This month, Disney XD has involved viewers in two new initiatives that are part of Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living campaign. If my elementary-school-age children are like typical viewers, though, one campaign project is more likely to make an impact than the other.
On Sunday, the network premiered the first half of “The Greatest Action Movie Ever (G.A.M.E),” a six-minute film designed to motivate kids to live healthier lifestyles. The movie is the culmination of a two-month contest on KIDZBOP.com that invited kids ages 5 to18 to submit videos that showcase their action moves and healthy eating habits in one of nine different scripted scenes. KIDZBOP.com users then voted on the 1,300 submissions to determine which real kids would star in “G.A.M.E.” alongside Ryan Ochoa from the Disney XD series “Pair of Kings.”
The second half of the film can be seen at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s BAM! Body and Mind website, BAM.gov, where there are additional health-related resources. Or, to see the movie in its entirety, viewers can go to KIDZBOP.com and Disney.com.
Certainly, this seems like a winning formula for a Public Service Ad, right? The problem, though, is that the story comes off as hokey and the finished product is not remotely engaging for kids. I could barely get my children to watch the screen for six minutes, let alone digest the messages about nutrition and exercise. The battle theme reminds me a lot of the Habit Heroes exhibition at Epcot’s Innoventions, which also relies on futuristic combat gimmicks.
My children are avid viewers of Disney XD and Disney Channel, so I asked them what type of show would motivate them to learn about healthy living. My son was quick to tell me about the upcoming Disney XD TRYathlon, where Disney actors compete in challenges that involve trying new foods and new moves. This summer competition resembles the popular and now-defunct Disney Channel Games, which were filmed at Walt Disney World in 2007 and 2008. The Disney XD TRYathlon offers a twist, though, in that viewers could try out to compete alongside the actors and professional athletes who also will be on the teams. An air date has not been announced, but last year’s show was seen in August.
My 10-year-old son said not only would he be willing to watch the TRYathlon, he would want to try some of the activities and foods. Recently, he and his 8-year-old sister did taste new foods that Disney chefs recommended for kids at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Each booth in the new Garden Marketplace offers TRYit dishes just for kids, and these range from Baked Goat’s Brie with Kumquat Chutney to the dessert Frushi. (Find out what my kids liked best in our video and blog post.)
Certainly, Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living campaign has encouraged children and families to lead healthier lives through its many initiatives throughout The Walt Disney Company. It would seem that the projects that are most appealing to kids are ones that tackle nutrition and exercise with straightforward and fun approaches, rather than contrived story lines that are devoid of the quality of entertainment that viewers of Disney XD expect.