Disney Posts

2014 Year in Review

Well, what a year it has been for Disney and its whole company.  This year will be remembered for Big Hero 6 and Guardians of the Galaxy for certain, but there are many other moments that are worth sharing for Disney.

When our year opened, Frozen, Saving Mr. Banks and Thor: The Dark World were in theaters.  Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was building a fan base despite the boneheaded move to put it up against NCIS.  January was a cold month, but first business was first.  The premiere of Festival of Fantasy, the parade that replaced the decade old predecesor at Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World.  This brand new parade truly lit off the year with excitement, as it was beautiful and incredible to watch.

Next Disney released their first movie of the year Muppets: Most Wanted, though exciting at first, it seemed to not capture audiences like the original, but did do amazingly well.  Though Disney hasn’t announced a sequel for it, the Muppets aren’t dead.  Even for a short time, Constantine from the film made appearances in the pre show of Muppet Vision 3D at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s California Adventure. He even made an appearance at the Villains party in Hollywood Studios.

Frozen continued to gain traction that now opened up ridicule from people, for the good movie was gaining ground as it went on.  Next though came April and May the months of Marvel Domination.  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had us on a wild chase for the Clairvoyant that played into Captain America: The Winter Soldier when S.H.I.E.L.D had been infiltrated by Hydra.  Almost everybody gasped at this, and we were waiting on the edge of our seats to see what would happen.  With The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past in the theaters, Marvel was the top studio of the month. But asking a more pertinent question, with X-Men redoing itself, and X-Men merchandise showing up at the parks, are the X-Men joining the Marvel cinematic universe.

In the world of theme parks, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad reopened in March of this year after an extensive refurbishment.  A new ending showcased an explosion and really added a bit of excitement to the already classic thrill ride. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage drained to do maintenance and Alice in Wonderland would close down to address problems plaguing the ride since 2010, mainly getting rid of that stupid scaffolding.

In Florida though, guests loved the brand new addition of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in New Fantasyland of Magic Kingdom.  The new gentle coaster has already proven to be a hit.  Meanwhile, Disney tried to encourage many park goers that My Magic+ was going to make their vacation worthwhile.  After having spent 1 Billion dollars on it, they kind of had to.  The question is, when did Disney become the government?  Seriously 1 Billion dollars for a program that an intern could’ve made for a year supply of Totino’s Pizza Rolls.  Not the smartest move if I was Iger, I wouldn’t have spent more than 1 million on the program.  I am being serious.

Television wrapped up its 2013-2014 season with Tom Bergeron announcing that he would leave America’s Funniest Home Videos.  Once Upon a time in Wonderland finishing up. Along with Suburgatory and The Neighbors leaving ABC as well. The summer shocker was Castle, who disappeared on his wedding day in a fiery crash.  On Disney Channel Good Luck Charlie left the airwaves, giving us more space for Girl Meets World, an upcoming series being the sequel to Boy Meets World.

The summer opened with Maleficent, that took audiences by surprise.  Despite initial reactions of bloggers, the film proved successful as it led the way into a dull summer.

In Paris, Ratatouille opened in Walt Disney Studios Paris.  Giving guests a unique and fun ride, and the prize winning Chez Bistro de Remy opened up as well.  Alice in Wonderland emerged from behind tarps, and Legends of Frontierland premiered with huge success.  Yet, the summer’s story was once again Marvel’s, for Guardians of the Galaxy became the number 1 box office hit of the summer.  Shocking all the crittics and studio execs, but not us audience goers who wanted movies.  Summer also saw the good sequel Planes: Fire & Rescue that people liked better than the original.

For ESPN, this was a good year as well.  The World Cup proved to be Olympic level, and that there were other things for the Beer companies  and Viagara to finance as well. ESPN also launched Sports Entertainment Center.

This summer saw the addition of Four Seasons, a brand new hotel that featured a small waterpark and perks for high paying customers, a great addition to Walt Disney World.

School went back into session and ABC premierered its newest tv shows. While How to Get Away with Murder seemed to be the number one hit, Forever and Black-ish also did as well.  Meanwhile Manhattan Love Story and Selfie disappeared into the quiet.

October saw Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day roll into theaters.  Audiences weren’t quite taken to it, but it did manage to hold on along with Guardians of the Galaxy.  The real battle came in November when Christopher Nolan’s film Interstellar took on Big Hero 6.  The winner, Big Hero 6.  Baymax and Hiro became favorites and Marvel proved that there was no medium they couldn’t do well in.

Disney had announced plans for the 60th anniversary of Disneyland, as well as started selling tickets to D23 2015 expo.  Thanksgiving saw excitement for a blip of a trailer with Lucas vs. Spielberg when it came down to Star Wars VII trailer vs. Jurassic World Trailer.

A brand new Christmas special in the Toy Story world premiered in December, and Christmas day saw the release of Into the Woods.  This has been the year for Disney.

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Disney’s Christmas Carols

It’s that time of year again, where we break out our disc collections of our favorite Christmas specials and movies.  There is no story more done than Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.  There are multiple versions of this, some more famous than others, a few that we would like to forget.  Several actors have played Ebenezer Scrooge, from Alastar Sims, to George C Scott, Patrick Stewart, Kelsey Grammar, Michael Caine and Jim Carrey, to other comedians such as Bill Murray.  It has also inspired many differing spin offs from Christmas style to even American style.  Yes this story loosely based upon Joseph Smith being visited by the Angel Moroni, was so popular that it even inspired the modern Christmas that we know and love.  At the time this book was published, the United States of America didn’t celebrate Christmas, nor did they have any intention of celebrating it.  When Charles Dickens wrote it, he confused his fellow Englishmen, for Christmas at the time was remembered as a lewd and depraved celebration much more in common with Mardi Gras and Carnival.  It was this story that brought about our modern Christmas.  It took a while for Hollywood to adapt the story, but with the musical version of the 70’s and many people complaining that it embellished upon the book.  Many more people set out to do more accurate portrayels of it.  From the television movie starring George C Scott, to eventually Patrick Stewart doing a one man show of the story.  However, Disney did their first version in 1983 with Mickey Mouse.

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This short version brought to the screen Scrooge McDuck from the comics.  Incidentally, Scrooge McDuck made his first premiere in December comics and was named after Ebenezer Scrooge.  So it was him who would play the miser, with Mickey Mouse playing Bob Cratchitt, Minnie Mouse playing his wife, Donald Duck playing Fred, Daisy Duck playing Belle, Goofy playing Robert Marley, Jiminy Crickett playing the Ghost of Christmas Past, Willie the Giant playing the Ghost of Christmas Present, Pete playing the part of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Ratty and Mole playing the parts of Poole and Hattie, and finally J Thaddeus Toad playing the part of Fezzywig.  This short was Mickey’s first screen appearance in close to 30 years and proved an instant classic.

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1992, Disney now partnering with Brian Henson who controlled the Muppets, did a version with the Muppets.  Since no muppet was found to play Scrooge, Michael Caine took on the role.  Kermit the Frog played Bob Cratchitt at Miss Piggy’s recomndation, while she would play Cratchitt’s wife.  Fozzy played Fozzywig, Gonzo portrayed Charles Dickens, and Rizzo the Rat kept his usual role as Gonzo’s friend. Statler and Waldorf portrayed Jacob and his long lost literary brother Robert Marley.  Sam the Eagle played a professor, and many other beloved muppets snuck in there.  The ghosts were brand new Muppets that have never appeared again.

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In 2009, Robert Zemeckis joined with Disney to do a Motion Capture version of the story. Starring Jim Carrey, who is the only actor to play all of Ebenezer Scrooge.  Remember, in past we see the younger version of Ebenezer.  However, like in plays and movies up to this point, the actors portraying prime Ebenezer and ghost stood off to the side and watched the scene unfold.  So usually a younger male that could resemble the main actor was cast, but in this version, Jim could play all of these ages.  He also portrayed the three spirits.

So how do these three versions line up with the written story.  First consider this, two of these were heavily intended for children.  Since children are too young to grasp the problems of a solitary life.  Scrooge had to be portrayed as more selfish and greedy, so children can get that this is a bad thing.  Most children who are bothered by siblings would like solitary.  So Scrooge had to be upgraded.  Also, gift giving wasn’t a custom of the time.  At that time Santa didn’t deliver to anywhere outside of Scandanavia, and parents didn’t give children presents on Christmas.  So Scrooge buying presents at the end is a way for modern children to grasp a changed heart.

Perhaps for adults as well.  The constant theme of the book is death.  A reminder that once dead there is nothing you can do. You are finished, your probationary life is gone.  As bemoaned by Jacob Marley’s ghost.  So when Scrooge sees his corpse, that he refuses to look at it, the signs of his demise, he refuses to accept them.  Because it means he can no longer change. When he confronts the death of Tim Cratchitt, and immediately sees his tombstone, he sobs because he can no longer change.  Obvious in Dicken’s days, but lost on modern audiences. The themes of hellfire are put into children versions to drive the message home.

So how does the modern motion capture compare to the book.  It actually does so better than almost any version.  For one, the lines aren’t watered down, being very surprising for Disney. Next, the ghost of Christmas Past was never anthropomorphical, it literally was a flame that would occasionally have a face of someone from Scrooge’s past.  In essence the past can’t be rid of, no matter how much we try, it is a pesky reminder of who we are.  The ghost of Christmas Future literally was a shadow, only it’s hand ever took form.  It only took real form at the end when Scrooge begged mercy from it.  As for the rest it is up to you to decide to like it or not.

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So this Christmas season watch a version, I always watch multiple versions of this story every Christmas.  For it is one of my favorites, and this story captures the spirit of Christmas better than any story I know of. To my 5th grade teacher miss Stoneman.  I have read the book finally, when are you going to? Because Scrooge is barely based on the book.

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Big Hero 6

Yesterday saw the release of Disney’s newest animated film Big Hero 6 that is an adaptation of a Marvel Comic strip.  This newest member to the Disney family is an amazing addition.  I thought it was really good and in my opinion is the number #1 Animated movie of the year, pushing the former Mr. Peabody and Sherman down to number #2.

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The film set in the fictional San Fransokyo is about Hiro, a whiz kid of 13/14 who has already graduated school and uses his talents creating ultimate fighting bots that always win.  His older brother Tidashi knows he is wasting his talent and takes him to his school one night where he has him meet his friends, Wasabi, Go Go, Honey Drop and Fred.  Hiro is impressed by the use of all the new technologies the different students are coming up with.  He also is impressed by his brothers invention Baymax, a personal Health Care Companion robot that inflates out of his carrier whenever he hears a call of distress.  That is why Baymax looks like a giant marshmallow. He also meets a Professor Calhoun who encourages the young Hiro to apply for the school, the process involving an intense display of robotics.  Hiro demonstrates his microbots, and wins the coveted entry.  However, a fire breaks out, everybody but Professor Calhoun makes it out.  Tadashi runs back into the building to save him, and is killed by an explosion.  Hiro is depressed by the news, and one day when a piece of his robot falls on his foot, he cries out in pain and Baymax immediately springs to life wanting to give him aid.  Hiro isn’t too impressed and Baymax inadvertently sends Hiro on a quest that crosses him with a villain who is using Microbots.  Thus, Baymax and Hiro and eventually the other students form the group Big Hero 6.

This movie is very well done, it features lots of great action sequences, amazing flight sequences, and jokes a plenty, quite a bit of which will go over many children’s head.  Kids will love it, but for children under 5, depending how your kid is, they may have a harder time focusing.  It all depends on the kid after all.  I’ve known five year olds that can sit through a 3 hour movie, and 12 year olds that can’t watch 30 seconds of something without whining.  Though this film can get pretty dark, at least one character dies in the movie.  This movie has heart and it has the difficult challenges of any Marvel comic experience.  I like this movie and will go back to see it again in theaters and I highly recommend it for any child over 5 years of age.

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Top Five Disney Parks and Vacations Moments

No doubt about it, Disney Vacations are tops around the world.  There is practically no one in the United States that doesn’t know what Disneyland or Walt Disney World is, even if they don’t know all the technical details.  They almost all know there is a castle, with rides and a mouse.  All of the details still elude them, many people are unaware that Walt Disney World has four theme parks, California Adventure is not the first theme park to be added to a resort property, and many other such things.  Disney not only has 11 theme parks with an additional one under construction, two water parks, four shopping complexes, golf courses, on two continents, monorail systems, 34 hotels with an additional four under construction, four cruise lines, a private island, two campgrounds and three sets of vacation villas.  Truly it is overwhelming, many options and choices.  Not to mention that Disney also offers guided tours that the whole family can take to some of the most requested world destinations that weren’t built by Disney, but they are probably not to keen to take you to Universal Studios.  Joking aside, it is truly an empire that Walt Disney built.  Had Walt Disney never built the theme parks, who knows what would’ve happened to his little studio.  I don’t think it would’ve blinked out of existence and gotten bought.  Perhaps it would’ve joined with another studio, but one thing is for certain, of all the producers and directors of the last century from the originals of Frank Capra, Warner Brothers, Cecil B DeMills, Alfred Hitchcock, to brats of George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Richard Dutcher, to the moderns of Jerry Bruckheimer, Ron Howard, JJ Abrams, M Knight Shymalan (I am certain I mispelled his name), to Joss Whedon, Walt Disney has been immortalized with the creation of Disneyland.  Since the opening of Disneyland on July 17th 1955, Disney Parks and Vacations has grown.   They have seen many characters come and go, many rides and lands as well, but this article will focus on the five pivotal moments in Disney Parks and Vacations History.

The most important and number 1 is the opening of Disneyland on July 17th 1955.

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This park has proven to be a classic, it was unqualified success.  It however, showed us how amusement parks, then a dying industry, could be revolutionized into something absolutely fun.  This park is what inspired the movement that went on with number 2.

On October 1st 1971 Walt Disney World opened in Florida.

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This second park, had to be better at its opening than its counterpart in California.  Imagineers talked to managers and logistics operators of Disneyland to see what they wanted to help them better keep the park operating.  This time the Magic Kingdom was built with the Utilidors, tunnels that serviced cast members, food delivery, waste disposal and other important functions of the park, without destroying the hard created magic above.

What this did to Disney was prove that Disneyland wasn’t a fluke or a one trick wonder, that people around the world wanted to see Disneyland.  Many people on the east coast would never be able to go to Disneyland more than once in a lifetime or never at all.  Where now with a Florida location, Disney could easily cater to all those East of the Mississippi, while Disneyland took those west of that mighty river.

This second location proved to be the beginning of Disney’s new Vacation empire.

Number 3 would be the opening of EPCOT Center on October 1st 1982.

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Though this is the second theme park located at Walt Disney World, unlike the resort’s first park, this wasn’t a copy.  With all due respect, Magic Kingdom was basically an improved version of Opening Day Disneyland.  The rides that worked, such as Snow White, Peter Pan, The Jungle Cruise, along with successful additions, like Enchanted Tiki Room, It’s a Small World were duplicated in this park.  While concepts that weren’t nearly as successful or popular such as, Casey Jones, Painted Desert and Mickey Mouse Club Theater weren’t.  However, EPCOT Center that changed names to Epcot in 1994, was radically different.  It wasn’t the Magic Kingdom 2, with additional Fantasyland, more Frontierland, plussing Tomorrowland, and revenge of Adventureland.  It was different, instead of wonderfully created worlds that were to invoke different time periods and make guests feel like they weren’t in Central Florida, Epcot, was all about a real world approach, with artistic looking buildings and pavilions modeled after famous architecture from around the World.  Epcot, the cast members don’t pretend you are in a far off fantasy, they merely service you.  That’s right, Epcot, showed that Disney didn’t have to be traditionally Disney, they could talk about the history of communication, what inspires imagination, how plants grow, why energy is important, transportation and our various cultures.  That this could still sell a theme park, though Epcot has struggled over the years, it is still one of the more recognizable locations on earth, and it’s icon Spaceship Earth has earned its place as a recognizable landmark.

Epcot showed also that you could have two theme parks in one location, doubling the size of the vacation without doubling the size of the theme parks.  It also helped Disney extend your vacations from two to three days to eventually over a week.

Moving onto number 4, the opening of Tokyo Disneyland on April 15th 1983.

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Let’s face it, Walt Disney World when it opened only knew it had to prove one thing, that it was financially feasible to have two theme park destinations in one country, Tokyo was the first international location for a Disney Theme Park.  American audiences Disney knew, but would the same venues hold up in modern Asian.  Yes it did, this would open the floodgates for Disneyland Paris in 1992, Hong Kong Disneyland in 2005 and Shanghai Disneyland in 2015.  Not to mention for additional theme parks such as Tokyo DisneySea in 2001 and Walt Disney Studios Paris in 2002.  Yes, Disney was acceptable to an international audience.

Finally the fifth and last goes to the inaugural cruise of the Disney Magic, thus launching the Disney Cruise Lines on July 30th 1998.

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Disney had for years proven to be a top vacation destination, but that was because people wanted to go to the theme parks.  Yes Disney had built shopping centers, golf courses, water parks and other unique additional venues, but those were still supporting the initial success of the theme parks.  The demand to solely go to Typhoon Lagoon on a vacation wasn’t popular.  However with Disney Cruise Lines, Disney knew that they would have to step up the game.  You couldn’t build rides on a boat, people wanted to go to world class destinations, in essence people had to want to sail with Disney.  Would this prove successful, the answer was a resounding yes.  Disney not only was a theme park destination, it was a vacation destination and a vacation companion.  The Magic and Wonder originally went on three or four night cruises that stopped at the Bahamas and Castaway Cay. This was done so that Disney could tack it onto a Walt Disney World Vacation, this is what built their success, with the addition of two newer boats, the Dream and Fantasy, they would have to expand their itinerary.  So Disney did just that, they started going to Europe, then places like Mexico, Alaska and will more than likely continue to expand.

These are just the five, there are many more, such as the opening of the other various theme parks, the opening of Aulani, Vero Beach, Hilton Head Island, Adventures by Disney.  Yet these five were chosen by me, because this is a whole, when I do specific lists for each individual location we will get more and more technical.

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In honor of Donald’s Birthday I will be attending a barbecue tonight where the main dish will be Roast Duck.

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Disney Posts

Happy 80th Donald Duck

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Happy Birthday Donald Duck!

Today is the 80th birthday of our fowl friend. This beloved cartoon character has been giving us the third greatest gift for all of that time. He is the number one scene stealer of Walt’s era. Looking back at his career, Donald is blessed with a wonderful voice, three great nephews, adoring critters, ability to make friends with almost any animal and a girlfriend that has kept the relationship alive all these years and never moved it forward. What more could any male want? On his birthday I wish Donald a brand new Blu Ray disc or DVD. The kind with the old Shrink Wrap that took forever to get off. In the comments leave what you would wish Donald for his 80th Birthday.

Disney Posts

Happy Birthday Donald Duck!

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