In February 2011, Disney Channel will debut Disney Junior, a new multiplatform brand devoted to children ages 2-7 and their families, it was announced today by Carolina Lightcap, president, Disney Channels Worldwide. Disney Junior will invite parents and grandparents to join their children in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters, both classic and new, while incorporating specific learning and developmental themes. Disney Junior will launch content across the daily television block on Disney Channel, an integrated website, VOD, mobile and paid download platforms.
The official Walt Disney World Resort website began reporting yesterday that the ‘Playhouse Disney – Live On Stage!’ show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be closing for refurbishment on January 30 and scheduled to re-open on March 6. Although there is speculation that the refurbishment may be to change the limited references to those of ‘Disney Junior’ (which is likely), it’s also almost the exact same time period the attraction closed last time to debut as its current incarnation in 2008 which means that there could be some show changes in the works as well. If that were to be happening, it’s most likely to remove the canceled ‘My Friends Tigger and Pooh’ and inject some more current and relevant content such as ‘Special Agent Oso’ (who would actually fit in quite perfectly with the current show) or even ‘Timmy Time’ if licensing allows. On a side note, the last change ‘replaced’ human Jamie with Casey and as of yet, no public casting notices have been published to that effect (still plenty of ambiguous names to go!).
This coming holiday, parents and their preschoolers will discover a whole new way to watch and play their favorite Disney preschool DVDs, with the all-new ‘Mickey Mote.’ This one-of-a-kind kid’s remote control from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment will debut November 16th packaged with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey’s Number Roundup and Handy Manny: Big Construction Job. The new ‘Mickey Mote’ is a child-friendly handheld remote control, shaped like Mickey ears, that will take children’s viewing experience to a whole new level by providing an engaging interaction with their favorite Disney characters. With multiple levels of play, the new Mickey Mote is designed to provide hours of fun, engaging and challenging adventures for kids age 2-5.
Variety is reporting that Disney Channel will begin touting its Playhouse Disney to Disney Junior transition Monday, October 11 during the ‘Handy Manny: Big Construction Job’ prime-time special. The ad will feature one of several different variations of the previously introduced Disney Junior logo, this one being the individual letters in ‘Junior’ stylized after the ‘sensational six’ characters featured in ‘Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.’
According to Disney Channels Worldwide senior marketing and creative VP Richard Loomis, “Each one has sort of a fun, play-along factor. Some of the letters of ‘Junior’ are very obvious in terms of which characters they express, and some are a little bit more subtle. It’s simple, but it does have another layer.”
Do not get excited. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. This tiny milestone offers virtually nothing in terms of what we can expect from Disney Junior when it replaces the Playhouse Disney moniker on an unspecified date in 2011 other than a junior-sized video promo which is already in rotation on Disney Channel.
Variety is reporting that Disney Channel will be adding ‘Timmy Time’ from Aardman Studios beginning September 13 with a sneak preview on September 7. Already known to viewers of ‘Shaun the Sheep,’ Timmy, the baby lamb, is the star of the new Playhouse Disney/Disney Junior show which relies on gestures and animal noises to teach its pre-school level lessons.
‘Preschoolers can easily identify with Timmy as he learns universal lessons about himself, his friends and the world around him,’ according to Jackie Cockle, the creator, producer and supervising director for the series.
Disney has ordered a fourth season of its #1 series for preschoolers, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.” Consisting of 13 new episodes and nine extended specials, Season Four will premiere on the recently announced Disney Junior, a new television and online brand and, ultimately, a re-branded 24-hour basic cable/satellite channel devoted to preschool-age children around the world.
Disney Junior, which will be a rebranding of Playhouse Disney on the Disney Channel in 2011 as well as a new channel replacing SOAPnet (in 2012), has announced its first original series, ‘Doc McStuffins’ according to Variety.
The health-focused series revolves around a 6 year old who actively communicates with and tends to ‘stuffed animals and toys.’ It was created by Christine Nee, whose resume reads like a who’s who of children’s television writing, particularly with popular Nick Jr. shows. ‘Rugrats’ director Norton Virgien is set to direct.
Rita Ferro, an executive with a strong track record in advertising sales and promotions, has been promoted to Executive Vice President, Disney Media Sales and Marketing, effective June 28. Ms. Ferro will relocate to New York from Miami, where she’s been an integral part of Disney and ESPN’s Latin America business since 1997. She succeeds Tricia Wilber who was recently named Chief Marketing Officer, The Walt Disney Company, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
In her new role, Ferro will lead the integrated sales team that represents and maximizes advertising sales, marketing and promotions across The Walt Disney Company’s media platforms serving kids, moms and families, including its kid-driven, family inclusive TV channels, its wide-range of online offerings, its mom-focused publishing business, and its kid- and mom-focused radio platform. The portfolio, consists of Disney Channel, Disney XD, Playhouse Disney (soon to re-brand to Disney Junior), plus over 20 Disney Online properties serving kids, families and/or women including Disney.com, DisneyFamily.com, DisneyChannel.com, RadioDisney.com, Kaboose.com and FamilyFun.com, among others.
Ferro will report to three business unit leaders – Carolina Lightcap, president, Disney Channels Worldwide; Paul Yanover, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Disney Online, and Russell Hampton, president, Disney Publishing Worldwide.
Ms. Lightcap said, “Rita has a great reputation in the advertising community and a strong background in generating strategic opportunities for diverse clients in a dynamic multichannel, multi-brand business.” She continued, “I am excited to be working closely with her again, and know our integrated ad sales team stands to benefit enormously from her keen insights, strong relationships and leadership skills.”
Disney/ABC Television Group will launch Disney Junior, a new multiplatform brand and 24-hour basic cable/satellite channel and online site devoted to preschool-age children. Scheduled to debut in the U.S. in 2012, Disney Junior will invite mom and dad to join their child in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters, both classic and new, while incorporating specific learning and development themes designed for kids age 2-7.
The new Disney Junior brand will also provide affiliate partners with a robust Video-On-Demand offering, a High-definition network and a Spanish language SAP feed.