Disney Channel’s “golden age” was between 2001 and 2009 (with some exceptions in the early 2010s) when shows made their premiere with a strong start and broke records. Wizards of Waverly Place’s series finale had almost 10 million viewers watching. The first episodes of these shows set the mood for the rest of the show’s successful existence.
Gravity Falls, Wizards of Waverly Place, and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody have set a standard for new TV shows on Disney Channel. It’s important to revisit these shows because they set a good example for the kids that watch them. Gravity Falls is about the supernatural — yet the show still talks about the importance of family.
The first episode of Gravity Falls begins with an introduction to the setting and characters: summer and a pair of twins who’ve just found something incredible in their Great-Uncle Stan’s town. Gravity Falls ends after two seasons with a four part epic-finale. The greatness of Gravity Falls came from the humbleness of its creator, Alex Hirsch, who just wanted to tell a story — no more, no less. At the end of the show, Hirsch said, “The first thing to know is that the show isn’t being cancelled- it’s being finished… I always designed Gravity Falls to be a finite series about one epic summer- a series with a beginning, middle, and end.”
Wizards of Waverly Place is a show about a wizard family that has to keep their secret from non-magical humans. The Disney Channel series was the push that was needed for the lead actress, Selena Gomez, to go on with her acting career. In the show, the Russo family are portrayed more as a human family with magic on the side, and that’s what creator Todd Greenwald wanted. Greenwald told International Business Times that, “‘We approached the story like just a regular teenage girl story and then the magic gives you that little bit extra twist.” Greenwald wanted the wizards to teach lessons to the audience, not just shout spells and brew potions.
The Suite Life of Zack and Cody is about twin brothers who live in a hotel because of their mom’s job at the hotel. Zack and Cody focuses mainly on family and friends, which is one of the main topics of many Disney Channel shows. Viewers of Zack and Cody were able to experience it for 6 years with the making of the first series up to The Suite Life Movie.
Leesville students loved the old Disney Channel. Disney+, Disney’s streaming service, got most of its fame because of retro Disney shows it has to offer. Most Leesville students today are those that watched Disney Channel as kids. “I used to watch [Disney Channel] with my sisters, especially on the weekends,” said Emma Nani, a sophomore. When asked if Disney impacted her decisions, Nani said, “That’s a long time ago… probably, I just don’t remember it.”
The actors, creators, and directors of these Disney original shows gave viewers a lesson to learn with each episode. 2000s Disney Channel was an era that will never be forgotten because of the message it puts across.