There’s no denying it. We are massive Disney fans. Whether it’s princess parties or imaginative play. The girls can’t get enough, and if I’m totally honest, neither can we. What’s not to love about a brand that has been around longer than most of us? I remember growing up with Disney. In fact, after my parent’s divorce I had one particular Minnie Mouse dress that I always wore. Nothing fancy – It had a red and white polka dot skirt with puffy sleeves and Minnie Mouse printed on the front. It was my favourite and getting me to take it off was almost impossible.
Fantasia will forever be a classic and every Disney theme song a hit. I never get tired of Lady and the Tramp or 101 Dalmatians and still cry when Mufasa dies. Princess Belle was my favourite princess growing up, closely followed by Jasmin but with new princesses like Merida and Rapunzel coming to light, the list keeps growing. Mr. Perfect knows me well and even surprised me with a trip to Disneyland, Paris for my 30th birthday. It was magical and I dream of going back.
Disney just keeps getting better and better…
Getting to share in the joy and excitement of Disney with our girls is something we treasure but it’s not limited to blockbuster movies and our extensive DVD collection. In 2012 – a month after Eliana was born (some may say coincidence, I say fate) the Disney Junior Channel launched, introducing new friends to kids ages 8 years and under. With our girls we got to know Doc McStuffins, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Princess Sofia, Goldie and Bear, PJ Masks and more.
The power of Disney lies in their incredible story telling. The shows they create don’t just entertain but encourages children to learn and encage through the sing-a-longs and “guess what’s next” scenarios, joining in the speech and action rather than simply sitting back and watching.
With fantasy and wish fulfilment central to every story, kids feel inspired to continue having fun beyond the end of an episode. Extending it’s magic into their own creative play through dance, song, art, dressing up and games of make believe.
Keeping episodes short (two, 11 – 15 minute stories) assists in practicing mindful screen time. Something we value very much.
- The girls may watch 1 episode of their favourite show daily.
- Friday movie night is a longstanding tradition and we all takes turns choosing the “weekly feature”.
- On Saturday mornings we cheat and take things as they come. If it’s cold we might indulge in an hour or two of binge watching but if the sun is shinning the girls will most likely be dressing up, imagining worlds of possibilities.
Our current favourite Disney Junior shows are:
Sofia the First
In it’s 5th season already I’m sure most little girls (and boys) know Princess Sofia of Enchancia – An adventurous little girl learning to adjust to royal life after her mom marries the king. She is settling into her new family life, getting to know her new stepdad and siblings. This once “ordinary girl” is also learning how to navigate through the extraordinary life of royalty all while staying true to who she is and making everyone around her feel special.
Designed to communicate positive life lessons and messages to young children. Sofia is completely relatable to our girls, facing the same social challenges such as building sibling relationships, making new friends, discovering how and when to be brave, learning the importance of telling the truth and mastering new skills and good sportsmanship.
Lia especially loves Sofia’s soft spoken, kind hearted character as well as her love for animals. She would like nothing more than her own magical amulet to talk to all our fur babies.
The Lion Guard
Now in it’s 2nd season this series continuous the epic storytelling of The Lion King, following the adventures of Kion – Simba and Nala’s 2nd born cub and his friends.
Together they are united to protect the Pride Lands.
- Bunga, a fearless honey bagger
- Fuli, a confident cheetah
- Beshte, a happy-go-lucky hippo
- Ono, an intellectual egret
They make up the Pride Land’s bravest, fastest, fiercest, strongest and keenest of sight. Aimed at kids aged 2-7 and their families the stories are designed to teach positive life lessons of teamwork, community and diversity. Together the friends learn to use their unique abilities to solve problems and accomplish tasks to keep balance in the “circle of life”.
A fun fact I recently learnt at the Disney Media Launch was that education and science experts from Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park serve as consultants on the Lion Guard. They inspire the original stories based on their own 1st hand experiences and advise on the character and habitat of various species. Knowing this makes every episode that much more special.
Other cool extras noted was that every episode contains Swahili words and original songs. And from this year, The Lion Guard can also be watched on “free tv” being released in Zulu on SABC 1 introducing Kion and his friends to a whole new audience.
Vee (a Transylvanian vampire) is one of our new friends and we’ve only recently started following her adventures as she settles into her new home and the surroundings of Pennsylvania. Vee is attending a new school, making friends and experiencing everything the “human world” has to offer for the very 1st time.
She soon learns life isn’t just about blending in but also about celebrating differences that make everyone unique. With mom and dad, as well as a few other fun characters always by her side, they are creating a new life.
Eliana finds Vampirina especially entertaining and loves the humour and fantasy elements of this series.
Puppy Dog Pals
Being big animal lovers we can’t resist the adventures of Bingo and Rolly – Two thrill-seeking, fun loving, pug brothers. These two are always on the look-out for an adventures in their neighbourhood. Weather they are helping a friend or going on a “mission” for their owner Bob; these pugs keep to their motto of “Life being more exciting with your best friend by your side.” Each episode shows the brother’s similarities and differences while teaching lessons on friendship, problem-solving, collaboration and creativity.
This is such a cute story and we all enjoy the way these siblings get along – in my opinion one can never have too many good examples and stories about healthy sibling relationships.
Illustrated in a fun way, the girls don’t just like the brothers but their friends too. Hissy, the cat is like an older, cool, big sister and I wouldn’t mind having our own A.R.F (a robotic dog designed by Bob) to help around the house.
The last show is probably for myself. I’m a child of the 80’s so my love for the Muppets run deep. I vividly remember falling in love with NY for the 1st time while watching The Muppets take Manhattan and I never missed an episode of Muppet Babies. Now, 30 years after the original series I get to experience the magic all over again with our girls.
The series has been adapted to compliment our times but at it’s heart the story remains the same. We get to play with all our favourites:
- a young Kermit the Frog – the leader and responsible one
- Miss Piggy – still one of the most fabulous and strongest female adventurers out there
- Fozzie Bear – a big hearted, comedian
- Gonzo – the stunt crazy, dare devil
- Animal – “the wild one”, that always marches to the beat of his own drum
- PLUS a brand new muppet baby; Summer Penguin – a creative little soul that enjoys dancing, drawing and being creative.
Each muppet has a unique personality that contributes to their friendly dynamic.
Set in an urban, brownstone the Muppet Babies have all they’ll ever need to take them on any adventure they can imagine. Core to every episode is the unique problem-solving power of imagination. The muppet babies help young viewers face their own fears all under the watchful eye of Miss Nanny.
The artist in me especially appreciated how each episode includes a fantasy sequence with a distinct style such as collage, comic book animation, classic cartoons and also live action footage.
That’s our Top 5 shows we’re currently watching. Do we share a favourite? Please tell us.
Catch all of these amazing shows on Disney Junior, Channel 309, DSTV.
Also be sure to follow Disney Junior Africa on Facebook for a full, updated show schedule.
Images courtesy of Disney Africa.