It’s December 23rd and that can only mean one thing: Happy Festivus! As we’ve done in years past, we thought we’d celebrate the Festivus season by reflecting on the year in Disney in a way that would make Frank Costanza proud, including the traditional Airing of Grievances, the Feats of Strength, and a celebration of Festivus Miracles. It’s a Festivus for the rest of us!
The Airing of Grievances
“I’ve got a lot of problems with you people! Now, you’re gonna hear about it!”
The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances. While we admire most of what The Walt Disney Company does over the course of a given year, there is always room for error and bad decisions. Here are some of the ways Disney let us down in 2018:
Have you heard about The Purple Wall? This year, Walt Disney World worked extremely hard to ensure that you did, creating merchandise based around the “hidden” selfie spot, staffing a PhotoPass photog there, and even unveiling a 2.0 version next to the original.
Oh, but the Instagram takeover didn’t stop there. If rose gold ears weren’t enough, the company has seemingly been inventing colors and convincing style enthusiast that they need them, including Millennial Pink and, officially debuting on Boxing Day, Potion Purple. It all just seems to be a bit much — but at least we’re getting some interesting food out of the whole thing, right?
When Bob Iger announced last year that the company would be making a big deal out of Mickey’s 90th birthday, he dang sure wasn’t kidding. That said, considering this milestone is based on the release date of “Steamboat Willie” — a short that also featured one Minnie Mouse — one can’t help but wonder why she was hardly even mentioned in marketing materials.
To be fair, it seemed Disney actually got ahead on this criticism, securing Minnie Mouse a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame earlier this year (and just 40 years after her beau). Still, while anyone would be hard-pressed to deny that Mickey’s cultural significance trumps his counterparts in near every measure, it seems he could have shared at least some of the shine.
ABC sends Disney synergy into overdrive
In recent years, Disney has certainly not been shy about leveraging ABC (and, to a lesser degree, ESPN) to promote their upcoming films and theme park projects. However, things have seemingly been ratcheted up a notch, culminating in this clip we highlighted yesterday (seen below) featuring one over-the-top plush plug on the network’s General Hospital. So while we love when GMA or Jimmy Kimmel Live gets to premiere a new Disney trailer, maybe they should pump the brakes just a bit.
— LaughingPlace.com (@laughing_place) December 22, 2018
Retroactively closing “It’s Tough to Be a Bug”
While most fans probably should have seen the announcement that “a bug’s land” would be closing down to make way for a Marvel-themed area at Disney California Adventure, the Disney Parks Blog announcing on March 20th that “It’s Tough to be a Bug” would close on March 19th seems a bit disrespectful. Luckily, that film lives on in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and guests still had time to say their goodbyes to the rest of the land — including the beloved Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train — before it shuttered this summer. That said, let’s hope this retroactive closure doesn’t become a trend.
Rubbing Tokyo Disney’s awesomeness in our domestic faces
Not all Disney fans are lucky enough to take a voyage over to Japan to experience the amazing Tokyo Disney Resort, which is why the recent video showcasing the incredible Beauty and the Beast Audio-Animatronics seems almost unfair. Hopefully the opening of Galaxy’s Edge will help take away some of the sting but, in the meantime, enjoy Toy Story Land and Pixar Pier, we guess.
The Feats of Strength
And now, as Festivus rolls on, we come to the feats of strength. 2018 was another great year for Disney overall as they flexed their muscles at home and abroad. Here are a few examples:
Disney hits $7 billion at the box office (again)
On December 9th, Disney’s total global box office take surpassed a massive $7 billion dollars. This is only the second time a studio has topped that milestone, with Disney doing the same last year. Although 2018’s total will likely come in under 2017’s $7.6 billion, it’s still tremendously impressive — especially when you consider some of the misses the studio saw this year.
Of course, with the Fox acquisition likely nearing a close, inflation always bringing ticket prices higher, and a killer slate on tap for 2019, as one SNL sketch once said referring to da Bulls, “the question is not will they repeat, but how many times?” We’re guessing a minimum eight-peat.
Mickey’s 90th celebration goes over big
Okay, so we may have complained about Minnie being left out of the celebration, but there’s no doubt that #Mickey90 made a big impact this year. It seemed that, no matter where you turned, you saw specialty Mickey merchandise and much more. Not only that but the art exhibit that opened in New York proved to a be worth a visit and many of the items created for the event seem to have been well-received. Plus, the celebration isn’t quite over yet as more Mickey fun continues in 2019 with new entertainment at Disney Parks and the opening of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Our only other complaint is that the ABC special honoring Mickey tended to fall a bit flat — almost landing our grievance list.
The Lion King teaser halted Thanksgiving dinners everywhere
On Thanksgiving day, Disney surprised fans by debuting the first teaser for their upcoming reimagining of The Lion King. Yes, somehow a trailer for a movie starring Beyoncé that didn’t actually feature Beyoncé was released Beyoncé style and made quite a splash as a result. Featuring the voice of James Earl Jones and spectacular recreations of the iconic “Circle of Life” scene, the studio managed to bring holiday festivities to a halt and flex their power once again.
What other explanation can there be? These were truly Festivus miracles:
The 21st Century Fox deal looks like it will go the distance
From regulatory hurdles to some fly-by-night company called Comcast trying to muck things up, it seems that Disney’s purchase of various Fox assets will close sometime next year. Although some changes to the deal were expected (like the Justice Department’s ruling that Disney needs to sell off 22 regional sports networks), others — namely the loss of Sky — came as a bit of a blow. But, at the risk of jinxing it, it looks like what fans were most excited about with the deal will still be going through, even if it was touch and go for a while this year.
Slinky Dog Dash is surprisingly fun
Say what you will about Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Toy Story Land, but it appears that many fans were surprised by just how thrilling the addition’s starring attraction was. While some may have been expecting a coaster akin to the Barnstormer, what we got was actually closer to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in terms of intensity. So while there will surely still be debate about the land as a whole, can we at least agree that this one is a golly bob-howdy amount of fun?
Earl of Sandwich dodges death at Disneyland
The affordable and delicious dining option’s reopening may not have come under the best of circumstances, but it’s welcome nonetheless. Another Festivus miracle!