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September 27, 2016

Disney Channel to air Halloween movies, tutorials, animated shorts beginning Oct. 1

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For those of us who are not-so-scary Halloween types (or those who have young children), Disney Channel is bringing back its month-long Halloween celebration. And it’s not just about our favorite Halloween-themed shows. Read on for all the great content designed to help you prepare for celebrations and to give you and your family gentle thrills and chills.

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“Monstober” returns to Disney Channel, beginning Saturday, Oct. 1. The programming event includes Halloween-themed episodes of hit Disney Channel series, the premiere of the Disney Channel Original Movie “The Swap,” special short-form content premiering nightly as part of “Monstober Theater,” and the return of “Mal-oween,” which includes an encore performance of “Descendants” and the second season premiere of the animated shorts, “Descendants: Wicked World.”

The October lineup also includes a week-long premiere event of “Best Friends Whenever” with new episodes airing Oct. 2 through 6 (9:00-9:30 p.m. EDT), and the U.S. premiere of “The Lodge,” with five back-to-back episodes premiering nightly beginning Oct. 17 (5:00-5:30p.m. EDT).

More than 60 short-form interstitials celebrating “Monstober” will debut nightly as part of “Monstober Theater.” These Halloween-themed pieces include Disney Channel stars’ transformations in “Monstrosity Maker,” “Zombodies” animated shorts, Halloween makeup tutorials, DIY lessons and a “Talking Heads” series featuring the cast of “Bizaardvark.”

Plus, beginning Saturday, the Disney Channel App will host a “Monstober” collection with a variety of “Monstober” episodes, short-form content and movies available throughout the month. The collection will also house all four seasons of “Wizards of Waverly Place.”

Fan-favorite movies also return throughout the month, including “Halloweentown,” “Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge,” “Twitches,” “My Babysitter’s A Vampire,” and Disney•Pixar’s “Monsters University” and “Toy Story 3.” “Monstober” will also welcome the Disney Channel premiere of “R.L. Stine’s Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls” and the one-hour animated special, “Ghost Patrol.”

The “Monstober” schedule is as follows:

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2
K.C. Undercover “Virtual Insanity”
(8:00 – 8:30 P.M. EDT)
When K.C. goes into a virtual reality game to rescue Ernie, it becomes the craziest Halloween ever for the teen spies as they try to tackle the alternate universe and enemy agents Darci and Damon, the masterminds behind the evil game.

Best Friends Whenever “Night of the Were-Diesel”
(9:00 – 9:30 P.M. EDT)
When Cyd tries to protect Diesel from Barry’s wolf serum experiment, she accidentally gets the serum on herself and turns into a menacing werewolf. Now Shelby must try and figure out how to get her best friend back before the she-wolf destroys their high school’s Halloween carnival.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7:
BUNK’D “Camp Kiki-Slasher”
(7:30 – 8:00 P.M. EDT)
Things get scary at Camp Kikiwaka when the campers start disappearing one by one. When they finally uncover the culprit with the axe to grind, he takes them on a thrill ride the campers will never forget!

The Swap
(8:00 – 9:40 P.M. EDT)
Ellie O’Brien is trying to juggle rhythmic gymnastics and troubles with her best friend. Meanwhile, classmate Jack Malloy is struggling to live up to his brothers’ hockey-star legacies and his dad’s high expectations and tough-love approach. When a text argument about whose life is easier gets out of hand, Ellie and Jack trigger an unexplainable real-life swap. With a rhythmic gymnastics championship and a spot on the varsity hockey team on the line, they must figure out how to get back in their own bodies before the swap becomes permanent.
Starring Peyton List (Disney Channel’s “BUNK’D,” “Jessie”) as Ellie O’Brien and Jacob Bertrand (Disney XD’s “Kirby Buckets”) as Jack Malloy.

Bizaardvark “Halloweenvark”
(9:40 – 10:05 P.M. EDT)
The v-loggers have to make a scary Halloween video for Vuuugle’s homepage, but they can’t decide whose video is the scariest – Frankie and Paige’s tale of the ghost of Hollander Prep, Dirk’s haunting world without dares, or Amelia’s zombie apocalypse.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 9:
Disney•Pixar’s “Monsters University”
(6:10 – 8:00 P.M. EDT)
Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan are an inseparable pair, but that wasn’t always the case. From the moment these two mismatched monsters met, they couldn’t stand each other. “Monsters University” unlocks the door to how Mike and Sulley overcame their differences and became the best of friends.

Ghost Patrol – One-Hour Animated Special
(8:00 – 9:00 P.M. EDT)
Gabi and Spence, and Spooky the dog, are the “Ghost Patrol,” their town’s supernatural pest control, but they’ve never seen a real ghost. When they get a call to investigate the old Geist Manor, they are about to find the proof they have been looking for – and a whole lot more.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14:
Liv and Maddie: Cali Style “Scare-A-Rooney”
(8:00 – 8:30 P.M. EDT)
Liv takes Ruby to a spooky dinner and runs into an old acquaintance and Maddie comes face-to-face with the real-life spider-sprayer. Meanwhile, Parker and Joey must convince their classmates to celebrate Halloween.

Girl Meets World “Girl Meets World of Terror 3”
(8:30 – 9:00 P.M. EDT)
Auggie narrates a scary Halloween story about what the world would be like if Maya and Riley had never met.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15:
Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story 3”
(8:00 – 9:50 P.M. EDT)
“Toy Story 3” welcomes Woody, Buzz and the whole gang back as Andy prepares to depart for college and his loyal toys find themselves in… daycare! These untamed tots with their sticky little fingers do not play nice, so it’s all for one and one for all as plans for the great escape get underway. A few new faces join the adventure, including iconic swinging bachelor and Barbie’s counterpart Ken, a thespian hedgehog named Mr. Pricklepants and a pink, strawberry-scented teddy bear called Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 17:
The Lodge “The New Girl”
(5:00 – 5:30 P.M. EDT)
After the loss of her mother, 15-year-old Skye returns with her father to North Star Lodge, the family-owned country hotel where her mother was raised years ago. Eager to make a fresh start, Skye forges friendships with the locals who live and work at the lodge, but when she learns her father is planning to sell the place that holds so many treasured memories, she is determined to find a way to change his mind. Now, she must lean on her newfound friends to help, although all may not be as it seems.
Starring Thomas Doherty (Disney’s “Descendants 2”).

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21:
Disney’s “Descendants”
(8:00 – 10:05 P.M. EDT)
Set in the idyllic kingdom of Auradon, “Descendants” playfully presents the unexpected possibilities of what happens after the “happily ever after.” Ben, the benevolent teenage son of the King and Queen (Beast and Belle from “Beauty and the Beast”), is poised to take the throne. His first proclamation is to offer a chance at redemption to Mal, Evie, Carlos and Jay, the trouble-making offspring of Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Cruella de Vil and Jafar, who have all been sequestered on the forbidden Isle of the Lost for 20 years. These villainous descendants are allowed into Auradon for the first time to attend prep school alongside the teenage progeny of Fairy Godmother, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Mulan. Only time will tell if these evil teens follow in the footsteps of their wicked parents.

Descendants: Wicked World “Slumber Party”
After the Neon Lights Ball, Mal and Evie join their Auradon friends for fun times at a slumber party.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29:
R.L. Stine’s Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls
(8:00 – 9:30 P.M. EDT)
When a traveling Hall of Horrors show arrives in the town of Danville, a group of high school friends can’t wait to get spooked. The monsters, zombies, and ghouls are completely lifelike; and the villainous showman, Dr. Hysteria, and his enchanting assistant, Lilith, really know how to turn up the scares. But when someone discovers a haunted cabinet backstage that traps the souls of lost teens, it’s up to the gang to stop the mayhem before they are trapped forever.
Starring Dove Cameron (Disney’s “Descendants,” Disney Channel’s “Liv and Maddie”) and Ryan McCartan (Disney Channel’s “Liv and Maddie”).



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April 26, 2016

Disney Channel to air all 100 of its original movies this summer

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E! News has referred to the summer of 2016 as a throwback to 2009 largely because of concert reunions among the popular Disney Channel stars of that era. Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas are taking their “Future Now” tour on the road, and Joe Jonas’s band DNCE is opening for Selena Gomez’s “Rival” tour. But now Disney Channel itself is taking us back to that heyday with its announcement that it will replay every Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) ever made to kick off Memorial Day Weekend.

In celebration of its 100th movie, a remake of the 1980s film “Adventures in Babysitting” starring Sabrina Carpenter (“Girl Meets World”) and Sofia Carson (“Descendants”) that debuts June 24, the network will air 51 of its most popular movies during the four-day Memorial Day Weekend. Encore presentations of these and every other DCOM ever made will continue through June. The movies also can be seen on the Disney Channel app and VOD (video on demand).

All 100 DCOMs will be available for sale throughout the summer on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and Google Play. The “100th DCOM Celebration” begins May 27, and the schedule is posted at the end of this blog post.

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In the United States, DCOMs hold the record of six of the Top 7 original cable movies ever: “High School Musical 2,” “Teen Beach Movie,” “Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie,” “Descendants,” “Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension” and “Camp Rock.” Just about all of these movies are ones that my family watched repeatedly on Disney Channel.

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It’s difficult for me to believe that it’s been 10 years since the original “High School Musical” movie aired on Disney Channel and eight years since we first saw “Camp Rock.” Both of my children were young when the movies were released, but they were so in love with the characters, the music and the choreography. We had viewing parties, Halloween costumes, and just about every piece of “High School Musical” and “Camp Rock” merchandise, I think. (“Hannah Montana” was wildly popular during this time, too, but the two “Hannah Montana” movies were theater releases, rather than DCOMs.)

As a parent, I fondly remember the times we got to see some of these artists in concert at special events at Walt Disney World. In 2007 and 2008, my children and I attended the taping of the Disney Channel Games at ESPN Wide World of Sports. It aired in segments on Disney Channel and culminated with concert footage -- also shot at the Walt Disney World sports facility – that featured Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato and the Cheetah Girls. Disney gave away free tickets to the concerts both years, and we were fortunate to go the second year. We also saw the principal actors from “High School Musical” and performances by Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers at the Magic Kingdom during tapings for what was then called the “Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade” special.

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In 2010, Kevin and Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato and other “Camp Rock” actors shot a Friends for Change segment for Disney Channel in Tampa. At the time, I worked at the Orlando Sentinel, and I was invited to interview the performers on location. That certainly was an interesting experience!

So, my family and I definitely were immersed in Disney Channel during those years, and our nostalgia most likely will draw us to watch the network during the “100th DCOM Celebration.” We also can look forward to “High School Musical 4,” for which Disney currently is holding video and in-person casting auditions.

Let the binge-watching begin! The “100th DCOM Celebration” schedule is as follows:

FRIDAY, May 27:

10:00 a.m. – “Disney’s Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama”

11:20 a.m. – “Read It and Weep”

12:55 p.m. – “Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior”

2:40 p.m. – “Jump In!”

4:15 p.m. – “Lemonade Mouth”

6:15 p.m. – “Zapped”

8:00 p.m. – “High School Musical 2″

9:55 p.m. – “The Cheetah Girls 2″

11:45 p.m. – “Zenon the Zequel”

1:25 a.m. – “Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge”

2:55 a.m. – “Twitches Too”

4:25 a.m. – “Alley Cats Strike!”

SATURDAY, MAY 28:

6:25 a.m. – “You Wish!”

8:05 a.m. – “The Proud Family Movie”

9:50 a.m. – “Quints”

11:25 a.m. – “Horse Sense”

1:10 p.m. – “Cow Belles”

2:50 p.m. – “Twitches”

4:30 p.m. – “The Even Stevens Movie”

6:15 p.m. – “Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie”

8:00 p.m. – “Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam”

9:50 p.m. – “Princess Protection Program”

11:30 p.m. – “The Cheetah Girls: One World”

1:05 a.m. – “Zenon: Z3″

2:40 a.m. – “Halloweentown High”

4:20 a.m. – “The Thirteenth Year”

SUNDAY, MAY 29:

6:00 a.m. – “Right On Track”

7:45 a.m. – “Full-Court Miracle”

9:35 a.m. – “Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off”

11:20 a.m. – “Brink!”

1:10 p.m. – “Double Teamed”

2:55 p.m. – “Rip Girls”

4:35 p.m. – “Motocrossed”

6:20 p.m. – “Cloud 9″

8:00 p.m. – “Teen Beach 2″

9:55 p.m. – “Bad Hair Day”

11:40 p.m. – “How to Build a Better Boy”

1:20 a.m. – “Pixel Perfect”

2:55 a.m. – “The Other Me”

4:30 a.m. – “Genius”

MONDAY, MAY 30:

10:00 a.m. – “Stuck in the Suburbs”

11:30 a.m. – “Halloweentown”

1:05 p.m. – “Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century

2:55 p.m. – “Smart House”

4:25 p.m. – “High School Musical”

6:15 p.m. – “Camp Rock”

8:00 p.m. – “Descendants”

10:05 p.m. – “Teen Beach Movie”

11:55 p.m. – “Cadet Kelly”

1:50 a.m. – “The Cheetah Girls”

3:35 a.m. – “Johnny Tsunami”



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August 6, 2015

Disney Channel's 'Descendants'

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Kenny Ortega just might be Disney Channel’s Fairy Godmother. After all, the director and choreographer delivered the network’s biggest franchise, “High School Musical,” almost a decade ago and now he has produced the most-watched cable TV movie of the year, “Descendants,” which aired on Friday.

The premise behind “Descendants” isn’t new, but the network does take an engaging look at what would happen if Disney villains (and some heroes) had children. The main characters – Jay (Booboo Stewart), Evie (Sofia Carson), Carlos (Cameron Bryce) and Mal (Dove Cameron) – are the offspring of Jafar, the Evil Queen, Cruella de Vil and Maleficent, respectively. The group is granted permission by the benevolent teenage son of King Adam and Queen Belle to leave the remote Isle of the Lost and attend prep school with the Disney heroes' kids. This, of course, leads to a battle of good versus evil set amidst the backdrop of typical teenage angst.

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Cameron and Kristin Chenoweth, who plays her mother, offer strong performances in the live-action “Descendants.” As Mal realizes that she doesn’t have to carry out her mother’s revenge plot and live with evil in her heart, the pair battles each other. Chenoweth is perfectly cast and hilarious in her role as Maleficent, while Cameron is quite believable as her willful daughter.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an Ortega production without catchy music and choreography. I really liked the clever twist on the classic “Be Our Guest” tune from “Beauty and the Beast.” Cameron’s solo “If Only” is relatable to young viewers, even if the lip-synching is way off on this number. And there are large-scale production numbers, as well, such as “Did I mention I’m in Love With You?” on the lacrosse field and in the bleachers and the final number, “Set It Off,” after Ben’s coronation, which occurs in front of a castle with shooting fireworks.

The choreography for these songs seems more realistic – dance moves that you actually might see high school students doing – than, say, some of the made-up moves of Disney Channel’s other summer hit, “Teen Beach 2.”

Two years ago, Mattel delved into the world of villains’ offspring with its popular “Ever After High” books. New York Times best-selling author Shannon Hale was hired to write the tween books, which would then tie into a merchandise line. Earlier this year, a movie, “Ever After High: Spring Unsprung” debuted before a Netflix animated series about Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, and Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen.

The “Ever After High” animated franchise has been wildly popular with its tween audience, but it certainly doesn’t appear to have a lock on the subject. “Descendants” already has racked up some impressive numbers:

** 6.6 million viewers tuned in to watch “Descendants” Friday on Disney Channel.

** 1.4 million viewers on the WATCH Disney Channel app saw the movie in the six days leading up its official television premiere.

** The “Descendants” soundtrack is No. 1 on iTunes for soundtracks and No. 2 for albums.

** “Descendants” prequel novel, "The Isle of the Lost," by Melissa de la Cruz from Disney Publishing Worldwide has been No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller List for 10 weeks.

Both derivatives, however, leave viewers with the feel-good message of “Be true to yourself.” But will they leave viewers wanting more and more? To this day, I can still sing many of the High School Musical songs and I fondly recall how much my children enjoyed everything related to the franchise. Will I be saying the same about “Descendants” in 10 years?



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July 28, 2015

Disney Channel, Disney XD holding open casting call online now

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If you’ve dreamed of being the next big teen star, this might be your chance to get started! Disney Channel and Disney XD are hosting open online auditions for upcoming television series and original movies. But you need to get to work, because the deadline is Aug. 6.

These auditions are open to actors ages 10 to 17. To get started, you’ll need to be 17 or have a parent’s permission to download the Disney Applause app, which is available on iTunes and Google Play.

Once the app is installed, you’ll be able to access the script to practice before you make your video audition and upload it through the app. Videos should only be a maximum of 120 seconds (2 minutes) and the file size cannot exceed 200 MB. The format must be avi, .wmv, .asf, mov, 3gp, .mp4, .mpg or .m4v.

Jacob Bertrand (”Kirby Buckets”) and Paris Berelec (“Mighty Med”) offer some audition tips, including:

** Introduce yourself.
** Be yourself.
** Look into the camera.
** Have energy.
** Prepare and work on the script.
** Dress like yourself.
** Be original.
** Make sure we can see you. (Have good light and a solid color background.)
** Have fun and smile.

Things to avoid:

** Don’t be nervous.
** Don’t wear white. (Colors “pop” more.)
** Don’t sit down. (Standing shows more energy.)
** Don’t look down too much. (Show us your face.)
** Don’t send a video that is too long, too big or the wrong format.

Judy Taylor, senior vice president, Casting and Talent Relations, Disney Channels Worldwide, said in a press release, “While many factors go into casting a role, our goal is to find new talent and make the process accessible to all, whether amateur or professional actors with agents. It also provides parents assurances about privacy and safety online.”

Disclaimer from Disney: An audition is not an offer or a guarantee of employment. This is not a contest. There is never a fee to participate in a Disney Channel/Disney XD talent search. Minors must have a parent or guardian’s permission to audition.

The Disney Applause app also allows users to submit photos and videos for other contests and sweepstakes.



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May 26, 2015

Disney Channel's 'Teen Beach 2' stars kick off beach party at Typhoon Lagoon

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It's just about a month until the debut of the much-anticipated "Teen Beach 2" movie on Disney Channel, and we have some new details about what you can expect to see!

Walt Disney World kicked off its summer Teen Beach 2: Beach Party at Typhoon Lagoon on Friday, and we were there to hear as-of-yet unreleased songs from the soundtrack, see choreographed dances that will make kids want to jump up and join in, and talk to one of the stars, Ross Lynch, about his role in the new film.

The soundtrack from the original "Teen Beach Movie" reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart and was No. 1 on the soundtrack chart, and the new album would seem to be headed in the same direction with its peppy, high-energy tunes. Only one track has been released so far, "Gotta Be Me," which is performed by the four main actors - Lynch, Maia Mitchell, Garrett Clayton and Grace Phipps - and John DeLuca and Jordan Fisher.

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At the beach party, we previewed "Best Summer Ever" and "That's How We Do." Expect to see the latter song in a choreographed, large-scale production scene in the new movie. Partygoers got a taste of the dance moves, with surfer and biker characters teaching the crowd how to do "The Milkshake" and "The Jelly Belly." Most of the songs on the soundtrack are performed by the cast; after all, "Teen Beach 2" is a musical. (There is one song by Lynch's band, R5.) The soundtrack will be in stores on June 23.

"This music is a little more contemporary, more modern," Lynch told us. "The [music from the] first movie was more retro, like surf guitar."

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From left: Ross Lynch, Maia Mitchell, Grace Phipps and Garrett Clayton.


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"Teen Beach 2" also turns the tide, so to speak, on the characters. In the first made-for-television musical, Brady and Mack (Mitchell) were transported back in time to the 1960s, when surfer movies were all the rage. The sequel, however, brings retro surfers Tanner (Clayton) and Lela (Phipps) into the modern world, which, of course, is a set-up for many comedic scenes.

My junior reporters, my 10-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, talked to Lynch about his character, Brady, and what it was like filming "Teen Beach 2."

"It starts with Mack and Brady's relationship," he said. "Things are going strong, and they go back to school. School brings a little more conflict, and it gives the characters a little more of an emotional arc."

"I'm similar [to Brady] in some ways " but I'd say Brady is a little bit more " lazy. I'm not lazy. I work a lot and I always like to be productive."

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You can see our full interview with Lynch below:


"Teen Beach 2" premieres at 8 p.m. June 26 on Disney Channel.

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The Teen Beach 2: Beach Party at Typhoon Lagoon continues through July 5. It features a DJ spinning tunes from the movies on the stage by the clock tower adjacent to the wave pool. Costumed bikers and surfers, much like the characters in the movies, lead guests in dancing, hula hooping and tossing beach balls. The beach party also offers other traditional summer activities, including relays on the sand, a water balloon toss and a limbo challenge. Winners are awarded Teen Beach 2 beach balls as prizes. The beach party is included in regular admission to the Disney water park.

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Photo op available at Typhoon Lagoon at Walt Disney World through July 5.

Here's a look back at the original beach party when 'Teen Beach Movie' actors Clayton (Tanner), Kent Boyd (Rascal) and Chrissie Fit (CheeChee) surprised guests at Typhoon Lagoon two years ago.

You can read about my interviews with the trio here.

DISCLAIMER: I was invited by Walt Disney World to experience its new Teen Beach 2: Beach Party. This did not affect my story; my opnions are my own.



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September 12, 2014

Disney Channel to air new stories of kids who are making a difference

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The Walt Disney Company tries to inspire kids and families to take positive actions in countless ways, and it does this through several approaches. Central Florida parents may be most familiar with the annual Disney Dreamer and Doer awards that are bestowed by Walt Disney World on students who are making a difference in their communities. But the company has long recognized such students on the national level, as well, and it is launching a new initiative this month.

Perhaps the most memorable ads from recently are the Disney Channel campaigns aimed at tweens and teens that feature the network's actors. A few years ago, the Friends For Change campaign initially sought to teach young viewers the value of conservation. The ads focused on how each individual truly can make a difference in a global project, such as the stewardship of our planet. The campaign took full advantage of Disney's multiple platforms, spreading the message in its theme parks, on the television network and Radio Disney, on Disney.com, in Disney Store locations, and more.

Now, Disney Channel is expanding its Emmy Award-winning segments, "Make Your Mark," and it is keeping the spotlight on the kids -- rather than Hollywood stars -- who have made a difference and can inspire others to do the same.

The first five new segments air today on Disney Channel and WATCH Disney Channel, allowing viewers to watch on TV, tablets, smartphones and computers. The segments will also be scheduled on DisneyChannel.com and Disney Channel's YouTube channel.

One segment features 15-year-old Dylan Brady from Sea Cliff, N.Y. As a Youth Ambassador for the Tourette Syndrome Association, Dylan helps to inform and enlighten others about TS and share his message of acceptance and tolerance for all. He also hopes to inspire other kids with the story of how he overcame his disability to become the lead singer and drummer in a band.

An aspiring physician and an inventor, 16-year-old Mallory Kievman from Manchester, Conn., wants to help cancer patients, who often suffer from hiccups as a side effect of their treatment. She devised a proprietary recipe for a lollipop, made from natural ingredients including apple cider vinegar and sugar that can affect the nerves in the throat and mouth believed to cause the hiccup reflex.

Judy Adams, age 15, from New Paltz, N.Y., started Dimes for Downs three years ago to raise funds to help grant wishes for others with Down syndrome. Her organization now has 10 branches across the U.S.

During his nine-month hospital recovery from surgery to remove a tumor, 16-year-old Cameron Cohen of Los Angeles taught himself a computer programming language and developed his first app, the popular "iSketch," which allows users to draw and share pictures from smart phones and tablets. With his earnings, Cameron then donated funds to the hospital to purchase electronics for other young patients undergoing extended stays.

The final segment debuting today shows 12-year-old Osama Abdulazeez from San Diego who is a refugee from Iraq. Osama works to help other refugee children in his community through the local organization Youth and Leaders Living Actively, which assimilates refugee children into American society through soccer and education.

"Peers can have a great influence on kids and teens, and through these stories about young people making a real difference, we aim to inspire a generation of kids to take action that can change the world and themselves through service, a sense of optimism and values they uphold," said Ron Pomerantz, Disney Channel's vice president for marketing and creative, in a press release.



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July 23, 2013

Radio Disney kicks off TRYathalon tour; DisneyXD to air competition in August

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Radio Disney kicked off a national tour this weekend designed to bring the fun of DisneyXD's TRYathalon to kids across the United States. Orlando is one of the upcoming stops, and kids are invited to come out to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at 10 a.m. Aug. 31 to experience it.

Part of Disney's "TRYit" campaign planned to inspire kids and families to try a variety of new foods and exercise, the TRYathlon Road Tour features competitive challenges to encourage physical activity and to highlight nutritious foods needed to maintain a balanced lifestyle.

Event activities include the Hoop It basketball challenge, Build It shape building challenge, Kick It soccer goal competition, Plate It nutritious meal creation and Dance It interactive activities with prizes from the Radio Disney Road Crew. Participants at each stop can enter to win a runDisney Vacation for four at Walt Disney World.

Other tour stops are in Philadelphia, July 27; Chicago, Aug. 31; Boston, Sept. 7; Dallas, Oct. 19; Atlanta, Oct. 26. Radio Disney expects to add more stops.

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Radio Disney's TRYathlon Road Tour is based on Disney XD's TRYathalon, which is in its second year. The competition pairs Disney XD and Disney Channel actors with kids viewers. This year Leo Howard and Olivia Holt ("Kickin' It"), Calum Worthy ("Austin & Ally"), Jake Short ("A.N.T. Farm," "Mighty Med"), Spencer Boldman ("Lab Rats") and Bradley Steven Perry ("Good Luck Charlie," "Mighty Med") team up with three student athletes and contest winners. The competition will air at 9 p.m. ET Aug. 12 and 19 on Disney XD and is hosted by Hal Sparks and Tyrel Jackson Williams ("Lab Rats").

Beginning Aug. 13, NBA superstar Dwight Howard and White House chef Sam Kass each will host a series of "TRYit" interstitials on Disney Channel and Disney XD. Howard will teach viewers new exercises to stay in shape, and Kass will give kids and families tips on healthy eating and preparing recipes. "Disney TRYathlon" stars and "Lab Rats" actor Billy Unger will join Howard and Kass in Disney's "TRYit" interstitial series.

Kids can get involved with the "TRYit" campaign at home by tracking online the new health-conscious actions they've taken. Disney hopes to record 1 million "TRYit" actions. On July 29, DisneyXD.com/TRYit also will launch a web game in which users can test their skills in three "Disney TRYathlon" challenges.

Families who are visiting Walt Disney World during the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival in the spring can taste foods that Disney chefs have earmarked "TRYits" for kids. This is a great way for families to experience the festival together and to get kids to sample foods they may not otherwise be tempted to taste. My 10-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter spent an afternoon this spring in World Showcase sampling the TRYits, and they really enjoyed the experience. You can read about our journey here and the video is below.

July 2, 2013

Actors from Disney Channel's 'Teen Beach Movie' kick off Typhoon Lagoon beach party

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Here's a look at the Teen Beach Movie: Beach Party Kick-off In July at Typhoon Lagoon with Garrett, Kent and Chrissie:

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Last week, Disney introduced a new summer beach party at Typhoon Lagoon, and with it, three of the stars of the upcoming Disney Channel original film, "Teen Beach Movie."


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Actors Kent Boyd, Garrett Clayton and Chrissie Fit


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Actors Garrett Clayton, Kent Boyd and Chrissie Fit surprised guests at the water park on Friday when they appeared with a high-energy DJ spinning remixes of retro tunes on the stage by the clock tower adjacent to the wave pool. Joined by other costumed bikers and surfers, the trio made their way into a crowd of mostly kids to dance, hula hoop and toss beach balls.

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Although the stars won't be there every day, "Teen Beach Movie: Beach Party" continues multiple times a day through Sept. 1. (A placard in front of the stage list daily times.) The beach party also offers other traditional summer activities, including relays on the sand, a water balloon toss and a limbo challenge.

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"Teen Beach Movie" is a modern take on classic beach party movies that premieres July 19 on Disney Channel. It stars Ross Lynch ("Austin & Ally") and Maia Mitchell ("The Fosters") as Brady and McKenzie, surfers who take the last wave of summer, one that mysteriously takes them into a classic beach party movie, "Wet Side Story."

Garrett plays the romantic lead in "Wet Side Story," and he and Kent are surfers in the movie who battle bikers such as Cheechee (played by Chrissie) for control of the local hangout. I spoke to the three actors when they visited Typhoon Lagoon about what it was like to make a new kind of musical for Disney Channel.

First, I wanted to know how the young actors identify with characters that are inspired by the beach party movies of the 1960s.

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Chrissie explained the process: "To get into character, I really had to get to know the movies we were paying homage to, so I watched 'Beach Blanket Bingo' and 'Gidget.' I got a sense of what it would be like to be a surfer or a biker. Then it was the little things that would make Cheechee special -- her style, her hair, her voice, a little laugh. I think it came together really well."

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Garrett agreed that creating his surfer/teen movie star persona meant finding the right combination of details. "When I first thought about making Tanner, I thought -- without offending anyone -- what does a surfer sound like?" he said. "I drew from Tony from 'West Side Story,' which kind of gave Tanner his heart. ... There are touches from 'Grease' and all these classic and vintage movies with Frankie Avalon. You watch the movies and the delivery of lines, and it's very specific."

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Kent said playing Rascal was a little closer to home for him. "Rascal is a surfer dude who gets in a little trouble. He's kind of really outgoing and he's always doing the crazy, silly things. He's very energetic -- off the walls. Definitely in a group setting, if you watch him, he is just spastic in the way he moves. He has a signature move with the claws out. He likes to make everyone laugh, and I feel like that's a shared quality."

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They may not have firsthand knowledge of beach party movies, but the young actors certainly got to experience a similar tropical locale when they were making "Teen Beach Movie" in Puerto Rico. The beach scenes were filmed at the governor's beach in Fajardo on the east side of the island, and the interiors were built and shot in a studio in San Juan.

"I'm Cuban, so I speak Spanish and that's what I love -- to get lost in the island, the food, the music, the people, the beaches," Chrissie told me. "I saw El Morro [the fortress] when I was in Old San Juan. " We also went to El Yunque. I hiked up the waterfall twice -- beautiful -- and saw the bioluminescent bay. That was unreal. I had never been to Puerto Rico before, but I'd always wanted to go."

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Already, "Teen Bech Movie" and its stars are being compared to the "High School Musical" franchise on several levels. For starters, Garrett bears an uncanny resemblance to Zac Efron, who played the male lead, Troy, in the trilogy.

"I think because no one has seen [the movie], they see that there are four leads and it's a musical and there are resemblances with cast members to Corbin Bleu, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, people assume that, but there is so much more," Garrett said. "I think when people actually see the plot line, they'll see it's worlds apart."

But it's not just the musical genre or the actors' looks that lend themselves to the "High School Musical" comparison. The marketing campaign is considerable: a 10-city mall tour by the actors, promotions at One Direction and R5 concerts, and licensed products in apparel, home décor, fashion dolls, bedding, lunch kits, and school supplies. Clearly, Disney Channel is hoping to create a franchise as popular as "High School Musical."


April 13, 2013

AT&T U-verse puts live Disney network shows online and on mobile devices

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Good news for Disney fans who subscribe to AT&T's U-verse services in their homes: The company announced this week that a set of new apps will allow viewers to watch Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior live on their iOS, Android, Xbox and Kindle Fire devices.

The new mobile streaming is available at no extra charge to customers who purchase cable packages that include the three Disney networks. Plus, on-demand content will be included with the service. "Phineas and Ferb" on the go? Yes, please! The ability to watch "Shake It Up" while waiting for an appointment or riding in the car? My kids, like many other Disney fans, will be thrilled.

The apps fall under the WATCH umbrella of products from AT&T, which recently launched the WatchESPN service. The new streaming apps -- called WATCH Disney Channel, WATCH Disney XD and WATCH Disney Junior -- are billed as "kid-friendly," though it's hard to image that most of today's children who grow up with technology will have difficulty operating any apps. Once the WATCH apps are downloaded, users will need to sign in to verify their U-verse accounts and then they'll be on their way to watching their favorite TV shows.

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AT&T U-verse customers who prefer to watch the Disney programs online on their desktop computers can access the networks at WATCHDisneyChannel.com, WATCHDisneyXD.com and WATCHDisneyJunior.com.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, AT&T's U-verse isn't the only provider to offer the Disney WATCH apps. Others include Comcast and Cox Communications. In addition, this week it was reported that Verizon FiOS TV subscribers will get access to Disney's WATCH apps soon, as well.

Disney Channel fans have a lot to look forward to with new seasons of "Good Luck, Charlie" and "A.N.T. Farm" poised to premiere; Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts coming in June; the original summer film, "Teen Beach Movie," scheduled for July; and new seasons ordered for "Austin & Ally" and "Jessie."

February 12, 2013

Celebrate platypuses, valentines and Black History Month with Disney Channel and Disney XD

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Disney Channel is educating its young viewers about Black History Month and celebrating Valentine's Day with two new campaigns this month that aim to get kids thinking about the world around them. In addition, the countdown to National Platypus Day has begun.

This past weekend, Disney Channel and Disney XD actors began posting #ShowSomeHeart messages on their Twitter accounts. These links feature videos showing how the stars champion generosity of spirit, and they encourage acts of kindness among their followers.

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The actors participating in the campaign are China Anne McClain ("A.N.T. Farm"); Ross Lynch and Laura Marano ("Austin & Ally"); Cole Jensen and Crash ("Crash & Bernstein"); Bridgit Mendler ("Good Luck Charlie"); Debby Ryan ("Jessie"); Leo Howard and Olivia Holt ("Kickin' It"); Spencer Boldman and Tyrel Jackson Williams ("Lab Rats"); and Bella Thorne and Zendaya ("Shake It Up").

Beginning Feb. 13, the videos also will be posted on DisneyChannel.com and DisneyXD.com.

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Disney Channel also sought out personal anecdotes for its Black History Month interstitials, but these are from everyday kids who talk about their favorite heroes, sources of inspiration and dreams for the future. The "This Is Me" series was filmed at the Long Beach, Calif., Boys & Girls Club and is designed to highlight what makes kids ages 6 to 14 unique and special. In addition, black professionals are featured in some spots, such as the ones tied to the new show, "Doc McStuffins."

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Finally, the television network launched a monthlong celebration leading up to National Platypus Day on March 2. The stars of the party are, of course, the characters from "Phineas and Ferb," which includes popular secret agent Perry the Platypus. In February, the "O.W.C.A" (Organization Without a Cool Acronym) disco anthem, inspired by The Village People's iconic hit "Y.M.C.A.," debuted in music videos with Disney Channel and Disney XD actors -- and even Good Morning America anchors.

Starting Feb. 22, "Phineas and Ferb" fans are invited to visit DisneyChannel.com/platypus and DisneyXD.com/platypus to watch short "How to Draw Perry" videos depicting their favorite Disney stars, and draw and upload their very own Perry creations. In addition, a new online game, "Agent P: Return of the Platypus," will be available.

Viewers can look forward to two new episodes where Agent P (Perry) is in the spotlight on March 1 and 2. Also on National Platypus Day, Disney XD will air a five-hour "Phineas and Ferb" marathon.

September 6, 2012

New Phineas and Ferb interactive experience opens at Downtown Disney

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Phineas and Ferb, characters from the Disney Channel hit show, are turning up in yet another spot at Walt Disney World. Now, guests don't even have to go into the theme parks to meet up with the animated versions of the duo and their counterparts Dr. Doofenshmirtz and Agent P.

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Phineas and Ferb & YOU: A Brand New Reality is a virtual experience set up adjacent to Bongos Cuban Cafe on the West Side of Downtown Disney. Guests queue up in a themed area, and when their turns arrive, they step into a fenced area to interact with the characters on a large screen before having their photos taken.

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There are 20 different pre-programmed scenarios, including dancing "The Platypus Walk" to getting caught in Dr. Doof's Freeze-inator. My daughter had the honor of "pushing" Perry the Platypus (Agent P) in a stroller. Cast members help position each guest in the photo area to compose the image, which then can be retrieved and shared online afterward.

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Each experience at Phineas and Ferb & YOU: A Brand New Reality lasts only a couple minutes, which keeps the line moving and the wait down. It's so simple that guests of all ages can have fun participating, and it's free. Clearly this is not a complex attraction, but it is great for killing time while guests are waiting for dinner or a movie nearby. And, of course, a Phineas and Ferb merchandise cart has been set up in front of the experience.

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Phineas and Ferb & YOU is open from 2 to 9:30 p.m. daily through December 1. If you're looking for a more three-dimensional experience with the characters, the pair actually meets guests daily at Hollywood Studios near the exit to Muppet Vision 3D. Also, guests also can find Perry and Dr. Doofenshmirtz at Agent P's World Showcase Adventure at Epcot, which opened this summer. (To read my review of the new Epcot attraction, please click here.)

Expect to see a lot more of Phineas, Ferb, Perry and others from the hit Disney Channel animated series in the days ahead. After all, they will appear in their first feature-length, 3-D movie next summer. Various web reports have stated that, though the characters will be animated, the film will be a live-action theatrical release and that it, like the TV series, will feature musical numbers.

July 12, 2012

Disney spends millions on Club Penguin Internet safety campaign for kids

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Although it doesn't feature the traditional Fab Five, Club Penguin is one of The Walt Disney Company's wildly popular products. In fact, since Disney acquired the online game in 2007, it has grown to be one of the largest virtual worlds for children, with 175 million accounts worldwide, according to some sources. Because of its reach, Club Penguin is taking a leadership role in promoting and ensuring online safety for kids, its co-founder recently said.

For those who don't have a child (or two) obsessed with Club Penguin like I do, allow me to introduce you to the puffles and their penguin owners who live on Club Penguin Island. First, Club Penguin offers two types of accounts -- free and paid. Users who pay the monthly rate of $7.95 have more access and more options, of course. (If you buy time in blocks, there is a discount: $39.95 for six months and $59.95 for a year.) To hear my kids tell it, you HAVE to have a paid account to do the fun stuff, so that's why they save their money to continue their memberships.

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Club Penguin is like many other virtual worlds in that users play games to earn a currency to feather their nests and dress their players. In this case, penguins earn coins that they can use to purchase clothing for themselves, hats for their puffles and decorations for their igloos. Physical coins with online codes are attached to plush puffles and penguins and play sets sold in stores, and these unlock bonus items, such as extra puffles or clothes. The big Walt Disney World theme park gift shops and Once Upon a Toy at Downtown Disney carry the plush puffles, backpack clips and books. You can also find merchandise, including gift cards, at retailers such as Target and Toys R Us.

Club Penguin is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), which means millions of users are playing at the same time. Penguins can friend each other, and if the requests are accepted, users gain access into each other's igloos and can interact in other ways, such as messaging. This makes the game more interesting, but it is easy to see how it can open the door for abuse if proper controls are not in place.

"From the very start, our vision for Club Penguin was to create a safe place for my kids and their friends to play online. The scale may now be bigger than I could ever have imagined but that philosophy has not changed," said Club Penguin co-founder Lane Merrifield and now executive vice president of Disney Online Studios in his recent keynote speech at the Children's Media Conference, a U.K. industry meeting held earlier this month.

The urgency of ensuring a safe online playground has been brought to public attention again after moderators of a competing game, Habbo Hotel, have been accused in a British television report of allowing pedophiles to use the game to communicate with children. In response, Disney is spending $4.5 million on an Internet safety campaign with advertising on television, websites, magazines, and within Club Penguin and its other virtual worlds.

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Safety aside, the game is designed for fun. And Club Penguin continues to introduce new content and ties to other Disney characters. Beginning July 19, penguins dressed as the lead characters from Disney Channel's "Shake It Up" -- Cece and Rocky -- will host an Ultimate Jam music party on the virtual island. This parallels the current dance-off, Make Your Mark Ultimate Jam, being promoted on Disney Channel, in which the winner will appear on "Shake It Up."

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Merrifield also talked about the future of children's media, saying: "As the boundaries of platforms are disappearing, and new methods of storytelling are emerging" I believe that storytellers of the future will need to be able to think three-dimensionally about their characters and story arcs.

"If a child chooses to engage on a mobile device or through toys, their experience can be similar or different to a friend who chooses to use other platforms to engage with the story" It becomes the ultimate choose-your-own-adventure."

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About Disney Channel

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Disney Channel category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Disney California Adventure is the previous category.

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