Archive for February, 2009

DVD Review – "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" Extended Edition DVD Review

February 23, 2009

The international musical phenomenon of the decade concluded with a spectacular grand finale in October, but its DVD leaves room for improvement.

By Blake

Originally posted February 22, 2009.

Soundtrack release, movie release, international mania, DVD release with several bonuses, more mania, special edition DVD release with more bonuses, even more mania, sequel.

That’s been the pattern for both the first two High School Musical films, released in January 2006 and August 2007, respectively. As the third movie, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, makes its way through its release process, that pattern seems to be continuing yet again. The soundtrack was released on October 21, 2008, the movie was released (in theaters this time) on October 24, international mania followed, and now we’re up to the film’s DVD release. Although there’s definitely more mania ahead, I don’t know if we can expect a sequel or not. And as for another DVD release? Probably, especially when you look at the contents of the new DVD, which was released last Tuesday, February 17, 2009.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year Extended Edition DVD

Total approx. disc running time: About 180 minutes (about 3 hours) (includes bonus features)
Highlight of Disc: Feature film
Highlight Runner-Up: “Cast Goodbyes” featurette
First of all, the movie itself is sensational. All of the East High Wildcats return for thirds and are getting excited as the milestone events of their senior year approach, including the prom, graduation, and preparing their own musical (which the audience gets to see this time). All in the midst of this, each of them must decide where their future lies as they prepare for college, a concept that each of the six main characters Troy (Zac Efron), Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale), Ryan (Lucas Grabeel), Chad (Corbin Bleu), and Taylor (Monique Coleman) finds very pressuring and uncertain. Each of them is unsure whether to stick together or to follow their own individual desires, while at the same time staying true to themselves. Of course, there are a few cheesy moments, but overall the film deserves its spot on the silver screen as opposed to the television set format its two predecessors had. The music and dance sequences are on a more vast scale, the characters reach new heights in the depth of their personalities, and the emotion of the film is on an entirely different level than the two other High School Musical films. These components make Senior Year blossom into much more than the small Disney Channel franchise that High School Musical once was.

Zac Efron as Troy Bolton and Vanessa Hudgens as Gabriella Montez in High School Musical 3: Senior Year.

Release

However, the great movie that’s also the show-stopping conclusion (for now, at least) to the High School Musical phenomenon arrives on DVD with no real excitement, not even on its two-disc Extended Edition. I gave in to the Extended Edition version, thinking I would be getting two discs’ worth of bonus features. However, just like with November’s release of Wall-E, I was tricked into believing something that wasn’t. Here, two discs means one disc for the movie with a few bonuses and one disc for the digital copy of the movie for your iPod, not two discs of material. With Wall-E, that was OK because in total it was a three-disc set (I was thinking there would be three discs of material, instead there were two). However, with High School Musical 3: Senior Year, the set is labeled as a two-disc compilation, and technically it is. Unfortunately for consumers, with the introduction of the DisneyFile digital copies, purchasing a DVD has now turned into a question of what we’re really buying. Which makes me uncertain as to whether next month’s release of Bolt will turn out the same way.

Anyway, the bottom line here is that there’s the regular, standard version of High School Musical 3: Senior Year, which includes one disc that features the movie and one bonus feature, and there’s High School Musical 3: Senior Year Extended Edition, which includes one disc that features the movie with slightly more bonus features and one disc for the digital copy of the movie.

Bonus Features

The one bonus feature that’s included on both versions is also the most worthwhile: “Cast Goodbyes” (about six minutes) is a featurette that includes interviews with the cast about not only their characters graduating from East High, but also on themselves graduating from High School Musical. Emotional and teary, I’m glad Disney included this in the set – it was definitely the highlight of the bonuses and to see how the performers of this wild phenomenon said goodbye to three years of their life was something really special.

Zac Efron (who plays Troy Bolton) and Vanessa Hudgens (who plays Gabriella Montez) on the set of High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
That’s the only bonus feature that the standard DVD offers, though the Extended Edition includes several other bonuses. Though to be called “Extended,” there’s nothing really added on to the movie itself at all. I was half-expecting a new musical number like the one that made High School Musical 2’s DVD “extended,” but here I suppose the word really means the inclusion of deleted scenes (which, played together, are about six minutes). All together there are eight deleted scenes, most of which seem too short to even consider being deleted at all. The most memorable, though, is one where Zeke asks Sharpay to the prom.

Continuing through the bonuses are additional bloopers (about three minutes), which are always a pleasurable inclusion.

Next is Disney’s Song Selection, which allows viewers to play all the songs in the film consecutively or by themselves. If you choose to play them all, they’ll total about forty-eight minutes. Personally I prefer to skip to my favorites instead of watching them all.

Lastly, under Backstage Disney, is the aforementioned Cast Goodbyes, as well as two additional featurettes focusing on the prom. The first, called “Night of Nights” (about seven minutes) mostly involves the rehearsals and hard work that went into the choreography of the “A Night to Remember” and “Can I Have This Dance” numbers. The second featurette is called “It’s All in the Dress” (about three minutes) and deals with the costume design of the prom dresses for Gabriella, Taylor, Kelsi, and Sharpay. When played together, these three featurettes offer about fifteen solid minutes of behind-the-scenes entertainment from several different areas of the film as a sort of mini-making-of that should please fans of the movie.

From left: Corbin Bleu as Chad, Monique Coleman as Taylor, Vanessa Hudgens as Gabriella, and Zac Efron as Troy in the “Can I Have Dance” number from High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
The absence of more similar featurettes hint that another DVD release is on the way in the future, possibly with an additional disc of bonuses that would further continue these entertaining featurettes. We can hope for an audio commentary, too, though that’s unlikely. Another DVD release would certainly make sense, especially since the first two High School Musical films did exactly this, and it would follow the aforementioned cycle that appears to be patterning with these films. However, for the record, no announcement, confirmation, or declination of a future DVD version of High School Musical 3: Senior Year has been released by Disney.

Menus

The menus of the Extended Edition are themed to the East High yearbook, and with all of the pictures, “autographs,” and other items placed on the screen, it’s often difficult to see where your selection icon is. This is primarily the case with the bonus features sub-menu, where the underline that serves as your remote control selection is red, and the background is a different shade of red.

Wrapping It Up

High School Musical 3: Senior Year is probably a film that Disney fans or families that have kids in the elementary- and middle-school stage will be wanting to have on their shelves. If you want to know the truth, the smart thing would be to hold off about a year to see if another, more elaborate release of the film is coming. However, that decision to hold off is likely not to happen due to the impatient nature of today’s generation, including myself. For now, you’re better off with the standard, single-disc version of High School Musical 3: Senior Year. The two additional featurettes and deleted scenes included on the Extended Edition are nice, but I don’t think they justify purchasing the more expensive option, unless you really think you’re going to use to the iPod copy of the movie that’s also included on the Extended Edition. I’d advise the standard version – you’ll get the great movie, as well as the better bonus feature, for a reasonably low price, especially if buy it at a discount store like Wal-Mart or Target. Because High School Musical 3: Senior Year really is a special film, and this time it’s not the start of something new, but the end of something great.

How do I rank High School Musical 3: Senior Year Extended Edition DVD? (Bolded is my choice.)
Very good movie + good bonus features =
  • Aaaah!
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

High School Musical 3: Senior Year Extended Edition DVD will most likely please: Disney Fans – Musical Fans – Kids (ages 5-7) – Older Kids (ages 8-10) – Tweens (ages 11-13) – Teenagers – Parents

By Blake; posted February 22, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

Advertisements

Theme Park Headlines – They’re Going to Disney World, Part Two

February 23, 2009

Over two dozen ‘American Idol’ celebrities gathered at Disney’s Hollywood Studios last week for an amazing world premiere event.

By Blake

Originally posted February 22, 2009.

I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to attend a Walt Disney World press event more than I did on Thursday, February 12, 2009 as I watched live from my computer as over two dozen American Idol celebrities made their way down the blue carpet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. What was the occasion? The world premiere of the American Idol Experience, a new attraction that gives Walt Disney World guests the opportunity to be in the spotlight and go through a pretend American Idol audition.

The attraction’s recent history can be read in a BlakeOnline article from a few weeks ago, but it ultimately led up to extravagant press event and after party that took place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on February 12.

First, both season 7 winner David Cook and season 7 runner-up David Archuleta appeared on Good Morning America to promote the American Idol Experience along with GMA meteorologist Sam Champion, who even pointed out a Hidden Mickey on the attraction’s stage. David Archuleta toured viewers through part of the process of the new attraction, featuring a short group performance of “Life is a Highway” with him and several Walt Disney World guests. David Cook was shown performing a tidbit of his song “Heroes,” while his main, full-blown performance of “Declaration” had to end unexpectedly due to audio glitches. In the meantime, Diane Sawyer and Chris Cuomo improvised and told audiences that David Cook would be back soon, but since his performance was close to the end of the show, he unfortunately did not get to finish his performance.

Minnie Mouse and David Cook.

Later on in the day, preparations began to go into full swing to await the press event that would occur in the late afternoon. A long blue carpet was stretched out onto Hollywood Blvd., much like the lengthy red carpet at Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean world premiere events.

Reports say that guests began to line up along the street around noon for the 4:30 parade that featured over two dozen American Idol celebrities. Donald, Chip, and Dale were among the many people viewing the parade, holding up posters provided by Disney with phrases such as “Sup Dawg,” “We’re Nuts About Bo,” and others. The attendees of the event included American Idol creator Simon Fuller, host Ryan Seacrest, judge Paula Abdul, season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson, season 1 runner-up Justin Guarini, season 2 winner Ruben Studdard, season 2 contestant Kimberly Locke, season 2 contestant Josh Gracin, season 3 winner Fantasia Barrino, season 3 runner-up Diana DeGarmo, season 4 winner Carrie Underwood, season 4 runner-up Bo Bice, season 5 winner Taylor Hicks, season 5 contestant Mandisa, season 5 contestant Bucky Covington, season 5 contestant Ace Young, season 6 winner Jordin Sparks, season 6 contestant Melinda Doolittle, season 6 contestant LaKisha Jones, season 6 contestant Phil Stacey, season 6 contestant Sanjaya Malakar, season 6 contestant Chris Sligh, season 7 winner David Cook, season 7 runner-up David Archuleta, season 7 contestant Syesha Mercado, season 7 contestant Jason Castro, season 7 contestant Brooke White, season 7 contestant Carly Smithson, and season 7 contestant Michael Johns. Phew!

Goofy, Mickey Mouse, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, and Minnie Mouse.
Carrie Underwood in the parade during the American Idol Experience opening press event.

After the parade, the celebrities made their way further down the blue carpet for a hoopla of interviews. This part of the event was broadcast live via webcam to http://www.wdwnews.com/, much in the same way that the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest red carpet event was broadcast in 2006. Although the webcam didn’t really show individual interviews, it did show the overall scene of the event for over an hour. It was very exciting to watch from my computer the anticipation leading up to the celebrities’ arrivals, and then the mania that followed each time a new celebrity arrived. Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy were dressed in their best and greeted each arrival, while Pluto and Grumpy were in the VIP section, Pluto holding up a sign that said “Yo Dawg” and Grumpy holding one that read “Simon is my idol but I always agree with Paul Abdul.”

Ruben Studdard at the American Idol Experience.

Once the interviews were over and the webcam stopped broadcasting, it was time for the world premiere of the American Idol Experience! The premiere featured a regular show as it would be performed any other day, with several park guests performing and one being named the day’s winner. However, much more than just a regular show also took place. Ryan Seacrest hosted the rest of the world premiere which featured a speech by Paula Abdul, a performance by David Cook of his song “Light On,” a performance by Carrie Underwood of her song “All American Girl,” and a duet by both David Cook and Carrie Underwood of “You Can Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac. Unfortunately, the duet is not available on iTunes or for purchase anywhere. Lastly, all seven previous American Idol winners came on stage (for the first time ever together in the same place) to each receive a very special American Idol award that was presented to them by the TV show’s creator Simon Fuller and will be presented to each future American Idol winner at each season’s finale.

All seven previous American Idol winners with their special awards, given to them by American Idol creator Simon Fuller. From left: season two’s Ruben Studdard, season one’s Kelly Clarkson, season three’s Fantasia Barrino, season seven’s David Cook, season four’s Carrie Underwood, season five’s Taylor Hicks, and season six’s Jordin Sparks.
After the world premiere, all of the American Idol celebrities took a “class picture” along with Mickey Mouse in front of the American Idol Experience, and then went to the after party! Some of them were even seen riding Rock n’ Roller Coaster.

Mickey Mouse, along with 28 American Idol celebrities including all seven winners, in front of the American Idol Experience at Walt Disney World.
It was certainly an incredible night and, even though I didn’t attend, I’m very grateful that Disney provided the great coverage that they had by setting the webcam up so that viewers wouldn’t miss a minute of the exciting event. If you missed the webcam coverage or you’d like the see more pictures and videos of the event, you can go to the following links:

StitchKingdom.com’s YouTube page for full videos of the entire webcam broadcast.

Orlando Attractions Magazine’s YouTube page for videos of the entire world premiere, including performances by David Cook and Carrie Underwood, and blue carpet interviews.

AllEars.net for pictures of the parade and the blue carpet.

Laughing Place.com for pictures and videos of the parade and world premiere, including performances by David Cook and Carrie Underwood, and pictures of the blue carpet.

MousePlanet.com for pictures of the blue carpet and the world premiere.

StudiosCentral.com for pictures of the blue carpet and the world premiere.

DIS Unplugged for pictures of the parade.

Additionally, WDWNews.com has a great compilation of press releases as well as a look at American Idol celebrities visiting Walt Disney World in the years past, plus a great slideshow of the entire press event, as seen below in the post before this one. If you look at it in full-screen mode, the pictures look excellent. All of the images are (C) Disney.

The world premiere of the American Idol Experience was an event that Disney seemed to work very hard to make happen, and their efforts certainly paid off from what I’ve seen. The attraction officially opened two days later on February 14, and a short look of the world premiere was featured on February 18th’s episode of American Idol. The spectacular event is one that I’m glad I got to see live, even if it was a portion via webcam. It was one event that will not easily be forgotten among Disney fans or American Idol fans.

By Blake; posted February 22, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

If you missed it, check out part one of this article!

DVD Review – Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary Edition

February 21, 2009


Walt Disney’s most magical movie of all returns in a spectacular DVD set.

By Blake

Originally posted February 21, 2009.

I’m not going to beat around the bush here: Mary Poppins is the absolute best Disney movie ever made.

Walt Disney was very involved in the development of the film throughout its production, possibly more than any other movie, and his hard work definitely paid off in the final results of Mary Poppins. The irresistible characters, fantastic music, amazing story, and magically happy mood reflect this, as does its outlasting acclaim and success.


The only person to date to ever receive an Academy-Award for Best Actress in a Disney role, Julie Andrews plays the titular nanny who literally blows into London when Jane and Michael Banks request someone new to watch over them. With the help of the cheery Bert (Dick Van Dyke), Mary Poppins takes the children on an outing inside sidewalk chalk drawings, to a tea party on the ceiling, on a trip through the London rooftops, and several other magical adventures. Not only does Mary Poppins successfully fulfill her job as the Banks’ nanny, but she also willingly triumphs to mend the entire family’s relationship with one another.

Disney Legends Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman supplied the outstanding songs for the film, including the Academy-Award winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” as well as the wonderful “Spoonful of Sugar,” “Step in Time,” and many more. The hilarity that ensues in “I Love to Laugh” has to be the funniest scene Disney’s ever produced. And “Feed the Birds” definitely has to be the saddest.

The new 45th Anniversary Edition of the film is now available in stores, and offers two discs’ worth of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious bonuses that are just as surprising as the contents of Mary Poppins’ carpet bag: they keep coming and coming in a seemingly endless continuation of fun.


The DVD includes all of the bonus features that were included in the 40th Anniversary Edition of the film that was released in 2004. These range from stellar to so-so. The audio commentary is great – it features Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Richard Sherman, and Karen Dotrice. We learn that Dotrice, who plays Jane Banks in the film, didn’t know that Dick Van Dyke played the old bank owner until she saw the end credits at the film’s premiere. For those that would rather watch the movie without a commentary but would still like to learn some trivia, a pop-up fun fact version is also offered. The lengthily wonderful making-of documentary reveals some of the many secrets that went into casting the actors and actresses and creating the special effects. There’s also a discussion featuring Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, and Richard Sherman reminiscing about the music of the movie. Disney’s Song Selection is also included and, even though I usually don’t bother to use it on other DVDs to watch all the songs consecutively, for this film I found it a welcome addition to the set. Other highlights of the DVD include the theatrical trailers for the movie, one of which includes Walt Disney proudly introducing the film to the public for the very first time.


Though the DVD has many stellar bonus features, there are others that were a bit mediocre for me. The art gallery features an expansive display of wonderful art pieces, though like most DVD galleries lacks an efficient navigational structure. The 2004 short film The Cat That Looked at a King features Julie Andrews returning in another P.L. Travers story. The park set of Mary Poppins was re-created for this short, and the adventure includes Andrews (possibly re-playing Mary Poppins herself, though that is indefinite) taking two children inside another sidewalk chalk drawing, this time to visit a troubled cartoon king who finds his relationship with his wife not as strong as it used to be. I don’t know whether to view this short as cheesy or magical – at times it’s just awkward, but it also has its share of Pixie Dust. Another not-so-great bonus feature included on this DVD set is “Movie Magic,” a quick featurette displaying some of the special effects (which were already covered in the full-blown making-of), but this time shows them with an annoyingly hip narrator. Groovy.

Fortunately, those are the only low points of the entire two-disc set of this marvelous film. All of the aforementioned features were included in the 2004 DVD version of Mary Poppins, so you’re probably wondering that with all of those features having already been released, there couldn’t possibly be anything left to include on the new DVD. In that case, you’d be wrong. The new 45th Anniversary Edition includes a very surprising look at the Broadway version of Mary Poppins. I had initially thought we might be getting a 15-minutes-maximum peek at the making of the show, so I was very pleasantly pleased when the featurette turned out to be over 45 minutes! It includes interviews with Thomas Schumacher (president of Walt Disney Theater Group), Ashley Brown (who plays Mary Poppins on Broadway, and soon in the U.S. tour), Gavin Lee (who plays Bert on Broadway, and soon in the U.S. tour), Richard Sherman (music writer for the film), George Stiles (composer for the Broadway show), Anthony Drewe (lyricist for the Broadway show), Bob Crowley (set designer for the Broadway show), and several other contributors who show us what it took to create all areas of the Broadway musical.


Also included is a full performance of “Step in Time” from the Mary Poppins on Broadway cast, as well as a free MP3 download of the song. An additional art gallery of Bob Crowley for the set design of the Broadway show is also included.

As far as menus go, the ones featured on this DVD are pretty easy to navigate, with the exception of the aforementioned art galleries. Everything else, though, is pleasing, with a small easy-to-identify icon indicating your selection on the screen. Disc one’s menus are themed to the skies of London, while disc two is themed to the Broadway show, with its various set designs.

There is no hardcopy DVD guide included in the case, which is unfortunate but easily overlooked. Additionally, there is no disc art on both discs, but instead just plain grey, much like the DreamWorks animated releases’ DVDs. However, the outstanding DVD bonuses more than make up for these minor negatives.


There’s not much not to like on the wonderful Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary Edition two-disc DVD. It’s surprising that the movie is being released again on DVD without a simultaneous Blu-ray release, but since my family hasn’t purchased a Blu-ray player I’m not complaining. The amazing bonus features compliment the film excellently, providing hours of behind-the-scenes sneak peeks. If Disney’s only intention in re-releasing the film was to get viewers interested in the Mary Poppins musical on Broadway, it certainly worked in my case and definitely had me wanting to see the show. The new bonuses focusing on the Broadway show are great, and even might justify purchasing the movie again if you already own a previously-released copy. However, the obvious highlight of the entire DVD set is the magnificent film itself. One of Walt Disney’s greatest masterpieces, it shines with enough Pixie Dust, tears, songs, and laughs to illuminate filmmaking long after the movie was initially released.

How do I rank Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary Edition DVD? (Bolded is my choice.)
  • Aaaah!
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

By Blake; posted February 21, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

Theme Park Headlines – They’re Going to Disney World

February 12, 2009


America’s favorite television show and the #1 theme park destination in the world meet in the American Idol Experience, the newest attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Over two dozen ‘American Idol’ celebrities will be appearing at the park to open the new attraction.

By Blake

Originally posted February 11, 2009.

American Idol fans have been enjoying the last few weeks. The show recently began its eighth season on Fox and has been entertaining families with its first round of auditions, followed by the infamous “Hollywood week.” The top 36 contestants will be announced next and then it’s on to the live performances, which means the first opportunity this season for viewers to vote for their favorites.

Although that’s certainly exciting, today I’m excited for another reason, though it still involves American Idol. This weekend, the American Idol Experience officially opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida. It’s an anticipated attraction that lets Walt Disney World guests see what it’s like to audition for American Idol.

The attraction was first announced in February 2008 as an unnamed American Idol-themed show that would let guests go through a pretend American Idol audition process. The attraction is part of a park-wide revamp at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that includes debuting new attractions, updating already-established attractions, and significant re-theming to the park.

Concept art for the American Idol Experience. The look of the outside of the attraction has been slightly scaled down since the concept art was created.
On May 21, 2008 Jordin Sparks appeared in a commercial on the season seven finale of American Idol to give some more details about the anticipatory attraction. It was then that the attraction’s name was announced as the American Idol Experience. Sparks appeared in the commercial on none other than the balcony of Cinderella Castle.

Jordin Sparks on the balcony of Cinderella Castle, appearing in a commerical for the American Idol Experience.
In June 2008, several season seven American Idol contestants (including David Cook, David Archuleta, Syesha Mercado, Jason Castro, and more) taped some promotional footage for the attraction that is speculated to be part of the show itself. They shared some of their American Idol stories as well as their Disney memories. Brooke White even drew an excellent sketch of Mickey Mouse, who she had learned to draw when she had wanted to become a Disney animator when she was younger.

Brooke White draws Mickey Mouse while sharing her Disney memories.
During the American Idol summer 2008 tour, a one-page promotion for the American Idol Experience was featured in the concert’s program. Additionally, the aforementioned commercial featuring Jordin Sparks was played during the concert’s intermission.

Throughout the fall of 2008, not much information or news was heard about concerning the attraction, other than the construction of the show building, Superstar Television Theater (recently renamed from ABC Theater, where Doug Live was performed several years back). American Idol decorations are abundant outside the theater, and the inside has been constructed to look like the stage from the TV show’s top twelve round.

The outside of the American Idol Experience in Walt Disney World.
In December 2008, promotion and advertising began to pick up for the attraction as its opening date of early 2009 drew nearer. Both David Cook and David Archuleta made appearances on the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade. Cook performed “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” while Archuleta appeared at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to give a look into the new attraction as well as give a summary of the other happenings in the park.

David Cook performs in the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade 2008.
David Archuleta tapes a segment for the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade 2008.
Additionally, in mid-January 2009, Ryan Seacrest appeared at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for reasons currently unknown to me, though I’d guess it would be to film some footage for the attraction. He also posed for some promotional images.

Ryan Seacrest in mid-January 2009 in front of the American Idol Experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World.
Also in mid-January, sneak previews of the attraction began to get underway at the park, featuring several showtimes throughout the day and a daily grand finale taking place at the end of each day. Audience members vote for the winner, and each winner receives a “Dream Ticket,” letting them skip the lines at a real American Idol audition process.

A daily finale takes place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The attraction officially opens to the public on Saturday, February 14, 2009. Additionally, a very exciting press event will take place at Hollywood Studios on Thursday, February 12, 2009 for the opening of the attraction! David Cook, David Archuleta, Jason Castro, and over 25 American Idol celebrities will be appearing in a parade down Hollywood Boulevard at 4:30pm. If you’re like me and won’t be able to attend the very exciting parade, you can catch live coverage of the event over at StudiosCentral.com. They’ll have live blog from the park beginning at 4:00pm Eastern Time.

Lastly, be sure to watch (or record) a very special appearance by David Cook tomorrow (Thursday, February 12, 2009) on Good Morning America! He will be performing live from the American Idol Experience at Walt Disney World, so be sure to watch!

You can also expect to see lots of coverage from the press event and of the attraction itself as the weekend progresses. Keep an eye on AllEars.net, LaughingPlace.com, and MousePlanet.com for some reports, as those three websites seem to never fail at bringing the latest Disney news to the vast Disney community.

So remember, watch Good Morning America tomorrow, February 12, 2009, to see David Cook at Walt Disney World and log on to StudiosCentral.com at 4:00pm on February 12, 2009 to see live coverage of the American Idol parade! It’s sure to be a very exciting day.

By Blake; posted February 11, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

Book Review – "The Complete Walt Disney World 2009"

February 4, 2009

The best Disney guidebook just got even better.

By Blake

Originally posted February 4, 2009.

I really didn’t want to. I didn’t want to give in to purchasing the new book The Complete Walt Disney World 2009 by Julie and Mike Neal. The very informative guidebook with a hoopla of great photos and packed with tips and little-known facts was introduced in 2007 and amazed me. In 2008 the book was updated to include new dining and accommodations chapters and had even more helpful information than the first edition, so I went ahead and purchased the book a second time. I remember telling myself that this was it: I didn’t want to buy a newer edition if it was published in the future. Now here I am contemplating the situation again.

I saw the 2009 version of the book in Barnes & Noble last week and couldn’t believe that that authors Julie and Mike Neal had once again created another brilliant compilation of well-researched information and photos. Outdoing themselves again, the 2009 edition of the book no longer has a dining chapter, but instead divides up the restaurants of Walt Disney World into their respective locations throughout the book as part of new overviews for each of the four theme parks. Also in the new overview sections are outlines for each of the parks, as well as a guide of what characters guests will find and where to find them. Additionally, a “What’s New” section includes information on what’s newly opened, as well as what’s recently closed and what’s coming in the future, including the addition of Barack Obama into the Hall of Presidents at the Magic Kingdom. There’s even a chart of Fastpass return times for every Fastpass attraction, as well as what the expected wait times are for each attraction throughout the day. Lastly, new photos have been added to several of the already-there attraction guides of the book and the look of the book has a sleeker feel.

If you already own a past edition of the book, you might want to consider upgrading, especially if you plan on taking a Disney vacation in the not-so-distant future. I haven’t bought the new 2009 version yet, though I probably will end up doing so, even though I initially hadn’t planned on it.

If you’re a first-time visitor to Walt Disney World and are currently planning your first trip there, I’d suggest picking up a different guidebook. Although The Complete Walt Disney World 2009 is filled with great info, it may seem overwhelming for first-time guests and it often runs through entire attractions, giving away most of the attractions’ surprises. If you are indeed planning your first Disney vacation, I’d suggest purchasing a guidebook that offers step-by-step information without becoming too overwhelming like Birnbaum’s Official Guide to Walt Disney World or contact a travel agent. Or just give me a buzz and I’ll be more than happy to help. However, if you’ve already been to Walt Disney World or are a Disney fan that just wants to learn more about WDW, I’d recommend The Complete Walt Disney World 2009. It won’t ruin the surprises that Walt Disney World has in store for you because you’ve already visited, but will rather enhance your knowledge.

Filled with fantastic information and plenty of great pictures, The Complete Walt Disney World 2009 by Julie and Mike Neal is excellent for Disney fans and those who are planning returning trips to Walt Disney World. However, if you’re a first-time guest, you should sit this one out and instead pick up a more basic guidebook.

How do I rank The Complete Walt Disney World 2009 by Julie and Mike Neal? (Bolded is my choice.)
  • Utterly repulsive
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

The Complete Walt Disney World 2009 by Julie and Mike Neal will most likely please: Disney Fans – Returning guests to Walt Disney World – Kids (the pictures) – Adults

By Blake; posted February 4, 2009. All images (C) Coconut Press.

BlakeOnline Special – Keep Moving Forward in 2009

February 2, 2009

Disney fans have a lot to celebrate about in 2009, including exciting movie releases, deluxe DVD sets, and new theme park entertainment.


By Blake

Originally posted February 1, 2009.

2008 served Mickey Mouse quite well. Although some might say that because of the recessing economy, Disney is plummeting downhill with the rest of the country (which is not true, but we’ll get to that later), it’s actually been quite the opposite in 2008 for the Walt Disney Company. It seems that they’re finally right where they should be in all areas of their company, knowing who to market what to and realizing what works for them and what doesn’t. And now that they know this, we can be assured that plenty more magic will be sprinkled up in 2009.

Movies
2008 was filled with numerous in-theater, live-action family Disney movies that had everyone singing, laughing, crying, and, at one point, had an entire theater full of tween girls having a jam session. In February, Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert hit select theaters for limited showings that proved just how far a simple Disney Channel sitcom had come since becoming a full-blown, beyond-TV franchise. In March, Raven-Symone appeared in her second in-theater Disney movie, College Road Trip, alongside Martin Lawrence and Donny Osmond. It was a delightful comedy that had kids laughing and parents tearing up. In May, the second film in the Narnia series was released, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Just as action-packed and magical as the first, Prince Caspian was quite a treat. In October, Beverly Hills Chihuahua was released. Although I didn’t see it, the film’s initial teaser trailer grabbed the attention of many, and whether or not people liked it, it granted the film a large amount of publicity. Also in October, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Lucas Grabeel, Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, and the rest of the Wildcats made the transition from television sets to the silver screen as the epic High School Musical phenomenon capped off a three-year span of Wildcat mania with the release of High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Proving itself to be much more than an average musical, the film had a broad appeal and contained real Disney magic placed all throughout it. Finally, the Christmas Day release of Bedtime Stories told of Adam Sandler’s nightly tales to his nephews coming to life in the real world.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year was released in theaters last October, concluding the ongoing Wildcat mania.

2009 looks to be another promising year for Walt Disney Pictures, with several very exciting releases coming up. On February 27, the Jonas Brothers move from “special guests” in last year’s Hannah Montana concert movie to being in the center spotlight in Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. Like the Hannah Montana concert movie, the film will be released in select theaters and will take audiences behind the scenes to not only show viewers a Jonas Brothers concert, but also what goes on to put on the show. It will feature guest appearances by the Jonas Brothers’ Camp Rock co-star Demi Lovato, as well as country singer Taylor Swift. On March 13, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (of The Game Plan) will appear alongside Carla Gugino (the Spy Kids’ mother), AnnaSophia Robb (Because of Winn-Dixie, Bridge to Terabithia), and Alexander Ludwig (The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising) in Race to Witch Mountain, a remake of the 1975 Disney classic Escape to Witch Mountain. On April 10, Hannah Montana will follow in the footsteps of Lizzie McGuire to become the second Disney Channel original series to have its own theatrical film when Hannah Montana: The Movie hits the silver screen. An actual movie as opposed to a concert, the film will have Miley stranded in a small town in Tennessee with her family, where she’ll have to permanently choose which side of her double life to officially pursue. The film’s teaser trailer makes it seem epic and on a slightly larger scale than the television series and, if done right, it could end up being something very special for all of those tiny Hannah fans. On April 22 (Earth Day), Disney will somewhat revive its classic True-Life Adventure nature documentary series as it launches its new Disney Nature franchise with the release of the new film Earth. The film will be narrated by James Earl Jones and will tell of three animal families. On July 24, we’ll get to see what happens when Beverly Hills Chihuahua meets Spy Kids when G-Force is released. The movie, which is a Jerry Bruckheimer production, will feature guinea pigs (some of which are voiced by Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz) saving the world. Pirates of the Caribbean’s Bill Nighy (Davy Jones) is also in the film.

The Jonas Brothers come to the big screen for their concert movie, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience, coming to theaters February 27.

Animation
Not only did live-action Disney films hit the silver screen in 2008, but two excellent animated Disney movies were also released, both of which scored “Brilliant” in their BlakeOnline reviews. In June, Pixar’s Wall-E heralded back to the days of silent films with having barely any dialogue and told the heartwarming story of a lonely and abandoned robot, Wall-E, who seized the chance to fall in love when he unknowingly boarded a spaceship. Once again, Pixar performed well with both critics and audiences. In November, Bolt surprised everyone as being possibly the best non-Pixar Disney animated film in years. Its Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature (alongside Wall-E and Kung Fu Panda) only proves that theory even more. (The last non-Pixar Disney animated movie to receive an Oscar nomination was Brother Bear, released in 2003.) Full of richly developed characters and a superlative story, Bolt is a real treasure, and when paired with Wall-E, the two unlikely title heroes perform a vast supply of Pixie Dust to please young and old alike.

In June, Wall-E delighted audiences of all ages with its amazing story and likeable characters.

On the horizon for Disney animation in 2009 are two more new theatrical features a revisit of a classic. On May 29, Pixar takes an elderly man up in the sky as he attaches oodles of balloons to his house in Up, directed by Pete Docter (the same director as Monsters, Inc.). In October, Toy Story will be re-released in select theaters in 3D to promote the forthcoming 2010 new film Toy Story 3. On Christmas Day, Walt Disney Animation Studios will at last return to traditional hand-drawn animation in The Princess and the Frog, a retelling of the classic fairy tale. Set in New Orleans, the movie will feature the voice of Anika Noni Rose as Princess Tiana, the first new Disney Princess since 1998 and the first ever African-American Disney Princess. The movie will be directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, who together also directed The Great Mouse Detective, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, and Treasure Planet. The Princess and the Frog will feature original songs and score by Randy Newman. It looks to be a very exciting film indeed. I can’t wait to see the final results come next Christmas.

Tiana, voiced by Anika Noni Rose, is the heroine of the new Disney movie The Princess and the Frog, being released in theaters Christmas Day 2009.

Revitalizing Franchises
2008 also saw the continuation of two major Disney franchises and an expansion in online entertainment. In October, Cars Toons premiered as a series of new short cartoons starring Mater from Cars. The first three shorts debuted on television and continue to air on Disney Channel regularly. A fourth short premiered alongside Bolt a few weeks after Bolt had been released, to entice audiences to see the film again. Cars Toons is the first of many new ways we’ll be seeing the charming characters of Radiator Springs in the next few years. This summer, a new internet game called The World of Cars Online will debut on Disney.com. Following in the footsteps of other Disney games such as Toontown Online, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, Pixie Hollow, and the now-closed Virtual Magic Kingdom, the new Cars game will allow players to create their own character, in this case a car, and communicate with other players in races, games, and activities and also talk to other players in real-time. That’s just the beginning of the forthcoming Cars mania. In summer 2011, Cars 2 will premiere on the silver screen, sure to create plenty of hilarious Disney magic as audiences re-acquaint themselves with Lightning McQueen, Mater, and the rest of the Radiator Springs crew. Additionally, in 2012, Cars Land will open at Disney’s California Adventure in as part of a park-wide expansion.

Lightning McQueen and the rest of the Cars characters will return for the World of Cars Online game, Cars 2 in theaters, and Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure at Disneyland.

Another franchise that was revisited in 2008 centered around Jim Henson’s lovable bunch of furry critters, the Muppets. In February of 2008, a Muppets channel was launched as part of the recently-revamped Disney.com and featured hilarious new videos and games, collectively featuring hours of new footage. The idea was to get the Muppets slowly back in the spotlight again in preparation for an upcoming feature film in 2010, and the plan seems to be working out great. In addition to the main Muppets channel on Disney.com, there are also separate pages devoted to Kermit the frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, the great Gonzo, and Pepe the king prawn. An upcoming page will belong to Animal.

The new Muppets channel on Disney.com provides plenty of hilarious new Muppet videos.

TV
Also part of the epic plan to spotlight the Muppets, a new set of TV specials aired in August and October of 2008 called Studio DC: Almost Live! that featured the Muppets and Disney Channel actors and actresses performing musical numbers and comedy routines. Featuring performers like Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, the Cheetah Girls, David Henrie, and more, Studio DC’s main purpose was to introduce the Muppets to a younger audience through people that the viewers already knew well through other Disney Channel shows. Additionally, a new hour-long Christmas special called A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa aired on NBC in December and marked the Muppets’ return to their classic flair and unforgettable wacky style.

Ashley Tisdale was among the Disney Channel performers who appeared with the Muppets in Studio DC: Almost Live!, a series of two new TV specials.

But the Muppets weren’t the only ones that Disney featured on their television networks in 2008. Disney Channel continued to crank out successful movies and shows. Wizards of Waverly Place and Hannah Montana continued to entertain kids and tweens with new seasons. The Emperor’s New School and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody both had their series finales, with the latter also beginning a new spinoff, The Suite Life on Deck. In the new show, Zack, Cody, London, and Mr. Moseby embark on the S.S. Tipton, a new cruise ship that offers a high school at sea and also introduces audiences to Bailey, a new character played by Debby Ryan. Another new Disney Channel original series that was introduced in 2008 was Phineas and Ferb, an animated show that features two tween boys spending their summer break thinking up inventive new activities to do while their pet platypus Perry secretly sneaks off as a spy. Additionally, several new Disney Channel original movies debuted in 2008, including Minutemen featuring Cory in the House’s Jason Dolley, Camp Rock featuring the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato, and The Cheetah Girls One World featuring the returning actresses Kiely Williams, Sabrina Bryan, and Adrienne Bailon and the titular group of girls.

The Suite Life on Deck debuted as a spin-off of the Disney Channel show The Suite of Zack and Cody. Pictured here is the cast (from left): Phill Lewis as Mr. Moseby, Dylan Sprouse as Zack, Brenda Song as London Tipton, Debby Ryan as Bailey, and Cole Sprouse as Cody.

In 2009, there’s plenty more of excitement from Disney Channel, including two new shows: Sonny With a Chance (premiering February 8), about a girl (Demi Lovato) that gets a part on a variety TV show, and Jonas (premiering this May) featuring the Jonas Brothers playing brothers who live as spies. There will also be three new Disney Channel original movies premiering this year: Dadnapped debuts February 16 and tells the story of a group of kids who have to rescue their friend’s father. The cast includes Emily Osment, Jason Earles, and Moises Arias from Hannah Montana, David Henrie from Wizards of Waverly Place, Phill Lewis from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and The Suite Life on Deck, Denzel Whitaker from Nickelodeon’s All That, Jonathan Keltz, and Greg Newbern. The next new Disney Channel movie to debut this year will be Hatching Pete featuring Jason Dolley as a teenager who fills in for his friend played by Mitchel Musso as the school mascot, while Musso’s character receives all the misunderstood attention for the mascot’s energetic personality. Lastly, Princess Protection Program will feature Demi Lovato as a princess trying to fit in the real world with the help of her friend, played by Selena Gomez. To me, this sounds a lot like 2007’s Enchanted.

Not only will Disney Channel continue to produce new material in 2009, but Toon Disney will also have a major revamp in February, when it officially will change its name to Disney XD. Marketed towards boys, the channel will feature original new shows, as well as already-established Disney Channel favorites.

DVD’s
2008 saw the arrival of several anticipated DVD releases. Enchanted and National Treasure: Book of Secrets were released in the spring after their in-theater runs, animated treasures such as The Aristocats and The Sword in the Stone were given re-releases, The Nightmare Before Christmas was given an impressive 2-disc collector’s edition, three new Walt Disney Treasures volumes were released (The Chronological Donald Volume 4, Dr. Syn: Alias the Scarecrow, and The Mickey Mouse Club Presents Annette) on 2-disc sets, and 101 Dalmatians and Sleeping Beauty were given 2-disc platinum releases. Additionally, there were two original direct-to-DVD animated releases: The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning was a prequel to the 1989 Disney classic and Tinker Bell not only gave Tink a voice but also told the story of how the famous Disney fairy got her start in Pixie Hollow, a land deep within Never Land. The film was also the launch of a new Disney Fairies franchise. Lastly, at the end of the year, 2-discs of bonuses were given to Wall-E and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Those two titles along with The Nightmare Before Christmas were the first Disney DVD’s to include a digital copy of their respective films so that viewers can download the movie onto their iPod.

Sleeping Beauty was released on a 2-disc DVD set last October.

2009 looks to be one of the most exciting years for DVD releases in a long time. Just within the next few months, a plethora of very special releases will become available, with more titles coming out next fall. On January 13, four Disney TV movies came to DVD: Gepetto, A Knight in Camelot, Mail to the Chief, and Smart House. On January 27, Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary Edition was released on a 2-disc set that features all of the bonuses from the 40th Anniversary Edition, as well as a new look at the Broadway version of the story. Also on January 27, Corbin Bleu is the voice of the titular animated character in the new live-action film Secret of the Magic Gourd. On February 3, another new direct-to-DVD live-action movie will be released, Space Buddies, the third move in the series of tales about Air Bud’s children. Also on February 3, Oliver & Company will be released on a 20th Anniversary Edition that will include a making-of featurette, a new game, and two Pluto shorts. On February 10, two Disney Channel shows will come to DVD with Wizards of Waverly Place: Supernaturally Stylin’ and Phineas and Ferb: The Daze of Summer. On February 17, the Wildcat mania continues with High School Musical 3: Senior Year, which will be available on both 1- and 2-disc DVD formats, as well as on Blu-ray. Including a digital copy of the film, all releases will include a “cast goodbye” featurette and the 2-disc and Blu-ray releases will include deleted scenes, bloopers, and more. Additionally, the original High School Musical will be released on Blu-ray on February 17. March 3 is all about dogs, with the DVD and Blu-ray releases of Beverly Hills Chihuahua (which feature deleted scenes, an audio commentary, a look at the dogs’ voices, a new short, and more) and the special edition DVD of Air Bud, which includes a commentary of the movie by the Air Buddies, Air Bud’s kids. March 10 will kick off a new DVD series, the Walt Disney Family Classics. Although I’m not sure if this will be an ongoing series or a one-time thing, the first two titles in the series will be Escape to Witch Mountain (just in time for its theatrical re-make) and its sequel Return to Witch Mountain. Both releases will include an audio commentary, new pop-up trivia facts, and more. March 10 is also the release date of the highly anticipated Pinocchio 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition, a great 2-disc set which marks the first time the classic film has been released since 2000. On March 17, the Playhouse Disney show Bunnytown will come to DVD with Bunnytown: Hello Bunnies. March 24 will mark a day of very exciting releases, including Lilo & Stitch “Big Wave” Special Edition, a 2-disc set that includes a special behind-the-scenes documentary. Also on March 24, Bolt will be released on Blu-ray and both 1- and 2-disc DVD formats! I was VERY excited when I found out that Bolt would be getting 2 discs of bonuses, especially since one of those bonuses is a new animated short featuring Rhino. Rounding out the spring DVD calendar are Baby Einstein: World Music and Hannah Montana: Keeping It Real, both on March 31, and My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Tigger, Pooh, and a Musical Too on April 7. Sometime in 2009 (though Disney has not said when), the story of Tinker Bell and her fairy friends will continue in Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, once again a direct-to-DVD/Blu-ray animated production featuring the Disney Fairies. This October, the first animated movie of all time and the film that marked the beginning of Disney feature animation, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, will be released on platinum DVD and Blu-ray.


Lilo & Stitch will be released on a new 2-disc set in March.

Theme Parks
A very significant year for both introducing new attractions as well as taking away others, the Disney theme parks were the subject of many changes in 2008. Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World and Disney’s California Adventure at Disneyland both began their multi-year revamps to better change the theme and lineup of their parks and attractions. Hollywood Studios debut the Block Party Bash parade (which was imported from California) and an updated Narnia exhibit which features a look behind-the-scenes of Prince Caspian. California Adventure premiered the new Pixar Play Parade, an energetic parade which features characters from every Pixar film through 2007’s Ratatouille. Both parks premiered a new version of Playhouse Disney Live on Stage, which now features characters and stories from more current Playhouse Disney shows, and High School Musical 3: Senior Year: Right Here, Right Now!, an updated version of the HSM street show that features music from the third film. Both Hollywood Studios and California Adventure also opened Toy Story Mania!, an interactive “E-Ticket” extravaganza that involves its riders into the storyline with favorite Toy Story characters. This February, Hollywood Studios will open the American Idol Experience, a new attraction that will give guests the opportunity to be in the spotlight and go through a pretend American Idol audition. In the forthcoming years at California Adventure, guests will get to see World of Color (a new nighttime water show), a new Cars-themed area of the park that will feature an outstanding new “E-Ticket” attraction, and a new Little Mermaid Fantasyland-like dark ride.









The new ride Toy Story Mania! opened at both Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World and Disney’s California Adventure at Disneyland in summer 2008.

Hollywood Studios and California Adventure weren’t the only Disney parks to receive new additions and celebrations in 2008, however. Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrated its 10th anniversary on Earth Day with a special ceremony and presentation. At both the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and at Disneyland, guests got the opportunity to meet Tinker Bell and the other Disney Fairies in a specially-themed meet and greet area called Pixie Hollow.

Walt Disney World and Disneyland guests can now meet (top, from left): Silvermist, Tinker Bell, Iridessa, as well as (bottom, from left): Rosetta and Fawn in new specially-themed meet-and-greet areas.

Although there were some excellent new additions to the parks in 2008, there were also numerous cutbacks that took place, as well. Although the economy isn’t significantly hurting Disney, as a result of the economy, Disney decided to take away some of their live entertainment offerings. The Princess Fantasy Faire at Disneyland closed its show (though the meet and greet still remains), Woody’s Cowboy Camp and the Main Street Family Fun Day Parade no longer perform at the Magic Kingdom, Sounds Dangerous is now a seasonal attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Fantasmic! only performs several nights a week now (instead of the previous nightly performance) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends has closed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. However, the economy’s results on the Disney parks aren’t all negative. Because of the slightly lower attendance, Disney has made some rather nice discounts. On select dates from February 9-April 4 and April 19-June 27, if guests purchase 4 nights at a Walt Disney World resort (with park tickets), they get 3 more nights (again with park tickets) for free. Also, lower attendance means less people in the parks, resulting in shorter ride lines. Now that’s not to say that the parks will be completely empty. Although the recession certainly isn’t helping Disney, Disney’s not in a dire desperate mode. There will still be people in the parks, just on a slightly lower level.

Fantasmic! now does not perform nightly at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Also, as part of the 2009 “What will you celebrate?” promotion, any guest can get into a Disneyland or Walt Disney World park on their birthday for free. Although this particular celebration doesn’t have as many attraction openings in its lineup as previous promotions, there are a few additions to look forward to. On January 23, an updated parade premiered at the Magic Kingdom called the Celebrate Dreams Come True Parade. The third version of the Share a Dream Come True Parade, the parade features classic Disney characters in a dazzling display of Disney magic. Additionally, on January 25, Dream Along with Mickey returned from its almost-three-week-long refurbishment. Apparently some stage work was done to the Castle Forecourt stage. It is unknown at this time if the refurbishment involved any changes to the show itself. Sometime within the next few weeks, the interactive Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure will officially open at Epcot. The attraction involves guests participating in somewhat of a scavenger hunt throughout the different country pavilions of Epcot as they use their “Kimmunicator” to help solve a mission. On February 6, “it’s a small world” will re-open after a lengthy refurbishment at Disneyland and will feature appearances by classic Disney characters in “small world” form. However, these changes have not been made to the Florida version of the ride. On February 14, the aforementioned American Idol Experience will debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Sometime in February, the new Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It street party will debut at the Magic Kingdom. In addition to the daily afternoon parade, the new show will feature favorite characters as they invite guests to party with them. A similar, though different, show will debut at Disneyland on March 27 called “Celebrate! A Street Party.” On April 1, the Celebration Roundup and Barbecue will open at Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch and will offer celebrations, food, and Disney character appearances. Sometime in April, Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration will premiere in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Featuring interactive celebrating and Stitch, the show will take place on a newly-constructed stage in the middle of Tomorrowland. Additionally, the nearby Galaxy Palace Theater (which hosts school band and dance performances) is closing. It is unknown at this time if Mickey’s Twas the Night Before Christmas show (which normally performs there during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party) will be effected by this change. Lastly, Space Mountain will temporarily close at the Magic Kingdom on April 19 for a long refurbishment. It will reopen in late 2009. It is unknown right now what exactly the changes will include.

The Celebrate Dreams Come True Parade is now performing daily at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida.


Are you 23?

Now here’s the puzzle that has tons of Disney fans scratching their heads. A few weeks ago, Disney launched a new website at www.disney.com/23. If you’ll open the website, you’ll see that words appear on a black screen reading “Are you 23? Find out March 10.” Then Tinker Bell comes and brings a countdown clock to March 10. What does this all mean? Nobody quite seems to know for sure. I don’t have any idea as to what it could be. It definitely is a clever way to disguise whatever it is the website is advertising, and has many Disney fans interested in what this is all about.

The Big Finish
That wraps up what was accomplished by the Walt Disney Company in 2008, as well as what you can expect from them in 2009. There are sure to be plenty unmentioned happenings along the way as well, but the products and events Disney has already announced has me getting excited as to what sort of Disney wonderment we’ll be reflecting about this time next year.

Happy New Year from BlakeOnline and have a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious 2009!

By Blake; posted February 1, 2009. All images (C) Disney.