The Disney Afternoon
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The Disney Afternoon gang
|Premiered||September 10, 1990|
|Discontinued||August 29, 1997|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Format||Animated programming block|
|Running time||Mon–Fri, 3–5 pm, approx. 120 minutes w/ commercials|
The Disney Afternoon was a created-for-syndication two-hour animated television programming block which aired from September 10, 1990 until August 29, 1997 when Disney decided to retire the name and continued to run a 90-minute syndicated block until 1999. The Disney Afternoon was produced by Walt Disney Television Animation, with distribution through their syndication sister company, Buena Vista Television.
Before and after its cancellation, the shows in the block were rerun both on The Disney Channel (during the mid-to-late 1990s) and on Toon Disney (all of them between the channel's launch in 1998 and 2004, with some remaining until as late as 2008). From 1995 to 1996, four of the shows (Darkwing Duck, TaleSpin, DuckTales, and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers) were rerun on The Disney Channel as a two-hour programming block called "Block Party" which aired on weekdays in the late-afternoon/early-evening. Several of the block's shows are available on DVD in the United States.
The Disney Afternoon's two-hour block was broken up into four half-hour segments, each of which contained an animated series. As each season ended, the first series shown in the lineup would typically be dropped while the remaining three would move up a time slot, and a new one would be 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, allowing the shows to be aired anytime of the day (morning or afternoon), while The Disney Afternoon only aired on weekday afternoons. Some of the shows also aired on Saturday mornings on ABC or CBS concurrently with their original syndicated runs on The Disney Afternoon.
Some of the early cartoon series on The Disney Afternoon (DA) came from already in-circulation cartoons, such as Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears which aired on NBC from 1985 to 1988 and then moved to ABC in 1989. DuckTales premiered in 1987 as Disney was focused on incorporating animated series into its portfolio in the era of cartoons; it was Disney's only syndicated cartoon series until accompanied in 1989 by Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. These two shows had been packaged together as a one-hour-long cartoon block from 1989 to 1990, until both shows were incorporated into The Disney Afternoon in September 1990.
Both DuckTales and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers were syndicated and packaged at first through their original television affiliates, most of which evolved from independents to Fox affiliates with successful children's lineups.
History of the block and programs that aired
Fox Television Stations was one of the first group of stations that agreed to carry the Disney Afternoon. Fox affiliated station also sign on making up about 80% of the stations carrying the block. With Disney's purchase of KCAL-TV in Los Angeles, Disney moved DA to KCAL from Fox TV Station's Los Angeles station which led Barry Diller to remove the block from Fox's other six stations. With this action and recommendations by a few Fox affiliates, Fox started a joint venture with some of its affiliates for the Fox Children's Network (FCN) and push affiliates to switch. Disney sued Fox over threats made to Fox affiliate, KPCQ-TV, indicating that if the station would not back out of its DA agreement and join FCN, it could lose its Fox Broadcasting Company affiliation. The block was making Disney's TV division $40 in earning a year at its peek becoming the division's most profitable section.
Some of The Disney Afternoon's later additions were inspired by shorter cartoon segments in the short-lived series Raw Toonage, which appeared on the CBS network in the fall of 1992. For example, the show's "Marsupilami" segment was spun off into the series Marsupilami which in turn spawned The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show which aired on the block. Likewise, the Raw Toonage segment "He's Bonkers!" was spun off into the series Bonkers which aired on the block.
Beginning with the 1994 season, Marvel Comics (which would eventually be acquired by Disney) 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.
For the 1994-1995 season, Disney created sub-blocks, or themed days, within the Disney Afternoon for Monday and Friday, "Monday Mania" and "Action Friday" respectively. Each sub-block was also slated for a new show, Shnookums & Meat Funny Cartoon Show for Mania and Gargoyles for Action. Aladdin also debuted that season.
The Disney Afternoon was last aired on August 29, 1997. Beginning September 1 of that year, Disney dropped the block's name and reduced it to 90 minutes. The unnamed 90-minute block ran until September 3, 1999, when it was finally canceled and a new block, Disney's One Too, began airing on UPN as a replacement for that network's internal UPN Kids block.
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Some of The Disney Afternoon's shows also aired on international versions of Disney Channel (including Disney Channel Asia), Toon Disney (later Disney XD), Disney Junior (including Disney Junior in Southeast Asia) and Disney Cinemagic, and on several local channels in various countries. In Europe, blocks similar to The Disney Afternoon were produced, mostly with names which translate in English as "Walt Disney Presents" (not related to the anthology series). Furthermore, shows that never aired on the American version of The Disney Afternoon (such as The Little Mermaid and The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh) did air on foreign versions of the block.
In Edmonton, Canada, the city's then-independent TV station ITV (now Global Edmonton) produced its own version of The Disney Afternoon over roughly the same period as the American block, but only once per week in a two-hour block on Saturday afternoons, though using the same cartoon lineup as the American weekday block. Apart from the animated introduction, the block did not use any Disney-produced wrapper segments, instead using locally-produced live-action segments between programs with host Mike Sobel. ITV (and thus the Sobel-hosted version of the block) was at that time also available on cable in various mid-sized and smaller markets across Canada, as far away as St. John's.
Disney Afternoon Avenue
The popularity of The Disney Afternoon led to a temporary attraction at Disneyland called "Disney Afternoon Avenue". Disney Afternoon Avenue was a feature of Disneyland from March 15 to November 10, 1991, two years before Mickey's Toontown (inspired by the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit) opened in January 1993.
Many of The Disney Afternoon shows were made into video games.
- "Block Party: Four Disney Animated Series." The Disney Channel Magazine, Vol. 13, no. 5, October/November 1995: p. 36.
- [Michael Eisner|Eisner, Michael D.]] (Mar 22, 2011). Chapter 7: Animation. Chapter pages 48-52. Work in Progress: Risking Failure, Surviving Success. Hyperion.
- Michael Cieply (February 22, 1990). "Disney, Fox Clash Over Children's TV Programming". Los Angeles Times (Times Mirror Company). Retrieved May 11, 2011.
- Coe, Steve (January 10, 1994). "Two series coming to Disney Afternoon". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved March 31, 2015. Via Highbeam.com.
- Turner, Richard (August 14, 1995). "Hi-Ya!". New York Magazine (Vol. 28, No. 32). Retrieved April 2, 2015.
- Animation World Magazine, Issue 2.6, September 1997
- Animation World Magazine, "Tooning in the 1998 Fall Season"
- Animation World Magazine, "It's Show Time! The Fall TV season, September 1999
- "Personalities: Mike Sobel". GlobalTVEdmonton.com. Shaw Media. May 26, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
- "Disney Afternoon Avenue at Yesterland". Yesterland.com. Retrieved May 10, 2013.