What We Learned from Disney Insider Episode 7: Earth to Ned, Star Wars: The High Republic, Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

After a seven-month hiatus, Disney Insider returned for a new episode today that catches up on two Disney+ original series that started last fall, plus a look at a new Lucasfilm Publishing launch. For diehard Disney fans, this new episode offers a peek into some areas of the company that are highly secretive and that few fans will ever see in person. Here’s everything we learned in the seventh episode, titled “Puppet Masters, Authoring the Force, Capturing a Kingdom.”

Earth to Ned

Twenty episodes of Earth to Ned from Jim Henson Productions are now streaming on Disney+. Director Brian Henson takes viewers on a tour of Jim Henson Studios, formerly known as Charlie Chaplin Studios. From the Hollywood icon’s footprints in cement to his private screening room and office, fans get to see how the Henson team lovingly celebrate the artist’s legacy while also furthering the creative vision of Jim Henson. One of the highlights is a visit to Brian Henson’s office, formerly Charlie Chaplin’s, where his desk was used by his father Jim in New York City.

Inside the Charlie Chaplin Stage, viewers get to peek under the desks of Ned and Cornelius to see the puppeteers underneath. It’s a very impressive operation and set and also gives audiences some behind the scenes secrets, like Clod puppeteers wearing green screen beekeeper suits to disappear in the final cut. You also get to see Paul Rugg, the voice of Ned, at the controls where he uses Ned’s face to quote some “Ghost Host” dialogue from The Haunted Mansion.

Click here to read our interviews with Brian Henson and the puppeteers from Earth to Ned.

Star Wars: The High Republic

Skywalker Ranch is like Mecca to Star Wars fans and this segment gives a few glimpses at the campus. This segment is all about the new Lucasfilm Publishing initiative, which will also intersect with the recently announced Disney+ series, The Acolyte. Creative Director Michael Siglain talks about his vision for the project and introduces viewers to the cabal of authors behind the project, with footage of a meeting at Skywalker Ranch with Pablo Hidalgo sitting in to represent the Lucasfilm Story Group. Filmed almost one year ago, this segment also includes footage from the press conference for what was then known as “Project Luminous,” where you can see our very own Star Wars expert Mike Celestino in the press audience.

Click here for interviews, reviews and Who’s the Bossk? Podcast episodes about Star Wars: The High Republic.

Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Eight episodes of National Geographic’s documentary series about the animals that live at Walt Disney World premiered last fall. In this segment, we get to see how the filmmakers approached the project. We get to see Producers Rick Dowlearn and Dean Bushala leading a meeting in one of the Disney Animal Care meeting rooms and learn that the series was filmed over a twenty-four week span, with an additional eight-weeks of pickup shots later on. Four color-coded teams with specific skill sets were deployed between Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo and Friends. Highlights include seeing a team set up a wire camera on Kilimanjaro Safari and learning that they weren’t allowed to use drone cameras, plus seeing Jeff Stitzel preparing for a diving shoot in EPCOT.

What was your favorite moment of this week’s Disney Insider?

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Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).