Archive for the ‘D23’ Category

Theme Park Headlines – New Frontiers

September 13, 2009

Image © Disney.

Disney Cruise Line is heading to Alaska, Star Tours is getting a sequel, and WDW’s Fantasyland is being majorly expanded.

By Blake

Originally posted September 12, 2009.

I officially and truly appreciate Twitter.

I was skeptical to the idea of it at first, but then as I started to use it to post Disney news and view more Disney information from others, I began to “get it.” However, it wasn’t until this weekend that I absolutely, positively was VERY glad that I was a Twitter user.

If not for Twitter, I would have never experienced the jittery excitement I have felt as I excitedly click “refresh” repeatedly to view the live tweets from Disney fans as they report from the D23 Expo.

There was another significant announcement yesterday (Friday, September 11, 2009) at the Disney Cruise Line presentation. Disney previously posted some online videos of Donald Duck and Goofy trying to find out where the Disney Cruise Line was headed to next. Disney answered this highly-anticipated question yesterday, revealing that in summer 2011, Disney Cruise Line is going to . . . Alaska! The breathtaking scenery of Alaska is sure to be a wonderful pairing with a Disney cruise vacation. You can view details at DisneyCruise.com/2011.

Disney Cruise Line is heading to Alaska in summer 2011. Image © Disney.

In other Disney Cruise Line news, on August 31, Disney announced some changes coming to Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island that most Disney cruises make a stop at. Changes include a larger family beach, a new lunch spot, and new water play areas, to be finished in summer 2010. On top of that, two additional Disney cruise ships are currently being built – the Disney Dream (setting sail in 2011) and the Disney Fantasy (coming in 2012).

This morning (Saturday, September 12, 2009) Disney fans (both present at the Expo and those that would read the reports later), were in for some huge surprises from the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts presentation.

Many topics were discussed, including an expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland that will include several new lands (including Toy Story Land); some details about World of Color, a nighttime water show debuting at Disney’s California Adventure in spring 2010; and the new Cars Land, opening at Disney’s California Adventure in 2012.

Then, the first major shocker was revealed – Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland is going to get a massive expansion, growing twice as large as it currently is. It’s going to be amazing.

Some of the outstandingly exciting changes to Fantasyland include two identical Dumbo rides to speed up the wait (complete with an interactive queue) and a new area based on Pixie Hollow from the Disney Fairies movies. Additionally, there seems to be a large emphasis on the princesses, especially in new, unique ways that guests are going to be able to meet them. It seems that each princess character greeting specific to each princess’ personality. For instance, guests will be able to dance with Cinderella, celebrate a party with Aurora, and experience storytelling with Belle. (I’m guessing this is the already-open Storytime with Belle, just relocated?) I think it’s a very creative idea to try out different character greeting formats other than traditional meet & greets.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant is getting an interactive queue in Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. Image © Disney.

There are also going to be several expansive new attractions added to Fantasyland. A new ride based on The Little Mermaid is going to be built called Ariel’s Adventure, and will be similar in style to other Fantasyland attractions like Peter Pan’s Flight and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It will take guests into Ariel’s world to tell her story, and is going to be like another Little Mermaid ride coming soon to Disney’s California Adventure.

Ariel’s Adventure will be a new ride based on The Little Mermaid, and will open in Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. Image © Disney.

Additionally, the Imagineers are building two new restaurants based on Beauty and the Beast – Gaston’s Tavern and Be Our Guest Restaurant. Be Our Guest will be located inside the Beast’s castle, a new area where guests will be able to eat in several themed settings directly from the movie. This place seems like it’s going to be awesome!

However, a down side of the Fantasyland expansion is the unfortunate closure of Mickey’s Toontown Fair. One of my favorite areas in the Magic Kingdom, Toontown opened as a temporary land to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday in 1988, and was later decided to be a more-than-temporary addition to the park. Some of the attractions in Toontown are Mickey’s Country House, Minnie’s Country House, Donald’s Boat, and The Barnstormer. Some good news is that The Barnstormer might be staying despite the Fantasyland changes. It will certainly be sad to see Toontown leave. It’s one of the most cleverly themed and detailed sections of the Magic Kingdom and it will definitely be missed.

The first phase of the Fantasyland expansion (including the princess elements) will open in 2012, while the Pixie Hollow section will open in 2013.

Lastly, there was one more significant announcement at the Parks and Resorts presentation, but it was delivered with the help of Darth Vader and 50 storm troopers. Coming in 2011 to both Disney’s Hollywood Studios (in Walt Disney World) and Disneyland is Star Tours 2, which is sure to delight many Star Wars fans. The attraction will replace the currently-existing Star Tours simulator ride, and will be a new 3-D experience.

I don’t think there have been many events that have been so jam-packed with exciting Disney news like the D23 Expo. I’ve had such joy reading reports that others have posted about the fun happenings that have occurred so far. The Disney Cruise Line Alaskan voyages, Fantasyland’s expansion, and the new Star Tours 2 are all sure to be guest-pleasing experiences. Those Imagineers know how to dream.

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted September 12, 2009. All images © Disney.

Disney Talk – Expo Excitement

September 13, 2009

Image © Disney.

Everyone from Kermit the Frog to Miley Cyrus to Captain Jack Sparrow made appearances during the Walt Disney Studios presentation at the D23 Expo.

By Blake

Originally posted September 12, 2009.

What is Disney magic? Is it endearing music? Classic characters? Famous celebrities? The promise of enchanting things to come in the future?

Whatever it is that you personally pinpoint as the source of Disney magic, there’s no denying that it’s being put to use in full force at the outstanding D23 Expo, currently taking place in Anaheim, CA. While I’m not there, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading reports from the various events taking place. Disney magic is being used so much that ALL of the above examples have already been implemented, and the convention isn’t even over yet. The Expo’s Walt Disney Studios presentation was certainly no exception.

The presentation took place yesterday, September 11, 2009, and was hosted by Dick Cook, Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios.

Among the highlights of the presentation were a 20-minute medley of classic Disney songs performed by a live orchestra, a performance by Miley Cyrus of “The Climb,” and sneak peeks of upcoming Disney films. On hand to promote upcoming titles were Robert Zemeckis, director of Disney’s A Christmas Carol; John Travolta with family members Kelly Preston and Ella Bleu from Old Dogs; Tim Burton, director of Alice in Wonderland; Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and Sorcerer’s Apprentice; and actor Nicholas Cage from Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Also during the presentation, Disney announced a new film label called “Disney Double Dare You.” The movies under the label will be scary family films. I’m thinking something along the lines of the film version of The Haunted Mansion? Maybe. Several new Disneynature titles were also announced.

More Disneynature films are on the way. Image © Disney.

However, to me, the real high points of reading the reports from this very special presentation were two major announcements.

Disney has been implementing a slowly-but-surely Muppet comeback for a while now. Some of this return has already begun, given the success of the Muppets’ viral YouTube videos, their Studio DC specials on Disney Channel, and last year’s Christmas special A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa on NBC. There’s been lots of talk floating around about the Muppets returning to the big screen in a huge way, and yesterday Disney finally officially announced the title of this upcoming adventure in a stellar way.

How stellar? How about a cast of Muppets appearing live on a scaled-down Mark Twain riverboat?!? Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Pepe the King Prawn, and many more of their friends appeared to perform several songs, as well as announce their film’s title. The movie will be called The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made, which is quite curious considering that Jim Henson himself had batted around an identical title. I love the Muppets and am very excited to see what this new film has in store for them.

The Muppets appeared on a riverboat at the D23 Expo to announce their upcoming film, The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made. Image © Disney.

The last surprise of the presentation was a quite a doozey. You might even call it swashbuckling. I would have loved to see the shocked faces of attendees as Johnny Depp appeared on stage as Captain Jack Sparrow! Depp was in-character and also was there to confirm that he would appear in The Lone Ranger as Tonto, and reprise Captain Jack in a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean installment. A new bit of information was announced as the film’s title was revealed – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, coming summer 2011. I personally can’t wait.

With many exciting movies to look forward to, a new film label getting started, a new Muppet film to get pumped about, and some more news about Pirates, it was quite wonderful as a Disney fan to read all of the reports from the spectacular Walt Disney Studios’ D23 Expo presentation. “Bring me that horizon.”

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted September 12, 2009. All images © Disney.

Disney Talk – The First-Ever D23 Expo Is Here!

September 11, 2009

Image © Disney.

One of the biggest events in Disney history has arrived, and Disney fan sites provide abundant coverage.

By Blake

Originally posted September 10, 2009.

The D23 Expo began this morning (Thursday, September 10, 2009) and is now well underway, featuring a plethora of exciting behind-the-scenes looks and sneak peeks for upcoming Disney projects. The Expo is the first-ever convention for D23, the official fan club for Disney fans that began last March.

The Expo comes off the heels of D23 announcing their fan events for the fall earlier this week. These include a special night for the touring musical of The Lion King in Anchorage, AK and Spokane, WA; a similar event for the Mary Poppins musical tour in Dallas, TX and Los Angeles, CA; an encore of the free tour of the Walt Disney Studios and Archives; a special event during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival; an opening-day screening of The Princess and the Frog with special appearances by all nine Disney Princesses; a viewing of Disney’s A Christmas Carol; and a “Magic and Merriment” holiday event in Walt Disney World in December. You can check out more information about these upcoming events at D23’s website.

But before any of those activities take place, the D23 Expo has to run its course! The Expo is being held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA (the city that Disneyland is located in) from today through Sunday, September 13.

The Expo is already off to a fantastic start. Just today, Bob Iger held a presentation (which included a screening of the first 30 minutes of The Princess and the Frog), the Disney Legends 2009 ceremony took place, several scenes were screened from Beauty and the Beast’s 3-D enhancement (which is coming to select theaters in February, 2010), ABC had a sneak preview of their fall lineup, Imagineering held a panel discussion, and many more exciting happenings took place. There were also special appearances by Lucky the Dinosaur and Wall-E.

The first 30 minutes of the Disney animated film The Princess and the Frog was shown at Bob Iger’s presentation during the D23 Expo. Image © Disney.

Disney has a special area at the Expo so that fan organizations can set up booths and mingle with other fans.

Although BlakeOnline isn’t at the Expo, there are several other Disney fan personalities that are continuously updating their Twitter accounts with reports from the event. These include StitchKingdom.com, Orlando Attractions Magazine, DisneyShawn, Lou Mongello of the WDW Radio Show, and Deb Wills of AllEars.net. AllEars also has special posts on its “Deb’s Digest” blog that recap all of the site’s tweets from each day of the Expo into one convenient journal. Additionally, D23 itself has also been updating fans of the Expo’s activities via its Twitter page and on the official D23 website. One of the fascinating articles posted today over there recaps the Bob Iger presentation very nicely.

And this is just the first day! Still yet to come are exciting presentations from many areas of the Walt Disney Company, including Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Channel, VoluntEARS, The Muppets, and more.

As a bonus, those who can’t be in attendance at the Expo have the opportunity to view some of the Disney Cruise Line presentation on Friday, September 11, at 12pm Eastern Time and 9am Pacific Time at DisneyCruiseLine.com/2011. At that time, it will be announced where the Disney Cruise Line is headed in 2011. Disney has already posted two YouTube videos showing Donald Duck and Goofy going “undercover” trying to find out the news.

A special Disney Cruise Line announcement will take place September 11, 2009, at the D23 Expo, and will also be streamed live on DisneyCruiseLine.com/2011. Image © Disney.

The D23 Expo 2009 has gotten off to a very exciting start, and if that much Disney magic has been presented in just one day, I can’t wait to hear what the rest of the weekend has in store! You can read more details about the Expo and purchase tickets here.

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted September 10, 2009. All images © Disney.

The BlakeOnline Buzz, Fall 2009

September 7, 2009

Image belongs to Blake’s family. Text in image is “Action Jackson” font.

Volume 1, Issue 2

By Blake

Originally posted September 7, 2009.

Dear BlakeOnline readers,

Happy Labor Day! It’s hard to believe that another summer has come and gone. There were several big-screen blockbusters and major announcements, making summer 2009 quite a memorable season for the entertainment industry.

In late May, Pixar released their tenth film, Up, with tremendous success. So much success, in fact, that it is currently the #5 highest-grossing animated film of all time. Characters from the film continue to make appearances at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World in Florida.

Up was another hit for Pixar. Image © Disney/Pixar.

In July, Warner Bros. released the outstanding Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth installment in the groundbreaking film series. Its current worldwide gross is $897,184,000, which is quite an impressive number.

Disney Channel has also had success over the summer, with three major broadcasts: Princess Protection Program in June, the mash-up Wizards on Deck with Hannah Montana in July, and Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie in last week.

Disney Parks and Resorts opened several new Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World recently – Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in May, the Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa in June, and Bay Lake Tower (a new building at Disney’s Contemporary Resort) in August.

Just last Monday, August 31, 2009, Disney announced that they would buy Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. When you consider that Disney purchased Pixar for $7 billion in 2006, Disney certainly is taking this buy very seriously. Hopefully exciting projects are on the way as the future of this new partnership unfolds. You can read more about the deal over at MouseExtra.com.

Here at BlakeOnline, the summer has held several points of interest, including the continuation of the Budgeting Disney series. This special group of articles analyzes how to plan a Walt Disney World vacation when you’re watching your money. After already discussing looking for promotions and deciding when to visit, over the summer the articles delved into picking a resort, purchasing tickets, and choosing where to dine. There is going to be at least one more volume in the series, so keep a lookout for it soon!

As the world transitions into fall, there are several exciting highlights in store for Disney fans. The D23 Expo will take place in Anaheim, California from September 10 through 13. Although unfortunately no one from BlakeOnline will be attending the event, many other Disney fan sites are sure to provide detailed coverage of the weekend.

The first D23 Expo kicks off in Anaheim this Thursday, September 10, 2009. Image © Disney.

Halloween festivities are already starting to begin at Walt Disney World as Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party takes place at the Magic Kingdom select nights now through November 1. Disneyland will join in on the fun with their annual Halloween Time from September 25 through November 1. Halloween Time includes favorites like Haunted Mansion Holiday through Christmastime at Disneyland Park and Mickey’s Trick-Or-Treat Party during select nights in October at Disney’s California Adventure. New for Halloween Time in 2009 are a new fireworks show and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, a special version of the classic thrill ride. Other special events in the Disney parks this fall include Night of Joy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during September 11-12, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival from September 25 through November 8, and Festival of the Masters at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney November 13-15. Additionally, Christmas festivities will begin in mid-November.

Halloween is just around the corner, and Disney has already begun to celebrate. Image © Disney.

Disney often has several fascinating book releases in autumn, and this year is no exception. The 2010 Birnbaum Guides will be released on September 29. They include guides to Walt Disney World, Walt Disney World For Kids, Walt Disney World Without Kids, Walt Disney World Dining, Disneyland, and Disney Cruise Line, as well as the Walt Disney World Pocket Parks Guide.

Other exciting book and movie releases can be found on BlakeOnline’s Upcoming Disney Projects page. The major highlights include the 3D double feature of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 (October 2); the re-release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Blu-ray (October 6) and DVD (November 25); the new book Peter and the Sword of Mercy by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (October 13); the new Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure film on Blu-ray and DVD (October 27); Up on Blu-ray and DVD (November 10); and the theatrical releases of Disney’s A Christmas Carol (November 6), Old Dogs (November 25), and the highly anticipated hand-drawn feature film The Princess and the Frog (November 25 in New York and Los Angeles, December 11 nationwide).

Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are returning to select theaters for a 3-D double feature on October 2. Image © Disney/Pixar.

It’s been a jam-packed, fun-filled summer, and hopefully there’s a celebratory, inviting autumn on the way! After all, there’s a great, big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day.

-Blake
September 7, 2009

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted September 7, 2009. Buzz Lightyear image belongs to Blake’s family. Text in Buzz Lightyear image is “Action Jackson” font. Up and Toy Story/Toy Story 2 Double Feature images © Disney/Pixar. D23 Expo and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party images © Disney. “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” music and lyrics by Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, © 1963 Wonderland Music Company, Inc.

Disney Talk – Lucky Duck

June 9, 2009
Image © Disney.

Donald Duck is celebrating his 75th birthday, and has made quite a lot of friends since 1934.

By Blake

Originally posted June 9, 2009.

A classic scene-stealer since his debut in the 1934 Silly Symphony cartoon The Wise Little Hen, Donald Duck was given special treatment by Disney animators in his early years. After Donald repeatedly proved to be much more than a sidekick in his recurring role in several Mickey Mouse cartoons, he soon earned his own individual series of cartoons. The first of those shorts was 1937’s Don Donald (which was also Daisy’s first appearance), which made Donald the first Disney character other than Mickey Mouse to have his own cartoon series (Goofy and Pluto later followed).

Donald’s 75th birthday is today, Tuesday, June 9, 2009. D23, the official Disney fan club, seems to be the only branch of the Walt Disney Company that’s commemorating Donald’s special day, but they’re doing so in fine fashion. Donald made the cover of the summer issue of Disney twenty-three magazine, and inside was a special Donald-themed feature article tracing the duck’s expansive and fascinating history. D23 members can also submit art of Donald by June 15 that could be chosen to become his official 75th birthday portrait, making the winning member Donald’s official portrait artist.

Donald was on the cover of the summer 2009 issue of Disney twenty-three magazine. Image © Disney.

Additionally, the D23 website has been showing a classic Donald cartoon each week in what they’re calling “Duck Season.” This week’s pick is the 1940 cartoon Fire Chief, as selected by Dave Smith, Chief Archivist of the Walt Disney Archives. Previous choices in Duck Season have included Chef Donald, Truant Officer Donald, and Donald’s Snow Fight. This is a really great opportunity to see some classic Donald misadventures.

Lastly, a commemorative article celebrating Donald’s 75th birthday was posted earlier today on D23’s website. D23 has done an excellent job at celebrating a Disney milestone that might not have been noted otherwise, as no other official recognition by Disney has been given of Donald’s birthday this year other than the D23 happenings.

To throw in my congratulations to Donald for 75 years of quackiness, I thought I’d list some of Donald’s closest friends and the relationships he’s made with them over the years.

Mickey Mouse

Donald has wanted to take the spotlight from Mickey Mouse ever since their first appearance together in 1934’s Orphan’s Benefit. Although in reality Donald has actually succeeded Mickey in popularity (especially during the time of his cartoon shorts in the 1940’s and 1950’s), it seems that no one’s told Donald that! He’s continued to want the attention put on him instead of Mickey, especially when it comes to The Mickey Mouse Club. However, when it comes down to it, Mickey and Donald are really good friends. Even though Donald repeatedly messes up situations for Mickey, Mickey always seems to come through with the patience and forgiveness needed for the two to remain friends.

Donald disrupted Mickey’s band performance in 1935’s The Band Concert. Image © Disney.

Minnie Mouse

Throughout the course of Donald’s 75 years, audiences haven’t seen much interaction between Minnie and Donald. When we do, it usually involves Minnie warning Donald not to do something, and of course then results in Donald not listening and doing just what Minnie said not to do, as in the live show Cinderella’s Surprise Celebration (now closed) at Walt Disney World. Additionally, Minnie tends to give Donald encouragement every now and then, such as in Dream Along with Mickey, which is now performing at the Magic Kingdom. Even though Donald may not realize it that often, Minnie is a good friend that’s always there for him.

Goofy

Goofy’s antics are enough to drive anyone . . . well, goofy. Even Mickey, one of Hollywood’s most patient actors, sometimes gets annoyed by Goofy’s clumsiness, as seen in the TV show House of Mouse. However, while Mickey might try to rationalize with Goofy and talk things through to resolve a situation, Donald just downright gets mad. And the audience loves it. There were even several “Donald & Goofy” cartoons that were released in the 1940’s because the pair worked so well together cinematically. Goofy is sometimes oblivious to the problems he creates, and that’s what makes him so lovable, and even Donald is there to lend the goof a helping hand when needed.

Donald is featured along with some of his friends (including Goofy, Minnie, and Mickey, featured here from left) in the TV show Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Channel’s Playhouse Disney. Image © Disney.

Pluto

Pluto is actually a lot like Donald, often getting frustrated about situations that he can’t control. However, since Pluto is a genuine dog and doesn’t fully understand quite what’s going on sometimes, instead of having a tantrum like Donald does, he shows curiosity to take matters into his own paws and solve problems himself. It seems fitting that two similar characters would work so well in scenes together, and the Disney animators seemed to know it. In the 1935 cartoon On Ice, Donald puts a set of ice skates on poor Pluto while the dog is sleeping, resulting in a surprise for Pluto when he wakes up. The pair was later put together in the 1936 cartoon Donald and Pluto in another great story and again in the 1939 short Beach Picnic. Both displaying their tempers often (though Pluto’s is far tamer than Donald’s), the two of them have delivered a hoopla of entertaining stories for audiences.

Daisy Duck

The apple of Donald’s eye, Daisy first appeared in the first-ever official “Donald Duck” cartoon, 1937’s Don Donald. Originally her voice was the same as Donald’s, though she soon got a distinctive female voice. It’s appropriate that Daisy would be drawn to Donald’s befuddled personality, as she often displays a temper herself. Even though she constantly is warning Donald to stay calm, sometimes she joins him in flaring her anger, making the two great for each other.

Daisy Duck is Donald’s girlfriend. Image © Disney.

Huey, Dewey, and Louie

Donald’s nephews (the sons of his sister Dumbella), Huey, Dewey, and Louie with their energetic personalities and rambunctious mischief get Donald almost every time. The boys are experts at pulling pranks on their uncle, and often succeed at tricking Donald and causing him to explode in frustration. Like Daisy, the trio once had the same voice as Donald. However, when they began to headline their own TV series along with their great-uncle Scrooge McDuck (but without Donald) in 1987 – 1990’s DuckTales, the boys got their own voice, which was provided by Russi Taylor, who is also the voice of Minnie Mouse. (Huey, Dewey, and Louie all collectively sounded the same, but now sounded different than Donald). In the 1996 TV show Quack Pack, the boys had matured to teenagers (where they got another voice change) and tagged along as Donald and Daisy reported news for a TV station. Since 1999, the boys-to-teenagers transition has been on and off, though we mostly now see Huey, Dewey, and Louie in their younger stage. Whatever their age, they almost always jump at the chance to prank their “Unca Donald,” though also know when the make things right and apologize when they’ve gone too far.

Chip and Dale

Another group that frustrates Donald, Chip and Dale often annoy him without even realizing it. Usually they’re just trying to get back what Donald has mistakenly taken from them. However, once each side knows they’ve angered the other, there’s no stopping them. Chip and Dale usually get the best of Donald in the end, much to their satisfaction.

Scrooge McDuck

Donald doesn’t quite understand his Uncle Scrooge’s love for money, but that doesn’t bother Scrooge. Scrooge seems to have grown humbler as he’s progressed in TV shows and movies over the years, and because of this he’s been able to put up with Donald’s tantrums. After all, Scrooge has had experience with Donald’s mother (Scrooge’s sister), Hortense, who had quite the temper of her own.

His Fellow Caballeros

Donald is one of the “Three Caballeros,” a group of birds that were featured in a “self-titled” Disney film of the same name in 1945. The other caballeros are Jose Carioca from Brazil and Panchito from Mexico. Donald has a sense of belonging to the group, and seldom misbehaves around them. The three later went on to appear together on an episode of House of Mouse, and again in an attraction at Walt Disney World’s Epcot called Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros.


Donald is a member of the Three Caballeros. From left: Donald, Panchito, and Jose. Image © Disney.

Although Donald has displayed many instances of flaring anger throughout his 75 years, he’s also been adored by audiences for his witty, persistent personality that’s been conveyed not only by himself, but also with the help of some of his beloved co-stars.

If you get the chance, head on over to the D23 website to catch some of those classic Donald shorts, or view one of Donald’s Walt Disney Treasures DVD sets to get a glimpse of his timeless career.

Happy 75th birthday, Donald Duck! Now I’m off to watch a Mickey cartoon. Just kidding . . . there’s no need to throw a fit. 😉

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake Taylor; posted June 9, 2009. All images © Disney.

The BlakeOnline Buzz, Summer 2009

June 4, 2009

Volume 1, Issue 1

By Blake

Originally posted June 4, 2009.

Dear BlakeOnline readers,

Welcome to the premiere issue of the BlakeOnline Buzz, a post that will (hopefully) become a quarterly addition to BlakeOnline. In the Buzz, an overview of new features to the site will be addressed, as well as reader mail (depending on if there is any) and a preview of what’s yet to come.

I would first off like to thank all of BlakeOnline’s readers for making spring 2009 one of the website’s biggest seasons ever. There was a significant (unintentional) focus on theme parks throughout the season, including the beginning of the Budgeting Disney series, a special multi-part look at planning a Walt Disney World vacation on a budget. So far I’ve delved into looking for deals and deciding when to visit. There are more volumes of Budgeting Disney on the way, so stay tuned! Additionally, there were also several articles posted throughout the spring celebrating Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which had its 20th anniversary on May 1, 2009. BlakeOnline joined in the festivities by posting a recap of the park’s birthday events, a history of the park, and a countdown of my personal favorite Hollywood Studios attractions.

On March 10, Disney announced the kickoff of D23, a new official Disney fan club. With the new club also came Disney twenty-three magazine, an all-new official Disney publication that’s just plain awesome. D23 has been the talk of the town all over the Disney community and around unofficial, fan-based Disney websites, including BlakeOnline. When D23 was first announced, I posted my thoughts concerning all of the hubbub, and in May the question of joining was revisited.

Disney answered the “Are you 23?” mystery on March 10 with the kickoff of D23.

With the transition into springtime also came the conclusion of another amazing American Idol season. Kris Allen, age 23, is the new winner and celebrated his win at Walt Disney World on May 29.

Kris Allen was named the winner of 2009’s American Idol season. Here he is with is wife, Katy Allen, minutes after his win was announced.

Just yesterday, BlakeOnline joined the Twitter community! You can follow BlakeOnline here to receive updates about when new articles are posted, as well as other occasional points of interest.

I’m slowly but surely adding the “missing” BlakeOnline articles into the archives. When the site was changed to its current format in October 2008, all of the pre-existing articles had to be posted again, and it’s taking a while. So far, you can check out articles from June 2006 – December 2007, and from November 2008 – present. The in-between articles from most of 2008 have still yet to be posted, but hopefully throughout the summer the gap of articles will grow thinner.

Although it may be subtle hints here and there, BlakeOnline is beginning to be recognized by some real-deal authors and speakers. Back in February, I posted a positive review of The Complete Walt Disney World 2009 by Julie and Mike Neal. To my very pleasant surprise, the BlakeOnline review of the book has been posted by Julie Neal herself on the author’s Amazon.com blog! I was elated when I saw this! A supercalifragilisticexpialidocious thank-you goes out to Julie Neal for taking the time to recognize BlakeOnline and for giving the site an appreciated link on Amazon.

Lastly, the Easter letter I posted in April took a little break from BlakeOnline’s usual subject of Disney to address what it means to be a Christian. The Easter post soon became one of BlakeOnline’s most impactful messages ever, generating 13 comments – a record for the site. It may be a small amount for some, but that’s a big number here. 🙂 Additionally, Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker Amy Carroll kindly used the Easter post in an event of hers to much success. I’d like to give big thank-you to Amy Carroll for not only spreading BlakeOnline, but also for spreading the Word of God.

It’s been an eventful spring for BlakeOnline, and I can’t wait to gear up for a great summer. Be sure to check back to the site often, because there are plenty of surprises headed your way. Stay tuned!

-Blake
June 4, 2009

By Blake; posted June 4, 2009. Image of Buzz Lightyear belongs to Blake’s family; text in Buzz Lightyear image courtesy of photobucket.com; “Are you 23?” D23 image © Disney; American Idol image of Kris and Katy Allen © Fox; The Complete Walt Disney World image © Coconut Press.

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.

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

Disney Talk – "Are You 23?"

March 15, 2009

Disney’s most mysterious marketing campaign in history has finally been revealed as D23 – the official community for Disney fans.

By Blake

Originally posted March 15, 2009.

“Are you 23?”

That’s the question Disney had been asking web-goers since January 2009, on various teaser posters and on a preview website for a then-unannounced Disney event. All the website contained was the written-out question “Are you 23?” followed by “Find out March 10.” and an appearance of Tinker Bell, flying in to sparkle up a countdown clock to March 10. No other hints or indications were given of what in the world this was – or even what platform of the company it would pertain to (movies, theme parks, etc.).

Unofficial Disney discussion boards were abundant with fans chiming in their thoughts on what all the hoopla was really about, some being just about correct, but others – including myself – thinking the complete opposite. Some thought it would relate to Pixar, which was founded 23 years ago. Others thought a collection of 23 Disney classics would be released in an ultimate Blu-ray boxed set. (Personally, I think if Disney ever decided to do that, it would be a very bad idea. Not only would the set be outrageously expensive – which would cause people to not buy it – but each movie in the supposed set wouldn’t get as much publicity as it would if the titles were released separately, each gaining their own release buzz.) I thought the marketing campaign might have something to do with Adventures by Disney, which, with its new itineraries, has 23 vacation locations.

The real mystery of “Are you 23?” actually turns out to be something far greater and full of much more Disney magic than any of the aforementioned speculations. Please watch the video below – which is copyrighted by Disney, uploaded to YouTube by user thedisneyblog, and which I take no credit for – that truly encompasses the heart of what the Walt Disney Company is all about, and also contains the very special “Are you 23?” reveal from the President and C.E.O. of Disney, Robert Iger.

If that video doesn’t get you feeling nostalgic, then I don’t know what will!

So, the “Are you 23?” mystery has been leading up to D23, the official community for Disney fans. In reality, you’d think there would already be an official club for Disney fans before now. Yes, the Mickey Mouse Club was an official community, but hit its height in the 1930’s and was certainly aimed at a children’s audience. And yes, the Disney Vacation Club is an official Disney organization, but that’s not so much a club as it is ongoing vacation packages.

What does a membership to D23 include?

D23 – signifying 1923, the year that the Walt Disney Company was founded – will involve all areas of the company for an unprecedented gathering of news, special events, merchandise, and even a new Disney publication. Here’s a rundown of what a year’s membership to D23 includes:
First is a subscription to Disney twenty-three, a new quarterly magazine that features just about everything that a Disney fan would dream to be in a Disney publication. I picked up the premiere issue of the magazine the other day at Barnes & Noble, and it is indeed quite a treat. The quality of the magazine is amazing, and the stories it covers are phenomenal. What’s really great is that the magazine doesn’t center all its attention on a particular area of the company, but instead includes articles dealing with many different Disney components, including animation, theme parks, history, shows, news, and much more. It also is very current – one page even includes coverage of an event that happened just two weeks before the magazine was published. Many Disney fans were devastated when Disney Magazine stopped publication in 2005, and if Disney twenty-three had to have a 4-year pause for its gears to get flowing, then I gratefully forgive the lack of an official Disney magazine for those 4 years. It’s that good.

The cover of the premiere issue of Disney twenty-three magazine, an all-new quarterly Disney publication.
A year’s membership to D23 also includes a certificate of membership with the member’s name on it, as well as a border of Disney animated characters surrounding the name. Additionally, a “surprise gift” will be delivered to the member. Members are also e-mailed a newsletter twice a week, updating them on current Disney news. Although there are other amenities involved with a D23 membership, those involve an extra cost that is in addition to the initial joining fee. Included in the start-up fee is Disney twenty-three magazine, the membership certificate, the surprise gift, and the e-newsletter. Everything else after that requires an additional cost.
The certificate that D23 members receive.
So, how much money does a D23 membership cost? I was actually very surprised when I read that members must pay $75 to join. And that’s paid up front. Which is, obviously, a major setback. Reading the exciting details of D23 had me all set to join, but when I took a look at the rather large price, I quickly decided that I needed to seriously think through whether I wanted to join or not. Paying that much amount of money at one time without knowing the full details of what a D23 membership would result in is something I had to definitely consider.
So, for now, I think I’m going to hold off on becoming a D23 member. I’ll get the scoop from reports of members as to what the members-only specifics include and how they’re implemented before I make my decision. The Disney twenty-three magazine was the big draw for me, anyway, and I when I realized that I could pick that up anyway at Barnes & Noble for $16, it eased my decision even more. Additionally, anyone – including non-D23 members – can view the excellent new website Disney has launched for the club, www.disney.com/23. The website is given daily updates, which include current Disney news, interviews, photos, articles, a “This Day in Disney History” feature, and even a daily Disney comic strip. I’m satisfied with the superb magazine and fantastic D23 website. The total cost for a year’s worth (4 issues) of Disney twenty-three magazine will end up being about $65 – which is $10 less than a D23 membership – and I won’t be paying the cost all at once, but quarterly instead. If you’re a Disney fan and are not sure what to make of D23 right now, I suggest you do the same.

A glimpse of the outstanding D23 website, which offers an extravagaza of Disney news and information.
So, what are the extra benefits in addition to aforementioned magazine, certificate, surprise gift, and e-newsletter that D23 members can participate in (but each cost an extra price)? Well, the big event is the D23 Expo, an event taking place nearby Disneyland in September 2009. Reading the details of the Expo over at the D23 website had me wanting to go, as it seems like it will be a very exciting event that will include sneak previews at upcoming Disney events, guest speaker sessions (which include Robert Iger, John Lasseter, and more), pin trading opportunities, special exhibits from the Disney Archives, and much more. However, even if I was a D23 member, I most likely wouldn’t be able to make it to the event anyway. Keep that in mind as you make your decision to become a member or not.
Another extra-cost benefit to D23 members are advanced screenings for Disney movies. The only one of these that is currently planned right now is the Pixar film Up, which is being released on May 29. The details of the advanced screening event for Up have not been announced yet, but my main concern involving these advanced screenings are how many people the D23 members can bring with them, and what locations these screenings are taking place at. The D23 website currently not yet offering theses specifics was another reason I decided to not join D23 quite yet.
Additionally, “Boutique 23” offers D23 members special club-related merchandise, which include tee shirts, polo shirts, jewelry, and more.
Ultimately, when it comes down to deciding whether to join D23 or not, it all depends on what amount of money your budget allows you to spend and how often you think you’ll be able to attend the member-exclusive events, whether they be advanced screenings, meets in the Disney parks, or the Expo in September. I highly recommend the Disney twenty-three magazine to any Disney fans regardless of whether you’re joining D23. One year (4 issues) of the magazine does come with a D23 yearly membership, though individual issues are sold in Barnes & Noble as they’re released.
A Disney-fied Week
D23 was among the many significant Disney-related events that happened this week. D23 was officially announced on Tuesday at the Walt Disney Company Shareholders Meeting by Robert Iger. Other major announcements of the meeting included the move of the release date for the upcoming hand-drawn Disney animated film The Princess and the Frog (which features the first-ever African-American Disney Princess) from Christmas Day to December 11 (to avoid competition with Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel), which I think is a very clever move. Also announced at the meeting were the names of the two upcoming Disney Cruise Line ships. The two new ships will be called the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy.
Robert Iger also appeared on The View on Wednesday to further talk about D23. The View was broadcast all week long from the Disney Legends Plaza at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. Disney characters escorted the hosts out each day, and special segments were featured on each episode that highlighted the history of a different character. On Wednesday, Whoopi Goldberg took a peek into the Walt Disney Archives, which served as a very entertaining segment and also a fascinating look into Disney history. Also on Wednesday’s The View, John Lasseter appeared with a large handful of balloons to talk about Up and also share a clip from the film.

Pixar’s John Lasseter appeared on The View – which was broadcast from the Walt Disney Studios last week – on Wednesday, March 11, to promote the upcoming Pixar film Up, in theaters May 29.

Another component that played into this week being a big one for Disney was the introduction of Remy from Ratatouille at Epcot, where the tiny rat interacts with guests at Le Chefs de France restaurant in an entirely new way as part of Disney’s Living Characters Initiative program. Tuesday saw the release of Pinocchio on a 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-ray, which includes many exciting bonus features. Lastly, on Friday, Race to Witch Mountain (which is a re-make of the 1975 Disney movie Escape to Witch Mountain) was released in theaters.

Pinocchio was released on Blu-ray & 2-disc DVD on Tuesday, March 10, 2009.

All of these events made me very proud to be a Disney fan this week. I saw Disney in the public spotlight probably more than I ever had before, and that was definitely a great feeling. To see D23 in the news and the general public already getting excited for Up – which is nearly two-and-a-half months away – is fantastic. I knew I wasn’t the only one that loved Disney, but I guess I didn’t see how many people actually appreciate the Disney magic on a daily basis. And D23 – whether I’m joining or not – is definitely a true example of phenomenal modern Disney magic at its best.
By Blake; posted March 15, 2009. All images and video (C) Disney.