Archive for May, 2009

Disney Talk – ‘Up’ Is Here

May 30, 2009

Pixar’s tenth film has arrived in theaters.

By Blake

Originally posted May 29, 2009; updated June 3, 2009.

No, I haven’t seen Up, Pixar’s latest movie, yet. Usually I try to stay away from reading any reviews or hearing any word about people’s reactions of a movie before I see it to keep my opinion fresh and unbiased. And I’ve tried to do this with Up, but honestly no matter where I turn, I can’t get away from the public’s seemingly unanimous approval for the film. And it’s only been in theaters for one day.

I had already been excited to see the movie even before I heard how critics were reacting, solely because it was a Pixar film. Enough said, right? Since Pixar has a record of consistent hits, Up is bound to be brilliant, right? Pixar usually gets favorable reviews, but as far as the general public (as a whole) responding to Up (even before it opened in theaters), I’ve never seen a movie get so many compliments so quick.

Flight has been a common thread among Disney productions for a long time, winding all the way back to 1928’s Plane Crazy, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon ever made (although Steamboat Willie was the first one released). Disney characters continued to take flight as time progressed, including Goofy making a plane in 1940’s Goofy’s Glider, Dumbo learning to fly in 1941, Peter Pan taking Wendy and family across the London skies to Never Land in 1953, Mary Poppins flying into London via her umbrella in 1964, Pooh holding onto a balloon in an effort get some honey in 1966’s Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, Aladdin and Jasmine sharing a romantic carpet ride in 1992, and several other instances.

Up’s teaser trailer debut alongside Bolt in theaters in November 2008, and more vast publicity began as early as March 2009, when John Lasseter promoted the movie on The View during the week that the show was broadcast from the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA.

On May 8, three of Up’s main characters – Carl, Russell, and Dug – began appearing in the pre-parade section of the Pixar Play Parade at Disney’s California Adventure in Disneyland. Additionally, on May 15, they began making appearances at a new Up-themed meet & greet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida.

On May 13, Up became the first animated film in history to open the Cannes Film Festival in France. Pixar executive John Lasseter and Up director Pete Docter told LaughingPlace.com that moviegoers at the festival are usually very critical, though both were pleased that Up received a standing ovation.

Earlier this month, Up was also promoted on an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos, when host Tom Bergeron was shown riding a “balloon chair” experience involving a heap of balloons, similar to the film. Additionally, there’s even an Up-themed blimp that’s been flying in the skies of California.

Disney’s “Opening Weekend Surprise” campaign is being implemented once again with Up. The program began in February when the Jonas Brothers surprised audiences of Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience at select theaters nationwide in a special weekend tour. Similar happenings occurred when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson surprised an audience during Race to Witch Mountain’s opening weekend, and again when Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray Cyrus popped in a few theaters to make surprise appearances during the opening weekend of Hannah Montana: The Movie.

The Opening Weekend Surprise for Up hasn’t been fully revealed yet, but it’s been hinted at by Disney that it will involve spotting the “hidden treats” Pixar animators have put into the film (along the same lines of how they hid a Jessie doll in Monsters, Inc. and Buzz Lightyear in Finding Nemo, stuff like that). Guests can visit to Disney.com/surprise beginning Monday, June 1, for a look into what similar finds were hidden in Up. If you’re reading this BEFORE June 1, 2009, it’s worth a visit to the site to see a pretty neat video at what Pixar has hidden in some of their previous movies. However, if you’re reading this after June 1 and you haven’t seen Up yet, I’d avoid that link to stray away from spoilers!

Update from June 3, 2009: The actual Opening Weekend Surprise for Up turned out to be Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Sulley, and Mr. Incredible all making a surprise appearance at a movie theater in Chicago, IL on Friday, May 29.
If the prospect of seeing another winning Pixar film – a persuasion that’s been raised even higher given the public’s reaction – weren’t enough to get viewers to come to Up, it’s been reported that audiences seeing Up also have the pleasure of viewing some very special (and I mean VERY special) pre-show elements.

With all of the excitement in the air surrounding Up, I’m very anxious to see what all of the hubbub is about. I haven’t been disappointed by Pixar yet, and I’m very excited to delve into another of their exceptional worlds and be “wow’d” by their storytelling.

Related BlakeOnline articles:
By Blake; posted May 29, 2009; updated June 3, 2009. All images (C) Disney/Pixar.

Channel Flippin’ – What a Show

May 23, 2009

The 2009 season finale of ‘American Idol’ was the program’s most impressive conclusion ever. (Spoiler warning!)

By Blake

Originally posted May 23, 2009; updated May 29, 2009.

***Spoiler Warning***
This post contains commentary about the American Idol 2009 finale. If you haven’t yet watched the finale and wouldn’t like to know who won yet, don’t read any further!
***Spoiler Warning***

I knew the American Idol contestants and crew could put on a great show. Year after year of amazing season finales and Idol Gives Back specials had proven that Fox could throw a seriously awesome TV party. Even knowing that, I was still blown away by the outstanding performances showcased on American Idol’s two-part season eight finale, which was broadcasted on Tuesday, May 19 and Wednesday, May 20, 2009.

The finale was the epilogue to a great season of talent, showmanship, and shockers.

The season started out with a new judge, singer/songwriter Kara DioGuardi. At first I had thought that the decision to add a new judge to the show would result in “jumping the shark,” though thankfully that didn’t happen at all. Instead, DioGuardi gave the contestants constructive criticism – telling it like it was without getting mean.

Kara DioGuardi was a new judge this season.

This year, the show returned to its former “Top 36” format as opposed to recent years’ “Top 24” layout. This meant that the top 36 contestants were put into groups of twelve, with one group performing each week and three of each group’s twelve contestants moving on to the top twelve. After that, a “wildcard” show admitted three more performers (that had previously been voted out) into the top twelve. However, a slight twist this year revealed that there would be a top thirteen, putting one more contestant through to the final round of the show.

Once the top thirteen contestants were established, another twist was revealed: the “judge’s save.” Through this new rule, if for any given reason a contestant was voted out and the judges didn’t agree with that person going home, they could “save” that contestant, letting that person keep competing in the show. However, this also meant that the week following the save, two contestants would go home instead of one. The save could only be used once the entire season, and could only be implemented through the week of the top five.

The judges decided to use their save on Matt Giraud. If they hadn’t used their save on him, Giraud would have gone home in 7th place. Instead he ended up staying two more weeks, going home in 5th place.

The judge’s used their only “save” for the season on contestant Matt Giraud.

Fellow contestants celebrate with Matt Giraud as the judges announce their “save.”

This season, the bar was significantly raised concerning the talent level each contestant was brought to their performances. With David Cook’s win last year, the show transitioned from finding an excellent singer to finding an excellent artist. A great voice can get you pretty far in American Idol, but now it’s unlikely that anyone will go all the way without showing their own unique style by changing the arrangements of songs to better suit their personality.

Surprisingly not present in the 2009 season was a full night devoted to Idol Gives Back. An American Idol tradition since 2007, Idol Gives Back involves contestants and celebrities encouraging viewers to donate to several charitable organizations. For two years, a special had aired for Idol Gives Back, filled with spectacular performances, as well as videos of how the money that had been raised was being used worldwide to help others. There was a brief Idol Gives Back update during one of this season’s results shows, which included a video of a trip Carrie Underwood took to Africa to help the cause and a performance by a child that had benefitted from the donations, though no full-blown special aired like previous years.

Noah (center), a child that benefitted from the Keep A Child Alive organization as a result of the donations viewers made for Idol Gives Back, stands with Alicia Keys and Ryan Seacrest after performing on American Idol on May 13, 2009.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 saw the last night of voting for the season. The top two contestants included rocker Adam Lambert and laid-back Kris Allen, who both performed three songs on Tuesday. Concluding the show was a special performance by Carrie Underwood of “Home Sweet Home,” which was this season’s “exit song” that played as each contestant was eliminated. On Tuesday, however, the song was played while a montage of the season’s highlights was shown. It was a somewhat sentimental moment, sort of a signal that the season really was coming to a close.

2005 American Idol winner Carrie Underwood performs “Home Sweet Home” on American Idol on Tuesday, May 19, 2009.

The season wasn’t quite over yet, though. Not a bit, really.

On Wednesday, May 20, 2009, the season finale aired, and honestly was one of the overall best television programs I’ve ever seen. An all-around entertaining show with something for just about everybody, it was really amazing.

Throughout the night, there were several performances by the entire top thirteen contestants (including Jasmine Murray, Jorge Nunez, Alexis Grace, Michael Sarver, Megan Joy, Scott MacIntyre, Lil Rounds, Anoop Desai, Matt Giraud, Allison Iraheta, Danny Gokey, Adam Lambert, and Kris Allen), including the opening number of Pink’s “So What.”

Additionally, the night included performances by contestants accompanied by celebrities, including Megan Joy and Michael Sarver with Steve Martin, Alexis Grace and Anoop Desai with Jason Mraz, Lil Rounds with Queen Latifa, Matt Giraud (and later joined by the rest of the top thirteen) with Carlos Santana, Allison Iraheta with Cyndi Lauper, Danny Gokey with Lionel Richie, Adam Lambert with Kiss, and Kris Allen with Keith Urban. All of them were exceptionally wonderful performances.

Not only all of those, but the top girls also performed with Fergie, which subsequently followed with a performance by the Black Eyed Peas.

Three “Golden Idol” awards were given throughout the night to contestants who didn’t make it very far in the show, but were very memorable enough from their brief airtime. The first went to Nick Mitchell, who at first seemed very shocked, claiming that he wished he had something prepared. In mid-sentence, he shouted “Hit it!” and proceeded to take off his jacket, revealing his “Norman Gentle” attire. Hysterical.

Ryan Seacrest (left) and Nick Mitchell.

The next awards went to Katrina Darrell aka “Bikini Girl” and Tiana Del Toro. I’m not going to say much about either of their performances, but I couldn’t help feeling a little bit sorry for them, hoping that they’d both feel accepted for who they are without having to take extra measures of attention-getting.

Also included in the night’s agenda was a sentimental performance by season seven American Idol winner David Cook of his new single “Permanent,” which relates personally to him with the recent loss of his brother. After he sang, Cook announced that all proceeds from the downloads on iTunes of the performance would go to Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure.

2008 American Idol winner David Cook performs “Permanent” at the 2009 American Idol finale.

The last surprise performance of the night was the two finalists Kris Allen and Adam Lambert singing “We Are the Champions” with Queen.

From left: Adam Lambert, a member of Queen, and Kris Allen.

Lastly, it was time to reveal the winner. The lights were dimmed, the two finalists took center stage along with host Ryan Seacrest, the envelope containing the results was delivered, and the winner was announced to be . . . Kris Allen!

American Idol 2009 runner-up Adam Lambert (left) with winner Kris Allen.

You can see the obvious shock Allen felt by the win from the picture below:

From left: Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, and Ryan Seacrest as Allen is announced as the American Idol 2009 winner.

Closing out the show was a performance by Kris Allen, the newest American Idol winner, of his single “No Boundaries.”

Kris Allen (in white shirt, black jacket, and jeans, fifth from right) with fellow American Idol 2009 contestants as he performs “No Boundaries.”

As the show came to its 2009 close, this touching picture of Kris Allen with his wife, Katy Allen, was the last shot that television viewers saw as the credits rolled:

Kris Allen with his wife, Katy Allen, just after Kris was announced as the American Idol 2009 winner.

Update from May 29, 2009: Kris visited Walt Disney World on May 29, 2009, where he appeared in a parade at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with Mickey Mouse, and then performed outside of the American Idol Experience attraction. You can check out coverage of the event at DISUnplugged.com.
I was overall very content with this season of American Idol. It’s hard to believe it’s already completely over. It’s been an amazing ride.

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted May 23, 2009; updated May 29, 2009. All images (C) Fox.

Disney Talk – Wayne Allwine Passes Away

May 22, 2009
The voice of Mickey Mouse dies of diabetes at age 62.

By Blake

Originally posted May 22, 2009.

Today I’d like to comment a piece of show business news this week is serious and somber. On Monday, May 18, Wayne Allwine (the voice of Mickey Mouse) passed away at age 62 of diabetes. He was married to Russi Taylor (the current voice of Minnie).

I was very saddened when I read about this, because for as long as I’ve been a Disney fan, Allwine had held the title of being Mickey’s voice. I didn’t fully realize it until Allwine’s passing, but part of the personal emotion I have for Mickey is Allwine’s kind, welcoming, and cheery tone he put into the character that hadn’t been implemented to Mickey’s personality until Allwine became his voice. Although I’ve heard Mickey’s voice performed by Allwine’s predecessors, Walt Disney and Jimmy MacDonald, a huge part of my journey to slowly becoming an ardent Disney fan was Mickey’s joyful smile paired with his welcoming voice performed by Allwine.

Disney has posted an article about the life of Wayne Allwine on the D23 website, and a video highlighting Allwine’s Disney career has been added to the Disney.com video selection.

Wayne Allwine truly changed the Walt Disney Company’s signature player and for 32 years brought a personality to Mickey Mouse that will not be forgotten.

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

Channel Flippin’ – New ‘American Idol’ Winner Named

May 22, 2009

The next ‘American Idol’ winner was announced on Wednesday, May 20.

By Blake

Originally posted May 22, 2009.

***Spoiler Warning***
This post contains commentary about the American Idol 2009 finale. If you haven’t yet watched the finale and wouldn’t like to know who won yet, don’t read any further!
***Spoiler Warning***

For those of you that are still there, let me share my congratulations to Kris Allen for taking home the American Idol season eight title. Gradually rising to become an excellent performer throughout the course of the season, Allen has displayed a genuine, sincere, humble personality since his first audition. He won over runner-up Adam Lambert, and the total amount of votes for both contestants for the finale was a record-breaking number of almost 100 million.

The season finale aired on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 and was the most jam-packed and incredibly awesome American Idol conclusion ever. It really was quite a show.

And while the American Idol buzz is still circling around the nation, check out Disney’s newest commercial:

By Blake Taylor; posted May 22, 2009. American Idol image (C) Fox. Disney Park video (C) Disney.

Disney Talk – 23 Again

May 19, 2009


The question of joining D23 circulates again among Disney fans.

By Blake

Originally posted May 19, 2009.

It’s been two months since Disney launched D23, a new official Disney fan club. With D23’s start came a new website (which features news, comics from the archives, and more) and a new quarterly magazine, Disney twenty-three. A one-year D23 membership (which costs about $75) includes four issues of Disney twenty-three, a certificate of membership, a “surprise gift,” and the opportunity to spend more money on members-only events and merchandise.

When D23 was first announced in March, I had decided that I would be purchasing the Disney twenty-three issues as they were released for $16 each instead of purchasing a full membership upfront. Many Disney fans probably decided to do the same thing if they were unsure about what the specific members-only benefits included.

I still stand by what I said about purchasing the Disney twenty-three magazine issues individually as they were released. Some have said that the magazine is fantastic, but shouldn’t be priced at $16 per issue. I agree and would definitely appreciate if Disney decided to decrease the rather high price of the magazine, but it does include great articles and is very high-quality, so therefore I’m going to continue to purchase it. The second issue was released on May 5 and includes more fascinating articles geared towards Disney fans, including a peak into the history of Donald Duck, who celebrates his 75th birthday next month.

The second issue of Disney twenty-three magazine features a special look at Donald Duck.

Most of the D23 members-only special events had been pretty vague (with the exception of the D23 Expo, to be held in September) until last Thursday, May 14, 2009, when Disney announced a lineup of summer plans exclusive to D23 members.

First is a night of Pixar fun at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, CA on Thursday, May 28. The event starts at 7pm with pin trading, and then continues at 10pm with Disney songs being played on the theatre’s organ. At 11pm, guests will see the premiere of a new stage show (called Lighten Up!, which will continue to play at the Theatre through Up’s run), and then at 12am guests will see a screening of the new Pixar film Up. Overall it seems like it should be a pretty exciting night, but it lasts a little late to be happening on a weeknight. The cost of the event is free to D23 members, making it an excellent value for those that can attend.

A screening of Up on May 28 at the El Capitan Theatre for D23 members includes pin trading, an organ performance, and a new stage show.

The next D23-member event will take place at Walt Disney World’s Epcot in Florida on May 31. It starts at 7:15pm and includes reserved seating for a performance of the Flower Power concert series, a social with desserts and coffee, and reserved seating for IllumiNations. Guests must pay for Epcot admission to attend, but there is no additional cost for the D23 happenings.

D23 members visiting Epcot on May 31 can attend a free night of fun, which includes seating for the Flower Power conert and IllumiNations, as well as a dessert social.

On June 24, both productions of Mary Poppins (including the Broadway show in New York and the touring show, which is currently in Chicago) will have a special behind-the-scenes peek for D23 members after the performance. D23 members that sign up for this event will also have special seating for the show and will receive a copy of the Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary Edition DVD. The cost is $121.50 for the New York show and $133.00 for the Chicago show.

D23 is having a behind-the-scenes peek of Mary Poppins in New York and Chicago on June 24, and of The Lion King in Las Vegas on June 27.

A similar event that includes a behind-the-scenes peek will take place for the Las Vegas production of The Lion King on June 27. It costs $113.50.

The next events are real treats. The first is a very special tour that will take guests behind the scenes at the Walt Disney Studios and the Walt Disney Archives in Burbank, CA, both of which are strict about admittance to non-Cast Members. D23 members who attend will get a peek inside both of these facilities that will last two hours total. The event is free and will take place on two dates: June 27 and August 15.

On July 17, to celebrate Disneyland’s 54th birthday, a special screening of the People and Places featurette entitled Disneyland, U.S.A. will be shown. Additionally, a discussion will be held by Imagineer Tony Baxter, Disney Archivist Dave Smith, and Disney Studios Film Archivist Ed Hobelman. The event is free and will take place in the Team Disney Anaheim Building at Disneyland.

A D23 members-only screening of Disneyland, U.S.A. will be shown at Disneyland on the park’s 54th birthday, July 17, 2009.

The next event is a preview of the Walt Disney Family Museum, which officially opens in October in the Presidio of San Francisco, CA. The D23 sneak preview will take place sometime in September (an exact date hasn’t yet been released) and is free.

Lastly, the already-announced D23 Expo will be held at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA on September 10 – 13. Basically, it’s a massive Disney fan convention that will include special screenings, Disney celebrities, exhibits, speaking events, and more. Admission for non-D23 members is $37 for one day and $111 for four days, while admission for D23 members is $30 for one day and $90 for four days.

The D23 Expo is coming to Disneyland on September 10 – 13, 2009.

Among all of those exciting activities going on, it seems to me that Disney has now made it very clear what sort of special events D23 members will be invited to. Now the decision of joining D23 is not about whether or not D23 is worth its membership, but whether or not you’ll be able to attend the events they have planned. Based on the lineup of activities scheduled for the summer, if Disney continues to have similar events further on down the road, most of the D23 happenings will either occur inside/near a Disney theme park, Hollywood, or somewhere involving a Disney live production.

Although all of those events sound very fun and worthwhile, I wouldn’t be able to attend any of them, even if I was a D23 member. So really, now that Disney has unveiled where they most likely will be planning D23-related events, it boils down to whether or not you personally think you’d be capable of going to any of those locations listed above to attend a D23 event. No, I don’t think it’s worth it to make a special trip to Hollywood to see the screening of Up at the El Capitan Theatre, but it might be worth a visit to Disneyland for the D23 Expo. However, since anybody can enter the D23 Expo (even if it is for a higher price than D23 members pay), is it really beneficial to be a D23 member in this case?

For now, I’m still not joining D23. I’ll continue to check out the excellent new website Disney has set up, and I’ll definitely keep purchasing issues of the Disney twenty-three magazine as they’re quarterly released in stores. But for me, I can’t justify paying for the full membership.

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted May 19, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

Blake’s Picks – Top 5 Hollywood Studios Attractions

May 17, 2009

The best of Walt Disney World’s third theme park.

By Blake

Originally posted May 16, 2009.

First of all, I’d just like to point out some news about The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which I had originally reported was going to be released on April 28. However, that was apparently a misunderstanding, as the book is now scheduled to be released in July 2010. StitchKingdom.com also experienced some confusion while trying to purchase the book.

So, although that’s not-so-great news, the celebration rolls on here at BlakeOnline to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

If you haven’t yet seen coverage of the festivities from DHS’s 20th anniversary event that occurred on Friday, May 1, 2009, you can check some pictures and videos out at StudiosCentral.com, AllEars.net, LaughingPlace.com, and AttractionsMagazine.com.

Although Walt Disney World’s official happenings for DHS’s birthday lasted one day, I thought it would be suitable to continue to post DHS-themed articles to commemorate the park’s anniversary. The park contains some of the individual best attractions in all of Walt Disney World. From exciting thrills to showstoppers to a hysterical 3-D movie, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is home to several of my Disney favorites.

To share with you some of my DHS favorites and to also celebrate the parks’ 20th anniversary, here’s a list of my top five favorite attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (Note that I have not yet ridden Toy Story Midway Mania! and have not yet seen The American Idol Experience, so those two are not included in this list because I haven’t seen them.)


5. Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream

A tribute to the life and aspirations of Walt Disney, the first part of this attraction is a walk-through, museum-like exhibit, while the next part is a short movie about Walt Disney. A Disney fan could spend a while in the exhibit part, looking at all of the displays, models, pictures, and other various items sprinkled throughout the building.

Guests can see many displays at Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, including (clockwise from top left) the “skeleton” of an Audio-Animatronics figure, a model of a rocket that was formerly in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland, the “dancing man” figure, and an Audio-Animatronics tiki bird.

The attraction debuted in 2001, appropriately during the 100 Years of Magic celebration (which was held for Walt Disney’s 100th birthday). One Man’s Dream recently became sponsored by D23, the new official Disney fan club, and now features a new display advertising D23. Also new in One Man’s Dream is a special look at the history of Disney’s Hollywood Studios to celebrate the park’s 20th anniversary (similar to the exhibit that was set up in Epcot for its 25th anniversary).

Although I haven’t experienced One Man’s Dream since 2004, The Complete Walt Disney World by Julie and Mike Neal reports that the attraction doesn’t have a wait most of the day. This means that the attraction is especially beneficial to those having some spare time while waiting for their Fastpass return time for Toy Story Midway Mania!, which is located just down the street, on Pixar Place. (One Man’s Dream is located between Pixar Place and Animation Courtyard.)

4. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

I enjoy most thrill rides, but sometimes I know to stay clear of an attraction if it’s going to give me a headache or cause nausea. If I choose not to ride something, it’s usually because I don’t want to experience negative side effects, not because I’m afraid of the ride itself. But the Tower of Terror just plain creeps me out, even when any side effects aren’t considered. But I love it.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is scarily fun.

When I say the Tower of Terror creeps me out, I mean it creeps me out in a good way. How can creepy be good? In this case, Disney sets the eerie storyline up brilliantly, building up the anticipation of your elevator ascent even before you arrive in the line. Just the sight of the looming Hollywood Tower Hotel (the fictional resort that the attraction is housed in) over Sunset Blvd. sparks hints of curiosity and a bit of fear inside guests. The line, filled with dusty objects and cobwebbed walls, helps set the spooky mood. The preshow room in the “library” tells guests the fictitious story of five people who were in the Tower’s elevator and, as the elevator was struck by lightning, were taken up and down the hotel’s elevator shaft. As guests then enter the second part of the line (which is a dark “boiler room”), suspense builds even more. By the time I’m instructed to stand upon a numbered spot to board the elevator, I’m personally just plain scared. It’s not 100% fear, knowing that it’s just a ride and that everything will be OK, but it’s still fear nonetheless.

Then the real fun starts as the ride begins and guests experience the up-and-down movements of the elevator. The Tower of Terror is one of Disney’s best thrill rides, and probably one of the best story-driven Disney attractions. It does a great job of delivering guests the story upfront and then putting guests into that story. It’s pulled off wonderfully, making the Tower of Terror one of Hollywood Studios’ most popular attractions.

3. Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage

One of the absolute best live productions on Disney property, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage retells the classic Disney animated film magnificently. The Academy-Award winning music accentuated by the sets, characters, and background dancers all culminate together to create an amazing experience.

Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage is one of Walt Disney World’s best shows.

The show is performed in the Theater of the Stars, an outdoor covered venue on Sunset Blvd., just down the street from the Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. The show opened on November 22, 1991, the same day as its film counterpart. Formerly, a popular preshow included four “crew members” “spontaneously” performing songs. The group, called Four For a Dollar, was unfortunately cut from the show in 2008.

The story of Beauty and the Beast is condensed into about 30 minutes for the show, so at times it may feel a bit rushed and some points in the plot may be fuzzy to those who haven’t seen the movie. However, that doesn’t take away from the overall wonderful quality of the production.

As one of Disney’s best animated movies, Beauty and the Beast makes a spectacular transition to the stage. Since the Broadway version of the story is no longer performing, it’s great that guests can still get a chance to see a live adaptation of it after over 17 years of dazzling audiences, making Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage close to the top of my list of DHS must-sees.

2. Jim Henson’s Muppet*Vision 3-D

My favorite Muppet production of all time (yep, that’s right), this hysterical 3-D movie is classic Muppet humor at its best. From the minute you walk into the line, you know you’ve entered a Muppet community. The detail in the props during the line and preshow is outstanding. Fun little trinkets and items are scattered everywhere, all with their own touch of subtle wit.

Fozzie Bear, Kermit the Frog, and other Muppets deliver plenty of fun in Jim Henson’s Muppet*Vision 3-D.

Guests are treated to a hilarious pre-show video featuring Sam the Eagle, Gonzo, Rizzo, and other Muppets before heading into the Muppet Theater to view the main show. The 3-D movie features favorite Muppets touring the audience around the Muppet Labs before performing several musical acts, none of which go as planned. The show includes several appearances by Muppets in Audio-Animatronics form, such as Statler and Waldorf, who sit in their balcony seats.

Muppet*Vision 3-D usually has a short line, which makes it a great candidate for an attraction to experience in the afternoon, when the more crowded attractions have long waits. However, lack of crowds at Muppet*Vision 3-D make me a little nervous as to what Disney may think of this situation. If not many people are seeing it, is Disney viewing it as an attraction that needs to be replaced? I certainly hope not. A refurbishment might be nice, but if Disney decided to do away with the show or change the show in some way, many fans would probably be very upset. It does seem ironic that this would have a short line, though, because it seems to be one of the most overall best crowd pleasers in the entire park. It’s definitely one of my favorite Walt Disney World attractions.

1. Fantasmic!
I must say, I had a very hard time choosing between Muppet*Vision 3-D and Fantasmic! as I decided my #1 Hollywood Studios pick. I enjoy both attractions immensely, but when it came down to it, I chose the winner by determining the level of Disney magic that each attraction has. Which one has an extra Disney touch that makes its guests feel that nostalgic, reflective emotion that sums up the entire Disney experience in a moment of realization, movement, and appreciation not only for the show they’re viewing but also for the wonderful family and friends they’re viewing with? Muppet*Vision 3-D has its own wacky sense of Disney wonderment, but when put up against Fantasmic! where that extra Disney mile is concerned, Fantasmic! takes the win for me.
Guests get a peak into Mickey Mouse’s dreams in Fantasmic!

After premiering at Disneyland in 1992, Fantasmic! debuted at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 1998 in a 9,900-seat amphitheater on Sunset Blvd. It tells the story of how Mickey Mouse’s enchanting dream turns to a nightmare as Disney villains take over. Of course, good triumphs over evil in the end, which results in what has to be one of Disney’s best grand finales ever.
The show conveys its story in several different ways, including live performers, water screens (showing video clips), lights, fireworks, floats, and more. Over three dozen Disney characters make appearances, as well.

Those are my picks for the best attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Each of them has their own unique factors that make them one of my favorites. Between them all, they provide five brilliant Disney experiences.

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By Blake; posted May 16, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

Directory of "BlakeOnline Battle" Articles

May 16, 2009

Mr. Potter vs. Mr. Potter’s Teacher (posted October 13, 2006)

Captain Barbossa vs. Captain Hook (posted October 13, 2006)

Stinky Pete vs. Peg Leg Pete (posted October 13, 2006)

Directory of BlakeOnline "Blake’s Picks" Articles

May 16, 2009

Top 6 Walt Disney World “Extras” (posted August 6, 2009)

Top 10 Spongebob Episodes (posted July 17, 2009)

Top 5 Hollywood Studios Attractions (posted May 16, 2009)

Top 12 Mickey Cartoons (posted November 23, 2008)

Top 12 Disney Animated Heroines (posted November 17, 2007)

Directory of BlakeOnline Specials

May 16, 2009

The BlakeOnline Buzz, Fall 2009 (posted September 7, 2009)

American Idol Pre-Concert Report 2009 (posted August 5, 2009)

Imagineering “Blue Sky” Session 2009 (posted June 26, 2009)

BlakeOnline Bullseye Awards 2009 Winners (posted June 24, 2009)

BlakeOnline Bullseye Awards 2009 Nominees (posted June 8, 2009)

The BlakeOnline Buzz, Summer 2009 (posted June 4, 2009)

Happy Easter 2009 From BlakeOnline! (posted April 12, 2009)

Keep Moving Forward in 2009 (posted February 1, 2009)

A Christmas Toontown Pictorial, 12.26.08 (posted December 26, 2008)

Merry Christmas 2008 From BlakeOnline! (posted December 24, 2008)

American Idol 2008 Concert Report (posted August 18, 2008)

Reader’s Character Picks (posted March 9, 2007)

Cars World Premiere Report (posted June 2, 2006)

Directory of BlakeOnline "Theme Park Headlines" Articles

May 16, 2009

New Frontiers (posted September 12, 2009)

Mickey’s Ready for Fall (posted September 5, 2009)

Patriotism and Tragedy (posted July 8, 2009)

Celebration Central (posted June 16, 2009)

Main ‘Street View’ (posted June 10, 2009)

“Some Imagination, Huh?” (posted May 2, 2009)

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Turns 20 (posted April 28, 2009)

Spring Is In Full Swing at Epcot (posted March 28, 2009)

They’re Going to Disney World, Part Two (posted February 22, 2009)

They’re Going to Disney World (posted February 11, 2009)

Reinventing Disney-MGM Studios (posted February 10, 2008)

Busy Birthday (posted October 2, 2007)

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage Opens (posted June 23, 2007)

Nemo: The Musical Update (posted November 17, 2006)

Wrapping It Up (posted October 13, 2006)