Disney Channel has been a staple of American television for over three decades, entertaining generations of children and adolescents with its diverse range of programming. From animated classics to live-action shows and original movies, Disney Channel has produced some of the most iconic and memorable content in the history of television. Many people who grew up watching the witty, sometimes corny sitcoms feel a sense of nostalgia when they revisit their favorites. Some of the best Disney Channel shows are a beloved part of American pop culture.
For many, characters and plotlines from childhood serve as a source of comfort. In a recent study, respondents turn to those comfort shows most when feeling stressed (22%), bored (22%), or anxious (20%). On average, they’ve watched their comfort TV shows or movies about 18 different times. Plus, if you have children, every show is family-friendly and can both entertain the little ones while reminding you of simpler times.
Interestingly, if you choose to self-soothe with TV before bed, this isn’t harmful to your sleep. Another recent study says doing so may be doing yourself a favor. Research reveals that catching up on your favorite sitcom or listening to some music before bedtime could ensure a better night’s sleep.
Aside from reasons to watch, it may not be coincidence that the great majority of these programs highlight the talents of young actors who are now becoming leading women and men in entertainment. Stars like Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato had their big break on the channel. To narrow down the classics, we turned to expert fans for this list of the top five best Disney Channel shows of all time. What are some of your favorite Disney creations? Let us know in the comments below!
The List: Best Disney Channel Shows, According to Die-Hard Fans
1. “Wizards of Waverly Place” (2007-2012)
The top entry on this list is undoubtedly Wizards of Waverly Place, a program that became a genuine hit with audiences. High praise is attributed to this program as stated by BuzzFeed: “Wizards of Waverly Place is the only live-action Disney Channel show to win Emmys for a reason. The writing, the world-building, the magical qualities, and the ensemble cast lifted the Disney Channel to new heights. Selena Gomez is a star, and her expert comedic timing and sassy and sarcastic delivery is what made Alex Russo one of, if not the most, relatable teen characters in television history.”
‘Wizards Of Waverly Place’ premiered 15 years ago today on Disney Channel. pic.twitter.com/DBdUw7i5x9
— Pop Base (@PopBase) October 11, 2022
The star of the show, Selena Gomez has gone on to become a successful pop singer and actor. In “Wizards of Waverly Place”, Gomez leads her sitcom family through magic-fueled mischief. “Before Selena Gomez couldn’t keep her hands to herself, she had her hands in a lot of magic,” says Entertainment Weekly. This show was praised for its positive portrayal of a Latino family, and Latino American Culture.
The other young actors in the cast were also regarded highly for their roles. “While the show made Selena Gomez — who played the main protagonist, Alex Russo — a household name, the show’s other two protagonists, Justin (David Henrie) and Max (Jake T. Austin) played intricate roles in making this sitcom a long-lasting favorite,” writes Collider.
2. “That’s So Raven” (2003-2007)
The next entry on this list also focuses on a young lady with supernatural powers. “Raven — played by Raven Symoné — has secret psychic abilities in this Disney Channel show, specifically, she sees visions of the future,” writes Teen Vogue.
(2003) 20 years ago today the #ThatsSoRaven episode: “Dissin’ Cousins” premiered on #DisneyChannel pic.twitter.com/OnROQrOYkf
— TV & FILM BLOGGER 📺… (@MAIRT00NZ) April 11, 2023
This show was also unique in terms of the length of the series run. “‘That’s So Raven’ broke the mold at Disney Channel, its popularity smashing the 65-episode rule that dictated the cancellation of popular shows like ‘Lizzie McGuire’ and ‘Even Stevens’ (via A/V Club). The show ran for a formidable 100 episodes, a number only surpassed by ‘The Wizards of Waverly Place’s’ and the animated series ‘Phineas and Ferb,’” says Looper.
“That’s So Raven” was a success for both Disney and actor Raven Symoné. “Raven-Symoné had various television and film roles before landing the leading spot in That’s So Raven, but her character in the sitcom turned her into a Disney icon. That’s So Raven was the highest-rated show of its time and the first Disney Channel live-action series to reach a hundred episodes. Its four seasons were critically-acclaimed and received multiple prominent accolades, including a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Children’s Program,” according to CBR.
3. “Hannah Montana” (2006)
Hannah Montana is another show that is focused on a young lady as the primary protagonist. “Who can forget when Miley Cyrus starred in a Disney Channel show?! During the day, she is Miley Stewart. But, at night, she turns into teen pop sensation Hannah Montana. Miley tries to juggle her double life while keeping her superstar status from everyone around her, even her best friends,” says Seventeen. This simple premise of a kid with a dual life produced a wildly popular franchise for Disney Channel.
After years I finally finished #hannahmontana started when I was a kid. Best Disney channel show with funny and epic story’s and more mature than other things they did. The cast are all fantastic! @MileyCyrus @EmilyOsment @DukeofEarles @mitchelmusso @TamminSursok @billyraycyrus pic.twitter.com/za6qlVgydt
— Daniel Mazz (@DanielMazz1) April 20, 2023
The music was also a significant aspect of the program, “The show seemed to portray the dream of many teenagers, of becoming a pop star. This particular series is known for her upbeat music and dazzling transformations which awestruck the young audience,” writes Movieweb.
Although Miley Cyrus has since moved on from the role, Hannah Montana is still regarded highly. “It’s a charming comedy that has extraordinary staying power, in no small part because of Cyrus’ undeniable charisma and appeal as a star,” according to Screenrant.
4. “The Suite Life of Zach & Cody” (2005)
The Suite Life of Zach & Cody premiered in 2005 and quickly became a hit. “Set in the fictional Tipton Hotel, the series follows Zack and Cody and their friends and family as they embark on multiple adventures. It was nominated three times at the Emmys and ran for three seasons,” writes CBR.
like for suite life of zach and cody and rt for the suite life on deck pic.twitter.com/UThrGN0V6J
— idiot (@hslotharrysbff) January 8, 2021
“Life is certainly interesting for Zack and Cody. The twins call the Tipton Hotel their home and wreak havoc on their sweet digs. Expect a few shennanigans when they mingle with the hotel heiress, candy counter girl and the establishment’s stern manager, Mr. Moseby.,” according to Timeout. The carefree backdrop of a luxury hotel proved to be a great stage for the comedy hi-jinks of the Sprouse brothers.
Looking back at the series, Disney is clearly appealing to the childhood fantasy of living in a grand hotel; a place that is both transient and ever-changing. “Thanks to its colorful cast of characters, which ranged from the twins to eternally helpful bellhop Esteban (Adrian R’Mante), the original adventures of Zack and Cody put a new and memorable spin on the classic Eloise fantasy of living in a hotel,” Entertainment Weekly.
5. “Phineas and Ferb” (2007)
The only animated show on this list is so good that it could easily be the subject of its own top five list for best episodes. “Phineas and Ferb”, at the time of this article’s writing, is about to have two new seasons after an eight-year hiatus. “In just about every episode, the two brothers would find adventure through their technically impressive projects. Their controlling older sister, Candace, often tried her best to spoil their plans for summer fun. Surprisingly, Phineas and Ferb is a great watch for adults as well as kids, which is a rarity for Disney Channel cartoons,” says Collider.
The upcoming #PhineasAndFerb revival is confirmed to be coming to #DisneyChannel pic.twitter.com/AuxxhHnj64
— The Disney Beat 🐞 (@DisneyBeat101) April 18, 2023
“Phineas and Ferb” is also one of the Disney channel’s most highly awarded animated programs. “Winner of three Emmy Awards, ‘Phineas and Ferb’ was Disney Channel’s attempt to rival Nickelodeon’s massively popular ‘Spongebob Squarepants.’ Disney saw the merchandising potential of ‘Phineas and Ferb’ and pushed the characters’ mass-market products with abandon. Unfortunately for Disney, the show didn’t quite become embedded in the zeitgeist like ‘Spongebob,’ but that doesn’t take away from the irreverent fun and zaniness of a summer’s afternoon spent with these clever boys,” says Looper.
The program is admittedly formulaic, but as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! According to Screenrant: “Every episode follows a similar formula: Phineas and Ferb come up with their latest OTT (over the top) project, Candace vows to bust them to their mom, Perry the Platypus/secret spy sneaks off to defeat Dr. Doofenshmirtz and inevitably gets captured, he narrowly escapes and Phineas and Ferb’s latest ‘project’ disappears just moments before their mom gets home and discovers their shenanigans. And although every episode is virtually the same, they somehow entertain you regardless!”
You might also be interested in:
- Best Disney Princesses
- Best Movies on Disney Plus
- Best Disney Movies
- Best Disney World Hotels
- Best Disney World Restaurants
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.