Last Spring, I was introduced to Vampirina through her third children's book, Vampirina at the Beach. The cover advertised that this picture book series was already being adapted for Disney Junior and now it's finally here! The show celebrates the fun, kid-friendly aspects of Halloween through this weekly TV series.
Vampirina and her vampire parents just moved from Transylvania to Pennsylvania where she is nervous about how she will fit in. She quickly becomes close with a neighborhood girl named Bridget, who soon discovers all of the spooky secrets in her house such as a ghost, talking gargoyle, monster plant, and werewolf dog. Bridget thinks all the weird stuff is cool, but Poppy and Edgar scare a little easier.
Vee, as her friends call her, is still getting the hang of her vampire powers and sometimes turns into a bat uncontrollably. Her house features wallpaper patterns that feel inspired by The Haunted Mansion with blacks and browns juxtaposed against kid friendly colors that still harken back to the macabre, like green, purple, orange and ghostly blue.
The series debuted on October 1st with a special hour-long premier on both Disney Junior and Disney Channel. On Disney Now, the new streaming app that combines all of Disney's cable network programming, two additional episodes are available. The recurring theme of each episode is learning to celebrate the qualities that make kids unique rather than trying to hide them. In the debut episode while showing her new friends her spooky dolls (think Monster High), she tells Edgar "Boys can play with dolls, they're cool!" as a shining example of this theme extending to all of the characters.
Like most Disney Junior shows, Vampirina features an original musical number in each episode. With the same creative team from Doc McStuffins helming the series, the songs are catchy and danceable, kids are going to love them! One of the episodes, "Vee Goes Viral," even features a dance that kids can easily recreate.
Like the newest Disney Junior shows, Vampirina makes no attempt at audience participation. The fourth wall is never broken, the characters don't reach out to your living room to ask kids to get up and join them in a movement exercise. With Disney Now blurring the lines between Disney Junior, Disney Channel, and Disney XD, this helps give shows like Vampirina a wider appeal. While the characters are younger than your average Disney Channel program, it has the potential to reach the same audience.
Everything about Vampirina screams "Instant hit." While it fits the mold of other shows on Disney Junior, it sets itself apart with a kid-friendly take on Universal's classic monsters. And as evidence of Disney's faith in the property, you can already find a variety of toys based on the series available at stores like Toys R Us and Disney Store (or just Disney, depending on your mall). I expect to see more than a few Vampirina's trick-or-treating this year.