Archive for the ‘Tinker Bell’ Category

Theme Park Headlines – Spring Is In Full Swing at Epcot

March 28, 2009

Epcot’s acclaimed Flower and Garden Festival returns for 2009.

By Blake

Originally posted March 28, 2009.

Every year for 75 days, Walt Disney World’s Epcot in Florida comes alive with a beautiful display of breathtaking flowers, enchanting topiaries, and an all-around magical Disney experience when the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival blooms throughout the park.

One of Walt Disney World’s most popular special events, the Festival takes place each year at Epcot from around mid-March through May and includes exhibits, demonstrations, concerts, and plenty of eye candy. The entire park is filled with magnificent flowers, each display designed uniquely with that extra Disney touch. The shocker? The event comes free with park admission, a rarity for many activities these days, especially when Disney is involved.

This year’s Festival officially kicked off on Wednesday, March 18, 2009, with an opening ceremony following on Saturday, March 21. The ceremony featured Epcot Vice President Dan Cockerell, as well as the director of the new fall 2009 movie Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure Klay Hall, producer of Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure Sean Lurie, and the Disney Fairies – Tinker Bell, Silvermist, Fawn, Rosetta, and Iridessa. The group opened a new-for-2009 area of the Festival, a Pixie Hollow-themed playground called the Fairy Garden. The area features topiaries of the Disney Fairies and is located near the Mouse Gear shop and Innoventions, just behind Spaceship Earth.

The theme for 2009’s Flower and Garden Festival is “Celebrate Springtime,” to coincide with Disney Parks’ “What Will You Celebrate?” 2009 promotion. This theme is abundant at the entrance to the park, where a vast display of Disney Princess topiaries celebrate Cinderella’s coronation as princess. The display is called “Cinderellabration,” which is also the name of the stage show that performed at the Magic Kingdom during the Happiest Celebration on Earth in 2005 and 2006. The “Celebrate Springtime” theme is also apparent in a new Lion King-themed series of topiaries in Showcase Plaza. Also new for this year is the Pirates Adventure Zone, a Peter Pan-themed playground featuring topiaries of Captain Hook and Tick-Tock Crocodile. Other returning favorites include Minnie’s Magnificent Butterfly Garden and the Future World “quilt” of flowers.


This year’s Festival center is again inside the Wonders of Life pavilion, which is located in-between the Universe of Energy and Mission Space. Although the attractions inside the Wonders of Life have been closed for some time now, the pavilion is still used as the center for the Flower and Garden Festival in the spring, as well as for Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival in the fall. Inside, guests can hear speeches, see demonstrations, and purchase Festival-exclusive merchandise.

The sponsor of the Flower and Garden Festival this year is Disney Nature, which is releasing its first movie, Earth, on April 22 (Earth Day). A sand sculpture themed around Disney Nature has been built near Mouse Gear.

Lastly, the Flower Power Concerts have returned this year. All throughout the Festival, music groups will be performing in the American Gardens Theater during the weekends. Performers include Davy Jones, Chubby Checker & the Wildcats, Jose Feliciano, and more.

Filled with beautiful flowers, magnificent displays, and much more, Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival is a must-see for anyone visiting Walt Disney World from now through May 31.

By Blake; posted March 28, 2009. All images belong to Blake’s family.

Coverage of the 16th Epcot Flower and Garden Festival opening ceremony can be seen at:
· AllEars.net
· LaughingPlace.com
· AttractionsMagazine.com

Pictures of the many displays at the 16th Epcot Flower and Garden Festival can be seen at:
· AllEars.net
· LaughingPlace.com
· AttractionsMagazine.com

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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.

DVD Review – "Tinker Bell"

November 29, 2008


Every Disney fan’s nightmare has come true: Tinker Bell has spoken for the very first time.

By Blake

Originally posted November 29, 2008.

I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. The beloved and up-until-now silent fairy Tinker Bell, who first made her Disney debut in 1953’s Peter Pan and has become somewhat of a mascot for the entire Walt Disney Company, was bound to speak at some point. Not that she hasn’t truly spoken before. In fact, she’s been quite talkative for many years, though only Peter Pan could understand her. All of us regular humans only heard bell chimes. However, now that we’re shrinking down to Tink’s size and entering the world of fairies, we’re able to hear her speak for the first time.


It’s a pretty wild concept, and not one that I was pleased with when I initially found out about it. I’m still not 100% satisfied with Tinker Bell talking – it’s not that her actual voice (provided by Mae Whitman) displeased me, it’s just that I guess I was more happy with what I thought she would sound like instead.

The new direct-to-DVD animated CGI film Tinker Bell not only serves as our first glimpse to hear Tink speak, but it’s also the official kick-off of the new Disney Fairies franchise. The movie’s story takes place within the heart of Never Land, where a secret land called Pixie Hollow is nestled. Here, fairies prepare to change the seasons all over the world and bring joy to the many natural wonders of the Earth. Each fairy belongs to a unique group, each assigned a different job that they have to perform to get ready for the forthcoming season. When Tinker Bell arrives as a new fairy (brought to life by a young baby’s first laugh), she’s grouped as a tinker fairy. Tinker fairies are in charge of creating different gadgets and gizmos aplenty to help the production of changing seasons run more smoothly. However, Tink doesn’t enjoy being a tinker fairy, and takes it upon her to switch jobs, something unthinkable in the world of fairies, as each job is especially assigned to each fairy when they’re born.

Soon Tinker Bell makes new friends and longs to be like them. She tries each of their talents, including those of Silvermist the water fairy (voiced by Charlie’s Angels’ Lucy Liu), Iridessa the light fairy (voiced by That’s So Raven’s Raven-Symone), Fawn the animal fairy (voiced by America Ferrera, a.k.a. Ugly Betty), and Rosetta the garden fairy (voiced by Kristen Chenoweth from Broadway’s Wicked and the upcoming Disney film Rapunzel). Her friends try to help Tink use her talents and abilities to their best use, while other fairies, like Vidia ( voiced by Pamela Adlon) find Tink absolutely useless. Jesse McCartney even pops up a few times to voice somewhat of a crush for Tink.

Basically if you smashed together A Bug’s Life and The Little Mermaid and added Tinker Bell as the main character, this new self-titled movie about her is what you’d get. Everyone except her few select friends views Tink as an outcast because, although her intentions are pure to positively change Pixie Hollow, her efforts often end up in mishaps (like Flik). Additionally, because being a tinker fairy doesn’t seem to be working out for her, she feels like she needs to be part of another world, like Ariel. There’s even a “giant” bird that swoops down to attack her. Add in Heimlich acting as live bait and you’ve got it sealed.

However, even though A Bug’s Life and The Little Mermaid were both great films, Tinker Bell doesn’t come off as being that same kind of greatness. The way the characters split each other up into different social groups with some bullying others seemed a little too cliquey and more like the kind of material I’d see on an episode of Hannah Montana.


Although there were supposedly many different revisions of this film since its original conception and it’s been said that John Lasseter (who is executive producer here) saved the film immensely, it still didn’t achieve its prestigious quality that its trailers led audiences to believe it would be. I fully realize that I’m not the target audience that Disney had in mind when they were creating the movie. I’m sure little preschoolers and elementary-aged children will adore the film – lines to meet Tink and her friends at the Magic Kingdom have been reported to be several hours long – but the movie seemed to be along the same lines of other direct-to-DVD Disney movies for me.


It didn’t save the film entirely, but there was one particular scene in the film that really got me and just had Disney magic written all over it. It happened to be the last scene, and I don’t think it really would have worked out the same way unless I had watched the whole movie. Perhaps it was because the rest of the movie wasn’t so spectacular that this specific scene stood out to me, but it certainly had Pixie Dust all over it. Like I said, it didn’t save the film, but it sure did make for one hoopla of a finale.

Bonus Features

Magical Guide to Pixie Hollow (about 7 minutes) is a virtual tour of three different areas of Pixie Hollow. Narrated by Tinker Bell and Queen Clarion, the tour includes information about the setting of each area we’re “flying” through, as well as what different kinds of fairies work there. Although Tinker Bell states that the guide is temporarily unfinished, I expect that we’ll see a completed version of it sometime soon on the forthcoming Disney Fairies DVD’s.


Tinker Trainer (time varies) is a DVD-ROM game. I had never played a DVD-ROM game before this one because every time I try, I can never find out where to find the game on my computer. However, this time the DVD kindly gives specific instructions on where to find the game once you place it into your computer (instead of just saying “insert the disc into your computer to play”). I don’t know if all DVD-Rom games are like “Tinker Trainer,” but it was certainly an elaborate set of games that feature very brief film clips to go along with the instructions. Involved but a little complicated for very young children, this set of activities is mostly aimed at the 7-9 crowd. You go through several activities to learn how to become a tinker fairy, including counting items and constructing an object. I only earned 1500 out of 4500 points, but all players are given a code to use online at PixieHollow.com to receive special virtual “jewelry” at the end of the game.


Ever Wonder (about 4 minutes) is a somewhat cheesy short of sorts that features live-action footage with animated fairies. It shows how the fairies create their work without humans realizing it. Like the Tinker Bell movie itself, this short to me seemed mostly mediocre until the end, when one bit of Disney magic shined through.

“Fly To Your Heart” Music Video by Selena Gomez (about 3 minutes) shows the Wizards of Waverly Place actress/singer performing in a sunny flower garden, even flying (literally) through several verses.

Creating Pixie Hollow (about 10 minutes) is a look at how the animators initially looked to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan play, Walt Disney’s Peter Pan film, and mostly nature to create the setting for Tinker Bell, Pixie Hollow. Featuring interviews with director Bradley Raymond, producer Jeannine Roussel, screenwriter Jeffrey Howard, and executive producer John Lasseter, a more full-blown making-of might have been a nice and more elaborate way to show how this first Fairies film was made, but I suppose this brief look is satisfactory for now.

Deleted Scenes (about 13 minutes) show 6 sequences that were unused in the final version of the movie. The first 2 are fully animated, while the rest are storyboard sketches. With optional introductions by director Bradley Raymond and producer Jeannine Roussel, I could see why they were deleted. I especially enjoyed the first 2, however, in which the fairies receive their Pixie Dust from Queen Clarion instead of Terrence and the other being an extended version of the final scene.


Wrapping It Up
I was somewhat scared to review Tinker Bell because I knew once I introduced myself to this new version of the timeless Disney fairy I wouldn’t be able to look at her previous performances the same way again. That’s probably true, but I suppose the final results weren’t as frightening as I had anticipated. Am I wild about the idea that Tinker Bell is now freely speaking just as much as any other character? Not really. But if Disney is going to go ahead and create a full series about her (which they are), then I’m glad that John Lasseter is there to oversee it and bring some extra quality to the production.

This first movie itself isn’t really anything to go nuts about – it’s charming, but nothing really made me say “Wow” until the last few minutes where the Pixie Dust really worked its cinematic magic. But that’s just the thing. This movie wasn’t intended to make me happy. It was created to make young children happy, and I certainly think it will do its job where that’s concerned.

However, I don’t know if Disney is going about the right way in the strategies they’re taking to make this Fairies franchise work to its best potential. Its other franchises (such as Disney Princesses, Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars, and many others) were made into full franchises after their initial films took off and became surprise, underestimated hits. If each of the Disney animated classics involving princesses were made with the thought in mind that they would all evolve into some great franchise, I don’t think they would be the same. Each of them was created individually and only after many years later did Disney realize they could create a franchise out if them. Additionally, with the Pirates and Cars movies, it was only until after the first films took off that Disney decided to push forward with more theatrical and theme park involvement with those series.

With the Fairies, it’s different. Instead of taking it one step at a time, it seems like Disney is saying “Meet the Disney Fairies. We’re not waiting for you to make up your mind as to whether or not you like them, we’re just going forward with a full-blown four-movie series and various theme park and consumer products promotions and you’re going to like it.” I’m not sure how the public will react at these Fairies suddenly being thrust full-force in their faces. It seems to be working right now, but will consumers get sick of them after a while?


Anyway, without getting ahead of myself, Tinker Bell will most likely please its intended target audience of 2 through 10-year-old girls but probably not anyone else, which is just fine for the time being. Like I previously stated, it wasn’t until the last scene that I really saw some Disney magic in use and I think that that same kind of effect could have been utilized throughout the rest of the film. The bonus features are somewhat substantial, and will again please the film’s intended audience. I’m just still not sure how I feel about the Disney Fairies very suddenly being in the spotlight and Tinker Bell finally talking. I just hope Dopey isn’t next.

How do I rank Tinker Bell? (Bolded is my choice.)
Not good movie + Good bonus features =
  • Utterly repulsive
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

Tinker Bell will most likely please: Toddlers (ages 1-2) – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-8) – Older Kids (ages 9-10)

By Blake; originally posted November 29, 2008. All images (C) Disney.

Disney Talk – Sneak Peek of "High School Musical 3"

January 17, 2008

Some details about the Wildcats’ upcoming big screen adventure have been released.

By Blake

Originally posted January 17, 2008.

I’ll be brief, because there’s really not a lot to say about this topic other than what Disney has JUST released about the upcoming sequel in the ever-popular High School Musical franchise. This time, however, the film will not debut as a Disney Channel Original Movie, but under the Walt Disney Pictures label. Meaning, yes, it will be a THEATRICAL RELEASE. On January 14, 2008, Disney officially announced that the film’s six main stars (including Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, and Monique Coleman) are all signed on for the next round of HSM.

And, according to Disney, the plot will surround Troy and Gabriella getting ready for college and setting up a spring musical. So, as it turns out, we thankfully WON’T be seeing the rumored “Haunted High School Musical” Halloween-themed film that was originally in the works.

And, if the release date isn’t pushed back, the movie will be released theatrically October 24, 2008. If this is true, then that will be one of the biggest weeks for the Walt Disney Company ever. Why? Well, not only will HSM3 be released, but just four days later the highly-anticipated, direct-to-DVD movie Tinker Bell, where the classic Disney fairy finally earns her voice, will be released. Additionally, just a few weeks prior to that, Sleeping Beauty will be released for the first time in five years on DVD, with a hoopla of bonus material to fill up two discs. With Sleeping Beauty, HSM3, and Tinker Bell all consecutively, October 2008 is going to be one month of entertainment that you won’t want to miss.

By Blake; posted January 17, 2008. All images (C) Disney.

DVD Review – ‘Peter Pan’ Platinum Edition

March 9, 2007

by Blake

Originally posted March 9, 2007.

Highlight of Disc: “Walt Disney Reveals ‘Why I Made Peter Pan'”
Highlight Runner-Up: “The Peter Pan That Almost Was”

“There it is . . . second star to the right and straight on until morning.”

Those words describe a place where kids literally never grow up, where pirates pillage, where pixies play, and where enchanting adventure awaits all its visitors – Never Land.

As if you didn’t need reminding, Peter Pan tells the story of a boy, Peter, who has magical abilities to fly and never grow up. With the help of his fairy friend Tinker Bell (whose “dialogue” took six entire days to record from the “silver bell symphony”), Peter helps the Darling children – Wendy, Michael, and John – visit the magical Never Land. Once there, the children encounter the Lost Boys, mermaids, and, of course, a nefarious band of pirates led by the sly Captain Hook and his first mate Mr. Smee.

The digital restoration of the film is amazing and includes crystal-clear picture & sound. I’ve never really noticed the difference between different versions of films once they’re restored as opposed to before they were, but the change is definitely clear here. The color is brighter, the shapes of the characters and sets are sharper, and the overall appearance is simply whimsical.

I was positively thrilled to read the “official” announcement from Disney back in October that Peter Pan was being re-released. This time Pan is getting star treatment, as it enters Disney’s Platinum DVD Collection, promising its share of stellar bonus material.

Pan is the ninth installment in the the Platinum series, which includes some of Disney’s most magical animated masterpieces on 2-disc deluxe DVD’s with a fine supply of supplemental features and in-depth, behind-the-scenes footage. Started in October 2001, the series debuts a new title to its collection the first Tuesday of October every year. Began in March 2005, however, the series would add new titles to the library not only the first Tuesday of October, but also either the first Tuesday in March or the last Tuesday in February (they seem to variate). Other titles in the Platinum Collection include Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aladdin, Bambi, Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, and The Little Mermaid.

Peter Pan Platinum Edition’s bonus features include:

Sneak Peek of ‘Tinker Bell’ is an exclusive look (in addition to the regular trailer, which is also included) for the upcoming direct-to-DVD movie Tinker Bell. It offers a commentated look at the movie’s plot, as well as some of its characters (including different fairies aside from Tink). The film will be released sometime in Fall 2008.

The Audio Commentary includes what seems to be several different commentaries all rolled into one, making for a very choppy and not very cohesive experience. Very informative with little to entertain, there are a few little tidbits of facts to learn here and there, but mostly it’s nothing to squeal about.

Lost Song: “Never Land” is an informative three-minute featurette showing the re-creation of this deleted song, originally written in 1940 but just now discovered from the Disney Archives. Here it is presented with new music by Richard Sherman (of Mary Poppins and Epcot fame).

The “Never Land” Music Video is performed by Paige O’Hara, the voice of Belle in Beauty and the Beast. The video features O’Hara in a mock version of the Darling bedroom from the movie, with clips from the film as well as orchestra footage showing in the background. If you close you eyes, you can hear Belle right on the dot!

“The Second Star to the Right” Music Video, performed by the teen group T-Squad, is actually hurtful to the ears. Here, a classic, magical song is totally modernized negatively. The setting for the music video, a hip teen club of sorts, didn’t seem to fit the theme of the song at all and I literally had to fast-forward the music video halfway into it.

Camp Never Land games are an assortment of three different games streamed together into the idea that the player is training to become one of the Lost Boys, Peter Pan’s little group of friends that he plays with. The three games are “Smee’s Sudoku Challenge,” “Tarrrget Practice,” and “Tink’s Fantasy Flight.”

I admire Disney’s idea to add a more interactive and animated game to a DVD (unlike some of their previous efforts), but these particular games had long (make that VERY long) instructions for each individual activity that kids might not be able to sit through, much less understand. I would think after playing the games that older kids would dub the games too childish for them and younger kids who actually enjoy DVD games would find these ones too difficult. So, with that said, what’s the real purpose for these set of activities?

Peter Pan’s Virtual Flight is a trip through the skies of London and Never Land, all in computer animation. There are two options presented to viewers: “Play” and “Loop.” The only differences are that “Play” features quirky (and somewhat annoying) commentary from Peter Pan while “Loop” just features music with no commentary, and plays continuously until you want it to stop. Although this is a unique feature to the DVD, I’d much rather prefer something along the lines of Timon & Pumbaa’s Virtual Safari.

The Making Of ‘Peter Pan’ is a 15-minute left-over feature from the 1998, 45th Anniversary VHS version of Peter Pan. It basically shows the storyboarding process for the movie, as well as a role call for the characters, their voices, and their animators. All of the movie clips shown during this feature are not from the restored version of the film, making for a very scratchy picture.

Walt Disney reveals “Why I Made ‘Peter Pan'” is an informative and exciting feature for any Disney fan – it’s a 7-minute featurette in which Walt Disney tells viewers his reasons about why he chose Peter Pan to be adapted to the screen. The entire feature is a reenactment of a 1953 article written by Walt Disney himself for a since-discontinued magazine. It has an actor portraying Walt Disney’s voice narrating the feature, and shows how Walt was actually cast as Peter in his school play version of the story, and eventually how Disney’s crew adapted it to the screen. This was definitely one of the highlights of the DVD for me!

The ‘Peter Pan’ That Almost Was is another definite highlight in the DVD set and is hosted by Ron Clements and John Musker (the directors of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin). It serves as an insightful view into the Disney Archives to show scenes, songs, and sequences that weren’t used in the final screen version of Peter Pan, including the dog Nana coming to Never Land with the children, John being left behind due to his high intelligence level, and Mrs. Darling capturing Peter’s shadow (instead of Wendy capturing it).

Wrapping It Up

Overall, if you do not already own Walt Disney’s classic retelling of Peter Pan, do yourself a favor and pick it up! The movie itself is simply timeless and, although in this case more bonus features doesn’t necessarily mean better quality in those bonuses, there are certainly a few peaks of interest among them, most especially in the look at why Walt Disney made Peter Pan and the footage of the deleted ideas for the film. These and the dazzling restoration of the movie make it a rather wonderful set.

How do I rank Peter Pan Platinum Edition? (Bolded is my choice.)
Brilliant movie + good bonus features =
Utterly repulsive
Blech
Not good
Good
Very good
Brilliant

Peter Pan Platinum Edition will most likely please: Disney Fans – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-8) – Older Folks

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