A Look at D23's Spring Issue
Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 5:32p Pacific Time
Here is a rundown of the Spring 2013 issue of D23’s magazine; Disney Twenty-Three. James Franco and Oz: The Great and Powerful appear on the wrap-around cover while the issue also features stories on Disney’s Animal Kingdom, The Disney Channel, and Walt himself. Gold D23 members’ magazine will also include reproductions of Disneyland Valentine’s Day cards. Here are my thoughts on select articles that appear inside the issue.
The Magic’s in the Details by Michael Crawford: This is a neat article about the hidden details in New Fantasyland. What I like about this article is that it gives you those fun facts about the park that Disney fans love to share with others. Since this is a new area of the park, be the first Disney fan on your block to be one of those know-it-all Disney fans.
Channeling Disney by Ty Ervin: This might be my favorite article due to my unusual sensibilities. It discusses the creation and evolution of The Disney Channel. This Walker-era initiative is a subject that very little has been written about though many have given their commentary on the channel’s evolution to its current tween focus. Perhaps the most interesting story is about Mickey and the Playboy Bunny making a rare appearance together to launch the network.
A Great and Powerful Odyssey by Janelle Tipton: This cover story is all about the upcoming release of “Oz: The Great and Powerful”. The article tells the story of the film’s development and close association with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Lots of attention is given to the visual development that gives the film its unique look.
Returning to Oz by Max Lark: The always-great Max Lark looks back at Disney’s long history with Oz with a focus on the 1985 Return to Oz. While the article focuses on this unique film, it goes back to Walt’s time from Walt starting to look at Oz in 1937 to purchasing the rights to 11 Oz books in 1954. The article continues to go through history such as the airing of the Rainbow Road to Oz as part of the Disneyland show in 1957 and Disneyland Records releasing Storyteller albums including 1965’s The Scarecrow of Oz with Ray Bolger. Max then looks at the development and filming of Return to Oz including an interview with Brian Henson, son of Jim Henson. All in all, this story is a great look at the long history Disney has with L. Frank Baum’s classic books. The story ends with the announcement that Oz artifacts will be a part of the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives at the D23 Expo.
The World on a String by Billy Stanek: This interview with puppeteer Bob Baker discusses his Disney work, which began before he was in high school when he put on a show for Diane Disney’s birthday party. His association with Disney continued as he worked on the window displays on Main Street, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, and film projects such as Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Bob also reveals that he will be donating a part of his collection to the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, tying his story back to Diane Disney; where it all began.
Natural Wonders by Billy Stanek: As Disney’s Animal Kingdom approaches its fifteenth anniversary this April; Billy Stanek talks to Joe Rohde about the development of the unique theme park that stemmed from an idea by Michael Eisner. The most interesting part of the article is how Joe articulates the different style of storytelling the park utilizes. The non-linear ambient story that the park tells is one of the things that makes the park unique. Joe also tells some charming stories about the learning curve of building a theme park that included real animals as well as the design of the park’s icon; The Tree of Life.
A Glass Act by Tim O’Day: As a Disney fan, we are all familiar with the Arribas Brothers stores that appear at all Disney Destinations around the globe. While we are familiar with these unique glass boutiques, we know very little of the Arribas brothers themselves. These Spanish brothers met the Disney brothers at the 1964 World’s Fair and began the discussions of being featured at Disneyland. Their first store opened on June 15, 1967 and the rest is history. This article is another highlight and I urge you not to pass it by.
80 Big Bad Years by David Gerstein: This article looks at the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf on the anniversary of the successful Silly Symphony. While Walt is famed for saying, “You Can’t Follow Pigs with Pigs,” I was impressed on the continued use of the pigs and the wolf in various Disney projects up to the current day. The author discusses the sequels, the comics, the books, and the music that stemmed from the Oscar winning short which highlights its ongoing success and cultural relevance.
This is another nice issue of Disney Twenty-Three. My highlights were the stories that are seldom told such as the Arribas brothers and Return to Oz. While these are not considered essential knowledge to the average Disney fan, they are great stories nonetheless and can hardly be considered retreads of often told stories. I am looking forward to the summer issue, what do you think the cover story will be?
Limited Time True Love
Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 11:10a Pacific Time
Yesterday I visited the Magic Kingdom to take a gander at their “True Love Week” Limited Time Magic. Now while recent promotions have left me wanting more, I was pleasantly surprised. Don’t get me wrong, this was not a huge deal. Instead it was small touches like décor, lighting, and photo ops that added a little something special to the day. It did not take over the park, just added a little extra pixie dust.
The Princesses who were with their Princes was very popular at Town Square Theatre posting a 60 minute wait while I waited for my Tony’s Town Square reservation. Many kids came out of the experience with big smiles on their faces while holding their special autograph cards. It was really great to see.
While at Tony’s Town Square, they had a non-promoted Limited Time Magic special. You got a garden salad, spaghetti and meatballs, strawberry cheesecake, and a fountain drink for $30 per person. For those that wanted to recreate the most romantic scene in Disney cinematic history, it was a nice touch. As an aside, the food at Tony’s was much better than I remember; if you have not been in awhile you might want to give it another glance.
There were special PhotoPass locations throughout the park. While the Valentine’s Day Mickey and Minnie Topiary and Cinderella’s Coach got a lot of attention, I enjoyed the hidden gem of the alcove by the Crystal Palace. They added some greenery that made it a nice snapshot that features Cinderella Castle in the background.
The final love-filled touch of my evening was a heart projected on the ground as I exited the park while the Baroque Hoedown played in the background. It was a perfect example of what this Limited Time Magic promotion was, small touches that added up to be much more than the sum of its parts.
MU: Monsters University grabbed some headlines at Toy Fair with the unveiling of the toy program that will support the film. We also got a few more details about the plot. It turns out that Mike and Sulley were roommates at MU however they both had the same major. The ensuing competition between the future best friends results in some Animal House-style antics. Reminds me of my college days of debauchery staying up late watching Disney films while drinking Coca-Cola. I was such a rebel.
MU.edu: Speaking of Monsters University, Disney Interactive took the opportunity to unveil their Monsters Inc. characters from Disney Infinity. This one game has the ability to make or break the entire Disney Interactive unit. Expect to see more publicity from this endeavor as we head to launch date.
Fusion: ABC News and Univision has announced that their joint-venture news channel that caters to English-speaking Hispanics will be called Fusion. For those of us that remember high school physics know that fusion is the process of combining two or more distinct entities into a new whole. The question is whether the process of combining ABC News and Univision will create ratings energy. If not, the resulting aftermath could prove to be interesting. What will the channel evolve into as it sees what works and what does not. Should be an interesting thing to watch.
This is the Spring Training You Were Looking For: Predating Star Wars Weekends by two months, Disney Parks has announced their first Star Wars collaboration. On 3/15 and 3/16 ESPN’s Wide World of Sports will host Star Wars Days at the Atlanta Braves Spring Training. Even before the merger, Star Wars has participated in these themed days at various sporting events around the country, but it should be interesting to see what happens at the first one held at a venue that is owned by the same company. Batter’s Up!
Good Morning Disney 2/12
Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 6:46a Pacific Time
Happy Fat Tuesday! Hope you are enjoying the celebration. Rumor has it that North Korea celebrated by showing John Carter. Apparently there was a huge misunderstanding of what they had done.
In other news, passengers of the Carnival Triumph are wishing they booked their vacation on a Disney Cruise instead. Disney’s ships feature running water and power as part of the Disney Difference that adds that extra level of magic that you may not experience with other providers.
And in international sports, Wrestling has been dropped from the Olympic program from the 2020 games and will have to submit to be included with other sports contending for the spot. If you are a wrestling fan, I blame this on ESPN not being awarded the Olympic TV contract for the United States (They do broadcast it in Brazil).
Top 5 Things To Know Today:
- D23’s latest issue of their magazine, Disney Twenty-Three, is available today. The cover story is about Oz: The Great and Powerful and also features stories about Disney’s long history with L. Frank Baum’s novels. The Spring issue also provides a first look of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen and the history of Disney Parks’ long association with Arribas Bros.
- Wreck-It Ralph is available for digital download. This is three week prior to its Blu-Ray release. This is the first time Disney has offered a film for download prior to it being available on physical media.
- Disney’s preschool hit, Sofia the First, has released its soundtrack. This show, along with Doc McStuffins and Jake and the Neverland Pirates has made Disney Junior a force to be recognized with in the dog-eat-dog world of preschool television.
- After fifteen years, Dr. Cyrus Mills returns to rural Vermont to inherit the Bedside Manor for Sick Animals, the failing veterinary practice of his recently deceased and long-estranged father. Cyrus, a veterinary pathologist far more comfortable with cold clinical facts than living, breathing animals intends to sell the practice and get out of town as fast as he can. Then his first patient Frieda Fuzzypaws wags her way through the door, and suddenly life gets complicated. Hyperion Books releases Nick Trout’s The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs. You all know how much I love dogs so this might be a winner for me, as long as they focus on Fuzzypaws and not Dr. Mills
- ABC News provides complete coverage of President Obama’s State of the Union address. Rumor has it, that the state of the union is strong.
True Love Week: If you are looking for a last minute Valentine’s Day gift, and you live near a Disney Park, the Disney Parks Blog is showcasing some last minute gift ideas. My personal favorite is the Cupid Vinylmation. He is just adorable.
Countdown to the Oscars: The Academy has released special posters of all the films nominated for Best Picture. Lincoln is featured in a screen print by British Columbia-based artist Jeff Boyes.
ABC Sweep Highlight: In tonight’s episode of “The Taste,” teams are given five unique ingredients to create a special dish, while in the individual round, contestants prepare fare to complement a selection of wines. Consider it your amuse bouche prior to The State of the Union if you live on the East Coast and your aperitif to cleanse your palate. It airs at 8/7c on ABC.
Good Morning Disney 2/11
Posted Monday, February 11, 2013 at 5:18a Pacific Time
As we wake up this morning we are learning that Pope Benedict XVI will resign. Disney has announced that they will purchase the Vatican and have green-lit Pope Benedict XVII, XVIII, and XIX. They are hoping to have J.J. Abrams to lead the conclave even though he is already leading the Lutheran church. Stay tuned to ABC News for updates.
Top 5 Things to Know Today:
1. True Love Week begins at Disneyland at Walt Disney World as part of Limited Time Magic. This is the first of the major Limited Time Magic promotions with meet and greets being combined with special merchandise, food and beverage, and special park décor.
2. As part of Disneyland’s Lunar New Year Limited Time Magic festivities, Disneyland Park will host AP screenings of Mulan. I have had the inch to watch this film lately as the voice of Mulan, Ming-Na, is staring in ABC’s S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot
3. New York Toy Faire continues with tons of Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars products being announced. It runs through 2/13.
4. ESPN airs Marquette at Georgetown at 7ET. The Golden Eagles held off Georgetown 49-48 on January 5 despite a game-high 18 points and seven assists by Hoyas junior Markel Starks. Virginia native Davante Gardner anchors Marquette.
5. ESPN’s College Basketball action continues at 9ET as Kansas State takes on Kansas in a Sunflower State showdown. Kansas tamed the Wildcats 59-55 on January 22 even with a career-high 19 points by Shane Southwell. Should be an exciting game.
ABC’s Sweep Highlight: On an all-new Castle, Beckett and Castle investigate the homicide of an emerging reality star who was part of the cast of “The Wives of Wall Street”. Meanwhile, Castle runs into trouble as he searches for a Valentine’s Day present for Beckett.
Countdown to Oscars: Last night, Brave won Best Animated Film at the BAFTAs last night. It should be noted that Wreck-It Ralph has just been released in the United Kingdom so is technically a 2013 release in this territory:
True Love Week: As you prepare to celebrate your true love, consider making this Mickey’s Valentine’s Day Photo Frame. It is a great way to add a little Disney to the holiday and as we all know, Disney makes everything better.
Earning More Star Wars
Posted Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 9:28a Pacific Time
Disney announced their quarterly earnings for the first quarter of the 2013 fiscal year (Oct-Dec). When excluding certain one-time expenses, Disney has earnings per share of $.79 compared to the record breaking $.80 the prior year. While this is lower than last year, it beat the street’s expectations by three cents and the stock rallied in after-hours trading.
While it is always exciting, when Disney beats the street, the news that has fans excited is what Bob Iger broke on CNBC just after the earnings were announced. He has confirmed that Disney is going to make stand-alone Star Wars films that take place outside of the “Saga Films” (Episodes VII, VIII, IX). While he won’t confirm the subjects or the number of these films, he did mention that Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class) is working on one while Larry Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back) is working on another.
Bob did give some further details of how Star Wars will be seen now that is has officially become part of the Disney family. A few weeks ago, he went with representatives from all of Disney’s divisions to Lucasfilm to discuss their future plans. It was decided they would focus all of their attention and brand equity into the J.J. Abrams directed Episode VII. This probably played into the decision to delay the 3D rerelease of Episodes II and III.
There was talk of future interactive, consumer products, theme parks experiences, and television. And while all of these avenues are being discussed and developed, the priority remains Episode VII. It is likely that most of these efforts will come to light following the film’s release, which Bob said was on target for a Summer 2015 release. Think of Episode VII as Star Wars’ coming-out party in the same way Avengers was Marvel’s.
On interesting note, was Bob mentioned that Imaginnering was working on Star Wars experiences prior to the acquisition and that they have presented their work to Lucasfilm. Expect to see more Star Wars in the parks, but after J.J. expands the universe.
And on to other things discussed during the earnings announcement,
For Media Networks, 7 out of 10 affiliate agreements have been made with multi-channel providers. 2 of the remaining 3 are the two major satellite provider.
Disney Junior is having great success with Doc McStuffins, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse being the top shows in kids 2-5. The Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess TV movie was the top Disney Channel broadcast in this demo as well. Bob expects Disney Junior to be a major factor in growth as the channel had a low price for cable providers in order to get in to households. Now that the channel is a success, expect that price to go up. ABC Family also had great success with strong ratings growth.
ESPN continues to be successful, but was hampered by increased sports costs with new deals going in to affect. New affiliate deals will be coming online in 2013 which will offset these increased programming costs when looking at the entire year even if it makes this quarter look a little rough. Currently Disney is looking on how to exit from the loses at ESPN’s U.K. business now that they have lost their Premiere League rights.
Bob tested MyMagic+ last week and thought it was very exciting. He made a point to mention that the initiative is completely optional. The programs will be rolled out over the next several months, but parts of it will rollout over the very long term. He is excited that Guests will be able to plan out their day and have a guarantee that they will be able to experience their favorite attractions. Most of MyMagic+’s capital expense has been spent and now the increased operating costs are coming in to play. It should be noted that MyMagic+ has a much shorter depreciation life than other types of investments such as attractions.
The parks saw higher income in their domestic parks with higher Guest spending at Walt Disney World and Disneyland while there were significant attendance growth at Disneyland. Occupancy was down 4%, but this is due to more rooms being available with the opening of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. International income was down due to higher costs at Disneyland Paris and starting to spend more money on Shanghai Disneyland, which was partially offset by higher Guest spending at Hong Kong Disneyland.
Disney Interactive was profitable for the first time this quarter. They expect to have losses in the second quarter, but continue to remain hopeful that it will be profitable for the year. The big swing factor is Disney Infinity, which could go either way. Infinity is expected to be an evergreen initiative that will last for several years as it expands with new characters, new worlds, and on new platforms. So far, Disney has been impressed with the reception Infinity has received from gamers but also retailers.
Disney is also seeing great success with their mobile business in Japan, which is the complete opposite of the fate of their domestic Disney Mobile which launched and closed several years ago.
Bob mentioned Wreck-It Ralph as a Studio highlight and that it is nominated, along with Brave and Frankenweenie for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. Home Entertainment had a challenge this quarter due to having to compare the successful releases of Cars 2 and The Lion King, with the less successful Brave and Cinderella.
When asked about the recent deal to move their Pay-TV relationship to Netflix from Starz, Bob mentioned that he was impressed with their platform and their user interface. Th4ey also stepped up and paid the right price, which was important. Bob does not expect this deal to significantly cannibalize cable and satellite subscriptions as they provide different content.
At Consumer Products, Spider-Man and Avengers merchandise made up for lower sales from Cars merchandise. The Disney Stores in the U.S. and Japan also saw growth as the new store concept continues to rollout.
Investors had a lot of questions about the future of Hulu, which Disney is a part-owner. Bob declined to comment as he is neither on Hulu’s board or their spokesperson. Disney did take a $55 million charge related to Hulu’s owners buying out Providence Capital stake in the website.
In the end, this was another successful earnings announcement for The Walt Disney Company. What I love about Disney is that it is able to be a successful business by investing in great content. I cannot wait to watch this company buildup to the big year they should have in 2015. It should be nothing short of “magical”.
Good Morning Disney 2/6/2013
Posted Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 7:03a Pacific Time
I write this post facing a conundrum. I have always used the iron from my Monopoly set to iron all my clothes. I am not sure what I will do moving forward… Can you iron a shirt using a cat? I am really distraught, at least I have my dog to cheer me up. He is small and doesn’t move unless you pick him up, but he still loves me.
Next thing you know, they will stop delivering mail on Saturdays.
Top 5 Things To Know Today:
1. Today is National Signing Day where college recruits sign to the school they intend to attend and play at. And who would cover college sports the best? ESPNU of course, which has live coverage all day. Of course this means “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” is bumped, but consider that an extra bonus.
2. On a new episode of “Modern Family”, Cameron’s school production of “Phantom of the Opera” is in jeopardy when his star gets sick, but Manny has a plan to come to the rescue. Meanwhile, Phil’s golf lesson with Jay turns into a competition with Mitchell and Pepper. Alex tags along on Gloria’s errands, which includes a visit to a psychic. This episode airs on ABC at 9/8c.
3. On “ Nashville” Rayna discovers Deacon has joined Julliette’s band while she wants to blow up her bubble-gum, pop-star image and show the world what she’s really all about. Check it out at 10/9c on the American Broadcasting Company.
4. Marvel releases All-New X-Men #7 in which Mystique targets the young time-traveling X-Men.
5. Avengers #5 introduces Smasher, the first human member of the Imperial Guard, as the Avengers travel across the galaxy to fight off an invading force.
ABC’s Sweep Highlights: ABC’s The Neighbors is teetering on the edge of being renewed for a second season or getting cancelled. If you like the show, make sure you are tuning in. In tonight’s episode, Debbie gives relationship advice to Reggie Jackson when he starts dating a nerdy girl, though his parents cannot believe he has romantic interests. Meanwhile, Amber’s new boyfriend is a dumb jock, but she doesn’t want to talk to her mom about it. Airs at 830/730c.
Countdown to Oscars: The Avengers are assembling at the Oscars. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Samuels L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, and Mark Ruffalo will be presenting at the telecast. Apparently Chris Hemsworth is stuck on Asgard filming “Thor: The Dark World” and could not make the ceremony. Either that or the Academy saw Red Dawn.
Good Morning Disney 2/5/13
Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 6:25a Pacific Time
Top 5 Things To Know Today:
- The Walt Disney Company will announce their earnings for the 1st Quarter of the 2013 Fiscal Year (Oct-Dec), after the bell today. I will write a blog analyzing the report and my thoughts on the earnings call later today.
- On its 60th anniversary, Peter Pan is available on Blu-Ray and Digital Download. I am looking forward to the Growing Up With Nine Old Men bonus feature directed by Ted Thomas that examines what it looks like growing up with the Nine Old Men as your fathers. Learn more from USA Today.
- Available on DVD is “Ultimate Spider-Man: Avenging Spider-Man,” which features the first 12 episodes of the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon that airs on Disney XD. This is the first show produced by Marvel Animation as opposed to a 3rd party.
- As you get excited for “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” you may want to pick up “Minnie’s The Wizard of Dizz” on DVD. Minnie and Pluto end up in the land of Dizz and meet Scarecrow Goofy, Mickey the Tin Mouse, and Donald the Lion on a quest to see the Wizard of Dizz. While this Mickey Mouse Clubhouse spinoff seems charming, it may be hard to find. Despite today being its supposed release date, it is hard to find with it not even being available on Amazon. Perhaps I should just close my eyes and click my heels three times and it will magically appear in my DVD player.
- Grace Alban has spent more than twenty years avoiding her childhood home, the stately Alban House on the shores of Lake Superior, for reasons she would rather forget. But when her mother’s unexpected death brings Grace and her teenage daughter back, she finds more is haunting the halls and passageways of Alban House than her own personal demons. You can find out what happens if you pick up Hyperion Books’ “The Fate of Mercy Alban” by Wendy Webb, which is available today. You can read an excerpt here.
ABC’s Sweep Highlights: ABC’s new cooking competition, “The Taste,” features an episode centered around comfort food at 8/7c. Speaking of comfort food….Don’t forget that today is National Pancake Day and to celebrate IHOP is giving away a free short stack with an encouraged donation to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Not much of a Disney connection, but who doesn’t love free pancakes?
Countdown to Oscars: Yesterday was the annual Oscar Nominee Luncheon and Oscars.com was there. You can relive the glitz and glamour of the banquet with the transcript of the live blog. Remember… it is an honor just to be nominated.
Video Killed The Radio Star
Posted Monday, February 4, 2013 at 4:49p Pacific Time
Today. Disney Interactive announced an alliance with VEVO to create family friendly music experiences. Of course my first question was, “what is VEVO?” Well apparently I am out of the loop as VEVO is the leading provider of music videos on the Internet. VEVO was created by Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Abu Dhabi Media to syndicate music videos across the wild tundra of the Internet. In short, it is a Hulu for music videos. You can watch the videos on VEVO platforms or one of the venues VEVO syndicates to, such as YouTube. Are you one of the 827,626,931 that have watched Justin Bieber’s “Baby” on the Internet? Then you have used VEVO, even if you have not realized it.
Disney will create destinations with VEVO where you can watch family friendly videos online. Radio Disney and Disney Music Group will also produce original content such as exclusive events, video premieres, and live music experiences with Disney artists. These additional features will allow Disney to spread its content across the Internet by partnering with the industry leader.
This partnership makes sense as it plays into Disney’s Internet strategy of making their content available wherever and whenever its guests want it. It will also shine a greater light on Disney’s music business, which is struggling to match the highs of the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus days. I also hope it will help Radio Disney’s Internet presence as they pulled the short straw when it came to the recent Disney.com redesign lacking many of the features and content it had in its prior incarnation.
What do you think about this partnership? While I wait for your reply, I will be enjoying PSY’s Gangnam Style.
He Went to Disney World: I visited the Magic Kingdom to see Joe Flacco, the Super Bowl MVP, participate in the traditional ticker tape parade down Main Street U.S.A. This event is always fun for me to attend as I grew up watching the “I’m Going to Disney World” commercials. It is great to be there as it happens. That being said it is always a bit of a frustrating experience. As you can imagine, the Super Bowl MVP has a busy schedule. This makes it hard for Disney to pinpoint a time that the parade will take place, which results in a lot of waiting. Hours waiting in Town Square can be a bit frustrating to me as a Disney fan, but I can’t help but notice the people this event is truly for. The fans of the winning team don’t seem to mind the wait. Decked out in their jersey, they wait patiently for a brief glimpse of the player that had the most to do with their team hoisting up the Vince Lombardi Trophy. This is one event that is not made for Disney fans, it is made for the faithful of one of the NFL’s 32 teams that have been dreaming of this moment since they first became invested in “their team.”
Keep Blogging: Today Disney Channel announced that my role model, Stan, will keep blogging. Their original series, “Dog with a Blog,” has been renewed for a second season. Those that know me know that I LOVE this series. It combines my two favorite things; Disney and talking animals. It is not just me though, the series is the number 2 TV series in the fourth-quarter of 2012 in kids 2-11 and kids 6-11. These are the demos that I most fit in with, so it should not be a surprise that I can’t wait for more of Stan.
Happy Birthday Michael Jordan: ESPN announced today that they will be hosting a two-week tribute honoring Michael Jordan leading up to his 50th birthday on February 17. There will be features across all ESPN platforms. I am still trying to find out which ESPN enterprise will pay tribute to his legendary Minor League Baseball career.
Inside the Box: Before “1952” was revealed to be “Tomorrowland”, Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird tweeted pictures of a mysterious box labeled 1952 and featuring an eclectic assortment of oddities inside. These images sparked interest in the project while many tried to discern what clues the contents might provide. Director of the Walt Disney Archives, Becky Cline, examined the box and provided her thoughts to D23. She has some neat insight, however the mystery remains as to what “Tomorrowland” will be about. This should be a fun mystery to play with over the next 2 years.
Good Morning Disney 2/4/2013
Posted Monday, February 4, 2013 at 3:18a Pacific Time
What a great game! Despite my time losing, you have to admit that the game was electric. And while my beloved 49ers did not get a sixth ring, as a Disney fan there was plenty to celebrate. We got 3 different ads for upcoming Disney films during the Big Game festivities. If you missed them, you can watch them as you wait for MVP Joe Flacco to parade down Main Street U.S.A. at the Magic Kingdom.
The Lone Ranger sponsored the 6 o’clock hour of the CBS Pregame Show. Not only did we get a 90 second ad, we also got a Lone Ranger themed opening video package that mixed footage of the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, and scenes from the upcoming movie. As the game went on, and during the blackout, @LoneRanger asked questions about the ad on Twitter where you could win fabulous prizes. If you missed the spot, you can watch it here.
The next Disney spot was for Oz: The Great and Powerful. This was more of a traditional ad ahead of the March 6 release. The commercial is also available for viewing on Disney.com.
The final Disney ad appeared frustratingly late during the game, but many feel that it was worth the wait. While the version that aired during the game was on :30, you can watch an “extended look” featuring Robert Downey Jr. on Facebook.
And now, here are some of my favorite tweets from Disney related personalities during The Big Game!
“This is only the beginning. #electro” -@MarcW (Marc Webb, Director of the Amazing Spider-Man 2)
“I know it’s drastic, but after that kickoff runback I had to do something. Once 9ers collect themselves, I’ll restore the stadium lights.” -@BradBirdA113 (Brad Bird, Director of Tomorrowland)
“Go Niners. (This Tweet does not reflect the view or opinion of Marvel Entertainment, Inc. or its subsidiaries.)” -@axelalonsomarv (Axel Alonso, Editor-in-Chief of Marvel)
“If a power outage happens at the Oscars I'm hoping it's when Tommy Lee Jones is on stage and he has to kill 20 minutes. Alone.” -@joshuahorowitz (Josh Horowitz, co-creator of Once Upon A Time)
Top 5 Things To Know Today:
1) The Magic Kingdom will host Joe Flacco, Super Bowl MVP, with a ticker tape parade down Main Street. They really are going out for Limited Time Magic J
2) You can bet ESPN will have great post-game coverage all down on ESPN, ESPN.com, and ESPN Radio.
3) Daphne feels uncomfortable around Travis and Kathryn tries to get closer to Bay by volunteering to work at Carlton on a brand new episode of ABC Family’s Switched at Birth. Airs at 8/7c
4) Fanny sees red after Milly starts to dictate how she should run an upcoming dance recital. Sasha throws a housewarming party while Scotty and Michelle go on a road trip that involves a surprise detour on ABC Family’s Bunheads (sounds riveting). Airs at 9/8c on ABC Family.
5) Today is the last day to see “A Salute to the Golden Horseshoe Revue” at Disneyland Park.
ABC’s Sweeps Highlight: Castle (10/9c): Castle and Beckett discover evidence that links a senator to a young woman’s murder.
Countdown to Oscars: Oscar.com had an Academy Conversation with the filmmakers of Frankenweenie. It is nominated, along with Wreck-It Ralph, Brave, and non-Disney films, for the Best Animated Feature Award.
A Wonderful Night for the Annies
Posted Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 8:17a Pacific Time
The 40th Annual Annie Awards were held last night at Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA. After some years of voting controversy (do you remember when Kung-Fu Panda sweeped while WALL-E was left empty handed), the voting seems more balanced with many studios winning awards. The event host was Leonard Maltin who remained professional during an event riddled with technical problems and a few off-color moments. But the teleprompter problems, miscued video packages, and wrong envelopes could not dampen this celebration of animation. For those wondering, the best teleprompter joke went to A.N.T. Farm’s Mindy Sterling.
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Howard Green, Vice President Animation Communication, won the June Foray award for his commitment and support for animation. Howard Green developed relationships with Disney Legends, such as the Nine Old Men, and helped spread their story to the public. He brought Disney fans, and the public at large, stories about the history of Disney Animation. As a Disney fan, you have read or seen his work, even if you had not realized it.
Ming-Na (Mulan, S.H.I.E.L.D.,) presented Mark Henn with one of the Windsor McKay Awards. Mark Henn was Mulan’s supervising animator as well as many others including Jasmine, Young Simba, and Tiana. He was also the director of the award-winning John Henry short. Ming-Na mentioned how Mark including her own mannerisms into Mulan, so when her mother saw the film she recognized her daughter.
Here is a complete list of The Walt Disney Company’s Annie Award Winners:
Editing in a Feature Production Nicholas C. Smith, A.C.E., Robert Grahamjones, A.C.E., David Suther Brave – Pixar Animation Studios
These editors for Brave are really aces. Do you see what I did there?
Character Design in a TV/Broadcast Production Robert Valley, Disney Tron: Uprising: The Renegade, Part 1 – Disney TV Animation
Tron: Uprising got a huge response from the assembled. Despite its cancelation, it appears the show has many fans in the animation community.
Music in a Feature Production Henry Jackman, Skrillex, Adam Young, Matthew Thiessen, Jamie Houston, Yasushi Akimoto, Wreck-It Ralph – Walt Disney Animation Studios
The Annie’s probably went over budget on award sculptures due to 6 individuals contributed to the music of Wreck-It Ralph.
Animated Effects in a Live Action Production Jerome Platteaux, John Sigurdson, Ryan Hopkins, Raul Essig, Mark Chataway The Avengers – Industrial Light & Magic
This award is a twofer for Disney. It is a Marvel movie with special effects by Disney’s new effects house.
Production Design in a TV/Broadcast Production Alberto Mielgo, Tron: Uprising: The Stranger – Disney TV Animation
Alberto had a lot to say. I guess you have to get it all in when you know there won’t be a Season 2.
Production Design in a Feature Production Steve Pilcher, Brave – Pixar Animation Studios
At this point of the awards, I thought Brave might go all the way following its Golden Globes win…
Best Animated Short Subject Paperman – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Was there any doubt that Paperman was going to win? The crowd definitely supported this short.
Writing in a Feature Production Phil Johnson, Jennifer Lee, Wreck-It Ralph – Walt Disney Animation Studios
This is when I started to realize the crowd was very supportive of Wreck-It Ralph
Voice Acting in a Television/Broadcast Production Kristen Schaal as Mabel Pines Gravity Falls: Tourist Trapped – Disney TV Animation
Gravity Falls got some huge applause in Royce Hall. Kristen Schaal was very energetic and supportive of the show and its ability to find an audience. I think Gravity Falls might be the next Phineas and Ferb and crossover to a main stream audience.
Voice Acting in a Feature Production Alan Tudyk as King Candy Wreck-It Ralph – Walt Disney Animation Studio
Alan Tudyk, who also appears on ABC’s Suburgatory, was also very emphatic with praise for Wreck-It Ralph.
Directing in a Feature Production Rich Moore, Wreck-It Ralph – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Rich Moore thanked the Annies, which he has been attending for years. This was Rich’s first Disney film. I venture to guess that it will not be his last.
Animated Feature Wreck-It Ralph – Walt Disney Animation Studios
And Wreck-It Ralph has the upset! This sets the stage for the Oscars. Will the Golden Globes winner win? Or will the Annie Awards winner win? Both have had their own set of legitimacy concerns. Perhaps the Oscars can answer the question which award show is more legit; at least as far as the animated feature award goes. It is Pixar vs. Disney in a battle royale! Enjoy the final battle on ABC, February 24.
The Big Game
Posted Friday, February 1, 2013 at 6:31p Pacific Time
Disney Parks unveiled their latest Limited Time Magic promotion. From now through Game Day, the Magic Kingdom will feature a Countdown to Super Sunday pre-parade. On February 4th, the pre-parade will feature “an MVP appearance”. Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café will feature “Super Sunday” menu items all week. I hope you appreciate the irony of that. Ultimately, this is just an extension of the traditional “What’s Next” parade featuring the Big Game’s MVP, unless the MVP is Ray Lewis. (Also NFL, please note I never said the world “Super Bowl” so please don’t sue me )
Now you might read this later Limited Time Magic effort, and be underwhelmed. But don’t dismay, Disney Parks’ Year of the Ear continues with February Ear Headbands. And you thought Limited Time Magic was just a small promotion.
But wait, there’s more. The Disneyland Resort’s traditional Lunar New Year celebration is being enhanced. This year, there will be…. wait for it…. a special pin to commemorate the occasion. And you guessed it; the pin will only be available for a limited time.
Ok, I know sarcasm doesn’t come through writing very well. But you might have been able to pick up a hint of it. But is that fair? In the last twelve months, Disney Parks has given us the Disney Fantasy, New Fantasyland, Art of Animation, the reimagined Test Track, Cars Land, and Buena Vista Street. It is true; we may not have a new stunt each week that draws us in the park. But let’s face it; we got something better. We have new attractions, new experiences, and new entertainment. I would much rather have something that gets me in the parks every day, than a promotion that makes me want to go for a limited time.
We’re Off To See The Wizard: Apparently the way to see the wizard is to follow Mickey Avenue on the Disney Studio Lot. If you are a D23 member, you are invited to sign up for free screenings of “Oz: The Great and Powerful” on February 14, 15, and 16. This is a great way to see the film long before its release on March 8 and get a chance to get on the historic Walt Disney Studios lot. Just watch out for flying monkeys. (that is an term of endearment for Disney executives walking the lot)
O.W.C.A Disco Anthem: With Platypus Day just a little more than a month away, it is time to get the celebration started with the unveiling of Phineas and Ferb’s own version of Y.M.C.A. that honors Agent P’s employer, “The Organization Without a Cool Acronym”. You can download the song from iTunes, but beware, it is catchy.
Princess.com: The latest chapter of Disney.com launched today at http://princess.disney.com. This new princess portal features dress up apps, Ariel’s storybook app, dedicated pages for all 10 Disney Princesses, as well as video and image galleries of Disney royalty. But what is truly monumental about this milestone is that there is no mention of “Go” in the URL. I guess after 15 years, it is finally time to move on.
The Picks Are In: ESPN’s experts have made their picks for the big game and it looks like the 49ers have the edge (13-12). That being said, a monkey on Good Morning America picked the Ravens. So this game will solve the age-old question, “who knows more?” ESPN experts or monkeys.
Ewok Guac: Special Edition: StarWars.com has a recipe for Ewok Guac for the “Big Game” (They refer to the game by its true name, but I am not so bold). To recreate the true experience, follow these steps: 1) Make the Ewok Guac. 2) Everyone will enjoy it. 3) Try and make it better. 4) Have your friends resent you for trying to improve on your original creation.
If You Be Worthy: You can see the first official image from Thor: The Dark World on Marvel’s tumblr. Only 172,799 images to go, and we will have a movie!
Good Morning Disney 2/1
Posted Friday, February 1, 2013 at 5:41a Pacific Time
Top 5 Things to Know Today:
1) Today is the final day of Disney Parks being featured on Wheel of Fortune! Join Pat, Vanna, and your Disney Friends as they fill in the blanks.
2) On a new episode of “A.N.T. Farm,” Chyna and the ANTs are tasked with creating a special project for Black History Month. As Chyna struggles to write a song for her presentation, she decides to lock herself in a recording booth until she comes up with a great song. After accidentally falling asleep, Chyna takes a dream journey back in time where she becomes famous African American music icons from the past, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin and Janet Jackson. Using her dream as inspiration, Chyna writes a new version of the "A.N.T. Farm" theme song, "Exceptional," with lyrics that pay tribute to the great women who came before her. Airs at 800ET/PT n Disney Channel
3) Jessie also has a new episode following “A.N.T. Farm”. Zuri is having problems with a teacher (Cheri Oteri) at school, so, Jessie decides to volunteer in her classroom so she can assess the situation. Meanwhile, after Ravi finds out Mr. Kipling is in fact Mrs. Kipling, he struggles with his feelings over having a girl best friend. This episode guest stars Cheri Oteri from Inspector Gadget fame.
4) Disney Channel’s Night of Premieres concludes with a brand new episode of “Phineas and Ferb”. It’s time for Danville’s Doo Wop Hop and car show and the whole town is getting prepped for it. Doofenshmirtz is set on winning the show even if it means using his Rust-inator to turn all the other cars into red dust. Meanwhile, Candace’s hope for a car of her own has come true, but it’s not quite all she imagined.
5) 20/20 welcomes its new co-anchor, David Muir, who joins Elizabeth Vargas as they report on “Stars, Scars, and Celebrity Kids” Report airs at 10ET/PT
Countdown to Kickoff:
There are several ways to celebrate the “Big Game” with Disney. Here are some ideas:
- Make a recipe from Disney’s Spoonful.com. Try their version of a 7-layer Dip.
- You may not be able to make it to New Orleans, but you can enjoy Bayou Bash and Mardi Gras at Disneyland as part of Limited Time Magic
- When it comes to Sports and Disney, you have to turn to ESPN. They will feature a SportsCenter Special: The Champions at 2CT. Many other ESPN Radio and TV shows will broadcast from New Orleans all day. Don’t miss a special 4 hours edition of Sunday NFL Countdown at 9CT featuring a Big Game Edition of C’mon Man at 1235CT.
Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 9:08p Pacific Time
It is sweeps time… you know, the time of year when suddenly your local news turns in to Hard Copy. The benefit of sweeps is you get brand new episodes of your favorite shows, right? Well if you are a “Once Upon A Time” fan, you may be disappointed to know that February only brings us two new episodes. As the Super Bowl airs on CBS February 3rd and no one wants to compete with that while the Oscars preempts the show on February 24th. All is not lost dearies, as the episodes that are scheduled to air sound like they will be a lot of fun with some fantastic guest stars such as Jorge Garcia who you know from “Lost” and Ethan Embry who you know from “A Far Off Place”. Here are the official synopsis of the episodes from ABC.
"Tiny" - Kidnapped and brought to Storybrooke by Cora, the Giant (Jorge Garcia) unleashes his vengeance on the town when a case of mistaken identity leads him to try and settle an old score with David; Mr. Gold, accompanied by Emma and Henry, attempts to depart Storybrooke - hoping to keep his memory intact when he crosses the town line -- and heads to the airport in search of his son, Bae; and Greg (Ethan Embry) questions Belle as to what she saw on the night of his car accident. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was and against his brothers' wishes, Anton, the Giant, climbs down the beanstalk and attempts to befriend some humans - whose intentions may not be so noble, SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET).
"Manhattan" - While Mr. Gold, Emma and Henry go in search of Gold's son, Bae, in New York, Cora, Regina and Hook try to track down one of Rumplestiltskin's most treasured possessions. Meanwhile in the fairytale land that was, Rumplestiltskin realizes his destiny while fighting in the Ogres War, SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET).
The Other Fantasyland Expansion: The Disneyland Resort unveiled some more details of the new Fantasy Faire. Fantasyland has expanded to the former Carnation Plaza Gardens area in the Hub and will feature Princess meet and greets as well as “Beauty and the Beast” and “Tangled” themed shows. It will be interesting to see how this area blends with Main Street and Fantasyland when it opens on March 12th, but it is nice to see an underutilized area of the park given some new life, while freeing up the Fantasyland Theatre to be home, once again, to an actual stage show.
Sad News: Caleb Moore, a freestyle snowmobile rider died Thursday morning for injuries he sustained during the Winter X Games in Colorado. He was 25. ESPN has released the following statement: “We are deeply saddened by Caleb Moore’s passing and our thoughts and prayers go out to his parents, Wade and Michelle, his brother, Colten, and the entire Moore family. He will be remembered for his natural passion for life and his deep love for his family and friends, and he will always be an inspiration to everyone he touched in the action sports community. As a result of this accident we will conduct a thorough review of this discipline and adopt any appropriate changes to future X Games. For 18 years we have worked closely on safety issues with athletes, course designers and other experts. Still, when the world's best compete at the highest level in any sport, risks remain. Caleb was a four-time X Games medalist attempting a move he has landed several times previously.”
Building a Hero: Marvel’s MMO, “Marvel Heroes” has released their latest developer diary. This game is developed by Gazillion Games and was being developed prior to Disney’s acquisition of Marvel. One can’t help but wonder if this game would have been created if it had not begun prior to Marvel being a part of Disney. Would it have gone the way of Junction Point?
Hanging with the Jedi: Clone Wars has announced that they will be doing a Google Hangout on Saturday, February 2nd at 1030 PST. Join “Clone Wars” supervising director Dave Filoni, Matt Lanter (Anakin Skywalker), Ashley Eckstein (Ashoka Tona), and Sam Witwer (Darth Maul). You can ask them anything you want… such as “When will your show be moving to Disney XD?”
Posted Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 5:37p Pacific Time
Here Come the Muppets…Again: EW has the first look of the new Muppet movie which is entitled “Muppets…Again”. The plot is revealed to be that while on a world tour the criminal mastermind, Constantine, is intent on stealing a large diamond. Of course, the fact that Constantine looks like Kermit might make things interesting. You can read EW’s interview with Kermit for more details, but I found it interesting that Walter appears in the first image from the film. So apparently he will be more than a one-film wonder and is officially a Muppet.
Meet Kathy Kennedy: The Hollywood Reporter has an interview with Lucasfilm head, Kathleen Kennedy. In the interview she discusses Lincoln’s Oscar chances, wooing J.J. Abrams to Star Wars, and her relationship with Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. What I find interesting is her desire to turn Lucasfilm in to a full production company that produces many films. How would these films fit in with Disney’s film strategy of franchise focused limited production? This could be an interesting story to watch play out.
Hawkeye Battles Sandy: Today Marvel released Hawkeye #7 which features two special stories that deal with Hurricane Sandy. This special issue is made even more special by the author, Matt Fraction, who is donating a portion of his proceeds from this issue to the Red Cross.
D23 Is Great and Powerful: D23 has revealed that their next issue, due out February 12th will feature “Oz: The Great and Powerful” as their cover story. Oz is the first Disney produced original release since Wreck-It Ralph on November 2nd. This gap causes a lot to be riding on Oz, however if it falters expect them to squarely blame the prior regime. D23 Gold Members will also receive reproductions of vintage Disney Valentine’s Day cards with their issue.
Let’s Go Play: Disney has announced that they will be supporting UNICEF’s Play initiative to bring portable playgrounds to children living in disaster-recovery conditions and extreme poverty with a $1-million founding grant. This continues Disney’s relationship with UNICEF that goes back to “it’s a small world” at the 1964 World’s Fair.
More Katie: Disney-ABC Domestic Television has announced that they have renewed Katie Couric’s talk show for a second season. “Katie” is the number one new syndicated talk show of the season beating all its freshman and sophomore competition. This renewal comes on the heels of Katie’s high-profile interview with Notre Dame Quarterback Manti Te’o regarding his “catfish” experience. She recently lost her Executive Producer, Jeff Zucker, who left to head CNN.
Hola: ESPN has made an arrangement with Univision Deportes to carry the English-language broadcasts of the Mexican National Team (a.k.a. El Tri). This is the second major deal Disney has made with Univision as ABC News is creating a news channel with them that will be launching later this year. One might wonder if Bob has considered acquiring a new asset that caters to a domestic emerging market.
Happy Birthday IllumiNations: The original edition of IllumiNations premiered 25 years ago. With Reflections of Earth, the current incarnation, premiering in 1999, isn’t it time for this show to get a refresh?
Countdown to the D23 Expo!
Posted Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 2:12p Pacific Time
Allow me to get on my soap box….
As we get ready for the D23 Expo, I am starting to get excited. Yes, the D23 Expo will not be perfect…but it will have some great Disney moments that I can’t wait to be a part of. And while I do research for my trip, there are some things that I have come across that have either made me proud or ashamed. Indulge me, and allow me to share them with you.
1. People seem to be complaining that there is a lot of things that will not appeal to core Disney fans such as the events at the Disney Channel Pavilion. While I don’t expect every Disney fan to be a Disney Channel fan, I do take offense that those who enjoy Disney Channel are not true Disney fans. Are 11 year olds not allowed to be Disney fans? If I remember correctly, the Radio Disney exhibit of the Expo was packed last time. Let these young Disney fans enjoy what was created for them. Would you prefer that they were in line for the presentation you wanted to see? Every offering adds capacity, and increases the chances of every guest being able to see what they want to see. Just because a certain panel, exhibit, or activity is not for you doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be there. The more there is to do at D23 the better the Expo is for everyone.
2. I am very proud of how the Disney community has embraced ABC. The last Expo was sort of a coming out party for ABC to the Disney fans. When the D23 Expo schedule was first announced and there was little mention of ABC, many fans were upset asking where they would be. Since then, the Expo has added “Prep & Landing” and “Once Upon a Time” to the schedule showing that ABC is still a part of The Walt Disney Company. Now if only ABC Family could have a bigger role to play. (In fact I have seen this comment on several different Disney message boards).
3. Enter Marvel! Just like ABC, Marvel is taking advantage of introducing themselves to the Disney faithful. Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment, will introduce the House of Ideas to a new audience. There is also no doubt that Kevin Feige, who is a Disney fan and head of Marvel Studios, will “assemble” a great presentation as part of Rich Ross’s Arena show. I know Marvel isn’t Disney. It shouldn’t be. But they share the same values of storytelling and a commitment to quality that align well with Disney. I am working on a blog on the marriage of Marvel and Disney, but I think the D23 Expo will be a watershed moment in the relationship.
4. Things that I would have liked to see a presentation on that have yet to be announced (and probably won’t be) Aulani, Tron: Uprising, Fantasyland Expansion, and Ultimate Spider-Man.
5. All of this excitement really makes me wish the Expo was every year. There is always something coming from The Walt Disney Company, it would be great if we could have a peek more frequently.
6. Still think Stan Lee should be a Disney Legend.
7. Make the Expo 4 days again!
Anyways, I hope those attending the D23 have a great time. I am sure there will be bumps in the road as with an event of this scale, but have fun no matter what happens. Also discover some part of Disney that would had never been exposed to before. Allow the Expo to broaden your horizons.
A Busy Weekend
Posted Monday, May 23, 2011 at 8:13p Pacific Time
Had a busy few days with some events here in Central Florida; some Disney and some not. So here is my recap:
Universal Escape (yes, I still call it this):
The Florida Universal park announced that Despicable Me will replace Jimmy Newtron. In what has been a rare move for them, Despicable Me is actually a Universal franchise. I wonder if they went with Gru and his minions because they were tired of having to deal with third parties like the Harry Potter people or Disney's Marvel. If only NBCUniversal had some quality franchises of its own, park management wouldn't have to worry about complex licensing agreements. Speaking of Marvel, they also announced they will be reanimating the ride films of The Amazing Spider-Man ride. I feel sorry for Universal for spending all that money to update their attraction when it is just a matter of time before Disney figures out a way to regain the theme park rights to the best comic book characters out there.
When it comes to Disney films, I like to stay positive. I take the "Thumper" attitude when it comes to Disney films of "if I can't say nothing nice, don't say nothing at all". This concludes my thoughts on Prom.
Shrek: The Musical:
I went to see this show at the Mr. Incredible Performing Arts Center in Downtown Orlando. While the show had its moments of humor, the show was flat with unmemorable music and a dull plot that doesn't do much to expand upon the film. The best moment was the end when the whole cast rocks out to "I'm a Believer" If more of the show had that energy, it might be a decent production. My favorite part of the experience was reading the Playbill where they talked about the Dreamworks Theatrical division. I wonder what they do all day? Considering the bio has not been updated since How to Train a Dragon was released, I am guessing they might not even exist anymore.
Star Tours Tweetup:
I was lucky enough to get in to the Star Tours Tweetup the night before the attraction officially opened. It was a great event. They bused us in from Blizzard Beach to backstage behind Star Tours where we were greeted by an assortment of Star Wars characters. There was an ice cream sundae bar with all the fixings as we milled about. We could experience the attraction as much as we wanted and were often accompanied by some Star Wars friends. (The Jawas kept trying to steal the 3D glasses). There was a Q&A with WDI and the same DJ that entertained us at the Last Tour to Endor. I was lucky enough to have a yellow wristband so I was invited to get a set of 4 travel posters signed by the artist at the Backlot Express, which was a nice little plus. As we exited, the other member of my party was given one of the four. All in all, it was a great little event and it definatley let us normal folk feel like we were part of the grand opening festivities.
Star Tours Grand Opening:
I debated attending the opening ceremony. Since these things are designed for the press, it is generally hard to get a good view and can be quite disappointing after investing hours of standing around. While it was quite tempting to stay home and watch the webcast, I decided I would risk the disappointment and head to Disney's Hollywood Studios. I got there at 5am to find a huge line. Luckily this was the merchandise/autograph line, and there were few people in line to actually get in to the park. Around 6 the storm troopers came out and did their normal Star Wars Weekends shtick. The park had a surprise open slightly after that and I went straight to the hat. The guest control cast members were fantastic. After a little while they told us where to go if we wanted to see the processional and another place to go to get a view of the ceremony. I followed their instructions to see the ceremony, and their advice was spot on. I had a great view for Bob, George, Anthony Daniels, and the fireworks. I am glad I went with seeing this in person as the excitement and spectacle of the ceremony was infectious. Thanks to Disney for allowing Joe Public to see this special moment. Check out the video of the ceremony here.
The new Muppets trailer came out with Pirates 4. Part of the gag requires you to not realize it is a Muppets trailer, but obviously I am spoiling it for you :) Disney even created a "Green with Envy" YouTube channel and Facebook page. The trailer exceeded my expectations as I have not been sure what to think of this upcoming film until now. I hope this movie is awesome and restores the Muppets to the status they deserve. You can check out the video on Laughingplace.com here.
Posted Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 11:50a Pacific Time
It has been a busy week around these parts with Destination D, Pirates Screening, Star Tours, and many other events occurring throughout the wonderful world of Disney. I thought I would try and play catch up by giving you my thoughts on recent events.
I went to a screening of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides earlier this week. Now you know I have not been a fan of the past two films, and this film decides to try and correct the franchises course. There has been much made of the smaller budget, and to be frank, you can tell. Little of the film actually takes place at sea and there are no ship battles. But in this case, smaller may be better. The plot was more understandable and the emotional core of the story was not lost in needless spectacle. While I would not go so far as to say this film is “great”, I would encourage those turned off by the last two installments to give it a chance. While there are references to the previous films in the franchise, no prior Pirates knowledge is needed. The only major disappointment was the tag at the end of the film. If you have already seen Thor, and feel the need for a summer movie, give Pirates 4 a chance.
The only thing worse than building a bad attraction is when Disney turns a good one in to a bad one. (insert favorite example here J ) I am happy to say they did not screw-up Star Tours. The attraction walks the fine-line of being familiar yet distinctly different. The things that need to be there are there (C-3PO in the queue, do-do-do-do-do, and a Rex reference), while it seems fresh and vibrant. This is not simply popping a new tape in to the VCR; this is a new experience. The queue is new, the story is new, and the experience is new. While I will miss Rex, this is a great example of Disney updating something the right way. Next stop: Tiki Room J
D23 held an event to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort at the Contemporary last weekend. I had an amazing time. While I tend to be the kind of Disney fan that puts more of his attention looking forward rather than looking back, it was great to take a trip down memory lane. Doobie did a great job writing up the highlight of the event, which was the finale concert. The best part of attending a Disney fan event is the communal feeling. Where else can you join others in discussing the Orange Bird or Communicore. This sense of community was highlighted when Dreamfinder came out. Throughout the Fantasia ballroom you knew everyone had the same emotions and expressed it in their own personal way. Thank you to the D23 for putting on such a spectacular event. See you at the Expo
Posted Friday, May 6, 2011 at 9:25p Pacific Time
The second Marvel Studios film to be released since the Disney acquisition is now showing at a theater near you. Thor, a part of Marvel's "Avengers Assemble" lays the ground work for Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor to unite next year when Avengers is released. While the film is being distributed by Paramount due to a pre-existing arrangement, they only take a small distribution fee. Most of the risk and benefit will be seen on Disney's balance sheet.
All of the Marvel Studios films have taken part in the "Marvel Cinematic Universe". The films exist in the same fictional continuity and reference each other. Clark Gregg plays Agent Caulson in Thor, which is a role that he also played in Iron Man and Iron Man 2. There are also references to the Hulk and Iron Man in Thor which act as connective tissue. Jeremy Renner plays Hawkeye in a cameo appearance in advance of his expanded role in the Avengers. The tricky part is allowing the films to interact while making sure they stand on their one. The film can't just be a series of easter eggs to appease fan boys. It has to be a good film on its own. How the films intersect is fun and unique, but it can't save a bad film.
According to RottenTomatoes.com, the film has a score of 80% making it "certified fresh". The site says the consensus describes Thor as: "A dazzling blockbuster that tempers its sweeping scope with wit, humor, and human drama, Thor is mighty Marvel entertainment."
If you read the latest issue of Disney Twenty-Three, you will understand why Bob Iger bought Marvel. It is a franchise machine and Bob loves his franchises. The thought is that these superheroes will come together in Avengers, which will be its own franchise, while continuing their solo franchises with films like Thor 2 and Captain America 2. In addition, Avengers will bring the spotlight to other characters that can launch their own franchises as well.
But it is important to remember that franchises can only continue if the creative content supporting them is strong. So far, Marvel is the Pixar of superhero movies. Everyone of their four films has been "fresh" with 3 of them being certified.
So Marvel is printing money by making connected and above-grade superhero films. Looking back, it begs the question, why didn't Disney by them sooner?
Parks and Resorts: Tom Fitzgerald on the Disney Parks Blog revealed that Blackbeard will be replacing Davy Jones in the grotto scenes of Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. Ian McShane reprised his role to allow for some neat synergy between the new film and the attraction. I think this is a great example of good synergy. They are temporarily changing things up in a way that still keeps the spirit of the attraction. Davy Jones will return later this year.
Media Networks: The Disney Channel Original Movie, Lemonade Mouth, was the number one original movie on cable in 2011 with 5.7 million viewers. Its soundtrack went to number 4 on the Billboard 200 chart and number 1 on the soundtrack chart. The question is whether this film with become a franchise a la High School Musical and the Cheetah Girls. Will the Lemonade Mouth band do a concert tour? If the film keeps its steam, then the answer is probably yes. To keep interest, there will be a live chat with the cast of the film on DisneyChannel.com at 7ET/4PT on May 7.
Interactive Media: Tap Tap Revenge 4 launched in the Android Marketplace on March 30 and has already been downloaded over 1.4 million times. This marked the first time Disney Mobile's Tapulous launched a game in the Android Marketplace since they now allow in-app purchases which Tapulous's business model is based off of. They say the Android Marketplace might overtake Apple's iTunes sooner rather than later. This could get interesting.
Consumer Products: DisneyStore.com is offering free shipping on your entire order if you purchase a Marvel item as a way to celebrate the release of Thor. Might I suggest the Lighting Power Thor Action Figure or the Thor Lighting Hammer; both of which are a part of my "collection" and which I enjoy very much.
Toy Not Included
Posted Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 2:36p Pacific Time
Disney announced today that Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta and the Paradise Garden Grill, as well as the delayed Goofy's Sky School will open on July 1. These new additions to Disney California Adventure are part of the continuing transformation of the park that has been underway for the past few years. When they announced the "Extreme Makeover," restaurants played a big part of the plan by trying to bring guests in by having destination dinning.
Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta will have an on-stage kitchen that will offer designer pizzas and pastas that they hope differentiate it. They will have some unique flavors but will also offer the classic cheese and pepperoni. There will also be a hand-tossed salad to complement the meal.
Next door, Paradise Garden Grill will offer skewers and kabobs that can be customized to your liking. They will feature a Greek Salad with a side of pita bread, if that is more your style. Neither resteraunt will feature Happy Meal toys, a former staple of Burger Invasion.
The most exciting food news that came out today was the reopening of Corn Dog Castle. No matter how good Disney makes the food, or how much they try and experiment; there is nothing like an enjoying an old-fashioned corn dog while walking through a theme park. Though I do wonder how they make them meet their healthy food standards.
Studio Entertainment: Here is a new Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides feature on how the created London for the film. Do you think Jack Sparrow would fit in at the Royal Wedding? He already has a funny looking hat.
Media Networks: The rumors are that ABC could be signing a deal with Katie Couric to host a daytime talk show. This could result in the cancelation of ABC's last soaps, General Hospital. I look forward to many people tweeting me telling me to boycott Disney because they have the mistaken idea that I care about ABC soaps.
Consumer Products: If you are like me, you travel to Disney destinations frequently. What better way to travel to Disney than with Disney luggage. I discovered that Heys has a line of Disney luggage. I expect to see many of these rolling through Epcot the next time they host a pin event.
Interactive Media: Kids that visit www.Disney.com/create can enter the Marvel Comic Creator Contest. Kids that create an Avengers comic can see their creation in an upcoming Marvel Adventures comic. You can also win Thor and Avengers prize packs. Avengers Assemble!
May the 4th Be With You
Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 12:58p Pacific Time
Well today is Star Wars day, and while Lucasfilm is using it to unveil details of the Blu-Ray release of the saga, I am choosing to use it to start the countdown for the opening of Star Tours 2. The attraction opens at Disney's Hollywood Studios on May 20 and Disneyland on June 3. Today Disney unveiled the artwork that will be on the show building at Disney's Hollywood Studios and will be used as the attraction poster at Disneyland Park.
The new issue of Disney Twenty-Three also features an article by Lucasfilm's Steve Sansweet. One tidbit about the new edition of the attraction mentioned is that AC-38 "Ace" was originally going to be the pilot who had a "Top Gun" type attitude to differentiate him from Rex. But George Lucas desired a pilot that was more like Rex so they tried to create another new droid that fit the bill. Then Tom Fitzgerald and his team realized they didn't need a new droid as C-3PO could fill the pilot seat with his nervous tendencies. But don't worry both Ace and Rex make appearances in the attraction. George also teases that he wants to see more Star Tours attractions at the parks. However based on how quickly they came up with this new edition of the classic ride, after promising the attraction would always be changing during its grand opening, I would be as patient as a Jedi.
Also, if you havn't checked out the Star Tours Facebook page, give it a glance. You can make your own Star Tours passport that you can have stamped at the attraction after you experienced one of over 53 variations of the ride. Just make sure you are careful if you visit Alderaan. It might be the safest planet in the galaxy, but I have a very bad feeling about its future.
Studio Entertainment: Tron: Legacy has some good news to report. The film just passed the $400 million worldwide box office mark. The Tron: Legacy RECONFIGURED album premiered on the Billboard 200 chart at No. 16 and is No. 1 on the electronica chart. And finally, the 3D Blu-Ray is the number one live-action 3D Blu-Ray of all time.
Media Networks: ESPN has reached a 12-year agreement with the PAC-12. (I wonder if it was required to be a 12-year deal. If the conference became the PAC-16, would this be a 16 year deal?). ESPN will try and prove they don't have an east coast bias by broadcasting more than 80 PAC-12 events a year. I am happy to know that I will be able to watch UCLA trounce USC on my favorite sports network.
Consumer Products: Disney Store unveiled the Wish-A-Littles collection by Kidada, which is the first of their designer boutique collections. I am not sure I understand the point, but I am pretty sure it could be described as "couture"
Interactive Media: Tapulous's new game that I mentioned earlier this week, ClubWorld, was named Billboard.biz's App of the Month. Congrats to whomever should be congratulated for this achievement.