March 07, 2015


            Chances are, you know Disney. You know their characters, you know their theme park, and you’ve probably seen at least one of their hundreds of movies and shorts sometime in your life. What you may not know is that Disney was relatively absent on the television front for a good while until the mid 1980s.

            Looking to expand its animated series portfolio, Disney began producing additional shows before deciding to package several together for syndication. The result was a two hour block called The Disney Afternoon

The block began in September of 1990, produced by The Walt Disney Company and distributed by Buena Vista Television. It aired weekday afternoons between the hours of 3-5 PM featuring four individual programs brought together by an intro and commercial bumpers made specifically for the block. Each season, a new show would join the block at the 4:30 slot, knocking the one at 3:00 off (which led fans to dread when their favorite show reached that time). International versions of the block would sometimes run under different names and feature other Disney programs not seen in the American one.

A collectible stamp "map" of Disney Afternoon Avenue from the The Disney Afternoon Live! stage show.

The popularity of the block led to the creation of the temporary “Disney Afternoon Avenue” at Disneyland in 1991. In 1994, Disney partnered with Marvel Comics (which they would come to own over a decade later) to produce a line of comics based on the block as well as for some of the individual shows themselves. Disney also ran their own comics based on the featured programs in their magazine Disney Adventures

The Disney Afternoon soundtrack album cover.

In 1990, Walt Disney Records released a soundtrack of 13 songs. 2 tracks were of the block’s theme while 9 were song featured in shows from the block’s first season line-up. 2 of the songs from TaleSpin were created specifically for the album; one was used later in the The Disney Afternoon Live!: Plane Crazy stage show.

In August of 1997, Disney decided to retire the name and shorten the block by a half hour. The now-unnamed block began that September and featured some of Disney’s newer offerings, as well as a couple of veterans from The Disney Afternoon. Ultimately, the block was cancelled in 1999 in favor of Disney’s One Too that began airing on UPN to replace their UPN Kids block.

The Disney Afternoon promo.

While it was a weekday block, several of the programs also found homes on Saturday mornings. Naturally, those are the focus of our entries for this month. So, without further ado…

March 7th will give us the original modern Disney series, DISNEY’S ADVENTURES OF THE GUMMI BEARS and the terror that flaps in the night, DARKWING DUCK.

March 14th takes us to Spoonerville for a visit with the GOOF TROOP before we head for Arabian nights with DISNEY’S ALADDIN. 

March 21st brings us  to New York City for an adventure with GARGOYLES before we head deep into the jungle with THE LION KING’S TIMON AND PUMBAA.

March 28th rounds out the month with the intergalactic hockey team of THE MIGHTY DUCKS. Since we’ve run out of official shows, we’ll plug up the gaping hole with a Saturday entry that did lead to the creation of a few shows for the block. That’s right, it’s none other than RAW TOONAGE

What was your favorite Disney Afternoon program? Let us know in the comments, via E-Mail, or on Facebook.

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