Disney Channel to Debut Animated Series SOFIA THE FIRST, 1/11
The highly anticipated debut of Disney Junior's SOFIA THE FIRST, a new animated series about Princess Sofia, an adventurous little girl who is learning how to adjust to royal life after her mom marries the king and she becomes a princess overnight, debuts FRIDAY, JANUARY 11 on Disney Channel (9:30-10:00 a.m., ET/PT) and Disney Junior (5:30-6:00 p.m., ET/PT). Created for kids 2-7 and their parents/caregivers, "Sofia the First" tells the story of an ordinary girl who becomes a princess and, throughout her journey, learns that possessing the characteristics of a true princess – honesty, loyalty, compassion and grace – is what makes one truly royal.
Classic Disney Princesses Ariel, Aurora, Belle and Jasmine make special appearances in event episodes throughout the year, offering Sofia words of wisdom when she needs them most. Fauna, Flora and Merryweather (the beloved fairies seen in Disney's classic "Sleeping Beauty") are featured as the headmistresses of Sofia's new school, Royal Prep Academy.
The series stars the voices of Ariel Winter as Sofia, the young princess in training; Sara Ramirez as Queen Miranda, Sofia's loyal and caring mother; Wayne Brady as Clover, Sofia's wise-talking rabbit sidekick, and Tim Gunn as Baileywick, the castle's royal steward. Winter's "Modern Family" co-star, Eric Stonestreet, guest stars in the premiere episode as the voice of Sofia's flying horse, Minimus. Other notable guest stars include Viola Davis ("The Help"), Bonnie Hunt ("Cars"), Ellie Kemper ("Bridesmaids"), Megan Mullally ("Will & Grace"), Kiernan Shipka ("Mad Men") and Jeffrey Tambor ("Arrested Development").
The November 18 premiere of Disney Junior's animated television movie "Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess" introduced a record number of viewers to Disney's first little girl princess, Sofia the First, delivering a crowning glory of 5.2 million Total Viewers on Disney Channel, handily becoming the #1 cable TV telecast of 2012 among Kids 2-5 (1.5 million/9.1 rating) and Girls 2-5 (954,000/12.2 rating). The movie also delivered with older kids and adults, attracting more than 3.0 million Kids 2-11 and more than 1.4 million Adults 18-49. Impressively, the movie ranked as the #1 cable TV telecast in 5 years in Kids 2-5 (since 11/12/2007, "Spongebob Atlantis Pantis") and in over 10 years in Girls 2-5 (since 5/6/2002, "Oswald"). Furthermore, it now stands as Disney Channel's #1 telecast in the network's history among Girls 2-5, its #2 telecast among Kids 2-5 (behind "High School Musical 2") and its #1 preschool telecast ever in Total Viewers, Adults 18-49 and Women 18-49.
In the premiere episode, "Just One of the Princes," Sofia strives to become the first princess to earn a spot on her school's flying derby team. Although paired with the overly-anxious horse Minimus (voiced by Stonestreet), Sofia learns to believe in herself and proves that a princess can do anything she sets her mind to. While she lives in an enchanting fairytale world of castles, wizards and flying horses, Sofia remains a relatable peer-to-peer princess who is experiencing many of the same social situations as young viewers at home, including fitting in at school, building sibling relationships, making new friends, discovering how and when to be brave, learning the importance of telling the truth, and mastering new skills and good sportsmanship. The stories are designed to provide young children with fundamental lessons about developing social and emotional skills to help prepare them for life.
Events across multiple platforms will mark the series debut, with a preview of the premiere episode available via Disney Channel SVOD, WATCH Disney Junior and on iTunes beginning Friday, Jan. 4. The Jan. 11 linear premiere on Disney Channel will be simulcast on WATCH Disney Channel and mobile providers AT&T and Sprint TV. Following the premiere, throughout January, new episodes will be available one week prior to their linear premiere via Disney Channel SVOD and WATCH Disney Junior.
In early January, DisneyJunior.com/Sofia will launch the new game, "Minimus the Great," where players can help Sofia take care of her horse Minimus and train for the big Royal Prep Flying Derby race.
Craig Gerber ("Pixie Hollow Games") developed the series and serves as co-executive producer and story editor. Jamie Mitchell ("Special Agent Oso") is executive producer and director. John Kavanaugh ("Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo") serves as songwriter/music director and Kevin Kliesch ("Tangled Ever After") is the composer. "Sofia the First" is a production of Disney Television Animation.
Disney Junior reflects the emotional connection generations of consumers have to Disney storytelling and Disney characters, both classic and contemporary. It invites mom and dad to join their child in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters, while incorporating specific learning and development themes designed for kids age 2-7. Disney Junior's series blend Disney's unparalleled storytelling and characters kids love with learning, including early math, language skills, healthy eating and lifestyles, and social skills. Disney Junior launched in February 2011 with a daily programming block on Disney Channel. In its first year, Disney Junior posted the network's biggest yearly audience in the daypart in Total Viewers, Kids 2-5, Boys 2-5 and Women 18-49, increasing by double-digit margins in preschooler demographics over year-ago levels. On March 23, 2012 Disney Junior added a cable and satellite channel in the U.S. Disney Junior channels in Japan, India and Disney Junior Portugal launched in fall 2012, bringing the number of channels worldwide to 33.