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The El Capitan Theatre recently hosted a series of special events they called “Countdown to Zootopia: The Films of Walt Disney Animation Studios.” It featured seven films over seven days with special guests each night at the 7 p.m. showing (addtional performances played throughout the day).
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Kicking off the series was an evening dedicated to Wreck-It Ralph — the 52nd animated feature in the Disney animation canon. The film was directed by Rich Moore, who was in attendance and even signed some of the special lithographs given to fans as first 75 people in line before the screening were treated to a meet and greet with the director. Like at many El Capitan events, a raffle was held before the movie began, giving out many prizes to random guests in the audience. After the raffle, Moore was welcomed to the stage where he helped to introduce the film with the help of a certain sloth — Flash from Zootopia, voiced by Raymond Persi, made an appearance and brilliantly introduced the film as only Flash can.
The second night featured everyone’s (OK — maybe not everyone’s) favorite animated movie, Frozen. Once again, every guest in attendance received a special lithograph and the first 75 people were able to meet Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, the directors of the movie. Both filmmakers then helped with the raffle before the movie began. In this particular raffle there were some great prizes up for grabs including some original artwork. One guest from France even won the big Frozen poster that was behind Buck and Lee during the signing. Humorously, it took quite awhile for that prize to be awarded and we weren’t sure if it was because no one wanted to claim it or because it was big!
Once the raffle had concluded, it was time for Frozen! But, before that, we were treated the Academy Award Nominated short “Get A Horse.” This viewing was extra special as Rob Richards, house organist at the El Capitan Theatre, played the Mighty Wurlitzer to accompany the film. It was definitely fun to hear Richards put his spin on the music from the short, and was easily a highlight of the evening. And since Frozen is everyone’s favorite animated movie, you couldn’t help but sing along to some of the fantastic songs from the movie. You could definitely hear the kids (and some adults, too) singing “Love Is An Open Door,” “Let It Go,” and “In Summer.”
Overall, the first two nights of the theatres Countdown to Zootopia series served to not only remind us how brilliant recent efforts from the Walt Disney Animation Studios have been but also pique interest in Zootopia, due out March 4th. By combining the showmanship that El Captian is known for with these new classics, Disney has been able to create wonderful and unique expereinces for their guests with this program. Stay tuned to LaughingPlace for reviews of upcoming Countdown to Zootopia events including screenings of TangledWinnie the Pooh, and more.

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