Disney Interactive Essay, Research Paper
Disney Interactive, a division of the
Walt Disney Company, designs and distributes video game software and educational
products. Located in Buena Vista, California, the division administers
Disney Online, a provider of entertainment products and information resources
on the Internet. Disney Interactive is also affiliated with the ABC Internet
Partnership (another Disney Co. subsidiary), the largest provider of news
content on the Internet.
Merging the resources of Disney Software, Walt Disney Studios, and Disney
Consumer Products, Disney
Interactive (DI) was established in 1994 to create a strong presence
in the emerging market for CD-ROMs. Central to DI’s development operations
is Disney Software. Created in 1988, the company has designed over 75
video games and CD-ROMs. While the division excelled technically, the
Disney Co. was concerned its products
might not be reaching the widest possible market. By merging their software
operation with the imaginative prowess of Walt Disney Studios, and the
commercial savvy of the consumer products division, Disney hoped to dominate
the video game and edu-tainment software markets.
Through joint efforts with Virgin Interactive
and Sony Imagesoft, DI developed Hot Shots, best
selling CD-ROM and video-game adaptations of popular animated films like
Lion King, Pocahontas and The
Hunchback of Notre Dame. The 1996 release of the CD-ROM version of
Story was backed by a $5 million dollar advertising campaign, and
was one of the company’s biggest sellers.
While DI executives were intrigued by the exploding new market on the
Internet, they were concerned that existing Internet navigators were not
user-friendly enough, especially for children. While developing content
for a major new web site, DI entered partnerships with BellSouth,
Ameritech, and SBC
Communications to design navigational software. In 1996 DI unveiled
Family.com, Disney Online’s first
Internet project. Culling articles from Disney’s group of periodicals,
including Family Fun and Family PC magazines, the site provided information
on topics ranging from planning a family vacation to tips on doing homework.
Encouraged by the site’s success, Disney Online launched entertainment
programming that featured games, stories, and edu-tainment products based
on DI’s CD-ROMs and software.
The entertainment site quickly grew to over 2,500 linked pages, allowing
access to a dozen Disney Co. divisions. Geared primarily to children,
users could download stories based on Disney animation, play games, visit
a virtual mockup of Walt Disney’s Main Street apartment, and communicate
with other children through chat rooms, and a sophisticated version of
e-mail called D-mail. Disney Online’s new site was formidably extensive,
rivaling any other entertainment network on the Internet. And it was only
In 1997 they unveiled Disney’s Daily
Blast channel, a sophisticated synthesis of high technology, marketing
savvy, and timeless story telling techniques from the Magic Kingdom. DI
was so certain the channel would be in instant demand, they made it available
by paid-only subscription. It quickly became one of the most successful
sites on the Internet.
Disney’s Daily Blast is designed to be a one-stop entertainment Mecca
for the entire family, a kind of virtual Disney World theme park. Divided
into seven different "worlds," the Blast offers entertainment
and distraction for all ages. The Blast’s leading attraction is the Castle/Disney
Filmplex, a self-contained entertainment complex in its own right. The
service had five basic areas, including preschool, stories, creativity,
games, and a Disney fan information site. With its sophisticated Avatar
based navigation system, young users easily negotiate its many attractions.
A comprehensive movie data base provides pictures and information about
Disney films. While chat rooms let children talk to one another and participate
in special live events. The service also has D-mail, a high-tech e-mail
that allows children to transmit art, sounds and stamps to other subscribers
of the service.
In Toon Town, preschoolers can play colorful games and puzzles, and even
learn to read simple stories. Tale-O-Topia has a comic book environment
that appeals to older children. The Loft gives budding artists a trove
of downloadable art, computer-art software, and lessons in drawing and
animation. The site also has music and music learning programs. The Information
Station introduces children to the world of news and current affairs.
Hoping to cull a future generation of news hounds, the site gives access
to the ABC Internet News channel. Children with boundless curiosity (or
pressing homework assignments) can turn to The Know It Hall, an easy-to-use
Web search engine. Game Nation offers an array of online games and links
to the web sites of games manufacturers. To keep parents interested, Disney’s
Daily Blast is also packaged with links to Disney’s Family.com.
Disney Interactive also pioneered the Disney
Online Store, an interactive endeavor that blended old fashioned marketing
with high-tech consumerism. Selling everything from toys and videos to
clothing and china, the service offered an online Giftfinder program that
helps consumers narrow their choices.
The ABC Internet Partnership
In 1995 the Disney Company entered a $19 billion dollar merger with Capital
Cities/ABC. Disney’s vastly expanded resources and capabilities made
it one of the largest multimedia conglomerates in the world, second only
to Time Warner. DI was soon overseeing
the rapid expansion of ABC News Online.
In 1997, the Disney Company purchased Starwave,
one of the largest independent content providers on the Internet. With
this final piece in place, Disney consolidated ESPNET SportsZone and ABC
online with Starwave, creating the ABC Internet Partnership (ABCIP). Directly
administered by DI, ABCIP quickly became the most far-reaching news provider
on the Internet. Their sophisticated multimedia newscasts, unrivaled by
any other online news source, made them a formidable contender. ABCIP
soon became the primary news service for both America Online and Netscape.
A testament to the growing importance of interactive entertainment in
the late ’90s, Disney helped found the Academy
of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS) in 1996. Designed to promote
the advancement of online entertainment services, the AIAS included Sony
Interactive Studios America, Microsoft Corp., Electronic
Arts, Nintendo of America, and others. The Academy was originally
an outgrowth of the Interactive Digital
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Mickey Mouse," Advertising Age, 12 December 1994.
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on Web," Advertising Age, 6 January 1997
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