Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

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.

Theme Park Headlines – Mickey’s Ready for Fall

September 5, 2009

Image © Disney.

Walt Disney World kicks off its annual Halloween celebrations and prepares for its Christmas festivities.

By Blake

Originally posted September 5, 2009.

While some students may not even have headed back to school yet and the Labor Day holiday is just arriving, Walt Disney World isn’t wasting any time in saying goodbye to summer and heading right into their impressive, crowd-pleasing fall agenda as their Halloween and Christmas special events begin to get underway.

Throughout the summer, Disney began making preparations for The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The buildings in the Streets of America section of the park are being adorned with thousands of sparkling lights. The popular decorations will make their official debut as they light up the park November 10, 2009 – January 4, 2010. You can check out pictures of the event’s recent progress at StudiosCentral.com.

As early as mid-August, the Christmas Dream Lights began their installation on the spires of Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom. A fairly new holiday tradition that began in 2007, the Dream Lights spectacularly transform the Castle into an amazing wintry sight (even though it’s already pretty amazing without them). The lights magically turn on thanks to the help of Cinderella and friends in a brief ceremony entitled Cinderella’s Holiday Wish. The Dream Lights will be ready at least by November 10, which is the first night of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but could appear before then. Pictures of the lights’ installation can be seen at LaughingPlace.com.

Mickey and friends are busy perparing for the holiday season, which includes Disney favorites like The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, Cinderella Castle Dream Lights, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and more. Image © Disney.

However, while those and other Walt Disney World Christmas events are over two months away from making their 2009 premiere, Halloween is already in full swing over at the Magic Kingdom. Special Halloween decorations were set up throughout Town Square and along Main Street, U.S.A. a little over a week ago (as shown in a blog on DISUnplugged.com), and the first Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party of the season took place last night, September 4.

The highlights of each party include Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, the HalloWishes fireworks, the Villains Mix and Mingle stage show, special character appearances (by several rare friends, as well as some familiar characters in Halloween attire), and candy stations. Many of the Magic Kingdom rides and attractions are open, too.

Minnie, Mickey, and other Disney friends can be found throughout the Magic Kingdom decked out for Halloween during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Image © Disney.

Although the party is mostly the same as in years past, there are a few minor changes this year. There are still two dance parties, but they contain a few differences. The Fantasyland dance party still takes place at Ariel’s Grotto, but the characters present there are now Minnie and Daisy. Additionally, the Tomorrowland dance party has changed locations: it’s not in Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café anymore, it’s now at the stage formerly used for Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration (near Carousel of Progress). Characters appearing at the Tomorrowland dance party are Stitch, Goofy, and Pluto. Outside of dance parties, there appears to be a small new float in the parade featuring Madame Leota’s tombstone from Haunted Mansion. (It’s worth noting that although the villains float was dropped from Magic Kingdom’s regular afternoon parade last spring, it still remains a part of the Halloween parade.)

There may also be a few other small changes, but since the party just took place last night, other information has not yet been spread. However, this article will be updated to include any other reported changes that have occurred at this year’s MNSSHP.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party requires a separate ticket (different from regular park admission) to attend. On nights when the party takes place, it lasts from 7pm through midnight. However, if you enter at or after 4pm, you will not need a regular park ticket to enter, so my advice would be to not visit a park on the day you attend the party, so that you can rest up as well as save some money.

For pictures of the Halloween decorations throughout the Magic Kingdom, check out LaughingPlace.com, and for a recap of the September 4 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, visit DISUnplugged.com and AllEars.net. The party will continue on select nights through November 1. Whether you’re attending or not, have a not-so-scary Halloween!

By Blake; posted September 5, 2009. All images © Disney.

Theme Park Headlines – Patriotism and Tragedy

July 8, 2009
Image © Disney.

1,000 new American citizens, an Animatronics version of President Obama, and a tragic monorail accident were among the occurrences of Walt Disney World’s Independence Day week 2009.

By Blake

Originally posted July 8, 2009.

The Fourth of July 2009 at Walt Disney World will not be easily forgotten anytime soon, as a result of a series of completely unrelated events, some exciting and one sorrowful. There were some celebratory events, such as the welcoming of 1,000 newly-sworn-in American citizens and the openings of several exciting new attractions, though one particular tragic accident involving a monorail crash and the death of a Disney Cast Member flared headlines across the country.

One of the lead-ins to the holiday week was the appearance of an Audio-Animatronics character of Luxo, Jr., the lamp from the Pixar short of the same name. Luxo is found on a ledge above guests on Pixar Place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, near the Toy Story Midway Mania! attraction. Although he made his debut around June 22 (which was followed by coverage on LaughingPlace.com), StitchKingdom.com’s Twitter updates are now reporting that Luxo is currently not making appearances, but will resume doing so soon. When he’s out, Luxo appears every 15 minutes and interacts with guests in addition to participating in some creative antics.

Luxo, Jr. has made his debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Image © Disney/Pixar.

On June 29 at the Magic Kingdom, The Pirates League officially opened in Adventureland. Similar to how Bibbidi-Bobbidi Boutique features princess makeovers, The Pirates League is all about pirate makeovers. Guests may choose from a selection of assorted packages, all of which are listed at WDWNews.com. Like Bibbidi-Bobbidi Boutique, the makeovers are a bit pricey, the least expensive package being $49.95 plus tax. Coverage of The Pirates League can be seen on AllEars.net, DISUnplugged.com, and StitchKingdom.com. However, if guests would rather not have an all-out makeover but are still looking for a unique Disney hairdo experience, they’d be better off at the less expensive Harmony Barber Shop on Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, U.S.A.

Moving on, sometime over the course of last week (though I seem to find contradictory opening dates – a preview was held on June 28 nonetheless), The Hall of Presidents re-opened from its extensive refurbishment with major new additions. It has a new subtitle, making its full name The Hall of Presidents: A Celebration of Liberty’s Leaders. Among the changes are the inclusion of Morgan Freeman as narrator, Abraham Lincoln giving The Gettysburg Address, George Washington speaking (he previously did not), and the addition of Barack Obama to the lineup of presidents presented as Audio-Animatronics. Pictures of the newly re-opened attraction can be seen at AllEars.net (beware of spoilers, though!).

On July 3, also in the Magic Kingdom, 1,000 people were sworn in and officially became United States citizens. Broadcasted live on CNN, the ceremony took place in front of Cinderella Castle with the help of Mickey Mouse (dressed in patriotic attire), Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton, actor Andy Garcia, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. After they gave the Oath of Allegiance, the new citizens experienced The Hall of Presidents. Coverage of the event can be seen at StitchKingdom.com.

That evening, Magic Kingdom held a performance of a special Independence Day fireworks presentation titled Celebrate America. On Independence Day itself, July 4, another performance of the show was held. Also on July 4, Epcot’s IllumiNations had a special holiday finale, while Disney’s Hollywood Studios had its own patriotic fireworks show.

A special Indpendence Day fireworks show, Celebrate America, was held at Magic Kingdom on July 3 and July 4, 2009. Image © Disney.

Early morning on Sunday, July 5, the mood changed significantly as two monorails collided. The crash tragically killed 21-year-old Cast Member Austin Wuennenberg. The Epcot monorail system closed for the day, re-opening the afternoon of July 6 with additional safety precautions. It is definitely sorrowful that something like this happened, though hopefully nothing like it will occur again. BlakeOnline sends prayers and thoughts to friends and family of Wuennenberg as they cope with their loss.

The Independence Day week events continued as a new Princess Diana exhibit titled Diana: The People’s Princess opened on July 7 at Downtown Disney. Although guests may enter Downtown Disney itself for free, admission into the Princess Diana exhibit is $5.00 for children through age 9 and $14.50 for ages 10 and up.

Diana: The People’s Princess, a new exhibit about Princess Diana, is now open at Downtown Disney. Image © Disney.

With all of that activity going on, it certainly was quite a hectic Independence Day at Walt Disney World this year. Luxo, Jr., The Pirates League, The Hall of Presidents, the many new American citizens, the special fireworks shows, and Diana: The People’s Princess were all causes of celebration while the tragic monorail accident was definitely a mournful event.

By Blake; posted July 8, 2009. All images © Disney. Pixar Animation Studios logo © Disney/Pixar.

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 – 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.

Happy Easter From BlakeOnline!

April 13, 2009

Hi, everyone!

I hope you all have a wonderful and happy Easter Sunday. I wanted to take this time to address a matter that sometimes gets overlooked in the midst of all the eggs, bunnies, and chocolate. Missing from that bundle of Easter traditions is by far the most important Easter celebration of all.

The true reason we celebrate Easter at all is the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who came to Earth to suffer an excruciating death so that our sins are forgiven. It doesn’t seem fair that the One who cares the most should have had to take the punishment for something we’re all guilty of, though that’s the entire essence of the Easter holiday.

Jesus died to save you. Does the way each of us live our lives reflect our thankfulness to Him for doing that?

Everyone that repents for their sinful nature and accepts the forgiveness that Christ offers by inviting Him into their lives is eternally saved.

I don’t mean to be a burden, but as you enjoy your egg hunts, candy, and dressing up in your Sunday best, take some time to celebrate the true meaning of the Easter holiday, the rise of Christ from the dead.

-Blake
April 12, 2009

A Christmas Toontown Pictorial, 12.26.08

December 27, 2008

Celebrate Christmas in Disney’s virtual world of fun.

By Blake

Originally posted December 26, 2008.

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

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

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

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

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

The Donald’s Dock-themed lamp post.

The Daisy Gardens-themed lamp post.

The Brrrgh-themed lamp post.

Donald’s Dreamland has two themed lamp posts.

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Merry Christmas!!!

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

Merry Christmas from BlakeOnline!

December 24, 2008

BlakeOnline wishes you a very merry Christmas!

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

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

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

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

December 23, 2008


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


By Blake

Originally posted December 22, 2008.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Channel Flippin’ – Shrek the Halls Review

December 2, 2007

The latest adventure in DreamWorks’ popular ‘Shrek’ series is short but sweet, and delivers a half-hour of fun family entertainment.

By Blake

Originally posted December 1, 2007.

OK . . . based on my articles from the past several weeks, you might be under the impression that I generally like every movie I see. Nearly all the reviews I’ve posted lately have been generally positive and you may think that I think every movie is great. I don’t. I can really slam a movie when I want to. But, lately, the movie business has been really on top of things and knows what their audience wants. So, as I give you yet another positive review here, just know that a 100% positive record for 2007 is an extremely rare case. Let’s hope I didn’t just jinx the movie business.

Anyway . . . when I sat down Wednesday night, November 28, to view the new holiday special Shrek the Halls, I was thinking what most viewers were probably thinking: “ANOTHER Shrek sequel?!” However, Shrek the Halls is only a 30-minute special and not a full-blown 90-minute sequel.

The special takes place after Shrek the Third, when Fiona and Shrek are preparing for their first Christmas with their new baby triplet ogres. As it turns out, Shrek hasn’t ever celebrated Christmas before and doesn’t exactly know what all the hubbub is about. When he attempts to please Fiona by throwing a Christmas party, mayhem breaks loose when his friends each tell their own version of “The Night Before Christmas.” Eventually Shrek becomes aggravated with his friends for ruining his first Christmas, only to discover that being with the ones you love during the holidays is part of what makes Christmas so special.

Shrek the Halls had the potential to be cheesy and sequel-ish, but fortunately it doesn’t overdo anything and gives each of the favorite characters their own bit of airtime. And, like every Shrek installment so far, Gingy steals the show. Like most Christmas specials, this one isn’t spiritual, though at one point when Shrek asks what the true meaning of Christmas is, I half-expected somebody to pull a Linus. They didn’t, though.

Although it’s not yet available for sale on DVD, you can probably bet it will be come next November. So, if you can, try to catch Shrek the Halls when it airs Tuesday, December 11, 2008 at 8:00pm on ABC. That’s the only airtime that’s currently scheduled for the special and you sure wouldn’t want to miss it.

By Blake; posted December 1, 2007. All images (C) DreamWorks.