Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Choo-Choo Express – DVD Review


All Disney Channel shows have short lives. In fact, Disney used to have a 100-episode limit for all of their live-action shows. That rule forced Lizzy McGuire to end, just as it was getting good and about to become a bigger series than it was. There doesn’t seem to be that rule in place anymore, since Hannah Montana has been around for four years already. That doesn’t mean that show won’t end soon enough. Disney Channel audience continues to grow up and move on to other things. The same could be said of their animated series as well. But at least one animated television series appears to have enough legs to last longer than all other series. This series, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, is targeted towards pre-schoolers and there will always be pre-schoolers around. So don’t expect the seventh DVD release from this series, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Choo Choo Express, to be the last.

In this DVD, Professor Ludwig Von Drake tells everyone that he has created snow that doesn’t melt. In order to see this at his invention site “Mistletoe Mountain,” Mickey and the gang must take a train ride, so they put together the old Clubhouse Choo Choo train. They use the train to help the professor carry back loads of his special non-melting snow so that they can build snowmen and make snow angels in the middle of summer. Once everyone returns to the clubhouse, with Von Drake’s snow being relocated with them, they must now celebrate the innovation. An “Easy Freezy Snow” party is scheduled for 6 o’clock. For that to take place, Engineer Mickey and his train riders must pick up the guests, including Chip ‘n Dale, Clarabelle Cow, and Santa and Ms. Claus. When Mickey and friends all make it back just in time for the party, Professor Von Drake presents them a golden car train as a gift.

The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse series on The Disney Channel has a formula that every episode follows successfully. In every episode a minor problem or mystery gets introduced and Mickey Mouse usually invites all the pre-schoolers watching at home to help him access his gigantic Mickey-shaped computer, which will identify the “mousekatools” needed to the solve problem or mystery. One could say that it’s basically Disney’s version of Blue’s Clues, but Mickey as the host of this type of show just seems to work better. It also helps that Disney has figured out a way to avoid the feeling of forced interaction between the show and viewers like Blue’s Clues with all of its long pauses after various questions by introducing the two “Adventure Modes” to watch this film. Of course, the goal of the series is to help children develop their cognitive and problem-solving skills. They also get to practice their color recognition, shapes, and numbers skills that they need to know before they start kindergarten. This “double episode” Choo Choo feature is no exception again.

The big downside of this feature is that this one did air on television in late October. So there is a more of an episodic feel to this “full-length adventure.” The only things that connect these two episodes together is the continuous storyline. That is enough to market Choo Choo Express as a full-length adventure, but really this is just two episodes of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. There is no time to deviate too far from the series’ formula. At least all of your favorite Disney characters that are featured here are the ones we all remembered and loved.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is meant for young children and Choo Choo Express is just another entertaining and educational addition to the series for them. Don’t let the longer length fool you. This is really just two television episodes put together that barely runs over 45 minutes total. There should be enough going on to keep kids under 6 engaged. Once again, though, anyone over the age of 6 will likely get bored by this fairly quickly. Still if you a parent of a young child, you can’t go wrong with letting your child watch this series on TV or these separate DVD releases.

The video is given in “Family Friendly” widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It basically gets stretched out to fit widescreens. But the animation and colors are bright and beautiful. Pretty much above average for a direct-to-DVD special like this.

The audio included is available in either English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround sound, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround sound, or French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. No major problems here either.

Bonus Episode
There is an extra episode from the second season of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse included here as well. It’s called “Mickey’s Big Job”. In this episode, Willy the Giant needs to visit his mother and asks Mickey to look after his farm. So Mickey and his gang try to take care of Willy’s giant farm but Micky needs the viewers to help him make the right decisions in taking care of the farm. Should be fun enough for younger viewers.

“Adventure Mode” Viewing Option
Once again, this is interactive way to view this special that uses your DVD remote. Except this time it only applies to the bonus episode and not the featured double episode. In this mode, though, viewers are asked additional questions throughout the movie. When those questions are asked, a special menu pops up on the screen and the movie freezes, which allows your child to answer the question with the remote. Mode 1 is for ages 2 – 3, and Mode 2 is for ages 4 – 6. Both are simple enough for kids. Mode One uses only the left and right arrow keys and asks simple questions about what’s on screen. Mode Two uses all four arrows and it actually removes key elements and asks the player to identify what’s missing. Again, should be a fun way to watch this bonus episode.

Choo Choo Express is another good addition to your your child’s educational DVD library. It not only will entertain kids under 5 for almost an hour, but it will also teach them some things. Still it’s not really the best Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD released so far. But your kids likely won’t know that anyways.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment presents Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Cho Cho Express. Created by Rob LaDuca. Voice Cast: Voice Cast: Wayne Allwine (Mickey Mouse), Tony Anselmo (Donald Duck), Bill Farmer (Goofy, Pluto), Dee Bradley Baker (Santa Claus), Corey Burton (Professor Ludwig Von Drake), Russi Taylor (Minnie Mouse), Jim Cummings (Pete), Tress MacNeille (Daisy Duck), and April Winchell (Clarabelle Cow). Running time: 47 minutes. Rated: NOT RATED. Released on DVD: December 1, 2009. Available at Amazon.com

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