MousePlanet Home Theater - Contents  Click to go back to MousePlanet main page
 Discussion Boards | Reviews | News | Trip Planning | Shop | Travel | Site Map
Home Theater & Entertainment
Google-
Look in: MousePlanet WWW

Kevin Krock, editor

DVD Review

In the fairly recent past, Disney has released a number of DVDs targeted at preschool age children, and because I have a few children that are either in or near that age range, I have a somewhat vested interest in these titles. Given how strongly preschoolers get attached to only one or two DVDs, I'm always trying to find something to broaden the range of age–appropriate viewing material that they are willing to watch. I know the younger one could watch the same Wiggles tape or DVD until the TV burns out, but I think my head would explode well before that point. Thus, it is in the best interest of familial sanity to try something a little different once in a while. So read on to find out what may be worth your time and money to keep your preschooler happy and healthy for those times you just need to put something on TV to keep them occupied.

  • Baby Einstein: Baby Monet
  • JoJo's Circus: Animal A Go–Go
  • JoJo's Circus: Take a Bow
  • Growing Up With Winnie the Pooh: Friends Forever
  • Growing Up With Winnie the Pooh: A Great Day of Discovery
  • Learning Adventures: Mickey's Reading and Math Fun (Mickey and the Beanstalk)
  • Learning Adventures: Mickey's Seeing the World (Mickey's Around the World in 80 Days)

 

Baby Einstein: Baby Monet
(2005) | Approx. 34 min. | Not Rated | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio***Video**
Goodies**Interface**
Value**

The Disc

Following in the footsteps of the previous 17 Baby Einstein videos, Baby Monet focuses on the four seasons. Featuring Claude Monet's Haystack paintings and accompanied by excerpts of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, the disc takes children on a journey through each of the four seasons with a combination of simplified classical music, puppets, toys in action, and still images. The material is right on target with pre–toddlers to pre–schoolers, and both my 1–year–old and 4–year–old enjoy watching these discs every once in a while. The 6–year–old, though, will not get near them, and if you think you have seen a hooey fit, try to put one of these on when he is around.


Promotional image © Disney.

The video, audio, and interface are all appropriate for the material and target audience, though not particularly impressive relative to most other DVDs. There are a couple of bonus items, but they only marginally contribute to the value of the disc. Overall, this disc is a decent, albeit short, addition to the Baby Einstein library, so if you are either new to the series or collecting them, then this one deserves consideration.

JoJo's Circus: Animal A Go–Go
(2005) | Approx. 50 min. | Not Rated | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio**Video**
Goodies*Interface**
Value**
JoJo's Circus: Take a Bow
(2005) | Approx. 50 min. | Not Rated | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio**Video**
Goodies*Interface**
Value**

The Discs

Straight from Playhouse Disney on the Disney Channel, JoJo's Circus has now arrived on DVD. Starring a cute, young clown and her lion Goliath, JoJo joins her circus friends and invites your young one to join her on her interactive adventures. Along the way, JoJo and the young viewers learn not only about academic skills but also social skills such as cooperation, sharing and respect. While my 1–year–old son likes to watch the shows on occasion, my first–grade son is not a big fan—but he will generally tolerate it if that is his only choice. It is a pretty solid show for pre–schoolers, but as a parent, I find I can only take it in moderated quantities.


Promotional image © Disney.

These two discs feature several of the short episodes, and they are roughly divided into themes. The Take A Bow disc takes a look at the circus and performing, and JoJo learns about following instructions, trying her best, and you do not have to win to have fun. The Animal A Go–Go disc focuses on animals, and through teamwork, everyone learns about kindness, belonging, and the importance of working together.

The DVD video and audio transfers are on par with the cable or satillite TV version, and while acceptable for the intended audience, they are not particularly outstanding. The interface is simple but well themed, and even my four–year–old can find his way around the menus. Overall, if your children are fans of the TV show, then these may make decent additions to your library. But depending on your child's viewing habits and availability of cable or satellite in your home, they may be just as happy watching the Disney Channel shows.

Growing Up With Winnie the Pooh: Friends Forever
(2005) | Approx. 63 min | Not Rated | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio**Video*
Goodies*Interface***
Value*
Growing Up With Winnie the Pooh: A Great Day of Discovery
(2005) | Approx. 70 min | Not Rated | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio**Video*
Goodies*Interface***
Value*

The Discs

So, you say you can never have enough Pooh? Well, Disney has found another way to repackage the loveable ol' bear and his old New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh television series. Essentially, a group of four episodes of the television series have been thematically grouped on each of the DVDs, and the “social skills and life lessons” demonstrated in the episodes are reinforced by some interstitial puppet–like animation of the characters. These brief interludes show The Friends Forever disc focuses on feelings and emotions, and the A Great Day of Discovery disc highlights social skills, such as consideration, responsible behavior, and imaginative play.


Promotional image © Disney.

My 4–year–old son is a big Pooh fan (much to his parent's chagrin), but he did not really like these discs. I think a lot of it had to do with the look of the animated shorts, though, and I know that is a big reason I did not like the overall look and feel of the disc. Each of the episodes looks old, grainy, poorly animated, and just plain bad. You know things are not good when you get statements like, “Dad, why is Rabbit green? He's not green. He is yellow, and that is not yellow.” Granted, if you grit through it, the stories do have some redeeming qualities. But if you do not get the child's attention, there is no hope for getting the message across. In the end, unless you or your child absolutely must have all things Pooh, I suggest looking elsewhere for DVDs to assist in teaching your children about life lessons.

Learning Adventures: Mickey's Reading and Math Fun (Mickey and the Beanstalk)
(2005) | Approx. 78 min | Not Rated | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio**Video**
Goodies*Interface***
Value**
Learning Adventures: Mickey's Seeing the World (Mickey's Around the World in 80 Days)
(2005) | Approx. 60 min | Not Rated | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio**Video***
Goodies**Interface***
Value**

The Discs

In a somewhat surprisingly interesting integration of previous Disney animation and new interactive educational exercises, Disney recently launched its Disney Learning Adventures DVD series. The concept behind the series is that they take an animated short, like the classic Mickey, Donald and Goofy short “Mickey and the Beanstalk,” and periodically stop it to introduce some sort of interactive activity using the short as a backdrop or source of material. For example, if there is a scene with animals, the scene would stop and ask the viewer to count the number of animals on the screen and select the correct number with the arrow keys. The activities are nicely integrated, and they seem to be at the right level for the 2– to 5–year–old target audience. These first two titles tackle geography, cultural awareness, language, math, spelling, reading, and story comprehension, and I am sure we will see others that cover more topics in the near future.


Promotional image © Disney.

In the Mickey's Around the World in 80 Days disc, the Jules Verne classic is spun with Mickey trying to make his way around the entire world in just 80 days to win a challenge. The core animated short appears to be from the House of Mouse TV series, as it features contemporary Mickey animation, and it makes for an interesting and humorous backdrop for the disc. Along Mickey's journey, the viewers interactively see and hear children around the world speak several languages, and the young viewers are exposed to the wide variety of living environments throughout the world. I found it interesting to watch along side my boys, and it generally kept their attention.

The aforementioned Mickey and the Beanstalk disc takes the classic Mickey short and intersperses interactive educational exercises like counting, reading simple words, analyzing spatial patters, measuring items, and ordering events. Both of my boys seemed a little less interested in this disc relative to the other one, but that probably stems from the exercises being a bit lower than their ability levels. This disc tends to present more traditional educational activities than the other disc, and both of my boys get a lot of that type of stimulation from many other sources, like home, school, PBS, and so on. In several cases on this disc, while it is an overall interesting and interactive presentation, some of the activities may be old hat to your young ones.


Promotional image © Disney.

The video and audio transfers, much like all the other discs in this review, are just fine, but nothing more than what you would get on cable or satellite. The interface is very visually dynamic and fun, and the menus are easy to navigate. There are a couple of goodies that tie into the lessons introduced in the main content, but after going through the disc once, my boys were ready to move on without going through the bonus material. The goodies are nice to have, though, and they provide some additional activities for children on repeat viewings.

Overall, this series looks promising, and the concept seems to work pretty well for preschoolers. If you are looking for a DVD that is a little different to entertain and educate your little one(s) these discs are a pretty good start.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Kevin here.


Baby Monet
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • Discovery Cards
  • Puppet Shows
  • A Look at the Seasons

Technical Specifications

  • DVD Encoding: Region 1
  • Full–Screen, 1.33:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • French and Spanish language tracks
  • Closed–captioned

JoJo: Animal A Go Go
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • Top Game
  • DVD–ROM Coloring Pages
  • Bonus Short – Higglytown Heroes

Technical Specifications

  • DVD Encoding: Region 1
  • Full–Screen, 1.33:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Closed–captioned

JoJo: Take a Bow
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • Circus Disneypedia
  • DVD–ROM Coloring Pages
  • Bonus Short – Higglytown Heroes

Technical Specifications

  • DVD Encoding: Region 1
  • Full–Screen, 1.33:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Closed–captioned

Pooh: Friends Forever
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • Set Top Game
  • Sing–Along Song

Technical Specifications

  • DVD Encoding: Region 1
  • Full–Screen, 1.33:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • French and Spanish Language Tracks
  • Closed–captioned

Pooh: Day of Discovery
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • Set Top Game
  • Sing–Along Song

Technical Specifications

  • DVD Encoding: Region 1
  • Full–Screen, 1.33:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • French and Spanish Language Tracks
  • Closed–captioned

Mickey and the Beanstalk
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • Set Top Game

Technical Specifications

  • DVD Encoding: Region 1
  • Full–Screen, 1.33:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • French Language Track
  • Closed–captioned

Around the World
DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • Set Top Game
  • Bonus Animated Short

Technical Specifications

  • DVD Encoding: Region 1
  • Full–Screen, 1.33:1
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Closed–captioned

 

ABOUT THE EDITOR

Kevin “Doc” Krock is been a long-time animation buff and home theater fan. He's been following the rise of the DVD format in the home market since its introduction, and he hopes to help you make the most of your family's home theater viewing time and video collections.

You can contact Kevin here.

KEEP US RUNNING!

Click Here to Pay Learn MoreAmazon Honor System

Go to: Top | Section Contents | MousePlanet Main Page

Copyright © MousePlanet® Inc. | Legal Information & Privacy Policy | About/Contact MousePlanet | Link to us

MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at www.disney.com. This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.