Planes: Fire & Rescue

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Planes: Fire & Rescue App Poster Image
Interactive storybook not as intense as movie.

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A lot or a little?

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

Ease of Play

The interactive activities included within the storybook are challenging but without risk; kids aren't going to lose or run out of time. They can choose their level on the jigsaw puzzles, and the scene builder is easy to use.

Violence & Scariness

The fires and the rescue scenes are intense, though not quite as scary as the 3-D movie. Brief scenes from the movie are included in some parts of the book.

Sexy Stuff

The app is available as a free download, but that only gives a preview of the first three sections of the book and some of the activities. In-app purchases are required to unlock the rest of the content. The app also is a tie-in to the movie, which is heavily cross-marketed with toys, snacks, and other products. Links to other Disney apps are protected behind a kid-lock passcode.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Planes: Fire & Rescue is a storybook version of the movie with added interactive games, puzzles, and activities. Dissimilar to past Disney storybook apps, this one is offered as a free download preview and requires an in-app purchase to unlock all the content. Kids only get three parts into the eight-part story before hitting the end of the preview. The fire is quite realistic-looking for a cartoon, especially with the sound effects, which may be frightening for kids. The book includes short scenes from the movie, but they're not quite as intense as the full version, making it a good option for kids not ready for the full in-theater experience. 

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What's it about?

The interactive book retells the movie story of Dusty, the former racing plane who trains to fight fires in a national park using storybook pages and scenes from the movie. Kids join in with interactive activities, flying the planes, putting out fires, and more. Two activities are offered outside of the story: a scene builder and jigsaws. In the scene builder, kids drag stickers onto the page and then watch them animate, flying across the screen. The jigsaw puzzles come in several levels of challenge, with six-, 12-, 20-, or 30-piece puzzles.

Is it any good?

Even with the notice upon opening the app that it includes in-app purchases, kids are likely to be disappointed not to get full access. Parents may want to consider downloading and playing the preview themselves before involving eager kids in playing along. Then they can delete it if they choose not to purchase it all, or hand it over to kids once the whole story is in place.

Although the story is interactive, each page is only slightly interactive -- the planes move just a bit, more like a vibration. The settings aren't easy to find (a tab in the information section), but that is where parents can choose the "read to me," "read it myself," or "autoplay" settings. In "read to me," no words are read aloud, so kids can't tap an unfamiliar word for help. The games come along every few pages of the book and are fun and appropriately challenging, and kids can earn badges for performing at certain levels (though that level is never spelled out).

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about fire safety and what firefighters do. Take kids on a tour of a local fire station to meet the firefighters and see the trucks.

  • Talk to kids about wildfires and ways to prevent them, especially in parks or while camping. For kids with an interest in fire prevention and management or the national parks system, visit the National Parks Service Fire & Aviation Management online.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
  • Pricing structure: Free to try, Free (The freeview gives kids access to three of the eight sections of the story and some of the activities. You can unlock the whole package for $4.99. The story alone can be unlocked for $3.99, and each activity -- the jigsaw puzzles and the scene builder -- can be unlocked for $1.99 each.)
  • Release date: July 14, 2014
  • Category: Entertainment
  • Topics: Cars and Trucks, Adventures
  • Size: 85.50 MB
  • Publisher: Disney
  • Version: 1.2
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 6.0 or later
  • Last updated: June 23, 2019

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