Must List

A non-definitive ranking of the top 10 Disney Channel original movies

Raise your hand if a new DCOM premiere is the highlight of your month—no, year. These movies always strike the *perfect* balance between inspiring and hilarious, and we often remember them long after the credits roll. Check out our top 10 for all the DCOM inspo!

Note: sequels were excluded to put the focus on series originals (sorry, HSM2—we still love you!).

10. Descendants (2015)

Any movie about the kids of iconic Disney villains is bound to be slightly spooky and incredibly imaginative. This glimpse into what *really* happens after happily ever after has spectacular sets and dazzling dance numbers, courtesy of High School Musical director Kenny Ortega. With tons of easter eggs for Disney lovers and terrific plot twists along the way, Descendants reminds us that you're never too old to love Disney—and Disney Channel, ofc. 

9. Adventures in Babysitting (2016)

Fun fact: this flick is the 100th DCOM ever! Starring Sabrina Carpenter and Sofia Carson as rival sitters, the movie takes place on one unforgettable night in the city. Join the duo and their sitting charges on their exciting adventure as they search for missing animals, hide from the bad guys and try to make it home by midnight. With an epic rap battle performed by Sabrina and Sofia, this milestone DCOM definitely does not disappoint and is too much fun.

8. Halloweentown (1998)

If you haven't seen this otherworldly OG yet, then def add it to your list this October (or right now, tbh). Watching 13-year-old Marnie discover that she's actually a witch is so inspiring, and her perseverance continues to remind us that anything is possible. Not to mention the land of Halloweentown is super creative and whimsical, featuring lots of cool characters and settings. The best part is definitely watching Marnie travel to Halloweentown on the school bus—the novelty never wears off.

7. Lemonade Mouth (2011)

Did you know this Breakfast Club-esque story was actually based on a YA novel by Mark Peter Hughes? The engaging story of five friends meeting in detention and forming a band will definitely have you dreaming of musical stardom. Plus, all of the characters have amazing chemistry, and are relatable and real. With standout songs like "Determinate" and "Somebody," Lemonade Mouth still inspires us to speak up about what we care about. Definitely one of the best high school DCOMs!

6. Teen Beach Movie (2013)

This recent flick feels like the equivalent of a 50s-style malted milkshake: frothy, fresh and fun. Ross Lynch and Maia Mitchell shine as surfers Brady and Mack, who get transported into the 60's movieWet Side Story. The summery soundtrack and upbeat dance numbers are absolute perfection, making Teen Beach the kind of movie you can't help but smile along to. As if it couldn't get any better, the characters also learn important lessons about friendship and following your heart. What's not to love?

5. The Cheetah Girls (2003)

Following four fab friends who form a singing group, this OG DCOM celebrates girl power in the best possible way. With empowering energy and danceable jams, The Cheetah Girls also boasts the *best* Y2K fashion (just look at those matching tracksuits!). Yet, the movie also isn't afraid to get serious, as the girls face tough family situations and friendship fights. At the end of the day, the Cheetahs prove that the tight bonds of sisterhood are stronger than anything—"we make up one big family, though we don't look the same."

4. Invisible Sister (2015)

Girl Meets World's Rowan Blanchard and Lab Rats' Paris Berelc play sisters Cleo and Molly in this recent DCOM centered on the hilarity and spookiness that ensues when you *actually* turn invisible. The hysterical pranks and sister switches will definitely make you laugh, but the meaningful message is the biggest takeaway. A total Halloween treat of a movie, Invisible Sister reminds us that it's okay to show our true selves and be honest with the world.

3. Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie (2009)

Turn one of the most iconic Disney Channel shows into a movie and you get pure magic. Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Hawaii, the stakes are higher than ever for the Russos when Alex accidentally casts a life-changing spell. This race against time is filled with action and adventure, along with the important realization of appreciating where you are in life right now. Now, if only we could get some other DCOMs based on classic shows (ahem, Phil of the Future and Girl Meets World).

2. Camp Rock (2008)

Summer music camp with the Jonas Brothers as counselors—sign us up, pls! This movie boasts sparkly, high-energy dance numbers and songs you can't get out of your head ("This Is Me," anyone?). But it also has a lot to say about individuality and honesty that still feels fresh and relatable. Definitely the quintessential summer camp movie and a perfect throwback to watch with friends!

1. High School Musical (2006)

You're probably not surprised by HSM reigning supreme, but this movie was *truly* the start of something new (for Disney Channel and for all of us). Not only did it pave the way for tons of other musical DCOMs (we see you, Descendants and Teen Beach Movie), but the sweet, timeless story about breaking free and shattering stereotypes still resonates 15 years later. Plus? We can't get enough of the "We're All In This Together" dance and the adorable chemistry between Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. Wildcats for the win!

What are your top 10 favorite DCOMs? Tag us on Insta @girlslifemag and let us know!

Top image: @ohmydisney. All GIFs via GIPHY.

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by Ariane Faro | 8/11/2021