Disney Channel / Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Disney Channel Brought 2006 Back From The Dead In 2016

Fans wanted the ‘Old Disney,’ and they got it

We didn’t see this year coming, but we heard it from all sides. In Signal & Noise 2016, you’ll find the way we made sense out of all of that sound.

Because Disney Channel spans multiple generations, a schism developed in the fandom between “Old Disney” and “New Disney.” Basically, it’s twenty- and thirtysomethings versus teens, and everybody thinks that their childhood was better. The “Old Disney” squad cheers on the likes of Phil of the Future, while the “New Disney” gang supports shows such as Liv and Maddie. Many OG Disney Channel fans find it difficult to connect with the network they grew up watching, simply because the current shows just don’t appeal to them.

However, Disney changed all of that in 2016 by giving their loyal, older audience exactly what it wanted: to travel back in time. Nickelodeon did this for its fans in late 2015 by launching The Splat, and unfortunately, Disney hadn’t done anything similar — until now.

In 2016, the House of Mouse stepped up to the plate and swung several home runs — like Eddie did in the Disney Channel Original Movie Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off — by reviving fans’ beloved “Old Disney” while simultaneously catering to its new, younger audience.

  • The High School Musical cast reunited and the series’s fourth film was announced.
    Jemal Countess/WireImage

    Everyone and their mother knows what High School Musical is, so when the DCOM turned the big 1-0 in January, people knew it was a major deal. All six five main stars reunited to celebrate the anniversary — cough, cough, Zac Efron — and reminded fans we really are all in this together. HSM memes took over Tumblr and Twitter, especially after Zefron’s ~disgraceful~ absence from the reunion. Two months later, Disney announced it’d be making a fourth HSM film with a nationwide casting call.

    And who could forget all the other sweet HSM moments that happened throughout the year? Like when Corbin Bleu (Chad) and Monique Coleman (Taylor) went on a double date with their significant others? Or what about when the East High boys supported Bleu’s new Broadway show? And don’t get me started on Troypay coming alive again. Even Bart Johnson (Coach Bolton) got in on the nostalgia with an “audition tape” for HSM4.

  • Every single DCOM aired over the summer.
    Disney

    OK, well, almost every DCOM. Some of these films hadn’t aired on the network in YEARS. For many fans, it had been well over a decade since they’d watched the likes of Motocrossed, Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, and Smart House. And to make their return even more epic, Disney made all the DCOMs available on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and Google Play, most for the very first time — a far better alternative to watching Brink! on VHS. Most DCOMs aren’t available on DVD, so offering streaming options is a ’90s kid’s dream in a 21st-century world.

  • A horde of past and present DCOM stars reunited for the 100th movie, Adventures in Babysitting.
    Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic / Lilly Lawrence/WireImage / Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

    Speaking of Brink!, the 100th DCOM premiere answered everyone’s most pressing question: What the hell happened to Erik von Detten?! (He looks the same, but with more stubble.) Not to mention, Horse Sense and Jumping Ship fans got to see the three Lawrence brothers together again — and later learn they’re extremely interested in making a follow-up film to finish out a trilogy.

    The premiere brought serious OG stars — such as Adam Wylie, who starred in some of the earliest DCOMs — back into nostalgic fans’ hearts. And you’re simply lying to yourself if you didn’t geek out when Christy Carlson Romano and Kimberly J. Brown fangirled over the Lawrence brothers. You just are.

  • Disney Channel green-lit That’s So Raven 2.
    Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

    As a die-hard TSR fan, I shouted “home skillet biscuits” from the rooftop after hearing the good news that a sequel was coming. It’s been great to see that Raven-Symoné and Anneliese van der Pol have stayed in touch over the years, but it’s doubly great to know that Raven and Chelsea are going to be roommates raising their kids together on the upcoming show. The series is only in preproduction, yet the “foxy mamas” are already getting into mischief like old times. Oh snap!

  • We went behind the scenes of the famous Disney Channel wand IDs.

    When Guillotine Post, an editing boutique, released their behind-the-scenes footage of OG Disney stars filming their wand IDs, the internet couldn’t stop laughing at how silly the whole process was. The videos, which unfortunately have since been deleted from YouTube, were priceless gold. Stars such as van der Pol (above) and Christy Carlson Romano commented on the goofy videos. The tradition is still kept alive by current Disney talent, such as Rowan Blanchard and Zendaya.

  • The Suite Life of Zack and Cody became available to watch on the Disney Channel app FOR FREE.
    Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

    Unlike with most of the content on the app, fans don’t have to log in with their TV service provider to watch all three seasons of the Sprouse twins’ show. Disney announced the big news in November, and fans were ecstatic. Bless you, Disney, and R.I.P. everyone’s productivity levels.

    There were also several Suite Life mini-reunions throughout the year, including Brenda Song (London) and Brian Stepanek (Arwin) hanging out on the set of Song’s new series, Pure Genius.

  • And Hannah Montana had a mega marathon in December.
    Jesse Grant/WireImage

    When Disney Channel announced the show that turned Miley Cyrus into a household name would be airing every single episode to round out 2016, the internet lost its damn mind. Furthermore, the series turned 10 back in March, and the cast shared tons of throwback pics to celebrate.

    My nostalgic heart is full, Disney. Thank you. Please transform 2017 into the new 2007 — and also make Phil of the Future available on streaming. We’re tired of waiting.

Check out more from the year in music, culture, politics, and style in Signal & Noise 2016.