Disney Channel has been the home to inspirational films for the whole family since the 80s. Typically starring the network’s current stars, some DCOMs launched the careers of actors like Zac Efron, Shia LaBeouf, and Hilary Duff.
From movie musicals to inspiring true stories to films about serious subjects like discrimination, disabilities, and the importance of family, Disney Channel Original Movies have become a staple of growing up for their memorable stories and casts.
High School Musical (2006)
High School Musical is arguably the biggest DCOM in Disney Channel history. With a talented cast full of future megastars, catchy, memorable songs, and a message that transcends generations, this trilogy was the millennial’s version of Grease.
The film follows a quiet nerd and a popular jock on their journey tofalling in love with both each other, and school activities that aren’t what they’re known for when they accidentally audition for the school musical.
You Wish! (2003)
Have you ever wished your sibling didn’t exist? That’s the case for teenager Alex, except his wish gets unexpectedly granted in this film featuring several notable Disney stars.
AJ Trauth from Even Stevens,Lalaine from Lizzie McGuire,Tim Reid from Sister Sister and Spencer Breslin of The Santa Clause 2 and 3 all play a part in this film about the importance of family and the strength of sibling relationships.
The Cheetah Girls (2003)
The Cheetah Girls turned into a memorable trilogy that launched the girl group of the same name. Starring Raven Symone, Adrienne Bailon, Sabrina Bryan and Kiely Williams, this DCOM is about a lot more than music.
While The Cheetah Girls tells the story of four high school friends who live their dream of making it big in the music industry, it also shows the power of friendship, and that not everyone’s lives are as privileged as others.
The Color Of Friendship (2000)
The Color of Friendship premiered on Disney Channel in 2000 and told a story centered around race and prejudice between two girls from completely different backgrounds.
Shadia Simmons plays Piper, a young Black girl whose wealthy family lives in America, while Lindsey Haun plays Mahree, a young white girl from South Africa who becomes a part of Piper’s family for the school’s foreign exchange program.
Stuck In The Suburbs (2004)
When Disney Channel was at its peak in the early 2000s, it premiered a DCOM starring a future Suite Life star, a future DC superhero, and a future Saturday Night Live cast member.
Stuck in the Suburbs is about a teen girl who becomes jealous of the school’s new popular student and decides to make up extravagant lies about her life in order to fit in, later learning they both have more than she thought, including their shared celebrity crush on their favorite singer.
Tru Confessions (2002)
Tru Confessions starred Shia LaBeouf, only a couple of years after making his Disney Channel debut with Even Stevens, as a disabled teen and twin brother to Clara Bryant’s character, Tru.
The movie follows Tru’s pastime of filmmaking as she creates a documentary centered around her brother Eddie, showcasing the stigma around disabilities and the stress of living with a disabled sibling, as well as the realization of how different the twins’ lives will turn out.
Princess Protection Program (2009)
The 2009 DCOM Princess Protection Program starred Disney duo Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato in their first joint project since appearing together on Barney & Friends in 2002.
Gomez played the rough and spunky Carter, who must take Lovato’s privileged princess character Rosalinda under her wing to protect the royalty from being kidnapped by the dictator of a neighboring country.
Teen Beach Movie (2013)
Whether you were there for the 50s beach party films or High School Musical, Teen Beach Movie is a musical must.
Starring Ross Lynch, Maia Mitchell and Jordan Fisher,Teen Beach Movie pays homage to the 1950s beach movies when modern-day teens Brady and Mac magically wind up in their favorite movie, West Side Storyand must stop the movie characters from falling for them instead of each other and accidentally changing the entire film.
The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003)
Whether you’re a fan of the show Lizzie McGuire, its star Hilary Duff, or musical films based in Europe, you’ll want to give The Lizzie McGuire Movie a watch.
The film follows Lizzie, Gordo and her entire family on a summer trip to Rome where Lizzie accidentally gets mistaken for a local popstar. Not only does Lizzie fill in for Isabella Parigi at a local concert, but discovers her true feelings for her best friend Gordo along the way.
While this one is best watched during the spooky season, it’s also a can’t-miss 90s film with a loveable cast of witches and warlocks portrayed by Debbie Reynolds, Kimberly J. Brown, Robin Thomas, and several others.
Halloweentown follows Marnie on her journey from her boring world on earth to the magical, spooky one of Halloweentown when she finds out that not only is her beloved grandmother a witch, but so is she, and the spells run in her family.
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