A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Palace Pets in Whisker Haven lets kids take care of a virtual pet. There's one pet available initially -- Ariel's kitten, Treasure -- but all other pets are only available with an in-app purchase. Taking care of the pets earns kids in-app currency to get more accessories; even more accessories are available only via in-app purchase.
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What's it about?
PALACE PETS IN WHISKER HAVEN is part of the larger Disney Princesses universe: The Palace Pets are the pets of six Disney Princesses (Ariel, Jasmine, Aurora, Cinderella, Snow White, and Belle) who can magically leave their own stories and play together at Whisker Haven, their special home. Kids get one free pet (Ariel's kitten, Treasure) and then get to play with her in a grassy outdoor space. Kids can pet, bathe, dress up, feed, and play ball with their pets; then, when the pet is tired, kids can put it down for a nap (where they dream of their princesses). Mini "adventure" games include a hide-and-seek game in an Aladdin-like marketplace; another is an undersea adventure. If kids have purchased access to the other pets, they can have "playdates" on these adventures. Kids also can watch video shorts of the Palace Pets. With each activity, kids earn hearts and gems by choosing the activities that appear in the pet's thought bubble; for example, a bar of soap means the pet wants to be bathed. Kids can choose other activities instead, but they won't earn these rewards. Hearts help kids level up and access additional items in each activity, such as a new tiara or a new kind of bubble bath. Gems let kids make non-monetary in-app purchases (again, additional items to use in each activity), and still more items can be purchased with money.
Is it any good?
Though this Tamagotchi-style game is a cute, engrossing way for kids to interact with a digital pet, it also goes after your cash. Play is easy and open-ended: Kids can play endlessly and easily with a pet, and it's nice that they can continue to earn access to more and more items as they go along. It's certainly possible to enjoy this app without paying any money, but kids (and their parents) may feel a sense of frustration with the limited access. It's also not especially helpful that the narration says "That item isn't available yet" when kids tap on a paid item; it's tantalizing to see those other pets sleeping and just out of reach. In-app purchases add up, since each pet costs an additional $2.99 or $5.99 for the "5 Pet Super Pack." With these bulk purchases the cost of this app can add up quickly. If a parent isn't willing to pay for anything additional, it'll be important to "have the talk" before downloading.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ways that taking care of the Palace Pets is like taking care of real-life pets. If you have pets at home, what kinds of chores do your kids do to take care of your pets? What other chores aren't represented in this game?
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
- Price: Free to download, in-app purchases from $1.99 to $10.99
- Pricing structure: Free to try
- Release date: July 23, 2015
- Category: Kids' Games
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Cats, Dogs, and Mice
- Size: 121.00 MB
- Publisher: Disney Enterprise Inc.
- Version: 1.1
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 7.0 or later; Android 4.2 and up
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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