Archive for the ‘Jason Castro’ Category

Theme Park Headlines – They’re Going to Disney World

February 12, 2009

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

By Blake

Originally posted February 11, 2009.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Channel Flippin’ – It’s Showtime

January 12, 2009

America’s number-one TV show is back.

By Blake

Originally posted January 11, 2009.

I am so excited!

The time is almost here for the season premiere of my (and America’s) favorite TV show, American Idol! This Tuesday, January 13, 2008, will mark the first episode of the landmark show’s eighth season, and there’s certainly plenty to be pumped up about. The show’s even launched a new website look to celebrate the arrival of its eighth year on the air. Also, I’ve been getting into the American Idol spirit by posting some American Idol-related articles into the BlakeOnline archives. I’ve been having to re-post all the past articles when I changed to the current format of the web site and most of the previous BlakeOnline articles have yet to be posted here, so I’d thought it would be an appropriate time to re-post the American Idol articles. So, now you can check out the Disney’s Hollywood Studios changes article (which mentions The American Idol Experience, an upcoming attraction there), a recap of the American Idol season 7 finale, and a report from the American Idol season 7 concert.

First off, there’s a new judge to spice opinions up with Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell. Songwriter Kara DioGuardi will join the three famous judges to give the show a little more variation and to add some publicity to the program. It will be fascinating to see what she brings to the show and how she and the other three judges will manage to squeeze in all of their comments into the already-short amount of time given to critique the contestants’ performances.

Not only will a new judge liven things up on this season of American Idol, but the contestants will have a lot to bring to the table when it comes to talent. Last season’s amazing group of performers managed to make season 7 the most memorable (in my opinion) year of the show yet. David Cook, Michael Johns, and Carly Smithson rocked the place out every week; David Archuleta’s voice had the younger and older viewers voting for him weekly; Syesha Mercado and Chikezie Eze added some soul to the show; Jason Castro’s relaxed songs were excellent; Brooke White had sensationally simple songs and a sincere personality; Kristy Lee Cook was the country performer of the bunch; and Ramiele Malubay brought some pop songs to the group. Between the ten of them, there was really something great for everyone.

Additionally, not only did last year’s top ten contestants show they had talent while they were on the show, but they’ve also continued to please audiences outside of the show. All of them toured the country last summer in an outstanding show-stopping concert and some of them have already started their careers as record artists.

Chikezie Eze supposedly has a new album in the works, though I wasn’t able to find much information about it or whether it’s really happening or not.

Ramiele Malubay has released four singles, including a new Christmas song.

Michael Johns released a Christmas single in December and the proceeds of that song will go to the Red Cross and MDA’s Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis fund. Additionally, he helped score the music and also sings in most of the songs in the new documentary of Shaun White (a.k.a. the Olympics’ “Flying Tomato” snowboarder/skateboarder). Michael also has an upcoming album being released.

Kristy Lee Cook released an album in September, called “Why Wait”, which featured her song that was on the country Top 30 Billboard, “15 Minutes of Shame.”

Carly Smithson has been working on music, as well, and will have an upcoming album.

Brooke White has become a spokesperson for the foundation that is partnered between Malaria No More and American Idol Gives Back called Save the World Summer. She has also been writing music updating her blog frequently with posts and videos.

Jason Castro recorded “Hallelujah”, which was (in my opinion) his most memorable song while on American Idol, which is going to be featured in an upcoming Mexican film Amar a Morir. In addition to that, Castro has been updating his video blog frequently with new videos and news. Castro also released a free single of “White Christmas” and is currently working on an album.

Syesha Mercado released a single with Boney James during her American Idol journey and is now working on an album.

David Archuleta released a self-titled CD in November, which peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts. The album featured several songs that were written and co-written by Archuleta and also included Archuleta’s single “Crush,” which was released in August, as well as the new single “A Little Too Not Over You.” Official music videos have been made for both singles. Consistently updating his blog, David has kept his fans up to speed about his post-American Idol experiences. Additionally, in September David Archuleta taped an episode of the Nickelodeon show iCarly, which is set to air sometime in the spring.

Finally, David Cook has had success with the winning song from the American Idol songwriting competition “The Time of My Life” (written by Regie Hamm) and his single from September, “Light On” (of which a music video has been made). Both were featured on his excellent new self-titled album which was released in November. All but three of the songs on his CD were written or co-written by him. Cook plans to have a concert tour at colleges throughout the country beginning in February.

And that’s all of last year’s top ten. It’ll be tough to top that outstanding roster of performers and their varied music and personalities. I’ll definitely expect to be “wowed” this season, but I’ll hold off on any huge expectations for now.

One thing is for sure – with all the anticipation rising, as well as the introduction of the fourth judge, Kara DioGuardi, and the new show website, I can’t stand the short wait we have until the season premiere of American Idol! It will premiere on Fox this Tuesday, January 13, 2008 at 8:00pm Eastern time, 7:00pm Central time and will continue every Tuesday and Wednesday through May. 🙂

By Blake; originally posted January 11, 2009. All images (C) Fox.

BlakeOnline Special – ‘American Idol’ 2008 Concert Report

August 18, 2008

Words can’t describe the amazingly awesome feel-good experience of this year’s American Idol season and contestants, which is sensationally amplified on this year’s concert tour.

By Blake

SPOILER WARNING: If you’re going to an American Idol 2008 concert and want to be surprised by the song lineup, performances, and, well . . . surprises, then please don’t read any further. It would spoil the entire concert for you! However, if you’ve already been to the concert or just don’t care about not being surprised, then please read on! You’ve been warned, though . . .

It’s not just a reality show. American Idol is a program that the entire family can enjoy without worrying about inappropriate content, and at the same time the show expands itself beyond the television set by creating solid singing careers out of everyday aspiring performers.

So you can imagine my excitement when the moment had arrived when I would be experiencing my first American Idol concert, this year featuring this 2008’s top ten contestants: Chikezie Eze, Ramiele Malubay, Michael Johns, Kristy Lee Cook, Carly Smithson, Brooke White, Jason Castro, Syesha Mercado, and, of course, the Davids – David Archuleta and David Cook.

I had taken a visit to the American Idol message boards about a month beforehand just to read other people’s comments to get the lowdown on what to expect at the concert, how things were run, etc., without spoiling any of the show itself for me. I’m certainly glad I had read the information that I did because I found out that right as the American Idol buses pull into the venue, many of the contestants come outside to talk, take pictures, and sign autographs for their fans waiting outside. This was great news.

We arrived at the arena around 11:45am and found a small crowd waiting near where the buses were scheduled to arrive. WHAT AWESOME TIMING! Just as we got there, a group of policemen arrived telling everyone that the meet & greet would be moved to another area of the arena because the current spot would interfere with traffic on the road. So everyone relocated to the new spot, where we were among the first people behind the barriers for the red carpet-like walkway, just without the red carpet or press. It was just fans.

The contestants finally arrived around 2:30, which was about an hour after they usually come out in other cities (I learned later that they had just finished a 7 ½ – hour bus ride). If you plan on going early to see if you can meet the contestants, I’d advise to bring some snacks and water. There’s no set time for how long you’ll be waiting, and standing in the summer heat can get sweltering. Thankfully, the morning’s thunderstorm had passed over, leaving behind a shady spot of clouds which hovered over us, occasionally dropping some rain sprinkles, but nothing too serious. We could have been out in the sweltering sun for the 2 ½ hours of waiting. I’m very thankful for the weather we had. It could have been MUCH worse.

The clouds eventually disappeared, revealing the sun . . . oh, and DAVID COOK!!! I guess he could tell by the looks on everyone’s faces that we had been standing out there a while, so when he arrived he literally leaped out the arena door, landed with a stomp on the ground, and then – again literally – ran over to the fans waiting in the line. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such loud screaming in all my life. Carly and Jason soon followed.

I must say all of the contestants’ energy and enthusiasm during the little greeting was certainly contagious! As each of them came out and walked by, you couldn’t help but have a huge, obnoxious smile on your face. Some of the people around us were complaining about the heat and that they couldn’t see the contestants . . . I was thinking, HOW could you POSSIBLY not be beaming when DAVID COOK is merely a few feet away?!?!? I just couldn’t see how anyone could not be happy in that mob of people.

It was such a thrill to meet all of them. It was like, here they are. All of the people that brought joy into your home every Tuesday and Wednesday night for the past year, and you have one chance to say to them anything you want and tell them how much their work is appreciated. I just didn’t know how to express how much each of them meant to me and my family. My Disney fascination is great and all, but I can’t physically thank any one person for the happiness that Disney brings to me, except for maybe Mickey Mouse. But he wouldn’t even say anything back. With the American Idol contestants, they were all lined up right there in front of me. I wanted to thank each of them immensely for all their hard work, for being awesome role models, for taking the time to meet us right now, but somehow I never got around to saying any of that. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what to say, it was just I didn’t know how to say it. So, other than a “Thank you” to each of them for their autographs (who responded gratefully and appreciatively), I pretty much kept my mouth shut.

Beforehand I had made a collage of all ten contestants using Picasa and then formatted it sepia, and then with some help mounted it on a poster board for the contestants to sign autographs on. Carly was the first to sign. She seemed sort of rushed, but I totally understand that all of them are pushed for time on their packed tour schedule.

Next was Jason, who was talking to everyone, and drew a little smiley face with some dreadlocks next to his name on some of the autographs he was signing.

Then, while David Cook was still making his way down the line, out came David Archuleta! I take back what I said earlier – this was the loudest screaming I’ve ever heard in my life. David A. started at our end and worked his way down the line VERY slowly, but certainly not in a bad way. He took his time with each and every one of the people standing out there and signed everything they asked him to, posed in every picture, and was definitely out there longer than any of the other contestants. He was one of the first to come out and the 2nd last to leave. He still seemed to be just as overwhelmed – in a good way – with how many people adored him as he was on the show. I did manage to tell David that I was enjoying his tour blog – he seems to update it more than any of the other contestants – though my compliment was drained out by the woman next to me who said something loudly to David so he couldn’t hear me.

Next out was Kristy Lee Cook! She made her way down the line and seemed to efficiently give autographs to anyone who wanted them.

Then Chikezie came out and started at our end of the line. Although he looked tired, he also seemed to be very patient with each fan in line, and posed for more than one picture with us. (He remarked at how the many cameras everywhere “always confuses me!”)

Next was Brooke, who WANTED to stop and talk to everyone, but was being urged by one of her handlers to go inside and take a phone interview, as the interviewers were already waiting for her. Right when she got to us she started doing a countdown from ten as to how many more autographs she would give out. You could tell she was heartbroken when she got to zero and couldn’t sign any other autographs, as were the last few fans that she didn’t get to see.

Lastly was Michael Johns! (Ramiele and Syesha weren’t going to be coming out.) He too seemed to take his time with the fans, but not nearly as slowly as Archuleta. When one of his fans gave him a picture of himself to sign his autograph on, he remarked “Oh, I hate this picture!” in his Australian accent. “I couldn’t look worse in this picture!” Hahahaha.

After that, the crowds began to dissolve, as only David Archuleta and Michael Johns were left and most of the fans had gotten their pictures and autographs. We stuck around a little longer . . . eventually David made it through the end of the line and finally Michael headed on in.

And so . . . we came back to the arena around 6pm for the concert! The preshow started around 6:55 and included a walk-around Pop-Tart guy dancing through the audience. When it was finally show time, I could feel the anticipation gathering in the air. I guess it was that American Idol contagiousness again because I couldn’t help bearing a smile.

Chikezie’s set was great, and then Ramiele came out and had a bee-boppin’ pop set. I was thinking that her performance sounded like something I would hear on Disney Channel or Nickelodeon, and then later I read in the concert program that she hoped to do something with Disney Channel in the future.

Next was Michael Johns who ROCKED THE HOUSE. He sang “We Will Rock You”, “We Are the Champions”, “It’s All Wrong But It’s All Right”, and “Dream On.” It was awesome.

Next was Kristy Lee Cook, who of course had some country songs, including “God Bless the USA”, which happens to be the song that saved her in the voting process. I was a little surprised that Kristy didn’t sing her new single “15 Minutes of Shame,” especially since her album is being released on September 16. Perhaps she doesn’t yet have the necessary rights to perform it live or something.

Then it was the incredible Carly’s turn, who was jammin’.

Next was Brooke, who sang her best American Idol song (in my opinion, at least) “Let It Be”, along with “Yellow” and “1, 2, 3, 4”. I had recently taken a liking to “1, 2, 3, 4”, and was pleasantly surprised to hear it sung at the concert. When I first heard it (which happened to be on a clip from Sesame Street on YouTube) I thought “This would be a great song for Brooke White to sing.” And there she was singing it!

Then it was time for the act one finale, which included the bottom six contestants singing U2’s “Pride” white footage from American Idol Gives Back played on the big screens to promote Fox’s campaign for viewers to donate money to needy families in Africa.

The intermission was Guitar Hero central! The two Guitar Hero commercials featuring the Davids (that originally played during this season’s finale) showed on the big screens, as did a brand-new commercial that’s exclusive to the concert. It’s promoting the upcoming Guitar Hero: World Tour game and features the entire top ten decked out in 70’s clothes and hairstyles.

Then there was some live entertainment, as opposed to up on the screens. First two crew members had a live Guitar Hero competition and then two audience members had an “air guitar” competition.

After that, it was time to get back to the show! Jason Castro was up first, singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on his ukulele, followed by two other songs. Next Syesha wonderfully belted out some tunes, and after that you could just feel the excitement in the audience (even way up from our 2nd floor seats) as everyone anxiously awaited David Archuleta’s performance. He arrived via a stage lift playing the piano and singing “Angels”, “Apologize”, “Stand By Me”, and “When You Say You Love Me”. Again, I was surprised that he didn’t sing his new single “Crush”. Anyway, as always he was phenomenal and, as I stated earlier, he seemed just as humble as he was on TV. And I even got to hear his laugh in person.

Lastly, it was time for David Cook to take to the stage! As he entered through a stage lift, the arena was almost silent. He calmly walked to the center of the stage, stopped, looked around, and simply said “Hi.” The crowd goes bazerk. He was FANTASTIC. He sang “Hello”, “The Time of My Life”, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”, “Hero”, and “Billy Jean”. He seems to have taken his instant superstardom very professionally, with having a powerful stage presence and in the way he acts in interviews, performances, and such but at the same time hasn’t let his sudden fame go to his head in any way. In the concert program interview with him, when asked who his best friend on the show was, he proceeded to list all 23 of his competitors, and when asked what he was going to do after the tour, he said “I can’t wait to do some charity work.” While not being an obsessive fan, David Cook is someone who, between last January and now, I have grown to greatly respect and admire and I sincerely hope he goes on to have a successful career and not let his opportunities slip through the cracks like some have done. He even threw his half-finished Coke bottle into the crowd.

As David Cook’s set came to a close, it was time for the big finale! “Please Don’t Stop the Music” by Rihanna began to fill the air and I was literally bouncing in my seat my now, clapping along, since everyone else in my section still neglected to get on their feet. The finale I think will be the most memorable part of the show for me, for several reasons: “Please Don’t Stop the Music” is my favorite current song. My favorite group of performers was singing it right before my eyes. I got to see the Mavid in person. David Archuleta playfully kicked David Cook’s hiney. And all this going on as I realize that with such an incredible American Idol season that took place this year, it’s unlikely that any other future season will top this year’s outstanding display of artists and their incredible voices. Right now, watching this amazing top ten, was probably as good as it was ever going to get. I just couldn’t help but getting reflective and soaking in the atmosphere, watching an excellent group of performers. I still can’t comprehend how much each and every one of them has musically impacted my family. They’re an amazing group of talented people.

As the show-stopping finale came to a close, it was time for the contestants to head on in. Everyone had one last look at the bottom nine as they walked backstage, and at David Cook as he glided back down through the stage lift.

As we exited the arena, we saw a huge mob of people waiting in the same area that we had been earlier to meet the contestants (they came out after the show, too). However, whereas when we met them the crowd was at most two people deep, this had to be at least seven people deep. It was insane, so we decided not to stay. We later found out that the contestants finally made it outside a little after 11pm (the concert ended around 10:15ish), and all of them except David Cook and Ramiele come out. I kinda wish we would have stayed, but at the same time I know it would have been crazy. Fun crazy. But still crazy. I needed sleep, anyway.

Well, the awesome night was finally over. The whole American Idol concert experience was . . . amazing. Outstanding. Phenomenal. ROCKIN’. Superb. Unbelievable. Excellent. And what’s that word that you say when you don’t know what to say? Oh, yeah. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I just can’t describe it any other way.

By Blake; originally posted August 18, 2008. All images belong to Blake’s family.