A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find 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.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
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.
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.
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).
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.