13 Disney Afternoon Theme Songs That Will Teleport You To The 90s
90s kids remember a lot of things, at least that’s what the internet tells me. Whether or not that’s true, one thing that I’d have to imagine that most 90s kids remember more fondly than most, is the Disney Afternoon, a block of original cartoons that ran from 1990 through 1997.
The Disney Afternoon was aired as a two hour block 3pm through 5pm, the prime post school television watching hours. If there was a happy hour for kids, this was it. If you were lucky, you watched with an Ecto-Cooler in one hand and a Fruit String Thing in the other.
Today I thought it’d be fun to relive those critical years of development, by watching the intros to those classic shows. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be singing along with every word to each of these Disney Afternoon Theme Songs, catching dirty looks from my co-workers.
Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears
Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears, or as I like to refer to it Gummi Bears was a personal favorite, and probably the reason for my 5 Hour Energy addiction. You see, 5 Hour Energy shots share a serious resemblance to the little containers of Gummi Berry juice that the residents of Gummi Glen, but I digress. The theme song to Gummi Bears was so catchy, that some episodes were actually released theatrically internationally.
Clearly the Beyoncé of the group, DuckTales might have stolen it’s theme song from Hall and Oates, but it’s definitely the most beloved Disney Afternoon brethren. You might not know this, but the DuckTales universe is actually based on a comic book series focusing on a “Donald Duck Universe” by writer Carl Banks. My research for this post revealed that this “Duck Universe” is actually separate from the universe inhabited by Mickey Mouse, so basically everything you know is a lie.
Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers
Now that we know that the DuckTales universe is separate from the Mickey Mouse universe, Chip and Dale makes a lot more sense. If you had the pleasure of seeing the older Disney shorts before ever catching an episode of Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers there are a few things that might strike you as odd. For example, these characters who were once actual chipmunks who collected acorns and other stuff actual chipmunks do, now wear shirts and solve crimes. So, we’ll have to assume that they too are in a different universe. By the way, they’re totally based on Magnum P.I. and Indiana Jones.
Now, we can also safely assume that this version of Baloo with a pilot’s license is not the Bear Necessities dude from The Jungle Book. That’s pretty solid. However, Disney still hoped to have the same voice actor for Pilot Baloo as they had for prickly pear Baloo. They went as far as inviting a then 85 year old Phil Harris back to a recording session, but it was quickly realized that he could no longer perform as the character. Phil Harris, btw, looks quite a bit like Baloo himself.
Ready to get dangerous? Launchpad McQuack was. DW’s sidekick was the first Disney character to appear in two different series. Launchpad, I assume lives in the aforementioned “Duck Universe” and presumably moved from Duckburg to St. Canard, possibly in hopes of a break from the racecars, lasers, and airplanes. No such luck for the bomber jacket wearing duck. As for Darkwing Duck, himself? He’s the terror who flaps in the night, I think that about explains everything that you need to know.
Now a cult classic on Tumblr, which I can’t link you to, due to the surprising amount of adult content on the “Goof Troop” tag, Goof Troop followed Disney OG, Goofy and his son Max. Goof Troop probably lands in the original Mickey Mouse universe, but I bet you’re pretty tired of me talking about this by now. I’ll stop. I promise. Here’s an unrelated fun fact for you guys, Goof Troop is the first non action/adventure Disney Afternoon series. What is it? Basically a sitcom starring Goofy.
Bonkers / The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show
During the Disney Afternoon run, Disney was also airing television series which aired Saturday morning on CBS. One of those cartoons was Raw Toonage, a sort of variety show which featured animated shorts that were loosely connected. One of the shorts on that show was “He’s Bonkers” which was an idea similar to Roger Rabbit, where the main character, Bonkers, understands that he’s a cartoon, and is dealing with his post fame existence. Bonkers was spun-off into it’s own series titled, that’s right, Bonkers.
Schnookums and Meat, was actually a spin-off of Marsuplilami, which was another spin-off of Raw Toonage. This is very complicated, and you can see that Disney was grasping at straws looking for new shows to plug in to their popular Disney Afternoon line-up. It didn’t last long, and Disney is pretty lucky that the hit on their next gamble.
Unlike Bonkers and S&M (tee-hee), Gargoyles stands out as being more memorable. More than anything, that’s probably because it was incredibly different in tone from all of the other Disney Afternoon offerings. Disney’s first dramatic animated series, Gargoyles made reference to Shakespeare, featured the voice talents of a shit-ton of Star Trek actors, and even spawned Gargoyles themed conventions.
Aladdin / The Lion King’s Timon and Pumbaa
Here we have the “let’s make series that are straight adaptations to our popular movies” pair of series. First, with Aladdin, it was very clear to me, even as a child, that Robin Williams was not back to voice Geenie. Aside from the fact that Disney really screwed him on his deal, there was really no reason for Robin to be taking on afternoon cartoon series during what turned out to be the peak of his career. Second, between the animated series and The Return of Jafar, I was pretty much Aladdin’d out.
Timon and Pumbaa followed the adventures of Simba’s pals in the jungle after The Lion King. It was okay, I guess, but by the time it was on I was probably too old for what the show was offering. I think one of the great things about the early Disney Afternoon series, was that it gave you classic Disney characters and put them in situations far from what you might expect. Aladdin and T&P really just gave use more of the same.
Quack Pack / Mighty Ducks
Quack Pack was basically Disney trying to re-live their DuckTales glory days, only without Scrooge. Didn’t they realize that Scrooge was the heart of that show? He’s the sole reason that I love the Scottish accent. Donald has no #1 dime.
Mighty Ducks was a really strange idea. It was based on the popular live-action movie trilogy about human children playing hockey and learning how to win as underdogs. This series, though, was about alien space ducks (from a planet called “puckworld”) who played hockey and had adventures? They were probably hoping to sell some action figures, but I’d much rather see a Saved By The Bell-esque live action series about Charlie & Co. being hockey stars in their hometown. Sigh, what could have been. Well, at least this bad boy featured the velvet voice of Tim Curry.
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