The Disney channel has been a staple in many homes since it began. When I was growing up it was full of wholesome goodies like The Mickey Mouse Club and others. As the times have changed, so has its programming and it has only gotten better. Shows like Lizzie McGuire and That’s So Raven took over our TVs and we just couldn’t get enough.
Then it branched out and did more TV movies and we were all hooked from the first High School Musical to the very last, which was released in theatres due to its popularity. We all watched as these lovable characters filled our homes. A lot of them have stayed relevant as we must force our imaginations to imagine them as anyone other than Troy Bolton and Alex Russo (bonus points if you know who they are). We have loved every minute.
All good things come to an end, and a lot of the Disney stars we grew up with have grown up alongside us, and sometimes the comparison is shocking. When we see side-by-side photographs of what these stars used to look like versus what they look like now we can be blown away.
If you were a kid like me, you grew up with these shows. As they gave us some laughs, some tears and a whole lot of wholesome family lessons throughout the years. If you are even more like me, you don’t miss an episode if it comes up on the TV program. You tune in and watch and bask in all the nostalgia. Being nostalgic is fun, so join me on this journey down memory lane as we look at some of the favourite stars of Disney as they grew up. Which one shocked you the most?
15 Lizzie Will Always Be Our Number One!
It was 2001 when we first met Hilary Duff in her role as the loveable teen Lizzie McGuire. We watched as Lizzie struggled through what it meant to be a pre-teen and get through middle school. A middle school experience is never lived unless it includes a cute boy, an arch nemesis and two very loving and supportive friends. Since the Lizzie days we watched Hilary move on to movies and music, and she has produced some pretty great work.
She has gone from teen to woman, and this can all be seen if you follow her on any social media platform. She has been married and divorced and is now raising a boy of her own. It is hard to imagine her as a mom, because she may always be that cute Disney star to us. I wonder if people in the street call her Lizzie by mistake sometimes?
14 Demi Lovato Was A Disney Star?
Demi Lovato is such a big star it can be hard to remember that her roots fall with Disney. She was a well-loved Disney actress before she was belting out number one hits and judging music competitions. Her Disney career kicked off when she starred in the show, Sonny with a Chance and the movie Camp Rock alongside the Jonas brothers. After this, she did go on to star in a couple other Disney movies before deciding to move more into the music field, as well as a popular stint on the show Glee.
Demi has never shied away from opening up, as we all watched as she went through some very personal and hard struggles in her life. What was even more amazing is we got to watch her rise above all of that and become one of the most successful female artists today. She has sure grown into a wonderful role model for young girls all over the world.
13 From Shake It Up To The Greatest Showman!
Shake It Up was a newer show and came a little after the time of Lizzie McGuire and Camp Rock, but it took the world by storm. It was a show centered on dance, and two girls who were best friends and shared their love for moving to the music. Zendaya was one of those stars and she lit up the screen. The show ended in 2013, but Zendaya’s career was only getting started. She quickly went on to be a part of Dancing with the Stars and ended up coming in 2nd place.
From there she has recently starred in two of the biggest movies of 2017; Spiderman: Homecoming and The Greatest Showman. She was amazing in both and proves that she has the skills to act with the big kids, and not just another Disney Kid star. We expect great things from her in the future, so watch out for more from this up-and-coming star.
12 Move Over Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez Is Here!
It is hard to imagine Selena Gomez when she was anything but the break-out singing sensation that she is today, but there was a time when she was just another Disney star. Selena played Alex Russo on Wizards of Waverly Place. The show was about a family of wizards trying to fit in to the human world. She was the rebel and the one who was always the first to break the rules.
This was just the start of a blossoming career. When her show ended, Selena went and took a break from acting to focus on travel and music. Since then, she has released numerous albums with number one hits, been in an on-again off-again relationship with Justin Bieber and has continued to steal our hearts with her down-to-earth attitude and approach to life. She even recently donated a kidney to a friend; can you get any sweeter than that?
11 Who Is David Henrie?
David Henrie is not going to be a name you know when it is mentioned to you in passing, but once you figure it out you will know who he is. David Henrie co-starred with Selena Gomez in Wizards of Waverly Place and played her older brother, Justin. Justin was the smart sibling and was always trying to fix messes that his sister made. This wasn’t his first role on the Disney channel, he also appeared on That’s So Raven.
When his Disney career was over, David went on to take a short break before deciding the big screen was more his style. He has starred in multiple movies such as Little Boy, Walt Before Mickey and Warrior Road. He is also one of the few Disney stars who has gone on to settle down. David married Maria Cahill in 2017, and we can only imagine he will be a dad himself very soon.
10 What Is A List Without Zac Efron?
You didn’t think we were going to make this list and leave out Zac Efron, did you? It would be an injustice if we did that. Don’t worry, we have you covered. Zac Efron first stole our hearts when he played the role of Troy Bolton in High School Musical. Girls all over the world swooned for this young heartthrob, who had the vocal abilities of a God. When the trilogy of High School Musicals was over, Zac decided that music was not for him and that he needed to focus on acting (the world cried about that for a minute).
He has since gone on to star in some pretty funny movies, like The Neighbours, Bad Grandpa and Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates. Currently, Zac has starred in the new Baywatch as well as alongside Zendaya in The Greatest Showman. I doubt this man’s career is going to slow any time soon, but I don’t think many people are eager to see his clear blue eyes go away anytime soon.
9 Oh, Miley!
Just as we can not have a list without Zac Efron, we can not have a list without including the iconic Miley Cyrus. Miley Cyrus played Hannah Montana for years, which included a movie as well. It was an addictive show about a girl who was a normal high school student by day and a pop star by night. Of course, along with that came the struggle to live a normal life. It was a fun show and launched the birth of a superstar.
After Hannah Montana was over, Miley went on to do some pretty amazing things. She focused a lot on her music as well as movies. She had a period of time where her antics were considered a little controversial, but I think that is part of the charm she held over people. She seems to be settling into life now and is currently engaged to her on-again-off-again fiancé, Liam Hemsworth. We all hope Miley gets the best of both worlds.
8 Debby Ryan Is Moving Up!
Debby Ryan is not a household name as some of the others are, but she deserves her own spotlight. Debby was first seen on the Disney channel as part of the show, The Suite Life on Deck with the Sprouse brothers (we will get to them later). She then went on to star in her own show, Jessie, where she played an in-home nanny to some children and you can imagine the trouble they all got into. She even got to direct four episodes of the show, which made her the youngest Disney director ever. That means something!
Since moving on from the Disney channel, Debby has gone on to make several movies, all that are set to be released this year (2018). One of them is called Every Day and is based off a young adult book. Chances are you may want to watch out for these movies, because Debby is a talent we are only going to see more of as time goes on.
7 That’s So Raven!
One of my favourite Disney shows was That’s So Raven and it followed the life of a teenage psychic and her friends. The problem was that this teen often misread her premonitions and what followed was a lot of shenanigans and trouble for all involved. This young psychic was played by Raven-Symone. This was not her first acting gig, as she was on The Cosby Show when she was just four years old.
Even before That’s So Raven, she was working with Disney. She voiced a character in the popular animated show Kim Possible. Hard to believe that she had such an acting history! Since leaving the Disney channel, Raven went on to star on Broadway as well as on TV shows. That’s So Raven has officially gotten a reboot, Raven’s Home, and season 2 is set to come out this year! It follows the life of Raven grown up trying to raise her own children, with her best friend Chelsea.
6 Ashley Tisdale A.K.A Sharpay Evans
Ashley Tisdale was a part of the Disney family long before she became known as Sharpay Evans. Ashley played the role of Maddie on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, the loveable but shy hotel employee who often helped Zack and Cody out of messes they would create. Due to her success in this role, she was cast as Sharpay Evans in High School Musical. Sharpay was often seen as the villain of the movies, as she wanted to be a star and didn’t care who or what came in her way.
In 2014, Ashley put on her director’s cap and became the director of a show, Young & Hungry, which stars a fellow Disney star, Emily Osment. She also is another one of the few who has gotten married. In 2014, she married Christopher French. Sorry boys, she is taken.
5 Emily Osment Is Not A Little Girl Anymore
Emily Osment was known for a long time as the best friend of Miley Cyrus. She got her start playing Hannah Montana’s BFF, Lily. She portrayed a lot of what we would assume to be normal conflicting feelings when your best friend is a super star. When the show ended, she went on to start a singing career, as many Disney stars choose to do.
Emily then went on to star in a couple movies and TV shows. She played a part in the movie Cyberbully, which was both beautiful and haunting. I highly recommend it to anyone, though have your tissues ready. She currently stars in Young & Hungry, which is directed by fellow Disney star Ashley Tisdale. She may not be as relevant as some of the other past Disney stars, but she is sure on her way.
4 The Jonas Brothers, Yes All Of Them!
The Jonas brothers do not need much of an introduction as there is not a lot of households that do not know who the threesome are. They are made up of three brothers: Kevin, Joe and Nick. They were in the music industry for a few years before they made their debut on the Disney channel starring in the movie Camp Rock. They then went on to have their own show, Jonas, on the channel.
The band has since disbanded but the brothers have definitely not faded into the background. Kevin has settled down and is now married with two little girls. Joe Jonas went on to start his own band, DNCE. DNCE is know for their summer hit ‘Cake by the Ocean’. Nick Jonas has continued on with his music career, releasing number one hits, and has started starring in movies. His most current acting stint is on the new Jumanji remake.
3 Chelsea Kane … Who?
Chelsea Kane is another name that you may not be that familiar with. It may be because she was not always known as Chelsea Kane. She used to go by the name Chelsea Staub. She was not one of the bigger, more iconic Disney stars but she had her role. She first starred in the 2008 Disney movie Minutemen, and then went on to play a close friend of the Jonas brothers in their show, Jonas.
She may look more familiar from her role in the show Baby Daddy. From the years 2012-2017, she played the role of Riley Perrin in the popular show. You may even be reading this and finding yourself surprised that she was a Disney star at all. Sometimes, the stars we love come from surprising places, and we can not believe their roots. While she may not look so different, you can definitely tell that she has matured and grown into a different woman.
2 Dylan & Cole Grew Up Nice!
We have referred to the Sprouse brothers and their shows multiple times, so it seems only fair that they get their own section. Dylan and Cole Sprouse are staples in the Disney family. While their career started alongside Adam Sandler in Big Daddy, it wasn’t until Disney came along that they were really noticed. They got their own show, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, following the brothers as they lived in a hotel and got into all sorts of antics.
This show was so successful that they got a second show, aboard a luxurious cruise ship. Again, it followed the boys causing mayhem anywhere they went. The pair have certainly grown up a lot. When the show was over, they both went back to University to complete their degrees and then stepped back into acting. Dylan has done some roles in independent films, and Cole can be seen in the Netflix series Riverdale as Jughead Jones.
1 Bella Thorne
Bella Thorne may not be a name that you are too familiar with, but you certainly will be soon. Bella Thorne was the other main star in the show Shake It Up with Zendaya. She was the rebel, the one who was not afraid to push the envelope. While not uncommon, she is another Disney star that found her way to music and when her show wrapped up its last season, it didn’t take long for her to release her own album, and we are impressed.
She even wrote a book, which is not something that Disney stars are famous for. It is called Autumn Falls and can be found at any of your local bookstores. She has since gone on to star in movies. Blended with Drew Barrymore is just one of them. She can also be seen on the Netflix original, The Babysitter. I would safely put money on the fact that we will be seeing a lot more from Bella Thorne in the years to come.