Disney has been incredibly active on the App Store, with its Disney Mobile and Disney Publishing divisions releasing numerous apps that take advantage of the wealth of Disney properties. With the debut of the iPad a few years ago, Disney Publishing had a major campaign to find React Native developers and increased its focus on the device by developing interactive books. We are begining to see the fruit of their labor with the recent release of Disney Storytime, which serves as a gateway (bookshelf) for 20 new books featuring the characters of Toy Story, Cars, Monsters, Inc., Aladdin, The Lion King, 101 Dalmations, and more. Find more details and our thoughts on the app after the break!
The $1.99 app comes with three books that are already unlocked, Monsters Inc: Always Time For A Laugh, Tangled: Rapunzel’s Story, and Toy Story 3: Starry Night. The other 17 books can be unlocked through the purchase of credits, which brings us to the unique aspect of the app. Parents pre-purchase credits that their children can use to unlock the books they want to read (1 credit unlocks 1 book – 2 credits for $2.99, 5 credits for $4.99, and 17 credits [all the books] for $8.99). Not only does this give parents actual control over how much they would like to spend, but it allows the child to feel more in control of the app experience – they get to pick the story they want to read. This is a great new feature that is user-friendly for both parents and children and also provides security to parents’ wallets.
The other 17 books are:
- Beauty and the Beast: Belle and the Castle Puppy
- Toy Story: A Tight Squeeze
- Up: Watch Dug
- 101 Dalmations: Puppy Trouble
- Aladdin: Abu’s Adventure
- The Aristocats: The Coziest Carriage
- Cars: Radiator Springs Road Trip
- Cars: Rematch
- Cinderella: The Lost Mice
- The Incredibles: Supper Annoying
- The Lion King: A Day Without Pumbaa
- The Little Mermaid: Special Song
- Finding Nemo: A Friend In Need
- Sleeping Beauty: Buttercup The Brave
- WALL-E: Down To Earth
- Toy Story: Mixed Signals
- The Princess and the Frog: A Surprise Guest
The books themselves are short stories featuring adorable artwork. They can be read to you by the narrator, you can turn the narration off, or you can even record your own voice reading the books so that the kids can listen to your storytelling while following along with the artwork. They are easy to flip through and interact with, as certain objects/characters emit sounds when tapped.
Avatars for users can also be simply generated, with a photo being edited into a cartoonish figure. There are several different figures to choose from, based on the gender of the user, as well as hair style. It is difficult to get faces to fit in well with the rest of the figure, but this feature is more goofy fun than anything, so children will likely enjoy seeing their mug on the iPad screen. Tapping the avatar will bring up the bookshelf, on which all the books that have been unlocked sit.
I only took a look at the three books which were already included. They are cute short stories that are definitely aimed at children but I cannot deny that it is fun to peruse the “books” and read new stories involving some of these characters. Films like Aladdin, The Aristocats, and WALL-E are not properties as popular today as Cars and The Lion King, so it is great to see all of these characters we do not get to see often. If you have children or spend time with kids, this app is highly recommended. They will certainly enjoy reading the stories, interacting with the pages, and choosing which ones they would like to read next. If you do not have children, it is a tougher sell, but if you like seeing well-known Disney characters along with those who are not as widely seen, it is worth the purchase.
Disney Storytime is available for $1.99 as a universal app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Click here to go to the App Store.