A guide to nostalgic childhood TV of Disney+

By Payton Jarzyna, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Most 90s and early 2000s kids remember the thrill of rushing home, throwing their backpack on the floor and watching their favorite show on the Disney Channel. However, most kids haven’t gotten the chance to watch these shows in years. With the release of Disney+, shows that this generation grew up with are now available to stream. Here’s a guide to nostalgic Disney TV.



Good Luck Charlie:

Teens Teddy, PJ and Gabe Duncan have acclimated to their slightly chaotic life at home. PJ’s got his own rock band; Teddy’s a straight-A student and Gabe enjoys being a troublemaker. But when their mother gives birth to their new baby sister, Charlie, their lives are thrown off balance. 

As their parents return to work, it’s up to the teens to keep Charlie out of trouble and teach her how to walk and talk. Teddy starts making video diaries every day for Charlie to watch when she’s older. Teddy gives her a run-down of the day, a nugget of wisdom, and ends it with her signature phrase, “Good Luck Charlie!”

The Duncans are a strikingly relatable family, with conversations full of sarcastic comebacks and goofy responses, making “Good Luck Charlie” one of the funniest sitcoms Disney Channel has ever aired. 

All of the characters are unique, from Teddy’s sassy best friend, Ivy, to the Duncan’s crabby, cat-loving neighbor, Mrs. Dabney. Each episode features a different crisis or antic: whether it’s Gabe finding trouble at school, Teddy having an awkward first date at the Duncan home or Charlie accidentally stealing a pair of sunglasses, the Duncan family never fails to entertain.

“Good Luck Charlie” premiered in 2010 and its final episode, “Good Bye Charlie,” aired in 2014. It has been nominated multiple times for Primetime Emmy Awards and Kids’ Choice Awards and has even earned an Indian reboot named “Best of Luck Nikki.” 

“Good Luck Charlie” also had a movie installment named “Good Luck Charlie: It’s Christmas!” In this film, Teddy and her mother get separated from the rest of their family on Christmas and have to find their way to their grandparent’s house. This movie is just as crazy, goofy and heartwarming as all of the “Good Luck Charlie” TV episodes. All four seasons and the movie are available on Disney+. 



The Suite Life of Zack and Cody:

Twelve year old identical twins Zack and Cody Martin hit the jackpot after their mom, Carey Martin, lands a job as a singer at The Tipton, a five-star hotel in Boston. As their mom works hard singing at various hotel events, the twins love their new home with its pool, game room, room service and candy counter. 

Zack and Cody get comfortable at The Tipton and start to wreak havoc while meeting the other workers and frequent guests. Maddie Fitzpatrick, the hotel gift shop’s clerk who often puts the twins in their place, is the subject of Zack’s pick-up lines. 

Maddie’s unlikely best friend, London Tipton, is the hotel owner’s stuck-up daughter whose iconic catchphrase is “Yay me!” Mr. Moseby, the high-strung hotel manager, is often stuck disciplining her and the twins. 

While Zack is a crazy wild card, Cody is prepared and practical. Their polar opposite personalities balance each other out and lead to hundreds of funny interactions. Mr. Moseby’s general disdain for the twins and snarky remarks makes for a hilarious relationship between him and his guests. 

Another funny dynamic on the show is between Maddie and London. Maddie is a serious, hard worker, and London is a ditzy drama queen. While Maddie thinks it’s important to keep Zack and Cody out of trouble, London fails to understand her surroundings and only encourages the twins’ reckless behavior. Zack and Cody never cease to find some sort of trouble to get into, or chaos to cause, whether it’s summoning a ghost or auditioning for school musicals. 

“The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” premiered in 2005 and aired its last episode in 2008. However, its spinoff, “The Suite Life on Deck,” which features the lives of Zack and Cody on a cruise ship, premiered in 2008 and ended in 2011. 

“The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” also has a movie, “The Suite Life Movie,” which features the twins involved in a creepy science experiment. Despite the goofy characters and silly situations, this show still has strong themes of love and family.



Shake it Up!:

Best friends Cece Jones and Rocky Blue are ecstatic when they land the roles of professional dancers on the show “Shake It Up, Chicago!” There, with a crew of other talented dancers, they perform on a stage in Chicago. 

With Rocky’s brother, Ty, his best friend, Deuce, and Cece’s brother, Flynn, the friends get into some pretty crazy antics. They also develop a rivalry with flamboyant twins Gunther and Tinka, who end up becoming Rocky and Cece’s recurring frenemies. 

Every episode features a dance, and even some original songs by stars like Selena Gomez. The second season of “Good Luck Charlie” featured a hilarious crossover episode of “Shake it Up!” and “Good Luck Charlie.”

One of the show’s main draws is Cece and Rocky’s everlasting friendship. No matter what obstacle is thrown at them, they overcome it together. When Cece clammed up and was too afraid to dance at her audition, Rocky brought her back a few days later, handcuffs around their wrists, forcing Cece to dance. They never give up on each other. 

Additionally, while many TV shows fail to properly incorporate their settings into their storylines, “Shake it Up!” successfully intertwines Chicago into the characters’ lives. 

Rocky and Cece’s highschool is based on Lincoln Park High School, and the characters are often seen in the city, on the CTA or in deep-dish pizza stores. This makes the show even more real and relatable to Chicagoans.

“Shake It Up” aired from 2010 to 2013, and all three seasons are on Disney+. Throughout the episodes, Rocky and Cece learn about themselves and each other. High school can be a hard time, but dancing together helps Rocky and Cece power through it. They pick up their families and friends and learn the importance of persistence, with a few immature jokes here and there.



Wizards of Waverly Place:

The Russos seem like the typical family. They own an average sandwich shop in New York City and parents Theresa and Jerry have three kids — Alex, Max and Justin. 

However, what most of their friends don’t know is that they come from a long line of wizards.

When Jerry married Theresa, he gave up his wizarding powers, but his kids still actively use theirs. Alex loves using her powers to get out of sticky situations and enjoys getting into trouble. Justin, the oldest, disapproves of Alex’s indulgence in magic and would much rather spend his time studying to become the family wizard. Meanwhile, Max, the youngest, would rather goof around and make fun of his siblings.

Although the Russos sneak away from their normal lives to practice magic, their family is still relatable, snarky and a joy to watch. 

As the kids learn the limits of their powers and discover the secrets of New York City, they grow closer to each other in the process. Alex and Justin learn to put aside their differences and accept how much they love and need each other. The wizards also learn that they have magic in their “regular” lives. They don’t need wands, portals and potions to be successful. 

“Wizards of Waverly Place” aired from 2007 to 2012 and the movie, “Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie,” premiered in 2009. 

One of the most prominent aspects of “Wizards of Waverly Place” is the humor. Whether it’s one of Alex’s snarky remarks or Max’s silly mixups, this show never fails to amuse. 

Despite being a goofy comedy with plenty of ridiculous situations, Wizards of Waverly Place still has strong, inspiring messages. Even though the Russos fight, they always make up, and work together to take on any problems they face.




High school musical: the musical: the series

The “High School Musical” movies took the world by storm. Or at least the worlds of American kids growing up in the early 2000s. 

“We’re All in This Together” and “Get Your Head in The Game” are songs that most high schoolers can recognize.There hasn’t been a new High School Musical movie since 2008, but with the release of Disney+ came the release of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” a High School Musical reboot that takes place at the same high school that “High School Musical” was filmed.

Nini is a musical theater enthusiast who has spent most of her performances in the background, and Ricky, her ex-boyfriend who wants her back, spends most of his time with his best friend, Big Red, or skateboarding.

EJ Caswell, Nini’s new boyfriend, is experienced in musical theater. He’s performed before and they even met at musical theater camp. Their new drama teacher, Ms. Jenn, was in the original “High School Musical” as a background dancer. 

When Miss Jenn learns that East High has never staged a school production of “High School Musical,” she immediately sets one up. She holds auditions, and, after hearing Nini is auditioning for Gabriela and EJ is auditioning for Troy, Ricky immediately decides to try his luck at playing Troy in the musical. After Nini gets casted as Gabriela and Ricky gets casted as Troy, drama ensues.

Although a little cheesy, “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” is a feel-good drama full of nostalgia. Ricky’s tenacity and love for Nini makes him impossible not to root for while Nini’s struggle to decide what she wants keeps viewers drawn in. Catchy tunes like “All I Want” and “What I’ve Been Looking For” are reminiscent of the songs in the original “High School Musical.” Watching this show will bring any 90s or early 2000s kid back to the days when they settled down on a couch on Friday afternoons to watch their favorite Disney Channel original movie.