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Disney has announced the launch of an updated Disney.com site today. They have brought back the portal concept of the late ’90s. All of the updates are geared towards keeping kids on the site longer which allows Disney to keep hitting the kids with brand messages. Those brand messages might not be ads but they are certainly character ads. It’s a smart play to keep the Disney brand top-of-mind for kids and then to the parents.
The new features include a game portal with over 100 Disney games which is sortable by character and movie. A very deep video portal allows kids to make their own personalized videotapes to watch on demand. The video footage comes from the Disney archives plus a user-generated contest they participated in this summer. Both the video and the game portals tie into a character center where kids can find their favorite characters from Disney films and television.
Mobile content has also increased with the updates and Disney fans can access the Disney store from their mobile. Lastly, there’s a new “my” page – you remember those “my” pages – they were all the rage in 1999. They are back!
In related news, I heard on the radio yesterday that the big Disney store in NYC will be closing in 2010 when their lease expires. Disney execs noted that the sales performance didn’t keep up with rising costs to run the store. Apparently Disney is looking for a “much smaller space” in NYC to open a new store in 2010.
Disney has acquired the iParenting network for an undisclosed sum. Appears that the chatter last week about Disney making moves is starting to happen. It looks like iParenting will be merged with the Disney Family Web site over time. I don’t know much about iParenting but it looks pretty robust in content and has some Web 2.0/social networking features including tags and blogs.
The iParenting.com network has more than 40 Web sites devoted to the entire family lifecycle – from preconception through the teenage years. Accompanying the English Web sites are 11 Spanish parenting Web sites at iParentingEspanol.com.
Earlier this year, Disney acquired Club Penguin for "up to" $700 million.