Archive for the ‘Toy Story’ 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

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.

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.


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.

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.

Channel Flippin’ – The 82nd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

November 28, 2008

This year packed another impressive parade filled with corporate advertisements and family entertainment.

By Blake

Originally posted November 28, 2008.

Well, another Thanksgiving has come and gone and by today I’m sure you all feel stuffed, regretful (for your stomach’s sake), satisfied, and – I hope – thankful. With every Thanksgiving comes the celebrity-studded lineup of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year marked the parade’s 82nd run and the 150th anniversary of Macy’s itself. As usual, Today’s anchors hosted the parade, Matt Lauer, Meredith Vierra, and Al Roker.

Although there were plenty of bee-boppin’ teen groups present, today I’ll be highlighting what I thought were the parade’s best points, as well as the Disney factors presented during the show.

While last year’s Mary Poppins performance of “Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious” dazzled the parade’s Broadway hour, this year the cast of The Little Mermaid performed “Under the Sea” in the same grand style. Although Ariel doesn’t sing even a word in the entire song, Sierra Boggess was indeed present to perform the title character, as was Titus Burgess as Sebastian. It was quite a performance, and I must say that those performers must have been COLD, especially Ariel!

After the Broadway performances were over and shortly after the parade officially kicked off, Miley Cyrus performed the song “I Thought I Lost You” from the new Disney animated film Bolt. Although the song is performed as a duet between Cyrus and John Travolta in the film, Travolta was not present during the parade. Miley Cyrus performed the song on a new Bolt float, accompanied by built-in balloons of the characters Bolt, Mittens, and Rhino. While I initially thought that the actual walk-around versions of the characters (like the ones currently at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World) would be present, I suppose the balloons would attract more attention. Nevertheless, it was a nice performance.

The next memorable performance that I recall was the Sesame Street number. Currently in its 39th season (and having been in the Macy’s Parade for 12 years, including this year), the cast of the show (with special guest pianist Lang Lang) performed the song “Songs,” which I remembered from the 1999 TV special Elmopalooza. All of the lovable Sesame Street Muppets were present, including Big Bird, Elmo, Zoey, Ernie, Bert, Oscar, the fairly new Abby Cadabby, and many more.

A little while later came American Idol runner-up David Archuleta, performing his hit single “Crush,” which is featured on his new self-titled debut album. While I was a little puzzled as to why David Cook, the American Idol winner, did not also perform in the parade, I was satisfied to learn later on from a commercial for Christmas in Rockefeller Center that he would be singing on that this Wednesday.

Directly following Archuleta was the all-new Buzz Lightyear balloon!!! Toy Story being one of my favorite films of all time, I was very pleased when I found out that Buzz was getting balloon treatment. Buzz was featured in the parade to promote the October 2009 3-D re-release of Toy Story, the February 2010 3-D re-release of Toy Story 2, and the June 2010 debut of Toy Story 3. Buzz will most likely be featured in next year’s parade, as well, to continue that promotion. I had read on Mouse Planet’s WDW Park Update this week that Toy Story director John Lasseter was one of the many “handlers” carrying Buzz along the parade route, though the cameras didn’t show him.

A while later came Miranda Cosgrove, of Drake & Josh and iCarly fame, who performed her song “About You Now.”

Later on came the Kermit the Frog balloon, and even later came the real-life Kermit, performing “I Believe” with some kids from Camp Broadway. Pulling off a touching performance as always, Kermit was wonderful, and left a nice segue into the anticipated arrival of Santa Claus. Kermit was present to promote the all-new Muppets Christmas special A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, which premieres Wednesday, December 17 at 8pm eastern time on NBC. A small trailer for the special was shown during the parade, and it looks like it’s really going to be a hilariously funny adventure for Kermit and the crew.

Capping off the parade as the second-to-last performance before Santa’s arrival was Kristen Chenoweth, Broadway and film celebrity who rode upon the Care Bears float. Although she sang a Christmas song in the parade, she has several connections to Disney. She was in The Wonderful World of Disney’s remake of The Music Man, she performed the Oscar-nominated song “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted this year at the Academy Awards, she currently voices Rosetta the Fairy in the Tinker Bell movies, and she’s reported to be the voice of the title character in the upcoming 2010 Disney animated movie Rapunzel.

The last performance of the parade was Andy Williams, singing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” It was quite a fitting way to cap off the parade, and, of course, next came the arrival of Santa Claus!!! Accompanied by Mrs. Claus, Santa seemed extra jolly and was waving to everyone as his sleigh passed by.

This year’s parade was a wonderful way to spend Thanksgiving morning. While I don’t think it’s fair to compare one year’s parade to another since they’re all relatively similar, I did enjoy it thoroughly and it had a little sampling of each of my favorite types of entertainment – Disney animation, American Idol, and the Muppets. If you missed it, then I think it’s your loss, as the parade will most likely not be re-broadcasted. But don’t get down on yourself if you happened to miss the parade – it was simply the beginning of a brilliant season of holiday entertainment to come. We’ve got plenty of Christmas fun to look forward to, including re-airing of classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas, new performances like Christmas in Rockefeller Center and Greatest Holiday Moments, and all-new Christmas specials like Merry Christmas Drake & Josh and A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. I can’t wait!!! Merry Christmas, everyone!

By Blake; originally posted November 28, 2008. All images (C) Disney.

Theme Park Headlines – Reinventing Disney-MGM Studios

February 10, 2008

A new name! New attractions! New entertainment! Oh, my! Walt Disney World is redefining its third theme park with a slew of major changes. And will American Idol and Ratatouille REALLY be making their way to Walt Disney World? Maybe.

By Blake

Originally posted February 10, 2008.

When Disney-MGM Studios opened in May 1989, it truly offered guests a look into how movies were made and was defined as “The Hollywood That Never Was and Always Will Be”, complete with backstage tours, behind-the-scenes exhibits, and actual television studios. Since then, the park has slowly distanced itself from its original intention and, bit by bit, has had less and less Hollywood charm as it once had. Sure, there have been massive hits such as The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock n Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, and Fantasmic!, but overall the park has suffered as a whole. And, finally, Disney has recognized where they went wrong in turning the “fantasy Hollywood” park into a huge advertisement for modern Disney movies and products by turning its direction around.

The park took its first baby step in completely redefining its image by getting a name change. For years it had been rumored that the Disney-MGM partnership contract was running thin and that a name change would be in place soon. Disney Studios and Disney-Pixar Studios, as well as a few others, were suspected to likely be the park’s new title, but it was not until August 9, 2007 that Disney officially announced that effective January 7, 2008, Disney-MGM Studios would become Disney’s Hollywood Studios . . . which in the long run could cause potential confusion among guests, since Hollywood is an actual town name in the state of Florida.

So, does a new name mean a new park? Kind of. The park is no longer defined as a dreamy Hollywood, but as “all that today’s Hollywood has to offer – in movies, music, theater, and television”, as said in Disney’s original press release concerning the name change that was issued in December. And, over the course of the next few years, there will be a very evident change in the park as a whole. Some attractions will be refurbished and refreshed, while others will sadly have the curtain closed upon them to make way for forthcoming projects. Here’s a look at what’s already changing in the park and what still is yet to come:

First up is the new edition of Playhouse Disney Live on Stage. Since 2001, the show has entertained preschoolers by bringing to life (in puppet form) the settings and characters from Playhouse Disney television shows Bear in the Big Blue House, The Book of Pooh, Rolie Polie Olie, Jojo’s Circus, and Stanley. Well, while that might have been really popular for preschoolers when the stage show initially opened, not one of those programs still airs regularly on the network today. So, for the past couple of years, the show has been in serious need of some refreshment. On January 28, 2008, soft preview openings for a new version of the show, featuring characters from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny, Little Einsteins, and My Friends Tigger & Pooh, debuted before its official opening on February 1. And I’m happy to say that from the pictures and videos I’ve seen of the new show, Mickey and the gang make the transfer to puppetry quite nicely, and I’ve even read that the puppets were created using the same scale as the majestic “Partners” statue at Magic Kingdom.

Characters from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse are part of the new Playhouse Disney Live on Stage show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and coming soon to Disney’s California Adventure.

Characters from Handy Manny are part of the new Playhouse Disney Live on Stage show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and coming soon to Disney’s California Adventure.

Characters from Little Einsteins are part of the new Playhouse Disney Live on Stage show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and coming soon to Disney’s California Adventure.

The next step in the reinvention of the Studios is a parade replacement. Since October 2001, Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade has entertained guests with its daily march through the Studios’ streets, featuring a plethora of Disney characters riding in unique cars suited to match the characters riding in them. (It also features plenty of rare character appearances! J) Unfortunately, the parade’s time has come to move on. It will have its last performance at the Studios on March 9, 2008, before being moved to Disneyland Paris. It will surely be missed, but a new parade, Block Party Bash, will debut in its place five days later on March 14. The question is will this completely different-style, high-energy Pixar parade please guests just as much as the quaint and charming Stars and Motor Cars? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see. The new parade is being imported from Disney’s California Adventure, where it has been performed since May 2005, and features floats based on the Pixar films Toy Story; a bug’s life; Monsters, Inc.; and more.

The next date on the agenda is this summer, when the Mickey Avenue section of the Studios will awaken from its year-and-a-half hibernation as “Pixar Place”, a re-themed area of the park based on Pixar films. Just what WDW needs . . . MORE Pixar-themed attractions. Disney has officially confirmed that Toy Story Mania!, an interactive 3D ride featuring Toy Story characters, will open as part of Pixar Place this summer; and if the rumors I’ve been hearing are true, Pixar Place will eventually expand into further areas of the park. The word on the street is that the Backlot Tour, one of the only two rides that have been open since the first operating day of the park in 1989, will be demolished to make room for a Ratatouille-themed roller coaster, though this has not been officially announced, confirmed, or denied by Disney. Right now all it’s still a RUMOR.

Concept art for the upcoming Toy Story Mania! attraction, opening this summer at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Imagineers “test-play” the new Toy Story Mania! attraction, coming this summer to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

And, finally, the year of redefining the Studios will come to a close in late 2008 with the opening of a brand-new, just-announced, breaking-news attraction . . . so new that it doesn’t even have a name yet. Announced on February 7 by Disney, with its temporary name “American Idol Attraction”, the hit Fox television show will be making a permanent home at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And while it would be really neat for Ryan, Simon, Paula, and Randy to set up camp for airing the show at Walt Disney World, that’s unfortunately not what this new attraction means. What it does mean is that beginning late next year, guests between the ages of 14 and 28 (yes, that’s 14, not the TV show’s age minimum limit of 16) will be able to pretend to go through the “audition” process and try out for Disney’s version of American Idol. Guests can either sing in front of a live audience or pretend to be a judge and review other guests’ performances. At the end of each operating park day, a winner for the day will be announced, and the winner will receive a “Fastpass” to skip the massive thousands of people in line at the REAL American Idol auditions for the television show.

Concept art for the upcoming American Idol attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

And while all this seems really exciting right now, I’d give this two – maybe three – years, if that, to belong at the Studios. I mean, think about it. Most of the kids who want to try out won’t be able to since the age minimum is 14 (and even then, how is Disney going to check to see if someone is 14?!), and most adults who would like to go through the experience would be too old. Additionally, the problem with creating any attraction based on a television series is that TV shows don’t last forever. They have their heyday for a few years and then it’s time to say bye-bye as the shows goes off the air, as evidenced with the former version of the Playhouse Disney stage show, as discussed above. American Idol’s popularity is great right now, but it’s not really a wise decision on Disney’s part to partner with the show if it’s not going to continuously be a phenomenal success in the years to come. I think that American Idol will surely last much longer, but you can never be too sure. Besides, who honestly wants to visit a Disney park to sit around all day and watch people sing karaoke?

Concept art for the upcoming American Idol attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

So, it’s pretty evident that Disney-MGM Studios is no more. Disney’s Hollywood Studios has officially taken over, both literally and figuratively. Whether the massive changes are good or bad is a decision too early to make. We can hope for the best, but with Block Party Bash and American Idol on the horizon, I wouldn’t bet on it just yet.

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

Disney Talk – The Return of Two Disney Classics

January 26, 2008

Two Disney masterpieces are being reintroduced to a new generation with re-releases, theme park attractions, and sequels.

By Blake

Originally posted January 26, 2008.
Often when a Disney film hasn’t been seen in a while, it’s released from the metaphorical “vault” and put on the shelves once again, most of the time with a special edition label. And that’s usually it. Occasionally there’s a new sequel to follow the re-release, if that. However, Disney is about to give two treasured classics the ultimate star treatment by not only re-releasing these films, but also establishing them in the world beyond DVD shelves.

First up is The Little Mermaid. Originally released in 1989, it was the film that launched the second golden age of Disney animation, with masterpieces Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King all following in its footsteps not long after it was released. In 2006, The Little Mermaid was released on a two-disc platinum edition DVD, and we’ve not heard much out of Ariel and the gang since then. Until now. This month, the Broadway musical adaptation of the film officially premiered in New York, performing in the very theatre that Beauty and the Beast held its performances until July 2007. The Broadway show features all of the songs from the movie written by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, as well as ten new songs, written by Menken and a new collaborator, Glenn Slater. And it doesn’t stop there. In August 2008, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, a new prequel showing what happened before the original film, will be released on DVD.

Additionally, in the distant future at Disney’s California Adventure, an all-new attraction, The Little Mermaid: Under the Sea Adventure, will open and will be along the lines of Fantasyland’s dark rides. The neat part is that this attraction was originally developed as an idea for the original Disneyland park in the early 1990’s and was eventually scratched. A behind-the-scenes look at the lost attraction was released as a bonus feature on the 2006 Little Mermaid DVD. And now, what do you know, the lost attraction is actually being green lit.

The next franchise to get a boost is Toy Story. When it was first released in 1995, the original Toy Story was not only the first film to be cranked out of Pixar Animation Studios, but also the world’s first every entirely computer-animated movie. Toy Story 2 was released in 1999 to rave reviews and since then the franchise has been implemented into the Disney parks by examples of parades, an Al’s Toy Barn-themed meet & greet, several Buzz Lightyear rides around the globe, and even a recreation of Pizza Planet at Walt Disney World.

Now, it’s time to gear up for an entire reinvented Toy Story era. In March 2008, the film will be featured in the Block Party Bash Parade at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (which previously performed at Disney’s California Adventure) and in April, Toy Story: The Musical will premiere on the Disney Wonder cruise ship. This summer on both coasts (at Disneyland AND Walt Disney World) an all-new immersive experience attraction will debut starring the Toy Story gang. The new Toy Story Mania ride will feature the Toy Story characters setting up their own midway games and guests have the opportunity to play these games. Toy Story Mania will involve guests wearing 3D glasses to view the virtual Toy Story characters and the virtual midway games. Not only will the new 3D technology be introduced to allow an entire ride set appear virtually, but, since it’s all virtual, the ride can be modified at any given moment.

And then comes Toy Story 3! The new film will be released in theaters 2010. Although the film’s plot hasn’t yet been released, we can definitely count on a worthy plot line now that Pixar is onboard with the project. And, in anticipation of this new sequel, the first two Toy Story films will be re-released theatrically in Disney Digital 3D! Toy Story will be released October 2009, with Toy Story 2 following in February 2010 and, finally, Toy Story 3 in June 2010.*

So, with The Little Mermaid and Toy Story both being revived with stage musicals, exciting new attractions, sequels, parades, re-releases, and more, a new generation will be able to enjoy these classics, while others who remember the films’ original beginnings will be able to relive the magic with 2 ½ years of fast-paced, exciting entertainment.

*At the time this article was written, this schedule was true. However, as of April 2009, both Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are set to be re-released in 3D at the same time as a double feature in October 2009 instead of having two separate releases. Toy Story 3 is still scheduled to be released in June 2010.

By Blake; posted January 26, 2008. Little Mermaid images (C) Disney. Toy Story 3 images (C) Disney/Pixar.

BlakeOnline Battle – Stinky Pete vs. Peg Leg Pete

October 13, 2006

by Blake

Originally posted October 13, 2006.

Stinky Pete from Toy Story 2 vs. Peg Leg Pete from classic Mickey shorts
Round 1: Name Descriptions
Stinky Pete: Stinky
Peg Leg Pete: Peg Leg
Round 1 Winner: Peg Leg Pete has the scariest name, but Stinky Pete has the funniest! Tie.
Round 2: Nemesis
Stinky Pete: Woody
Peg Leg Pete: Mickey Mouse
Round 2 Winner: Although both villains have some pretty worthy competitors between their rivals, I’ll have to go with Peg Leg Pete and stay with Mickey.
Round 3: Hobbies
Stinky Pete: Chilling with Tour Guide Barbie (see Toy Story 2 DVD Outtakes).
Peg Leg Pete: Generally being mean to innocent mice.
Round 3 Winner: Stinky Pete. Peg Leg Pete doesn’t have any good reason to be mean to Mickey and his pals, and at least Stinky Pete doesn’t act naughty in his spare time.
It’s a tie!!! It seems that Stinky Pete and Peg Leg Pete are square even.
by Blake; originally posted October 13, 2006. Stinky Pete image (C) Disney/Pixar. Peg Leg Pete image (C) Disney.