Friday, November 30, 2007
Until we see that sequel to "Cars" sometime early next decade, it looks like you will be able to experience them online. Bob Iger was quoted the other day discussing a new "Cars" online game that lets you roam around the enviroment of Radiator Springs and experience the world that Pixar and John "The Mousetro" Lasseter created.
It's supposed to debut sometime in 2008.
Now, as for the sequel, there is talk about it, but it's only whispers. My Pixar contacts are not as extensive as my Disney ones, so I can't verify this, but I can tell you that with Disney's marketing muscle and the "Cars" characters pulling in about 2 billion this year, you can bet Lightning McQueen and company will be kept on the forefront of kids and kids at heart for the next few years. It's worth it just to create awareness for the Cars Land that DCA is getting in 2012. That alone is reason enough for the Mouse to keep everyone up to date about the characters.
So come next year, you could be buying your car online...
Or at least renting it from the Mouse.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Although it is nowhere near my favorite...
The first Disney film I can remember going to a theater to see was "The Aristocats". My parents couldn't take me, but my cousin offered to take me. So I rode with her into town to see it at the only theater we had in town. It was wonderful for a kid to experience. Watching that film in that rickety old, darkened movie house was my first theatrical enjoyment with the Mouse and the beginning of a life-long love of all things Disney. Now, about the film...
Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman(The Jungle Book, Winnie The Pooh and The Blustery Day, Robin Hood), the story of Duchess and her three kids, errr kittens, Berlioz, Marie and Toulouse. Their Parisien Millionairess Owner bequeaths them her entire estate. The nasty butler has other plans and schemes to swindler her fortune for himself. He takes them away and tries to dispose of them. Out in the French countryside they come across Thomas O'Malley who helps them find their way back to Paris. it has a wonderful jazz score(by the great Sherman Brothers) and a hilarious chase scene that I could watch time and time again.
Walt Disney Home Video just announced that the film will get a DVD release on February 5, 2008.
As well as the classic movie, the disc will include several extras: A Never-Before-Seen Deleted song, Games and Activities: Disney Virtual Kitten ROM, English Read-Along, Disney Song Selection and a bonus short – “Bath Day”, a cartoon short from 1946 featuring Figaro. A Backstage Disney Scrapbook of The Aristocats will be on the disc as well.
More cash for the Mouse it appears, but at least it's a worthy reason to give Disney some green...
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The New York Times has an article about the problem the Mouse has regarding "Ratatouille":
"As the awards season heats up, the Walt Disney Company and its Pixar Animation Studios unit have been wrestling with a conundrum posed by their warmly received, computer-animated fable about a rat who aspires to become a Parisian chef: Any move to promote it as the year’s best picture might lead to ballot-splitting that would diminish its chances of getting the less prestigious but more easily won Oscar for best animated film."
This is another case of the Academy diminishing the art of animated films and how they shouldn't be considered for best picture since they are, after all... animated. Thus, they need to be subcategorized in an inferior award. This all came about years ago because "Beauty and the Beast" got nominated for a Best Picture and some in the AMPAS didn't feel a cartoon film deserved it, so they created the special category of "Best Animated Film"...
I've heard Brad Bird talk about this, it's a real shame when Oscar thinks that animation is a second class citizen in the world of film. Just as comedy never really makes it onto the Best Picture nomination list, animation gets to sit in the back of the bus because of a bunch of high-brow Hollywood types that think they know how to define what culture and class is.
This isn't something new, Walt Disney was never really treated like an equal when he was doing his shorts. He was laughed at when he decided to create the first feature length animated film, "Snow White" and many were skeptical about his entry into live-action because he "made cartoons". While times have changed, there is still enough resistance to the idea that the medium doesn't define art... the art is defined by the results. It shouldn't matter if it's live-action, animated, comedy or drama... tell that to an out of touch Hollywood. Tell that to the producers and moguls that run these companies. Tell that to a public that seems to be at odds with a entertainment industry that doesn't seem to know where its bread is buttered.
Another interesting paragraph:
"The studios’ reluctance to advance their animated wares as candidates for best picture is enforced by a perception that actors, the academy’s largest branch, with about 20 percent of the membership, are reluctant to honor movies without live performances. Additionally, the academy has a definite allergy to family fare, like the G-rated “Ratatouille”: 28 R-rated films have been nominated for best picture in the last 10 years, while only two PG-rated movies — “Finding Neverland” and “Good Night, and Good Luck” — have. And none with a G rating have made the cut."
It seems if a movie makes money, is made for the entire family and also happens to be animated, well... that's three strikes for that film. Very sad.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
By Pirates, I mean Suits acting as pirates and hijacking Disney animation, of course...
On this day, five years ago, Walt Disney Pictures releases its 42nd animated feature "Treasure Planet". The film is loosely based on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel "Treasure Island". This is a film that was pitched to Jeffrey Katzenberg several times... he rejected it everytime. After he leaves the Mouse, apparently no one listened...
It does very badly at the box office.
While not nearly the worst film released by the Mouse over the last decade, it was not up to the caliber of "Mermaid", "Beauty" or "Lion King"... and was well known within the halls of the animation building as having been heavily interfered with by Suits. A bunch of animation executives that didn't know story, didn't know how to draw telling a bunch of animators how to tell story and how to draw.
And when it was a failure, who got the blame?
The animators. Sigh...
By now, everyone knows that the new Goofy short will premiere before "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" next month, but the real question is what is next? And when?
Well, from what my sources tell me, there are at least five shorts in active development. Three of which are well into production. The next one we will see after Goofy, may not be until next summer, but right now it looks as though the debut of "Bolt" a year from now will yield the next one. There has been talk of having a summer release of the next one, but as of right now there is no definite decision as to place one before next summers offerings.
So what will come in front of "Bolt"?
Well, that movie is being directed by Chris Williams and the short that will play in front of it will be one directed by...
Yup. Chris Williams got the job taking over the directing chores on "American Dog", now known as "Bolt" when John Lasseter saw the story reels for his new short, "Glago's Guest". So he not only has the pressure of being the first film released under The Mousetro's reign, but he also has a short that he directed attached to the front of his directorial debut. Not much pressure, eh?
From what I'm told "Glago's Guest" will be a very beautiful, artsy tale about a Russian guard out in the in the middle of nowhere that is visited by an extraterrestrial. It was good enough for Lasseter to trust him with a major animated feature. And before you ask... yes, it is CG.
So what else can we expect?
Well, as well as the short from Goofy's "How To", "Glago's Guest", we have "The Ballad of Nessie" and "Prep And Landing". There are another couple that are in preliminary stages. Yes, Disney's classic characters will be in some of these... in fact one short that is being planned will be directed by Disney Legend Eric Goldberg involving the classic trio themselves. There is a chance that the "Nessie" one could be ready by fall next year, but I don't think we'll see it before "Glago"... just my own intuition, schedules could change. The "Nessie" short(about the Loch Ness Monster, of course) should be interesting, it's being done by the directors of the Goofy short, it's hand drawn like the "Goofy" short and is very much in the style of Mary Blair's drawings. The story of "Prep" is about some very inept elves that prepare Santa's sleigh for Christmas Eve to disastrous results... do you think Disney will plan on releasing this one during a certain holiday season? There are many, many shorts being prepared for pitches, not all will make it into production, of course. The goal will be to have at least two a year by the end of next year... if things go well, they may try for three a year, but we'll have to see how they go and play for the audience.
But come December 21st, we'll get to see a new Disney short, and trust me...
It won't be the last.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Walt Disney Pictures "Bolt" will be released one year from today. This will be the first true test of of John Lasseter's Magical Wand of Success... we'll see if he can translate Pixar's success into Disney's own animation.
I'm betting he can.
I think "Bolt" will do just fine, but I believe the true greatness of what he's done reworking Walt Disney Feature Animation into Walt Disney Animation Studios will truly start with "The Frog and the Princess" and then be expanded even more so by "Rapunzel". From what I hear, these films are a return to the Second Golden Age films like "The Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and the Beast". If that's the case, I believe that "Bolt" will turn out to be the new "The Great Mouse Detective"... and that's no insult. I happen to love this Disney film and if next years animated film is as good as the one starring the Basil of Bakers Street, I'll be a very happy Disney Geek.
But 365 days from now we'll get a taste of what "The Mousetro" has in store for us...
Walt Disney Imagineers took home two awards within the themed entertainment industry for creating outstanding new experiences at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.
The Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure Playtest at Epcot won an award.
The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at Disneyland also was a recipient of the 2007 THEA Award for Outstanding Achievement.
Congrats to all involved.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Although the Makeover won't really start until next year and the exact date of the entrance keeps shifting as Operations and WDI work to find the right mix of attractions and walls, I thought it'd be nice to visit the park we walk into four and a half years from now.
In this part, we'll just start at the entrance...
It's a lovely, warm summer day in Anaheim and we're just passing through Downtown Disney. As we come across the Esplanade we look over and see the new entrance to Disney's Second Gate. The architecture in front of the turnstiles reminds us of the Pan-Pacific Amphitheater. We approach the gates and notice all the lovely foliage and plant life around the entrance... already we sense a difference from the park we remember. I admire their new period costumes as the cast member takes our ticket we push through the turnstiles and see the new Partners statue in front of the pole that is flying the California flag. We walk over and stare at the statue. It's a lovely homage to the original Partners statue across the Esplanade. Walt, looking young and wild-eyes as he stares out at Southern California and the opportunity it holds for him, all the while hanging on to his dear friend, Mickey. After a moment we hear a noise and come out of our dreamstate.
Turning we see a Pacific Electric Red Cars pull to a stop on our right. As it's passengers get off we stare ahead at the rest of the entrance. It's almost as if we've walked back into the late 20's or early 30's Los Angeles. We stare at the Spanish architecture that was so prevalent at that time and move on down the entryway with the rest of the crowd. As we walk towards the new Carthay Circle Theater, we notice the new stores along the way.
Not all of them are new, but their facades are much different and they've been re-branded with new names. We smile as we admire the vintage Oswald’s Gas & Oil station on our left. A clear homage to Walt's forgotten creation and a bygone era. Mortimer Market is on your right. Nice... the theming is top notch. Over to our right is Carolwood Trains, Craft & Hobby, the new train station that sells Disney merchandise... this store has far more theming and atmosphere than the pop culture concoction that was here before.
I look directly across from where I stand and see Seward’s Five & Dime, a charming representation of an early Southern Californian shopping store. Right then I notice Horace’s Pawn Shop and walk in to take in all the trinkets and baubles that are available in the re-branded park. Nice merchandise, I say... cool new logo. Maybe I'll pick up a new shirt before I head out of the park. Coming up to Walt Disney Plaza, I can't help but wonder if I've passed into the past looking at that classic theater staring across from me as I peer over the fountain, past all the foliage and trees. Could "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" be showing? An old car putters by. A bell rings, startled, I watch the Red Car head back down the tracks, rounding the circle in the plaza, it heads into the Hollywood area. As it passes I notice the Elias & Co. Department Store with its big glass windows. I smile at this nod to Walt's father.
Maybe I'll takes some pictures? Unfortunately, in my hurry down here I left my digital camera at home on the coffee table. I look around and see Kingswell Camera and decide to go and purchase a disposable camera so I can take some pictures. As I exit I look around at what I want to shoot first. The theater? No, that's too obvious... maybe the Duesenberg limo that is passing by? Nah, I'll wait till I ride in it later today and shoot photos from it. Whoa! How about that nice looking place over there, Doc Sherwood Apothecary. I start snapping shots off trying to take it all in, I look at the camera and realize I'd better take it easy... I've used up half my roll of film and I'm not even out of the entry plaza yet. Wow. I'm gonna have to buy more film... this could get expensive!
I'm getting kind of hungry so I head over to Clarabelle’s Corner Café for a little bite. Along the way I pass Julius & Sons Tailors and notice a snazzy new jacket. Maybe I should stop and... no. I must eat first. We've got way too much to see before I start spending money. There's so much to see and I haven't even gotten down to the Pier yet. Wait a minute, my stomach is growling.
Now, about that sandwich...
Friday, November 23, 2007
Does Disney have a hit on its hands or what?
Walt Disney Pictures' "Enchanted" isn't what I was expecting. I was thinking I'd see a smart-elect parody that makes fun of the classic Disney Princess films with a nod and a wink. It's not a satire so much as it's really a twist on the old formulaic Disney/Happily Ever-after tales.
The script by Bill Kelly(Blast from the Past, Premonition) is really clever. It gives respect to all those films we love(Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, etc.) while striking out new territory that plants it in the 21st Century for sure. I think Kevin Lima(Tarzan, 102 Dalmatians) was perfect to direct this film. He has the right sensibility to take a movie that moves from animation to live-action following a Disney frame of mind. Amy Adams is the new Julie Andrews... really. This is her "Mary Poppins". She leaps off the silver screen and practically says: "I'm a star, world! Look at me!". Patrick Dempsey is great as the real world Prince Charming, grounded in reality as a divorce attorney that doesn't believe in fairy tales, yet winds up falling in love with a literal one. James Marsden has never been cast in a role that was so perfectly fit for his otherworldly good looks. He's perfect as a perfect prince that really doesn't turn out to be what you expect him to be. Or what others expect him to be. In fact, all the cast are great... even the underused Susan Sarandon as the evil Queen.
I won't go into spoilers, it would be like turning to the last page of a children's storybook to find out what happens. But C'mon. Let's face it... we all know what happens in tales like these.
This is a perfect date movie. This is text book example of a film to take your little girl to. Fathers all over the world will be sitting down with their daughters watching this on DVD for years to come. It's a film like they used to make before Hollywood tried to create movies for nitch markets. It's a film that appeals to all segments of an audience while not talking down to any of them. Disney's been having a banner couple years at the Box Office of late, and it's going to continue with this one. I hope that the Suits at TeamDisney don't make unnecessary sequels to this just for the all mighty dollar. Not that I'm against one for this film. If they find a great idea or come up with a great screenplay, then by all means make it... but don't tarnish this diamond ring by having a Cracker Jack ring follow it. Let it stay out there and become the classic Disney tale it was meant to be and don't make a "cheapquel" to it. John Lasseter has already put an end to those over at DisneyToons, I hope Iger doesn't let them start up a new batch over at Walt Disney Pictures.
Now I'll get off my soap box and finish by saying don't wait for the DVD for this one. You really should find a couple hours on this holiday weekend to see "Enchanted"... it's truly a movie to be thankful for.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
To you and yours on this Great Day from Blue Sky Disney...
May you have a very Happy Thanksgiving, and may there be much for you to be thankful for in the year to come.
See you on the other side of the holiday weekend...
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Those of you that have visited the Animation Building in DCA recently got the pleasant surprise of seeing a teaser display for Walt Disney Animation Studios' "Bolt".
I know most people are looking forward to "The Frog and the Princess" and "Rapunzel", but from what I hear, "Bolt" sounds like it's going to be a very good film for the Mouse. Perhaps they should attach a warning label to it that says: "Absolutely no interference from Suits was provided on this film". The Mousestro himself has worked with Chris Williams and Disney's own Story Trust to make sure this will be an entertaining and compelling story filled with heart and bound in emotion. Naturally, it will be scrutinized quite a bit since it's the first film Lasseter has extensively had his creative hands on it(Meet The Robinsons was not a test of his box office magic). Not long before we find out, I hear they're working on a teaser as we speak...
Original Hat Tip: Animated News. Photo: John Darling
The guys over at Aint It Cool News have posted a wave of reviews of Walt Disney Pictures "Enchanted". From Harry himself, Massawyrm to several others that attended the Austin screening. Almost all of the reviews are not just positive, but extremely positive. There's only one that puts a downer on it. Check them out for yourselves. Click over to have a looksie...
Also of note, the Mouse has changed its plan to attach the new Goofy short to "Enchanted"... instead it will be premiering in front of "National Treasure 2". So Nick Cage gets the honor of appearing after Goofy...
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Someone call for a repairman?
That's figuratively what happened in 2005 when Robert Iger took over as the head of the Mouse. Though we don't want to put into our mind the image of Iger bent over a kitchen appliance with his butt-crack showing as we hear him banging on some broken pipes... that's essentially what he is. And what is happening.
You see, the last manager, Mr. Eisner, left the Mouse House in much need of repair. This is no job for the Maytag Repairman here... we got some serious work to get done and luckily for us, it looks like this Iger guy we called... he's capable of handling the job.
While Michael Eisner will be remembered as the one who saw Walt Disney Productions as something that needed to be exploited(he was right about this), the man who turned the Mouse into the Walt Disney Company, a global Goliath and transformed WDW into a huge entertainment mecca... Iger will be different.
The mistakes and problems of Eisner's last decade will be the foundation of most of Iger's domestic reputation. Instead of building a Third Gate for Anaheim or Fifth Gate for Orlando in the next decade, he'll set his eye on fixing much of what has gone wrong since the late 90's. DCA specifically, but WDW as well and the overseas tenants need some makeover and repair for Paris and Hong Kong also. If there is any place he will leave his legacy in regards to expansion, it's the Far East.
When Iger pulls off the expansion of HKDL in a few years, he's going to be looking inward and westward. Mainland China will be a prime prospect for expansion in the next decade. Further past China is the other emerging economy and growing middle-class of India. Both of these countries are prime areas for development for the Mouse. To a lesser degree, countries such as Singapore and several other Far East nations could see Disney properties(be they theme parks,DVC units or a mixture of both) pop up in the end of second decade of the 21st Century.
But while that's being planned, expect the cheery sound of hammers and saws and all manner of construction. The next five years are going to be feverishly busy. With DCA's Makeover providing the impetus for the inevitable others that will follow. From Disney's California Adventure to the important re-branding and remaking of Disney-MGM, Hong Kong Disneyland becoming a full day, must see park with attractions even state-side fans will want to see, or the finally, fully realized Second Gate that emerges in Paris... Bob Iger, repairman, is on the job.
And in a couple years we'll be able to get a look at his workmanship.
Monday, November 19, 2007
It appears the Mouse will have Bruce Willis star in "The Surrogates", a science fiction thriller that Jonathan Mostow will direct for Disney's Touchstone Pictures. The studio is eyeing a February production start in Boston.
Scribes Michael Ferris and John Brancato("Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" and the coming " Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins") wrote The Surrogates from a graphic novel from Top Shelf Comix.
The tale takes place in the near future, where humans live in isolation and interact through surrogate robots who are better-looking and acting versions of themselves. Willis will play a cop who, through his surrogate, investigates the murders of others' surrogates. Eventually Willis' cop is forced to venture from his own home for the first time in years to unravel the conspiracy.
Shooting is supposed to begin early next year.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
On this day, seventy-nine years ago...
Walt Disney and an associate sat in the back of a darkened theater watching people's reaction to their new cartoon, "Steamboat Willie". Although this is the third Mickey Mouse cartoon, it's the first to actually have sound. Walt made a gamble on new technology(something he will do the rest of his life) to get people interested in his new creation. The first two shorts, don't provoke much audience interest...
Not tonight. This time, they laugh. They cheer.
This one proves to be a huge hit. And although his third cartoon, this is actually considered Mickey's birthday. Walt and Carl Stalling, Disney Studios Music Director breath a sigh of relief as they leave the theater very happy men. The whole world now awaits Walt and his creation.
And it all started with a mouse...
Friday, November 16, 2007
Well, those fine folks at Pixar have released another poster for "Wall-E". It appears that IGN was the first to nab it, but that's not where I saw it first.
I like it. Simple. Understated. I'm hearing great buzz about this from some people I know who've seen an early cut of it.
Hat Tip: Upcoming Pixar
Not an interview with Skinner, actually... and this is not even a post about "Ratatouille".
Box Office Mojo has a good interview with Dick Cook, Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, that talks about the coming films, his philosophy and other interesting items. He even addresses the coming "Jungle Cruise" a bit:
"There will be a family involved. The skipper will play a very important role. He'll be more of an Indiana Jones kind of guy, with a little Jack Sparrow in him, who's going to be able to take this family on an adventure that they never dreamed they were going to be on when they first got on board. In true Disney fashion, it will definitely have the adventure and the intensity—but also the heart and the fun. We hope we have a good outline of where we want to go and what we want to do with it in the next year."
And in regard to having seen Alfred Gough & Miles Millar's script:
"Not yet. It's being worked on. David Hoberman, whom we have asked to produce it, has been hard at work. He knows that it's a top priority for us—one that we're very, very excited about. It's a real tentpole [picture]. He'll deliver it and when he does, it will be something special."
That is a script I am actively trying to obtain, just so you know...
The rest of the article is a good read. I'd recommend going over and taking a looksie. Although I have problems with the Head Suit of Disney's theme parks, Jay Rasulo... I have none with Dick Cook. He's not only a nice guy, but a smart guy and one whose strategy I believe in.
Let's hope the writer's strike doesn't throw a monkey wrench into that "Jungle Cruise" tentpole idea...
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Tim Burton will be directing a live-action/motion capture version of "Alice in Wonderland" after he finishes "Sweeny Todd" according to today's Variety.
It's all part of a two picture deal that Oren Aviv, Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group's Head Suit put together. The script for the Alice remake/redo was written by Linda Woolverton("The Lion King," "Beauty and the Beast") with Richard Zanuck, Joe Roth and Suzanne and Jennifer Todd producing. Filming will begin at the beginning of the year and wrap in May.
Once "Alice" is in the can, Burton will direct and produce the full motion picture adaption of his 1984 short, "Frankenweenie". That picture will be done old style in stop-motion like Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas".
The Mouse is really cozying up to Burton it seams. Personally, I look forward to "Frankenweenie" more than a remake of "Alice"... although I did enjoy his "Sleepy Hollow" remake. I wonder how Johnny Depp would look as the Mad Hatter?
The Mouse released the Rat last week on Blu-Ray and DVD and boy did it find the cheese.
Pixar Animation Studios eighth film, "Ratatouille", entered the charts last week at number three. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment made a great deal of money... 40 percent more than last week's top pic, "Spider-Man 3".
Remy made $7.6 million for Mickey. A figure large enough to surprise many a critic that thought the film was just a kid's picture. While "Ratatouille" was number three on the DVD charts, it was at No. 1 on the Blu-ray Disc chart. Thus, another shining example of the poor performance of Pixar films since the Walt Disney Company purchased the small Emeryville company.
I wonder if Iger is regretting the purchase?
The Mousetro's power grows... good things lie ahead.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I know some of you not familiar with Disney lore are probably thinking that Blue Sky is being a little blue with that header...
But you don't have to worry, it's a good, clean and wholesome statement. Really.
A "Weenie" is a visual icon in a Disney theme park that draws in guest. Some parks have only a few Weenies, while others have many. Shall we take a look at some of the weeies around the Disney world?
Disneyland Park - Disneyland Resort, Anaheim
Naturally, the most obvious one here is Sleeping Beauty Castle. The other one of important note is the Matterhorn. Now this doesn't mean that's all that the park has. But there are a lot of Mountains in Anaheim... Space Mountain being the most known. Then, there's Splash Mountain right next door to the Haunted Mansion. Some would claim Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is as well, but the ones that you'll notice are missing are Pirates and Indy. It's not so much because these rides don't draw the guests in, it's just that they're great experiences inside their show buildings. Weenies by their nature are visual icons from the outside.
Disney's California Adventure Park - Disneyland Resort, Anaheim
The most obvious one is the Grizzly Mountain that overlooks the Grizzly River Run raft ride. Screaming and the Sun Wheel could be argued as a Weenie. Stop grumbling, it doesn't become you. The Tower of Terror is the other Weenie in the park, despite it's awkward location and surrounding area of course. When Cars Land opens it will be a great example of a Weenie, but that's about four and a half years away.
Magic Kingdom Park - Walt Disney World, Orlando
The most known here is Cinderella Castle, the larger sister to Disneyland's Castle. Many Weenies here are icons that surround DL as well. Splash, Mansion and even Space Mountain are here but there is no Matterhorn dominating the skyline.
EPCOT park - Walt Disney World, Orlando
Space Ship Earth. Naturally...it's hard to miss or be drawn towards it. Mission: SPACE, despite the criticism is a very visually drawing image. The entirety of World Showcase with its countries could be considered a massive Weenie, even if you discount the distraction of intrusive architecture.
Disney's Hollywood Studios Park, Walt DIsney World, Orlando
Hopefully, I can revise this in a couple years, but...
The Hat. That dreaded image you see when you walk in has become synonymies with the park. If you remove it you can see the original Weenie. The replica of Grauman's Chines Theater as the entrance to the Great Movie Ride is what most remember fondly about this park. DHS also has a more ornate Tower of Terror that has a better dramatic area around it.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Park - Walt Disney World, Orlando
There is no mistaking the original weenie that opened with this place. The Tree of Life with its "It's Tough To Be A Bug" show beneath it is the symbol of the park. Now, with the addition of Expedition Everest, the park has two Weenies... hopefully, some time in the next few years they will approve a third weenie. Cross your fingers.
Tokyo Disneyland Park - Tokyo Disney Resort, Tokyo
Tokyo Disneyland has similar Weenies to its American brethren. A slightly more detailed Cinderella Castle, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Haunted Mansion basically give TDL an almost exact group of weenies as WDW's Magic Kingdom. I only hesitate to use Pooh's Hunny Hunt as a Weenie because it's outer structure is not set up to be a Weenie, although it does look lovely.
Tokyo DisneySEA Park - Tokyo Disney Resort, Tokyo
If I could, I'd call this entire park a Weenie, but that wouldn't really be fair. The iconic center of the park is the natural choice for this parks Weenie. Mount Prometheus towers over everything and every land or ports as they are called in TDS. The other attractions that are Weenies here are Journey To The Center Of The Earth, Tower of Terror and the Indy ride. Why is TDS's Indiana Jones ride a Weenie while DL's isn't? Very simple really... there is an entire land devoted to the ride in Tokyo. The ride itself is housed in a building that looks like a massive ziggurat in the South American jungle. Oh, and least we forget about the Mermaid Lagoon's Weenie: King Triton's Castle, which is really a show building that holds several elaborate C and D-Tickets.
Disneyland Paris Park - Disneyland Resort, Paris
Ahhhh... Paris, France. Lovely city, beautiful country. Is it any wonder it has the most gorgeous Weenie? Uhmm... by that I guess I mean it's the most gorgeous Disney castle. Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant is simply the most detailed representation of Sleeping Beauty Castle. To walk in and around it is to be in a fairy tale. It is a perfect example of a Weenie. Of course, the park has several others too. DLP's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is equal if not better than the Disneyland original. As is the Space Mountain in Discoveryland(Paris' Tomorrowland). This park would tie with the original Disneyland as far as Weenies go in my opinion.
Walt Disney Studios Park - Disneyland Resort, Paris
None. Not a Weenie in sight. Ok, well it will have one when the Tower of Terror opens up, but until then nothing. The new rides have certainly added a good amount of atmosphere, but no Weenies. This park makes DCA look like a marvel of engineering. That will hopefully change over the next five or so years... definitely over the next decade, barring some form of financial disaster.
Hong Kong Disneyland Park - Disneyland Resort, Hong Kong
Despite being built far too small, this park has a couple Weenies. It's very layered in theming, just not enough rides to make it a full day experience. The Castle is the same as Anaheim's, so that is its main Weenie. It also has a copy of DL's Space Mountain for its other Weenie. Of course, there could be at least two or three more Weenies before you know it(hint, hint).
Let's hear it for the Weenies... I have a feeling the beginning of the next decade will welcome a great deal more. They're just around the corner... Trust me.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Disney's Animal Kingdom's new restaurant, the "Yak & Yeti" is scheduled to open on November 14th. Finally, DAK will have a decent dining option besides the Rainforest Cafe for sit-down service. Now if they'll hurry up with "Rivers of Light" and their other plans for night time entertainment the park can move on from the stigma of being called a half-day park.
Then there is that Camp Mickey-Minnie area that could be used for something else...
Monday, November 12, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
By the end of this weekend, Remy may not have crossed this figure, but he's sure gonna be damn close...
What a disappointment, eh?
I know I've been keeping track of "Ratatouille's" box office possibly a bit too much, but I feel that sometimes a point needs to be drummed in. Especially when we had so many negative nabobs chanting about how it was a disappointment. Brad Bird's picture is going to go down as one of the most successful Pixar(and now Disney) films in its history. It passed the "Incredibles" total last week and is still moving on strong...
When listenting for those critics, what do I hear?
It's hard to believe it but Blue Sky Disney turned one year old today...
I never would have imagined the response I've gotten to my curious little hobby of knowing too much Disney lore. Having friends that work at the parks and having met and become friends with many Imagineers and Animators was something I never really thought much about until I started this little blog as an outlet for my ADD and insomnia.
Thanks to all of you that come each day to hear the rantings of my hobby. It's actually difficult to write sometimes as I know many of you may not realize I do have a life outside this blog. Really!
We'll keep going as long as we can here at BSD... we also will hopefully have some surprises for you in the coming months.
Take care, and thanks again for your support.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
The Mouse reported a nice profit today.
Mainly due to its theme park operations and its media networks. Around the world, Disney's theme parks and resorts have been doing great business(HKDL being the sole exception). The American parks are going through a record attendance year... we Americans don't want to think about the problems of the world and would prefer to go to Disney's worlds instead, it appears...
That's both good and bad in my opinion.
It seems the 15th anniversary of the Resort has been going quite well down in Paris.
While everything isn't rosy, you can certainly tell that the corner has turned and the resort should be moving to profitability and greater growth over the next few years. Some of the positive signs?
Euro Disney's operating margin was at € 51 million, against last years loss of € 2 million. Too cryptic? Well...
The Resort's revenues increased 12% to € 1,220 million, reflecting volume growth in theme parks attendance and hotel occupancy rates. That's easier to understand. More money came into the resort.
The losses the Park and Resort have suffered were reduced by over half to € 42 million. If the attendance levels continue like this they break even or finally start reporting a profit by next year's annual report. That could cause Iger and Karl Holz( Chairman/CEO of Euro Disney), to move forward with more bold plans for the Resorts next five to ten years.
The attendance increased 13.3% to 14.5 million, against a prior year figure of 12.8 million. Simply put, butts in the seats. This was great news and shows that more and more Europeans are choosing to spend their free time with Mickey.
The hotel occupancy increased 5.8 percent to 89.3 percent. My, how times have changed since 1992...
Not completely out of the woods, but the Mouse Suits can now see the light of day. Hopefully, this will convince the powers that be to have more focused direction on what people expect over there. The stain that the opening of this park had on the Mouse is starting to wash away.
Well, with the strike moving forward, the Mouse decided to take the slow approach to "Prince of Persia" and Michael Bay is no longer going to be making the ninth century look really slick and flashy for Disney. So who does Variety say Oren Aviv is pursuing?
Don't know him? You know his work, that's for sure. He directed "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" a while back and did a bang-up job of it if you ask me. The film, based on a video game, was scheduled to be released in September of 2009, but will probably be one of two tent pole films Walt Disney Pictures has plans for in summer 2010.
Should the strike not last into next summer(the last one in 1988 lasted over five months) we could see Newell behind the camera by fall of next year.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
A lot of things have happened since our last official Anaheim BSA hasn't it? We're probably going to have to deal with the Second Gate a little differently now that we have an idea of the Mouse's plans. Much, much, much is planned over Walt's original kingdom over the next decade. These first five years will be a turning point though... this won't be the small expansion that was envisioned in the late 90's. Yes, that's right. I said "small" expansion. Because when 2012 comes around, the resort that Eisner and his crew planned to open in 2001 will look astonishingly different than what they planned on opening. Yes, they did fork over 1.4 billion for the resort and that ain't nothing to sneeze at, but consider it just a warming up for what is planned over the next decade. Let us pray that America and the world as well, doesn't go through a recession or we have some major disaster happen. Keep those fingers crossed cause if the good times keep rolling, we're gonna be steam rolled by a wave of Disney goodness.
So what is happening to the Resort in general?
Plenty. First all we've got the makeover of the Disneyland Hotel that begins early next year. Expect a big press event just like the one that happened for the Grand Californian, complete with Ed Grier and others. The final construction dates are just being finalized but you can expect some sort of movement by February of 2008. There should be an announcement later that year regarding the expansion of Downtown Disney. Most of these events will keep beating like Chinese water torture(more on HKDL later this month) on the voters of Anaheim before the vote next fall. Disney is banking on that vote as a preservation of the Resort District that the Anaheim City Council promised and then decided it didn't want to keep.
What's not going to be announced is the other hotels that Disneyland has planned for the next decade. The DLH renovation/makeover should be done by DCA's tenth anniversary, but another hotel could be announced by then. The rest will have to wait for a later press event near the end of the decade. Others, you say? Yup. The Disneyland Hotel changes are in addition to the four hotels that Iger and his Suits have planned over the next decade. Four? Yeah, you already know about the one that is being planned in the Simba lot, possibly for the beginning of the decade and you've also heard about the proposed "boutique" hotel and "economy" hotel that is in the early stages of being negotiated with the GardenWalk officials. But that's only three right? Where is the forth one proposed? You know that little area next the new Cars Land? Well, the remaining land next to that new land is currently being worked over for a proposed new hotel. You may wonder why they don't save that for future expansion of DCA and buy the land where the 7-Eleven and those other hotels are. Well, you have to get them to sell first. And try as they might, some of those hotel owners just flat out won't sell what they consider a gold mine to the Mouse just yet. Maybe someday in the future if the land changes hands or minds change they can buy it, but right now it's not happening. Not in the next few years... certainly not till the first phase of the DCA expansion is over.
Time will tell.
Now, over at the Happiest Place On Earth(you remember that phrase, Jay? You might want to use it sometime.) plans move forward on it's own five year plan. When DCA opens it's doors five years from now to show it's new look, Disneyland will have a few jewels to show off as well.
As we said earlier, the main focus of noticeable expansion over the next few years will be Tommowland. It should all get started late next year when the work begins on Star Tours. If current schedule is kept, the area will under tarps by this time next year. George Lucas is working with Disney on some very interesting designs for the sequel to the original ride. Hopefully it won't end up like watching the Phantom Menace when we see it though. There should be a great deal of Star Wars Galaxy promoting starting next year... scratch that. I should say a lot of Lucasfilm promotion throughout the park, but by the end of the decade you can expect to see that Galaxy far, far away quite often when you come to Anaheim. Even more so if ABC is able to land the rights to the Clone Wars animated show. This is far from a done deal, but Disney really wants to show Mr. Lucas that it more than Fox is the place he should park his little show. As well as the makeover of Star Tours, expect several dining and retail concepts that have been floating around to adorn the area around the new ST ride. As for when it'll be finished, I'm not privy to exact dates, but the Bothans seem to suggest that it'll be between a twelve and eighteen month renovation. The exact dates and duration should become clearer in the early part of next year.
Right next to ST is the HISTK ride. The plans right now are to replace this fun, but dated attraction by the beginning of the decade with a proposed E-Ticket. There are a couple concepts being pitched in the blue sky phase right now. One has a familiar Disney character and the other is a completely different concept. We won't know which one Tony Baxter goes with for a while as the ST work will take a priority for the next year or so.
That huge waste of space known as Innoventions is due for a makeover there as well. Right now the area is under sponsorship for another couple years to some big corporations. That hasn't stopped Tony from having WDI come up with several concepts for an E-Ticket ride. When the sponsorship of this building is done, don't expect it to be renewed. Once that's over the area will be made over into a completely new attraction that will tentatively have a debut sometime in late 2011/early 2012. It will most likely be done before Cars Land is. WDI doesn't want to have both parks competing for attention with big attractions so the dates should be separated by at least a six month window. What will it be? That, even my Bothans can't tell me. They have told me they've seen basic ideas and heard Tony talk about what he's looking for in the design and say it's going to be a really well layered attraction whatever Iger signs off on. With Uncle John there now, Disneyland will not be having any of those underwhelmingly bland attractions like Pooh. If "Ratatouille" is an example of John Lasseter's clout then the budgets of the new attractions will be far north of what we got in the late 90's and early part of this century. Expect OLC type attraction budgets or at least close to that.
There will be a proposal for a new People Mover to be completed by the end of the decade, but it's not known yet if the concept of the Incredipods will be used or not. Since there is still plans for Brad Bird's hero family across the Esplanade some don't feel it'd be right to have competing attractions over here. But the plans for a new redesigned People Mover are in the cards and by the beginning of the next decade we may all be riding in them in a Tomorrowland that will look quite a bit different that it does today.
Over in New Orleans Square, I've been told that plans for the second phase of TSI has been moving forward. Several of the plans for this have quietly gotten the go-ahead from the Suits and higher ups at WDI. I've not seen the plans, but according to a Bothan, some of the attractions that were planned as C and D tickets for HKDL's expansion area may find their way onto the backside of the island.
Expect a big promotion for the new Indy film to begin in late March/early April. The area will start off with modest references to the new film and several promotional events should start to appear by May. The park that really gets to take advantage of Mr. Jones is TDS, being as it's name is almost that of the movie, the OLC is going to want a great deal of cross-promotion with the film. Disney and Lucas seem only too happy to help out...
Ok, that's gonna be it for this side of the Resort. What about across the Esplanade?
In the "Park Formerly(soon enough) know as DCA" we all now have a pretty clear picture as to what is happening over the next five years. I mean, the small details will come into play and crystalize over the next couple years, but for the most part we know what will be ahead for Disney Geeks/Fans when they walk through that new front entrance.
But what about after?
What if "Phase One" is a big success and the Park has a dramatic upturn in attendance? A very likely happening, I might say... well, then a "Phase Two" will kick in from 2013 to 2017. This phase is still much more in the blue sky right now. There are several things that are moving through the halls of WDI that have a greater chance of making it on stage in P2, but most of what is being talked about is just that. Talk. Oh, and some concept art and a few designs... but that's it for now. After all, they have a great deal of work ahead of them just on this part.
But what we will focus on mainly is that second phase and what Imagineers want to add to a wonderfully fun and lavishly themed Second Gate at the Disneyland Resort.
So once the work is done on Walt Disney Plaza, Hollywood Pictures Backlot, Golden State, Paradise Pier and the new Cars Land what is there to do? Plenty. Thank you very much, Mr. Pressler. Granted, most entering the park come 2012 will have only a vague recollection of what it was before. This swan will be beautiful... all the complaining about theming that Disney Geeks did over the past few years will be remarkably silent as they walk through this new park. Those that have never bothered to come to DCA will ask themselves "Why didn't I come here before?"...
But there will still be places that need a little work or for the most part could use a little more layering of the theming. Now there is talk of using at least one of those two stages that don't have rides in them for a new attraction. P2 will see the addition of a new E-Ticket to HPB, most likely in the old Millionaire stage. The other stage will await a future use once there is a need to add because of traffic flow. There are a few blue sky pitches going around Bob Weis, Lasseter and crews right now, all of them film related and one, ehem... one that seems to be catching everyone's eye happens to fit the Hollywood area very much. If Uncle John's work at WDAS is successful, one of the early parts of Phase Two will involve some of his first tinkering with Disney animation. Let's just say that this attraction will be like capturing lightning in a bottle... enough hints guys. We'll have to wait and see the box office to know for sure if this happens.
Over in the Golden State, Condor Flats will have supposedly disappeared in the First Phase, so what will happen here is one of the proposed projects that was planned for this phase, but cut because of limited budget will finally get going. The retheming of the area to a turn of the century Yosemite National Park type land was supposed to happen over the next five years, but it's surprising how quickly you can spend a hundred million dollars here and there. Before you know it, you're out of money. Somethings have to be postponed... not cancelled. So I don't want to hear a bunch of whining about Goofy's Sky School, ok? Anyway, if plans go as they are right now the GS will look like a place that Teddy Roosevelt would have gone by the end of P2. Now there have been several ideas floated around for another E-Ticket to grace this area and one of them that was also talked about for completion right now could very well be green-lit for the next part. Remember the ideas for a train/mine car type ride? Well, it's not dead either. It and one other idea are competing for the right to be the second E-Ticket added to the Golden State. Where it's planned on going is the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail area. Now, I happen to like this area and feel it's akin to Tom Sawyer Island over at DL, but land is precious and Imagineers figure that a nice E-Ticket would attract guest far more than a little nature trail, no matter how well it's themed.
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people have whined about Goofy's Sky School, but a dollar don't stretch as far as it used to. The Creatives over at WDI knew they didn't have enough money for a new E-Ticket here and set about retheming the ride to something that featured a famous Disney character and giving it a much more elaborate surrounding. It's going to make riding that roller coaster much more fun and also make you realize how little they actually spend on it to begin with. But relax, this isn't intended to last forever. Should the Park's attendance rise dramatically and more importantly, the Disney vaults fill with lots of money there are plans to add another E-Ticket ride where Goofy will sit, errr fly or crash in a few years. There is nothing concrete as to what will go here, but there are plenty of ideas that lay around in storage that could be brought out should the current plans work as hoped. Over where the Maliboomer is... well nothing is planned right now. I mean other than it going bye-bye shortly. Right now it looks like a nice wooded area/childrens play area will take the place of the carny ride. During the Second Phase there are plans to add a D or possible E-Ticket inside where the Maliboomer once stood. Actually, the plans call for two rides to go down here. One in each helix. But as of now, they are in the most embryonic stage of all the planned rides.
Cars Land could have room for a fourth attraction to be added if needed during P2, but that's all going to depend on daily attendance figures and yearly totals before any plans would be given the funding here. This area will be DCA's New Orleans Square to Paradise Pier being DCA's Rivers of America.
And by 2017, the Disneyland Resort will have a Second Gate that will rival EPCOT for being the best second park in America. Now I know many people don't like hearing that, but with the TLC that Lasseter and crew are going to be giving this place, it's going to sparkle and shine... remember, this park will have attractions based on three movies he has personally directed. Do you think he wants to see this Park succeed? As long as he has the clout, DCA will have attractions that are exclusive to DCA, elaborate in design, rich in detail and captivating to experience. Will it be as good as TDS? Probably not, but it'll be close. EPCOT and DCA will be rivals come the next decade and that's something no one would have thought would happen just a couple years ago.
I think that about does it for this BSA. I think I need to go soak my fingers in ice. Ouch, they hurt! Stay tuned for more Bothan fodder near the end of November.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Bruce Gordon, a Disneyologist, Imagineer and author has passed on at the way too early age of 54. If you've never read his books "The Nickel Tour" or "Walt's Time", I highly recommend them for every Disney Geek. Blue Sky Disney wishes his family well during this sad time.
The stars in the sky just got a bit dimmer today...
We talk a lot about how important John Lasseter is to the Mouse, but it's important to remember that there is a yang to his yin... the other important part of that Pixar purchase was bringing in Ed Catmull to run WDAS. Over at their website, the Spline Doctors have posted an interview with Ed that you should take a listen to.
Monday, November 5, 2007
With more and more test screenings being done, it appears we're finally getting some more reaction to an early cut of Pixar Animation Studios "Wall-E". There's another review of a screening of it over at Aint It Cool News. I'm starting to develop a sneaky feeling that this movie is going to shut the nay-sayers up because all this talk of diminishing box office with each film will finally be put to rest. Oh wait, it's already flawed because of "Ratatouille" at its box office. Overall, the review is short, positive and contains no spoilers.
Have a looksie...
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Success? Failure? You decide...
Foreign: $348,162,311(still in release)
Toy Story 2:
A Bug's Life:
Friday, November 2, 2007
On this day six years ago, Disney-Pixar's "Monsters Inc." opens up. It is the first film Pixar has released not directed by John Lasseter... but like the first three films(Toy Story, A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2) it has the trademark qualities the Lamp will become known for. Story, Character and Quality. The movie goes on to reassure Michael Eisner and the Mouse that Pixar is more than just a product of John Lasseter's genius. It shows Pixar's genius...
Oh, and some guy named Pete Doctor has something to do with it.
It's been a while since we had an animator's palette column... so I thought we could give you an update as to a few of the things happening in the world of paint and pen... or for our cgi friends, mouse and servers.
Over in Glendale, work continues on John Lasseter's first test as supreme leader of Disney creativity... "Bolt". The movie is now in full production for a release this time next year. The artists I've talked to are very happy with the story and the direction that the story has taken since the Mousetro himself cut ties with Chris Sanders and put Chris Williams at the helm.
The next film after that, "The Frog and the Princess" is going through another story pass. It appears to be heading in the right direction from what I hear. "Rapunzel" is also about to go through another pass at it's story. Not that the story is going the wrong direction, just another example of WDAS's practice of tightening the plot and structure so that the story is worthy of the Disney name. The animators are finally getting used to focusing on story and not having to worry about some Suit offering up a ridiculous idea or one of Eisner's team realizing that this part of a film would be great for cross promotion of some other Disney product. If it doesn't belong in the story, it doesn't belong in the film.
Since the announcement of DCA's expansion was announced, just about everyone knows how busy Lasseter has been. That hasn't meant that they haven't been tossing more ideas to him and more things he has to approve. Like DisneyToons and those "Disney Fairies" films. Tinkerbell is working it's way through the animation process and the changes Uncle Lasseter made appear to have made the story people happy and the Creatives at DT a little more proud of what's going to be coming out than they were over the old version of the story. A new screening was being prepared for the man himself when I talked to my Bothans last week and the pitches for the stories for the next three are being prepared for John as we speak. So we can look forward to more Fairy tales for the next few years... after than? Well, that's a good three or four years from now. Let's see how these show up and worry about what happens in 2011 or 2012 a bit later.
There's several things being constructed on the business park lot in Glendale, but none of them are believed to be involved with animation. The new plans for the new animation building are supposedly close to fruition but it's unlikely we'll see any animators move in to a new structure before late 2009/early 2010.
On the short front, unless the Mouse moves it to a later movie, we get to see the first of six approved shorts when "Enchanted" opens up in a few weeks. Of the six, four have been put in production and of those, one has been completed(Goofy in "How To Hook Up Your Home Entertainment System") and another is very close to being given the seal of approval while the remaining two will probably be done in time to be added to Disney's summer and fall films next year.
As far as what Lasseter and Co. have planned for us from WDI... well, that's a part of the Glendale Kingdom that I'll save for a future BSA post a little later in the month. Cheer up, the future is bright...
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Well, it appears that Walt Disney Pictures "The Prince of Persia won't be the Mouse's big tent pole come summer 2009. With the approaching writers strike, the adventure film whose script is undergoing a rewrite, won't be ready to go in time to film before the strike happens. This could be the reason we haven't heard of Michael Bay's involvement in the project.
The earliest we could see POP now is the holiday season of that year, but a more likely date is summer 2010... of course, if everything goes as planned the Prince will have to deal with the coming a certain masked man on a white horse...