Playhouse Disney was a brand for a slate of programming blocks and international cable and satellite television channel that was owned by the Disney Channels Worldwide unit of The Walt Disney Company's Disney ABC Television Group. It originated in the United States as a morning program block on the Disney Channel. Its programming was targeted at children ages 2-6, featuring a mix of live-action and animated series.
The Playhouse Disney block on Disney Channel was relaunched as Disney Junior on February 14, 2011. The 22 cable channels and blocks using the Playhouse Disney brand around the world were relaunched under the Disney Junior brand over the next two years, concluding with the rebranding of the Russian channel in September 2013.
Prior to Playhouse Disney's launch, Disney Channel had aired a lineup of preschool targeted programs which were mixed alongside animated series aimed at older children during the morning hours since its debut in April 1983. On April 6, 1997, Disney Channel underwent a relaunch that signified the beginning of its full conversion into a commercial-free basic cable channel, and its morning program block now utilized a similar graphics package for its promotions as that used for the channel's afternoon children's programs. After Disney Channel's preschool block premiered three new original series in 1998 PB&J Otter, Rolie Polie Olie, and Out of the Box, the block rebranded as Playhouse Disney in January 1999.
One of the Playhouse Disney block's most popular series was Bear in the Big Blue House, an educational live action series from Jim Henson Productions that debuted in October 1997, focusing on the adventures of Bear voice by Noel Mac Neal the series was named by TV Guide as one of the top 10 new shows for kids that year. For the first three years of its run, the Playhouse Disney block originally aired each weekday from 8:30 am. to 2:30 pm. Eastern Time, and weekends from 6:00 to 10:00 am. Eastern Time. Following each program, which usually ran 23 minutes most of which, with the exception of movies, aired without promotional interruption, the remainder of the time period was filled by blocks of either short segments or music videos the latter of which were originally aired under the banner Feet Beat.
On April 16, 2001, Playhouse Disney introduced a new on air graphics package produced by motion graphics company Beehive actress Allyce Beasley began serving as the US. block's promo announcer at this time, a capacity she would hold until March 30, 2007. Radio Disney cross-promoted the block by rebranding its Mickey and Minnie's Tune Time block as Playhouse Disney, and in 2002, the TV block's Feet Beat interstitials were renamed BB's Music Time to promote the Radio Disney block. On June 25, 2001, Disney ABC Cable Networks Group now Disney-ABC Television Group announced plans to launch Playhouse Disney Channel, a companion digital cable and satellite channel that would have served the same target audience as the Disney Channel block plans for the network were later scrapped, although Disney ABC International Television would launch dedicated Playhouse Disney Channels in international markets including Canada and Latin America between 2002 and 2007. The Walt Disney Company acquired the broadcast rights to The Wiggles as part of their purchase of the Fox Family channel in 2001 The Wiggles moved to Playhouse Disney in June 2002 and became one of the block's most watched shows during its run.
Like Disney Channel, Playhouse Disney was a commercial-free service, but it did show short promotional spots structured as short form segments for Disney products targeted at the block's demographics along with beginning in 2002 underwriter sponsorships with companies such as McDonald's within breaks between programs preschool-targeted programs that aired between 3:00 and 7:00 am. Central Time outside of the Playhouse Disney banner, included the promotional shorts for Disney entertainment products that were seen during Disney Channel's afternoon and nighttime schedule. On October 7, 2002, Playhouse Disney changed its logo to reflect Disney Channel's on air rebranding. As part of the block's effort to phase out its older interstitial material, it introduced a mascot named Clay voiced by Debi Derryberry, an anthropomorphic clay figure who often used the catchphrases It's true! and "Are you with me?
On March 31, 2007, Clay was replaced by two anthropomorphic monkey puppets as the block's hosts, Ooh and Aah who served as the main characters for one of the short series featured on the Playhouse Disney lineup, Ooh, Aah & You. Beginning in 2007, Disney Channel began truncating the weekday block to four hours from 5:00 to 9:00 am. Eastern Time during the summer months, in order to air episodes of Disney Channel original series during the late morning and early afternoon hours however, the weekend schedule continued to air as a seven hour block. By this point, the Playhouse Disney block had expanded to air from 4:00 am. to 2:00 pm. Eastern Time on weekdays, and 4:00 to 9:00 am. Eastern Time on weekends, each running a different schedule.
Disney Junior Edit
On May 26, 2010, Disney ABC Television Group announced the launch of Disney Junior, a relaunching of Playhouse Disney that would serve as the brand for the Disney Channel block and a new standalone digital cable and satellite channel in the United States, as well as the new brand for the 22 existing Playhouse Disney-branded cable channels and program blocks worldwide. The Playhouse Disney block ended its 14-year run on February 13, 2011, with the last program to air being an episode of the short series Handy Manny's School for Tools at 1:55 p.m. Eastern Time.
The Disney Junior block debuted on February 14, 2011 at 6:00 am. Eastern Time, with Little Einsteins as its first program. Several former Playhouse Disney series were carried over to the relaunched block including Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Special Agent Oso, Imagination Movers, Handy Manny, and Little Einsteins. With the relaunch of the block, the block's mascots Ooh and Aah were retired and several of its older programs were entirely discontinued however, Ooh and Aah & You was later carried on the Disney Junior cable channel.
The 24-hour cable channel debuted on March 23, 2012, mainly featuring a mix of original series and programs held over from the Playhouse Disney library which largely aired as part of the channel's overnight schedule until mid 2014. Disney Junior took over the channel space held by the Disney owned soap opera-focused channel Soapnet, largely due to that channel's existing subscriber reach being carried in 75 million households with pay television. An automated Soapnet feed remained in operation for providers that did not yet reach agreements to carry the Disney Junior channel or providers that were required to continue carrying Soapnet in addition to Disney Junior until Soapnet fully ceased operations on December 31, 2013.
- Bear in the Big Blue House (October 20, 1997 – April 28, 2006)
- PB&J Otter (March 15, 1998 – April 8, 2005)
- Rolie Polie Olie (October 4, 1998 – June 2, 2006)
- Out of the Box (October 7, 1998 – June 10, 2005)
- The Book of Pooh (January 22, 2001 – September 4, 2005)
- Stanley (September 15, 2001 – May 16, 2008)
- JoJo's Circus (September 28, 2003 – January 4, 2009)
- The Koala Brothers (October 1, 2003 – May 16, 2008)
- Higglytown Heroes (September 12, 2004 – April 4, 2009)
- Breakfast with Bear (September 2005 – September 15, 2006)
- Little Einsteins (October 9, 2005 – February 13, 2011)
- Charlie and Lola (November 7, 2005 – February 13, 2011)
- Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (May 5, 2006 – February 13, 2011)
- Handy Manny (September 18, 2006 – February 13, 2011)
- Johnny and the Sprites (January 13, 2007 – June 28, 2009)
- My Friends Tigger & Pooh (May 12, 2007 – October 9, 2010)
- Bunnytown (November 10, 2007 – February 13, 2011)
- Imagination Movers (September 6, 2008 – February 13, 2011)
- Special Agent Oso (April 4, 2009 – February 13, 2011)
- Jungle Junction (October 5, 2009 – February 13, 2011)
- Donald's Quack Attack (April 6, 1997 – October 19, 1997)
- Goof Troop (April 6, 1997 – October 19, 1997)
- Really Wild Animals (April 6, 1997 – October 19, 1997)
- TaleSpin (April 6, 1997 – October 2, 1998)
- Mickey's Mouse Tracks (April 6, 1997 – June 27, 1999)
- Chip n Dale Rescue Rangers (April 6, 1997 – August 29, 1999)
- Henry's Amazing Animals (April 6, 1997 – December 31, 1999)
- Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears (April 7, 1997 – August 29, 1997)
- DuckTales (April 7, 1997 – August 29, 1997; September 4, 1999 – April 30, 2000; September 4, 2000 – October 31, 2000)
- Adventures in Wonderland (April 7, 1997 – June 5, 1998)
- The Little Mermaid (April 7, 1997 – September 29, 2002)
- The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (April 7, 1997 – September 1, 2006)
- Katie and Orbie (June 2, 1997 – December 31, 1999)
- Madeline (June 2, 1997 – September 4, 2005)
- Jungle Cubs (September 15, 1997 – September 3, 2000)
- 101 Dalmatians: The Series (October 5, 1998 – July 16, 1999)
- Sing Me a Story with Belle (October 5, 1998 – September 3, 2000)
- Rupert (September 4, 2000 – January 21, 2001)
- The Wiggles (June 17, 2002 – June 12, 2009)
- Anatole (September 2, 2002 – June 27, 2003)
- The Doodlebops (June 17, 2005 – April 4, 2009)
- Chuggington (January 18, 2010 – February 13, 2011)
- Timmy Time (December 6, 2010 – February 13, 2011)
On September 29, 2000, Disney Television International launched the first international Playhouse Disney Channel in the United Kingdom. It broadcast for 15 hours a day, alongside Toon Disney and Disney Channel +1 on the Sky Digitalplatform. On April 4, 2009, Egmont Group launched a companion Playhouse Disney magazine in the United Kingdom that focused on the channel's four most popular shows: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, My Friends Tigger & Pooh, Handy Manny and Little Einsteins. Each issue included to do pages and suggested activities for parents and children based on an educational theme. The channel was replaced by Disney Junior on May 7, 2011.
On November 30, 2007, Astral Media launched a Canadian version of Playhouse Disney Channel under a brand licensing agreement with Disney-ABC Television Group; the channel operated as a multiplex channel of Family Channel, which had long maintained a programming distribution agreement with Disney Channel for the domestic rights to the US. channel's series until January 2016.
- Where Learning is Powered by Imagination (January 1999 – October 6, 2002)
- Imagine and Learn (October 7, 2002 – February 13, 2011)
See also Edit
- Nick Jr. – a preschool-targeted digital cable and satellite network that originated as a program block on Nickelodeon from 1988 to 2009
- Sprout – a digital cable and satellite network featuring preschool-oriented programs mainly sourced from the PBS library as well as original series; now Universal Kids
- Disney Junior – a channel that is based on Playhouse Disney and has been airing since 2011 as a television block on Disney Channel and a channel since 2012