Hearts of New Yorkers felt a bit of warmth this morning as lovebirds Mickey and Minnie Mouse took to the heart of chilly Times Square. The couple were celebrating Valentine’s Day a few days early in anticipation of the launch of the Disney Junior programming block which begins February 14 on Disney Channel and Radio Disney, with a whole new 24-hours network launching in 2012.
Radio Disney Junior, a music block designed for kids age 2-7, will debut Monday, February 14 from 12 pm – 1 pm ET (9 am – 10 am) on Radio Disney, coinciding with the launch of Disney Junior on Disney Channel and Disney.com. The national broadcast and satellite network is the No. 1 radio platform for kids and families. Its new Radio Disney Junior block will feature an expanded roster of music and artists appealing to young kids, plus fun “audio theater” with Disney Junior characters. DJ Hallie is the host of the Radio Disney Junior block, airing weekdays.
Joe D’Ambrosia has been named Vice President, Programming, Disney Junior, it was announced today by Nancy Kanter, Senior Vice President, Disney Junior Worldwide, to whom D’Ambrosia reports. D’Ambrosia joins Disney after nearly two decades of writing, producing and developing children’s television programming and family films at companies including Murray Hill 5 Productions, which he co-founded, Nickelodeon and Sony Pictures Family Entertainment.
Disney Junior, a new multiplatform destination for kids age 2-7, one that reflects the emotional connection generations of consumers have to Disney storytelling and Disney characters, both classic and contemporary, will debut Monday, February 14 (8:30 a.m., ET/PT), anchored by the new animated series “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.” Five other new series also join the Disney Junior schedule: the short form titles “Mickey Mousekersize,” “Special Agent Oso: Three Healthy Steps” (supporting Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living initiative) and “A Poem Is…” (narrated by Jennifer Garner and Katie Holmes, among other familiar voices), and full length series “Babar and the Adventures of Badou” and “Tinga Tinga Tales.” Viewers’ current favorites, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Handy Manny,” “Special Agent Oso,” “Jungle Junction” and “Imagination Movers,” will also be seen on Disney Junior.
Disney Junior’s animated and live action programming will blend Disney’s unparalleled storytelling and beloved characters with learning components, including early math and language skills, as well as healthy eating and lifestyles, with an emphasis on social and emotional development.
The announcement was made today at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena, California by Gary Marsh, president, Entertainment, and chief creative officer, Disney Channels Worldwide.
Marsh said: “Disney Junior will be an entry point into the world of Disney for young kids, creating a world – online and on-air – that captures the magic of Disney and its classic heartfelt storytelling and timeless characters beloved by generations.”
Disney Junior (currently Playhouse Disney) will be available as a programming block weekdays (4:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., ET/PT) and weekends (4:00–9:00 a.m., ET/PT) on Disney Channel in more than 99 million U.S. homes. This year it will also debut on 25 Disney Junior channels (currently Playhouse Disney channels) and free-to-air broadcast partners around the world. In 2012 Disney Junior will debut as a 24-hour basic cable and satellite channel in the U.S.
DisneyJunior.com, an engaging, learning-focused Disney destination for kids age 2-7 and their parents, accompanies the television launch. The site will feature storybooks narrated by popular Disney characters, activities that encourage creativity, over 150 full-length episodes of “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Handy Manny,” “Special Agent Oso” and “Imagination Movers,” and a wide array of 90 games featuring characters from Disney Princesses, “Toy Story” and “Cars,” among other Disney favorites. The site will also debut a “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” supersite, featuring adventure-themed games including “Jake’s Treasure Hunt,” where users help Jake and crew find hidden treasure and escape from Captain Hook, and “Izzy’s Flying Adventure,” where players use Pixie dust to help Izzy and the gang fly off to stop Captain Hook, who has stolen their treasure. A dedicated section for parent and caregivers will highlight character-inspired recipes, crafts and party planning tips and ideas, along with how-to videos.
Beginning Monday, February 7, a full-length preview of “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” will be available on Disney Channel on Demand (SVOD) and an 11-minute preview episode will be available on DisneyJunior.com, Disney Channel on Demand (Free VOD), Disney Channel mobile VOD providers and iTunes. As of the February 14 television premiere, the series will be simulcast on Disney Channel’s mobile providers Sprint TV, FloTV and MobiTV. New episodes will be available on DisneyJunior.com, Disney Channel on Demand, Disney Channel mobile VOD and simulcast providers, as well as iTunes and Xbox.
“Jake and the Never Land Pirates” is a new animated adventure series that introduces a crew of kid pirates – leader Jake and pals Izzy and Cubby – and follows their Never Land adventures as they work to outwit two infamous characters, the one and only Captain Hook and Smee, from Disney’s classic “Peter Pan.” The series, which emphasizes teamwork, features original pirate rock music performed by The Never Land Pirate Band. Many of the key creative professionals behind Disney’s #1 series for preschoolers, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” are at the helm of “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.” Rob LaDuca executive-produces, with Mark Seidenberg serving as producer/story editor, Kelly Ward as voice director and Howy Parkins directing the series. It is a production of Disney Television Animation.
“Mickey Mousekersize,” a new short-form series part of Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living initiative is hosted by Mickey Mouse and focuses on the fun of exercising, encouraging children at home to get up and move along with Mickey and pals.
“Special Agent Oso: Three Healthy Steps,” a new short-form series part of Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living features Oso and friends as they watch a live-action kid demonstrate three healthy steps to exercising and eating right. Sean Astin and Brad Garrett star as Oso and Buffo.
“A Poem Is…” is a short-form animated series showcasing poems for children set to scenes and imagery from classic Disney films including “Dumbo,” “Bambi” and “Lady and the Tramp.” Narrated by Katie Holmes and Jennifer Garner, the series is designed to cultivate fond memories of Disney classics for parents and create new ones for kids by introducing young children to the beauty of a poem.
“Babar and the Adventures of Badou” is an updated version of the classic “Babar” series and introduces King Babar’s energetic eight-year-old grandson, Badou, and friends as they explore the world of Celesteville.
“Tinga Tinga Tales” is a vibrant animated adventure series inspired by traditional African animal folktales and the art of Tanzania.
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.