Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Tech Gadgets on Disney Dream Cruise Ship

The new Disney Dream cruise ship will be loaded with new tech toys. Wired is detailing 5 of them. The most impressive and the one that I could really enjoy, is the virtual characters interacting with the guests.

Interacting With Virtual Characters: At most of the Disney theme parts there are shows where a virtual Disney character (for example, Crush from Finding Nemo) will talk and interact with kids in the audience in real time (using, we imagine, a sophisticated motion-capture rig, multiple cameras, hidden mics and a voice actor somewhere off-stage). This is being brought to the Dream in a powerful new way. Crush will be a regular visitor to the kids club areas during the day on the ship, meeting and talking to the kids play there on video screens. But then, in the evening, he’ll show up in the Animators’ Palette dining room as well. The room seats 700 diners, and has over 100 video screens on its walls, including more than 20 103″ screens. As dinner is served and eaten, Crush and other characters will interact with guests in 9 different seating zones. But the magic happens when Crush calls out by name and interacts with kids whom he met earlier in the day, or on the cruise, in the play areas, and recalls specific details of those interactions. I can only imagine what technology they’re using behind the scenes (creating a database of kids on the cruise using video and facial recognition?), but how magical will it seem to the kids?

Now that would be cool. We already know that the Crush interaction attraction is a hit at all the theme parks. So this one could turn out to be the same thing as well. Although, come to think about it, I'm guessing that these virtual characters will be Crush and other sea animals (meaning fish and shellfish). I wonder how they are going to react to some of the guests eating.... er ... fish during dinner! :) This could make for some hilarious moments.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Random WDW Picture

Ooooh.. what's this brown, round thing?

Breakfast at Chef Mickey at the Contemporary.


Beauty and the Beast Coming To Blu-Ray

Only a few more months to wait for the highly-anticipated Blu-Ray release of "Beauty and the Beast". Here's the Disney press release.

Burbank, Calif., March 29, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (WDSHE) proudly announces the Blu-ray high-definition debut of Disney’s animated masterpiece, Beauty and the Beast on October 5, 2010.

Disney’s most requested film, Beauty and the Beast, arrives for the first time on Blu-ray Hi-Def as the second installment to the company’s new Diamond Collection. The Blu-ray transformation reveals the magic, music and majesty of the film as never before experienced with state-of-the-art picture restoration, pristine 7.1 Digital Surround Sound and hours of additional viewing experiences that include behind the scenes features, deleted scenes, enhanced music tracks, immersive games and more.

The first of only two animated films ever to be nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Picture (the second is 2009’s Up), Beauty and the Beast earned six Academy Award® nominations and won two Oscars® in 1992 for Best Original Song (“Beauty and the Beast”) and Best Original Score.

Unavailable in any form since 2003, Beauty and the Beast will be released from the Disney vault for a limited time only, arriving on a Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack (2 Blu-ray Discs + DVD) October 5, followed seven weeks later with the release of a 2-Disc standard definition DVD on November 23.

The Beauty and the Beast Blu-ray™ + DVD Combo Pack has a U.S. suggested retail price of $39.99 and the 2-Disc DVD set has a U.S. suggested retail price of $29.99.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Random WDW Picture

So what happened to this boat that was at the Norway pavilion? It was there one time, and the next time I was there (such as almost a couple of years ago), and it was gone! Why was it removed? Anyone knows? Is it because kids were climbing all over it and there's a threat of someone falling off and breaking his/her limbs?


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tim Burton in Wonderland

An interview with Tim Burton on "Alice".


"Maleficent" Rumors Move Along

I mentioned quite a while back of the rumor that Tim Burton might be interested in doing a movie on Maleficent, the evil queen from Sleeping Beauty. Now, several months later, there are more rumors and unconfirmed reports on this.

"Maleficent" might reunite Woolverton with Tim Burton; it's one of a handful of projects the filmmaker is circling. His interest in the character was piqued in the summer when he was in postproduction on "Alice," and the studio and Burton's camp have been trying to keep a lid on the project, though the Web site Ain't It Cool News mentioned Burton's interest in January.

No deal has been made with Burton, and the hiring of Woolverton is the first concrete step forward in the project's development.

In "Beauty," Maleficent is a tall green-skinned woman with horns who can morph into several forms, including a terrifying black-and-purple dragon. The character, who has appeared in many Disney books and TV shows and is a popular Halloween costume, is also the most serious character in Disney's villain stable, featuring a darkness not found in other Disney characters.

As I've said earlier, it would be a hoot if Burton could do this the way "Wicked" has thrown a new light on the history of the Wicked Witch of the West/East. How and why did she became so bad? There is just many directions that this can go into. And Disney could easily milk this the same way they were trying to milk the Princesses franchise. These classic villains have a lot of "fans" (I know of people who collect Disney villains pins). And after seeing Tim Burton's "Alice", I want a movie on just the Red Queen! Please, please, please, please!!!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Disney's California Adventure TV Special

Disney just released a series of "retro" videos introducing the Disney's California Adventure. Not sure why they are doing this now considering that DCA is undergoing a major overhaul that will change it dramatically. So most of these are going to be outdated. I guess this is "historical".


Monday, March 22, 2010

Disney Looking For Real Breasts For "Pirates 4"

.. and no, we're not talking about chicken breasts for the catering company either.

Apparently, news reports have indicated that Disney has a rather strange requirement in one of their casting call for the upcoming 4th installment of "Pirates of the Caribbean".

The filmmakers sent out a casting call last week seeking "beautiful female fit models. Must be 5ft7in-5ft8in, size 4 or 6, no bigger or smaller. Age 18-25. Must have a lean dancer body. Must have real breasts. Do not submit if you have implants."

And they'll verify it too, apparently. Maybe they'll give it the "bounce" test or something, or poke it with a sharp object to see if it deflates. I don't know...


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tron Monorail

Everyone has been buzzing about the Tron-themed monorail at WDW. Disney Parks has finally released their video of it. It's short, but it gives you a bit of an idea of what the monorail cars look like.

Hopefully, I'll get to see it in person in slightly more than a month! :)


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Random WDW Picture

Goofy Barnstormer - which may not be the same or even be there when Toon Town at the Magic Kingdom goes away.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Main Street Electrical Parade - 1999

Holy Cow! This is crazy good!

This is a retro video from 1999 that shows some of the floats used in the Main Street Electrical Parade in 1999 being driven on regular streets at WDW on the way to the Magic Kingdom! Oh man! I wish they would do this again when the parade comes back to WDW!

Here's part of the synopsis that accompanies this video:

A look back through the Walt Disney World video archives to- 1999 and a night you could've been driving toward Magic Kingdom Park with Pete's Dragon in the lane next to you. In May of 1999, a few weeks before Main Street Electrical Parade started making nightly appearances in Florida, hundreds of cars lined an interstate for an overnight road test. Many of the Main Street Electrical Parade vehicles and cars driven by Walt Disney World cast members joined a ceremonial caravan toward the park. It was quite a sight. See for yourself!

So see for yourself!


Pixar and World of Color

DisneyParks has released a rather nice video of Pixar and the World of Color spectacle that is scheduled to open at Disney's California Adventure. I didn't realize that this is going to be predominantly Pixar (or maybe there are other components to the show besides Pixar movies).

Still, the video does give a glimpse of what we might see from this show. This is certainly a good excuse for me to go back to the Disneyland Resort when this show opens (as if I need an excuse). :)


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wishes From BLT

Disney Parks has released a short clip of Wishes as seen from the observation deck at Bay Lake Tower.

It's almost as good as my video of Wishes, which is below! :)


Helena Bonham Carter and "Alice"

A very entertaining article on Helena Bonham Carter and her role at the evil "Red Queen" in "Alice in Wonderland".

Bonham Carter, who has a nine-year romance and two children with Burton, giggled as she recounted the moment when she was invited to take on the royal role in "Alice in Wonderland," the highly anticipated Disney film, which opened over the weekend.

"It was like a proposal of marriage," said the 43-year-old actress.

"I was doing 'Terminator Salvation' at the time, and when he asked me, I was really flattered. It was a complete surprise! I know people think it's disingenuous when I say that, but it's true. They won't understand this, but each time (he has a film), I truly don't expect Tim to ever want to work with me again."

As I've mentioned in my review of "Alice", I thought she stole the movie. Her portrayal of the Red Queen was over the top, as it should be, and was completely memorable from start to finish. She should have her own movie sequel!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Early Toy Story 3 Review

Those who got invited to see the work-in-progress version of "Toy Story 3" at ShoWest in Las Vegas are all giving it a glowing review. Or at least, as much of a review as they are allowed to provide. Read this entry from Jim Hill.

I mean, I sat in that hall today surrounded by hardened industry professionals. Exhibitors who care more about how much popcorn & soda they’re selling than the movies they’re currently showing at their multiplexes. And these jaded theater owners – as “Toy Story 3” entered the home stretch – were openly weeping. Tears streaming down hundreds of faces as the ultimate fate of Woody, Buzz, Jessie and the whole Andy’s Room gang was decided.

OK, are those Pixar fellas hell-bent on making me cry? They almost did it during the first 15 minutes of "Up". Now this???!!

Nevertheless, it looks like "Toy Story 3" will be the next highly-anticipated movie out of Disney. I can't wait.


Random WDW Picture

Dusk at World Showcase from the Italy Pavilion.


Dolby and Disney Develop New Audio Format

Dolby Lab has announced that it is developing with Disney/Pixar a new audio format called Dolby Surround 7.1.

The Mouse House plans to launch the format in select theaters in conjunction with its launch of 3D toon installment "Toy Story 3" on June 18.

According to Dolby, the improved system allows for a more comprehensive mix of audio and visual 3D elements, as well as "a more exciting sensory experience to audiences for 2D."

Oy. I'm just trying to catch up to Dolby Digital 6.1. Now it's up to 7.1. I know there are already many amplifiers/receivers with 7.1 audio connections. It will take me a while to get up to speed here. Still, it will be interesting to see (or more like to hear) this Dolby Surround 7.1. I can only hope that the theater that we plan on going to see Toy Story 3 will not only have the 3D version, but also this new audio format.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An interview with John Lasseter on The Princess and the Frog

On the day that "Princess and the Frog" is released on DVD and Blu-Ray, Disney has released a very long interview with John Lesseter on the movie. He has talked about the movie many times, especially right before it was released, but it is nice to revisit this and see what he thinks after the movie has been released for a while.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Random WDW Picture

OK, just don't sing the tune. You'll never get it out of your head!


Disney Cast Member Hit By Tomorrowland Speedway Car

Oh, I am so longing to hear how this actually happened.

Several news reports are reporting that a Disney cast member was hit by one of the cars in the Tomorrowland Speedway at The Magic Kingdom yesterday. No, really!

Reedy Creek Fire Rescue said they responded to the call at 12:53 p.m. after the cast member stepped in front of the moving vehicle.

The cast member suffered leg injuries and was flown to the hospital by helicopter.

One just doesn't step in front of a moving vehicle, so there must be more to the story than this.


"Alice" Has Legs

Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" is still the #1 movie this past week, hauling in another $62 million to bring its total to an amazing $208 million already.

“Alice,” which stars Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, has earned $208.6 million in its first two weeks of release. It set a handful of records in its opening weekend: the sixth-biggest opening ever, the biggest debut for March and for a 3-D film, the largest opening weekend for the year, and the best-ever Imax opening.

“Alice’s” $62 million in receipts “would be a great number for an opening weekend,” said Paul Dergarabedian, film analyst for Box-Office in Los Angeles. “And for this to happen in the first quarter, it has never been done before. It has to be word-of-mouth that’s driving this.”

I think I may need to see this movie again. In my review, I wasn't sure if I liked the movie or not. I think I'm beginning to appreciate it more, but I definitely have to view it again and just not let the ending ruin the whole movie. Maybe Helena Bonham Carter can save it with her uproarious portrayal of the Red Queen.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Random WDW Picture

Ah, nostalgia! What used to be the afternoon parade at The Magic Kingdom when they still had those snow-globe thingy.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Disney's Premier Passport

Thanks to Ralph for sending the picture.

We now have a snap shot of the new Disney Premier Passport, which is the "annual pass" for both WDW and Disneyland Resort.

Hum... I wonder how many people will actually buy one of these. I don't know yet how much it will cost.


Destination D Event and D23 Expo Announced

Disney has announced a new event for D23 members this year - Destination D - which will be held on Sept. 25-25 this year.. It also has announced that this Destination D event will alternate with the highly successful D23 Expo. The next D23 Expo will go back to the Anaheim Convention Center on Aug. 19-21, 2011.

Sounds like a terrific event for Disney fans.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

"Give A Day, Get A Disney Day" Promotion Ends

Disney's "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" has ended with the sign-up of 1 million volunteers. Disney announced this today.

Since the program started just 10 weeks ago, on Jan. 1, a million people already have volunteered or have committed to volunteer in their communities, according to Disney Parks and HandsOn Network, the nation’s largest volunteer network and a facilitator of “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day.”

It is quite a success, considering that they got the 1 million volunteers in early March for something that started this year. Glad I volunteered early and got my voucher, which I will redeem on our next trip in April.


New "Tron Legacy" Trailer

OK, so everyone is buzzing about the latest "Tron Legacy" trailer. You can find one here at this link. It reveals a little bit more of the set-up.

Oh yeah, I can't wait for it already. I just hope that I don't have too high of an expectation the way I had for "Alice".

Edit: here's the trailer:


Sunday, March 07, 2010

"Alice" Opens With Record Weekend

Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" did smashing business in its opening weekend. It registers the largest box office weekend for a movie opening in March with an estimated take of $116 million.

This Walt Disney Studios picture, directed by Tim Burton and starring Mr. Depp as an orange-haired Mad Hatter, made an estimated $116.3 million at North American theaters, according to, which tracks sales information. The movie took in an additional $94 million overseas, breaking a smattering of foreign records, for a total of $210.3 million.

The turnout — the biggest 3-D opening on record, surpassing the one for “Avatar” — was notable for its timing: late winter, normally a quiet time at the multiplex. Hollywood has been trying to open new pockets on the calendar for its big-budget “tent pole” movies, typically reserved for summer and Christmas, and the results for “Alice in Wonderland” signal the effort is succeeding.

Certainly is bitter sweet since this was a movie approved and developed under the former Disney Studios management that are all but practically gone.


LA Times Ran "Alice" Ad On Front Page

Well, this is kinda unusual. The LA Times ran Disney's advertisement for "Alice in Wonderland" on the front page on Friday.

The ad, which featured Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter character, was superimposed over a mock front page. The paper's real A1 appeared behind it.

That's certainly is a head-turner, and should cost a bundle of money.


Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" - A Review

We saw the latest "Alice in Wonderland" yesterday, in full 3D.

Let me get right to the point. I can't make up my mind if I like the movie, or not. This makes it very strange because I typically know right off the bat after I walk out that I like the movie or not. I definitely wanted to like this movie a lot. There's a lot to like. It's visually stunning, as expected. There's so much to see on the screen, which means the need for repeated viewing when it comes out on Blu-Ray/DVD. There's plenty of fascinating characters on the screen. I love the Cheshire Cat. The Mad Hatter is rather disturbing, which probably was the intention.

But there are parts of the movie that just didn't work for me. That final battle scene - I could pluck that from any fantasy movie. In fact, it is similar to the final scene in "Enchanted", which is ironic because "Enchanted" purposely tried to mimic the "fairytale/fantasy" genre. And when the Mad Hatter did his final dance, well that just almost destroyed the movie for me because it looked so much out of place!

Of course, the main focus of the movie is the performance of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. It was quite commendable and he created a very unique character. Still, I think Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen stole the show! She was hysterically wonderful and should be a major Disney villain from now on.

So in the end, I don't know if I like this movie. I would definitely recommend it so that you can have an interesting experience at the theater. Maybe I was expecting way too much, as I had afraid of. Maybe I might change my mind after another viewing....


Saturday, March 06, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

In case you've been living under a rock, Tim Burton's re-imagined "Alice in Wonderland" opened yesterday. So far, I've read glowing reviews, even by Roger Ebert, who gave it only 3 stars because he didn't like the climatic ending with a typical battle scene. But he had stellar review of the movie till that part (he called in Act 3).

Well, I'll be the judge of that since we will be seeing it this afternoon.... in 3D of course. I expect to be dazzled visually. And that's awful, because I already have such high expectations of it after the promo and trailers being released for months leading up to the movie. And I hate that, because I'd rather walk in with almost zero expectations and no clue even what the movie would look like. The same thing is happening with Tron Legacy.

We shall see.....


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Exclusive D23 Live Chat With Imagineer Tony Baxter

On March 4, between 2-3 PM Pacific Time, Imagineer Tony Baxter will be conducting a live chat with D23 members. You can submit your questions right now.

I hope he picks mine to answer! :)


New Things In WDW Downtown Disney

Looks like there are more stuff being introduced in Downtown Disney, which is a plus considering that they lost Pleasure Island.

• Enhanced theater experience technology at the AMC theater, which includes a floor-to-ceiling screen, 3-D technology and upgrades to sound and visual technology that can deliver HD experiences. The theater expects to debut the new technology in one of its auditoriums by March 5, coinciding with the premier of Walt Disney Pictures’ Alice in Wonderland.

• Ridemakerz, a new retail entertainment experience that allows guests to custom design radio-controlled cars. Ridemakerz is expected to be open from March through this fall. The retail attraction already has a location at Downtown Disney in California.

• D Street, an apparel store melding urban-inspired clothing and accessories with the Disney brand. The store will open in April.

• Pollo Campero, an international Latin chicken quick-service restaurant, which will open in the fall.

Sorry, a "Latin chicken quick-service restaurant", or a "Latin quick-service chicken restaurant"? :)


Dumbo Heading For Broadway?

Whoa! Patti, did you hear that?

While it is still early in the development stage, there's talk going around of bringing "Dumbo" to the Broadway stage as a musical.

Disney Theatrical Productions and Stephen Daldry, the Tony Award-wining director of “Billy Elliot: The Musical,” are developing an adaptation for the stage of the 1941 classic movie “Dumbo,” a Disney executive said on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr. Daldry approached Disney Theatrical several months ago with a concept for a “Dumbo” musical, and they are now in “the very initial stages” of shaping those ideas, according to the executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the company does not comment on projects at such an early stage.

Now, I hope they don't muck it up the way they did to "The Little Mermaid". Still, it would be very interesting to see how they do this, considering that the "main character" of the show will be a flying elephant. Maybe it's time to bring back Julie Taymore!


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time - New Official Video Trailer

New trailer for the upcoming Prince of Persia movie.

From the trailer, the "theme" of the movie sounds almost like the Lord of the Ring! I hope this movie has a lot more than just "noise", and not enough substance. At this moment, I'm not as keen to see it as I am of this weekend's "Alice".


Monday, March 01, 2010