Wondertime to fold

The economy has taken another toll on magazines: Disney’s Wondertime magazine will cease publishing after  its March issue.

The parent-focused monthly had a total paid and verified circulation of 396,491. Another 113,470 unpaid but verified copies gave Wondertime a total circulation of 510,961 as of June 30. Its rate base was 500,000. The economy was a major factor in the decision to stop publishing.

“I think our business team and editorial team were making a lot of excellent progress, but the market conditions are unprecedentedly bad,” said Ann Hallock, editorial director, US consumer magazines, Disney Publishing Worldwide. “I think the main thing the senior execs at Disney Publishing wanted was to focus on core businesses like FamilyFun magazine and other parts of the publishing group that are more established in these conditions. Wondertime is, editorially, a great product that has won awards, but, unfortunately, it’s a unique time in the economy.”

Wondertime subscribers can choose to receive FamilyFun — which has a lot of overlap with Wondertime in its editorial focus — or a refund. Readers will be informed of the switch with the March issue, possibly through a coverwrap.

Disney Publishing execs continue to have faith in the strength of FamilyFun, which has recently raised its rate base from 2 million to 2.1 million. That brand also has seen double-digit newsstand growth in 2008 and is publishing four books in the Fall.

“In this economy, FamilyFun has a lot of potential because it’s about doing inexpensive things at home with your family,” Hallock noted.

Wondertime’s companion Web site, Wondertime.com, will live on through April, when it will be absorbed into Disney Online’s family network, which includes Family.com, FamilyFun.com and iParenting.com.

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