Disney Television Animation

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Disney Television Animation
Disney Channel Animation
  • Walt Disney Pictures Television Animation Group (1984–1987)
  • Walt Disney Television Animation (1987–2011)
Company typeSubsidiary
FoundedDecember 5, 1984; 39 years ago (1984-12-05)
FounderGary Krisel
Headquarters811 Sonora Avenue, Glendale, California, U.S.[1]
Number of locations
Key people
Meredith Roberts (SVP, GM)[2]
ParentDisney Branded Television

Disney Television Animation (DTVA)[3] (formerly known as Walt Disney Pictures Television Animation Group and Walt Disney Television Animation) is an American animation studio that serves as the television animation production arm of Disney Branded Television, a division of Disney General Entertainment Content, which is a division of Disney Entertainment. The studio was originally established in 1984, by Gary Krisel during the reorganization and subsequent re-incorporation of Disney following the arrival of then CEO Michael Eisner that year.

The division is responsible for developing and producing animated television series, films, specials and short films for broadcast on the Disney branded networks; Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior, as well as Disney+.



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 adventure series, Zorro (1957–1959).

However, one element was missing from Disney's expansion into television: an original animated television series. Until the early '80s, 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.

1984–1990: Early beginnings

The hiring of a new CEO for Walt Disney Productions in 1984, Michael Eisner, led him to push to expand Disney into new areas thus the establishment of a television animation division that year, whose output would be shopped 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 the 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.[4]

The Walt Disney Television Animation department was formed in November 1984 with Gary Krisel as president[5] and Michael Webster as senior vice president.[6] This was considered a risky move because animated TV series was 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 in the 1960s through the 1980s. However, the studio took several 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 first productions to make it to air from the studio arrived in 1985, with Eisner's concept fleshed out into Adventures of the Gummi Bears, joined by an original concept The Wuzzles,[4] both which are based upon talking animal-based conceptions. The third series in a similar vein, Fluppy Dogs, was produced as a single 45min-long TV movie pilot that aired on ABC on Thanksgiving 1986 and was loosely based a series of children's books and line of toys about a race of anthropomorphic pastel-colored dimension-hopping alien called "fluppy dogs." Dismal viewership ensured the project never made it to series.[7]

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. Though still forbidden from using the star characters, minor characters such as Scrooge McDuck and Huey, Dewey and Louie were allowed, and Disney did concede to allow for a brief appearance by Donald Duck to establish the series, allowing them to adapt the Duck universe adventure serials by Carl Barks into animation.[4] 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 Disney MovieToon unit.[8] Disney Television Animation hired a director of specials, Sharon Morrill, in 1993.[9]

1990–2003: Broadcast networks and syndication era

The Disney Afternoon

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.[10] Morrill was in charge of the first Aladdin direct-to-video sequel launching Disney Video Premiere/Direct to Video unit.[11]

Three overseas Disney studios were set up to produce the company's animated television series.[12] Disney Animation Australia was started in 1988.[13] In 1989, the Brizzi brothers sold Brizzi Films to Disney Television Animation and was renamed Walt Disney Animation France.[14] Also that year, Disney Animation Japan was started.[15] Walt Disney Animation Canada was opened in January 1996 to tap Canada's animator pool and produce direct-to-video.[16] As direct-to-video increased in importance, the overseas studios moved to making feature films.[12]

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.[17] 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).[18] 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.[19]

One Saturday Morning, ABC Kids, and One Too

When the September 1, 1997 season started, the block dropped The Disney Afternoon (temporally rebranded as the "Disney-Kellogg Alliance"), moving shows to Disney Channel. On September 13, 1997, Disney's ABC unit launched Disney's One Saturday Morning. The programming block included several new shows, such as 101 Dalmatians, Recess, Pepper Ann, Disney's Doug, and Mickey Mouse Works.

In January 1998, Disney also reached a deal to program a new children's block for UPN, Disney's One Too, to replace that network's internal UPN Kids block. The syndicated block ran until the debut of One Too on September 6, 1999; which aired mainly the same shows as One Saturday Morning.

By April 1998, Disney MovieToons was folded in with Walt Disney Video Premieres films and network TV specials of Disney TV Animation as Morrill moved to executive vice president over her pre-existing units. At the same time, Barry Blumberg was elevated to the executive vice president for network and syndicated animated TV series. Both reported to Disney Television president Charles Hirschhorn.[9]

In the second quarter of 2000, due to weak financial performance, Disney Animation Canada was closed.[16] David Stainton took charge of the company as executive vice president in January 2000 then as president in February 2002 under Thomas Schumacher.[20]

Due to the reconstruction, Disney & ABC also rebranded its One Saturday Morning block to ABC Kids (a subtle tribute to the Fox Kids brand after being acquired by Disney through its purchase of Fox Family Worldwide in 2001) on September 14, 2002. On August 31, 2003, Disney discontinued the One Too block, thus ending their deal with UPN.

After the relaunch as ABC Kids, many of the shows' premieres moved to sister network Toon Disney due to schedule constraints. The remaining shows included: The Weekenders, Teacher's Pet, House of Mouse, Lloyd in Space, Teamo Supremo, and Fillmore!. All new episodes finished airing by 2004, allowing the network to switch to syndicating promotions for new original shows for Disney Channel and upcoming Jetix brand (which held the previous Fox Kids library).

2003–2017: As a division of Disney Channel

Logo as Walt Disney Television Animation from 2003 to 2012

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. Disney then transferred all Television Animation to Disney Channels Worldwide. In this reorganization, the Disney MovieToons/Disney Video Premieres unit moved from Television Animation to Feature Animation. The studio was then renamed Disneytoon Studios. While Stainton took over as President of Disney Feature Animation from Schumacher, Blumberg returned to WDTVA as president. Kim Possible became the first cartoon produced by Disney Channel (as Jambalaya Studio produced The Proud Family for the network).

In 2004, Walt Disney Television Animation formed a joint venture with partner Jetix Europe to produce animated series for the Jetix Europe-owned channels globally, titled Jetix Animation Concepts. Three shows were produced by WDTA under the banner: Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, Get Ed, and Yin Yang Yo!.

Throughout the 2000s, Disney continued to create new animated Disney Channel (and Playhouse Disney) Originals such as Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Dave the Barbarian, Brandy & Mr. Whiskers, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, My Friends Tigger & Pooh, and The Emperor's New School were in already in production. At this point, animated series would have to be produced solely by the network's animation division. So Disney Channel began experimenting with newer animation techniques to reduce costs under the re-established Disney Channels Worldwide.

Logo as just Disney Television Animation, complementing the Disney Channel brand and used in tandem from 2012 to 2016.

The Buzz on Maggie was among the first Disney series to fully utilize Adobe Flash animation, thus saving costs and allowing experimentation. American Dragon: Jake Long (which premiered just months prior) and The Replacements received cleaner redesigns for their second seasons (noteworthy, as both series originated as their creator's storybooks) to ease the animation styles for fitting TV budgets. The success of Kim Possible also helped show that there was marketing value in Disney Channel cartoons as the network ordered a fourth season (opposed to the standard three seasons of 65 episodes). Disney soon launched Phineas and Ferb soon after the closure of Kim Possible (which surpassed it as their longest-running animated series).

In 2009, Disney–ABC Television Group rebranded both Toon Disney and Jetix as Disney XD with the Jetix brand officially being retired by 2010. The goal was to simplify the marketing of channels by merging the two brands. In 2011, the ABC Kids block closed as well. By the early 2010s, the television group started to create some original shows for newly sister channel Disney XD. The group renamed the animation studio to just Disney Television Animation (or DTVA). Playhouse Disney was rebranded as Disney Junior in 2011 and receiving standalone channels in 2012; by replacing Soapnet (domestically) and the Jetix Play channels (internationally).

Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil became the first Disney XD original animated show preceding Disney Channel's Fish Hooks. The following Disney XD cartoons were Motorcity, Tron Uprising, Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, and Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero. All of which were co-produced by other animation resources except for The 7D (which was originally greenlit for Disney Junior).

In 2015, the studio debuted Descendants: Wicked World, their first project based on the live-action Descendants franchise by the Disney Channel Original Movies division.[21][22][23][24]

Despite still making original shows for the main channel by 2014, most animated shows such as Gravity Falls and Wander Over Yonder shifted as Disney XD Originals. Mickey Mouse, Descendants: Wicked World, and Tangled: The Series remained the only shows not moved to the sister channel.

2017–present: Animation resurgence, reboots, spin-offs of iconic properties and expansion

In 2016 Disney XD greenlit Big City Greens (then titled Country Club). Disney announced Milo Murphy's Law for Disney XD that same year, along with a reboot of DuckTales as early as 2015 becoming the first reboot of the studio.

However, to renovate marketing, Disney ceased production of all original shows for Disney XD. The last shows created were Pickle and Peanut, Future-Worm! and Billy Dilley's Super-Duper Subterranean Summer were all announced, as early as 2014, but would air in the sequential years.

Since 2017 the studio has collaborated with Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney Parks, Experiences and Products in providing character designs and animation for various attractions in Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line from the Mickey Mouse universe and The Disney Afternoon. These include Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway in 2020, Aqua-Mouse, a water coaster for the Disney Wish in 2021 and the Disney Treasure for 2024, DuckTales: World Showcase Adventure for EPCOT in 2022 and the Mickey's Toontown refurbishment in 2023.[25][26][27]

Beginning in 2018 several productions from the studio have gotten live-action adaptations by the Disney Channel Original Movies and Walt Disney Pictures sister studios, including a Kim Possible live action film which premiered on Disney Channel in 2019 and Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers as a live-action animation hybrid film on Disney+ in 2022. In October 2023, it was reported that Atomic Monster and Disney Television Studios were developing a Gargoyles live-action series for Disney+.[28]

In February of that year, the studio greenlit two new shows Amphibia and The Owl House, to mark their return to animation. Big City Greens (initially intended to air on Disney XD) switched to Disney Channel. The remaining solely-produced shows by the studio, such as Star vs. the Forces of Evil, DuckTales, Big Hero 6: The Series, and Milo Murphy's Law, moved their premieres as well, with many of their productions being wrapped up.

In early 2019 the studio began making animated interstitial for Disney Junior and Disney Channel based on the characters from the productions of the studio like Mickey Mornings, a revival of Minnie's Bow Toons and Me & Mickey Vlog for Disney Junior and Chibi Tiny Tales, Broken Karaoke and How Not To Draw for Disney Channel. Since 2020 the division has also been used by Disney to cross-promote multiple live action film franchises produced by Disney Branded Television for Disney Channel Original Movies and Disney+ Original Films as well making shorts based on the live action films from the Walt Disney Studios library and rides and attractions from Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort. Additionally, the division has been produced several season-themed compilation specials of the Disney Channel's interstitial shorts hosted by characters from Big City Greens, The Ghost and Molly McGee, Hailey's On It! and Kiff under the name Shorts Spectacular. In 2022 the division launched a crossover series under the name Chibiverse based on Chibi Tiny Tales.[29][30][31]

In Summer 2019, long-time Disney Television Animation Head Eric Coleman left the studio to become development executive at Illumination. Coleman was replaced by former general manager of DisneyToon Studios Meredith Roberts who served as senior VP animation strategy at Disney TVA since the shut down of DisneyToon Studios on 2018. The studio would inherit the former DisneyToon Studios building as a third animation unit for future productions.[32][33]

In 2019, Disney greenlit two new shows, The Ghost and Molly McGee and Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, a co-production with corporate sister studio Marvel Animation. The same year it was revealed that the studio was working on Monsters At Work a spin-off sequel series of the Monsters Inc. franchise from Pixar and Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe for the Disney+ streaming service.[34][35]

In February 2020, the studio announced that they were working on The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder a sequel series to the original 2001 series for Disney+.[36] In October 2020, the studio ordered a new series Hamster & Gretel for Disney Channel.[37][38] In November 2020, it was announced that Point Grey Pictures would produce a Darkwing Duck reboot with Disney TVA for Disney+.[39] The same month the studio debuted The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse, a sequel series to the original Mickey Mouse (2013) series.[40]

Late 2021 and early 2022 saw several changes in management at Disney TVA, with former Blue Sky Studios executive Lisa Fragner joining as vice-president of development for Disney+ in November 2021, alongside longtime Disney TVA executive Elizabeth Waybright Taylor, who was also promoted as vice-president of development the same month. Fragner would oversee development on projects for Disney+, while Taylor would supervise Disney Channel projects.[41] In February 2022, Sarah Finn was promoted to senior vice-president of production, overseeing physical production for projects across all three Disney networks.[42] On July 22, 2022, Douglas Bensimon and Edward Mejia were both promoted to VP of current series; Bensimon will oversee development on original series, while Mejia will work on series based on preexisting Disney IP.[43]

In 2021, the studio would order a slate of original series, the first ones where Kiff, a co-production with Titmouse, Inc., Hailey's On It! and Primos for Disney Channel.[44][45][46] Alice's Wonderland Bakery, Rise Up, Sing Out and Firebuds for Disney Junior.[47] [48][49] In December of that year the studio greenlit The Witchverse, a joint venture with Baobab Studios for Disney+.[50]

In January 2022, the studio announced that they begun production on Big City Greens The Movie: Spacecation for Disney Channel and Disney+.[51][52] In February 2022, it was reported that Disney TVA was developing an animated film based on Superfudge with AGBO for Disney+.[53] The studio is also developing a film titled School for Sensitive Souls as part of former Disney Branded Television president Gary Marsh's overall deal with Disney.[54][55] In November 2021 it was revealed that as part of Lisa Fragner's promotion as VP of development at Disney TVA an animated feature film adaptation of Confessions Of An Imaginary Friend was in the works.[56]

In April 2022, the studio announced that it will collaborate with sister animation studio 20th Television Animation on Rhona Who Lives by the River for Disney+.[57][58] The same month, the studio greenlit Robogobo as part of the Disney Junior Fun Fest event at Disney California Adventure.[59] In May, the studio ordered Cookies & Milk, produced by Cinema Gypsy Productions & Jesse James Films.[60]

In June 2022, Disney Television Animation General Manager Meredith Roberts was promoted to Executive Vice President of Animation at Disney Branded Television.[61] The same month the studio greenlit Zombies: The Re-Animated Series based on the Disney Channel Original Movie franchise.[62] In Summer 2022 the studio started a collaboration with Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney Yellow Shoes for redesigns and animations of classic characters from the Walt Disney Animation Studios film and shorts library such as Dumbo, Orange Bird, Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, Hei-Hei and Stitch. The redesigns where provided by Paul Rudish and Asia Ellington with the animation being provided by Mercury Filmworks, the collaboration as well included animations from different "The Wonderful World Of Mickey Mouse" characters for AR magnets within the Walt Disney World Passholder.[63][64][65][66][67][68][69][70]

In November 2022, the studio began developing workplace comedy series Intercats a co-production with Baobab Studios.[71] The same month the studio greenlit a Sofia The First spin-off as part of the 10th anniversary of the original series.[72] Later the studio debuted their first stop-motion project a Christmas special named "Mickey Saves Christmas" which aired on ABC, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior.[73] Another stop-motion special “Mickey And Friends Trick Or Treats" debuted in October 2023.[74]

In January 2023, the studio announced that Phineas And Ferb would be getting a revival with two brand new seasons for Disney Channel and Disney+.[75] In June 2023, the studio would announce StuGo, another co-production with Titmouse, for Disney Channel.[76][77] The same month it was announced that The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse franchise would be ending after the premiere of the special Steamboat Silly which debuted on July 28, 2023 on Disney+.[78]

In August 2023 the studio announced Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 2.0, their first reboot based on a preschool property.[74][79]

In June 2024, it was announced that the studio would revive the Prep & Landing series who originated at Walt Disney Animation Studios in a new holiday special under the name Prep & Landing: The Snowball Protocol.[80] The same month during the Annecy International Animation Film Festival as part of a panel in honor of the studio's 40th anniversary Meredith Roberts mentioned that the studio was looking in future strategies who will try to meet kids where they’re consuming content, which includes gaming and web-based content as well the division is boldly entering new territory, with projects in development in genres that Disney Television Animation has yet to explore for kids and family co-viewing audience.[81]


See also


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  63. ^ "Asia Ellington 👓 on Instagram: "Might have already seen me post about this in my stories, but me and some of the Mickey shorts team got to work with @disneyyellowshoes to make this AR magnet for WDW annual passholders!! Beautifully brought to life by @mercuryfilmworks I'll be sharing some of my part in this project in another post 🍊 Passholders can now enter a mobile queue and pick it up at Disney springs till 8/5! I've even seen him show up on a bunch of seasonal food items too!! 😍 So far we've seen the ice cream and chocolates from the ganachery, please tag me if you find him anywhere else!"". Instagram. Retrieved May 18, 2023.
  64. ^ "A little bit of behind the scenes, my Orange Bird exploration and clean up! @thedapperdanielle mentioned that this might be the first time OB's been animated since the 80's, that's super neat!!".
  65. ^ "A little teaser for our next animated/AR magnet for WDW passholders!!! Character and background by me and Paul Rudish, animation by @mercuryfilmworks all in collab with our amazing @disneyyellowshoes friends!".
  66. ^ "Sharing our latest WDW annual passholder animated magnet collab with @disneyyellowshoes ! Will post some closer looks at the design work soon ☺️ If you have any of these new magnets you can go to passholdermagnets.com to bring them to life! For a sec I thought we peaked here, but wait till you see our next one!!! 😭💕".
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External links