15 best Disney Channel Original Movies ranked

'High School Musical 3' Sydney Premiere
'High School Musical 3' Sydney Premiere / Mike Flokis/GettyImages
5 of 8

8. The Color of Friendship

Taking on a more dramatic tale than usual, this 2000 film is based on a true story. In 1977, an African-American family in Washington, D.C. welcomes an exchange student from Africa. To their shock, it's a white girl from Apartheid-era South Africa. Obviously, that leads to tension as the South African girl is in denial of her country's racist practices. She and the black teenager slowly learn to respect each other for an unusual friendship. The film weaves events like the death of activist Stephen Biko for a tale that doesn't come off preachy but still delivers an always-timely message of looking past appearances to judge a true person. 

7. Johnny Tsunami

It's a classic story that Disney Channel gives some fun new life. Brandon Baker is Johnny, a Hawaiian surfer who loves the ocean. So imagine his reaction when his family moves to a snowy mountain in Vermont. As much as he dislikes it, Johnny realizes his surfing skills can help in snowboarding but soon clashes with the arrogant skiers who think the mountain belongs to them. There's a good plotline of Johnny and his dad having problems in Johnny's life and a thrilling final race, but it comes together to show how the family is more important than anything. The culture clash hides a surprisingly warm-hearted tale.