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Disney Television Animation

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Disney Television Animation
Industry Animation Television
Founded December 1984 (1984-12)
Founder Gary Krisel
Headquarters 811 Sonora Avenue[1], Glendale, California, United States
Number of locations
Key people
Eric Coleman (SVP)
Parent Disney Channels Worldwide
(Disney-ABC Television Group)
(Disney Media Networks)
(The Walt Disney Company)

Disney Television Animation is the television animation production arm of the Disney Channels Worldwide dedicated to creating, developing and producing animated television series, films, specials and other projects.

Established in 1984 during the reorganization and subsequent re-incorporation of The Walt Disney Company following the arrival of then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner, the entity was formerly known as The Walt Disney Pictures Television Animation Group, the name was then later changed, shortened to Walt Disney Television Animation starting in 1987 and was its name up until 2011, when it has been shortened again to Disney Television Animation.[2]


The Walt Disney Company first ventured into the television industry as early as 1950, beginning with the one-hour Christmas special, One Hour in Wonderland. This was followed by the 1951 Christmas special, The Walt Disney Christmas Show, the long-running (1954–2008) anthology series, The Wonderful World of Disney (which was Disney's first regular series as a whole), the children's variety show The Mickey Mouse Club, and the 1957-1959 adventure series, Zorro. However, one element was missing from Disney's expansion into television: An original animated television series, until the early 80's, the studio had never produced its own original animated shows in-house, because Walt Disney felt it was economically impossible. Nearly all pre-1985 TV animation was wrap-around segments made to bridge the gaps on existing theatrical material on The Wonderful World of Disney. Osamu Tezuka met Walt at the 1964 World's Fair, at which time Disney said he hoped to "make something just like" Tezuka's Astro Boy someday, but unfortunately nothing came of it.


With the hiring of a new CEO for Disney Production in 1984, Michael Eisner, lead him to push to expand Disney into new areas thus the establishment of a television animation division that year, the cartoon would be shop to all markets: networks, Disney Channel and syndication. Eisner held a meeting at his home in which he brought up the concept of doing a series on Gummi bear as his kids like the candy. Originally, the staff was told that they could not use the principal Disney cartoon characters in the new shows.[3]

The Walt Disney Television Animation department was started in November 1984 with Gary Krisel as president[4] and Michael Webster as senior vice president.[5]

This was considered a risky move, because animated TV series were generally considered low-budget investments for most of the history of TV cartoons up through the 1980s. Many critics say that Disney's own animation studio had lost most of its luster during the period from Walt Disney's passing through the 1980s. However, the studio took a number of risks that paid off handsomely, the studio successfully gambled on the idea that a substantially larger investment into quality animation could be made back through both network television and over-the-air in syndication, as well as cable. The final result is a string of higher budgeted animated television productions which proved to be profitable ventures and raised the standard for the TV medium.

The Disney television animation cycle began in mid-1985, with The Wuzzles and Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears,[3] both which are based upon funny animal-based conceptions. The supposedly (and possibly) final third series in the incidentally so-called "magic animal"-based "trilogy" of original character sets was going to be[citation needed] Fluppy Dogs (which premiered only as an hour-long TV movie pilot on ABC on Thanksgiving 1986), itself loosely based a series of children's books and line of toys about a race of anthropomorphic pastel-colored dimension-hopping alien (fluppy) dogs.[6] It was not a successful hit (due to low viewership and support) however, as the proposed series was not picked up after it never went beyond that one pilot episode, and the studio instead quickly fell into a routine of adapting its old properties into the new use, which ultimately, Disney coincidentally really did.

In 1987, Disney finally unveiled the newest series yet in its cycle, and the first in their successful long-time line of syndicated animated shows, DuckTales,[3] the show was successful enough to spawn a feature film, DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, and two spin-off series: Darkwing Duck and Quack Pack. 1990 release Treasure of the Lost Lamp was the first movie from TV Animation's Disney MovieToon unit.[7] Disney Television Animation hired a director of specials, Sharon Morrill, in 1993.[8]

The success of DuckTales also paved the way for a new wave of high-quality animated TV series, including Disney's own The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in 1988. Later, early that spring, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers debuted on March 4, 1989, and was paired with DuckTales in an hour-long syndicated show through the 1989-1990 television season; in the 1990-1991 season, Disney expanded the idea even further, to create The Disney Afternoon, a two-hour long syndicated block of half-hour cartoons, which premiered much later on September 10, 1990. DuckTales was one of the early flagship cartoons in the block.

On August 24, 1994 with Jeffrey Katzenberg's resignation, Richard Frank became head of newly formed Walt Disney Television and Telecommunications (WDTT), which included WDTA, from units of The Walt Disney Studios.[9] Morrill was in charge of the first Aladdin DTV film launching Disney Video Premiere/Direct to Video unit.[10]

Three overseas Disney studios were set up to produce the company's animated television series.[11] Disney Animation Australia was started in 1988;[12] in 1989, the Brizzi brothers sold Brizzi Films to Disney Television Animation and was renamed Walt Disney Animation France.[13] Also that year, Disney Animation Japan was started.[14] Walt Disney Animation Canada was opened in January 1996 to tap Canada's animator pool and produce direct-to-video,[15] as direct-to-video increased in importance, the overseas studios moved to making feature films.[11]

WDTT chair Frank left Disney in March 1995, with Krisel expecting to be promoted to head up WDTT but passed over, Krisel left WDTA at the end of his contract in January 1996.[16] At the time the Walt Disney Company merged with Capital Cities/ABC, TV Animation was a unit of Walt Disney Television within the Walt Disney Television and Telecommunications group (WDTT).[17] With the retirement of WDTT group president Dennis Hightower in April 1996 and ongoing post-merger reorganization, the unit (along with its Disney TV parent) was transferred to the Walt Disney Studios.[18] By April 1998, Movietoons was folded in with Disney Video Premiere films and network TV specials of Disney TV Animation as Morrill was promoted to executive vice president over her existing unit of Disney Video Premiere films, network TV specials and Movietoons, at the same time, Barry Blumberg was elevated to executive vice president for network and syndicated animated TV series. Both reported to Disney Television president Charles Hirschhorn.[8]

In the second quarter of 2000, due to weak financial performance, Disney Animation Canada was closed.[15] David Stainton took charge of the company as executive vice president in January 2000 then as president in February 2002 under Thomas Schumacher.[19]

In January 2003, Disney initiated a reorganization of its theatrical and animation units to improve resource usage and continued focus on new characters and franchise development. TV Animation was transferred to Disney Channels Worldwide;[20] in this reorganization, the Disney MovieToons/Disney Video Premieres unit was transferred from Television Animation to Feature Animation.[21][22] While Stainton took over as President of Disney Feature Animation from Schumacher, while Blumberg returned to DTA as president.[22]


Disney Television Animation is headed by Eric Coleman,[23][24] Senior Vice President, Original Series, he reports to Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer of Disney Channels Worldwide.[citation needed]

Prior presidents of Television Animation were Meredith Roberts and Barry Blumberg. Blumberg announced his resignation in November 2005.[25]

Tom Ruzicka, now at Universal Animation Studios, was one of the original executives in charge of this fledgling group. Other animation executives that worked at Television Animation over the years were Barbara Ferro, Sharon Morrill, Bill Gross (former President of Jumbo Pictures, creators of Doug), Maia Mattise, Lenora Hume.



Disney television series (with "The Disney Afternoon")

Title Creator(s)/Developer(s) Original running Notes
Adventures of the Gummi Bears Jymn Magon 1985–91
DuckTales Jymn Magon 1987–90
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers Jymn Magon 1989–90
TaleSpin Jymn Magon 1990–91
Darkwing Duck Jymn Magon 1991–92
Goof Troop Jymn Magon 1992–93
Bonkers 1993–94
Aladdin Walt Disney Television
Original Characters:
Ron Clements
John Musker
Gargoyles Greg Weisman 1994–97 as Buena Vista Television
Timon & Pumbaa Walt Disney Television
Original Characters:
Roger Allers
Rob Minkoff
The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show Bill Kopp 1995
Quack Pack Jymn Magon 1996
The Mighty Ducks Jymn Magon 1996–97

Disney television series (with "Disney's One Saturday Morning")

Title Creators / Developer(s) Original running Notes
101 Dalmatians Jim Jinkins
David Campbell
1997–98 co-production with Jumbo Pictures
Recess Paul Germain
Joe Ansolabehere
1997–2003 co-production with Paul & Joe Productions
Pepper Ann Sue Rose 1997–2000
Hercules Original Characters:
John Musker
Ron Clements
Michael Price
Mickey Mouse Works Walt Disney Television Animation 1999–2000
The Weekenders Doug Langdale 2000–04
Teacher's Pet Gary Baseman
Bill Steinkellner
Cheri Steinkellner
2000–02 Winner of 4 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Special Class Animated Program of 2001 and 2002
Buzz Lightyear of Star Command John Lasseter (Movies) 2000–01 co-production with Pixar
House of Mouse Rob Gannaway
Tony Craig
Lloyd in Space Paul Germain
Joe Ansolabehere
2001–04 co-production with Paul & Joe Productions
The Legend of Tarzan Walt Disney Television 2001–03
Teamo Supremo Phil Walsh 2002–04

Other Disney television series

Title Creator(s) Original running Notes
The Wuzzles Mark Donald 1985
The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Jymn Magon 1988–91 Winner of 2 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program of 1988 and 1989.
The Little Mermaid Walt Disney Television 1992–94
Raw Toonage 1992
Marsupilami André Franquin 1993 in association with Dupuis Audiovisuel and Marsu Productions
Disney's Doug Jim Jinkins 1996–99 acquired from Nickelodeon, co-production with Jumbo Pictures
Jungle Cubs Mark S. Bernthal 1996–98
Nightmare Ned Terry Shakespeare
Sue Shakespeare
David Molina
Fillmore! Scott M. Gimple 2002–04

Disney Channel original series

Title Creator(s) / Developer(s) Original running Notes
Kim Possible Bob Schooley
Mark McCorkle
Lilo & Stitch: The Series Chris Sanders
Dean DeBlois
Dave the Barbarian Doug Langdale 2004–05
Brandy & Mr. Whiskers Russell Marcus 2004–06
American Dragon: Jake Long Jeff Goode 2005–07
The Buzz on Maggie Dave Polsky 2005–06
The Emperor's New School Mark Dindal 2006–08 co-production with Toon City Animation, Inc., Wang Film Productions Co., Ltd., Synergy Animation Studios, and Studiopolis
The Replacements Dan Santat 2006–09
Shorty McShorts' Shorts Barry Blumberg
John Solomon
Phineas and Ferb Dan Povenmire
Jeff "Swampy" Marsh
Fish Hooks Noah Z. Jones 2010–14 [26]
Take Two with Phineas and Ferb Dan Povenmire
Jeff "Swampy" Marsh
Gravity Falls Alex Hirsch 2012–16 [27][28]
Mickey Mouse Paul Rudish 2013–present [29]
Wander Over Yonder Craig McCracken 2013–16 [30]
Gravity Falls Shorts Alex Hirsch 2013–14
Descendants: Wicked World 2015–present
The Lion Guard Ford Riley [31]
Elena of Avalor Craig Gerber 2016–present [32]
Tangled: The Series Shane Prigmore
Chris Sonnenburg
2017–present [33]
Amphibia Matt Braly 2019 [34]
The Owl House Dana Terrace 2019 [34]

Disney XD original series

Title Creator(s) / Developer(s) Original running Notes
Phineas and Ferb Dan Povenmire
Jeff "Swampy" Marsh
Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil Sandro Corsaro 2010–12 co-production with Chris Savino Productions[35]
Motorcity Chris Prynoski 2012–13 co-production with Titmouse, Inc.[28][36]
Tron: Uprising Steven Lisberger
Bonnie MacBird (Characters)
co-production with Sean Bailey Productions
Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja Jed Elinoff
Scott Thomas
2012–15 co-production with Titmouse, Inc. Boulder Media Limited and Rough Draft Studios Korea Co., Ltd. Season 2
Gravity Falls Alex Hirsch 2012–16 Season 2 as a Disney XD Original Series
Wander Over Yonder Craig McCracken 2014–16 Previously aired on Disney Channel. Now on Disney XD
The 7D Tom Ruegger
Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero Jared Bush
Sam Levine
2014–17 [37] Executive Produced and created by Jared Bush and Sam Levine.[38]
Star vs. the Forces of Evil Daron Nefcy 2015–present [39][40][41]
Two More Eggs The Brothers Chaps co-production with Citywide Hoop Champs, Inc.[42]
Wander Over Yonder Shorts Craig McCracken 2015
Pickle and Peanut Noah Z. Jones 2015–18 [43]
Future-Worm! Ryan Quincy 2016–present [44][45]
Milo Murphy's Law Dan Povenmire
Jeff "Swampy" Marsh
Billy Dilley's Super-Duper Subterranean Summer Aaron Springer 2017–present
DuckTales Matt Youngberg
Francisco Angones
Big Hero 6: The Series Mark McCorkle
Bob Schooley
Nick Filippi
Big City Greens Chris Houghton
Shane Houghton

Playhouse Disney/Disney Junior original series

Title Creator(s) / Developer(s) Original running Notes
PB&J Otter Jim Jinkins 1998–2000 co-production with Jumbo Pictures
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Walt Disney (characters)
Bobs Gannaway
2006–16 Computer Animation
My Friends Tigger & Pooh A. A. Milne (characters)
Bobs Gannaway
Special Agent Oso Ford Riley 2009–12
Jake and the Never Land Pirates Bobs Gannaway 2011–16
Sofia the First Craig Gerber 2012–present Computer Animation
The Lion Guard Ford Riley 2016–present [48]
Mickey and the Roadster Racers 2017–present Computer Animation[49]

ABC television series

Title Creator(s)/Developer(s) Original running Notes
Clerks: The Animated Series David Mandel
Scott Mosier
Kevin Smith
2000 uncredited; co-production with Miramax Television, View Askew Productions, Woltz International Pictures, and Touchstone Television[50]

Television specials

Title Original air date Notes
Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too December 14, 1991
Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh October 25, 1996
A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving November 22, 1998
Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You February 13, 1999
The O.W.C.A. Files November 9, 2015 Final Phineas and Ferb special.
Duck the Halls: A Mickey Mouse Christmas Special December 9, 2016 First Mickey Mouse half-hour special.
The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular! October 8, 2017 Second Mickey Mouse half-hour special.
Haunted Mansion[51] TBA

Feature Films

From 1990 to January 2003, Disney TV Animation had a division, Disney MovieToons/Disney Video Premiere, that produced TV specials, direct-to-video and feature films. See that article for that unit's films.

Television films

Direct-to-video films

Theatrical films

Short films

See also


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External links