Disney Channel is bringing back their reality show Bug Juice!
If you’re not excited about the sentence above, or if you have no idea what Bug Juice is, let’s take a quick walk down memory lane.
Did you know Disney Channel was a player in the reality TV game long before seemingly every network adopted the formula? Bug Juice, a show Disney Channel first aired in 1998, featured the kids and staff at summer camp and all of the fun, drama and experiences that go with a multi-week camp.
The show was a success, resulting in three total seasons filmed at three different summer camps across three summers. The first season was at Camp Waziyatah in Waterford, Maine, the second season was at Camp Highlander in Horse Shoe, North Carolina and the third and final season was filmed at Brush Ranch Camp in Tererro, New Mexico.
Unfortunately, Disney Channel closed up shop on Bug Juice after three seasons in 2001. It’s likely that the insane production schedule (the first season reportedly had three separate crews film for 56 days) played a role in Disney Channel moving away from unscripted television. However, despite its short life, the show lived on through summer reruns which have popped up over the years as well as a passionate online following.
Many of the episodes can still be found on YouTube in all of their non-HD glory. Instead of binging Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later on Netflix this weekend, you can watch the clean, real-life version of summer camp life instead. Below is the first episode from the first season, complete with the unforgettable, super cheesy theme song.
“Bug Juice, it doesn’t come in a jar…”
Now, Disney Channel is returning to where it all started — Camp Waziyahtah — for a new season which is finishing up filming now and is set to air in 2018.
Here’s the statement from Disney Channel, as posted by Cosmopolitan:
“‘Bug Juice’ took viewers on a journey of adventure and self-discovery. Now, nearly two decades later, we are thrilled to be back in Maine at Camp Waziyatah with the creative team from Evolution Media and many of the same crew members who produced the original series,” said Susette Hsiung, Executive Vice President, Production, Disney Channels Worldwide.
‘Bug Juice’ is produced by Evolution Media, which also created and produced the original version of series and has been at the helm of other popular unscripted kids content for Disney Channel, including Movie Surfers, Totally in Tune and Totally Hoops. It is executive-produced by Douglas Ross, Alex Baskin, Tina Gazzero Clapp and Toni Gallagher. Ross, Clapp and Gallagher were all involved in the production of the original series, which premiered on February 28, 1998 and ran for three seasons.
In summary, Disney Channel has the original group who created the first round of Bug Juice and the original camp which starred in the first season back for the show’s revival. But will Bug Juice be able to find its original charm?
Bug Juice was a great show for teens and pre-teens growing up in the late ’90s and early-2000s. Disney Channel created a unique offering which brought summer camp to countless people who may have never been able to experience it outside of watching it on TV. It was a heartfelt show which taught life lessons through real experiences. That’s a pretty drastic departure from Disney Channel’s current heavy-handed formula.
A lot has changed since Bug Juice went off the air. The old episodes from Camp Waziyahtah are a time warp. CD players and headphones were the extent of the technology and even those weren’t seen too often. Boys and girls were forced to leave their comfort zone and make new friends without their iPhones to fall back on. No one was obsessed with technology or social media, which allowed for a pure look into the world of summer camp. The kids were relatable, authentic and made just about every viewer wish they were at camp.
Will Bug Juice in the modern era be able to get past all of these social changes? Will the kids try too hard to make a name for themselves in front of the camera, ruining the old essence of the show?
This new version of Bug Juice will hopefully capture what made the original three seasons (particularly the first) so memorable: new friendships and experiences at summer camp.