Archive for the ‘Up’ Category

The BlakeOnline Buzz, Fall 2009

September 7, 2009

Image belongs to Blake’s family. Text in image is “Action Jackson” font.

Volume 1, Issue 2

By Blake

Originally posted September 7, 2009.

Dear BlakeOnline readers,

Happy Labor Day! It’s hard to believe that another summer has come and gone. There were several big-screen blockbusters and major announcements, making summer 2009 quite a memorable season for the entertainment industry.

In late May, Pixar released their tenth film, Up, with tremendous success. So much success, in fact, that it is currently the #5 highest-grossing animated film of all time. Characters from the film continue to make appearances at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World in Florida.

Up was another hit for Pixar. Image © Disney/Pixar.

In July, Warner Bros. released the outstanding Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth installment in the groundbreaking film series. Its current worldwide gross is $897,184,000, which is quite an impressive number.

Disney Channel has also had success over the summer, with three major broadcasts: Princess Protection Program in June, the mash-up Wizards on Deck with Hannah Montana in July, and Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie in last week.

Disney Parks and Resorts opened several new Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World recently – Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in May, the Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa in June, and Bay Lake Tower (a new building at Disney’s Contemporary Resort) in August.

Just last Monday, August 31, 2009, Disney announced that they would buy Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. When you consider that Disney purchased Pixar for $7 billion in 2006, Disney certainly is taking this buy very seriously. Hopefully exciting projects are on the way as the future of this new partnership unfolds. You can read more about the deal over at MouseExtra.com.

Here at BlakeOnline, the summer has held several points of interest, including the continuation of the Budgeting Disney series. This special group of articles analyzes how to plan a Walt Disney World vacation when you’re watching your money. After already discussing looking for promotions and deciding when to visit, over the summer the articles delved into picking a resort, purchasing tickets, and choosing where to dine. There is going to be at least one more volume in the series, so keep a lookout for it soon!

As the world transitions into fall, there are several exciting highlights in store for Disney fans. The D23 Expo will take place in Anaheim, California from September 10 through 13. Although unfortunately no one from BlakeOnline will be attending the event, many other Disney fan sites are sure to provide detailed coverage of the weekend.

The first D23 Expo kicks off in Anaheim this Thursday, September 10, 2009. Image © Disney.

Halloween festivities are already starting to begin at Walt Disney World as Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party takes place at the Magic Kingdom select nights now through November 1. Disneyland will join in on the fun with their annual Halloween Time from September 25 through November 1. Halloween Time includes favorites like Haunted Mansion Holiday through Christmastime at Disneyland Park and Mickey’s Trick-Or-Treat Party during select nights in October at Disney’s California Adventure. New for Halloween Time in 2009 are a new fireworks show and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, a special version of the classic thrill ride. Other special events in the Disney parks this fall include Night of Joy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during September 11-12, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival from September 25 through November 8, and Festival of the Masters at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney November 13-15. Additionally, Christmas festivities will begin in mid-November.

Halloween is just around the corner, and Disney has already begun to celebrate. Image © Disney.

Disney often has several fascinating book releases in autumn, and this year is no exception. The 2010 Birnbaum Guides will be released on September 29. They include guides to Walt Disney World, Walt Disney World For Kids, Walt Disney World Without Kids, Walt Disney World Dining, Disneyland, and Disney Cruise Line, as well as the Walt Disney World Pocket Parks Guide.

Other exciting book and movie releases can be found on BlakeOnline’s Upcoming Disney Projects page. The major highlights include the 3D double feature of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 (October 2); the re-release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Blu-ray (October 6) and DVD (November 25); the new book Peter and the Sword of Mercy by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (October 13); the new Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure film on Blu-ray and DVD (October 27); Up on Blu-ray and DVD (November 10); and the theatrical releases of Disney’s A Christmas Carol (November 6), Old Dogs (November 25), and the highly anticipated hand-drawn feature film The Princess and the Frog (November 25 in New York and Los Angeles, December 11 nationwide).

Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are returning to select theaters for a 3-D double feature on October 2. Image © Disney/Pixar.

It’s been a jam-packed, fun-filled summer, and hopefully there’s a celebratory, inviting autumn on the way! After all, there’s a great, big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day.

-Blake
September 7, 2009

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted September 7, 2009. Buzz Lightyear image belongs to Blake’s family. Text in Buzz Lightyear image is “Action Jackson” font. Up and Toy Story/Toy Story 2 Double Feature images © Disney/Pixar. D23 Expo and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party images © Disney. “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” music and lyrics by Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, © 1963 Wonderland Music Company, Inc.

BlakeOnline Special – Imagineering “Blue Sky” Session 2009

June 26, 2009
Image © Disney.

It’s that time of year for batting around ideas for the Disney parks!

By Blake

Originally posted June 26, 2009.

Most Disney fans probably have at least a few creative ideas or thoughts for how they would tweak the Disney parks if they were given the opportunity to do so. If they were an Imagineer – a member of the part of the Walt Disney Company responsible for creating the Disney park attractions – they might have several rides or shows dreamed up and ready to put into action.

It’s always fun to pretend, and so for the sole purpose of just having fun, I welcome you to the 2nd annual Imagineering “Blue Sky” Session here on BlakeOnline. “Blue Sky” is a term used by Imagineers at the very beginning stages of creating new attractions. During Blue Sky, ideas are batted around and introduced for the first time, and concepts and stories are just getting started.

Here we go!

I’ve talked a lot about the changes at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World, but even more colossal than that park’s various changes are the ones being put into effect at Disney’s California Adventure in Disneyland. The changes began in the Paradise Pier section of the park in June 2008 with the opening of Toy Story Midway Mania! Additionally, the Games of the Boardwalk recently re-opened featuring classic Disney characters, and the nearby Sun Wheel was re-themed to Mickey’s Fun Wheel.

The surrounding area of Paradise Pier will continue to be the first section of the park that will largely be changed as part of the multi-year DCA expansion. Other nearby attractions are being re-imagined to be themed to classic Disney shorts of the 1930’s and 1940’s, which I think is just wonderful. From the looks of the concept art and attraction descriptions, the area is going to become somewhat of a simpler, more classic-feeling Toontown. Goofy’s Sky School (a re-themed mad-mouse roller coaster) will be based on the Goofy “How-To” shorts, this time with Goofy “teaching” guests how to fly, with a few unplanned diversions (similar to the storyline of The Barnstormer at the Magic Kingdom ). Additionally, the Silly Symphony Swings will be themed to the 1935 classic Mickey Mouse short The Band Concert, complete with dazzling new special effects.

Silly Symphony Swings at Disney’s California Adventure are expected to be themed to the 1935 Mickey Mouse cartoon The Band Concert. Image © Disney.

Coming to Paradise Pier in spring 2010 is World of Color, a new water show featuring a hoopla of classic Disney characters in a spectacle that supposedly will knock the socks of its viewers. In 2011, Paradise Pier will become the home of The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, a new dark ride that ironically was supposed to be built years ago at Disneyland.

The California Adventure expansion is expected to continue in 2012 with new theming to its entrance, which will depict Hollywood in the 1920’s, when Walt Disney was first arriving to the city. Additionally, an entire new area of the park will open in 2012 – Cars Land, themed to the 2006 Pixar film Cars. The area will include multiple new attractions that sound very exciting, and the atmosphere will make guests feel like they’re walking through Radiator Springs.

Cars Land, themed to the Pixar film Cars, is scheduled to open in Disney’s California Adventure at Disneyland in 2012. Image © Disney/Pixar.

Although I’ve never visited California Adventure, all of these upcoming additions sound very appealing, and hopefully they’ll be introduced to other Disney parks soon!

As we “keep moving forward” and press on to Walt Disney World in Florida, as of right now, no massive upcoming projects have been officially announced. There are plenty of wild rumors going around, but nothing’s been confirmed just yet.

There are a few smaller attractions scheduled, though. On June 29, the Pirates League will open in the Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland as a place where pirate fans can come to get pirate makeovers, similar to the Bibbidi-Bobbidi Boutique having princess makeovers. The Hall of Presidents is indeed expected to be re-opening with its newest member, Barack Obama, sometime within the coming weeks, and Space Mountain is supposed to be re-opening after a rather lengthy refurbishment in November, but other than those nothing very big is planned.

Space Mountain is expected to re-open in November at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Image © Disney.

However, that’s not to say that I don’t have a few ideas.

At the Magic Kingdom, I like how Disney is continuing the Pirates of the Caribbean craze in Adventureland with the Pirates League opening. Although I certainly don’t think that the entire land should be re-themed to Pirates, I admire that Disney isn’t just letting the franchise sit there waiting for the next movie to be released.

As for character greetings, I think a Captain Jack Sparrow meet & greet would be extremely popular given how well his appearances at the now-defunct Pirate & Princess Parties went. Additionally, even though they attract very long lines, the Princesses and the Fairies would probably fit into Fantasyland better than they do at their current location in Mickey’s Toontown Fair.

Also at the Magic Kingdom is the show Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration over in Tomorrowland. The show opened in early May, 2009, and will have its final performance on Saturday, June 27, 2009. It wasn’t meant to be a seasonal attraction, it just altogether wasn’t pleasing guests and Disney decided to do away with the show completely. Which, in essence, I don’t think is quite giving the show a proper chance. If Disney were to focus more on Stitch and less on the dancers, put the show into the Galaxy Palace Theater (which was recently closed), and perhaps involved Mickey and Minnie into the plot (maybe something like the Castle shows?), I think Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration would be a better experience. Or if they were to focus on just the Stitch aspect of the show, which involved a computer-animated Stitch interacting and talking with park guests (like Stitch Live at Disneyland Paris), maybe that would be a better solution.

Over at Epcot, the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure – somewhat of a scavenger hunt themed to the now-concluded Disney Channel show Kim Possible throughout select World Showcase pavilions – has been wow’ing guests since it opened in February, and Remy from Ratatouille has been enchanting guests with his appearances at the Le Chefs de France restaurant.

Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure is a new experience at Walt Disney World’s Epcot in Florida. Image © Disney.

Some changes I might make to Epcot would include perhaps re-theming Test Track to incorporate characters from Cars. It would be a great opportunity to freshen up a classic ride. Though some purists might not like the idea, I think the concept of Lightning McQueen teaching guests what sort of tests racecars go through before they head to the track would be an engaging storyline.

Pixar’s newest film, Up, has dazzled audiences since it was released in May, and due to its success I can definitely see it being a candidate for future theme park presence. But where would the film fit? Although it might work out in Hollywood Studios’ Pixar Place or in the Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland, overall the movie would probably feel most at home in Epcot for several reasons. Firstly, flight is a component that’s important in Up, and it’s also an experience that would fit in Epcot’s Soarin’ attraction, though I’m not sure how Up’s characters or story would work into that ride. A more appropriate addition would be some sort of South America pavilion in World Showcase, featuring a version of Paradise Falls (a setting from the film), as well as some sort of dark ride themed to the movie.

The lush setting of Paradise Falls in Up would be wonderful for a South America pavilion in Epcot. Image © Disney/Pixar.

Heading to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Enchanted would be wonderful if it was put on stage, and this park is an excellent choice to put such as show. The park’s Premiere Theater (which is currently used for special events) would be wise for the show’s location, as it’s right in the New York section of the park, and Enchanted takes place primarily in New York. Additionally, a Pixar Place expansion would be fascinating – re-theming the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure to an area based on a bug’s life would be appropriate, and a nearby thrill ride based on the Monsters, Inc. door sequence would be brilliant. Some sort of Bolt attraction would also fit into Hollywood Studios, though not necessarily in the Pixar Place area.

Another idea would be to refurbish Jim Henson’s Muppet*Vision 3-D. Now would be a fitting time to do this, especially since Disney is currently in the process of re-launching the Muppet franchise. I don’t think the 3-D film itself should be changed, but some re-mastering and sprucing up of the footage would be nice. Additionally, perhaps some new pre-show or post-show elements could be added that would feature Muppet characters that weren’t around when Muppet*Vision initially opened (like Pepe the King Prawn). Some atmosphere around Muppet*Vision could also be enhanced to further involve guests in a Muppety area, such as bringing back the Muppet Mobile Lab (which had brief appearances in Disney’s California Adventure and Epcot) or adding some Muppet character greetings.

A refurbishment of Jim Henson’s Muppet*Vision 3-D at Disney’s Hollywood Studios would be great timing with Disney’s current re-launch of the Muppet franchise. Image © Disney.

Lastly, trekking over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I think the only area that needs a little work is the Dino-Rama! section of DinoLand U.S.A. The atmosphere’s storyline doesn’t come across very straightforward to guests, though the rides in the area (including the fun TriceraTop Spin and the exciting Primeval Whirl) are certainly keepers.

That concludes this year’s Imagineering Blue Sky Session! Feel free to create some ideas of your own. Get those creative gears flowing – who knows, you might just dream up the next Disney park classic.

By Blake; posted June 26, 2009. All images © Disney. Cars and Up images © Disney/Pixar.

Silver Screen Review – ‘Up’

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

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

By Blake

Originally posted June 3, 2009.

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

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

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

Image (C) Disney/Pixar.

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

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

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

Image (C) Disney/Pixar.

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

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

Image (C) Disney/Pixar.

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

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

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

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

Related BlakeOnline articles:

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

Disney Talk – ‘Up’ Is Here

May 30, 2009

Pixar’s tenth film has arrived in theaters.

By Blake

Originally posted May 29, 2009; updated June 3, 2009.

No, I haven’t seen Up, Pixar’s latest movie, yet. Usually I try to stay away from reading any reviews or hearing any word about people’s reactions of a movie before I see it to keep my opinion fresh and unbiased. And I’ve tried to do this with Up, but honestly no matter where I turn, I can’t get away from the public’s seemingly unanimous approval for the film. And it’s only been in theaters for one day.

I had already been excited to see the movie even before I heard how critics were reacting, solely because it was a Pixar film. Enough said, right? Since Pixar has a record of consistent hits, Up is bound to be brilliant, right? Pixar usually gets favorable reviews, but as far as the general public (as a whole) responding to Up (even before it opened in theaters), I’ve never seen a movie get so many compliments so quick.

Flight has been a common thread among Disney productions for a long time, winding all the way back to 1928’s Plane Crazy, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon ever made (although Steamboat Willie was the first one released). Disney characters continued to take flight as time progressed, including Goofy making a plane in 1940’s Goofy’s Glider, Dumbo learning to fly in 1941, Peter Pan taking Wendy and family across the London skies to Never Land in 1953, Mary Poppins flying into London via her umbrella in 1964, Pooh holding onto a balloon in an effort get some honey in 1966’s Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, Aladdin and Jasmine sharing a romantic carpet ride in 1992, and several other instances.

Up’s teaser trailer debut alongside Bolt in theaters in November 2008, and more vast publicity began as early as March 2009, when John Lasseter promoted the movie on The View during the week that the show was broadcast from the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA.

On May 8, three of Up’s main characters – Carl, Russell, and Dug – began appearing in the pre-parade section of the Pixar Play Parade at Disney’s California Adventure in Disneyland. Additionally, on May 15, they began making appearances at a new Up-themed meet & greet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida.

On May 13, Up became the first animated film in history to open the Cannes Film Festival in France. Pixar executive John Lasseter and Up director Pete Docter told LaughingPlace.com that moviegoers at the festival are usually very critical, though both were pleased that Up received a standing ovation.

Earlier this month, Up was also promoted on an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos, when host Tom Bergeron was shown riding a “balloon chair” experience involving a heap of balloons, similar to the film. Additionally, there’s even an Up-themed blimp that’s been flying in the skies of California.

Disney’s “Opening Weekend Surprise” campaign is being implemented once again with Up. The program began in February when the Jonas Brothers surprised audiences of Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience at select theaters nationwide in a special weekend tour. Similar happenings occurred when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson surprised an audience during Race to Witch Mountain’s opening weekend, and again when Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray Cyrus popped in a few theaters to make surprise appearances during the opening weekend of Hannah Montana: The Movie.

The Opening Weekend Surprise for Up hasn’t been fully revealed yet, but it’s been hinted at by Disney that it will involve spotting the “hidden treats” Pixar animators have put into the film (along the same lines of how they hid a Jessie doll in Monsters, Inc. and Buzz Lightyear in Finding Nemo, stuff like that). Guests can visit to Disney.com/surprise beginning Monday, June 1, for a look into what similar finds were hidden in Up. If you’re reading this BEFORE June 1, 2009, it’s worth a visit to the site to see a pretty neat video at what Pixar has hidden in some of their previous movies. However, if you’re reading this after June 1 and you haven’t seen Up yet, I’d avoid that link to stray away from spoilers!

Update from June 3, 2009: The actual Opening Weekend Surprise for Up turned out to be Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Sulley, and Mr. Incredible all making a surprise appearance at a movie theater in Chicago, IL on Friday, May 29.
If the prospect of seeing another winning Pixar film – a persuasion that’s been raised even higher given the public’s reaction – weren’t enough to get viewers to come to Up, it’s been reported that audiences seeing Up also have the pleasure of viewing some very special (and I mean VERY special) pre-show elements.

With all of the excitement in the air surrounding Up, I’m very anxious to see what all of the hubbub is about. I haven’t been disappointed by Pixar yet, and I’m very excited to delve into another of their exceptional worlds and be “wow’d” by their storytelling.

Related BlakeOnline articles:
By Blake; posted May 29, 2009; updated June 3, 2009. All images (C) Disney/Pixar.

Disney Talk – 23 Again

May 19, 2009


The question of joining D23 circulates again among Disney fans.

By Blake

Originally posted May 19, 2009.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related BlakeOnline articles:

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

Disney Talk – "Are You 23?"

March 15, 2009

Disney’s most mysterious marketing campaign in history has finally been revealed as D23 – the official community for Disney fans.

By Blake

Originally posted March 15, 2009.

“Are you 23?”

That’s the question Disney had been asking web-goers since January 2009, on various teaser posters and on a preview website for a then-unannounced Disney event. All the website contained was the written-out question “Are you 23?” followed by “Find out March 10.” and an appearance of Tinker Bell, flying in to sparkle up a countdown clock to March 10. No other hints or indications were given of what in the world this was – or even what platform of the company it would pertain to (movies, theme parks, etc.).

Unofficial Disney discussion boards were abundant with fans chiming in their thoughts on what all the hoopla was really about, some being just about correct, but others – including myself – thinking the complete opposite. Some thought it would relate to Pixar, which was founded 23 years ago. Others thought a collection of 23 Disney classics would be released in an ultimate Blu-ray boxed set. (Personally, I think if Disney ever decided to do that, it would be a very bad idea. Not only would the set be outrageously expensive – which would cause people to not buy it – but each movie in the supposed set wouldn’t get as much publicity as it would if the titles were released separately, each gaining their own release buzz.) I thought the marketing campaign might have something to do with Adventures by Disney, which, with its new itineraries, has 23 vacation locations.

The real mystery of “Are you 23?” actually turns out to be something far greater and full of much more Disney magic than any of the aforementioned speculations. Please watch the video below – which is copyrighted by Disney, uploaded to YouTube by user thedisneyblog, and which I take no credit for – that truly encompasses the heart of what the Walt Disney Company is all about, and also contains the very special “Are you 23?” reveal from the President and C.E.O. of Disney, Robert Iger.

If that video doesn’t get you feeling nostalgic, then I don’t know what will!

So, the “Are you 23?” mystery has been leading up to D23, the official community for Disney fans. In reality, you’d think there would already be an official club for Disney fans before now. Yes, the Mickey Mouse Club was an official community, but hit its height in the 1930’s and was certainly aimed at a children’s audience. And yes, the Disney Vacation Club is an official Disney organization, but that’s not so much a club as it is ongoing vacation packages.

What does a membership to D23 include?

D23 – signifying 1923, the year that the Walt Disney Company was founded – will involve all areas of the company for an unprecedented gathering of news, special events, merchandise, and even a new Disney publication. Here’s a rundown of what a year’s membership to D23 includes:
First is a subscription to Disney twenty-three, a new quarterly magazine that features just about everything that a Disney fan would dream to be in a Disney publication. I picked up the premiere issue of the magazine the other day at Barnes & Noble, and it is indeed quite a treat. The quality of the magazine is amazing, and the stories it covers are phenomenal. What’s really great is that the magazine doesn’t center all its attention on a particular area of the company, but instead includes articles dealing with many different Disney components, including animation, theme parks, history, shows, news, and much more. It also is very current – one page even includes coverage of an event that happened just two weeks before the magazine was published. Many Disney fans were devastated when Disney Magazine stopped publication in 2005, and if Disney twenty-three had to have a 4-year pause for its gears to get flowing, then I gratefully forgive the lack of an official Disney magazine for those 4 years. It’s that good.

The cover of the premiere issue of Disney twenty-three magazine, an all-new quarterly Disney publication.
A year’s membership to D23 also includes a certificate of membership with the member’s name on it, as well as a border of Disney animated characters surrounding the name. Additionally, a “surprise gift” will be delivered to the member. Members are also e-mailed a newsletter twice a week, updating them on current Disney news. Although there are other amenities involved with a D23 membership, those involve an extra cost that is in addition to the initial joining fee. Included in the start-up fee is Disney twenty-three magazine, the membership certificate, the surprise gift, and the e-newsletter. Everything else after that requires an additional cost.
The certificate that D23 members receive.
So, how much money does a D23 membership cost? I was actually very surprised when I read that members must pay $75 to join. And that’s paid up front. Which is, obviously, a major setback. Reading the exciting details of D23 had me all set to join, but when I took a look at the rather large price, I quickly decided that I needed to seriously think through whether I wanted to join or not. Paying that much amount of money at one time without knowing the full details of what a D23 membership would result in is something I had to definitely consider.
So, for now, I think I’m going to hold off on becoming a D23 member. I’ll get the scoop from reports of members as to what the members-only specifics include and how they’re implemented before I make my decision. The Disney twenty-three magazine was the big draw for me, anyway, and I when I realized that I could pick that up anyway at Barnes & Noble for $16, it eased my decision even more. Additionally, anyone – including non-D23 members – can view the excellent new website Disney has launched for the club, www.disney.com/23. The website is given daily updates, which include current Disney news, interviews, photos, articles, a “This Day in Disney History” feature, and even a daily Disney comic strip. I’m satisfied with the superb magazine and fantastic D23 website. The total cost for a year’s worth (4 issues) of Disney twenty-three magazine will end up being about $65 – which is $10 less than a D23 membership – and I won’t be paying the cost all at once, but quarterly instead. If you’re a Disney fan and are not sure what to make of D23 right now, I suggest you do the same.

A glimpse of the outstanding D23 website, which offers an extravagaza of Disney news and information.
So, what are the extra benefits in addition to aforementioned magazine, certificate, surprise gift, and e-newsletter that D23 members can participate in (but each cost an extra price)? Well, the big event is the D23 Expo, an event taking place nearby Disneyland in September 2009. Reading the details of the Expo over at the D23 website had me wanting to go, as it seems like it will be a very exciting event that will include sneak previews at upcoming Disney events, guest speaker sessions (which include Robert Iger, John Lasseter, and more), pin trading opportunities, special exhibits from the Disney Archives, and much more. However, even if I was a D23 member, I most likely wouldn’t be able to make it to the event anyway. Keep that in mind as you make your decision to become a member or not.
Another extra-cost benefit to D23 members are advanced screenings for Disney movies. The only one of these that is currently planned right now is the Pixar film Up, which is being released on May 29. The details of the advanced screening event for Up have not been announced yet, but my main concern involving these advanced screenings are how many people the D23 members can bring with them, and what locations these screenings are taking place at. The D23 website currently not yet offering theses specifics was another reason I decided to not join D23 quite yet.
Additionally, “Boutique 23” offers D23 members special club-related merchandise, which include tee shirts, polo shirts, jewelry, and more.
Ultimately, when it comes down to deciding whether to join D23 or not, it all depends on what amount of money your budget allows you to spend and how often you think you’ll be able to attend the member-exclusive events, whether they be advanced screenings, meets in the Disney parks, or the Expo in September. I highly recommend the Disney twenty-three magazine to any Disney fans regardless of whether you’re joining D23. One year (4 issues) of the magazine does come with a D23 yearly membership, though individual issues are sold in Barnes & Noble as they’re released.
A Disney-fied Week
D23 was among the many significant Disney-related events that happened this week. D23 was officially announced on Tuesday at the Walt Disney Company Shareholders Meeting by Robert Iger. Other major announcements of the meeting included the move of the release date for the upcoming hand-drawn Disney animated film The Princess and the Frog (which features the first-ever African-American Disney Princess) from Christmas Day to December 11 (to avoid competition with Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel), which I think is a very clever move. Also announced at the meeting were the names of the two upcoming Disney Cruise Line ships. The two new ships will be called the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy.
Robert Iger also appeared on The View on Wednesday to further talk about D23. The View was broadcast all week long from the Disney Legends Plaza at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. Disney characters escorted the hosts out each day, and special segments were featured on each episode that highlighted the history of a different character. On Wednesday, Whoopi Goldberg took a peek into the Walt Disney Archives, which served as a very entertaining segment and also a fascinating look into Disney history. Also on Wednesday’s The View, John Lasseter appeared with a large handful of balloons to talk about Up and also share a clip from the film.

Pixar’s John Lasseter appeared on The View – which was broadcast from the Walt Disney Studios last week – on Wednesday, March 11, to promote the upcoming Pixar film Up, in theaters May 29.

Another component that played into this week being a big one for Disney was the introduction of Remy from Ratatouille at Epcot, where the tiny rat interacts with guests at Le Chefs de France restaurant in an entirely new way as part of Disney’s Living Characters Initiative program. Tuesday saw the release of Pinocchio on a 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-ray, which includes many exciting bonus features. Lastly, on Friday, Race to Witch Mountain (which is a re-make of the 1975 Disney movie Escape to Witch Mountain) was released in theaters.

Pinocchio was released on Blu-ray & 2-disc DVD on Tuesday, March 10, 2009.

All of these events made me very proud to be a Disney fan this week. I saw Disney in the public spotlight probably more than I ever had before, and that was definitely a great feeling. To see D23 in the news and the general public already getting excited for Up – which is nearly two-and-a-half months away – is fantastic. I knew I wasn’t the only one that loved Disney, but I guess I didn’t see how many people actually appreciate the Disney magic on a daily basis. And D23 – whether I’m joining or not – is definitely a true example of phenomenal modern Disney magic at its best.
By Blake; posted March 15, 2009. All images and video (C) Disney.