Formally launching this month, Kindle Park (www.kindlepark.com) offers a virtual playspace for preschoolers and some peace of mind for web-weary parents.
The site is the brainchild of Thinkbox, a Glendale, California-based group of entertainers, educators and technologists that’s headed by CEO Brian Napack, former head of Disney Educational Publishing and Disney Interactive. The website offers young children a personalized, protected environment filled with original animated characters that help kids read, write and create in a virtual park setting that can be explored and played in. Once you enter the Park webspace, it is enclosed from the rest of the Net-with no URL locator accessible (until an adult hits the ‘Control’ and ‘Alt’ buttons on the keyboard).
The interactive technology allows for parents to program specific interactions between the child and the Park’s animated host, Teaser the Fox, such as asking `Did you brush your teeth yet?’ Parents and kids can also communicate through a secure e-mail link, and a family home page is designed to post personal photos, schedule family activities and showcase kids’ artwork.
A content partnership with publishers Harcourt Brace, HarperCollins and Golden Books provides the site with a library full of children’s book faves, which can be read on-line either by the child or through a computer-generated audio reader. A wide variety of games and streaming video is also available through the site.
Napack is excited by the exclusive brand-name content deals secured prior to launch. Harvey Entertainment will provide comic book stories and classic animated cartoons featuring Casper, Richie Rich and Baby Huey, and an arrangement with the Roy Rogers estate will bring a series of wholesome western adventures to the website.
Six months in production, Napack has assembled an impressive crew of animation specialists to bring Kindle Park to life. Chief creative officer Bruce Cranston, formerly DreamWorks TV animation chief (Toonsylvania) and senior VP of development for Walt Disney Television Animation (Darkwing Duck), oversaw development of the site. Other talents involved include designer A. West (Jay Jay the Jet Plane), software creator Leslie Wilson (Disney’s Blast Online) and writer Mark Zaslove (Disney’s DuckTales).
In terms of revenue, ThinkBox is negotiating deals with software publishers to bundle an ad-free version of Kindle Park with school software. Soft and unobtrusive advertising will launch on the site soon, and books and children’s CDs are available for purchase through the on-line store.