7 Essential Disney Channel Original Movies from the 1990s

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On June 24, Disney Channel will première the release of its 100th original movie, a remake of the 1987 film Adventures in Babysitting. It joins the ranks of some seriously iconic films that feature family fun and life lessons. To celebrate, Disney's dedicating this Memorial Day Weekend to broadcasting an impressive slate of its beloved flicks. (You'll find the full schedule below.)

However, it's time for some real talk, folks. While we're sure some of the more recent DCOMs (come on, kids, Disney Channel Original Movies) are great, those released in the 1990s truly defined the concept, with characters and stories etched firmly in our millennial brains. Let's take a walk down memory lane and honor some of them as we prepare our hearts and minds for the all-weekend nostalgia fest that awaits us. That is, if you're not too old to stay up until 3:35 a.m. to watch the impeccable Johnny Tsunami.

Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century (1999)
When you hear "Disney Channel Original Movie," chances are you think of our supernova girl, Zenon Kar (Kristen Storms). The film took us out of this world and back as our heroine was shuttled from her home on a space station to Earth as punishment for bad behavior. She struggles to connect with her earthling friends, although she does spark a relationship with a token Disney hunk, Greg (Gregory Smith). While "grounded," she learns of a plan to destroy the space station, and it's up to her to save it. It's an amusing take on what life could be like in 2049, including holographic teachers, space slang ("my life is a black hole!"), and so much neon.

The Thirteenth Year (1999)
After his 13th birthday, Cody Griffin (Chez Starbuck) starts to notice some weirdness. No, not that kind of weirdness. More like scales on his hands and the ability to talk to fish. Totally normal teenage stuff — or not. It turns out that he was adopted after his mermaid mother left him on a boat while she fled from merpeople oppression. This makes Cody an exceptional swimmer, but his ability is questioned as his fins and scales become more apparent. He sets out to find his birth mother in the ocean to get answers on his "condition" and how best to use it. Fun fact: An 8-year-old Kristen Stewart had a small, uncredited part waiting in line while fish boy hogged the water fountain. 

Brink! (1998)
Nothing says "damn the man" like the most punk rock of sports: rollerblading. Andy "Brink" Brinker (Erik Von Detten) and his gang of "Soul Skaters" compete not for money, but for the love of the blade. That is, until the allure of corporate inline skating sponsorship casts its rosy glow on our leading man. His family is in some financial trouble, and Team Pup-N-Suds isn't cutting it. He goes behind the team's back, but learns quickly that you need to operate with integrity in the rough-and-tumble world of rollerblading. The film is very loosely based on the 1865 novel, Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates. 

Johnny Tsunami (1999)
Like Zenon, Johnny Kapahala (Brandon Baker) has been uprooted, leaving his life of surfing in Hawaii to head to Vermont for his dad's new job. He might as well be from outer space, unable to grasp the idea of "snow" and "not wearing shorts to class." He befriends Sam Sterling (Lee Thompson Young), who teaches him the parallels of snowboarding to surfing. After a kerfuffle with the local skiing crowd and Sam's revelation that he might be moving to Iceland, the two stow away (!) on a plane back to Hawaii. It's there that he must decide where his life should be. Bonus! Zenon's Kristen Storms plays his preppy love interest, Emily. 

Halloweentown (1998)
Marnie Cromwell (Kimberly J. Brown) has been deprived of all things Halloween, until her grandmother Aggie (Debbie Reynolds) shows up, revealing she's a witch and intent on training Marnie to be one, too. After her mother Gwen (Judith Hoag) refuses, Marnie sneaks out with her brother Dylan (Joey Zimmerman) and follows Aggie to her home in Halloweentown. It's a world where skeletons drive cabs and warlocks can be mayor. Gwen arrives to find her children, as Aggie and the kids work to defeat demons. While several of these movies had sequels, Halloweentown is the most prolific, clocking in a whopping four original movies between 1998 and 2006.

Genius (1999)
Boy wonder Charlie Boyle (Trevor Morgan) spends a lonely life as a 13-year-old college student, tackling tough physics experiments while the rest of his peers lead a carefree life. He decides to reinvent himself, enrolling back into junior high disguised as a cool kid. He coasts by at first, but when his double life distracts him, he accidentally leaves a particle accelerator on and the machine starts to crack the ice during his favorite hockey team's game. Exposed and humiliated, he decides to use his physics knowledge to help the team win. This was one of the first films to feature future Shameless star Emmy Rossum as Charlie's leading lady, Claire. 

Smart House (1999)
After losing his mother, 13-year-old Ben Cooper (Ryan Merriman) has been helping carry the load of household chores and the like for his dad, Nick (Kevin Kilner), and sister, Angie (Katie Volding). He stumbles on an contest to win a fully equipped, computerized "Smart House," where everything is automated and helmed by a program named Pat (Katy Segal). Longing for more of a motherly feel, he reconfigures Pat, and as a result, she starts to take on a mind of her own and gets very controlling of the house and its occupants. Merriman was such a hit on Disney that he would later star in the 2001 St. Patrick's Day-themed original movie, The Luck of the Irish (which we re-watched recently and boy, is it wacky). 

And now presenting, the Disney Channel Original Movie Marathon Schedule

Friday May 27
10 a.m. Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama
11:20 a.m. Read It and Weep
12:55 p.m.Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior
2:40 p.m.Jump In!
4:15 p.m.Lemonade Mouth
6:15 p.m.Zapped
8 p.m.High School Musical 2
9:55 p.m.The Cheetah Girls 2
11:45 p.m.Zenon the Zequel
1:25 a.m. Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge
2:55 a.m. – Twitches Too
4:25 a.m.Alley Cats Strike!

Saturday, May 28
6:25 a.m.You Wish!
8:05 a.m. The Proud Family Movie
9:50 a.m.Quints
11:25 a.m.Horse Sense
1:10 p.m. Cow Belles
2:50 p.m. Twitches
4:30 p.m.The Even Stevens Movie
6:15 p.m.Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie
8:00 p.m.Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam
9:50 p.m.Princess Protection Program
11:30 p.m.The Cheetah Girls: One World
1:05 a.m.Zenon: Z3
2:40 a.m.Halloweentown High
4:20 a.m. The Thirteenth Year

Sunday, May 29
6 a.m.Right on Track
7:45 a.m. Full-Court Miracle
9:35 a.m. Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off
11:20 a.m. Brink!
1:10 p.m.Double Teamed
2:55 p.m. – Rip Girls
4:35 p.m.Motocrossed
6:20 p.m. Cloud 9
8 p.m.Teen Beach 2
9:55 p.m.Bad Hair Day
11:40 p.m. How to Build a Better Boy
1:20 a.m. Pixel Perfect
2:55 a.m. The Other Me
4:30 a.m. Genius

Monday, May 30
10 a.m.
Stuck in the Suburbs
11:30 a.m.Halloweentown
1:05 p.m.Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century
2:55 p.m. Smart House
4:25 p.m.High School Musical
6:15 p.m.Camp Rock
8 p.m.Descendants
10:05 p.m. Teen Beach Movie
11:55 p.m. – Cadet Kelly
1:50 a.m.The Cheetah Girls
3:35 a.m. Johnny Tsunami

Tuesday, May 31 through June:
Each day, additional DCOMs will be presented at various times.

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