Archive for the ‘Pluto’ Category

Disney Detours – Epcot Character Spot

August 29, 2009

Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Guests can meet all of Disney’s “fab five” at a great character experience in Epcot’s Future World.

By Blake

Originally posted August 29, 2009.

Many guests have experienced the “stampede” of people that hurry to popular attractions at opening time in the Disney parks. In the case of Epcot, the crowd is split between heading left for Mission: SPACE and Test Track, or heading right for Soarin’. When these massive crowds make their way to those long-line attractions, several other experiences just as entertaining are still open, but often get overlooked in the midst of the crowds. One of these satisfying experiences is the Epcot Character Spot.

Located in Innoventions Plaza (just before you enter the right breezeway that heads to Imagination!, The Land, and The Seas), Epcot Character Spot opened in May, 2007, as a replacement of Epcot Character Connection (which opened in November, 2005). Basically the Character Spot is the same setup as the Character Connection, just with fancier backgrounds and lighting.

Minnie is one of the characters available for meet & greets at the Epcot Character Spot. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Guests queue up in one line to meet five Disney characters (though each character is met separately). Usually the lineup includes Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald (Disney’s “fab five”). That’s quite a spectacular group of characters! Here, they’re all dressed in their “traditional” outfits: Mickey in his coattails and bowtie, Minnie in her red polka-dotted dress, Goofy in his classic orange-and-blue attire and green hat, Pluto in his orange collar, and Donald in his signature blue sailor outfit. The Character Spot is an even greater experience if you head to it right at park opening, when there will hardly be a line.

Goofy is one of the characters available for meet & greets at the Epcot Character Spot. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

If you do happen to visit at a time when there’s a bit of a wait, don’t fear! Several television screens are positioned throughout the queue and play classic Disney cartoon shorts (similar to the setup of the Judge’s Tent over in the Magic Kingdom). Even better, Disney fans will enjoy reading the fascinating trivia facts about the selected cartoons that appear in the right-hand sidebar of the TV screen.

When you’re finally to the front of the line and it’s time to mingle with your Disney friends, the fun really starts. Each character is patient, and is glad to pose for pictures and sign autographs, as well as offer some special one-on-one interaction. For a more memorable meet & greet, ask each character a question specific to their personality. (For instance, ask Pluto if he’s found any tasty bones lately.) Characters also love it when guests draw them special pictures.

Pluto gets down on his paws to greet a guest at the Epcot Character Spot. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

As with many other character experiences around Walt Disney World, Disney PhotoPass photographers are on hand at the Character Spot to snap plenty of pictures, and character handlers are also available if you’d like them to get a family shot with your own camera.

After you’ve met all of the main characters, make sure to check in the hallway to your left before dashing out the door. Sometimes (but not always), there is a “bonus” character available for meet & greets there. Don’t count on anyone being there, but it never hurts to check.

If you’ve already met the fab five before, would just rather not meet them at all, or enjoy seeing characters meet with guests, the Epcot Character Spot has another unique feature. A large glass window lets guests outside view the goings-on inside. They can sit on a shaded bench and relax while they enjoy the playful antics of the characters. Sometimes the characters will even come up to the window and interact with guests sitting outside.

Overall, the Epcot Character Spot is one of Walt Disney World’s best character experiences. Guests meet five of Disney’s most popular characters while waiting in one line, which is often very short first thing in the morning. However, if there is a line, classic Disney cartoon shorts keep the waiting guests entertained. Additionally, it’s helpful to have all of the “fab five” in one location to prevent having to track each of them down individually. If you happen to meet them before heading to Epcot, then honestly there probably won’t be a reason to stop by the Character Spot for you, but at least peek in the window. But if you do head on inside, please make sure to show Donald anything you have that has Mickey Mouse on it.

Donald Duck waves to guests at the Epcot Character Spot. In his mind, he’s always #1! Image belongs to Blake’s family.

By Blake; posted August 29, 2009. All images belong to Blake’s family.

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Disney Talk – Lucky Duck

June 9, 2009
Image © Disney.

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

By Blake

Originally posted June 9, 2009.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mickey Mouse

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

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

Minnie Mouse

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

Goofy

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

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

Pluto

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

Daisy Duck

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

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

Huey, Dewey, and Louie

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

Chip and Dale

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

Scrooge McDuck

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

His Fellow Caballeros

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


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

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

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

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

Related BlakeOnline articles:

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

BlakeOnline Special – Reader’s Character Picks

March 10, 2007

Readers share their favorite Disney characters.

by Blake

Originally posted March 9, 2007.

Earlier, I asked who readers’ favorite Disney characters were. So, here now, are the BlakeOnline Reader’s Character Picks!

Thomas O’Malley from The Aristocats

Coming from an era of lesser-remembered Disney animated films, The Aristocats in none-the-less a charming tale of fancy Paris kittens and their mother that get lost in the wilds of France. Along the way, the kittens and their mother Duchess meet up with Thomas O’Malley, who teaches them how to live on the wild side.

Cool, calm, and laid back, O’Malley loves to just relax and take things pretty easy. Although this is entirely different than the way Duchess is used to living, Thomas O’Malley soon shows her how to see things his way, without worries.

What I found particularly odd about The Aristocats was that the most (for me, at least) humorous and entertaining parts of the movie did not feature cats, but dogs. The hounds Napoleon and Lafayette always earn several laughs from me throughout the film.

Baloo from The Jungle Book

Baloo is the living spirit of “chill.” Not having a care in the world, he proudly protects the “man cub” Mowgli and explores and plays with him around the jungle. Luckily, he had Bagheera the black panther to watch over him and keep him out of trouble! Figuratively, Baloo may be more of a child than Mowgli!

Reader Kenny wrote a poem about why he likes Thomas O’Malley from The Aristocats and Baloo from The Jungle Book:

“I know that you will find this odd
Which characters will get the nod

There were so many,
I didn’t know who
I couldn’t pick one
So I picked two!

The first pick of mine lives in an alley
Not many will not him
He’s C. Thomas O’Malley!

The second one smells and needs some shampoo
But he’s still one of the best
You guessed it – Baloo!

Now here’s where it’s weird
Like plaster of Paris
They’re both played by the same voice – Phil Harris!”

The next entry is part of Pirates Countdown 2007
Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean

Captain Jack seems to be Disney’s #1 most popular character right now, and with good reason. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (released in July 2006) was the #1 highest-grossing Disney film of all time and is only one of the THREE films in history to gross over one billion dollars. You’ll probably find Jack Sparrow in any mall of Wal-Mart you walk into lately – Disney tries to make the most of any character or movie when it’s successful, often overdoing themselves.

Jack Sparrow – sorry, Captain Jack Sparrow – is truly the ultimate villain: cunning, egocentric, clever, haughty, rude, greedy . . . yet we don’t view him as the bad guy. Instead, we view Davy Jones as the main villain. And we should – he’s definitely more powerful and more evil than Jack. But he’s on a different level of a villain. If you really want to get technical, the powdered-wigged generals at Port Royal are the good guys! If the good guys always won in the Pirates movies, the old guys at Port Royal would have Will and Elizabeth put to justice and Jack (permanently) dead.

In the Pirates films, the difference of good and bad is night and day compared to other films (especially Disney films). Jack Sparrow is really a villain, yet everyone is rooting for him (including me). But even now, as we are about to enter the third film in the series this May, the villain level turns on us again in a surprising plot twist.

What did readers say about Captain Jack? Readers Denise, Hunter, and Colton think that “Jack Sparrow is the very best Disney character ever designed.”

That’s quite a statement: and one that I’d gladly agree with.

Minnie Mouse from classic Disney cartoon shorts

Minnie is purely the ideal girlfriend. All for Mickey, she makes picnics, goes on outings, watches Mickey’s pet, bakes, plants, sews, shops, and so much more. Of course, the two wouldn’t want to be to sudden about their relationship – they would be rushing things if they got married after nearly 80 years of dating!

Minnie is loyal to her pals, particularly Daisy Duck. However, Daisy often gets Minnie into so many precarious situations (particularly in the television shows Mickey’s Mouse Works and House of Mouse) that Minnie wonders why she always puts up with Daisy! Daisy proclaims Minnie is her “only friend in the world.” Though, through compassion, mercy, and patience, Minnie always pulls through for Daisy when the duck needs it most.


Reader Lacey wrote an essay about why Minnie is her favorite character:

“‘Why?’ You ask. What’s not to like, she has cute clothes, long eyelashes, wonderful shoes, and a dashingly handsome boyfriend!!!

I would love to have that really cute red dress with the white dots on it. Everyone loves polka dots! And, you know those yellow shoes just set it off. Also, the bow . . . now that is an accessory! Every girl looks good with a bow in her hair.

She also has such a sweet voice, and she is kind to everyone. Now, the world could take a lesson from her. A soft voice and a kind spirit . . . think how much better the world would be if we all tried to be a little more like Minnie Mouse!”

Reader Melissa wrote a creative poem about Minnie:

“She’s got a smile on her face
And a twinkle in her eye
She loves to go shopping
And she dates a real cool guy.

Her name is Minnie Mouse
You can find her at Disney World.
Strutting around Ton Town
She’s quite a swingin‘ girl.

Her kitchen’s got cool gadgets
Her yard has pretty flowers.
She has a lot of friends
She’s the queen of Girl Power.

She’s been in lots of movies
Some would say she’s a star
Maybe you’ve gotten her autograph
Or seen her riding in a car.

I met Minnie one day
And she was very, very nice.
I even saw her ice skate
In a show: Disney on Ice!

Over the years Minnie has changed
But she’s still a real sweet gal
Lovin, laughin, making friends
And Mickey’s still her #1 pal!”

Pluto from the classic Disney cartoon shorts

Pluto may be the most complicated Disney character of them all. Because he doesn’t speak, his movements of face expressions have to clearly define his mood or thoughts. In the 40’s, when Pluto’s collection of shorts were in their “golden age,” animators would put mirrors at their desks to make faces in so they could successfully capture the expressions they wanted Pluto to use!

I’ll compare this subject to the walk-around characters at the Disney parks. Because most of the characters that are there to meet don’t have to capability to speak, it’s necessary to make head and arm movements to capture the characters’ feelings.

It’s the same situation with Pluto. Because he doesn’t speak, he has to move, walk, or look a certain way for the audience to understand how Pluto is feeling or what he’s thinking. He’s purely a dog. Loyal, dependant, protective, and yappy! As for Goofy . . .

Reader John wrote a poem concerning the Pluto/Goofy matter:

Poor Pluto

“Goofy, the dog, acts so crazy
And he’s surely not a scholar.
Things seem just a little hazy,
But he has clothes – you, a collar.

Pluto, on all fours you must walk
Goofy, meanwhile, can walk upright.
You can only bark, but he can talk.
Disney, it just does not seem right!

And, as if these things weren’t enough;
You’ve got no teeth, Goofy has TWO!
It seems to me you have it rough,
But, if it helps, we love you! Goofy, too!”

Peter Pan from Peter Pan

Peter Pan is truly a child in every sense. He loves to play, and takes every chance he gets to have some fun. He barely has any worries, which can sometimes get him into troublesome situations, especially involving pirates.


Reader Denise says, “He truly defines fantasy with a bit of most people’s reality. A little escape to a kid-like, fun filled, action packed, story land is always a dream for me, and many other adults I am sure!”

Well, that wraps up the Reader’s Character Picks! 🙂

By Blake; originally posted March 9, 2007. All images (C) Disney.