Disney Television Animation
Disney Channel Animation
  • Walt Disney Pictures Television Animation Group (1984–1987)
  • Walt Disney Television Animation (1987–2011)
FoundedDecember 5, 1984; 38 years ago (1984-12-05)
FounderGary Krisel
Headquarters811 Sonora Avenue,[1] Glendale, California, United States
Number of locations
Key people
Meredith Roberts (senior vice president/general manager)[2]
OwnerThe Walt Disney Company
ParentDisney Branded Television
(Disney General Entertainment Content)

Disney Television Animation (DTVA),[3] formerly known as Walt Disney Pictures Television Animation Group and Walt Disney Television Animation, is the television animation production arm of Disney Branded Television, a sub-division of the Disney General Entertainment Content division of The Walt Disney Company established on December 5, 1984, by Gary Krisel during the reorganization and subsequent re-incorporation of The Walt Disney Company following the arrival of then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner.

The division is responsible for creating, developing and producing animation-oriented television series, films, specials and short films for broadcast predominantly on the 3 main 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, lead 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 started 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 hour-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 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 & Syndication era

The Disney Afternoon

Main article: 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 DTV 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 & One Too

Main articles: ABC Kids (TV programming block) and Disney's 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
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 move 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).

Following the company's new shift in focus, in 2004, Disney formed a joint-venture with Jetix Europe N.V. labeled "Jetix Animation Concepts" to produce original shows worldwide. The three series include: Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, Get Ed, and Yin Yang Yo!. Along with four produced by SIP Animation: The Tofus, W.I.T.C.H., A.T.O.M., and Combo Niños. Jetix would typically air as a block on Toon Disney (and sister network ABC Family until August 31, 2006) in the U.S., or as channel internationally (depending on the region).

Throughout the 2000s, Disney continued to create new animated Disney Channel (& 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.
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). 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

In 2016, Disney XD greenlit Big City Greens (then titled: Country Club); however, production had to be on hold due to the abundance of DTVA shows at the time. Disney had just announced Milo Murphy's Law for Disney XD that same year, along with a reboot of DuckTales as early as 2015.

However, to renovate marketing, Disney ceased production of all original shows for Disney XD. The last shows created were Pickle and Peanut (creator as Fish Hooks), 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 quietly started a collaboration with Walt Disney Imagineering, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products and Disney Cruise Line on providing different redesings,animations and theming for attractions and night-time shows for Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney Resorts and Disney Cruises based on the different series around the different productions of the studio within the Mickey Mouse universe starting with Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway in 2020 and continuing with Aqua-Mouse for Disney Wish and DuckTales (2017 TV series): World Showcase Adventure for EPCOT in 2022 and providing help with the Mickey's Toontown refreshment for 2023.[21][22][23][24][25][26][27]

In early 2018, Disney Channels Worldwide officially announced to return animated to the main Disney Channel. This change meant that DTVA would mainly only be producing shows for Disney Channel and Disney Junior.

In February of that year, the studio pitched 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 2019, Disney greenlit another new show, The Ghost and Molly McGee (originally titled: The Curse of Molly McGee) and Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (a co-production with corporate sister studio Marvel Animation). Many following Disney Junior original shows have rebranded as "Disney Junior" instead of merely "Disney", mainly used for Disney Channel shows. However, Disney+ original shows would remain a separate brand.

In July, Disney TV Animation signed 17 creators and animators to overall deals. This venture follows a trend in kid programming started by Netflix.[28]

In February 2022, it was reported that Disney TVA is working on an animated film titled Superfudge alongside AGBO for Disney+.[29] The studio is also developing a film titled School for Sensitive Souls as part of former Disney Branded Television president Gary Marsh's new overall deal with Disney.[30][31] In November 2021 it was revealed that as part of Lisa Fragner's promotion as CEO of development at Disney TVA, that the animated feature film adaptation of Confessions Of An Imaginary Friend originally acquired by 20th Century Animation by Fragner on 2015 went back to production at Disney TVA.[32][33][34] They will be among Disney TVA's first original films ever since the failed Fluppy Dogs pilot film. Disney TVA is also working on approximately 31 original films set to be released across Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Disney+.[35]

In March 2022, The studio announced that it will collaborate with adult-animation-orientated sister studio 20th Television Animation, for the creation of young adult animated series, mini-series and movies for Disney+ starting with the animated stop-motion-musical comedy Rhona Who Lives By The River.[36][37][38]

0n May 4, 2022, Disney Television Animation begun production on its 100th Series overall, Cookies & Milk, produced by Cinema Gypsy Productions & Jesse James Films.[39]

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.[40] In February 2022, Sarah Finn was promoted to senior vice-president of production, overseeing physical production for projects across all three Disney networks, after working on the studio ever since 2018.[41] 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.[42]

As part of Bensimon's promotion it was announced that the studio will collaborate with Marvel Studios with the production of upcoming Marvel-based animated series not related within the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Bensimon overseeing them on development.[43]

In November 2022, Alyssa Sapire got promoted to lead all content for Disney Junior, as part of the announcement, Sapire also solidified her senior executive team across development and current with Kim Berglund promoted as vice president of Development of Disney Junior for the studio with oversight of all series, specials and shorts in development and Diane Ikemiyashiro and Lori Mozilo handling current series as vice-presidents on Disney Junior at the studio also working closely with partners across The Walt Disney Company on development with upcoming preschool series based on IPs from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, 20th Century Family and 20th Century Animation.[44][45]


Main article: List of Disney Television Animation productions

See also


  1. ^ "Disney TVA". Foursquare.
  2. ^ "Disney Channel Renews 'Amphibia' For Season 3; Kermit The Frog, Jenifer Lewis, George Takei And More To Guest Star On Season 2". Deadline Hollywood. June 23, 2020. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  3. ^ "36th Annual Annie Nominations and Awards Recipients". Annie Awards. January 30, 2009. Archived from the original on August 15, 2010. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Bentley, Rick (November 19, 2014). "Disney TV Animation Is 30 Years Old, and It's Going Strong". Valley News. The Fresno Bee. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  5. ^ Smith, Dave (1998). Disney A to Z - The Updated Official Encyclopedia. p. 594.
  6. ^ "Michael Webster". Variety. February 3, 2000. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  7. ^ Grant, John (1992). Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters: From Mickey Mouse to Aladdin. Hyperion Books. p. 139. ISBN 1-56282-904-1. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  8. ^ Harrington, Richard (August 7, 1990). "DuckTales: The Movie". Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  9. ^ a b Olson, Eric (April 27, 1998). "Disney ups TV animation duo". Variety. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  10. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (August 25, 1994). "Chairman of Disney Studios Resigns". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  11. ^ Baisley, Sarah (June 16, 2003). "DisneyToon Studios Builds Slate Under New Name and Homes for Needy". Animation World Network. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
  12. ^ a b Hoffman, Ilene (November 1997). "Buena Vista Home Entertainment: A Very Lucky Accident Indeed". Animation World Magazine. Retrieved June 5, 2022.
  13. ^ "Disney to axe Sydney studio". The Sydney Morning Herald. July 26, 2005. Retrieved June 5, 2022.
  14. ^ "Paul & Gaëtan Brizzi". ArtistRegister. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
  15. ^ Kilday, Gregg (September 23, 2003). "Dis To Shut Japan Ani Unit". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  16. ^ a b Poirier, Agnes (February 15, 2000). "Disney pulls plug on Canadian animation studios". ScreenDaily. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
  17. ^ Tobenkin, David (June 12, 1995). "Krisel to depart Disney in January". Broadcasting & Cable. Archived from the original on October 22, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2015 – via HighBeam Research.
  18. ^ "Fact Sheet: The Walt Disney Company" (Press release). The Walt Disney Company. Archived from the original on October 18, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2013.
  19. ^ "Roth, Iger Assume Expanded Responsibilities at the Walt Disney Company". PRNewswire. April 16, 1996. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  20. ^ Godfrey, Leigh (February 27, 2002). "David Stainton Promoted To President, Walt Disney Television Animation". Animation World Network. AWN, Inc. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  21. ^ "First Mickey-Themed Ride-Through Attraction, Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, Coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios".
  22. ^ "Diversión de vacaciones: Un corto animado original con Mickey y Minnie" [Vacation Fun: An Original Animated Short Featuring Mickey and Minnie]. disneyworld.disney.go.com (in Spanish).
  23. ^ "VIDEO: Get a Closer Look at the AquaMouse, Disney's First Attraction at Sea! | the disney food blog". May 6, 2021.
  24. ^ "Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland Park to be Reimagined with New Experiences, More Play and Interactivity for Young Families in 2023".
  25. ^ "Mickey's Toontown to Reopen at Disneyland Park on March 8, 2023".
  26. ^ "Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland Park to be Reimagined with New Experiences, More Play and Interactivity for Young Families in 2023".
  27. ^ "Disney Parks Experiences and Products Announces Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway Disneyland Opening Date".
  28. ^ Tuchow, Ryan (July 24, 2019). "Disney TV Animation signs 17 overall deals". Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  29. ^ Schneider, Michael (February 7, 2022). "Marvel's Brie Larson and Jeremy Renner to Produce and Star in Disney Plus Unscripted Shows".
  30. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (September 21, 2021). "Gary Marsh Exiting As Head Of Disney Branded TV To Launch Disney-Backed Company With 'Peter Pan' & 'Witch Mountain' Offshoots, More 'Descendants'".
  31. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (September 21, 2021). "Longtime Disney Channels Chief Gary Marsh Segues to Production Pact".
  32. ^ "'Confessions of an Imaginary Friend' Movie in the Works at Fox". March 20, 2015.
  33. ^ "Confessions of an Imaginary Friend Animated Film Adaptation at Disney Television Animation".
  34. ^ "Disney Television Animation Hires Lisa Fragner & Promotes Elizabeth Waybright Taylor". November 22, 2021.
  35. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Disney Television Animation Expands to Original Animated Films Bunisses".
  36. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Disney Television Animation to Collab with Sister Adult Orientated Studio to Create Young Adult Animated Series,Mini-Series and Movies for Disney+". Walt Disney Television Animation News. March 16, 2022. Retrieved December 1, 2022.
  37. ^ Disney Television Animation News [@DisneyTVANews] (March 16, 2022). "Disney Television Animation News on Twitter: "EXCLUSIVE: @DisneyTVA and @20thTVAnimation Collaborating For Young Adult Animated Shows Lisa Fragner former Blue Sky Dev Exc and current Disney TVA's Dev CEO, mentioned that the adult and kid animation unit are collaborating for future young adult animated shows for @DisneyPlus t.co/u3UBkQ2MEI"" (Tweet). Retrieved April 1, 2022 – via Twitter.
  38. ^ "Animated People: Disney TVA's Lisa Fragner Gives Us the Scoop on the Mouse's Upcoming Slate". Animation Magazine. March 16, 2022. Retrieved April 1, 2022.
  39. ^ Del Rosario, Alexandra (May 5, 2022). "'Cookies & Milk': Disney Developing Animated Series Based on Shawn Amos Novel, Laurence Fishburne to EP Via Cinema Gypsy Banner". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  40. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (November 23, 2021). "People on the Move: Disney TV Animation Adds Development VPs, Girard Joins Rodeo, Silver Spoon Hires". Animation Magazine. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  41. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (February 3, 2022). "People on the Move: Sarah Finn Upped to SVP Disney TV Animation, Cinesite Sticks with WFH, SIGGRAPH Names 2024 Chair & More". Animation Magazine. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  42. ^ Behzadi, Sofia (July 22, 2022). "Disney Television Animation Ups Douglas Bensimon & Edward Mejia To VP Current Series". Deadline. Retrieved July 22, 2022.
  43. ^ "EXCLUSIVE : Marvel Studios And Disney Television..." Walt Disney Television Animation News. July 22, 2022. Retrieved August 1, 2022.
  44. ^ "Alyssa Sapire Tapped To Lead Content for Leading Global Preschool Brand Disney Junior" (Press release). Disney General Entertainment Content. November 4, 2022. Retrieved December 1, 2022.
  45. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (November 4, 2022). "Alyssa Sapire to Oversee Content for Disney Junior". The Hollywood Reporter. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved December 1, 2022.