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Disney Princess Party DVDs: Volume 1 | Volume 2

Disney Princess Party: Volume Two DVD Review

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DVD Details

Running Time: 102 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Release Date: February 15, 2005

1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Aspect Ratio)
Dolby Digital 5.1 & Dolby Surround (English & French)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned

Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
Pink Keepcase


Recycled television and direct-to-video animation is but one part of Disney Princess Party: Volume Two. It is paired with a number of set-top DVD games and activities which mostly offer a bit of fun, albeit in limited intervals. While the cover and packaging emphasize this second volume as "The Ultimate Princess Pajama Jam!", one could just as easily follow the disc's contents for a birthday party or simply a gathering of some friends. The actual DVD makes this point, and in fact some of the DVD-ROM content (like custom invitations) is tailored to non-pajama princess-themed parties. Heck, even princes who are well-versed in their animated Disney heroines may want to participate.

Like last time, this DVD is set up to act as an entire party onto itself. I'm skeptical of its effectiveness, since I think any party centered wholly around a TV might be a bit simple or one-note, even if some of the activities call for physical activity and crafts. I do, however, think it's well-suited towards supplementing a party. It just won't do all the work for you, and if it does, your party would still be made better with some creative, non-manufactured ideas of your own.

But enough of my contemplative babbling. If you select the "Play All" option from the main menu, the DVD starts with some games and sprinkles the two episodes throughout, with the music video offered up at the tail end. How long it will run is determined by a number of things, from how quick you are with a DVD remote to how fast you can fold paper. The case gives a running time of 102 minutes, which I guess could be right. I've listed the contents by section, which is another way you could access the material.

That's not Jasmine in "SandSwitch"! Only in a segment from "Belle's Magical World" could Lumiere be feared as a love interest for Belle.

Stories & Music

In this section, we find two animated episodes and a music video, which isn't bad since just the same amount of content practically comprises the underwhelming Princess Stories volumes.

First is "SandSwitch" (22:47), a September 1994 episode of Disney's "Aladdin" TV series. A conniving character known as Sadira uses a spell to convince everyone that she, not Jasmine, is Aladdin's fiancée and that they are to wed soon. But her spell didn't work on animals, which leaves Iago, Abu, and Rajah wondering what's going on with everyone. When Jasmine, in rags, discovers her old friends, she doesn't recognize them, but the pieces begin to come together. It's a silly, but entertaining episode. The neat opening sequence and full end credits are included in full here.

Next is "Fifi's Folly" (22:38), a sequence from the horrendous direct-to-video Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Magical World apparently composed for a television series that never made it on air. In it, Lumiere needs reminding that it's the fifth anniversary of his first date with feather duster Fifi. Belle aids the suave candelabra in preparing for the special day. While Lumiere is recreating that first date for Belle, Fifi oversees them and is enraged that romance is blooming between her lover and friend. She tries to get back at him by putting the moves on Cogsworth. After plenty of whining, the misunderstandings are cleared up, but a snowy sleigh ride becomes yet another obstacle in the way of a peaceful anniversary.

The new princess music video "Where Dreams Begin" (3:35) shows less effort this time. All you get is a generic dance song performed by an uncredited group set to fullscreen clips of the Disney princesses of Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas and Mulan. No original princess singing voices or clever video-editing effects, but there is a plug for the Disney Princess website.

The last part of this section is now called "Princess Virtual Environment." Last time, it was simply "Princess Background Music" but not much else has changed. Here, you float through a pink-colored sky of fluffy white clouds while an instrumental of "Where Dreams Begin" plays. While floating, you encounter various silent clips of Disney princesses in their respective films. Is this Disney Princess Heaven or what? This little cloud tour is neat the first time, but it only runs a minute and loops again and again and again and again and again...

Snow White gets jiggy with Dopey in the new princess music video "Where Dreams Begin." My pink heaven: floating through the clouds with the Disney princesses in "Princess Virtual Environment."

Games & Activities

Seven games and activities await you in this section.

Pocahontas' Drawing Game is simple, but pretty passable. A woman who is supposed to be Pocahontas but sounds very little like the Disney heroine "draws" pictures. As they gradually bleed through the paper, you guess which one it is from eight choices. The faster you answer, the more points you get. If you get it wrong, you get nothing! This can be played individually or with teams. Either way, the presence of a final score gives you something to shoot for in replays of the game.

The Perfect Prince Game is kind of like "The Dating Game", only you're trying to pick out the right prince from three unseen candidates. First, you select one of four princesses (Belle, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or Jasmine). Then you ask five questions from the field of three. You get to choose the recipient of each question, but not the questions itself. This game actually shows inspiration and creativity (not very common among Disney's DVD set-top games). It's very simple since the responses are rather elucidating, and they'd have to be since there's little which defines the personalities of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty's princes. But it's still quite fun and at the very least, you won't have the right answer until after asking two questions.

Next comes Princess Pajama Jam, a type of "Follow the Leader" dance-along where we see clips of the princesses and the narrator sort of sings directions for you. I can't imagine anyone taking orders from this game (the "lyrics" of which are set to remix of the new princess music video song), nor can I imagine any appeal to just watching this 2-minute montage without following along. It seems to be the same thing every time, and it appears that Melody (of The Little Mermaid 2) has joined the ranks of Disney's princesses.

Pocahontas' Drawing Game The Perfect Prince Game Princess Pajama Jam

Ariel's Treasure Game won't be much if you don't have a gift or few on hand and already wrapped in several layers. If you do and you have a group, then the instructions that Ariel (original voice Jodi Benson) gives provide some good times as the gift gets unwrapped one piece at a time. Ariel announces a member of the party (by such classifiers as "person who had the most recent birthday", "person with the longest hair", etc.) and each unwraps a piece until the gift is all unwrapped and that person gets to keep it. In theory, this could be fun. Just make sure you have gifts for all!

Mulan's Fortune-Teller would be more appropriately titled "Mushu's Fortune-Teller" since it's the wisecracking dragon who hosts it. Play proceeds the same way it does using a genuine paper fortune-teller in the physical world. You pick a symbol (which represents a number), the teller is folded back and forth, and so on. It finishes as briefly as real life versions too, and once you land on a spot, Mushu reveals your fortune.

Mushu returns for Make Your Own Fortune-Teller, and he provides witty asides while a more sophisticated female narrator takes you step-by-step through making a paper fortune-teller with markers, crayons, and "safety scissors." While instructions for making these are widely available elsewhere, this is no doubt an entertaining way to learn this very useful craft.

The last activity, Belle's Mixed-Up Stories, is really a Beauty and the Beast trivia game under the guise of Belle's stories being mixed up, as the name implies. While recounting the events of her film in book form, she comes upon things that are just not right. She turns to you to fix things, via multiple choice answering. There are a few different mixed-up stories which you can correct in return visits to this game. Again, like last volume's Belle game, I say: how silly!

Mulan's Fortune-Teller Make Your Own Fortune-Teller Belle's Mixed-Up Stories

Party Planner

This section is geared towards parents who are planning one heck of a Disney Princess party! The first subsection is Game Instructions. The Game Tutorial is a 5-minute video clip which runs through instructions for all the games. It's a bit unnecessary, as directions are provided before each game. The only thing to gleam from this is to know that you'll need to get a gift or gifts to make Ariel's Treasure at all memorable. Alternatively, you can view the very brief instructions clip for any individual game.

Planning Tips offers still pages with several pieces of advice for four different ways to throw this Disney Princess Party, as a Birthday Party, Slumber Party, Costume Party, or Tea Party. They certainly do make it sound like an exciting experience.

As for the last two listings, they're hardly worth mentioning. The first, "DVD-ROM" simply lets you know about the computer features of the disc (covered below) and "Register Your DVD" also requires a computer (with Internet access) to make yourself eligible for special support as the proud owner of this disc.

DVD-ROM

Computers equipped with a DVD-ROM drive will be able to access some additional features designed to make your princess party flow well and be cool. For some reason, no customized interface turned up on Interactual. The DVD-ROM content worked just fine as HTML webpages, which means the system requirements are probably minimal. As with most things on the DVD, these pages are all accompanied by an eternally-looped instrumental of "Where Dreams Begin."

Party Checklists gives you a very short list of supplies you'll need to fully enjoy Ariel's Treasure Game and the Make Your Own Fortune Teller activity. Custom Party Invitations gives you four different types of customizable invites featuring the Disney Princesses (for a Birthday, Tea, Costume, or Slumber Party). There are the same four choices for Thank You Cards.

DVD-ROM main menu A still from the recipe for Lemonade with Berry Ice Cubes.

Three Recipes from FamilyFun magazine are included for Princess Cake, Lemonade with Berry Ice Cubes (which sounds swell, just swell), and for the more cultured/daring, Crispy Candle Sushi Snacks. Each of these is printer-ready.

Game Instructions are provided yet again, this time in easy-to-print text form. The 14 MB Screensaver might not be worth installing unless you're really fond of that "Princess Virtual Environment" in the Stories & Music section. That's all it is - the one minute cloud tour with princess clips and that ubiquitous instrumental pop music!

Lastly, there are five Coloring Pages, which we only get to see in tiny thumbnails, but appear to display Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, and a couple of color-less reproductions of Princess DVD cover art!

VIDEO and AUDIO

All the content on this disc is presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen. The two Television Animation episodes display pretty solid video quality. The "Aladdin" episode is the rougher of the two and exhibits a fair amount of motion blurring. The Belle's Magical World segment looks as good as it did on its DVD, probably even better, although I can't imagine additional remastering being done for this. Aside from its weak animation and off-model coloring, it's an exemplary transfer. Everything else is new made-for-DVD content which doesn't exactly mean visual fireworks, but it does mean vibrant, fresh-looking picture quality.

The stories are presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, with the Belle's Magical World piece making more aggressive use of the speaker setup. The "Aladdin" episode is basically stereo surround, but there are a few sound effects which make use of different channels. All of the games are presented in Dolby 5.1 as well, though not with much attempt to encompass the viewer with aural atmosphere. The music video is also offered in 5.1 and it seems to be mixed a bit too loud.

Disney Princess Party: Volume Two DVD Menu Party Planning Tips in the Party Planner section.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, and PACKAGING

Since Disney Princess Party is essentially a collection of bonus features, there's nothing that hasn't already been addressed and nothing additional specified as an extra. When the disc starts, trailers play for Pooh's Heffalump Movie, JoJo's Circus, and this line of Disney Princess DVDs. The Sneak Peeks menu adds a "Play All" option and additional previews of Mulan II, Bear in the Big Blue House, Disney Learning Adventures, the first two volumes of Growing Up with Winnie the Pooh, and Disney Princess merchandise.

The 4x3 menus are similar to Volume One's selection screens, featuring a pink-colored sky with castles and plenty of sparkles. An instrumental of the new music video song "Where Dreams Begin" accompanies most of the menus. The Menus, along with everything else on the disc, are also offered in French - you are prompted to select a language at the start of the disc.

Inside the case, you'll find a 4-page DVD Guide that explains the games and lists the disc's other features. There's also "Your Guide to Enchantment", a blend of coupons, ads, and a redemption form for a free Princess Purse (plus shipping and handling, and proofs of purchases from any two Disney Princess DVDs.) This booklet also contains profiles of four of the more popular Disney princesses (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine, and Ariel). In addition, there's a Disney Princess Magazine subscription form.

Princess Jasmine has seen better days. Ariel's Treasure Game

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Whether you view it as a potential party on disc or simply another Princess Stories with a lot more bonus features, Disney Princess Party: Volume Two is the better value of the two new Disney Princess DVDs being released this month. Still, you just get one genuinely enjoyable TV episode, one-fourth of one of Disney's weakest direct-to-videos, and a slew of games which offer fleeting fun. This selection probably won't attract many outside the target audience of young girls. But for this demographic, there is a fair amount of entertainment to be had. The real draw to owning this DVD would be if you intend to actually go through with throwing (or supplementing) a party with it, be that party the Ultimate Princess Pajama Jam or just some first grade girls hanging out. Though the disc still feels somewhat light, if you must get one of the new Disney Princess DVDs, this is the one which shows more effort and content.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Disney Princess Party: Volume One
Disney Princess Sing-Along Songs: Volume One - Once Upon a Dream
Disney Princess Sing-Along Songs: Volume Two - Enchanted Tea Party
Disney Princess Stories: Volume Three - Beauty Shines From Within
Disney Princess Stories: Volume Two - Tales of Friendship
Disney Princess Stories: Volume One - A Gift From the Heart

Princess Movies on DVD
Aladdin (2-Disc Platinum Edition) | Mulan (2-Disc Platinum Edition)
Beauty and the Beast (2-Disc Platinum Edition) | Sleeping Beauty (2-Disc Special Edition)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (2-Disc Platinum Edition) | The Little Mermaid (Limited Issue)
Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Magical World (Special Edition) | Cinderella II: Dreams Come True

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Reviewed February 11, 2005.