Archive for the ‘Disney Talk’ Category

Disney Talk – Movie Mania and Muppet Mayhem

September 19, 2009


Image © Disney.


Even more exciting news from the D23 Expo, this time concerning Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, and the Muppets.

By Blake

Originally posted September 19, 2009.

Argh, me hearties! Avast! Me hope ye be enjoyin’ yer September!

What? You didn’t know it was International Talk Like a Pirate Day? Oh, well. I’ll continue in non-pirate-talk, then.

After hearing about all of the utterly fantastic news and events that took place at last week’s first-ever D23 Expo (like the exciting announcements of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Walt Disney World’s upcoming Fantasyland expansion, Disney Cruise Line heading to Alaska, Star Tours 2 coming to both California and Florida, and so much more), one would think that to squeeze in anything else into the Expo would be impossible. Think again!

On Sunday, September 13 – the last day of the Expo – there was even more magic to be found and plenty more awesome news for Disney fans.

From the Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios presentation came news of upcoming films like Rapunzel (coming to theaters holiday 2010), a new Winnie the Pooh movie (spring 2011), Cars 2 (summer 2011), and more. You can read some fascinating recaps of the Pooh and Cars 2 information over at StitchKingdom.com, as well as a summary of the rest of the presentation at D23’s website. A presentation had been held the day before for The Princess and the Frog, while a panel for Toy Story 3 was held later.

Cars 2 is coming to theaters in summer 2011. Image © Disney/Pixar.

Also on Sunday, a very special Muppets presentation took place with so much Muppety goodness that I thought I was about to explode just reading about all of it. The biggies include a new movie (titled The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made), a refurbishment of Jim Henson’s Muppet*Vision 3-D at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s California Adventure (yes!!!), new DVDs, a 2010 Halloween special (!), and much more. MuppetNewsflash.com does an excellent job of summarizing all of the new projects in detail.

Some of the other presentations held on Sunday included those for Toy Story Midway Mania!, Pixar in the Disney Parks, and Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place.

I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing all of the wonderful plans Disney has in store for the future by reading others’ reports from the D23 Expo, and to be able to look back and see that they were all announced in a single four-day event is simply incredible.

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted September 19, 2009. Muppet image © Disney. Cars 2 image © Disney/Pixar.

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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.

Disney Talk – Toys “R” Back, Part Two

August 2, 2009

Image © Disney/Pixar.



It’s official: Andy’s headed to college.

By Blake

Originally posted August 1, 2009.

There’s been plenty of speculation flying around for years (yes, years) concerning the return of a certain space ranger and his cowboy doll buddy. But it wasn’t until some very exciting Twitter updates were posted on several official Disney accounts live from the recent Comic-Con in San Diego that I had heard of official word from Disney themselves saying the details about the further adventures of Buzz Lightyear and Woody.

Buzz and Woody are back for thirds. Image © Disney/Pixar.

It was already known before now that both Buzz and Woody would be returning to the big screen not once, but twice, within the coming year, with the releases of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 as a double feature in 3D on October 2, 2009, and with Toy Story 3 on the way on June 18, 2010.

The teaser trailer for Toy Story 3 was released alongside 3D screenings of Pixar’s Up in May, 2009, and the preview does a great job at re-introducing audiences to the series’ main characters and unveiling that another sequel is indeed coming.

Now flash-forward to July 24, 2009, a pivotal day for Toy Story fans. First off, the teaser trailer for the Toy Story and Toy Story 2 double feature debuted alongside 3D versions of G-Force. Once again, Pixar succeeds at creating excitement and anticipation for viewers, and also makes clever use of 3D emphasis to further enhance the trailer. You can see it for yourself here.

Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are being released as a 3D double feature on October 2. Image © Disney/Pixar.

Also on July 24, at the Comic-Con panel for Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, John Lasseter (director of Toy Story and Toy Story 2) and Lee Unkrich (director of Toy Story 3) were on hand to deliver some very special news. Firstly, they told that plot of TS3 will be of Andy, the toys’ owner, leaving for college. Secondly, they said the film will also introduce a new character, Ken (voiced by Michael Keaton), who is sure to be a hilarious companion to Barbie, who made her debut in TS2 (and is voiced by Jodi Benson, aka Ariel). For those of us that weren’t at the Comic-Con, Disney relayed the news via the official Twitter accounts of Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, and D23.

The Toy Story series has already dealt with several deep and moving concepts. In the first film, friendship and jealousy were covered. By the second movie, more somber emotions like rejection, abandonment, and betrayal took the stage, as did appreciating the present without fearing the future. The decision to place Toy Story 3 some ten years later is very appropriate, then, in my opinion. We’ve already seen the toys develop a close bond with Andy, and seen them prove their loyalty to him. Now we’ll most likely get to see what happens when Andy has to leave the toys as he moves on into adulthood, making an important decision on what to do with them.

Hopefully this will be a great opportunity the audience to get a further knowledge of Andy’s personality. Although he’s been a very important part of the plot lines in the previous films, he’s been more of a representation of a concept or a theme than an actual character.

The idea of Andy growing up was an issue already hinted at in Toy Story 2, which I would think was long before the filmmakers knew for sure that they would make another sequel. Back then, the threat of the toys being forgotten was more of a distant fantasy, but now it could become a very real and impactful core of the series.

Many emotional topics have been the basis of the first two Toy Story films, and the third installment will likely cover even more moving issues as Andy heads to college. Image © Disney/Pixar.

I can’t wait to see what Pixar has up their sleeves for Toy Story 3. The thrill of seeing Woody and Buzz back in the spotlight is certainly an exciting feeling that Disney fans should appreciate, for infinity and beyond.

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted August 1, 2009. All images © Disney/Pixar.

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.

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.

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.

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 – Disney Celebrates Earth Day 2009

April 20, 2009

Earth Day arrives this year for Disney with a new Schoolhouse Rock! production, a TV marathon, and a new theatrical documentary.

By Blake

Originally posted April 20, 2009.

The Walt Disney Company has a long and dedicated history of working with animals and the natural world around us. From the research done to create 1942’s Bambi to the production of the successful nature documentaries in the True-Life Adventures series that were released from 1948 – 1960 to the development of the magnificent Disney’s Animal Kingdom park at Walt Disney World in Florida, Disney has been involved in numerous examples of promoting the importance of taking care of animals and the environment.

Walt Disney adored animals and was fascinated with the way they responded to situations. He believed that learning could be fun, and that people could learn a lot from observing animals and nature.

Likewise, not only does the Walt Disney Company have experience with animals, they also have a history of celebrating Earth Day. Disney’s Animal Kingdom even opened on Earth Day, 1998. To simultaneously celebrate Earth Day and the park’s birthday, there’s usually an annual selection of activities to take part in around the park on April 22 each year. These include special exhibits and appearances by Jiminy Cricket, who has become somewhat of a symbol for Disney’s efforts to protect the environment.

In 2008 on Earth Day, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a special ceremony was held that featured Walt Disney World Senior Vice President of Operations Erin Wallace, Walt Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde, and conservationist Jane Goodall. It really was an impressive ceremony, and also featured a performance by the casts of some of Animal Kingdom’s shows. You can see videos and pictures from the ceremony on LaughingPlace.com. Later on in the day, Joe Rohde held a special presentation where he told the history of the park and talked about what it was like to create it.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is an all-around celebration of nature. The park features the fantastic Kilimanjaro Safaris, shown here.

Also on Earth Day 2008, it was announced that the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund would become the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, and a new logo for that branch of the company was created.

This year, Disney is again participating in several Earth Day events.

On March 31, two environment-themed DVD’s were released onto shelves. The first was Handy Manny: Manny’s Green Team, a compilation of the Playhouse Disney TV series Handy Manny that featured a new green-themed episode.

Handy Manny: Manny’s Green Team is now available on DVD.

The next DVD released in time for Earth Day was Schoolhouse Rock! Earth, which was also released on March 31. The DVD features new songs and was made by the original creators of the Schoolhouse Rock! TV series.

Schoolhouse Rock! Earth is now available on DVD and features new songs.

On Wednesday, April 22, 2009, Disney Channel will have a “Protect the Planet” marathon, featuring environment-themed episodes of their shows. Nickelodeon is having a similar event, with new green episodes of iCarly and True Jackson, VP airing that night.

However, the most prestigious of the events Disney is having this Earth Day definitely would be the theatrical release of Earth, a documentary following the real-life stories of three animal families. It will be released on Earth Day – Wednesday, April 22, 2009. Narrated by James Earl Jones, the film is the kick-off of Disney’s new film company Disneynature. StitchKingdom.com points out that although Earth is the first Disneynature film to debut in North America, the real first film from Disneynature was The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos, which was released last December in France. Nevertheless, Earth should be a very fascinating film.

Disneynature will be launched in North America with the release of Earth on April 22.

It should be noted that to promote Earth, Disneynature is this year’s sponsor of the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival at Walt Disney World. A sand sculpture featuring animals from Earth appears in the park during the festival.

An Earth sand sculpture is seen at the 2009 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.

With various green-themed DVD’s and TV episodes, as well as the release of Earth from Disneynature, this Earth Day is sure to be an exciting one for Disney. Remember to recycle and do your part to protect the environment.

Happy Earth Day!

By Blake; posted April 20, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

Disney Talk – Toys “R” Back

April 8, 2009

Toy Story returns, as do two of Disney’s beloved animated princesses.

By Blake

Originally posted April 8, 2009.

Disney re-releases several of their classics onto DVD every year. But with the spread of DVD and Blu-ray, it’s been quite a while since a Disney masterpiece has been given a re-release in theaters. Until now.

I reported in January 2008 that Disney was planning a return of the Toy Story franchise. It began last year with the openings of Toy Story: The Musical onboard the Disney Wonder and Toy Story Midway Mania! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s California Adventure. It continued promotionally when the Buzz Lightyear balloon appeared in the 2008 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The next phase of this Toy Story return will begin this fall, when a video game based on Toy Story Midway Mania! will be released on the Nintendo Wii game system.

Toy Story Midway Mania!, a theme park attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s California Adventure, will have a video game based upon it, coming to the Nintendo Wii system this fall.

Then comes the really exciting part. On October 2, 2009, both Toy Story and Toy Story 2 will be re-released to select theaters in 3-D as a double feature presentation! Previously, the films were going to have two separate re-releases (with Toy Story in October 2009, and Toy Story 2 following in February 2010). Now they will both appear together in a double feature for the price of one ticket.

Economically, this is fantastic. Two movies for the price of one? Count me in! However, both movies back-to-back total about three hours of sitting in a theater. I personally don’t have a problem with that, but squirmy preschoolers might. Additionally, many families own Toy Story already on video or DVD. Even if you are indeed getting to see two movies for one price, a movie theater outing is still expensive, especially with the added-on price of 3-D films. Will families justify going to the theater to see two movies that they can rent for a fraction of their ticket price?

I think it’s worth it for Disney fans who know and love these films and are eager to see them again in a new medium. Additionally, getting to see a movie on the big screen that you’re used to watching on a TV set should be very exciting. Not only that, but both films have been reported to have received some tweaking in lighting using technology that wasn’t available during their initial theatrical runs. Overall, the Toy Story double feature in 3-D would probably be a pleasant experience that wouldn’t hurt the wallets of individuals or couples, but I don’t know if entire families will give in to the cost.

What’s all of this Toy Story hoopla leading up to? The very anticipated release of Toy Story 3, coming to theaters in June 2010.

Toy Story 3 is coming to theaters in June 2010!

Just a few days after the first two Toy Story films will be re-released to theaters in 3-D, another Disney classic will be re-released, but this time not in theaters. On October 6, 2009, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will be released on Platinum Edition Blu-ray. It’s quite the coincidence that Toy Story (Pixar’s first feature film) and Snow White (Disney’s first feature film) are being re-released in the same week, isn’t it?

However, a DVD version of Snow White will not be available at first. It will eventually, with a two-disc Platinum Edition DVD release on November 24, 2009. However, if consumers want to see Snow White on DVD before then, the only option is the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, which includes both formats of the film. However, an individual DVD option (without the Blu-ray) won’t be available until November 24.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is coming to Blu-ray in October and DVD in November.

I think this is somewhat clever on Disney’s part, because previously they’ve just implemented the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack a few days before wide DVD releases (like they did with Bolt). Most people are content to wait a mere few days to purchase a DVD version if that means they don’t have to pay extra for the Blu-ray. But a few weeks? That could pose an issue.

Personally, I won’t be giving in to the Combo Pack, although I certainly would rather Disney not decide to implement it in the first place. I don’t see the point in purchasing a player for a few hundred dollars just so I can see a movie a few weeks ahead of time. I’m content to wait. Besides, Platinum Editions are fun to anticipate, anyway. They provide a plethora of bonus features that delve deep into the making of their respective films and give plenty of behind-the-scenes glimpses that are pleasurable to watch. They’re not worth buying an entire Blu-ray player just to see them in advance, but they’re worth their wait, and for that reason I’m content to hold off until Snow White’s individual DVD release.

Next up is a re-release that I am absolutely ecstatic about. Coming to 3-D in IMAX on February 12, 2010 is Beauty and the Beast! I’m not sure if it’s going to be limited to just IMAX theaters, but I would hope that it will be released in the same way that the Jonas Brothers 3-D concert was in February, available in both regular 3-D theaters and in IMAX.

Beauty and the Beast will be re-released in 3-D and IMAX in February 2010.

For Beauty and the Beast, I don’t see the financial issues discussed above with the Toy Story re-release being such a problem. Although Beauty and the Beast has been released in IMAX before (in January 2002), it also hasn’t been released on video or DVD since October 2002. This was during the later part of the video-to-DVD transition that many families were making, and at this time my family hadn’t bought a DVD player yet. Because of this, we purchased the VHS version of Beauty and the Beast, and other families may have done the same thing. For this reason, Beauty and the Beast may not be as accessible to families today as Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are because VHS players are scarce and both Toy Story films were released on DVD in both 2000 and 2005. Long story short, I’m very excited about Beauty and the Beast being released in theaters again.

With Toy Story and Toy Story 2 coming to 3-D in select theaters in October, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs coming to Blu-ray in October followed by a DVD release in November, and Beauty and the Beast coming to 3-D in select theaters and IMAX in February, Disney fans have plenty to be celebrating about! Those are four of some of Disney’s greatest animated features, and to see them again in a new experience should be fantastic.

By Blake; posted April 8, 2009. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Beauty and the Beast images (C) Disney. Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, and Toy Story Midway Mania! images (C) Disney/Pixar.