Every time I long for the free and easy days of my youth, something like Disney Princess Enchanted Tales comes along to remind me why it’s good to be done with childhood. If I was a kid, I’d be entertained by this stuff. Since I can no longer appreciate kid-friendly, sitcom-like productions, I will imagine I’m a seven-year-old girl for the remainder of this review. In order to keep things nice and coherent, though, I’ll write like I’m not.
All you need to know about this original release from Disney is that it’s Disney-lite, with lower production values and more heavy-handed stories. However, I’m sure it will please children, especially those who love all things princess.
Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams is the first in new series of direct-to-DVD releases from Disney. It presents two new stories, each starring a princess character from a past Disney film. The first features Princess Aurora, better known as Sleeping Beauty, who hasn’t been utilized since the original 1959 film. The star of the second story is much more recognizable — Princess Jasmine from Aladdin.
The two stories heavily emphasize a common message: if you believe in yourself, work hard and persevere, you can “follow your dreams.” Anyone would be hard-pressed to argue against teaching this idea to children, except perhaps the cynical realists who want kids to understand from an early age that not everyone can grow up to be president.
With the shared theme, it’s no surprise the stories are very similar. In each, the featured princess finds herself facing a new challenge that’s both exciting and daunting. In the course of around thirty minutes and through two original songs, the princess manages to persevere and rise to the occasion.
Neither of the stories approaches the quality of a Disney theatrical feature, but I’d bet they’re better than most of the stuff kids can see on TV. The voice talent is quite good, particularly with Princess Jasmine, who is voiced by Linda Larkin (dialogue) and Lea Salonga (singing), the original Jasmine duo from Disney’s Aladdin. You can tell the animation is more basic than Disney’s full-length theatrical releases, but it seems to be a notch above their other direct-to-DVD efforts. Overall, these are well-produced stories kids will enjoy, again and again.
Follow Your Dreams is presented on one disc, in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Disney has given this release proper treatment, for it looks very good. Not that the little ones will notice, but the colours are suitably rich and the picture is clean and sharp. These positive attributes never waver, and even the disc’s menu has received a nicely prepared animated sequence. Well done all around.
The sounds of Disney are also well presented. English audio is Dolby Digital 5.1, and so are the French and Spanish tracks, but I’ll be addressing the English. It sounds nice and full, especially when any of the four original songs are playing. There isn’t much going on with the bass channel, and the surrounds aren’t used for much directional effect, but the overall sound is still lively and clear. Not bad at all.
Disney even offers a smattering of bonus material aimed at the little ones. Included on this disc are the following extras:
- Aurora Dress-Up: this game is about playing dress-up — kids have to choose a ball gown and outfit for Aurora. Strangely, it doesn’t allow silly choices that won’t look good, which will probably take away some of the fun.
- Find Sahara: this DVD game saddles kids with the task of tracking down Sahara, the king’s favourite horse. Since there are a couple of different paths to take, this game offers a bit of replayability.
- “You’ll Never Lose This Love” Music Video: this video features Belle from Beauty and the Beast, singing one of the original songs from the next Disney Princess Enchanted Tales release.
Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams would make a lovely gift for the little princesses (and maybe princes) in your life. With production values that exceed TV offerings, and a strong, positive message about persevering in the face of a challenge, you could do much worse for kids’ entertainment.