The Walt Disney Company and the Institute of Imagination have joined forces to create a Manifesto for Imaginative Play – in support of enabling families to make more time for play. The Manifesto outlines the positive impact of playtime on the next generation and calls for parents, guardians and carers to make it a priority.


It comes as new research* shows that nearly half (46%) of parents believe that the role of play in children’s development can’t be ignored, with its many benefits including building social skills (48%), how to be creative (47%) and teaching them original thinking (45%).


The Manifesto supports the launch of the Wonder of Play – a global initiative drawing on Disney’s 100-year legacy of timeless stories, unforgettable characters and memorable products – to inspire families to play together and enjoy those special moments before children grow up.


Bringing together Disney Stage Masters, children, artists, influencers and celebrities, the Wonder of Play is supported by the Institute of Imagination – a leading children’s education charity which designs and delivers creative learning experiences across the arts, sciences and digital technologies that empower children today to believe they can build a better future for us all.


Disney’s ‘Wonder-ful Playhouse’ pop-up opened in central London over the weekend, where TV personality Billie Shepherd and local families explored a series of playrooms that were transformed into magical immersive spaces ideal for shared play and creativity from Disney Princess, Disney Frozen and Pixar’s Cars to Star Wars™ and MARVEL. Designed by emerging London artist Coco Lom, whose creations were inspired by children’s ideas, the Playhouse provides inspiration to families to bring playtime into their homes.


As part of the study, over 3,500 parents, guardians and carers across Europe were asked about how their family approaches playtime. Over a third (40%) explained they encourage play to feed their children’s imaginations.


A third (34%) agreed that tools help with playtime, the most popular of which were games consoles (46%), arts & crafts (45%) and puzzles (44%). Parents play with their children for 30 minutes a day on average to help stimulate further development.


Nearly half (44%) believe shared imaginative play may play a big part in the career path their child chooses to take in later life, and 27% are actively trying to inspire their children’s futures and careers via playtime. Science (28%), engineering (28%), teaching (28%) and design (27%) proved to be the most popular jobs that parents hope their kids will explore.


When asked how they play to influence their child’s future, 33% said that reading takes centre-stage, with other popular activities including arts & crafts (24%) and storytelling and creating (23%).


Disney’s Wonder-ful Playhouse is open until 6 March. For those unable to visit in person, a series of how-to videos can be found on Disney Junior YouTube and DisneyFamilyUK Instagram channels**, alongside a new interactive Wonder of Play Instagram filter, which generates new and personalised play ideas. The step-by-step videos, inspired by the stories and characters of Disney, Pixar, Disney Princess, Star Wars™ and MARVEL, aim to inspire families to play using their surroundings at any time of day.  A Wonder of Play campaign video to mark the launch will be available on Disney UK YouTube, celebrating play with toys inspired by Disney’s beloved brands and franchises.


To further support Disney’s Social Purpose and commitment to children in hospitals, a total of 40,000 Imaginative Play Packs have been specifically created for 116 partner hospitals across 21 countries including Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Romania, The Netherlands, Poland and the UK and Ireland.


The Play Packs – which aim to help bring the Wonder of Play to families everywhere – sit as part of a wider hospital programme and have been developed in partnership with Disney’s long-standing charity partner MediCinema and health care professionals, to help deliver Moments that Matter, bringing comfort and joy to seriously ill children whilst reducing anxiety and isolation.


TV personality Billie Shepherd commented: “It’s always busy in our household and having just had baby Margot has only added to the craziness! No matter what, we will always make sure to set time aside to play as a family, making sure we’re giving the kids the tools they need for their future.”


“The capacity to explore our imaginations through play is a fundamental part of childhood development, which is why it is vital to support and nurture play in the home. The Institute of Imagination is delighted to be working with Disney to celebrate and champion the power of play, with imaginative ideas and prompts that promote the merits of everyday play in our lives”, says Tom Doust, Executive Director at the Institute of Imagination.


Coco Lom commented: “What an incredibly exciting creative challenge it’s been to design this Playhouse. Disney has such a big history of stories and characters to use as inspiration, and I hope that everyone who visits will come away with a ton of new and wonderful ideas to help them play more together at home. It’s been a joy to work on the design with a local group of brilliantly creative children, taking their limitless ideas and turning them into reality. Creative family play is so important for children’s health and wellbeing.”



Sarah Fox, VP Marketing & Communications, Disney Consumer Products, Games & Publishing EMEA said, “We know how important imaginative play of all kinds is for families and their children. Not only do they give families time to spend bonding together, but it’s also key in building the necessary skills for our children’s development long after they grow out of playing at home.  We know it can feel like children grow up too quickly and time is precious, so we hope our Wonder of Play campaign helps give families easy ways to prioritize play and make the everyday special, whatever they’re doing – be it waiting for the dentist, travelling on the bus, or buying groceries.”


All toys and costumes from LEGO, Rubies, Hasbro and Just Play spanning Disney, Pixar, Star Wars™ and MARVEL are featured in the Playhouse and are available to purchase from Smyths Toys Superstores and other leading toy retailers.

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