against racial injustice. Piper, a young Black girl from America, begs her father to host a student from Africa, not realizing that the student could come from South Africa, and also be white.
When Mahree arrives in America, she’s shocked at the diversity and proves to be quite rude to the family who’s hosting her, but soon the two start to form an unbreakable bond. Mahree changes her way of thinking and heads back to South Africa at the end of the movie with a different outlook, happily telling her maid, Flora, that she has decided to stand with the Black liberation movement.
7 Stuck in the Suburbs (2004)
Starring Danielle Panabaker and Brenda Song, Stuck in the Suburbs was the first Disney Channel Original Movie that featured its very own soundtrack. This film is about two middle schoolers who are deeply in love with pop star Jordan Cahill.
When they literally run into each other, they accidentally swap phones and antics ensue. Jordan expresses that he feels tied down to his label and wishes he could be himself, so Brittany and Natasha make it their mission to help their beloved singer, changing his entire look and chopping most of his hair off.
6 Cadet Kelly (2002)
Kelly, played by Hilary Duff, is a carefree girl who previously went to an artistic high school and had tons of friends, but once her mother marries a Commandant of a military school, her life is flipped upside down. The family moves to the military base and Kelly has to enroll, stunned to find out that she has to literally go to a boot camp in order to have a high school education.
She butts heads with Cadet Captain Jennifer Stone, and once it’s revealed that they both have a crush on the same boy, they begin to torture each other with pranks. US Today states that this was one of the biggest Disney Channel movies that was released in 2002, gaining a large audience of over seven million that tuned in.
5 Halloweentown (1998)
In Halloweentown, Marnie Piper (Kimberly J. Brown) turns 13 and discovers that she’s a witch, much like her mother and grandmother, played by the late Debbie Reynolds. Marnie finds a secret portal that leads her to Halloweentown, a special place filled with monsters and ghouls that can’t appear around humans in order to survive.
However, evil things lie below the service of this seemingly nice but eerie town, and Marnie has to save her grandmother before it’s too late and everything is ruined. People state that Marnie and Kal (Daniel Kountz), who worked together in the second installment of the Halloweentown franchise, were recently engaged, eliciting sweet reactions from fans of the series.
4 The Cheetah Girls (2003)
Four friends living in the Big Apple; Galleria, Chanel, Aqua, and Dorinda form a group called The Cheetah Girls, who perform at birthday parties and other lowkey events. It was the first Disney Channel Original that was a musical, opening the doors for big films to come.
A man named Jackal Jackson scouts them out and signs them to his big record label, and from there, stardom hits.The Cheetah Girls is a great movie about friendship, matched with an awesome soundtrack, choreographed dances, and a scene where the girls come back together to rescue a dog from a sewer, singing to him to calm him down.
3 Lemonade Mouth (2011)
After five strangers land themselves in detention for vastly different reasons, the start of this film almost resembles a kid-friendly version of The Breakfast Club. While in detention they form a band of sorts, all of them grabbing a makeshift instrument as they rock around the room.
The following day, Stella (Hayley Kiyoko) gathers the group at the local pizza shop and demands that they form a real band, claiming that they all knew how good they were. Stella (Bridget Mendler) gives the band the name Lemonade Mouth after the group gets cornered at school when Mudslide Crush, the rival band, starts to harass them and Stella spits her lemonade at them.
2 Camp Rock (2008)
The Jonas Brothers were very well-known by the time they decided to do this blockbuster of a Disney movie, but it also gave Demi Lovato the jump start to fame. Mitchie Torres (Lovato) has one dream for summer vacation and that’s Camp Rock.
It’s a summer camp for musically inclined teenagers, and amazingly, Shane Gray (Joe Jonas) is also attending the camp as a mentor and love interest. Camp Rock has a great soundtrack, an important message about being yourself, and the feeling of wishing you could go to summer camp again.
1 High School Musical (2006)
Similar to Jump In!, Troy Bolton is the best basketball player at East High, and his main focus is supposed to be solely on the sport. However, when new girl Gabriella Montez joins the school and has an interest in the musical, Troy finds himself falling in love with not only Gabriella but also singing.
Quite possibly Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens’ most memorable roles, the two shine along with an equally memorable cast ensemble. This franchise went on to be so successful that the third installment had a theatrical release, nationwide.