The Disney Afternoon was a created-for-syndication two-hour television programming block which aired from September 10, 1990, until August 1997. At that time, it was taken out of syndication, and a new Disney weekday afternoon block was started on UPN. The Disney Afternoon was produced by The Walt Disney Company.
The two hour block was broken up into four half-hour segments, each of which contained a cartoon series. As each season ended, the first cartoon shown in the lineup would typically be dropped, and a new one added to the end. The Disney Afternoon itself featured unique animated segments consisting of its own opening and "wrappers" around the cartoon shows shown.
This block did not air in every market across the United States, but for those markets that did not air the block in full, individual shows featured on The Disney Afternoon could be packaged by themselves. In Europe, there was a similar series called the Disney Festival.
History of the block and series that aired
Some of the early cartoon series in The Disney Afternoon came from already in-circulation cartoons, such as Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears (created years earlier). DuckTales and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers had been a one hour long cartoon block in 1989-1990, until both were incorporated into The Disney Afternoon the next year. TaleSpin was the first series presumably created expressly for The Disney Afternoon.
Some of the later additions were inspired by shorter cartoons in the short lived series Raw Toonage, which appeared on the CBS network in Fall, 1992 -- for example, Marsupilami; also He's Bonkers!, which has characters that also appear in Bonkers.
Another source for Disney Afternoon cartoons were series inspired by movies created previously; for a time, a 'two year rule' of sorts became almost reliable, whereby about two years after a Disney summer movie came out, a Disney Afternoon series by the same name or featuring characters from that film premiered (example: Aladdin, and Timon and Pumbaa, from The Lion King.)
Beginning with the 1994 season, the name of The Disney Afternoon was shortened to TDA. That same year, Marvel Comics began publishing a comic book series based on the programs featured on the block, as part of their line of comics based on modern Disney properties (the classic properties were licensed to Gladstone Publishing). The series mainly consisted of stories based on Darkwing Duck, with occasional stories featuring Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers and TaleSpin. It ended at 10 issues, but stories based on the block's shows continued in Marvel's Disney Comic Hits! and in the children's magazine Disney Adventures.
Disney Afternoon Avenue
The popularity of the Disney Afternoon led to a temporary sub-park at Disneyland called Disney Afternoon Avenue. At this time, the block even garnered its own parade and a stage show titled Plane Crazy (not to be confused with the Mickey Mouse short of the same name). Walk-around costumes were created for the characters featured on the shows and regularly appeared throughout the theme parks, mostly in Mickey's Toontown, which featured an attraction based on Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers - Gadget's Go-Coaster. As of today, most of the character walk-arounds have been retired.
Disney Afternoon Avenue actually came to Disneyland before Mickey's Toontown (name based on the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit) ever opened. This temporary "land" actually used cartoon building fronts to occupy the space leading up to the "it's a small world" attraction and the Fantasyland Theatre, known as the Small World Mall. The Entrance to Baloo's dressing room was actually under the train tracks, where the entrance to Mickey's Toontown is now. Some say that Disney actually used Disney Afternoon Ave as a test, to gauge interest in a Mickey's Toontown concept.
Toon Disney and cancellation of the block
By 1997, The Disney Afternoon was terminated as a formally named series. An eighth season, only 90 minutes long, was no longer named The Disney Afternoon or TDA, and was by accounts essentially a simple 90 minute syndicated block of cartoons.
On December 8, 1997, Disney announced the planned launch of Toon Disney, a 24-hour cable cartoon network, effective on April 18, 1998. At the same time local stations found it hard to comply with FCC restrictions on children's advertising in terms of allowed quantity and content and still remain profitable in such blocks. Still FOX, UPN, and WB wanted to try to hold on to children's programming during the week. Disney continued the 90-minute syndicated block until the fall of 1999, at which time Disney and UPN teamed up for a UPN Kids block. Also, a two-hour Sunday Morning kids' block of shows from Disney aired on UPN stations.
By the 1999-2000 television season, some remnants of The Disney Afternoon package were moved to Saturday mornings, solely on the ABC network, under the name Disney's One Saturday Morning. Weekdays, the remnants of this block aired on UPN affiliates. By early 2001, One Saturday Morning had begun broadcasting a weekday afternoon spinoff called Disney's One Too, which bore virtually no resemblance to the Disney Afternoon.
Some of these cartoons, when originally airing on Disney Afternoon also had Saturday morning episodes that were being broadcast for ABC and CBS. These are:
- Darkwing Duck 1991-1993, ABC (seasons 2 and 3)
- Goof Troop 1992-1993, ABC (seasons 2)
- Aladdin 1994-1996, CBS (seasons 2 and 3)
- The Lion King's Timon and Pumbaa 1995-1997, CBS (seasons 2 and 4, as the Disney Afternoon showed seasons 1 and 3)
- The Mighty Ducks 1996-1997, ABC (Both showed the first episode of the series)
Gargoyles does not fall into this category because only the third season, subtitled The Goliath Chronicles, aired during the 1996-1997 season on ABC, while The Disney Afternoon was only showing reruns of the first 2 seasons. Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears continued running on Saturday mornings during the 1990-1991 season on ABC, but ABC was only showing new episodes while the Disney Afternoon was also showing only reruns.
Status on Television
Many of the Disney Afternoon shows were made into video games.
- Gargoyles- Genesis
- DuckTales- NES
- DuckTales 2- NES
- Tale Spin- NES
- Goof Troop- SNES
- Rescue Rangers-NES
- Rescue Rangers 2- NES
- Darkwing Duck - NES
- Disney's Aladdin - Mega Drive, SNES, Master System, Game Gear, Game Boy and NES
- DuckTales Remastered - Wii U Eshop, Xbox Live Arcade, and the PlayStation Network
- Main article: Disney Afternoon Soundtrack