Archive for December, 2008

Channel Flippin’ – The WDW Christmas Day Parade 2008 "Drive-Through" Review

December 27, 2008


By Blake

Originally posted December 27, 2008.

OK, so here’s the deal. I’m about to dash out the door in a few minutes and I’ll be unable to post any new articles on here for over a week and I thought the holiday season couldn’t go by without me awarding some compliments to this year’s outstanding Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade. Since I’m short on time and I really need to summarize a lot in this article, instead of calling this a regular review (which it’s not), I’ll dub it a “drive-through” review, since I’m not really taking the time to elaborate (simply because I can’t) and you’re really getting the bare basics of my thoughts.

But ANYWAY, this year’s Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade was once again hosted by Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa from Walt Disney World in Florida and Ryan Seacrest from Disneyland in California. There were a few times when I felt embarrassed for them because of the lines they were saying, but it’s Christmastime so I’ll cut them some slack.

It was a VERY Disney parade this year and it seemed like instead of featuring celebrities with the characters off to the side as with previous years, there was more focus on the characters with the celebrities to the side.

Making their debut in the parade were Bolt, Mittens, and Rhino from Bolt and Prince Caspian from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Giselle from Enchanted even made a quick little appearance, which was certainly welcome since she hasn’t been seen on WDW premises for about a year now.

Since it was the parade’s 25th anniversary, there were archived “flashback” clips from previous years’ parades scattered throughout the show, including performances by Jodi Benson, Kermit the Frog, Amy Grant, and others. These features were clever and appreciated until a 2005 clip of Vanessa Williams was played again and billed as this year’s finale, which made me feel partially jipped because I was hoping for a brand spankin’ new grand finale.

However, it seems that the cash usually spent on the rousing, choir-filled finale was used elsewhere in the parade for several other superb numbers that were very satisfying. One of the highlights that comes to mind for me is the opening number featuring Miley Cyrus singing “Santa Claus in Coming to Town.” Although I’m not a big Miley fan – but I certainly don’t have anything against her – I found her performance to be exceptionally great. It was performed in front of Cinderella Castle and featured appearances by Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Chip, and Dale. Additionally, Miley had a brief jam session with Stitch (dressed as Santa) on the guitar, and then Mickey made his grand parade surprise entrance in true Disney fashion. It was an overall Disney-fied performance that I think worked so well because Miley Cyrus is an all-Disney girl herself and having an out-of-studio performer usually takes away from that Disney experience. It was definitely one of the best of the parade’s opening numbers I’ve seen in a few years. Miley Cyrus shared the stage equally with the characters instead of taking up the entire spotlight and interacted very professionally with them, doing a very good job to bring some Disney flavor to the performance.

Anyone who’s been reading BlakeOnline for a while knows that I’m crazy when it comes to American Idol, and I was very pleased to see this year’s winner David Cook sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on Main Street. Runner-up David Archuleta also appeared, but he served as the viewers’ tour through Disney’s Hollywood Studios rather than singing.

Lastly, the best performance of the parade was undoubtedly the Mary Poppins number on Main Street. Talk about a showstopper!!!!! Being my favorite live-action Disney film, I was delighted that it would be represented in the parade. Ashley Brown and Gavin Lee appeared as Mary Poppins and Bert, respectively, from the Broadway musical and performed “Supercalifragilisticexpiaelidocious” accompanied by 500 (!) dancers. They worked their way from inside the Confectionary and then proceeded outside to fill Main Street from Town Square to the hub! I loved the way the song didn’t all stay contained in one place as it traveled from inside the Main Street shops and then transitioned its way into the Street itself. In that regard it reminded me of the parade’s opening numbers of the 1990’s where hundreds of Disney Cast Members and characters would prance around the entire resort singing Christmas carols.

Not only that, but the Mary Poppins performance also included the background dancers from the Broadway show dressed as Main Street Cast Members, which added an extra bit of Pixie Dust to the already-magical number.

Although ABC will not be re-airing the parade, you can catch clips of it, including the sensational Mary Poppins performance, as well as behind-the-scenes footage (which features the performers rehearsing at 5:00 am) at Disney.com/celebrate, but hurry before they’re taken off the page! I noted last year that I thought the parade was on its way to becoming a real Disney show instead of a celebrity concert, and I think this year’s parade made that statement even clearer.

Merry Christmas!!!!!

By Blake; posted December 27, 2008. All images (C) Disney.
Advertisements

A Christmas Toontown Pictorial, 12.26.08

December 27, 2008

Celebrate Christmas in Disney’s virtual world of fun.

By Blake

Originally posted December 26, 2008.

It’s been a while since I’ve put together a Toontown pictorial (and as of the time I’m writing this, I’ve unfortunately not uploaded the other TT pictorials into the BlakeOnline archives . . . I’ll get on that soon). However, with the New Year comes New Year’s resolutions, and one of those for me includes completing archiving the past year’s worth of articles, even the Toontown pictorials.

But getting back to the subject at hand, recently Disney’s Toontown Online has turned into a wintry wonderland of fun. If you don’t already know, Disney’s Toontown Online is a virtual Internet game where players create their own online pseudonym, in this case being in the form of a “Toon,” which can include a dog, cat, duck, horse, pig, bear, rabbit, mouse, or monkey (!). Toontown is somewhat like Disney’s other online games such as Club Penguin, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, Pixie Hollow, and the now-closed Virtual Magic Kingdom, though in my opinion Toontown outlasts them all and has a very large fan base, which has generated official real-live events in the past. The game features players that can interact with each other in real-time and is based somewhat on the classic Disney cartoon shorts of the 1930’s-1950’s, which is probably part of why it appeals to me. All of the “architecture” is exaggerated colorfully, several Disney characters make appearances throughout the game, and instead of using weapons to fight against their enemies, Toons use “gags” such as banana peels, whole cream pies, and fog horns.

Not only does the game include (clean) good vs. evil battles, but it also allows its players to participate in many other activities such as fishing, go-kart racing, golfing, gardening, home decorating, owning a pet, playing mini-games, and much more. The game is very amusing, and even though I generally am not a big video game player and I don’t think I’m in Disney’s target audience for the game, I enjoy it and have been playing off-and-on since its conception in 2003.

The holidays are certainly not forgotten in the Toontown universe, and every Christmas, Toontown is adorned with Christmas lights on many of the trees and Toons can “purchase” (with virtual jellybeans that they earn in the game) special Christmas-themed clothes, wallpapers, flooring, and speed chat phrases. New for this year, Toons can also purchase snowmen statues for their garden, wreaths for their houses, and several other Christmas-exclusive items. Lastly, other new items added this year to Toontown are Christmas-themed street lamps that differentiate for each “land” of the game. Toontown Central, Donald’s Dock, Daisy Gardens, Minnie’s Melodyland, The Brrrgh, Donald’s Dreamland, and the Toon Estates have all been decorated for Christmas, though everywhere else remains the same as it is year-round.

But enough of all that blabbing! Let’s get on to the “pictures!”

The Donald’s Dock-themed lamp post.

The Daisy Gardens-themed lamp post.

The Brrrgh-themed lamp post.

Donald’s Dreamland has two themed lamp posts.

The first of the two Donald’s Dreamland-themed lamp posts.

The second of the two Donald’s Dreamland-themed lamp posts.

Special Christmas-themed items that Toons can purchase with virtual jellybeans in their “Cattleog,” including “lit” fireplaces, meaning that there’s actually virtual fire in them instead of just an empty fireplace.

Special Christmas-themed items that Toons can purchase with virtual jellybeans in their “Cattleog,” including a Christmas Tree, flooring, and shorts.

Special Christmas-themed items that Toons can purchase with virtual jellybeans in their “Cattleog,” including shorts, a wreath, and shirts.


Special Christmas items that Toons can purchase with virtual jellybeans in their “Cattleog,” including moulding and Speed Chat phrases.


One of those Christmas items is a Melting Snowman, which Toons plant in their garden.

As always, The Brrrgh has a 100% chance of snow every day of the year, which makes it a great backdrop for the Christmas decorations. Additionally, Toontown is expected to have its annual New Year’s fireworks display on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day (every hour on the hour in every playground), as well as its annual Top Toons New Year’s Day Marathon on New Year’s Day. Check the game’s official website, www.toontown.com for details.

Merry Christmas!!!

By Blake; originally posted December 26, 2008. All game footage, screenshots, and images (C) Disney.

Merry Christmas from BlakeOnline!

December 24, 2008

BlakeOnline wishes you a very merry Christmas!

As a reminder, the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade airs tomorrow morning (Christmas morning!), at 10:00am Eastern time, and 9:00am central time on ABC! All of your favorite Disney characters, plus special celebrity appearances, are featured in the annual telecast of this Christmas favorite that has been enchanting families for a quarter of a century now, as the parade had its first broadcast 25 years ago. Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa will be hosting the parade from Walt Disney World in Florida, while Ryan Secrest will be hosting from Disneyland in California. And the big guy himself, Santa Claus, will also be capping off the parade after his trip around the globe.

Also, remember to check out, if you haven’t already done so, the review of the new Christmas special A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, which was posted recently here on BlakeOnline.

May everyone have a very merry Christmas and I hope that you all travel safely (no road rage, please!), enjoy your family, sing a few Christmas carols, embrace the Christmas spirit, and, most importantly of all, don’t lose sight of the true reason for the season, the beautiful birth of Jesus Christ the King.

Channel Flippin’ – "A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa" Review

December 23, 2008


The Muppets’ renaissance to stardom continues with a much-needed breath of fresh air in their new Christmas special, “Letters to Santa.”


By Blake

Originally posted December 22, 2008.

It’s been a long time since I was completely content with a new Muppets production. The short new videos appearing lately on YouTube and on the new Muppets.com have been great, but if the Muppets are supposed to have really won audiences over by the time their new movie hits theaters in 2010, I knew it was going to take a lot more than short Internet clips to make viewers want more Muppets. The Studio DC specials that aired in August and October of this year did their job to get younger audiences interested in the Muppets, but were somewhat painful for longtime Muppet fans to watch.

Thankfully, Kermit and the crew were back to their classic flair and charm in the superb new Christmas special, A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, which aired Wednesday, December 17, 2008 on NBC.

In the new special, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, the Great Gonzo, Pepe the King Prawn, and Rizzo the Rat are getting ready to embark on a tropical vacation for Christmas, but put their plans on hold when they accidentally forget to mail a letter to Santa written by Gonzo’s friend and neighbor Claire (played by Cory in the House’s Madison Pettis). Since it’s Christmas Eve and the post offices have closed for the holiday, the Muppet bunch decides that the only way that Claire’s Christmas wish can come true is if they deliver her letter to Santa personally. You can imagine the hilarity that comes from them as they make their way to the North Pole on a quest to find Santa.


It seems that every Muppet imaginable has come out of extinction to make an appearance in Letters to Santa. It actually reminded me a lot of the Muppet*Vision 3-D attraction at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s California Adventure theme parks. The two productions’ plots are completely different, but it seemed like they were very similar in making sure that each Muppet character had their own bit of screen time, even if it was brief. We get a great short sampling into each character’s personality that I hope will be repeated in more force in the upcoming Muppet feature-length film. Sam the Eagle’s quick and random appearance was hysterical.

Even the lesser-known characters that have been absent for several years returned, including Kermit’s nephew Robin, Lew Zealand (with his boomerang fish), Beauregard the custodian, Crazy Harry, Bobo the Bear, and a few others. The only smaller characters that I didn’t spot were Sal Minella and Johnny Fiama, who I didn’t even notice were gone until I really thought about who was absent.

Muppet veteran Kirk Thatcher serves as director for Letters to Santa, and he has previously directed It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz and written Muppet Treasure Island, as well as episodes of Muppets Tonight and Dinosaurs.

Another Muppet favorite, Paul Williams, wrote the four original songs that appear in Letters to Santa. Williams first worked with the Muppets in a guest appearance on The Muppet Show, and later wrote the songs for Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, The Muppet Movie, and The Muppets Christmas Carol. I’m not sure why, but it had somehow registered in my head that this new special wasn’t going to be a musical, so I was very pleasantly surprised when Kermit started singing the opening song, “Delivering Christmas,” which turned out to be my favorite of the new songs.

The writers of the special include Paul Williams, along with Saturday Night Live writers Hugh Fink, Scott Ganz, and Andrew Samson. They add mature, but definitely not inappropriate, jokes and gags that make the special appealing to any age group. Pepe and Rizzo especially seemed to be given extra care when being written for – they’re the center of many of the jokes and apply most of the comedic side of the special.

As with any Muppet production, celebrity cameos are around every corner in Letters to Santa. Embarrassingly, the only cameos I recognized were Madison Pettis, Whoopi Goldberg, and Nathan Lane. However, many other celebrities appeared that I didn’t recognize, including Jane Krakowski, Uma Thurman, and more.

Not too lengthy to prolong itself or its storyline, though not too short to leave us wanting much more, A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa is honestly one of the best Muppet productions I’ve seen in years. Filled with all of the favorite Muppet characters and featuring a healthy balance of comedy with heartfelt emotions, there’s not much to criticize. And considering the relatively quick amount of time that it took to pull the special together, it’s amazing that it turned out the way it did. If this rate continues in the quality that the Muppets’ works are producing, then I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves – er, paws – for 2010.

How do I rank A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa? (Bolded is my choice.)
  • Utterly repulsive
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa will most likely please: Muppet Fans – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-7) – Older Kids (ages 8-10) – Young Adults – Adults – Old Folks

If you missed A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, you can catch it again on Hulu through December 31, 2008. So hurry if you missed it or if you want to see it again!

By Blake; originally posted December 22, 2008. All images (C) Disney.

What’s On Today/Tonight, 12/20

December 20, 2008

What’s On Today/Tonight, December 20, 2008

  • All I Want For Christmas, ABC Family, 7:00am
  • Little Einsteins Christmas, Disney Channel, 7:00am
  • My Friends Tigger & Pooh Christmas, Disney Channel, 8:00am
  • A Very Brady Christmas, ABC Family, 9:00am
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey Saves Santa, Disney Channel, 9:00am
  • Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street, Toon Disney, 9:00am
  • Handy Manny Christmas, Disney Channel, 10:30am
  • I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, ABC Family, 11:00am
  • Higglytown Heroes Christmas, Disney Channel, 11:00am
  • The Christmas Wish, Lifetime, 11:00am
  • Charlie & Lola Christmas, Disney Channel, 11:30am
  • Ultimate Christmas Present, Disney Channel, 12:00pm
  • Snow 2 Brain Freeze, ABC Family, 1:00pm
  • Papa’s Angels, Hallmark Channel, 1:00pm
  • Holiday In Your Heart, Lifetime, 1:00pm
  • The Suite Life of Zack & Cody Christmas, Disney Channel, 1:30pm
  • Disney’s House of Mouse: Clarabelle’s Christmas Wish, Toon Disney, 1:30pm
  • Jingle All The Way, ABC Family, 3:00pm
  • Naughty Or Nice, Hallmark Channel, 3:00pm
  • The Christmas Shoes, Lifetime, 3:00pm
  • Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas*, Boomerang, 4:00pm and 8:00pm
  • Smurf’s Christmas Special*, Boomerang, 4:25pm
  • A Flinstone Christmas*, Boomerang, 4:50pm
  • The Family Man, ABC Family, 5:00pm
  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol*, Toon Disney, 5:00pm and 5:55pm
  • A Different Kind of Christmas, Lifetime, 5:00pm
  • Timon & Pumbaa: Don’t Be Elfish*, Toon Disney, 5:40pm
  • Merry Christmas, Drake & Josh*, Nickelodeon, 6:00pm
  • Disney’s House of Mouse: Pete’s Christmas Caper*, Toon Disney; 6:30pm
  • Silver Bells, Hallmark Channel, 7:00pm
  • A Christmas Wedding, Lifetime, 7:00pm
  • I Want A Dog For Christmas, Charlie Brown, ABC, 8:00pm
  • Elf*, CBS, 8:00pm
  • Christmas In Wonderland, ABC Family, 8:00pm and 10:00pm
  • The Cat In The Hat (Full-Length Movie), ABC, 9:00pm
  • Our First Christmas, Hallmark Channel, 9:00pm
  • A Very Merry Daughter of the Bride, 9:00pm and 12:00am (the following morning, 12/21)
  • A Grandpa For Christmas, Hallmark Channel, 11:00pm

*I’d watch (or record) this Christmas special if I were you!

What’s On Today/Tonight, 12/19

December 19, 2008

What’s On Today/Tonight, December 19, 2008

All times are Eastern Times.

  • Mr. Saint Nick, Lifetime, 2:00pm
  • Mickey’s Twice Upon A Christmas*, Toon Disney, 5:00pm and 9:00pm
  • A Miser Brothers’ Christmas, ABC Family, 7:00pm
  • The Santa Clause 2*, ABC Family, 8:00pm and 10:00pm
  • The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Hallmark Channel, 9:00pm
  • White Christmas*, Lifetime, 9:00pm
  • iCarly: iChristmas*, Nickelodeon, 9:30pm

*I’d watch (or record) this Christmas special if I were you!

What’s On Today/Tonight, 12/18

December 18, 2008

What’s On Today/Tonight, December 18, 2008

All times are Eastern Times.

  • If You Believe, Lifetime, 2:00pm
  • Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas*, Toon Disney, 5:00pm and 9:00pm
  • The Emperor’s New School: A Giftmas Story*, Toon Disney, 6:30pm
  • The Cat In The Hat (Animated Special), ABC Family, 7:00pm
  • Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, ABC Family, 7:30pm
  • Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Full-Length Movie)*, ABC Family, 8:00pm and 10:30pm
  • The Naked Brothers Band Christmas Special, Nickelodeon, 8:00pm
  • The FairlyOddParents: Merry Wishmas, Nickelodeon, 8:30pm
  • The Christmas Choir, Hallmark Channel, 9:00pm
  • Holiday Affair, Lifetime, 9:00pm
  • Papa’s Angels, Hallmark Channel, 11:00pm

*I’d watch (or record) this Christmas special if I were you!

What’s On Today/Tonight, 12/17

December 17, 2008

What’s On Today/Tonight, December 17, 2008

All times are Eastern Times.

It’s another great night! The Muppets are BACK on NBC at 8!

  • The Polar Express*, Disney Channel, 12:00pm
  • The Lost Holiday: The Jim and Suzanne Shemwell Story, Lifetime, 2:00pm
  • Anabelle’s Wish, Toon Disney, 5:00pm and 9:00pm
  • Timon & Pumbaa: Don’t Be Elfish*, Toon Disney, 6:15pm
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series: Topeer*, Toon Disney, 6:30pm
  • I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, ABC Family, 7:00pm
  • NEW! A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa*, NBC, 8:00pm
  • iCarly: iChristmas*, Nickelodeon, 8:00pm
  • Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Animated Special)*, Cartoon Network, 8:00pm
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius: Holly Jolly Jimmy, Nickelodeon, 8:30pm
  • A Scooby-Doo Christmas*, Cartoon Network, 8:30pm
  • Snow 2 Brain Freeze, ABC Family, 9:00pm
  • When Angels Come to Town, Hallmark Channel, 9:00pm
  • The Christmas Gift, Hallmark Channel, 11:00pm

*I’d watch (or record) this Christmas special if I were you!

Channel Flippin’ Reminder – "A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa"

December 17, 2008


It’s almost time for the first Muppets Christmas adventure in six years.

By Blake

Originally posted on December 16, 2008.

Although it will be posted in the daily “What’s On Tonight” feature here on BlakeOnline, I wanted to post an extra reminder that the all-new Muppets special A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa will air Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 8pm Eastern Time on NBC! All of your favorite Muppets, plus a few special guests, are sure to deliver some Muppety wackiness and plenty of Christmas cheer in this anticipated special.

You can see a sneak peek of the new special at the official Muppets website, http://www.muppets.com/. While you’re there, you can also check out the characters’ individual web pages, which feature many newly-created videos. Also, if you’re a Muppet fan, you may want to take a visit to http://www.muppetnewsflash.com/, an excellent source for Muppet news.

Part of why the new special was made was to get the public interested in the Muppets again to get them warmed up for the new Muppets movie, which will be hitting theaters sometime in 2010.

Remember to tune in to A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, Wednesday, December 17 at 8pm Eastern Time on NBC!!!

By Blake; originally posted on December 16, 2008. All images (C) Disney.

What’s On Today/Tonight, 12/16

December 16, 2008

What’s On Today/Tonight, December 16, 2008

All times are Eastern Times.

It’s a good TV night tonight!

  • Holiday In Your Heart, Lifetime, 2:00pm
  • Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street, Toon Disney, 5:00pm and 9:00pm
  • The Replacements Christmas, Toon Disney, 6:30pm
  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol*, ABC Family, 7:00pm
  • Winnie the Pooh and Christmas, Too, ABC Family, 7:30pm
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas*, ABC, 8:00pm
  • Mary Poppins*, ABC Family, 8:00pm
  • The Polar Express*, Disney Channel, 8:00pm
  • True Jackson: VP Christmas, Nickelodeon, 8:00pm
  • It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown, ABC, 8:30pm
  • The Fairly OddParents: Merry Wishmas, Nickelodeon, 8:30pm
  • Finding John Christmas, Hallmark Channel, 9:00pm
  • Ebbie, Hallmark Channel, 9:00pm

*I’d watch (or record) this Christmas special if I were you!