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Disney Story Realms

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Disney Story Realms App Poster Image
Familiar stories, fun graphics, OK games, lots of purchases.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about popular Disney stories and characters. They can stretch their imagination as they explore the virtual story realms, and practice reading with the story text. Mini-games touch lightly on educational concepts such as memory, spelling, reaction time and hand-eye coordination, and attention to detail.

Ease of Play

Navigation and gameplay are easy, though moving characters around takes getting used to. The main menu includes some confusing icons whose purpose is not clear.

Violence & Scariness

Stories come straight from Disney movies and include their typical levels of conflict. Descriptions of fights, peril for the main characters, parents who die in a sea storm, and so on.

Sexy Stuff

Mild themes of romance, kissing, true love.

Language
Consumerism

All content connected to Disney characters and stories. Free download includes just a small taste of app content. To continue interacting, kids must make multiple in-app purchases, which are blocked by a parent gate.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Disney Story Realms presents classic Disney stories and characters in a digital storybook plus an interactive setting from the story that kids can explore. In the story realms, kids move around to see props and characters and find a handful of mini-games to play. With the free download, kids can visit the Beauty and the Beast realm, play games, and read the first chapter. The rest of the story and all additional content are available only through individual in-app purchases, which are protected by a parent gate. Though the activities themselves are appropriate for younger kids, the volume of in-app purchases make this best for slightly older kids. There's an option to use a dyslexic support font, but there's no read-to-me option, so kids need to be fairly strong readers if they're going to read on their own. The default is that kids can unlock pages from the story by playing games in story realm, though parents can choose to unlock the whole story through the parents' section. There parents will also find an option to limit the amount of time kids can use the app. Disney Story Realms doesn't work on older devices and needs a fair amount of free storage space. Check the app description and your device's available storage to see if this app is compatible with your device. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

Choose an available story to explore to get started in DISNEY STORY REALMS. Tap Read to read the story, or Play to enter the realm. The Read option presents a story for kids to read on their own. After a few pages, kids are invited to play games to unlock more. The Play option takes kids to a setting from the story full of props and characters. Kids move as the main character to see what's around. There are six mini-games distributed around the realm for kids to find and play. Games include a word search, puzzles, dress up, painting, and finding hidden objects.

Is it any good?

Beautiful graphics and jaunty music create magical and familiar worlds that, unfortunately, don't end up delivering on substance. With blockbuster stories like Frozen and Toy Story, kids will likely be drawn to yet another Disney-branded product. And since Disney Story Realms does a great job of delivering the magic of Disney, some kids may be satisfied with the ability to wander around their favorite setting, see their favorite characters, and read their favorite stories. But there's disappointingly little to actually do in the app. In the realms, kids simply wander around. Interactive elements are limited to the handful of mini-games embedded in the realm. The games are typical for an app that wants to call itself educational but doesn't want to invest in creating something inspired or unique. It's not clear why it's set up so that kids need to play games to read, though that feature can be turned off. The text in the stories will feel familiar to those who know the plot but isn't always clear enough for someone who doesn't. And the in-app purchase model can feel sneaky because there are no actual prices, and it's not clear that pretty much all content is available only through purchase until you tap on what you want and run into a parent gate. Ultimately, Disney Story Realms is visually appealing and delivers on letting kids imagine they are their favorite characters, but more meaningful activities and a pricing model that's friendlier for kids would make it more worth your while.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the stories in Disney Story Realms. Which characters do you identify with most and why? What motivates the characters to do what they do? Would you make different choices? Why?

  • Talk about Disney branding. Is this app more appealing because it features Disney characters? Why or why not?

  • Set clear expectations for in-app purchases before you hand over this app to your kids. What are you willing to buy and what is off-limits no matter what?

App details

Themes & Topics

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