BySydney Baum Haines/April 2, 2022 1:08 pm EST
Full of hijinks and excitement, "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" had a simple premise: What if 12-year-old twins Zack (Dylan Sprouse) and Cody (Cole Sprouse) had free reign of the luxury hotel they lived in? And thus the Sprouse Twins enchanted kids with their seemingly awesome life during the golden age of the Disney Channel.
Joined by rich hotel heiress London Tipton (Brenda Song), candy girl Maddie Fitzpatrick (a pre-"High School Musical" Ashley Tisdale), uptight — aka perfectly reasonable — hotel manager Mr. Moseby (Phill Lewis), and their lounge singer mother Carey (Kim Rhodes), the twins stuck their fingers in every interesting thing that came through the Tipton Hotel's revolving doors. Altogether, it made for a great comedy that fans still remember fondly.
Nowadays, "Suite Life" fans are all grown up, but they can relive their childhood watching all three seasons of the series on Disney+. Of course, with age comes new perspective, so here are a few things about "Suite Life" that probably flew under the radar when you were a kid.
London Tipton is the Disney Channel version of Paris Hilton
From her city name to the very tip of her father's hotel business, London Tipton (Brenda Song) is meant to be a play on Paris Hilton, the real life heiress to the Hilton Hotels. As a teenager, Paris and her family lived in a luxury hotel in Manhattan, similar to how London is an ever present fixture of the Tipton in Boston. In the years just before the first episode of "Suite Life" aired, Hilton was the socialite plastered across every magazine and starred in her own reality show "The Simple Life."
Originally, Ashley Tisdale came in to play London — she's got the blonde hair to match Paris — and Song came in for Maddie, but the "Suite Life" team asked them to swap parts (via W Magazine). It was a good choice: In their on-screen roles, the two defy the dumb blonde and bookish Asian stereotypes. Song actually read Hilton's biography to prepare for the part, but also took inspiration from "Will and Grace" star Megan Mullally, whose character is the spoiled socialite Karen (via Seventeen). Of course, since "Suite Life" is a Disney Channel show, London never gets into the kind of things that made Paris really famous.
The Tipton doesn't offer much in the way of luxury
One of the main sets of "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" is the Tipton's lobby — that's where the boys bring chaos into the hotel and come up against the strict Mr. Moseby. To a kid, it probably looks like a perfectly normal hotel lobby, but with an adult's eyes, it seems awfully small for a supposedly luxurious hotel. Plus, in the first episode, the twins go up to the rooftop pool and find a truly meager offering. With just two inches of water, the pool or jacuzzi or whatever this thing is, is a far cry from what a real hotel's pool would look like.
Not to mention, it's hard to imagine a high end hotel tolerating the constant shenanigans from Zack, Cody, and even their own erratic engineer-slash-plumber Arwin (Brian Stepanek). Generally, the Tipton employees we see are very unprofessional, which makes them fun for a TV show, but inconsistent with what the Tipton is supposed to be. Of course London gets let off the hook, but why are the others allowed to disrupt the hotel? Let's be real, Zack, Cody, and Carey should have been kicked out long ago.
The twins' mom has a sex dream about George Clooney
As a Disney Channel show, "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" never goes too far into raunchy territory, but there are jokes that toe the line and probably go over kids' heads. Take the Season 2 episode, "Free Tippy," for example: The twins try to save the Tipton's retired horse, Tippy, from working to death for a lumber company. Naturally, they bring Tippy into their suite, where he noses at Carey in her sleep. Before she wakes up, she giggles and talks in her sleep, mentioning "Mr. Clooney." Any adult watching will realize she's having a sex dream about George Clooney before she's rudely awoken.
Now that we think about it, between keeping Zack and Cody from destroying the hotel and her full time job as a lounge singer, Carey has little time for her post-divorce life. On top of that, she has very little privacy in their suite, considering she sleeps on the pull out couch. Occasionally she goes on dates, but she doesn't have much of a chance to really get out there or bring anyone home. Of course, that all changes once the boys leave home for their spinoff show "Suite Life on Deck." Maybe Carey had a chance to meet Mr. Clooney during those years.
Cole Sprouse played Ross Geller's son on Friends
While "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" may have been capturing the rapt attention of kids in 2005, just a few years earlier, "Friends" was doing the same for adults. However, unless nineties children were watching Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Ross (David Schwimmer) will-they-won't-they all the way through ten seasons, they likely didn't notice one of the sitcom's actors has a starring role on "Suite Life."
Cole Sprouse — aka Cody — actually played Ross Geller's son, Ben, in seven episodes of "Friends." He wasn't the only actor to play the character, but took on the role from 2000 to 2002, making him the eldest incarnation of Ben. At the time, it was the first role that he didn't share with his brother, Dylan. Until they got on "Suite Life" in 2005, they usually played the same character to make do with limits on how long a child actor could be on set. For "Friends," however, the part had little enough screen time that the studio didn't need to hire both of them, which goes to show howpresentof a father Ross really was(via GQ). Ironically, a different pair of twins, Charles Thomas Allen and John Christopher Allen, played a younger version of Ben from 1996 to 1999.
So now any early 2000s kids watching "Friends" for the first time might be surprised to see Cody riding a bike and learning about Hanukkah with Ross "We Were on a Break" Geller.
A Seinfeld star is the Tipton's maid
Speaking of "Suite Life" actors that were in adult sitcoms, "Seinfeld" fans would recognize the Tipton's maid Muriel anywhere — she's Estelle Harris, who plays George Costanza's (Jason Alexander) nagging mother, Estelle, whom he sometimes lives with. Her first appearance is unforgettable: In the Season 4 episode "The Contest," George inadvertently puts her in the hospital when she catches him masturbating. From then on, she's a recurring guest, appearing in 27 episodes through Season 9, often loudly bickering with George's dad, Frank.
Harris' voice is unmistakable and she brings all the same comedic gusto to "Suite Life" as she became known for on "Seinfeld." Around the Tipton, Muriel is known for driving fast, sleeping on the job, and hooking up with ex-felons. She's a treat whenever she shows up, even if she doesn't take babysitting the twins very seriously. And when the other characters make a giant mess, she's quick to say, "I'm not cleaning that up." Honestly, who can blame her? Any adult watching will sympathize.