Disney Interactive Victoria

Moby ID: 945

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  • Sanctuary Woods Multimedia Corporation (from 1988 to 1996-05)

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Sanctuary Woods Multimedia Corporation (SWMC) was a Canadian/USA based interactive media company founded in 1988 by Canadian financier Brian J. Beninger and his wife Toni. The Beningers, who had already founded a software company called Speakeasy Software as early as 1978, were also breeders of St. Bernards dogs, and the new company was named after the famous Sanctuary Woods kennel, operated by Beatrice Knight.

The company started in Kanata, Ont. and moved later on to Victoria, B.C. Originally the company focused on developing customized interactive business applications for corporations such as Northern Telecom and Bell-Northern Research, as well as for federal agencies.

The company went public in December 1991 (Vancouver Stock Exchange, and since September 1993 Nasdaq). In 1992 the company entered the media market when it launched two commercial CD-Rom titles, Victor Vector & Yondo: The Vampire’s Coffin and Shelley Duvall’s A Bird's Life.

In 1993 the company opened a U.S. headquarters in San Mateo, CA and appointed Scott A. Walchek (former Macromedia) as President and COO. Title development continued at the original Victoria location. In the same year the company acquired Mind F/X, Inc., which was followed by the acquisition of Magic Quest, Inc. in 1994 and Theatrix Interactive, Inc. in 1997.

In spite of these acquisitions, the company suffered losses in these years. In 1995, 34 titles were available for sale versus 24 in the previous year, including the new entertainment titles Buried in Time (developed by Presto) and Ripley's Believe It or Not!: The Riddle of Master Lu, and the education titles Franklin's Reading World and NFL Math. Though the net revenue in consumer titles doubled, the net loss was over 18 million dollars, about 2 ½ times the loss of 1994.

In January 1996, Charlotte J. Walker was appointed to the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of the company, in a period that the company experienced severe liquidity problems.

In May 1996 the Victoria studio (36-person) was sold to Disney Interactive for approximately $1.9 million, and it was announced that the company would focus development on its education product line. (The Disney part was dissolved in 2003.) As a consequence Orion Burger, the company’s second adventure game, was licensed to Eidos Interactive (in June 1996).

In July 1996 it was determined that the company no longer met the requirements for inclusion on the Nasdaq Small Cap Market, and the company's stock ceased trading on the National Small Cap Market and began trading on the OTC Bulletin Board.

In September the company announced that it would change its internet address from www.sanctuary.com to www.ah-hah.com on October 1, 1996. The site was conceived as a transaction-based website, at which children would be able to compete, play educational on-line programs, update their CD-ROM products and communicate with other children. In 1997, Sanctuary Woods made a showcase site for children and sport, the NFL Web site www.playfootball.com.

In these years various steps were taken to restructure its operations. Besides changes in senior management, a substantial reduction of employees took place, from 148 in December 1995 to 32 employees in March 1997. All attempts to improve operations and cash-flows didn’t bring the desired result. On July 6, 1999 the company filed for bankruptcy.

Credited on 35 Games from 1992 to 2002

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Disney Learning Adventure: Search for the Secret Keys (2002 on Windows, Macintosh)
Disney Phonics Quest (2001 on Windows, Macintosh)
Disney Kindergarten (2000 on Windows, Macintosh)
Disney's Mickey Mouse Toddler (2000 on Windows, Macintosh)
Disney's Winnie the Pooh: Kindergarten (2000 on Windows, PlayStation, Macintosh)
Disney's Activity Centre: Tarzan (1999 on Windows)
Disney's Winnie the Pooh: Preschool (1999 on Windows, PlayStation, Macintosh)
Disney's Winnie the Pooh: Toddler (1999 on Macintosh, Windows)
Disney's Hades Challenge (1998 on Windows, Macintosh)
Disney's Adventures in Typing with Timon and Pumbaa (1998 on Windows, Macintosh)
Disney's Animated Storybook: Mulan (1998 on Windows, PlayStation, Macintosh)
Disney's Hot Shots: Cub Chase (1998 on Windows)
Disney's Hot Shots: Swampberry Sling (1998 on Windows)
Disney's Ready For Math With Pooh (1997 on Windows, Macintosh)
Disney's Ready to Read with Pooh (1997 on Windows, Macintosh)
Franklin's Activity Center (1996 on Windows 3.x, Macintosh)
NFL Reading (1996 on Windows 3.x, Macintosh)
Orion Burger (1996 on DOS, Macintosh)
Lion (1995 on DOS)
Ripley's Believe It or Not!: The Riddle of Master Lu (1995 on DOS, Macintosh)

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History +

July 6, 1999

Company files for bankruptcy.

August 12, 1997

Company acquires Theatrix Interactive.

June 26, 1996

Company licensed Orion Burger, an animated graphic adventure, to Eidos Interactive.

May 1996

Entertainment studio sold to Disney Interactive and renamed to Disney Interactive Victoria.

April 1996

Company announced that it would focus development on its education product line.

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Trivia +

Location and contact information in Nov. 1994:

Sanctuary Woods Inc.
1825 South Grant Street, Suite 410
San Mateo, CA 94402
Tel: 415-286-6000

Location of the Victoria Studio (until May 1996):

Sanctuary Woods Multimedia Corporation

1006 Government Street

Victoria, B.C., Canada V8W 1X7

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