Friday, July 21, 2017

Remembering The Disney Afternoon

By Brittany Bell

If you were a child of the 90s then consider yourself lucky. This was the prime age for watching children’s television when Disney cartoon shows reached what many believe to be their peak. The Disney Afternoon began as a television programming block and brought some of the most iconic and popular Disney cartoons to date. Though all of the shows that aired during The Disney Afternoon had wrapped at the turn of the century, the shows that aired pack a Disney nostalgia punch reminiscent of the Renaissance-era films of the same era. Join us today as we remember The Disney Afternoon

The most appropriate way to begin this look back at The Disney Afternoon would be to start off with the fun-filled Disney Afternoon theme song we all loved so much...

(For your listening pleasure, be sure to pause the Disney Avenue Music Player at the top, left-hand corner of the page prior to playing the tracks below if you are on a desktop computer.)

Many Disney fans—especially those of us who had the pleasure of growing up in the 1990s—no doubt think back with a smile at long afternoons after school catching up with our favorite characters on the animated shows of The Disney Afternoon...

This block of syndicated programming, which aired nationwide and in countries across the world, became the touchstone of an entire generation of kids. So entrenched are these adventures in the collective subconscious that today you could approach most people ages 20 to 30-something and—even if they’re not a huge Disney fan—find they can instantly summon up a trademark DuckTales “woo-hoo!”

DuckTales featured Scrooge McDuck and the nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Scrooge’s innate sense for making or finding money leads him to outrageous adventures, accompanied by his grandnephews.

The Disney Afternoon began in 1990 as a 2-hour television programming block that consisted of four half-hour cartoon television episodes. As each season of a particular series came to a close, the first cartoon in the lineup (i.e. the one whose season just ended) would be dropped, and a new show would be added to the end, therefore pushing up the airtime of each show by a half-hour. The early days of The Disney Afternoon featured cartoons that were already on-air including Adventures of the Gummi Bears, DuckTales, and Chip ’n Dale Rescue Rangers, all of which were popular among audiences. TaleSpin was the first cartoon created specifically for The Disney Afternoon block. The chart below shows the cartoon rotation from 1990-1997...

As you can see from the chart above, some of the shows were based on Disney movies that had recently hit theaters. For a few years, a “two year rule” became a template in which two years after a Disney animated movie came out, a The Disney Afternoon series by the same name or featuring the characters premiered. Disney would continue a similar trend with television series that premiered after the official The Disney Afternoon block ended, including The Little Mermaid, Hercules: The Animated Series, The Legend of Tarzan, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, The Emperor’s New School and Lilo and Stitch: The Series.

The Disney Afternoon made its mark on the Disney Parks as well. From March 15, 1991 to November 10, 1991, a temporary sub-land in Disneyland Park called Disney Afternoon Avenue opened. Located on what is called the Small World Mall (the space between the Fantasyland Theatre and “it’s a small world”), Afternoon Avenue featured meet-and-greets with some of the most popular characters from The Disney Afternoon cartoons. While most of these characters are retired now, they occasionally pop-up for special events. It is also believed that this area was used as a test to gauge guest interest in a “land for toons” (what eventually became Toontown). Chip ’n Dale Rescue Rangers still has a mark in Toontown to this day as well, with “Gadget’s Go Coaster” being a reference to Gadget in the television show.

On March 15, 1991, stars from television’s four “Disney Afternoon” animated series began delighting Disneyland park guests along “Afternoon Avenue,” a festive themed area in Fantasyland near “it’s a small world.”

On the East Coast, a stage show named Mickey’s Magical TV World took place on the Cinderella Castle stage, and featured characters such as Darkwing Duck and Scroog McDuck from The Disney Afternoon shows.

With the introduction of Darkwing Duck on the Disney Channel in 1991, the character was later added to Mickey’s Magical TV World.

In 1997, The Disney Afternoon moniker was shortened to “TDA”, and by the end of the year, was eventually scrapped as a formal television block. However, Disney announced on December 8, 1997 its plans to launch a network entirely dedicated to Disney cartoons: Toon Disney. In April 1998, Toon Disney officially launched, coinciding with the Disney Channel’s 15th anniversary. The programming consisted mainly of a mix of cartoons from The Disney Afternoon block before the network began to air original content. A list of Disney animated shows that aired on Toon Disney are as follows:

•    101 Dalmatians: The Series
•    Adventures of the Gummi Bears
•    Aladdin
•    American Dragon: Jake Long
•    Bonkers
•    Brandy & Mr. Whiskers
•    Buzz Lightyear of Star Command
•    Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers
•    Darkwing Duck
•    Dave the Barbarian
•    Disney's Doug
•    Donald's Quack Attack
•    DuckTales
•    The Emperor's New School
•    Fillmore!
•    Gargoyles
•    Goof Troop
•    Hercules
•    House of Mouse
•    Kim Possible
•    The Legend of Tarzan
•    Lilo & Stitch: The Series   
•    The Little Mermaid
•    Lloyd in Space
•    Marsupilami
•    Mickey's Mouse Tracks
•    Mighty Ducks
•    The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
•    Pepper Ann
•    Phineas and Ferb
•    The Proud Family
•    Quack Pack
•    Raw Toonage
•    Recess
•    The Replacements
•    The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show
•    TaleSpin
•    Toon Disney Doodles
•    Teacher's Pet
•    Teamo Supremo
•    Timon and Pumbaa
•    The Weekenders
•    The Wuzzles

While most of the shows that were on The Disney Afternoon and Toon Disney network are no longer airing in the U.S., fans of the shows can still find episodes online. One particular fan favorite from The Disney Afternoon, however, is getting ready to come back to televison. This year, DuckTales is getting a reboot and is set to premiere on Disney XD in August. Even though The Disney Afternoon is no longer on TV, the nostalgia of those shows will last a lifetime. And hopefully, if the DuckTales reboot is a success, we might get to see more and more of our favorite Disney Afternoon cartoons making a comeback on TV. In the meantime, let's travel back to the 90s and enjoy some of our favorite Disney Afternoon theme songs...

(For your listening pleasure, be sure to pause the Disney Avenue Music Player at the top, left-hand corner of the page prior to playing the tracks below if you are on a desktop computer.)

Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears

Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears aired in the United States from 1985 to 1991. The series was the first animated production by Walt Disney Animation Television, and loosely inspired by the gummy bear candies. The series premiered on NBC on September 14, 1985, and aired there for four seasons. The series then moved to ABC for one season from 1989 to 1990, and concluded on September 6, 1991 as part of The Disney Afternoon television syndication package. The show is well-remembered for its theme music, written by Michael and Patty Silversher, and for the creation of "gummiberry juice". The theme was memorably performed by Joseph Williams, son of composer John Williams, the one-time lead singer of Toto.


DuckTales premiered on September 18, 1987 and is perhaps the most beloved Disney Afternoon brethren. With a total of four seasons and 100 episodes, an animated theatrical spin-off film based on the series, DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, was released widely in the United States on August 3, 1990. The voice cast from the series reprised their roles for the film. One of the characters created for DuckTales, Launchpad McQuack, later became a major character in the series Darkwing Duck. The popular theme song was composed by Mark Mueller, who also wrote the theme song for Disney's Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. The song is sung by Jeff Pescetto and has been widely regarded as one of the most memorable for a television program.

Bonus from the Editor: If you love this song as much as we do and would like to make it a ringtone on your phone, click the buttons below to download the ringtone file to your computer...

Ringtone for iPhone (.M4R):

 Ringtone for Android (.MP3):

(Note: You may have to Google how to properly install the file to your device after downloading via iTunes, etc.)

Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers

Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers featured the established Disney characters Chip 'n' Dale in a all new setting. The series premiered on The Disney Channel on March 4, 1989 and premiered with a two-hour movie special, Rescue Rangers: To the Rescue. On September 18, 1989, the series entered national syndication. From 1990 to 1993, reruns of the show were aired as a part of the Disney Afternoon lineup. The show's opening theme was written by Mark Mueller, an ASCAP Award-winning pop music songwriter who also wrote the popular theme song for DuckTales. The song performed over the title credits is sung by Jeff Pescetto (who also performed the DuckTales theme song). A full-length version of the theme song was later recorded by the pop group The Jets.


TaleSpin first aired in 1990 as a preview on The Disney Channel and later that year as part of The Disney Afternoon, with characters adapted from Disney's 1967 animated feature The Jungle Book. The name of the show is a play on the word tailspin, the rapid descent of an aircraft in a steep spiral. The two words in the show's name, tale and spin, are also a way to describe telling a story. TaleSpin's theme song "Spin It"  is the opening song of The Disney Afternoon animated television show.

Darkwing Duck

Darkwing Duck first ran from 1991 to 1992 on both the syndicated programming block The Disney Afternoon and Saturday mornings on ABC. It featured the eponymous anthropomorphic duck superhero whose alter ego is suburban father Drake Mallard. Darkwing Duck was developed as a last-minute replacement for a proposed reboot of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show when the creative team realized that Disney did not own the rights to the characters (Disney merely held home video rights to the series). The show was a spin-off of the very successful series DuckTales and entered production roughly one year after DuckTales ended. Where most prior Disney Afternoon series included at least some characters from classic Disney animation films of the past, Darkwing Duck featured a completely original cast. Even the DuckTales characters it reused had no counterpart in early Disney shorts. The Darkwing Duck theme song was written and composed by Steve Nelson and Thomas Sharp.

Be sure to grab your favorite Disney Afternoon shirt in the Disney Avenue Shirt Shop by clicking the image below...

Grab your Disney Afternoon t-shirt by clicking HERE


Brittany Bell grew up in Lewiston, Maine, about 45 minutes away from Portland. She is currently studying Public Relations and Journalism at Boston University, and hopes to one day work for the Mouse himself. She grew up in a Disney-loving home, and would watch Sleeping Beauty on repeat as a little girl. Her first trip to Walt Disney World was in the summer of 2000, at four years old. Ever since then, Brittany and her family take annual trips to the World, and have no intention of vacationing anywhere else. Her favorite places in Walt Disney World are the Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Grand Floridian, and the Magic Kingdom. She can’t go without seeing Fantasmic! at least once each vacation, even though she chokes up a little at the final scene. Brittany is fascinated by how one man’s dream became an empire—one that makes dreams come true every day.

Before she became obsessed with Frozen and Queen Elsa, her favorite Disney characters were Princess Aurora and Mulan. She loves everything and anything Disney, from the parks, to the movies, to the Broadway musicals. In the near future she hopes to participate in the Disney College Program and work as a “friend of a princess”.

You can find all of Brittany's articles here.

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