Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bye Playhouse Disney, Hello Disney Junior!

Moms and dads, have you heard the news yet? Come 11 July, kids will get a brand new Disney channel! Playhouse Disney, now 10 years old, will be rebranded and replaced by Disney Junior, a new 24-hour channel dedicated to a wider audience of children ages 2-7 years old (previously 2-5 years old).

Copyrighted © Disney

Thanks to the invitation from the wonderful people from Disney, I got a sneak peek of Disney Junior at an event hosted for mom and dad bloggers last week and I’m really excited with the line up(and what better place to reveal what Disney is hatching than at Hatched restaurant).

Ms Nancy Kanter, General Manager of Disney Junior Worldwide and Senior Vice President, Original Programming, shares at the event that the Disney Junior brand will have a stronger focus on storytelling elements (which I think they are already so good in) while incorporating specific learning and development components like math, language skills, social skills, healthy eating habits etc., for the new age group they are targetting.

Besides the offering of well-loved staples like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Mandy and Special Agent Oso, the fare will be expanded with the introduction of new shows like Jake and the Never Land Pirates, The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That.
Image Copyrighted © Disney

Jake and the Never Land Pirates is a music-filled interactive treasure hunt that introduces a crew of kid pirates – leader Jake and friends Izzy and Cubby on their Never Land adventures as they work to outwit who else but Captain Hook and Smee, the two infamous characters from Disney’s classic ‘Peter Pan’. Watch a video clip here.

Here’s one cool fact about this show I gotta mention: the music is actually performed by a real pirate rock band, the Never Land Pirate Band! The band was originally called Captain Bogg and Salty and comprises two members Loren Hoskins and Kevin Henderickson. They appear as the animated characters Sharky (Hoskins) and Bones (Hendrickson) as part of Captain Hook’s crew, as well as in a live-action segment at the end of each episode. The band also travels around to perform and have been a hit with the kids.Watch them perform in this video and you'll understand why.
Image Copyrighted ©Disney

Another programme I really liked is a series of shorts call ‘A Poem is…” It showcases children’s poems read by celebrities and set against classic Disney animation from films like Winnie the Pooh, Bambi and Dumbo. It was really nostalgic watching the clip that Ms Kanter showed. I can’t wait to share it with Kenan – it thrills me thinking about how he is actually going to watch the same animations I used to watch when I was a kid!

Some of the other programmes that will be premiering in 2012 and beyond include Doc McStuffins, Oki’s Oasis, Sofia the First, 7D, Minnie Bow Toons and you can read the details here.

For existing subscribers of Starhub cable television, you need not pay extra fees for Disney Junior and it will still be aired on Channel 311.

At our end, we have yet to hook up to cable TV (guess we are not really big on TV), since we only intend to let Kenan start watching TV after he turns two (ok, he does get to catch a bit of the news or some other programmes we watch occasionally, but most of the time, we try to watch TV only after he has gone to bed).

But I guess it’s good to start thinking about what he will get to watch when the time comes, and the choice seems pretty clear. Educational DVDs may be a good option but I won't wanna be keeping tonnes of that at home (I've enough clutter), so the next best thing is a full-day channel dedicated to kids. Especially for the times when I'm not at home and the helper turns on the TV, I know that he is watching something age-appropriately entertaining and educational.

By the way, it was my first time at Hatched and I must say the food is good - simple yet delectable, yum!

Thanks again Disney, for the invite… and hope you will bring the Never Land Pirate Band to Singapore!


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