Disney Television Animation is an animation studio that is the TV animation production arm of the Disney Channels Worldwide, a division of Walt Disney Television, 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 mid-1988 and was its name up until 2011, when was shortened again to Disney Television Animation.
The unit was originally formed as the animation production arm of the former Walt Disney Television group banner. Television Animation, itself part of The Walt Disney Studios, Burbank and formerly parented by the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, like all of the in-house/outsourcing television animation studios proved a commercially successful venture, as most of the animated series it produced and established were well received at best and were successful enough to gain and earn enough popularity during their initial premieres (due to virtually-acclaimed promotional campaigns and groundbreaking receptions for their animated shows). The Television Animation studio previously had some immediate eventual success in 1985, when they successfully gambled with substantially higher budgeted productions which proved profitable ventures that raised the standard for the TV medium.
In 2003, it absorbed the old U.S. Walt Disney Television group name, re-branding itself into a separate unit of its own that same year. Today, the aforementioned Walt Disney Television brand is still active as in-name-only by producing television programs internationally.
The studio is (or was) responsible for and exclusively involved in the production of animated television programming and other projects (including made-for-TV films, specials, and short subjects). The company formally produced many of the cartoon shows airing on The Disney Afternoon syndication package program and the ABC Kids Saturday morning programming block of the ABC television network, but in the present, the studio is under control and under contact from Disney's cable television network Disney Channel to produce and program animated original content exclusively for the channel (as of late 2002).
It is headquartered since 1998 in the Frank G. Wells Building on the Studio Lot across from the Team Disney Burbank building (fronted by the Seven Dwarfs). The Frank G. Wells building was specifically designed for Television Animation, and has a film reel and filmstrip across the front of the building facing Team Disney Burbank across the parking lot. Television Animation has a secondary building located in Glendale on Sonora Street which they moved into in 2002, since the creation of Disneytoon Studios in 2003, both studios share the building.
Television Animation was formerly headquartered at the Motion Picture and Television Academy in North Hollywood, with a secondary building on Cahuenga. For a short period of time following the 1998 move, the secondary building was the Fairmont building next to Bob's Big Boy in Burbank. Television Animation is now split between the Frank G. Wells Building (third floor), and its first floor location in Glendale at the Sonora Building.
The Walt Disney Company first ventured into the television industry as early as 1950, beginning with the one-hour one-off special, One Hour in Wonderland. This was followed by 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.
But under new management, the studio, (originally known as Walt Disney Productions), formed in 1985 what was originally christened the Walt Disney Pictures Television Animation Group, but then was later renamed as Walt Disney Television Animation, to produce high-quality animated television series. They invested far more money into the television series than had previously been spent on animated shows of the time. 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 (which premiered on CBS on September 14, 1985) and Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears (which had premiered on NBC on September 14, 1985 at the same time as and shown first-run back-to-back with The Wuzzles), both which are based upon funny animal-based conceptions, the Gummi Bears being named after a common candy and the Wuzzles originating as a hybrid of two animals put together into one creature. The supposedly (and possibly) final third series in the incidentally so-called "magic animal"-based "trilogy" of original character sets was going to be Disney's Fluppy Dogs (which premiered only as an hour-long TV movie pilot on ABC on November 27, 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. 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, which premiered on September 18, 1987. 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. 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 series.
Over the next few years - and later, many more to come, Disney experimented with more television animation fare, such as Goof Troop, Darkwing Duck, TaleSpin, Raw Toonage, Bonkers, Marsupilami, and Gargoyles (which was Disney's first serious action-based animated series, that infinitely later gained a large cult/fan following) and The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show and Doug (which was the sequel to and revival version of the Nickelodeon animated series of the same name) and Nightmare Ned. The TV animation unit was also responsible for even adapting some of the films from the Disney animated features canon and other film sources as well (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Timon & Pumbaa, The Mighty Ducks, itself loosely based on Disney's The Mighty Ducks film series, Jungle Cubs, the second spin-off of Disney's The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians: The Series, Hercules, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, based on Disney/Pixar's Toy Story franchise, The Legend of Tarzan, etc.) and later finally bought back Mickey Mouse and company for two both brand new animated anthology and variety series, Mickey Mouse Works and House of Mouse. At the same time, the Disney Television Animation banner was strongly associated with Saturday morning cartoons and, more recently since 1998, The Disney Channel, and may have adversely affected the widely commercial, and ratings, successes of its other cartoon series that premiered on ABC's Saturday morning programming block, such as Recess and The Weekenders. Other WDTA series include Kim Possible, Phineas and Ferb, Fish Hooks, and Gravity Falls.
Most of the following shows produced by WDTA premiered on ABC and some on NBC, CBS and over-the-air in first-run syndication, and are (or were) currently being re-run almost every day on various incarnations of The Disney Channel (despite whom since 2002, the cable network now produces exclusive material of its own from WDTA) and its spin-offs, the now-defunct Toon Disney and Playhouse Disney and their successors Disney XD and Disney Junior.
Ownership and management
Originally, Television Animation was formerly part of the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, it has had been since then taken on by the Disney-ABC Television Group in circa 2004. Also, since November 2005, Walt Disney Television Animation is now a unit of Disney Channel, operating as its animation sub-arm, similar to Cartoon Network's Cartoon Network Studios and Nickelodeon's own Nickelodeon Animation Studio. WDTA is headed by Eric Coleman, Vice President of Original Series of WDTA, he reports to Carolina Lightcap, president of Disney Channel.
Prior this president of Television Animation was Barry Blumberg, who announced his resignation in November 2005.
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.
List of Disney Television Animation productions
Disney television series
|The Disney Afternoon Era|
|Adventures of the Gummi Bears||1985–91|
|DuckTales||1987–90||Winner of an Emmy Award for Outstanding Film Sound Editing.|
|The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh||1988–91||Winner of 2 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program of 1988 and 1989.|
|Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers||1989–90|
|The Little Mermaid||1992–94|
|Marsupilami||1993||in association with Dupuis Audiovisuel and Marsu Productions|
|Aladdin||1994–96||Winner of 4 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Film Sound Mixing, Outstanding Film Sound Editing, Outstanding Sound Mixing – Special Class and Outstanding Music Direction and Composition.|
|The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show||1995|
|Timon & Pumbaa||1995–99||Winner of 3 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program – Nathan Lane, Outstanding Sound Mixing – Special Class and Outstanding Individual in Animation.|
|The Mighty Ducks||1996–97||Winner of an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Editing - Special Class.|
|Disney's One Saturday Morning Era|
|Doug||1996–99||Seasons 5-7 only, co-production with Jumbo Pictures, inherited from Nickelodeon|
|101 Dalmatians: The Series||1997–98||co-production with Jumbo Pictures|
|Recess||1997–2001||co-production with Paul & Joe Productions|
|Hercules: The Animated Series||1998–99||Winner of an Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program – James Woods.|
|Mickey Mouse Works||1999–2000|
|Teacher's Pet||2000–02||Winner of 4 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Individual in Animation, Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program – Nathan Lane and Outstanding Special Class Animated Program of 2001-2002.|
|House of Mouse||2001–03|
|Buzz Lightyear of Star Command||2001–01||Winner of an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Editing - Special Class. Co-production with Pixar Animation Studios.|
|Lloyd in Space||2001–04||Co-production with Paul & Joe Productions|
|The Legend of Tarzan||2001–03|
Disney Channel original series
|Title||Original running||Notes||Series Production Code|
|Kim Possible||2002–07||Winner of an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing - Live Action and Animation.|
|Lilo & Stitch: The Series||2003–06|
|Dave the Barbarian||2004–05|
|Brandy & Mr. Whiskers||2004–06||Winner of an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual in Animation|
|American Dragon: Jake Long||2005–07|
|The Buzz on Maggie||2005–06|
|The Emperor's New School||2006–08||Winner of 2 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program – Eartha Kitt of 2006-2007|
|Phineas and Ferb||2007–15||Winner of an Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing in Animation and winner of 3 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Individual in Animation - Background Design and Background Painter.||631D|
|Gravity Falls (Season 1)||2012–16||618G|
|Wander Over Yonder (Season 1 Episode 1 - 11)||2013–16||345W|
|Descendants: Wicked World||2015-17||Co-production with Bad Angels Productions and 5678 Productions.|
|Elena of Avalor||2016-present||Also as Disney Junior Original Series||513A|
|Tangled: The Series||2017-present|
|The Owl House||2020|
|The Curse of Molly McGee||TBA|
Disney XD original series
|Title||Original running||Notes||Series Production Code|
|Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil||2010–12||624J|
|Motorcity||2012–13||Co-production with Titmouse, Inc.|
|Tron: Uprising||2012-13||Co-production with Sean Bailey Productions||876T|
|Gravity Falls (Season 2)||2012-16||618G|
|Wander Over Yonder (Season 1 after Episode 12 and Season 2)||2013–16||345W|
|Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero||2014–17||755P|
|Star vs. the Forces of Evil||2015-19||474S|
|Pickle and Peanut||2015-18|
|Milo Murphy's Law||2016-present|
|Billy Dilley's Super-Duper Subterranean Summer||2017|
|Big Hero 6: The Series||2017-present|
|Big City Greens||2018-present|
Playhouse Disney/Disney Junior original series
|PB&J Otter||1998–2000||Co-production with Jumbo Pictures|
|Mickey Mouse Clubhouse||2006–16||211P|
|My Friends Tigger & Pooh||2007–10|
|Special Agent Oso||2009–12|
|Jake and the Never Land Pirates||2011–16|
|Sofia the First||2013-18||231S|
|The Lion Guard||2016-present|
|Elena of Avalor||2016-present||Also as Disney Channel Original Series||513A|
|Mickey and the Roadster Racers||2017-present|
|Muppet Babies||2018-present||Co-production with The Muppets Studio, Odd Bot Animation and Snowball Studios|
Disney+ original series
|Monsters At Work||2020||Co-production with Pixar Animation Studios.|
|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|
|A Valentine for You||February 13, 1999|
All originally-produced first-run specials are directly related to the TV series The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Disney television films
- Fluppy Dogs (1986)
- DuckTales: The Treasure of the Golden Suns (1987)
- DuckTales: Time Is Money (1988)
- Super DuckTales (1989)
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: To the Rescue (1989)
- TaleSpin: Plunder and Lightning (1990)
- Darkwing Duck: Darkly Dawns the Duck (1991)
- Kim Possible: A Sitch in Time (2003)
- The Return of Jafar (1994)
- Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996)
- Mighty Ducks the Movie: The First Face-Off (1997)
- Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin (1997)
- Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997)
- Belle's Magical World (1998)
- Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998)
- The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1998)
- Hercules: Zero to Hero (1999)
- Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas (1999)
- Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving (1999)
- An Extremely Goofy Movie (2000)
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins (2000)
- The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000)
- Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure (2001)
- Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse (2001)
- Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street (2001)
- Cinderella II: Dreams Come True (2002)
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame II (2002)
- Tarzan & Jane (2002)
- Mickey's House of Villains (2002)
- Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year (2002)
- 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure (2003)
- Atlantis: Milo's Return (2003)
- Stitch! The Movie (2003)
- Recess: All Growed Down (2003)
- Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade (2003)
- Leroy & Stitch (2006)
Disney Channel Original Movies
- Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama (2005)
- The Proud Family Movie (2005)
- Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension (2011)
- Tangled: Before Ever After (2017)
Disney+ original movies
- The Phineas and Ferb Movie (2020)
Only Fluppy Dogs is not related to any television series, as it is a failed pilot episode to the proposed TV series of that same name.
- Doug's 1st Movie (1999; co-production with Jumbo Pictures)
- The Tigger Movie (2000)
- Recess: School's Out (2001; co-production with Paul & Joe Productions)
- Return to Never Land (2002)
- Teacher's Pet (2004)
- The Disney Afternoon
- Disney's One Too
- Walt Disney Television
- Disneytoon Studios
- Walt Disney Animation Japan
- Walt Disney Animation Studios
- Walt Disney Television Animation Australia (Pty. Limited)
- Walt Disney Television Animation Canada, Inc.
- Walt Disney Animation France
- Cotter, Bill, The Wonderful World of Disney Television: A Complete History, California: Disney Editions, 1997, ISBN 978-0-7868-6359-4
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