Before 2012, preschoolers were first introduced to Disney Princesses through the animated classics they originated from. But starting with the TV movie that launched the Disney Junior series Sofia the First, a new generation of children are experiencing these characters for the first time through this series.
Set in the land of Enchancia, Sofia is an 8-year old girl who became a princess when her mother married the king. Her new family includes a princess sister named Amber and prince brother named James. Her new father gave Sofia a magical amulet that allows Sofia to talk to animals and in times of need, she can summon legendary princesses of the past.
An average episode of Sofia the First follows her adventures in the kingdom and at her royal school, which is taught by Flora, Fauna and Meriwether (the three fairies from Sleeping Beauty). Sofia the First: The Curse of Princess Ivy is the 6th DVD release, each of which has featured an episode with a Disney Princess as its centerpiece (previous releases featured Cinderella, Jasmine, Ariel, Aurora and Snow White). Rapunzel is the guest princess for this release and features Mandy Moore returning as her voice (although I question if Mandy is the one singing the song Rapunzel sings in the special).
In the titular episode, which is 45 minutes long, Amber discovers that Sofia can talk to animals because of her amulet. Feeling jealous and left out, Amber steals the amulet and tries to summon Rapunzel. But something goes wrong and a princess named Ivy materializes looking like a cross between Mother Gothel and Cruella De Vil. After Ivy steals the amulet, she unleashes black and white butterflies throughout Enchancia that steal all color from the kingdom. Sofia and Amber have to follow Ivy to an island of dragons and after getting her amulet back, Sofia summons Rapunzel to help them defeat Princess Ivy.
Three bonus episodes fill the set to bring it to a nearly 2-hour runtime and the first is “The Amulet of Avalor.” When a baby griffin steals Sofia’s amulet, the wizard Cedric gets blamed for it. Sophia has to set things right to prevent Cedric from getting in trouble. The second bonus episode is “Princess Butterfly,” which finds James and Sophia decorating for the All Hallows Eve Costume Ball. Amber goes to Cedric for a magical butterfly costume, but his real motive is using Amber to steal Sophia’s amulet. The final episode is “The Emerald Key.” When Sofia and her family find an emerald key, two princesses from Hakalo named Leilani arrive to claim the key. Sofia must figure out who is the real Princess Leilani with a series of tests.
Sofia the First looks good on DVD, better than it does on cable. But the transfer is not flawless, exhibiting compression artifacts in some shots during the transfer. It’s nothing that kids will care about or even notice, but videophiles are bound to notice these issues.
The Curse of Princess Ivy is offered in 5.1 surround sound, although I barely noticed the rear speakers being used and the subwoofer was inactive. The bonus episodes are presented in sensory friendly stereo sound. The only other audio option is French 2.0.
There are no bonus features on the disc. However, the first pressings of this release includes a physical bonus in the form of a butterfly necklace that is black and white, but becomes colorful in bright light.
Packaging & Design
Sofia the First: The Curse of Princess Ivy is housed in a standard sized black DVD case. It comes inside an embossed slipcover with a sparkle effect when the light hits it. Inserts include a Disney Movie Rewards code, an ad for Disney Movie Club, and cardstock with a color-changing butterfly necklace.
The disc is enhanced with Disney’s Fast-Play. If you let it run its course, it plays ads for Cinderella, Aladdin Diamond Edition, and Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Never Beast. After the episodes play, more ads play for Disney Movie Rewards, Doc McStuffins, Disney Parks, and Disney Store. The menu features a static image of Princess Ivy with the amulet while Sophia and Amber look on.
Sofia the First: The Curse of Princess Ivy is perfect for any fan of the series. The 45-minute special is better than an average episode, making it easier for parents to watch with their children. The bonus episodes aren’t as entertaining, but because this preschool show doesn’t encourage audience participation, they appeal to a wider age range than most Disney Junior content. The inclusion of a color-changing necklace is sure to make this a must-have for any child whose world revolves around Disney Princesses.