Dr. Panda's Carnival

App review by
Lisa Caplan, Common Sense Media
Dr. Panda's Carnival App Poster Image
Kids explore carnival attractions in open-world funhouse.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about cause and effect and use their imaginations and creativity to a limited extent. A couple of the games -- face painting and dress-up -- allow for some creative expression, and the open-play model lets kids create their own stories about what's happening. Because the setting is a carnival, this app has fewer learning opportunities than the hospital or restaurant versions; however, Dr. Panda's Carnival is definitely a fun place for kids, and parents can enhance learning by encouraging storytelling.

Ease of Play

Free-play environment; some games and controls not intuitive at first.

Violence & Scariness

Haunted house where a skeleton emerges.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Link for other Dr. Panda games on home screen, but parents can remove the option from the app's settings.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dr. Panda's Carnival is an open-play environment, as are other apps in the Dr. Panda series. There's no right or wrong way to play: Kids move freely through 10 typical fair rides and midway attractions playing simple mini games and creating their own internal narratives. Be aware that there's a haunted house with a skeleton that could scare the youngest users. 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.

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What's it about?

It's always the right weather to visit DR. PANDA'S CARNIVAL. Kids jump right onto the midway where they can freely explore amusement park rides and carnival-style games, cook up some fun treats, put on face paint, play dress-up, and capture their creations in photos. The animals roaming the park star in stories your child invents, and kids get to try carnival games such as knocking over cans to earn stars and prizes. There's also a seek-and-find element to the app with stars hiding on the fairgrounds that perform delightfully unexpected tricks. As kids complete games, they earn stars, which they can use to buy virtual toys and treats. Though they can lose a game, it's possible to play again and again until they win.

Is it any good?

In this installment kids will have fun exploring an amusement park, but its fun focus is less educational than other titles in the series. The graphics are inviting, polished, and interactive, hiding surprises and stars. Some of the games have more value than others: Letting kids do virtual face painting and dress-up allows for creativity, but placing characters on rides becomes somewhat redundant. Also, the magnetic ducks might stump kids at first, so they'll have to figure out what's expected to win. There's no doubt kids will love spending some time at this carnival, but parents hoping for more learning opportunities might want to look elsewhere.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about past and future visits to carnivals, fairs, and theme parks in the real world and explore the differences between digital play spaces and the real thing.

  • Talk with your kids about what might be happening at the carnival to encourage storytelling. Maybe friends are encouraging one another to go on a ride. What is going on inside the haunted house?

App details

For kids who love apps for toddlers and preschoolers

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