Disney Junior channel to broadcast around the clock

Doc McStuffins

Doc McStuffins Photo: Courtesy of Disney Junior/ © Disney Junior

When the Disney Channel’s new 24-hour network for preschoolers launches March 23, kids ages 2 through 7 will be able to watch Disney Junior shows such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Little Einsteins—which currently air between 8am and 2pm only—after school, before bedtime or even at 4am. Rolie Polie Olie and Higglytown Heroes fans will also be happy to hear that Disney Junior will rerun those and other hit shows from Disney Junior’s predecessor, Playhouse Disney.

A little-kids-only television station is no novelty, especially not for Disney, which already broadcasts around the clock on 28 channels outside of the U.S.

Wee ones here need their own channel as well, says Nancy Kanter, senior vice president of original programming and general manager of Disney Junior Worldwide. As common as it is for parents to cuddle on the couch watching Disney Junior shows with their kids, she says it just makes sense to make co-viewing possible at any time. “There are always those nights and early mornings when mom or dad is up with an early riser or a child who isn’t feeling well. We are hoping our programming can be a real comfort [in those circumstances].”

“There’s that engagement between a parent and a child when a certain theme or character comes on,” Kanter adds. “It’s a learning experience for both.” In addition to existing Disney Junior programming, the new TV station will launch with an original series, Doc McStuffins, about a 6-year-old girl who discovers not only can she talk with stuffed animals, she can heal them, too.

The show’s creator and executive producer, Chris Nee, says that Doc McStuffins is an example of Disney’s return “to strong characters and storytelling,” and will demystify medicine and make doctor’s visits less frightening for children. Nee was inspired to create the series by helping in her mother’s toy store as a child and by her son, diagnosed at age 2 with asthma. “I realized there’s no show that demonstrates the process of going to the doctor or to the hospital,” Nee says. “Looking at my son, I thought I’d do this [with Doc McStuffins].”

The title character follows in her pediatrician mother’s footsteps by treating a variety of teddy-bear ailments, from the common cold to a broken leg. One episode features huggy monkeys, those toys whose hands are held together by Velcro. After one of the monkeys’ Velcro comes loose and Doc glues it back on, the monkey stays overnight under her care. Songs and silliness ensue as Hallie the hippo, Doc’s “nurse,” cares for the healing toy, demonstrating that overnight hospital stays don’t have to be scary.

Other new shows for the all-day, all-night channel are in the works, including a western and one about a girl who becomes a princess when her mom marries a king. Kanter describes the channel as “quintessentially Disney…from characters like Mickey and Captain Hook’s Smee to storytelling that has real emotion.”

Disney Junior broadcasts 24 hours a day beginning March 23.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)