Monday, March 19, 2007

There Be Pirates Ahead!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Forbidden Kingdom...

So what comes next for the smallest theme park in the Disney Kingdom?

Well, we don't know anymore about the addition of POTC expansion yet. It's still in the planning phase as well as The Haunter Mansion and a yet untitled ride.

What will be happening over the next two to three years in addition to IASW will be an expansion of the esplanade. Sources have told me that within a year or so the goal is to start to create a Downtown Disney type atmosphere around the area to provide more of an incentive for people to stay, shop and spend money.

To do this they want to create an entertainment center around the area outside the theme park. Plans have been drawn up and the logistics are being worked out as we speak.

As for when we see those two or three other E-Tickets? Well, if it's approved POTC could be in place around 2011... but that all depends on getting approval from Hong Kong's governing body, which is less than happy about the first years results. Disney is considering this for the long hall. The park is beautiful and well laid out, but clearly underbuilt in terms of E-Tickets by at least two. POTC and HH should have been in the phase one plans but because of the planning of Michael Eisner were put on the back burner.

If attendance figures grow at a respectible pace we should see the addition of both POTC and HH by 2012 and that will be close to the time when Disney will have to decide if they're going to build a park across from Hong Kong Disneyland. They have an option on the land that expires in 2013 and the HK government will be pressuring them with the threat of building another competitor park on the land if Disney doesn't(hello, Universal?).

Friday, March 9, 2007

Disney Officially Announces Frog Princess 2009...

Although it's been mentioned quite often here on MouseKingdoms it appear at the company sharholder meeting Walt Disney Animation Studios finally made it official:

"2007-03-08 13:04 (New York)
By Andy Fixmer and Cecile Daurat
March 8 (Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co., owner of Pixar animation studio, will release ``The Frog Princess'' in 2009 in a return to the hand-drawn movie format the company had ceased producing.
``The Frog Princess,'' set in New Orleans, will be directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, who made ``The Little Mermaid'' and ``Aladdin.'' The film, based on the pair's original story, features Maddy, Disney's first African-American princess, Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter said.
``We're going back to hand-drawn animation,'' Lasseter told investors at Burbank, California-based Disney's annual meeting in News Orleans today. ``This movie is going to be classic Disney and yet you have never seen this before.''

Taking place in the roaring 1920's New Orleans during the heydays of the Jazz Era. The story focuses on a beautiful, young girl named Maddy.

The story starts out with her as a small 6 year old child and establishes the relationship between her and a prissly little girl named Charlotte. The story quickly moves up from there to her as a 19-year-old African American chambermaid. Bright, resourceful, ambitious, intense. A little too grown-up for her age. Charlotte has grown up to be an 18 years old, spoiled, southern debutante. A diva. So to speak...

Maddy's mother is Eudora. In her fifties is a warm homespun and nurturing woman who is overly fretful. Eudora used to be Charlotte's nurse maid. Charlotte's father is known as Big Daddy La Bouff Wealthy, Southern plantation landowner. A "good ol' boy." Warm, affable, courtly, imposing and powerful with a thick southern drawl.

There are plenty of interesting characters around the La Bouff family. Like George the La Bouff's chef, a curmudgeonly, African American in his 50's-60's. And no Disney tale can be told without a cute loveable creature, can it? The Frog Princess has Ray, a lovesick Cajun firefly. Warm, friendly, laid back and easygoing. He is comically obtuse, missing front tooth, has a lisp and occasionally speaks in Cajun French. Then there is Louis a Jazz singing alligator who is comic, manic, and very high strung. He's hip aligator with a extraordinary jazz singing which he sold his soul to get.

Now along the way, Maddy will meet Mama Odie, an elderly, African American 200 year old Voodoo priestess/fairy god-mother who is eccentric, benevolent, wise and all knowing. Think of her as a mixture of Moms Mabley & Yoda.

Now as we all know every Disney Princess must have her Disney Prince. The Frog Princess has Maddy falling for an actual prince. Prince Harry... no, not the one being sent to Iraq in a few months. This Prince Harry is a gregarious, fun-loving European Prince, in his early twenties. Picture a young Cary Grant. Charming, witty but irresponsible and immature who just happens to loves jazz. And he couldn't have come at a more perfect moment than during Mardi Gras.

He's accompanied by Lawrence, Harry's pompous roly poly valet. Stiff, snobbish and sarcastic, he is secretly envious and resentful of Harry. Hmmm... I smell a conspiracy brewing...

Oh and before we forget. A Disney Film without a villian? I don't think so. Not when we have Dr. Duvalier a African American Voodoo magician/fortune teller. Duvalier is charming, charismatic, smooth and a sinister mean, bad guy. Picture a cajun male version of Malificent.

I can't wait for it go get here. The Frog Princess offers us the chance to have a "Third" Golden Age of Disney Animation now that John Lasseter is in charge. Whatchathink?

Wall-E World? The Possible Future Of Tomorrowland...

There are lot of rumors going around now concerning Tomorrowland in Disneyland, California. I've had various sources say that after the "Extreme Makeover" of DCA the Imagineers will focus on a redo of Tomorrowland. Since it's not been ten years since the last change to the land this has to be taken with a grain of salt.

But numerous sources, some of which have provided reliable information before have informed me that a major facelift is planned if the new Nemo Submarine Ride is a success. There will be a new unknown E-ticket attraction as well an update of the "Star Tours" ride and a new people mover system will be the first of the projects to get the go if the greenlight is given.

The E-ticket is still in the Blue Sky phase of development but one such proposal is the Wall-E Pixar film taking over the area Innoventions now occupies. All this would start in late 2008/early 2009 and continue on into 2011 or 2012.

We'll keep you informed as more information comes in...

Monday, March 5, 2007


Mictorian: The Disneyfication of Victorian architecture.

Walt Disney grew up in small town America. Missouri to be exact. His formative years were during the end of the Victorian Era around 1900. This was a time when the world, and America in particular was shaking off it's Old World ways... moving toward a modern society that knew no limits, had no bounds and excepted no excuses.

Walt's image of what America could be and possibly already was came to be in this time. When he built Disneyland he put this view on display for all to see as they entered the park: Mainstreet U.S.A. was the first representation of what Disney Geeks tend to call "Mictorian". It's perhaps the signature style one thinks of in association with the Disney name. There are many architectual styles that influenced Disney through his life... from the Victorian childhood(1900's), to Arts and Crafts in California(1920's) through the Art Deco designs popular when he ran the Burbank studios(1930's). But the Victorian style is the image we picture most when we think of Disney.

Long after Walt's body has gone, his presence remains within this "stylized" version of American architecture. Besides the Mainstreets that welcome you into each Disneyland type park there are countless buildings designed with this in mind. The most known of course, are the hotels of Walt Disney World.

Built on what was originally supposed to be Walt Disney World's Asian Resort Hotel, the Grand Floridian was one of the early, and great decisions that Michael Eisner would make. Designed in the style of an early turn of the centure sea side Victorian retreat, the Grand Floridian has become the flagship hotel of WDW. For all intensive purposes, it is the Disneyland hotel of the Resort even though it doesn't go by the "Walt Disney World Hotel", it might as well. It exudes everything we talk about when one refers to a building as "Mictorian". Opened in 1988, it was modeled after the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. It is one of three Resort hotels(the others being the Contemporary and the Polynesian) that reside along the man-made Seven Seas Lagoon and in every term of Disney architecture the word "Grand" is certainly appropriate when refering to it.

The Beach Club Villas are another for of "Mictorian" architecture that evokes more of a New England form of Victorian styling. These Villas are part of the complex that is shared by the Beach Club and the Yacht Club, opened in 1990, both of which share this New England atmosphere. Opening in 2001, the Villas were an extention of the Disney Vacation Club and offered guest that wished to stay at the Beach or Yacht Club a much more private and home filled experience. The Victorian atmospher is clearly one of it's draws and guest that love the "Mictorian" architecture of the Grand Floridian, but wish for a more laid back setting will enjoy this Hotel.

Opening in 1996, The Boardwalk Inn was a Resort Hotel built in the "Mictorian" style of an East Coast "Coney Island" themed Victorian getaway. The kind, visitors to Atlantic City would have encountered had they put on their Sunday Best and went walking a midway filled with the smells of popcorn and candy. Situated near Epcot and the Disney-MGM Studios, This Hotel offers water ferrys across the lagoon to the theme parks. As with all the other "Mictorian" themed hotels, one is teleported back to a simpler time and as everything Disney, it's viewed through the prism of nostalgia, not reality.

Opened in 1991, this resort(formerly Disney's Vacation Club Resort) has the largest rooms of any of the seven deluxe WDW Resorts. The turn of the century look of this Resort was definately modeled after early East Coast resorts and features what we like to call Floridian "Mictorian" stylings... This place, with it's pastel colors and laid back decor resembles something your grandfather would have visited for a weeks rest from the rigors of modern life. Like the rigor of cranking that new Ford Model T so you could get there. All these Resorts offer the timeless experience that Disney is famous for. But these hotels aren't the only ones to sport this stylize Victorian look. The Grand Floridian may be the flagship of WDW, but the flagship Disneyland Hotels at all the other resorts pay homage to "Mictorian" design as well. The Disneyland Hotel in Paris is a light, fanciful recreation of that period and it's set up in front of the park puts it on display for all to see. The Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel is a hybrid between the Grand Floridian and the Boardwalk Resort with both paying respect to the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. Tokyo Disneyland's Disneyland Hotel will open in less than a year with a very extravagant "Mictorian" style that is rich in the theming OLC is known for. As with the Paris version, this one will be in front of the park. The only Disneyland Hotel to not have a Victorian... uhm... I mean "Mictorian" design is the original one in Anaheim. In about three years, if the construction still starts in January, the original DLH will have it's own radically different style to match the Disneyland park.

The designs for several other things feature "Mictorian" themed creations as well. The new Urban Entertainment Centers that WDI has been designing for Tokyo have this type of theming. Several proposals for other venues in Asia are also in the works. And what about those hotels Jay Rasulo has talked about building off Disney properties... in locations like New York, Chicago and possibly the northwest or Hawaii? Could those have the famous Disney stylized architecture? Well, the ones that see the light of day will have their share of "Mictorian" features.

As with all of Disney's plans, the goal is to sell you on the dream. Not of what was, but what could've been or could still be... that's the purpose of "Mictorian" themes. To take you into Walt's land... or world if you will. And for the brief time you're there make you part of the magic. Not simply a spectator watching it, but living it... believing it.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

WDFA Morphs Into WDAS...

Well, here is another change that has been brought about by John Lasseter and Ed Catmull now being in charge of Disney feature animation.

Walt Disney Feature Animation is no longer the title of the company.

It is Walt Disney Animation Studios. Kind of like Pixar Animation Studios, don't ya think? It appears Mr. Lasseter clearly has a direction he plans on taking the company... one that I'd have never thought possible a little more than a year ago.

I like the new logo... it's understated and classy. Here's to hoping the new films under John's tenure are as classy also.