Film and TV

7 Essential Disney Channel Original Movies from the 1990s

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. 

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Ashley Harris is a longtime professional fangirl. You can usually find her out at concerts, movies, and live theatre, or glued to the latest Netflix revival.
Contact: Ashley Harris