It is yet another throwback Monday, and this time we take a walk down memory lane to the good old days of Toon Disney. Back in the ’90s, the cartoon world was on steroids, with creatives coming up with new and innovative ways of winning the young views. The competition was rife between the big animation studios like Disney, Nickelodeon among others.
But who was to benefit, of course, it was us, the 90s kids. We were treated to weekly dose new and hilarious non-stop shows. Toon Disney was like the mother of all animation, with a crazy 6.00 AM to 5.30 AM lineup of amazing shows that you could miss. If it were not for my parents, I would have become a couch potato for watching the endless shows on Toon Disney.
Today I got the urge to watch The Wizard of Oz online, while searching for it, I got hit with the nostalgia of all the other hundreds of shows that we used to watch on Toon Disney. Thanks to YouTube, when I searched for the Wizard of OZ, I got an endless list of all the other Toon Disney shows like: The Littles, Wish Kid, New Archies, Super Dave, Hello Kitty and Friends, What-mess, The Wuzzle, Jungle Cubs, Marsupilami, Raw Toonage and many more. I kept watching for over 5 hours straight! It was like binging on your favorite show. I had an amazing time reconnecting with my sweet old self. It brought back so many memories of the late 90s when Disney and DIC cartoons aired on one network. It is unfortunate the Gummi Bears or Jungle Cubs were removed in late 2001. Those were among my personal favorite.
Before the Jetix, I used to think Toon Disney was a more family-focused network as opposed to being a William Street kind of channel. But when they started showing Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman, Superman, and Pinky and the brain, I came to terms with it being a perfect kind of channel for me. I immediately got addicted to watching Toon Disney.
Although most of my friends at the time, who were not fans of Toon Disney, thought that it was a dumping site for throwaways from Cartoon Network, Kids WB (CW4Kids), or other children’s family-oriented networks. They used to display and acquire shows that are based upon very popular media franchises or those that appeal to otakus/cult fans such as Superman, Batman, P&TB, Chaotic, Digimon, Pucca, and Power Rangers. I used to think that they would acquire the TV rights of the entire Dragonball anime series, when Cartoon Network’s Right expired, just to capitalize on the licensing that the revenue and the Japanese media franchise rakes in For Toei.
Back then, I wished TD and Jetix could be separated into their own channels in order to please fans of either. That way, Toon Disney would be the home of Disney’s home-grown animation properties, while Jetix could be the home for Disney’s acquired /licensed programming or Disney-made programming base upon the mouse house’s acquired/licensed intellectual properties and also a dumping ground for throwaways from Cartoon Network or other family-oriented networks and Disney Channel’s canceled kidcoms.
Well, Disney’s catalog of acquisitions is way too large to fit into a single programming block, as they also have no serious competition in the youth/family TV acquisition business whatsoever, so that’s also one of the main reasons why I would want a spin-off into its own channel.
But what really was Toon Disney? Let us take a look at the history of Toon Disney.
Background history of Toon Disney and why it was popular.
Toon Disney is a former American international pay television channel that is now owned by Disney Channels Worldwide, a subsidiary of Disney-ABC Television Group. During the Jetix programming block, the channel’s target audience was children aged 2 – 12 and children aged 6 – 13.
Toon Disney was launched by Disney/ABC networks on digital tiers of DirecTV, Marcus Cable, and EchoStar on April 18th, 1998 in celebrations of Disney Channel’s 15th anniversary. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was the network’s first show to air. Toon Disney debuted a new block named “The Magical World of Toons” at 7 pm ET that day. Originally, the block included Disney animated films, specials, and shorts. Toon Disney expanded its programming to cable subscribers such as Americast during the next five months. At the channel’s inception, it shared half of its allocated series with the Disney Channel. There was an advertisement on the channel until a certain amount of viewers were met. The first annual Pumbaa Bowl aired on January 31st of 1999.
Around September of the year 2000, the channel projected to have 20 million viewers and, as a result, to begin showing advertisement. Disney Kids Network will manage ad sales. Toon Disney, later on, launched its “Most Animated Kids Quest” in June 2001. In December, the channel aired the world premiere of the Santa Claus Brothers. As part of Toon Disney’s fall schedule, eight new shows were added to the lineup in September 2002.
By the April of 2003, the channel held the Toon Disney Magic Adventure Sweepstakes,” in which three participants, along with three family members, will win a trip to Disneyland Resort to see Disney’s Aladdin: A musical spectacular.
As a usual part of the Jetix programming alliance of ABC Network Group, Fox kids Europe, and Fox Kids Latin America, the Jetix programming block premiered on Toon Disney and ABC Family on February 14th of 2004. The block featured the entire purchased Fox Kids/Saban entertainment action library, as well as some original programming, as a part of a bulk buyout by the Walt Disney Company in the summer of 2001.
Some series, such as The Legend of Tarzan and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, were broadcast under both the Toon Disney and Jetix monikers. With over 1.35 million viewers, the Toon Disney/Big Movie Show premiere of the Polar Express on December 22nd or 2006, was the channel’s highest primetime rating. In January of 2007, Toon Disney debuted “The Great Toon Weekend”, a weekend afternoon programming block.
In August of 2008, Disney ABC TV Group announced that Toon Disney would be rebranded as Disney XD in early 2009, targeted at children aged 6 and up. On February 12th of 2009, Toon Disney ceased broadcasting and was replaced by Disney XD. The incredible Hulk, as part of Jetix, was the channel’s last show to air. In February 2009, Phineas and Ferb episode “Dude, We’re Getting the band Back Together” debuted on Disney XD.
Here are some of the Toon Disney shows that glued kids to the screens back in the later 90s through to the early to mid-2000s:
- The Big Movie Show – this was an afternoon movie block that began in November 2002.
- The Double Feature Friday - This was a two-movie block that started in 2001.
- Jetix – On February 14th of 2004 (Valentine’s day special), ABC family Worldwide introduced a block called Jetix using programming from the Saban/Marvel Library as well as additional original programming, with the block initially consisting of 12 hours of weekly prime time.
- The Magic World of Toons – This was a Toon Disney’s prime time block that began way back in April 1998 and ended in 2001. During the week, the block will feature shorts and series starring Disney characters including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Timon and Pumbaa, Hercules, Aladdin, Doug, and Pepper Ann. During the weekend, the block would show animated films, the majority of which were made for the home video market, such as Return of Jafar and the Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars, as well as some theatrical releases such as A Goofy Movie, Alice in Wonderland, and The Brave Little Toaster.
- Princess Power Hour – this was a series of episodes from Aladdin and The Little Mermaid that featured Disney Princesses Jasmine and Ariel.
- Chillin’ With the Villains – On Sundays, there was a block that aired called Chillin’ With the Villains. The block was made up of a mini-marathon of series that had famous villains
Photo Courtesy: YouTube.com
- The Great Toon Weekend (GTW) – Started in January 2007, it was a 7 hour Saturday and Sunday afternoon programming block that aired every Saturday and Sunday at noon. The Great Toon Weekend began with a two-hour movie titled “Big Movie Show,” which was followed by a 5hour segment of back-to-back episodes of shows like Aladdin, Timon, and Pumbaa, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, The Emperor's New School, and Lilo and Stitch.
- Hanging’ with the Heroes – This one began around 2002 as a two-hour weekend segment of Aladdin, Gargoyles, and Hercules.
Disney opened the first overseas Toon Disney channel in the United Kingdom in the fall of 2000. In March 2006, Disney Cinemagic took over the UK channel. Later on, in 2004, four new markets received a Toon Disney channel, three of which were in Europe, with Germany also receiving a time shift channel.
In December, Walt Disney Television International India debuted a Toon Disney channel with three audio tracks in three languages ( English, Tamil, and Telugu). In 2005, a Toon Disney (TD) channel for the Nordic countries was introduced, as was another for Japan.
On September 1st of 2005, Toon Disney in India debuted a Hindi-language audio track. Following the closure of the US channel, the remaining Toon Disney branded channels and blocks outside the US were re-launched as Disney Cinemagic (in European countries only), Disney Channel, or Disney XD, with the two Italian channels closing on October 1st of 2011.
The Rise and Fall of Toon Disney and how Disney Saved it.
In 2004, Jax became an action-adventure block on Toon Disney, this made Toon Disney a success back then and more global markets adopted the channel. However, by 2008 Toon Disney's success was falling from a number of unfortunate events. From Disney pushing older cartoons in the late-night to early hours of the day through 11 demographics losing interest in the presented cartoons.
Interestingly enough, Toon Disney became the home of Zack and Cody and other live-action sitcoms from Disney Channel before rebranding in 2009. So, in February of 2009, Toon Disneyland Jetix was retired for Disney XD, a name that still doesn’t sound to me. And reportedly doesn’t have a meaning.
Almost a decade later, Disney XD becomes a household name for the generation of kids that have grown up without the knowledge of Toon Disney at all.
But how was Toon Disney saved by Disney?
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia.org and Wikipedia.org
Disney XD has become a present-day grand animation hub, an animation stronger than any other in the present. And possibly stronger than Toon Disney ever in the past. Disney XD currently has eight original animated series in production not counting big hero 6, the three Marvel cartoons, star wars animated series, or other cartoons in development. That is well over the number of cartoons offered by the Cartoon Network. But this is more than just stats. Once relying on Phineas and Ferb and older cartoons from decades past, Disney XD has become the home of some of the most iconic animated shows of the decade like gravity falls star vs the forces of evil, Kick Buttowski, and Craig McCracken's Wander over yonder.
After Disney acquired the rights from Lucas film Marvel Pokémon Beyblade burst and Yokai Watch epic animation and adventures series have filled a void left from other animation channels and Tron uprising 7D are a perfect example of Disney utilizing the channel to attempt in capturing interesting older properties. This didn’t work, but they tried on a channel that was almost dead.
Disney has done something Nick hasn’t done to Nicktoon Network and Turner Broadcasting hasn’t done to Boomerang. When Disney found their secondary channel floundering, they rebooted and doubled down on their mission making a force of animation above the likes of the Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network main channels. Disney XD is legitimately the best channels with great cartoon and good animations from all different genres.
If you are waiting for Cartoon Network to bring variety to its cartoon, I also have Teen Titans go marathon, I’d recommend a channel that’s better...the modern Toon Disney, Disney XD. The only disappointment I have had with Disney XD is the fact that it's put behind an extra paywall. I wonder if that is Comcast of Disney. I would rather wish it was free to watch just like its competitor channels.
And then came Disney XD.
I bring to you a history of shows that aired on Disney XD from year 1992 to today. If you were a fan of Disney XD old shows and liked Disney XD's Phineas and...
But was Disney XD a good one? Well, Toon Disney was well known for the late-night Jetix until the midnight of February 14th, 2009 when it became Disney XD. According to Disney, Disney XD channel target was 6+ years old. Disney XD was supposed to inherit some shows from Disney channel and moves and series. A large portion of Disney XD was animated series. Most of the shows had lots of action.
Let us take a brief look at Disney XD and how it compared to Toon Disney.
A look into the background history of Disney XD (2009 – now)
Photo Coutesy: Disney.com
Disney XD is an American international pay television channel owned by the Walt Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution division. The channel is mainly targeted at children aged 6 to 11. Disney XD’s programming consists of original first-run television shows, current, and former series and made for television shows inherited from sister network Disney Channel, theatrically-released films, and imported programs from other outlets, as well as a primetime block of competitive gaming programming.
The channel provides an alternative Spanish-language audio stream, either via a separate channel with the English track removed as part of a bundle of Spanish-language television networks offered by subscription providers or through a separate audio track available through the SAP choice, depending on the provider.
As of January 2016, Disney XD was available in 77.5 million US households. The Phineas and Ferb episode "Dude, We're Getting the Band Back Together" was the first show to air on Disney XD on February 13, 2009, at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Aaron Stone, the channel's first original film, premiered at 7:00 p.m. Kid vs. Kat and Jimmy Two-Shoes were two new animated series added to the channel's initial schedule.
Disney XD too k over the channel space of Toon Disney, which was an animation-focused channel that premiered on April 18th, 1998, and later launched a live-action/animation block called Jetix in 2004. Jetix channels outside of of the United States have launched again under Disney XD brand beginning with the France-based service on April 2009. Many of the channel’s programs, especially animated series, previously aired on Toon Disney, primarily as part of the Jetix programming block, which ran on Toon Disney until the channel’s demise. Disney XD shares the same name as an unrelated mini-site and media player on Disney.com called Disney Xtreme Digital. Surprisingly, Disney confirmed that the XD means nothing significant, it's not an acronym!
Skyrunners, the channel’s first original television film, premiered on November 27th of 2009. Because of this, Disney’s 2009 acquisition of Marvel Entertainment, Disney XD unveiled the “Marvel Universe” block in April 2012. By June 201, Disney XD had agreed to a multi-picture production contract with Two 4 the Money and MarVista Entertainment, with Marvista holding global rights.
In 2006, it was revealed that the Pokémon anime series will be transferring from Cartoon Network to Disney XD the 20th Season, Pokémon the Series: Sun and Moon, was the first to air, with a sneak peek in December 2016. In 2017, Pokémon’s night broadcast started.
DuckTales was relaunched on Disney XD on August 12, 2017. Disney revealed in 2018 via a series of promos and news releases that four of Disney XD's original series (Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Milo Murphy's Law, DuckTales, and Big Hero 6: The Series) will be switching their premieres to Disney Channel, although Disney XD will continue to air re-runs.
Programs aired by Disney XD
The schedule of Disney XD is primarily comprised of animated and live-action programming targeted at pre-teens and young teenagers. The programming on Disney XD is a combination of former original series and programs inherited from sister network Disney Channel. In addition to full-length live-action and animated original shows, the channel debuts short series similar to those shown on Disney Channel during commercial breaks (such as Two More Eggs), which serve as filler for programs that end during the half-hour and usually the last one to three minutes.
Furthermore, Disney XD airs original made-for-TV movies from Disney Channel as well as theatrically released feature films; but, unlike Disney Channel, Disney XD usually does not air these movies during prime time; rather, films generally air during the early evening hours at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, with double features running a few days a week.
Unlike Disney Channel (and its sister network, Disney Junior), which advertises through program advertisements, underwriter sponsorships, and interstitials for Disney films, home video, and game releases created by the channel, Disney XD is an advertiser-supported service that runs conventional television ads in addition to promotions for the channel's shows.
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The channel also shows a youth-focused "plays of the week" countdown show referred to as SportsCenter High-5, which is created by ESPN's SportsCenter and shows no regular intervals between shows. The 2019 Pro Bowl premiered on Disney XD on January 27, 2019, becoming the network's first long-form sporting event to air (it was also simulcast on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ABC).
Disney XD Programming blocks
The Marvel on Disney XD – This was the block of animated series that was produced by Marvel Animation and showed on Sunday mornings from 8 to 9 am ET. As a result of The Walt Disney Company’s purchase of Marvel Ent. In 2009. The block debuted as Marvel Universe in April of 2012. It premiered the Ultimate Spiderman followed by the Return of the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It also includes five short series that make use of the short-form animated and live-action interstitials. The Spiderman, Avengers Assemble, Guardians of the Galaxy, “Marvel Mash-up (which includes classic Marvel cartoons mixed up with new twists), and Fury Files are currently featured in the block.
Other Disney XD Blocks include:
- The Randomation Animation - premiered on July 13, 2013, as a Saturday morning animation block from 8:30 to 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Packages from Planet X, Camp Lakebottom, Max Steel, Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, and Phineas and Ferb Musical Cliptastic Countdown are among the programs included in the block.
- The Animacation - was a morning animation block and television stunt that aired during the summer of 2014 to promote new episodes of original animated programming as well as the premieres of Doraemon: Gadget Cat from the Future and The 7D.
- D|XP - a prime-time block targeted at teenagers that aired from 9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. Eastern Time; the block debuted on July 15, 2017, and ran from 9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The block draws on resources from sister properties such as the Disney-owned multi-channel network Maker Studios (which created the weekly Polaris Primetime and curates material from its member personalities for another programming on the block), ESPN (for e-sports coverage), Vice Media's Waypoint, and outside producers and outlets such as IGN. DXP broadcasted the finals of the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Street Fighter V tournaments at Evo 2017 on July 16, complementing coverage of the game on ESPN networks and Twitch, a multi-year agreement with Blizzard Entertainment to air Overwatch League matches on ABC, Disney XD (as part of the D | XP block), and the ESPN networks.
- The Anime Block – this was a block highlighting various anime shows from the channel, such as Pokémon and Beyblade: Burst It premiered on February 18, 2017 and aired every Saturday thereafter. It was canceled in 2020 as a result of Netflix's purchase of the Pokémon broadcasting rights. Beyblade Burst is the only anime remaining on Disney XD's schedule as of 2021.
Disney XD, another result of a merger between Jetix and Toon Disney, was previously available worldwide. Owing to the introduction of Disney+, which enables the Walt Disney Company to retain the most benefit for its content compared to a conventional wireline network where profits were split with its distributors, the majority of the international Disney XD networks closed down through late 2019 and into 2020. Disney also avoided the pressure of scheduling a full-week network, as streaming services have proved to be much more popular with young people than cable channels.
Disney XD shut down in Australia and New Zealand on January 6, 2019, with programs switching to Disney Channel for the network's final year before being absorbed into Disney+. On January 9, 2019, the channel was rebranded as Marvel HQ in India. Following the non-renewal of its Sky carriage deal, Disney XD closed in Italy on October 1, 2019.
The Spain and German channels were shut down on April 1, 2020, with France's network following a week later. XD in Singapore shut down on May 31, followed by the United Kingdom & Ireland and continental Africa domestic feeds on October 1. The Southeast Asian and Scandinavian feeds closed on December 31, 2020, bringing the year to a close.
Apart from the United States and Canada, the only remaining countries where Disney XD is available as a channel globally are Latin America and Poland as a full-time network, and the Netherlands as a time-share with Veronica TV by the end of January 2021.
Other Related Disney XD services.
- Disney XD HD - Disney XD HD is a high def simulcast of the Disney XD channel that streams in 720p resolution; the HD stream debuted on February 13, 2009, alongside the channel's standard definition feed. Disney XD's original programming, as well as movies, Disney Channel original movies made after 2005, and select episodes, films, and shows produced before 2009, are produced and broadcast in HD. Most providers, with the exception of Dish, carry the HD feed.
- Disney XD on Demand - Disney XD On-Demand is the channel's video-on-demand service, which provides pay television providers with select episodes of Disney XD's original series and some acquired programs.
- The Disney Now - The Disney Channel app was relaunched as DisneyNOW on September 28, 2017, combining the apps of Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, and Radio Disney into a single universal app with access to all four services. On February 15, 2018, the Disney XD the app was discontinued.
- The Disney XD App – This is one of the former services under Disney XD. The smartphone app and digital media player applications for Disney XD, previously recognized as "WATCH Disney XD" until a June 2016 rebranding, stream online and on-demand streaming of Disney XD online content. For access to live video or the most recent episodes of a series, these applications enable users to authenticate with a password from a partner television service provider, but a limited number of free episodes are also accessible without a login.
It is unfortunate the both Toon Disney and Disney XD have ended up the same way – disappeared. But am glad I lived to enjoy them during the days when they were up and running. I still get nostalgic goosebumps when I watch the snippets of the show that are still available on YouTube and some other streaming sites.
How I wish they could have developed Disney XD further. I found it had more variety than Nick and Cartoon Network Combined.
What are your fond memories about Toon Disney and Disney XD? Did you get a chance to watch them back in the days?