Before everything was about a group of high school teens singing about juggling their social lives and academic priorities, the Disney Channel was known for releasing movies that were great for binge watching.
In our opinion, these are the 10 best Disney Channel original movies of all time.
If you grew up watching some of these movies, you may be surprised by the ones you forgot.
The movies on this list touch on various topics, including race, gender and family issues.
If you’re looking for great movies to watch with interesting and relevant social commentary, check out the ones on this list!
1 The Color of Friendship
The Color of Friendship revolves around two girls: Piper Dellums and Mahree Bok.
Piper Dellums is a black girl from Washington, D.C. and has her wish granted by her father, a Senator fighting against South African apartheid when he allows a foreign exchange student from Africa to come live with the family.
Everyone is surprised when Mahree, a white South African, shows up at the airport.
This movie is about two people realizing the social tension between their two groups, and learning to become friends after realizing their inherent equality as people.
This movie has won multiple awards, and is one you do not want to miss!
2 Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century
This movie follows the spunky Zenon Kar, a thirteen-year-old who lives in the year 2049, on a space station orbiting Earth.
That is, until she is sent to live on Earth with her Aunt Judy after getting in trouble with the ship’s commander.
Once on Earth, Zenon must learn to survive, while Earth’s pop culture is years behind the space station she left.
When she uncovers a plot meant to crash the space station, Zenon enlists the help of her new friends to save her home.
This movie is praised for its whole imaginative world and lingo. Fun Fact: This is the first movie in a trilogy!
This next movie is one that Disney Channel still plays every year in October.
Centered on Marnie Cromwell, a thirteen-year-old who discovers not only her grandmother is a witch, but that she is one too!
Marnie and her siblings follow their grandmother back to Halloweentown; a mythical place where Halloween is celebrated every day.
All the monsters from fairy tales are real, not evil, and totally awesome.
When everyone in Halloweentown starts wasting away, it is up to Marnie and her siblings to save the town.
Bonus: Halloweentown later spawned three additional movies—perfect for Halloween!
4 Luck of the Irish
Kyle Johnson is like every other junior high student—that is until he loses his lucky gold coin, resulting in his entire family reverting into their true, leprechaun forms.
It is up to Kyle and his friends, along with his two-hundred-year-old grandpa, to chase down an evil leprechaun that stole his family’s luck.
This movie centers on the importance of remembering your family’s past and honoring how it shapes you as a person.
Fun Fact: This movie is always shown during March on Disney Channel to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
5 Smart House
Thirteen-year-old Ben Cooper is tired of playing homemaker. After his mom died in an ice-skating accident, Ben has been in charge of all the chores while trying to fill the void.
After repeatedly entering a competition to win a “smart house”, Ben and his family win and move in. That is when things go wrong.
After Ben alters the coding of “Pat” (the smart house AI) in order to replace his mother, she becomes too overbearing and locks the Cooper family inside the house in order to “protect” them from the dangers of the real world.
This is a must see, due to its incredibly story and production.
6 The Thirteenth Year
Everything is going well for Cody Griffin — he is popular, a star athlete and he has a beautiful girlfriend named Sam.
That is, until he begins to fail biology and discovers his real mother was a mermaid.
When Cody begins turning into a merman himself, and discovers someone who is obsessed with mermaids is trying to find him — well, things get complicated.
This family-centered movie is perfect for fans of fantasy, and an interesting twist on the classic tale of female mermaids.
7 Now You See It
Now You See It revolves around Allyson Miller and Danny Sinclair as they aim to be chosen for a reality TV show about magicians.
Allyson wants to be a producer, and sees the talented Danny as her way behind the scenes, to learn everything she can about her aspiring career.
When Danny seems to have more than a knack for illusions, everything begins to go wrong.
Is his magic real, or a trick to get on the show?
If you are a fan of fantasy and good stories, you don’t want to miss this one.
8 Right on Track
Right On Track follows the true story of two sisters, Erica and Courtney Enders.
Following in the footsteps of their father’s love, both sisters begin racing in a sport dominated by men, and not so accepting towards women — drag racing.
Fighting against these opponents both on and off the track leads to conflict for the sisters.
Erica is pushed to quit due to social and academic pressures, but her love of racing pulls her back in.
You do not want to miss the final race in this movie.
Fun Fact: Erica Enders still races today, and has won multiple championships as recently as 2015.
The Carson family loves racing — their son Andrew, competing in the hopes of earning a corporate sponsorship, and his twin sister Andrea, who wants to race, but is prevented by their overprotective father.
Once Andrew is hurt in a practice race, their father goes off to find a replacement rider.
After much deliberation, and coercion by Andrea, their mother agrees to let her try racing in place of Andrew.
Conflict ensues as their father returns with a new attitude-filled rider from Europe.
If you love stories about girls triumphing over stereotypes, this movie is perfect for you!
Action-packed with great racing scenes, there is something for everyone with this movie.
10 Cadet Kelly
Cadet Kelly centers around Kelly Collins, an eighth grader whose life changes drastically when her mother marries the Commandant of a military academy, and is forced to relocate and begin attending this new school.
The transition from an art school to a military academy does not go well.
Kelly, portrayed by Hilary Duff, is a wild spirit and has trouble adjusting to her new environment, especially Cadet Captain Stone.
She eventually finds her home on the drill team, and helps lead them to the regional competition.
This movie is perfect for those searching for a fun movie to watch with friends.