Halloween was a special time for kids of the 1990s and 2000s, but the Disney Channel made the event even more magical. The network was the place to be in October for years, and while the channel doesn’t make new scary movies as much as it used to, all the good times can be relived on Disney+.
After all those years tuning in for “Hauntober Fest,” adult Disney Channel movie fans have some questions when rewatching those ’90s and early 2000s movies. While those movies aren’t so scary as adults, the Disney logic factor is more obvious now than it was then.
Updated on October 12, 2022, by Lynn Gibbs: As kids, every Halloween-themed movie that came out on the Disney Channel was wondrous and mystical. While things didn’t always make sense as kids (like an additional universe called Halloweentown that people could get to by bus), the idea of these things being real kept viewers engaged. As adults, those former kid viewers are now viewing them with mature eyes. From original Disney Channel movies to series with Halloween-based episodes, adult fans are looking for answers to the questions they had about these works as kids.
How Many Halloweentowns Are There?
There are four movies in the Halloweentown franchise. Halloweentown (1998), Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge (2001), Halloweentown High (2004), and Return to Halloweentown (2006). Kimberly J. Brown played Marnie Cromwell in the first three films, and Sara Paxton played Marnie in the fourth and final movie. With Halloweentown High almost reaching its 20th birthday on the Disney Channel, these movies have been beloved for a long time.
The first two installments carve out the identity of the series, and the third made it a satisfying trilogy. The fourth has a much darker tone than the earlier movies and feels a little out of place. Among the four movies, many stand by the fact that the channel could have ended the franchise after the third movie, especially after recasting Kimberly J. Brown.
How Many Disney Channel Halloween Movies Exist?
According to Insider, there are 14 Disney Channel Halloween films on its roster. All of them are classified as DCOMs, meaning they’re original to the channel. Some of the more popular movies include Under Wraps, Halloweentown, Don’t Look Under the Bed, and Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire.
These don’t include Can of Worms or Stepsister from Planet Weird, which are both about aliens instead of Halloween. It’s a similar deal for Disney’s Zombies and Descendants. Thankfully, fans who grew up with these haunting Disney Channel Original 2000s movies can be streamed on Disney+.
But What About Mr. Boogedy?
Eighties kids might have wondered why Mr. Boogedy and Bride of Boogedy aren’t classified as Halloween DCOMs. Since these originals came out in 1986 and 1987, they don’t classify as original movies because DCOMs didn’t begin as an official classification until 10 years later in October 1997.
According to D23, earlier Disney Channel movies were called Disney Channel Premiere Films before DCOMs were a thing. If younger fans have never seen Mr. Boogedy and Bride of Boogedy before, they can binge the two short films on Disney+.
Is Hocus Pocus A DCOM?
Although Disney produced Hocus Pocus, it does not count as a DCOM because it was released theatrically in 1993. It’s still a Disney film, but it was not recycled on cable television until years later since it did not do well in theaters. The movie, directed by High School Musical’s Kenny Ortega, only became more popular as time went on and is now considered a cult classic.
ABC Family (now Freeform) aired the film as much, if not more, than the Disney Channel did over the years. When fans saw the trailer for Hocus Pocus 2, they jumped with joy at the chance to see the Sandersons in a new setting. The sequel can now be viewed on Disney+ but is not considered a DCOM since it didn’t premiere on the channel.
Was ‘Halloweentown’ The First Halloween DCOM?
What some fans didn’t know about Halloweentown was that it may seem like the first feature of the Halloween DCOM era because of its popularity, but it’s the second. Halloweentown’s 1998 premiere was preceded by Under Wraps in 1997. Under Wraps was certainly a humble beginning for the network’s Halloween circuit, and it happens to be the very first DCOM.
Under Wraps was a fun movie starring Adam Wylie, Mario Yedidia, and Clara Bryant. But if a rewatch doesn’t completely make sense, don’t be alarmed. That’s the popular opinion of this movie.
Don’t Look Under the Bed has the highest IMDb score at 6.7, with Halloweentown following at 6.6. Subjectively speaking, fans particularly love Halloweentown over 20 years later as much as they did when they were kids. Halloweentown’s creatures were spooky enough without being traumatizing.
As popular as Halloweentown is, Don’t Look Under the Bed also deserved some love. The made-for-TV horror showed a teenager named Francis in a new town where strange things started occurring. Along the way, an imaginary friend named Larry got involved, who then introduced the Boogeyman. Don’t Look Under the Bed was the first Disney movie to warn its viewers of “frightening content,” according to Fandom.
Which Disney Channel Series Had Halloween Episodes?
The early 2000s shows like Even Stevens had ‘A Very Scary Story’ and Lizzie McGuire had ‘Night of the Day of the Dead.’ That’s So Raven turned its star into a cow at a Halloween party with ‘Don’t Have a Cow,’ and then there’s the ultimate Suite Life episode, ‘The Ghost in Suite 613.’
Fans also shouldn’t forget the Phil of the Future episode where Debbie Burwick became evil (simply titled ‘Halloween’). The Jersey also had an episode called ‘Halloween,’ and The Famous Jett Jackson had ‘Ghost Dance.’ Other series like The Proud Family, Kim Possible, Lilo and Stitch: The Series, and Brandy & Mr. Whiskers all had Halloween episodes. As Disney Channel moved into new eras, it made Halloween episodes for its newer shows as well.
Which Years Had No New Halloween Movies?
It’s unimaginable that the Disney Channel wouldn’t have a new Halloween-themed episode for its viewers. However, there have been a good amount years when the network skipped Halloween and replayed its older original films.
In fact, the channel went four consecutive years (2008-2011) without releasing an original Halloween movie. Luckily for newer fans, DCOM fans can appreciate Halloween-themed movies like Under Wraps 2 in 2022, with hopes of even more to come in the future.
Why Were There More Halloween Movies Than Holiday Movies?
While this topic is still being investigated, there are some good explanations as to why Disney had more Halloween movies than holiday ones. Halloween falls during a great time of year for new programming. The new episodes of the season are an easy excuse to go pumpkin-crazy, which could be why Disney released so many of these movies; they got viewers into the Autumn spirit.
However, this did not mean that DCOM’s holiday movies weren’t beloved. Movies like The Ultimate Christmas Present (2000), Twas the Night (2001), and Christmas Again (2021) were some of Disney’s best. These, however, could never replace the spooky spirit of Disney’s Halloween movies.
Disney Channel stars often have positive memories of filming DCOMs and special episodes. The best example is Kimberly J. Brown, who portrayed Marnie Cromwell in the first three Halloweentowns. In 2020, Brown told Seventeen, “I’m honored and flattered that people not only still talk about it all these years later, but that they still watch it.”
Adam Wylie has also spoken positively about being in the very first DCOM after being on the podcast Back to the Best back in 2021, Under Wraps. Tia and Tamera Mowry loved doing the Twitches films, and Tia even recreated her look from the movie on YouTube in 2019. These Halloween movies are special to a whole generation of actors and viewers. Even the forgotten Disney Channel Original Movies can be enjoyed and binged in the fall season when rewatching them on Disney+.
NEXT: 10 Forgotten Disney Channel Original Movies You Can Stream on Disney+