Archive for the ‘Pixar’ 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.

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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.

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.

Channel Flippin’ – No ‘Wonderful World’ This Year?

June 6, 2009

Image © Disney.
Disney might not formally be airing ‘Wonderful World of Disney’ this summer.

By Blake

Originally posted June 6, 2009.

The Wonderful World of Disney has been an ongoing, continuous television series since it debuted in 1954, back when it was hosted by Walt Disney himself. It’s taken on many different formats, has been aired on several different networks, and has had a few name changes (it was initially called Disneyland).

Over the years, the show transitioned from an episodic format with a host showcasing classic clips as well as sneak previews for current projects to the current format of simply airing a movie with Disney promos during commercial breaks. And really, that’s just fine. I still look forward to watching the show almost every time it airs.

Since 2005, it has seemed that The Wonderful World of Disney has aired strictly during the Christmas season and again during the early summer, around June – early July. This year during the summer, however, there seems to be no sign of the show airing at all.

The show’s website from last year, www.disney.com/wonderfulworld, currently redirects to the “My Page” homepage, which is questionable. Additionally, ABC.com usually has a list of what movies will be aired on the show about this time every year, but there’s no trace of those, either.

However, even if Disney isn’t planning on airing The Wonderful World of Disney formally under that same title this summer, they still have some exciting television projects coming up.

Tonight (Saturday, June 6), ABC Family is having a special night of Pixar fun. They’re airing Finding Nemo, as well as the fairly new Cars Toons shorts featuring Mater and other characters from Cars. These include the first three Cars Toons that premiered on TV last October, as well as Tokyo Mater, which debut in theaters alongside Bolt a few weeks after the film was released. If Disney had wanted to, they could have simply labeled tonight’s ABC Family lineup under The Wonderful World of Disney banner and it would have fit right in.

Finding Nemo will air tonight, June 6, on ABC Family, as will several Cars Toons shorts. Image © Disney/Pixar.

Similarly, next Saturday (June 13), ABC is airing The Haunted Mansion, the 2003 film featuring Eddie Murphy. Again, it’s not labeled as The Wonderful World of Disney, which I find sort of odd.

The Haunted Mansion will air Saturday, June 13, on ABC. Image © Disney.

However, even though The Wonderful World of Disney may not be debuting anything this summer, both Disney Channel and the new channel Disney XD (a re-marketed Toon Disney) are both premiering several new projects. Disney XD’s first original series, Aaron Stone, debuted in February and is about a video game coming to life in the real world. Disney XD’s next original series, Zeke & Luther, will debut later this month and is about two boys wanting to become skateboarders.

Disney Channel is also in the process of premiering new summer attractions. On June 26, a new original movie will debut called Princess Protection Program, and will feature Demi Lovato (from Camp Rock and Sonny With a Chance) and Selena Gomez (from Wizards of Waverly Place). Disney Channel is also continuing to air new episodes of Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, Phineas and Ferb, The Suite Life on Deck, Sonny With a Chance, and their newest series, Jonas.

Princess Protection Program premieres Friday, June 26, on Disney Channel and be released on DVD on Tuesday, June 30. Image © Disney.

So both Disney XD and Disney Channel are continuing to crank out new productions. But why is Disney choosing to air movies on ABC and ABC Family on Saturday nights without The Wonderful World of Disney’s label? It’s really not that big of a deal and the quality of the movie’s presentations won’t be much different (other than not including Disney promos during commercial breaks), but it just seems a bit peculiar.

By Blake; posted June 6, 2009. All images © Disney. Finding Nemo image © Disney/Pixar.

Silver Screen Review – ‘Up’

June 3, 2009
Image (C) Disney/Pixar.

A clever work enriched by colorfully comical characters, magnificently creative sequences, and a winning story driven by emotion, Up superbly delivers a great film and a heartfelt message.

By Blake

Originally posted June 3, 2009.

Most people have at least one desire that they’d like to fulfill before they pass away. It could be anything from settling down in a quiet retirement community to participating in some sort of extreme journey. But establishing a home in South America with a view of a colossal waterfall outside your porch? That would be a little bizarre. Not for Carl Fredricksen, though.

In Up, the tenth film from Pixar Animation Studios, a lonely elderly man named Carl Fredricksen dreams of living next to Paradise Falls in South America and experiencing the “spirit of adventure.” Carl decides that the best way to do so is to fly, by attaching a hoopla of balloons to his house.

When he arrives in South America, Carl is far from the ideal peace and quietness he had pictured. Everything from a stowaway wilderness scout named Russell to a hilarious dog named Dug (who has a special collar that makes his thoughts auditory) to a crowd-pleasing bird that’s trying reach her separated babies all deter Carl from the relaxing living he was supposed to have reached in Paradise Falls.

Image (C) Disney/Pixar.

With such wacky situations as those, Up gets pretty zany at times. Many sequences are filled with hilarious craziness that amounts to a lot of laughs and plenty of giggles, especially from the tinier set of audience members. Additionally, there aren’t that many characters to keep track of. By having only about five main characters, each one that is presented gets developed very well. By the time the film is through, each of their personalities has been excellently portrayed to the audience.

From left: Dug the dog, Kevin the bird, Russell the wilderness scout, and Carl Fredrickson in Up. Each of the characters’ personalities gets developed very well, and their own distinctive traits are all featured just right in this picture. Image (C) Disney/Pixar.

Not only are the characters’ distinctive traits communicated well, but they also have a definite drive for their actions. Perhaps more than any other film I’ve seen, Up’s characters have a very emotional motivation behind what they’re doing. Carl’s entire reason for heading to Paradise Falls is to fulfill a personal issue that’s very important to him, and that reason is what keeps him going and what causes him to press forward throughout the entire film.

Image (C) Disney/Pixar.

Up conveys several impactful messages that relate on a number of levels, some subtly hinted at and others clearly spoken out by the characters. Similar to Cars, in which Lightning McQueen learns that life is a journey, Up includes Carl (and the audience too, for that matter) realizing that some of life’s most important epiphanies and fondest memories occur when we’re looking for something else. Perhaps the most powerful message of Up is that you can’t rely on material, tangible “things” or items to get you through life. Carl strives (with much difficulty) to hold on to his symbolic house, which represents so many of his special memories and so much of his lifelong achievements, but when it comes down to it, it’s just a house. In parallel, when you really look at the big picture, it’s the people surrounding you and the relationships made with them that matter most.

Lastly (yes, it gets pretty deep), time is also an issue covered in Up, particularly in valuing the time spent with others. Life on Earth doesn’t last forever, and it can be gone at any time, so don’t take any part of it for granted.

Image (C) Disney/Pixar.

Up is a very special masterpiece. It’s not often that a film rolls along with such an excellent story containing such endearing characters and is able to deliver a hilarious comedy while still attaining a very powerful sense of emotion and impact. That’s what Up succeeds at doing magnificently.

How do I rank Up? (Bolded is my choice.)

  • Aaaah!
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

Up will most likely please: Disney Fans – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-7) – Older Kids (ages 8-10) – Tweens (ages 11-13) – Adults

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted June 3, 2009. All images (C) Disney/Pixar.

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 – 23 Again

May 19, 2009


The question of joining D23 circulates again among Disney fans.

By Blake

Originally posted May 19, 2009.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related BlakeOnline articles:

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

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.

BlakeOnline Special – Keep Moving Forward in 2009

February 2, 2009

Disney fans have a lot to celebrate about in 2009, including exciting movie releases, deluxe DVD sets, and new theme park entertainment.


By Blake

Originally posted February 1, 2009.

2008 served Mickey Mouse quite well. Although some might say that because of the recessing economy, Disney is plummeting downhill with the rest of the country (which is not true, but we’ll get to that later), it’s actually been quite the opposite in 2008 for the Walt Disney Company. It seems that they’re finally right where they should be in all areas of their company, knowing who to market what to and realizing what works for them and what doesn’t. And now that they know this, we can be assured that plenty more magic will be sprinkled up in 2009.

Movies
2008 was filled with numerous in-theater, live-action family Disney movies that had everyone singing, laughing, crying, and, at one point, had an entire theater full of tween girls having a jam session. In February, Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert hit select theaters for limited showings that proved just how far a simple Disney Channel sitcom had come since becoming a full-blown, beyond-TV franchise. In March, Raven-Symone appeared in her second in-theater Disney movie, College Road Trip, alongside Martin Lawrence and Donny Osmond. It was a delightful comedy that had kids laughing and parents tearing up. In May, the second film in the Narnia series was released, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Just as action-packed and magical as the first, Prince Caspian was quite a treat. In October, Beverly Hills Chihuahua was released. Although I didn’t see it, the film’s initial teaser trailer grabbed the attention of many, and whether or not people liked it, it granted the film a large amount of publicity. Also in October, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Lucas Grabeel, Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, and the rest of the Wildcats made the transition from television sets to the silver screen as the epic High School Musical phenomenon capped off a three-year span of Wildcat mania with the release of High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Proving itself to be much more than an average musical, the film had a broad appeal and contained real Disney magic placed all throughout it. Finally, the Christmas Day release of Bedtime Stories told of Adam Sandler’s nightly tales to his nephews coming to life in the real world.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year was released in theaters last October, concluding the ongoing Wildcat mania.

2009 looks to be another promising year for Walt Disney Pictures, with several very exciting releases coming up. On February 27, the Jonas Brothers move from “special guests” in last year’s Hannah Montana concert movie to being in the center spotlight in Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. Like the Hannah Montana concert movie, the film will be released in select theaters and will take audiences behind the scenes to not only show viewers a Jonas Brothers concert, but also what goes on to put on the show. It will feature guest appearances by the Jonas Brothers’ Camp Rock co-star Demi Lovato, as well as country singer Taylor Swift. On March 13, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (of The Game Plan) will appear alongside Carla Gugino (the Spy Kids’ mother), AnnaSophia Robb (Because of Winn-Dixie, Bridge to Terabithia), and Alexander Ludwig (The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising) in Race to Witch Mountain, a remake of the 1975 Disney classic Escape to Witch Mountain. On April 10, Hannah Montana will follow in the footsteps of Lizzie McGuire to become the second Disney Channel original series to have its own theatrical film when Hannah Montana: The Movie hits the silver screen. An actual movie as opposed to a concert, the film will have Miley stranded in a small town in Tennessee with her family, where she’ll have to permanently choose which side of her double life to officially pursue. The film’s teaser trailer makes it seem epic and on a slightly larger scale than the television series and, if done right, it could end up being something very special for all of those tiny Hannah fans. On April 22 (Earth Day), Disney will somewhat revive its classic True-Life Adventure nature documentary series as it launches its new Disney Nature franchise with the release of the new film Earth. The film will be narrated by James Earl Jones and will tell of three animal families. On July 24, we’ll get to see what happens when Beverly Hills Chihuahua meets Spy Kids when G-Force is released. The movie, which is a Jerry Bruckheimer production, will feature guinea pigs (some of which are voiced by Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz) saving the world. Pirates of the Caribbean’s Bill Nighy (Davy Jones) is also in the film.

The Jonas Brothers come to the big screen for their concert movie, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience, coming to theaters February 27.

Animation
Not only did live-action Disney films hit the silver screen in 2008, but two excellent animated Disney movies were also released, both of which scored “Brilliant” in their BlakeOnline reviews. In June, Pixar’s Wall-E heralded back to the days of silent films with having barely any dialogue and told the heartwarming story of a lonely and abandoned robot, Wall-E, who seized the chance to fall in love when he unknowingly boarded a spaceship. Once again, Pixar performed well with both critics and audiences. In November, Bolt surprised everyone as being possibly the best non-Pixar Disney animated film in years. Its Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature (alongside Wall-E and Kung Fu Panda) only proves that theory even more. (The last non-Pixar Disney animated movie to receive an Oscar nomination was Brother Bear, released in 2003.) Full of richly developed characters and a superlative story, Bolt is a real treasure, and when paired with Wall-E, the two unlikely title heroes perform a vast supply of Pixie Dust to please young and old alike.

In June, Wall-E delighted audiences of all ages with its amazing story and likeable characters.

On the horizon for Disney animation in 2009 are two more new theatrical features a revisit of a classic. On May 29, Pixar takes an elderly man up in the sky as he attaches oodles of balloons to his house in Up, directed by Pete Docter (the same director as Monsters, Inc.). In October, Toy Story will be re-released in select theaters in 3D to promote the forthcoming 2010 new film Toy Story 3. On Christmas Day, Walt Disney Animation Studios will at last return to traditional hand-drawn animation in The Princess and the Frog, a retelling of the classic fairy tale. Set in New Orleans, the movie will feature the voice of Anika Noni Rose as Princess Tiana, the first new Disney Princess since 1998 and the first ever African-American Disney Princess. The movie will be directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, who together also directed The Great Mouse Detective, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, and Treasure Planet. The Princess and the Frog will feature original songs and score by Randy Newman. It looks to be a very exciting film indeed. I can’t wait to see the final results come next Christmas.

Tiana, voiced by Anika Noni Rose, is the heroine of the new Disney movie The Princess and the Frog, being released in theaters Christmas Day 2009.

Revitalizing Franchises
2008 also saw the continuation of two major Disney franchises and an expansion in online entertainment. In October, Cars Toons premiered as a series of new short cartoons starring Mater from Cars. The first three shorts debuted on television and continue to air on Disney Channel regularly. A fourth short premiered alongside Bolt a few weeks after Bolt had been released, to entice audiences to see the film again. Cars Toons is the first of many new ways we’ll be seeing the charming characters of Radiator Springs in the next few years. This summer, a new internet game called The World of Cars Online will debut on Disney.com. Following in the footsteps of other Disney games such as Toontown Online, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, Pixie Hollow, and the now-closed Virtual Magic Kingdom, the new Cars game will allow players to create their own character, in this case a car, and communicate with other players in races, games, and activities and also talk to other players in real-time. That’s just the beginning of the forthcoming Cars mania. In summer 2011, Cars 2 will premiere on the silver screen, sure to create plenty of hilarious Disney magic as audiences re-acquaint themselves with Lightning McQueen, Mater, and the rest of the Radiator Springs crew. Additionally, in 2012, Cars Land will open at Disney’s California Adventure in as part of a park-wide expansion.

Lightning McQueen and the rest of the Cars characters will return for the World of Cars Online game, Cars 2 in theaters, and Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure at Disneyland.

Another franchise that was revisited in 2008 centered around Jim Henson’s lovable bunch of furry critters, the Muppets. In February of 2008, a Muppets channel was launched as part of the recently-revamped Disney.com and featured hilarious new videos and games, collectively featuring hours of new footage. The idea was to get the Muppets slowly back in the spotlight again in preparation for an upcoming feature film in 2010, and the plan seems to be working out great. In addition to the main Muppets channel on Disney.com, there are also separate pages devoted to Kermit the frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, the great Gonzo, and Pepe the king prawn. An upcoming page will belong to Animal.

The new Muppets channel on Disney.com provides plenty of hilarious new Muppet videos.

TV
Also part of the epic plan to spotlight the Muppets, a new set of TV specials aired in August and October of 2008 called Studio DC: Almost Live! that featured the Muppets and Disney Channel actors and actresses performing musical numbers and comedy routines. Featuring performers like Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, the Cheetah Girls, David Henrie, and more, Studio DC’s main purpose was to introduce the Muppets to a younger audience through people that the viewers already knew well through other Disney Channel shows. Additionally, a new hour-long Christmas special called A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa aired on NBC in December and marked the Muppets’ return to their classic flair and unforgettable wacky style.

Ashley Tisdale was among the Disney Channel performers who appeared with the Muppets in Studio DC: Almost Live!, a series of two new TV specials.

But the Muppets weren’t the only ones that Disney featured on their television networks in 2008. Disney Channel continued to crank out successful movies and shows. Wizards of Waverly Place and Hannah Montana continued to entertain kids and tweens with new seasons. The Emperor’s New School and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody both had their series finales, with the latter also beginning a new spinoff, The Suite Life on Deck. In the new show, Zack, Cody, London, and Mr. Moseby embark on the S.S. Tipton, a new cruise ship that offers a high school at sea and also introduces audiences to Bailey, a new character played by Debby Ryan. Another new Disney Channel original series that was introduced in 2008 was Phineas and Ferb, an animated show that features two tween boys spending their summer break thinking up inventive new activities to do while their pet platypus Perry secretly sneaks off as a spy. Additionally, several new Disney Channel original movies debuted in 2008, including Minutemen featuring Cory in the House’s Jason Dolley, Camp Rock featuring the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato, and The Cheetah Girls One World featuring the returning actresses Kiely Williams, Sabrina Bryan, and Adrienne Bailon and the titular group of girls.

The Suite Life on Deck debuted as a spin-off of the Disney Channel show The Suite of Zack and Cody. Pictured here is the cast (from left): Phill Lewis as Mr. Moseby, Dylan Sprouse as Zack, Brenda Song as London Tipton, Debby Ryan as Bailey, and Cole Sprouse as Cody.

In 2009, there’s plenty more of excitement from Disney Channel, including two new shows: Sonny With a Chance (premiering February 8), about a girl (Demi Lovato) that gets a part on a variety TV show, and Jonas (premiering this May) featuring the Jonas Brothers playing brothers who live as spies. There will also be three new Disney Channel original movies premiering this year: Dadnapped debuts February 16 and tells the story of a group of kids who have to rescue their friend’s father. The cast includes Emily Osment, Jason Earles, and Moises Arias from Hannah Montana, David Henrie from Wizards of Waverly Place, Phill Lewis from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and The Suite Life on Deck, Denzel Whitaker from Nickelodeon’s All That, Jonathan Keltz, and Greg Newbern. The next new Disney Channel movie to debut this year will be Hatching Pete featuring Jason Dolley as a teenager who fills in for his friend played by Mitchel Musso as the school mascot, while Musso’s character receives all the misunderstood attention for the mascot’s energetic personality. Lastly, Princess Protection Program will feature Demi Lovato as a princess trying to fit in the real world with the help of her friend, played by Selena Gomez. To me, this sounds a lot like 2007’s Enchanted.

Not only will Disney Channel continue to produce new material in 2009, but Toon Disney will also have a major revamp in February, when it officially will change its name to Disney XD. Marketed towards boys, the channel will feature original new shows, as well as already-established Disney Channel favorites.

DVD’s
2008 saw the arrival of several anticipated DVD releases. Enchanted and National Treasure: Book of Secrets were released in the spring after their in-theater runs, animated treasures such as The Aristocats and The Sword in the Stone were given re-releases, The Nightmare Before Christmas was given an impressive 2-disc collector’s edition, three new Walt Disney Treasures volumes were released (The Chronological Donald Volume 4, Dr. Syn: Alias the Scarecrow, and The Mickey Mouse Club Presents Annette) on 2-disc sets, and 101 Dalmatians and Sleeping Beauty were given 2-disc platinum releases. Additionally, there were two original direct-to-DVD animated releases: The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning was a prequel to the 1989 Disney classic and Tinker Bell not only gave Tink a voice but also told the story of how the famous Disney fairy got her start in Pixie Hollow, a land deep within Never Land. The film was also the launch of a new Disney Fairies franchise. Lastly, at the end of the year, 2-discs of bonuses were given to Wall-E and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Those two titles along with The Nightmare Before Christmas were the first Disney DVD’s to include a digital copy of their respective films so that viewers can download the movie onto their iPod.

Sleeping Beauty was released on a 2-disc DVD set last October.

2009 looks to be one of the most exciting years for DVD releases in a long time. Just within the next few months, a plethora of very special releases will become available, with more titles coming out next fall. On January 13, four Disney TV movies came to DVD: Gepetto, A Knight in Camelot, Mail to the Chief, and Smart House. On January 27, Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary Edition was released on a 2-disc set that features all of the bonuses from the 40th Anniversary Edition, as well as a new look at the Broadway version of the story. Also on January 27, Corbin Bleu is the voice of the titular animated character in the new live-action film Secret of the Magic Gourd. On February 3, another new direct-to-DVD live-action movie will be released, Space Buddies, the third move in the series of tales about Air Bud’s children. Also on February 3, Oliver & Company will be released on a 20th Anniversary Edition that will include a making-of featurette, a new game, and two Pluto shorts. On February 10, two Disney Channel shows will come to DVD with Wizards of Waverly Place: Supernaturally Stylin’ and Phineas and Ferb: The Daze of Summer. On February 17, the Wildcat mania continues with High School Musical 3: Senior Year, which will be available on both 1- and 2-disc DVD formats, as well as on Blu-ray. Including a digital copy of the film, all releases will include a “cast goodbye” featurette and the 2-disc and Blu-ray releases will include deleted scenes, bloopers, and more. Additionally, the original High School Musical will be released on Blu-ray on February 17. March 3 is all about dogs, with the DVD and Blu-ray releases of Beverly Hills Chihuahua (which feature deleted scenes, an audio commentary, a look at the dogs’ voices, a new short, and more) and the special edition DVD of Air Bud, which includes a commentary of the movie by the Air Buddies, Air Bud’s kids. March 10 will kick off a new DVD series, the Walt Disney Family Classics. Although I’m not sure if this will be an ongoing series or a one-time thing, the first two titles in the series will be Escape to Witch Mountain (just in time for its theatrical re-make) and its sequel Return to Witch Mountain. Both releases will include an audio commentary, new pop-up trivia facts, and more. March 10 is also the release date of the highly anticipated Pinocchio 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition, a great 2-disc set which marks the first time the classic film has been released since 2000. On March 17, the Playhouse Disney show Bunnytown will come to DVD with Bunnytown: Hello Bunnies. March 24 will mark a day of very exciting releases, including Lilo & Stitch “Big Wave” Special Edition, a 2-disc set that includes a special behind-the-scenes documentary. Also on March 24, Bolt will be released on Blu-ray and both 1- and 2-disc DVD formats! I was VERY excited when I found out that Bolt would be getting 2 discs of bonuses, especially since one of those bonuses is a new animated short featuring Rhino. Rounding out the spring DVD calendar are Baby Einstein: World Music and Hannah Montana: Keeping It Real, both on March 31, and My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Tigger, Pooh, and a Musical Too on April 7. Sometime in 2009 (though Disney has not said when), the story of Tinker Bell and her fairy friends will continue in Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, once again a direct-to-DVD/Blu-ray animated production featuring the Disney Fairies. This October, the first animated movie of all time and the film that marked the beginning of Disney feature animation, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, will be released on platinum DVD and Blu-ray.


Lilo & Stitch will be released on a new 2-disc set in March.

Theme Parks
A very significant year for both introducing new attractions as well as taking away others, the Disney theme parks were the subject of many changes in 2008. Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World and Disney’s California Adventure at Disneyland both began their multi-year revamps to better change the theme and lineup of their parks and attractions. Hollywood Studios debut the Block Party Bash parade (which was imported from California) and an updated Narnia exhibit which features a look behind-the-scenes of Prince Caspian. California Adventure premiered the new Pixar Play Parade, an energetic parade which features characters from every Pixar film through 2007’s Ratatouille. Both parks premiered a new version of Playhouse Disney Live on Stage, which now features characters and stories from more current Playhouse Disney shows, and High School Musical 3: Senior Year: Right Here, Right Now!, an updated version of the HSM street show that features music from the third film. Both Hollywood Studios and California Adventure also opened Toy Story Mania!, an interactive “E-Ticket” extravaganza that involves its riders into the storyline with favorite Toy Story characters. This February, Hollywood Studios will open the American Idol Experience, a new attraction that will give guests the opportunity to be in the spotlight and go through a pretend American Idol audition. In the forthcoming years at California Adventure, guests will get to see World of Color (a new nighttime water show), a new Cars-themed area of the park that will feature an outstanding new “E-Ticket” attraction, and a new Little Mermaid Fantasyland-like dark ride.









The new ride Toy Story Mania! opened at both Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World and Disney’s California Adventure at Disneyland in summer 2008.

Hollywood Studios and California Adventure weren’t the only Disney parks to receive new additions and celebrations in 2008, however. Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrated its 10th anniversary on Earth Day with a special ceremony and presentation. At both the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and at Disneyland, guests got the opportunity to meet Tinker Bell and the other Disney Fairies in a specially-themed meet and greet area called Pixie Hollow.

Walt Disney World and Disneyland guests can now meet (top, from left): Silvermist, Tinker Bell, Iridessa, as well as (bottom, from left): Rosetta and Fawn in new specially-themed meet-and-greet areas.

Although there were some excellent new additions to the parks in 2008, there were also numerous cutbacks that took place, as well. Although the economy isn’t significantly hurting Disney, as a result of the economy, Disney decided to take away some of their live entertainment offerings. The Princess Fantasy Faire at Disneyland closed its show (though the meet and greet still remains), Woody’s Cowboy Camp and the Main Street Family Fun Day Parade no longer perform at the Magic Kingdom, Sounds Dangerous is now a seasonal attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Fantasmic! only performs several nights a week now (instead of the previous nightly performance) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends has closed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. However, the economy’s results on the Disney parks aren’t all negative. Because of the slightly lower attendance, Disney has made some rather nice discounts. On select dates from February 9-April 4 and April 19-June 27, if guests purchase 4 nights at a Walt Disney World resort (with park tickets), they get 3 more nights (again with park tickets) for free. Also, lower attendance means less people in the parks, resulting in shorter ride lines. Now that’s not to say that the parks will be completely empty. Although the recession certainly isn’t helping Disney, Disney’s not in a dire desperate mode. There will still be people in the parks, just on a slightly lower level.

Fantasmic! now does not perform nightly at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Also, as part of the 2009 “What will you celebrate?” promotion, any guest can get into a Disneyland or Walt Disney World park on their birthday for free. Although this particular celebration doesn’t have as many attraction openings in its lineup as previous promotions, there are a few additions to look forward to. On January 23, an updated parade premiered at the Magic Kingdom called the Celebrate Dreams Come True Parade. The third version of the Share a Dream Come True Parade, the parade features classic Disney characters in a dazzling display of Disney magic. Additionally, on January 25, Dream Along with Mickey returned from its almost-three-week-long refurbishment. Apparently some stage work was done to the Castle Forecourt stage. It is unknown at this time if the refurbishment involved any changes to the show itself. Sometime within the next few weeks, the interactive Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure will officially open at Epcot. The attraction involves guests participating in somewhat of a scavenger hunt throughout the different country pavilions of Epcot as they use their “Kimmunicator” to help solve a mission. On February 6, “it’s a small world” will re-open after a lengthy refurbishment at Disneyland and will feature appearances by classic Disney characters in “small world” form. However, these changes have not been made to the Florida version of the ride. On February 14, the aforementioned American Idol Experience will debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Sometime in February, the new Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It street party will debut at the Magic Kingdom. In addition to the daily afternoon parade, the new show will feature favorite characters as they invite guests to party with them. A similar, though different, show will debut at Disneyland on March 27 called “Celebrate! A Street Party.” On April 1, the Celebration Roundup and Barbecue will open at Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch and will offer celebrations, food, and Disney character appearances. Sometime in April, Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration will premiere in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Featuring interactive celebrating and Stitch, the show will take place on a newly-constructed stage in the middle of Tomorrowland. Additionally, the nearby Galaxy Palace Theater (which hosts school band and dance performances) is closing. It is unknown at this time if Mickey’s Twas the Night Before Christmas show (which normally performs there during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party) will be effected by this change. Lastly, Space Mountain will temporarily close at the Magic Kingdom on April 19 for a long refurbishment. It will reopen in late 2009. It is unknown right now what exactly the changes will include.

The Celebrate Dreams Come True Parade is now performing daily at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida.


Are you 23?

Now here’s the puzzle that has tons of Disney fans scratching their heads. A few weeks ago, Disney launched a new website at www.disney.com/23. If you’ll open the website, you’ll see that words appear on a black screen reading “Are you 23? Find out March 10.” Then Tinker Bell comes and brings a countdown clock to March 10. What does this all mean? Nobody quite seems to know for sure. I don’t have any idea as to what it could be. It definitely is a clever way to disguise whatever it is the website is advertising, and has many Disney fans interested in what this is all about.

The Big Finish
That wraps up what was accomplished by the Walt Disney Company in 2008, as well as what you can expect from them in 2009. There are sure to be plenty unmentioned happenings along the way as well, but the products and events Disney has already announced has me getting excited as to what sort of Disney wonderment we’ll be reflecting about this time next year.

Happy New Year from BlakeOnline and have a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious 2009!

By Blake; posted February 1, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

Disney Talk – Disney Wants You to Bolt to the Theater Again

December 10, 2008

Disney wants you to see Bolt a second time to view an all-new Pixar short.

By Blake

Originally posted December 10, 2008.

I’ll admit that I was a tad bit disappointed when I saw Bolt last month. The movie itself wasn’t what let me down – it was actually quite superb – but I was half-thinking that I’d get the pleasure of viewing one of the new Pixar Cars Toons shorts beforehand. Cars is one of my favorite Pixar movies and Pixar has recently begun to create several three-to-four-minute shorts starring Mater. The first three of these new shorts originally aired on Toon Disney last October, and Disney had announced in September that a fourth short was in the works and would be released theatrically. Naturally, I had thought that this meant that the fourth cartoon would appear alongside Bolt when the movie debuted in theaters on November 21. However, I was half-right.

How could I be half-right? Well, I was right to think that the fourth Cars Toons short would appear with Bolt, but wrong to think that it would do so just when Bolt was released. The good news is that audiences will get to see the next Cars Toons short starting this Friday, December 12, 2008. The bad news is that they’ll have to pay to see Bolt a second time to view it. That’s right, beginning on Friday, the new Cars Toons tale will be shown to audiences just before Bolt begins in theaters.


This wouldn’t be the first time Disney has enticed audiences to see their films twice. If you’ll remember back to the late 90’s/early 2000’s, Pixar would release hilarious outtakes for their movies a few weeks after the respective films would be released. They did this for A Bug’s Life; Toy Story 2; and Monsters, Inc. Later the outtakes appeared on the DVD releases of those films, but delaying their release in theaters certainly helped to bring people back for more.

The question is, is seeing a three-minute Cars short going to be enough for you to pay an extra $8+ to go see Bolt? I’d say it depends. While Bolt is a great film and definitely worth seeing twice, I usually don’t end up seeing movies twice in the theater simply because ticket prices are so high these days. The way I see it is if I’m paying that much money to go to the movies, I’d rather see a new movie than see something I’ve already viewed. And, although Bolt is wonderful, I’m content to wait for its DVD release (expected this spring) to see it again. Even though I did enjoy the first few Cars Toons when they aired on TV in October, I’ll wait and see if this fourth short winds up being released on some future Pixar DVD or even airing sometime soon on TV instead of seeing it in the theater.

By Blake; originally posted December 10, 2008. All images (C) Disney.

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