Walt Disney Co. on Tuesday launched an online subscription service aimed at preschool children, completing its plan for what a Disney executive called "an online theme park."
Playhouse Disney Preschool Time Online costs $49.95 per year and is the most learning-oriented of Disney's Internet subscription services for kids, said Disney Online Executive Vice President and Managing Director Ken Goldstein.
Developed with the help of educational experts, Preschool Time focuses on pre-kindergarten skills, such as letter and number recognition, and features "fun learning" tools such as interactive story books.
"When you're dealing with preschoolers, there really isn't a difference between education and entertainment at that age level," Goldstein said.
"This is all part of our age-banded strategy where we are looking to follow the consumer through all their age levels and have something for them at every age," he said.
Disney Online offers Disney's Toontown Online, a multiplayer game for ages 8 to 12, and Blast, a multiplayer game for 5 to 9 year olds. The emphasis in those products is on action and strategy, Goldstein said.
The company is also developing broadband services for older game players with a multiplayer game based on the hit film "Pirates of the Caribbean" due to launch this year.
The new preschool broadband service, which features no advertising, is based on characters and shows from Disney Channel's "Playhouse Disney" programming block, such as "JoJo's Circus" and "Higglytown Heroes." Its content will be updated every two weeks.