Thursday, June 30, 2011

An Early Look At "Brave"

Ever since the appearance of the trailer aired before "Cars 2" and on YouTube, the buzz surrounding "Brave" has picked up.

This news report out of Scotland (naturally) has an inside look at the genesis of the story and some production background.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Where In Walt Disney World?

This one should be relatively easy. Where in Walt Disney World can you find this?


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sneak Preview Of Goofy's Sky School

Some lucky guests at Disney's California Adventure got a sneak preview of a new attraction - Goofy's Sky School.

The roller coaster is themed on the 1940 cartoon "Goofy's Glider," which chronicles Goofy's attempt to build and successfully launch a glider. Riders are taken on a winding journey past signs giving lessons from Goofy on how to fly.

Another review of this attraction doesn't sound very good.

I took a spin on the "refreshed" Wild Mouse-style coaster over the weekend and found little has changed from the previous Mulholland Madness version of the ride. The minor cosmetic surgery performed on the coaster amounts to nothing more than a fresh coat of sky-blue paint, a few Goofy billboards and a propeller slapped on the front of the cars.



Monday, June 27, 2011

"Brave" Trailer

The trailer for "Brave" was shown before "Cars 2" this past weekend. It's another Pixar movie.

Looks like they're going medieval. Hope it is better than "Cars 2".


"Toy Story 4" Now In Production?!!

Oh please, let this be true!

Tom Hanks has stated to the BBC that "Toy Story 4" is now in production.

When do we get to buy advanced tickets?


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Review of "Cars 2"

First of all, let me just say "PHEW!!!!"

After reading the tepid and bad reviews of "Cars 2", I was a bit apprehensive about the possibility of a disappointing Pixar movie. I am happy to report that my apprehension was unjustified. It isn't a disappointing Pixar movie IF you are in for a fun time and not think too much. So that is the general feeling of the movie.

However (yes, you know that's coming, don't you?), "Cars 2" will become my least favorite Pixar movie so far, replacing "Cars". There were many clever dialog, scenes, etc. in the movie. And the movie looks astounding. No fault at all with the technical aspect of this movie. The ocean scene was simply jaw-dropping. But let me just say that half-way through the movie, I made a guess on who the Big Bad Guy was, and I was dead-on correct at the end of the movie. It was extremely formulaic to the point where I could predict what was going to happen in almost every situation. The way the story was executed was entertaining, but the storyline is stale! The bad part was, at some point, I was even hoping that either Mater or Lightning McQueen would blow up or get "killed", because that would really be unexpected and a big shock to the storyline.

The biggest complain about "Cars 2" in most of the disappointing reviews was the lack of emotional attachments to the characters. This is certainly true. I find that I didn't have as much of a annoying problem with Mater being a big part of the movie than Lightning McQueen, but I just didn't have that attachment to Mater, and in this movie, I didn't have that emotional attachment to McQueen either, nor any other characters. Thus, my comment about thinking that one of them should have been blown up.

And yes, the Toy Story short "Hawaiian Vacation" before "Cars 2" made us all longed for the Toy Story gang to come back.

"Cars 2" is entertaining. But it is nowhere near the masterpiece of "Toy Story 3" or "Up". I would even say that "Tangled", a non-Pixar Disney movie, is notably better than "Cars 2". And when was the last time one can actually say that?


Friday, June 24, 2011

"Cars 2" Getting Tepid Reviews

Regardless of the commercial success of Pixar movies, the one thing that has ways been unquestionable is the critical success of their movies. Even with first "Cars", and "A Bug's Life", two Pixar movies that had the "least favorable" critical acclaim, they were still reviewed better than the average movie out in the years that they were released.

Now along comes "Cars 2", and the reviews so far indicate that it is a so-so movie, to a movie that has run out of gas. See here, here, and here.

This sequel seems a few rewrites short of Pixar's usual standards. "Cars 2" hardly seems like a Pixar movie at all - it lacks the studio's usual emotional ambition, it settles for the gag-a-minute style of its commercial rivals, and is by far the studio's least original movie.

There's also the decision to give Mater a more prominent role. Personally, I find the character a bit annoying. He isn't as bad as Jar Jar Bing, but he's close. So more of him may not go too well for me.

I'll be seeing "Cars 2" in 3D on Saturday, so I'll be able to judge how good (or not so good) the movie is. It's a tough act to follow coming on the heels of the amazing "Toy Story 3".

But to add insult to injury, the Toy Story short preceding "Cars 2" titled "Toy Story: Hawaiian Vacation" has been getting exceptionally good reviews!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shag To Make 2 WDW Appearences

If you are a follower of artist Shag and his work for Disney, here's your chance to come see him in his two appearances at WDW.

Shag will be at Magic Kingdom's Main Street Gallery from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday (note that regular theme-park admission required for this one) and at the Art of Disney store at Downtown Disney from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Random WDW Picture

One of the ornamental decorations at an entrance to World of Disney store in Downtown Disney.


Monday, June 20, 2011

The Technology Behind "Cars 2"

CNET has a closer look at the technology and science behind the upcoming Disney/Pixar "Cars 2".

Among those mentioned is the water effect.

With "Nemo," Shah explained, Pixar had come up with a "softer-looking water," but with "Cars 2," the team felt that audiences would be expecting the oil rig sequence to feature edgier, stormier water.

To achieve that, they explored a series of new water systems and ended up applying a mathematical wave model called Tessendorf, Shah said, which allowed for the creation of "more cuspy," sharper sea waves.


Main Street USA - WDW and Disneyland Paris

Attraction Magazine has a neat video comparing the Main Street USA at The Magic Kingdom, WDW, and Disneyland Paris.

I wish they had each shot a bit longer so that we can look at it more closely. Those scenes went a bit too fast.


"Cars 2" Is Already A Hit - In Merchandise!

With "Cars 2" opening this weekend and inevitably will another solid hit for Disney/Pixar, the Walt Disney Company is already reaping in profits from the Cars 2 merchandise, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Disney says "Cars 2" is on track to sell more tie-in goods than any single previous film, surpassing by a wide margin the current record holder, "Toy Story 3," which last year sold $2.8 billion of merchandise. That's on top of the average $2 billion of "Cars" merchandise sold annually since 2006. Both "Cars" and "Toy Story" are products of Disney's Pixar Animation Studios.

Luckily, I'm not one of those people who got into collecting Cars merchandise (I already have my hands full with those dreaded Disney pins!). So I'm rather immune to these things. But I know of many who truly collect these Cars stuff.

The thing that got me to snicker a little bit was when I read this part:

Disney's financial structure encourages such cross-division collaboration. When Disney's toy division makes money from a product derived from a particular film, the movie studio books a percentage of that revenue. Executives' bonuses are tied to the performance of their own operating divisions and of the company overall, giving them a personal incentive to cooperate with other units.

Can someone remind the people at D23 (and the people who did Destination D- The Florida Project) of this fact? There were many of us who would have paid the cover price for many books done by Dave Smith, books on imagineering, books on Disney history, etc. just to get them signed at the signing event. But we couldn't find these books anywhere at the event. Disney missed a tremendous opportunity to get these books sold. And oh, what about a coffee/refreshment cart outside of the convention hall? You could make a killing there!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Random WDW Picture

Close encounter with a Disney parade character.

This, of course, is from Mickey Jammin' Jungle Parade at Disney's Animal Kingdom.


Friday, June 17, 2011

"On Stranger Tides" Is Disney's All-Time Highest International Box Office Hit

It isn't a surprise that this happens, since we could see it coming from all the box office records that "Pirate of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides" was setting in international market. But now it is official. "On Stranger Tides" becomes the highest grossing Disney movie internationally.

Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has become the studio's biggest release of all time at the international box office, grossing $695.9 million overseas.

It's also the fourth biggest earner of all time at the foreign box office, bested only by Avatar ($2 billion), Titanic ($1.2 billion) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ($742.1 million), which it's on track to surpass.

Hey, maybe this will help a little bit on the US trade imbalance, ya? No?


2011 Disney Legend Awards

We have a list of recipients of this year's Disney Legend awards, to be presented at the D23 Expo this year.

JODI BENSON is an acclaimed voice actress and soprano singer who provided both the singing and speaking voices for Disney's Princess Ariel in The Little Mermaid and its sequels. For more than 20 years, Benson has voiced Ariel in film, television, video games, toys and at Disney Parks. She also starred as Sam in Disney's Enchanted and voiced Barbie in the hit Disney/Pixar films Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, plus Weebo in the film comedy Flubber.

BARTON "BO" BOYD began his career at Disney 1968 as an Assistant Merchandise Supervisor at Disneyland. Continually advancing over the course of his 33-years with the company, Boyd was an integral part of the team creating merchandise specifically for Disneyland and Walt Disney World and held positions including Merchandise Division Director and Vice President, Retail Merchandising. In 1997, he was named Chairman of Disney Consumer Products where he oversaw one of the longest periods of sustained growth in the history of Disney merchandising with such initiatives as Licensed Merchandise, Walt Disney Records, the start of Hyperion Press, the entire line of Disney magazine products, Disney Catalog, Disney Interactive for computer games and educational software, ESPN—The Store, Walt Disney Classics Collection, Walt Disney Collectors Society and the establishment of the first Disney Store outside the grounds of the Disney Parks.

JIM HENSON, an Emmy Award-winning television producer and Oscar-nominated film director, was an American puppeteer and the creator of global phenomenon, The Muppets. The cross-cultural appeal of The Muppets propelled television shows like Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, and Fraggle Rock to new heights. The success of these series led Henson to explore feature films including The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper and The Muppets Take Manhattan, as well as the technologically ground-breaking fantasy classics The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. The Muppet legacy continued with popular Disney films such as The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island, as well as the upcoming The Muppets, premiering this November.

LINDA LARKIN is a celebrated actress and popular voice performer best known for providing the voice of Princess Jasmine in the Disney animated feature Aladdin, its sequels, spin-offs and television specials. She has also been vocally featured in the Disney animated television series House of Mouse and the popular Kingdom Hearts video game.

PAIGE O'HARA is a Broadway actress and singer best known for providing the voice of Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, its sequels, series and games. She also starred as Angela in the Disney film hit Enchanted. O'Hara has also been vocally featured in the Disney video game Kingdom Hearts and as Belle on the 64th Annual Academy Awards.

REGIS PHILBIN is an Emmy Award-winning, cultural icon who has entertained millions of people through talk shows, game shows, books and albums for more than 50 years. For the past 23 years, Americans have woken up to Philbin, thanks to the nationally syndicated hit talk show LIVE! with Regis and Kelly which originated in 1983 when Philbin created The Morning Show for WABC in New York. In addition to his daytime success, Philbin launched ABC's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire into a primetime powerhouse and hosted a variety of shows including NBC's America's Got Talent, CBS' Million Dollar Password, and the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards.

JACK AND BONITA WRATHER struck a deal with their friend Walt Disney in 1954 to build a luxury family hotel on property adjacent to Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Ground was broken on March 18, 1955, and the hotel opened six and a half months later—104 rooms in five two-story buildings at a starting room rate of $15. The Disneyland Hotel, originally conceived as simply lodging, presaged future developments in how Americans entertained themselves, pioneering, as Jack's son Chris wrote, "new forms of dining as entertainment, shopping as entertainment and the use of a waterfront setting" in an urban environment. The Disneyland Hotel has since played host to kings, queens, presidents, entertainment and sports legends and families from around the world.

ANIKA NONI ROSE is a renowned actress and singer who provided the voice of Princess Tiana in Disney's The Princess and the Frog. In addition, some of her Broadway, television and film credits include her Tony Award-winning performance in Caroline, or Change, the blockbuster feature film Dreamgirls, and television series including The Starter Wife and The Good Wife.

LEA SALONGA is a celebrated actress and singer who provided the singing voice for two Disney Princesses: Jasmine in Aladdin, and Fa Mulan in Mulan and Mulan II. In addition to her recording and television career, Salonga's vast Broadway credits are highlighted by her performance as Kim in Miss Saigon which garnered her numerous awards including a Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics' Circle and Theater World Awards.

RAY WATSON was President of The Irvine Company when he was asked to join the Board of Directors for Walt Disney Productions in 1973. Watson's early tenure on the Board saw the expansion of Walt Disney World, the 1976 opening of River Country—Disney's first water park, and the opening of EPCOT Center, in 1982, which at a cost of $1 billion was the largest private land development project ever at that time. In 1983, Watson was elected as Chairman of the Board and after stepping down as chairman 1984, remained on the Board until he retired in 2004 after serving the Company for 30 years and establishing a worldwide reputation as a real estate development visionary.

GUY WILLIAMS was an acclaimed actor who starred in the hit Disney television series Zorro and two feature films, The Sign of Zorro and Zorro the Avenger. Williams' charming portrayal of Zorro helped galvanized the character in the public's imagination and made the series a favorite among the Baby Boomer generation and beyond. His other popular television credits include the hit series Bonanza and Lost in Space.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Muppets Being Green Trailer

OK, someone certainly is having a lot of fun spoofing things while making hysterical trailer for the upcoming Muppets movie. This is just plain hilarious.


If this is the kind of humor that's in the movie, I'm definitely going to see it.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Random WDW Picture

Hordes of people getting off the ferry and heading towards The Magic Kingdom. Notice the hidden mickey in the coil of rope in the lower left corner.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chicago Disney Shirts

Went to the Disney Store on Michigan Ave. in Downtown Chicago last Saturday, and bought new Chicago-themed Disney t-shirts. These are quite nice!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Where In Walt Disney World?

OK, not sure how difficult this is, but where in Walt Disney World can you find this?

Hint: you are walking through something when you normally could see this.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Donald's Great Adventure - At TN Outlet Store

Hello there my fans! Your buddy Donald Duck made a surprise appearance at the Disney outlet store in Tennessee! There were having a warehouse sale. Not sure who brought enough money to buy the warehouse, but the content of it certainly was certainly affordable.

I managed to get only a quick picture. I had to run off quickly to meet many of my fans.


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Grand Opening Of Walt Disney World

With the WDW celebrating the 40th Anniversary this year, it is nice to get to see these "vintage" videos all over again, even if it is for the amusement of watching bad hair and bad outfit. :) There's some nostalgia also of attractions long gone.

We got to see clips of these videos during the Destination D - Florida Project event this past May. But here it is in its full glory.


Primeval Whirl Remains Closed

Months after the fatal accident on Primeval Whirl, that attraction remains closed, at least until Sept. this year.

We didn't get to Dinoland during our last trip, so we didn't see this attraction. We certainly have been on it many times, and it's a screamer.

Hope it will reopen, and hope it becomes a safer ride for the cast members to operate and maintain.


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Pirate Home Theater

OK, at some point, someone has way too much cash! But it doesn't mean that I'm not envious of it.

This slideshow on Electronic House website shows someone's home theater decorated to the hilt in Pirates theme! It is just way too cool!

So what time is our pillaging of our neighbors' home theaters?


Monday, June 06, 2011

Bob Iger On Technology And "Monetization"

The Wall Street Journal has an excerpt of an interview with Disney CEO Bob Iger on digital technology, movie distribution, and monetization of Disney's brand name. But what I was curious most about was his relationship to Apple and Steve Jobs:

I have a special relationship with Steve [Jobs]. It goes back now a number of years, through the Pixar acquisition and the deal we did with Apple to put our product on the iTunes platform. It even transcends the fact that he's our largest shareholder. But the company doesn't have a special relationship with Apple.

We've done deals with Microsoft. Our product is on the Xbox platform. There's engagement with Amazon. Obviously Netflix. The Hulu relationship. There are numerous relationships we've created that you could view as potentially competitive to Apple.

Which is true. They certainly have supported many companies and platform which one would consider as competitors to Apple. It is also hinted from this interview that Disney will not be part of Apple's cloud computing announcement expected today.


Friday, June 03, 2011

"Little Mermaid" Attraction Ride-Through

Ride-throught video of the newly-opened The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure at Disney's California Adventure.

The clam-shell vehicles look similar to the Nemo attraction at Epcot.

So, considering how sophisticated some of the animatronics are in this attraction, how many are taking bets on when the first mechanical breakdown will occur in this attraction? You don't think so? Have you seen the Yeti at Expedition Everest lately? It hasn't been working during the times that I've been there for the past year or so. What a waste!


Thursday, June 02, 2011

"My Yard Goes Disney" Premier

HGTV's "My Yard Goes Disney" will premier on Monday, June 6. Here is a sneak preview of the premier show.

How do I get them to come to my house and work on my yard? :) I would like to have my yard done as a Mad Hatter Tea Party, complete with giant teacups and paper lanterns!


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Little Mermaid Attraction - 22 Years In The Making

The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure attraction will open this Friday at Disney's California Adventure. The LA Times has quite an informative article on the evolution of the idea way back 22 years ago until the construction and opening of the attraction.

How a Little Mermaid attraction fits into the whole theme of "California Adventure" is something that I still don't get. I suppose I have to see it myself when everything is in place at that theme park.