Disney’s new special that served as a kick-off to the 1-year Ultimate Princess Celebration is here. It reminded me of Disney’s annual-ish holiday music specials where Disney Channel stars sing songs loosely connected by a frame story featuring a host that tries to explain why there are songs. The Hall of Villains special from 2019 with Meg Donnelly comes to mind. In this instance the host is newcomer Txunamy Ortiz. I was not familiar with her prior to this but my first reaction was: get this girl a show, she’s got “it.” My second reaction after Googling her: “Oh, no, she’s one of those YouTube prank channel kids?” In spite of that, she fits right in on Disney Channel and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this was a “tryout” for a bigger role in the company.
Besides the format, it shares other similarities with those Disney Channel holiday specials – being short and not leaving a lasting impression. I appreciate what they were doing but it would have been better if it ran 1 hour instead of 22 minutes. Give it more time to sink in and allow more Disney Channel stars to feature. The cast was pretty small.
It was great to see Ruth Righi (Sydney to the Max) – girl can SANG. Also gotta give them props for letting Sophia Hammons shine a bit before the world meets her in the DCOM Under Wraps on October 1st. Disney’s incredible new scripted series, Secrets of Sulphur Spring, hit the big time when Izabela Rose got to sing. She’s officially “part of the family” now. Another half hour would have made time for Navia Robinson, Disney’s on-the-outs, under-appreciated star of Raven’s Home who can also belt with the best of them. Where’s her movie and series?
The High School Musical The Musical The Series cast members – Julia Lester, Dara Reneé, and Frankie Rodriguez felt out of place without other Disney+ stars there. Where were the kids from Mighty Ducks: Game Changers? Darcy Rose Byrnes from Big Shot? Sometimes it feels like Disney wishes they’d made HSMTMTS a Disney Channel show… Considering how they steal all the films / series they produce that were intended for Disney+ and air them on Disney Channel instead it’s not surprising.
Beyond the length, it wasn’t bad. The remixes were unoffensive. They didn’t stick to the overplayed usuals. They only sang 4 songs and then Brandy closed it out with her killer new song, “Starting Now,” aka the anthem written for Disney’s Ultimate Princess Celebration.
It would be nice in the future if Disney would include more stars, make it go a bit longer, and do more with the frame story.
Drew Ryan is a film, TV, and Disney geek. He has degrees in English, Student Personnel Administration, and Library & Information Science from Lawrence University, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Interested in the minutia and licensing of streaming service content, he is always publishing lists, suggestions, and advocating for Disney’s missing library to be added to Disney+. Drew subscribes to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+. You can find him waxing nostalgic over classic Disney Channel or geeking out over Marvel, CW shows, & Disney on Twitter.