Young Readers & Social Networking: Disney.com “Fairies” Relauch
Personalization was another big focus. By breaking down its audience, Disney felt it could better address the issue of being cool enough for all ages of would-be MySpacers as well as easier to navigate for parents. Mr. Yanover’s team organized the home page by subject for adults and by character for kids. They also created six categories covering preschool; boys; girls; older kids and teens; families; and older Disney fans.Clicking on the girls category, for instance, brings up a page populated with Disney Channel’s “Kim Possible,” “The Cheetah Girls” and “Hannah Montana” as well as images of Tinkerbell and a design-your-own fairy game.
Disney’s Fairies started as a book series (beginning with ‘Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg’) helmed by Gail Carson Levine, following the everyday life of Tinker Bell from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. It’s a fun book series for Tink-lovers and basically anyone into fairies. There will always be the people frustrated by the manipulations of Tinker Bell & Disney, but alas, I’m not going to jump into that hornets nest. I rather just take them as the fun series they are. Not to mention I’m a HUGE fan of Gail Carson Levine (one of my writing heroes. Perhaps we’ll meet once a certain book series I’m working on sees the light of day)
Anyway– as the initial Disney’s Fairies website was you could go check out Tink & her new Pixie Hallow friends, which worked more like a electro-book, clicking on arrows as you would turning a page. It had some minor games, and some print outs– standard preschool/young El Ed website tools. Cute, colorful, basic. You could have traded it for Strawberry Shortcake’s site, which still retains that basic, so-so style (sorry S’berry, but once you & your budz changed your outfits to “modern” stylz, you jumped the shark and all 80’s loyalties flew out the window).
But then came THE RELAUNCH. Disney went all “2.0” with themselves. Well… as 2.0 as a company that eats, breaths, and sleep’s itself can possibly go (p.s. Did I mention that we’re a Disney family that drove every year for 17 years during Xmas from Chicago to Florida? Yeah… We love our Disney). For the most part I explored the site and thought: eh, cool, sure, whatever. The update/relaunch was needed (that site became more complex than the Magic Kingdom’s map). Most of it was FAR TOO FLASH HEAVY (Check out “Meet the Robinsons” if you’re doubting me).
Tink’s updated website was AWESOME. The whole concept of SAFE, PRE-ARRANGED Social Networking for the youngin’s?! I mean, 5, 6, 7 year olds could navigate this like their own mini myspace!!!
I’ve been plagued with the concept of preschool online communities. What the hell would that look like? How smart is that? Is it possible? Or, do we have to go the parent-forum route that nickjr.com takes? I nearly wet my pants when I saw the approach Disney took with their Fairy property.
Okay. So you can make your OWN fairy. You choose a “type” (Water, Animal, Floral, Sky). You choose from like 20 head shapes/hair styles/eyes/smiles/noses/, hair colors galore, body sizes, outfits, outfit colors, etc. Sounds like a typical avatar thing, right? Everyone from cyworld to Foster’s Big Fat Awesome House Party is doing that these days. But Disney, with Uncle Scroog’s Large Banks of Gold Coins, can afford to take it one step easier. It’s so fluid, and individual. It is SOOO easy to make something that no one else has made yet. And the attention to detail? You can change the position of your fairy’s head, and when you do it, the hair swishes along, only to fall in its most nature place. AHHHH! It’s like a little girls dream come true. You position their joints, everything.
Should I wipe the happy drool from my face?
Okay, so here’s the social networking part. Once you’ve made your fairy and you’ve designed your house (which we’ve seen in so many situations before), you house becomes your MYSPACE-ESQUE page. Yep. You’re assigned a particular & individual address in Pixie Hollow, complete with neighbors made by other kids. Go ahead and one of the twenty-thirty pre-written messages. The cookies in your computer will do the magic, attaching your fairy’s name to your message. You can choose one of 20-some quizzes for surfing neighbors to play, same with poles.
Disney really thought of EVERYTHING. Not just everything– but so many options, that every page is different. Little girls can get the same effect of social networking– like online communties with safe training wheels.
If you have any interest in the pattern & future of social networking for various ages, I truly suggest you check out Disney’s Fairies website, make your own fairy, and put your fairy page together. It’s glorious.
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