A Definitive Ranking of Disney Channel Original Movies

Happy October, Her Campus! I hope you’re enjoying sweater weather, pumpkin spice, and the absolute chaos that is midterms season. Whether you’re curling up in bed with fuzzy socks and a warm drink or de-stressing after an exam, this season is perfect for a night in with a comfort movie— and what better way is there to relax than with a Disney Channel Original? Everyone’s got their own opinions on the best DCOM, so definitely take this list with a grain of salt, but here’s my personal ranking of the best Disney Channel Original Movies.

  1. 1. The High School Musical Franchise

    High School Musical is OBVIOUSLY one of the best things Disney Channel has ever made, and you’re kidding yourself if you didn’t daydream about singing karaoke with a cute stranger on New Year’s Eve at least once because of this film. Between young Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron and a soundtrack that still BOPS, these movies had everything.  

    As great as all of the HSM movies are, High School Musical 2 is definitely the best of the three. That soundtrack went so much harder than it needed to. From the undeniable tension between Chad and Ryan in “I Don’t Dance” to the heartbreak of “I Gotta Go My Own Way” (6-year-old Jules was not ready) to the absurdity that was Zac Efron’s acting in “Bet On It,” Disney will never be able to top this movie.   

    Watch these movies if: You’re in the mood to fall in love with a stranger, you’re tired of being told to “Stick to the Status Quo” (HSM 1), you’re missing summer and spending time with your pals (HSM 2), or you’re homesick and in your feels about high school graduation (HSM 3).

  2. 2. Lemonade Mouth

    This is honestly one of the most underrated DCOMs of all time. Bridget Mendler? Naomi Scott? Baby Hayley Kiyoko? Need I say more?? This Disney Channel spinoff of The Breakfast Club was so much fun to watch and has such an uplifting soundtrack, but it was also super emotional. Watching Olivia (Bridgit Mendler) come out of her shell and find herself while surrounded by an amazing group of friends was so inspiring to see when I was young. This movie teaches kids to embrace their talents, challenge authority, and to never put up with creepy behavior from guys who don’t treat you right, and these are all super important messages. Even if the rap from “Determinate” has become a bit of a meme, this film is still such a good watch.  

    Watch if: You’re in the mood to challenge ridiculous rules set by authority figures, you need some silly uplifting Disney Channel bops (did I mention Hayley Kiyoko??), or you’re about to start a band based on your favorite vending machine product.

  3. 3. Camp Rock (1 and 2) 

    The Jonas Brothers. That’s it. That’s the whole description.

    These movies had such a star-studded cast, and their soundtracks were amazing. The romance between Shane (Joe Jonas) and Mitchie (Demi Lovato) is such a Disney Channel classic, and “Gotta Find You” is still my favorite Joe Jonas song of all time. And I’m pretty sure we were all a little in love with Nick Jonas’s character. This movie also features Alyson Stoner, who is known most recently for coming out in 2018 and for performing with Missy Elliott at the VMAs. These films also had so many empowering songs by female characters. Between “This is Me,” sang by Mitchie (Demi Lovato), and “Here I Am,” sang by Peggy (Jasmine Richards), these movies just had so much to offer.

    Watch this movie if: You need some young Joe Bros content.

  4. 4. Hannah Montana

    Where do I even start? The Hannah Montana movie was so good and had such an emotional soundtrack— this is the film that gave us “The Climb,” “Butterfly Fly Away,” by Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus, and “Crazier,” by Taylor Swift. It also gave us the absolute classic that is “Hoedown Throwdown.” The Hannah Montana TV show was one of my all-time favorite Disney Channel shows, so this movie was a huge deal to me.      

    Watch this movie if: You need a good cry!

  5. 5. Starstruck

    Again, this one is such an underrated DCOM! The plot of Starstruck is absolutely ridiculous, but it’s such a feel-good movie. I’ll probably never get over Chris Wilde (Sterling Knight) singing the unplugged version of “Hero,” and honestly, I’m okay with that. 

    Watch this movie if: You’re aiming to watch a long-lost DCOM, because let’s face it, Starstruck doesn’t come CLOSE to getting the recognition it deserves.

  6. 6. The Halloweentown Movies

    As we enter spooky season, this list wouldn’t be complete without Halloweentown. Though these films don’t have the bopping soundtracks that the rest of the movies on this list have, they’re such a fun time to watch. I have so many good memories of watching these as a kid around Halloween, so if you’re looking for some of that spooky season nostalgia, these movies are a good pick.

    Watch these movies if: You’re not a horror movie fan, but still want to participate in the Halloween festivities!

I could continue writing this list forever, so I’ll finish with some honorable mentions: Cadet Kelly, Hatching Pete, Jump In, Wizards of Waverly Place, Princess Protection Program, The Cheetah Girls…I could continue but I’d probably end up listing every DCOM in existence. Some of these movies are super cringe-worthy to go back and watch as an adult, but the nostalgia can usually overshadow the ridiculously dramatic plotlines. Add some bops from these soundtracks to your study playlist this midterms season, and when you finally have a chance to relax, put a DCOM movie marathon on your calendar!  

Curl up with your S.O., your besties, or take some me-time to enjoy these blasts from the past, and try not to let them make you feel old as you grumble about how they just don’t make DCOM’s like they did when you were young.

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