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August 22, 2013

Disney and Hallmark create at-home birthday party kits

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At our house, birthday-party planning for the kids begins almost as soon as the current celebration concludes. And by that, I don't mean that I am organized enough to commit a year in advance to what my children will like and want to do with their friends, but they can dream about the possibilities. We all like to look ahead, so why not?

In reality, I actually do plan several months ahead of time of the events, because I like to have time to find and collect supplies, make reservations, create items we need -- and I enjoy the process. But for parents who don't have the time or inclination to devote as much planning to a child's celebration, Hallmark has just introduced some elaborate and immersive birthday party kits with many favorite Disney, Pixar and Marvel characters.

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The Dream Party line is launching with four themes:

** Disney Princess: The Royal Event of the Year
** Disney-Pixar "Cars": The Birthday Grand Prix
** Minnie Mouse: Minnie's Bow-tique Birthday
** Spider-Man: Spider Heroes Unite

These themes offer way more than just the traditional plates, napkins and favors. Room Transformation Kits make decorating easy and come with up to 22 pieces to decorate the ceilings and walls, balloon drops, hanging centerpieces, snack caddies, doorway curtains, and wearable items for the guest of honor. Prices per item range from $3.49 to $8.49.

Every good party should keep its attendees entertained, and the Hallmark Dream Party line offers activities and games that do just that. For example, each theme has a backdrop and props that can be used for photo opportunities. Party games include a Disney-Pixar "Cars" Red Light Green Light game, Spider-Man scavenger hunt, Pin the Bow on Minnie Mouse and a Disney Princess Tiara Bingo game. Prices range from $2.99 to $7.49.

Finally, goody bags are part of the mix, too. Hallmark offers kid-friendly souvenirs to send home with the guests to ensure they remember the good times at the party. These include bottles of bubbles with wands, stickers, favor bags and 48-piece party favor packs for eight guests. Prices range from $1.89 to $9.99 for packages with multiple favors.

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"In today's world of social media, parents see all of the great birthday party ideas on Pinterest or on blogs but can feel overwhelmed trying to do it on their own," Cindy Mahoney, vice president of Hallmark Licensing, said in a press release. "Dream Party brings clever, affordable products to parents that make it easy to pull together the party with the Disney characters their kids love."

Hallmark Dream Party products will be available nationwide at Walmart stores and at select independent party specialty stores.

May 18, 2013

Disney introduces Princess-inspired quinceañera dresses and offers celebrations at theme parks

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Following the popularity of wedding dresses inspired by the Disney Princesses, a new collection of special-occasion gowns that hint at royalty has been developed for girls celebrating their 15th birthdays. The Disney Royal Ball Quinceañera Dress Collection debuted this week from Disney Consumer Products and Ashdon Inc.

Similar to a "Sweet 16," a quinceañera is a coming-of-age celebration for Latina girls. It often includes a religious ceremony and a lavish reception with family and friends. During the party, the birthday girl dances a waltz with her father and changes from flat shoes to high heels to signify the transition to womanhood.

"The Disney Royal Ball collection is designed to create a royal statement and a lifetime of memories," said Nick Yeh, CEO of Ashdon Brands, in a press release. "The gowns are fun to wear and fit wonderfully into traditionally festive environments, providing a magnificent and special way for Quince girls to realize their very own princess-inspired dreams."

The debut line features 21 gowns - two styles for each Disney Princess and a special new gown, "la Corona de la Princesa," that will be added to the line each year. Girls can pick from designs that represent the personalities of Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Mulan, Pocahontas, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Tiana. Disney's newest princess, Merida from "Brave," does not yet have her own quinceañera gown.

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Belle
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Pocahontas
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Rapunzel

The Disney Royal Ball Quinceañera Dress Collection is available at specialty and formal-wear retailers in the United States and Canada. The dresses come in a range of colors in sizes 0-20 and are priced from $530 to $999. To see all the gowns, view the photo gallery.

In 2007, Walt Disney World added quinceañera parties to its booming party-planning business. Associates at Disney's Catered Events create custom celebrations for these milestone birthdays, which can be just as over-the-top as Disney weddings with Cinderella's glass coach and footmen, a tiered cake and character appearances.

Base pricing starts with a per-person charge for the venue, plated meal with cake, and background music. These fees begin at $85 per person. Enhancing the decor, food, music or more increases the cost, of course.

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The venues for the balls so far have been Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Boardwalk Inn & Villas, Yacht & Beach Club Resort, Contemporary Resort, Coronado Springs Resort and the American Adventure Rotunda at Epcot. Guests certainly are not limited to these locations, however. Event planners work with the guests to design dessert parties, private viewings of theme-park fireworks or other special occasions. If you can dream it, Disney planners will do their best to make it happen.

Guests can begin planning a quinceañera at Disneyland by calling 714-520-7072 or at Walt Disney World Resort by calling 321-939-4648.

Through June 7, QuinceañerasMagazine.com is hosting La Corona De La Princesa sweepstakes, offering one reader the chance to win the Disney Royal Ball Quinceañera gown of their choice, a VIP weekend trip for two to Southern California, a $1,000 cash prize and more. The top 10 finalists will receive a Disney Royal Ball Quinceañera gown of their choice and a subscription to Quinceañeras Magazine. For contest details visit quinceanerasmagazine.com/articles/la-corona-de-la-princesa.

April 27, 2013

Disney's National Princess Week is more than merchandising

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Just because today is the last day of National Princess Week doesn't mean your young daughters can't continue to revel in the royal way of life.

First, a little background. National Princess Week began last year as a partnership between The Walt Disney Co. and Target. The goal was to create a week when little girls across the country could "celebrate the sparkle and wonder of every princess -- real, aspiring or imagined." Academy Award-winning actress, singer and best-selling children's book author Julie Andrews is the face of the campaign. She starred with Anne Hathaway in two "The Princess Diaries" movies, and has co-authored with her daughter the popular "The Very Fairy Princess" series.

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Of course, it's clear that this is a marketing campaign -- complete with new merchandise and special pricing on current Disney Princess items at Target. But that doesn't mean that families can't take the opportunity to celebrate royally with activities that don't necessarily involve a shopping trip and may even reinforce some positive messages for little girls. Andrews offers 30 ways to celebrate on her website. Here are some of my favorites, adapted to how my family would approach the ideas.

Ever since 1937's "Snow White," Disney, like no other media company, has understood little girls' fascination with princesses. Its later film adaptations of Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel and many other princesses would become cinematic and culturally iconic -- though routinely criticized in light of modern ideas regarding gender equality and empowerment.

But two of Disney's newest animated films star princesses who are strong, brave and think for themselves -- Rapunzel from "Tangled" and Merida from "Brave." These ladies do not wait for a prince to bring them happiness or to solve their problems and they learn from their mistakes and grow stronger because of them. Little girls who love the princesses might be thrilled with a family movie night, in which they are invited to dress as Rapunzel or Merida and watch one of these animated features again. And, who knows? The plots in both films might even provide a discussion opportunity between girls and their parents as they explore some of the themes of self-empowerment and the consequences of making the right choices.

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Another positive way to honor the spirit of the week is to volunteer. After all, real princesses perform charity work as one of their main duties. Find a local organization that supports a cause your family believes in and get your daughter involved. Even if it's just for one day, you have sent a powerful message to a young girl and helped your community in the process.

Of course, princesses are patrons of the arts, too, so it might be fun for your little girl to visit a museum or gallery in your hometown that you have yet to explore. You also could check out a play or musical geared toward kids. Let your child wear her favorite princess dress for the outing and see what you can learn together. Or, see if several little girls want to put on their own production of a princess story. Let them create the story line that achieves the happy-ever-after ending.

Living a life of royalty isn't all seriousness and high concepts, though. So don't forget the tiara! A tiara can be worn with any outfit and instantly makes a girl feel special. Recently, I spotted doll-size tiaras at Target in the birthday aisle. My 8-year-old daughter was so excited after seeing something similar recently at an American Girl store.

Finally, if you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World, here are 10 great ways to have fun with the Disney Princesses.


February 9, 2013

Sneak peek: Disney toys to debut at American International Toy Festival 2013

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Want a sneak peak at what you may be buying for kids' birthdays and holidays later this year, Disney fans? The American International Toy Fair 2013 begins Sunday in New York City, and plenty of Disney toys will be displayed before making it to store shelves soon.

Perhaps the most extensive Disney toy collection at the show is from the upcoming animated movie, "Monsters University," which is a prequel to the popular 2001 Pixar feature "Monsters, Inc." "Monsters University," from Disney-Pixar, tells how Sulley and Mike met at University of Fear before they became friends.

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Sulley Monster Mask

Disney Consumer Products has created action figures, vehicles, play sets, plush figures, preschool and remote control items to help kids re-create key moments from the film. For example, Scare Off Sulley from Spin Master is a plush animal that uses animatronics and sound-and-light detection technology to change play modes and sense the environment. The Sulley Monster Mask from Spin Master is powered by children during play, reflecting their movements with its movable mouth and eyebrows.

"Monsters University" will be in theaters in June.

Another robust line of toys tied to an upcoming animated film is that from DisneyToon Studios' "Planes," which is due out in August. "Planes" is a comedy packed with action and adventure starring a crop-duster named Dusty, a small-town dreamer who longs to enter the most epic around-the-world air race despite his fear of heights.

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Disney Planes Pilot Pals Dusty Crophopper Remote Control Plane

Disney Consumer Products has said this merchandise will be much like the kind in the "Cars" franchise. It will introduce die-cast vehicles, play sets and the Planes Tilt and Fly and Planes Air Race Trackset from Mattel. "Planes" fans also can take to the skies with the deluxe Dusty Plane from Thinkway, complete with an infrared remote-control feature that allows kids to program action sequences.

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Glinda's Signature Tiara and Light Up Wand

Toys based on the much-anticipated "Oz The Great and Powerful" have been designed with the fantasy and colorful characters of the film in mind. The new product line features role play items, such as Glinda and Wicked Witch costumes for adults; Glinda and China Girl costumes for girls; fashion accessories, such as Glinda's Tiara and light-up wand; designer fashions and shoes; and Oz collectible dolls. "Oz" has a March release date.

"The Lone Ranger" has inspired six new LEGO sets that will be for sale in April. The building sets will include iconic characters, such as John Reid (aka The Lone Ranger), Tonto and the Lone Ranger's white stallion, Silver.

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Sofia the First Talking Magical Amulet

Moving from the big screen to the small one, Disney Channel will debut toys from its well-received children's programming block, Disney Junior. New toys will feature characters from "Jake and the Never Land Pirates," "Minnie Mouse Bow-toons" and "Sofia the First." Be on the lookout for Minnie's Pet Salon and Cheerin' Minnie from Fisher-Price; pirate LEGO play sets; and dress-up costumes, including Sofia's magical amulet, from JAKKS Pacific.

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Tink's Tikki Treat Stand

Popular brands Disney Princess and Disney Fairies will have new offerings, as well. Tinker Bell and her friends go on a tropical vacation in Palm Tree Cove this spring. JAKKS Pacific has created a new 4.5" doll line and play sets, featuring pool and beach accessories, Rosetta's Beach Buggy, Tink's Tikki Treats Stand and Tink's Pixie Paradise Pool.

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Disney Princess Ultimate Dream Castle

In June, Mattel will unveil the Disney Princess Ultimate Dream Castle with a bedroom for Rapunzel and a spiraling hair "elevator." It also features fairy tale-themed rooms for Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, and Snow White that come to life with the Disney Magic Mirror App. When girls scan labels on the castle with an iOS device, they unlock and trigger activities in each princess' room and around the outside of the castle. Last month, it was revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that such technology will play a large role in the next generation of Disney-branded toys.

Finally, expect a new line of Ariel-themed merchandise in the fall when "The Little Mermaid" Diamond Edition is released on Blu-ray DVD.

January 10, 2013

Creativity, technology bring new Disney toys to life in 2013

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Playtime can be serious business for The Walt Disney Co.

The news coming out of Disney World this week about MyMagic+ and the coordinating MagicBand has many Disney fans excited about the application of radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology in the parks that will allow them to customize their vacations.

But that isn't the only high-technology news involving the Disney brand. This week, it was revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that image-recognition technology will make the next generation of Disney-branded toys even more interactive for youngsters.

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The toys, marketed under the DreamPlay umbrella, will be equipped with the technology to recognize images, 3D objects, voice, speech, data and live video and with the capability to differentiate between millions of objects instantaneously. That means the physical toy can be tied into character-based content, such as games and animation, on smart phones and tablet devices. The content will be accessed through apps, rather than QR codes.

The technology was developed by NantWorks LLC: "The patented 2D and 3D recognition technologies instantly recognize the toy and allow children to interact, play and learn in ways that were not possible before. It is a seamless convergence of technology, storytelling and traditional toy play delivered through a single experience."

Partner JAKKS Pacific, Inc., which designs and markets toys, says the DreamPlay toys will hit shelves in the United States as soon as this fall and reach international markets in 2014.

"Today's announcement is an exciting first step toward our vision of re-imagining conventional toys as new forms of play and digital entertainment that will enrich and enhance how the consumer interacts with Disney products," said Bob Chapek, president of Disney Consumer Products.

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Disney Consumer Products already has some merchandise for children available that uses technology innovatively. The video below demonstrates Band-Aids that sing a "feel better" song using an iPad, a radio-control Spider-Man toy that actually crawls up walls, a Tinker Bell doll whose wings change colors based on color recognition, and the Disney Creativity Studio, which was available for iPads for the holiday season.

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In addition, DIsney Consumer Products is introducing new items from its domestic and clothing lines that are just as creative, though innovative technology does not play a part in their appeal. For little girls, there is a Cinderella costume that cleverly detaches from a sheet set, allowing for role play. My daughter definitely will be looking for the "sister hoodies," which feature a fairy wing design on the back and zip apart into two separate pieces so girls can share with their BFFs. For young boys, a Cars-themed table has secret racetracks and built-in storage for toy cars.


Also this week, Disney Stores launched a new line of merchandise based on the new DIsney Junior show "Sophia the First," which debuts on Jan. 11. Customers can find a costume and accessories, a picture book, plush doll, T-shirts and pajamas. A record 8.2 million viewers tuned in to see the movie premiere, "Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess," in November.

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Whether through technological innovation or the simple power of creative play, these toys are just one more way in which Disney appeals to kids.

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About Disney Consumer Products

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Disney Consumer Products category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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