Monday, June 30, 2008
The agreements between the Walt Disney Company and the Oriental Land Company provides that the OLC not advertise the resort outside Japan. When this began in 1983 with the original Tokyo Disneyland there was essentially no Internet. It was expanded in the late 90's when the park became a resort at a time when the Internet was just starting to become a factor around the world...
The Mouse put these agreements into place for various reasons, but one was to limit the exposure that Disney fans stateside could have to what they knew would be more elaborately funded attractions. In the new century with access to the net through sites like YouTube it's impossible to hide the knowledge of these rides and the experience of the Tokyo Disney Resort. Through the Internet, the OLC actually gets free advertising. The agreement is a relic of a bygone time and shows how quickly things can change. The great thing for the resort is that it doesn't have to advertise... the videos, images and fan websites we find on the web represent a "viral advertising" effort that doesn't have to be funded. Tokyo Disney Resort doesn't have to spend a dime and it gets free publicity. It's a self published environment that lets we Disney Fans/Geeks have access to information that helps us plan our vacations and give us valuable information when we hear Suits tell us about attractions that are "cutting edge" or "funding was limited" or my favorite, that the experiences at each park are "equally equivalent"...
In the future, when a Suit says that an attraction is world-class, we actually can compare them to their counterparts across the sea and make our own judgements. That makes some Mouse representatives uneasy... they have to actually back up what they promote. Information is a powerful tool. Let's use it wisely...
If you'd like some examples of what you can find out there, take a look at this professional video for the resort that was put together to show the wonder that is Tokyo DisneySEA. Part One. Part Two.
Also, the Travel Channel had a special on the air a few years ago that is almost impossible to find(wonder why?). Here are a couple parts of it... unfortunately it's only about half the show, but it gives you an idea of what I'm talking about. Part One. Part Two.
With the advent of the Internet there is no stopping what can be found. No stopping what can be known...
Those at TeamDisney that didn't want this information out there are in an uncomfortable position. There are no secrets anymore.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
A year ago today, "Ratatouille" was released. This film, directed by Brad Bird(his third film, second for Pixar) was a different direction for the Lamp... it was more mature and less formulaic yet filled with the DNA that is Pixar. A tale of life and living your dreams no matter what others say you should conform to. And you thought it was just a rat that likes to cook?
Many of the negative nabobs were saying this was the one that would bring down Pixar, but they were sadly disappointed as each week it kept grossing more and more money. While not the monster that was "Finding Nemo", the film goes on to out perform "Cars" at the box office. The film goes on to get some of the best reviews of any Pixar film... until "Wall-E" was release last week.
Genius. A masterpiece of storytelling. Pixar's most beautiful film to date. Those looking for the downfall of Pixar will have to hope that "Up" will bring it down because their ninth film "Wall-E" won't...
Is it better than "The Incredibles"? Is it the best film Pixar has ever made?
No. That's my opinion of course.
But "Wall-E" is a great addition to the other eight films the Lamp has created over the last thirteen years. It's one of the top films of the year and is one in my top four Pixar films as well.
Andrew Stanton knows very well how to tell a story. We know this from his work on many of the first Pixar films and his directorial debut, "Finding Nemo"... he cements that belief with "Wall-E". It's a story with a very clear narrative that is startlingly simple and powerful. This film evokes a lot of the films of Chaplin or Keaton and has the ability to transcend dialog during the first act almost entirely. And it's enjoyable too... Stanton and the crew over at Pixar realize that film is a visual medium.
While the story is divided into three acts it is essentially set in two worlds. The one Wall-E starts out in and the one he's thrust into after meeting Eve. The desolate Earth that humans ravaged and left behind and generation star ships they've become slaves to. Each world is filled with problems. Each place has reasons why you shouldn't be there. But for all that high-minded stuff, this film is really just a straight-out, old fashioned and corny at times love story... it's just set seven hundred years in the future and focuses is on a robot that has become more human while humans have become more like robots.
The environmental message is also handled with tack and subtlety. While most messages that Hollywood tries to send out about the environment are delivered with a sledge hammer, Stanton lets his message enter very gently and without it becoming the focus of movie. The main thing I worried about upon hearing about this story was the message being too preachy. I'm happy to report that it's not and I thank Stanton for not pounding us over the head with it.
The voice work is spot on and the sound design is nothing short of amazing. The visuals that occupy this film make you think you're watching a live-action film for the longest period of time. The images in this film are a testament to the geniuses at Pixar. They are at the top of their game.
the movie is also surprisingly more mature and adult than I would have thought. The messages and tone of the story carry across the fingerprints of 70's science fiction. I thought that "Ratatouille" had a tone that was remarkably more sophisticated and adult than the previous films and "Wall-E" continues this tradition. Pixar films are all good, most are better than the majority of live-action films out there and they are always different. No two films are alike except for the Toy Story sequel of course. It's refreshing to know that each time I go into a theater to watch a Pixar film, when the lights darken I will always find something new and something unlike what I saw before. Other studios would be smart to follow their model of creating films, but they won't... they don't want to believe the simple truth behind Pixar's success. They want to mimic it, to break it down into a simple mathematical equation that they can just stamp on their product.
"Wall-E" succeeds because it is everything most films in Hollywood aren't. It's entertaining. It's original. It's intelligent. It's a whole lot of fun. I've only seen two movies more than once this year. One is "Kung Fu Panda" and the other is "Wall-E"...
If you want to go see a film worth seeing over and over again, go see Andrew Stanton's little treasure. Just like Wall-E when he meets Eve, you'll fall in love...
The short attached to this film, "Presto," the new short subject directed by animator Doug Sweetland is awesome. It is the best short Pixar has ever made and I can only hope that Lasseter has got Sweetland working on directing a feature length film... cause if he doesn't, someone else soon will.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Twenty years ago today Disney's Grand Floridian Resort opened in Walt Disney World. It would mark the beginning of a huge hotel expansion over the next decade and a half... The luxury hotel is themed after a turn-of-the-century coastal Victorian resort. Although WDW has no moniker hotel(read:Disneyland Hotel) like all the other Disneylands, the Floridian is essentially the "Walt Disney World Hotel" without having that name.
Walt Disney Studios has picked up an action comedy "Mongoose" by screenwriters Edwin Cannistraci and Frederick Seton which production shingle Tapestry will produce. The plot is being kept private, but is described having the feel of "Beverly Hills Cop" or "Austin Powers".
Friday, June 27, 2008
The trailer for Walt Disney Animation's "Bolt" is out...
See it on the Big Screen in front of "Wall-E" tonight. I like it much better than all the bits and pieces we've seen before.
I HAVE faith in John Lasseter. I do, I do, I do...
Today is the day Pixar releases its ninth animated feature, "Wall-E"...
I'm seeing it tonight and if you want to see a glimpse of the Lamp's future, I suggest you see it as well. It's getting absolutely phenomenal reviews, even better than the ones "Ratatouille" got last year... Let's all watch this eagerly awaited film and the surprises that unfold during and in front of it(trailer, trailer, trailer..).
Now, get in line while there are still tickets left...
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Tomorrow marks the last time we'll know of Pixar as an animation studio...
Not that their adventures in live-action will be showing up anytime soon, but if you look around two of their big directors are headed into live-action or possible live-action territory(and from what I've heard at least one more has their eye on a live-action project). So the release of the ninth film from Pixar Animation Studios marks a line. From here on out, Pixar will be a film studio...
What I mean, it it's slowly going to morph into a film production company and all though animation will still be at its heart(like Disney itself), there will be other facets to the Lamp.
We all know that Brad Bird is working on "1906" and Andrew Stanton's next project, the first film of a new Pixar franchise(hopefully), "John Carter of Mars" is being written right now for possible live-action. Stanton won't decide until the script is finished.
This could essentially be Pixar's first "One, Two Punch" into a world beyond animation. Just as Walt Disney went into live action with "Treasure Island" and then followed it up with a spectacular adventure like "20000 Leagues Under the Sea", so too could Pixar. Bird's 1906 could be the Treasure Island and Stanton's John Carter could be the grand adventure of the next decade that Leagues was when it opened over fifty years ago.
Now, lets not think that these are the only films John Lasseter and Co. plan on making... it's just they're basically dipping their toes in the water... but should everything keep going well(like Wall-E, Bolt, P & F and Up), he'll have enough clout over the next few years to get a couple more films greenlit. And just as Pixar's path in animation hasn't always followed the same path, neither will its path in the live-action world...
The one traight that it will follow is that it will be a director-led studio. Where creativity is respected, nutured and encouraged. There will only be a few people that could or would pull the plug on a project... the most obvious of which is Lasseter.
I look forward to watching Pixar adapt to growing pains. Many things could happen, but I hope they succeed in taking the success they've gotten in animation and duplicating it another medium. The children that grow up today can tell their kids they remember when Pixar just made animated films.
Just like Walt Disney used to...
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Capone over at Ain't It Cool News has a really good interview with Andrew Stanton where he talks about the making of "Wall-E" and then delves a little into his next project, "John Carter of Mars"...
Give it a looksie.
As of today there have been over a half a million hits on Blue Sky Disney this year...
That's almost twice as many as the blog got all last year and we're only halfway through 2008.
I just want to thank each and everyone of you that click on the site each and every day to see my ramblings, rantings and praise...
I'm truly grateful.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
It's hard to believe, but fourteen years ago today Disney released "The Lion King" in America...
The Walt Disney Company's thirty-second feature length animated film went on to break box office records and become the highest grossing animated feature ever(until "Finding Nemo" unseated it from the throne). The film will go on to inspire a truly amazing theater adaption and sell merchandise for the Mouse beyond any bean counter's most optimistic estimates...
It was the last of the four films that marked the Second Golden Age of Disney Animation(SGA). While other films will go on to do everything from great, good to disappointing, no film since has achieve the success of "The Little Mermaid","Beauty and the Beast", "Aladdin" or "The Lion King".
One of the interesting things about the SGA is that no rides were ever completed of these films. While proposals were made nothing ever came to fruition...
That will change beginning next decade...
Monday, June 23, 2008
The guys over at Animated News have got a nice article about the new Disney short, "Glago's Guest" with some very intriguing artwork from it. I've been hearing really good vibes about this one. It is after all, what got Chris Williams the co-directing gig in the first place. Lasseter trusted this guy to help him bring out the first "John Lasseter" produced film, so he must have saw something in him...
"Glago's Guest" will play in front of Walt Disney's next animated feature, "Bolt". We'll have to wait until November to see them both, but soon we'll get our first trailer for Walt Disney Animation Studios new regime. Although, it seems like the time it's taking to see this film is in dog years...
Walt Disney Studios has purchased the high-concept pitch "Happy Little Family" from screenwriters Patrick Doody & Chris Valenziano. Writer/Producers Miles Millar and Alfred Gough(who wrote the new Mummy 3 script and turned in a draft of Disney's "Jungle Cruise" film) are producing the project.
Oren Aviv's strategy is slowly falling into place. Come the end of next summer we should get a clearer idea of where he's taking the Mouse, and more importantly... If it's working.
Time will tell...
George Carlin, one of the greatest stand-up comics of the last century passed away yesterday from heart failure. He entered the hospital earlier in the day complaining of not feeling well...
I used to listen to his comedy albums with my friends in high school. Many a night, we would set around the tube watching his comedy specials on HBO, laughing and shaking our heads how perceptive he was. He was a very, very funny man. A esoteric man who was actually quite shy when not on the stage.
He played Fillmore in Disney-Pixar's "Cars" in 2006 and delivered an innocent and sweet portrayal of a character whose generation had left him behind.
But George Carlin will not be forgotten...
Richard Roeper and permanent sub-host for Roger Ebert, Michael Phillips turn in their review of "Wall-E"...
The verdict? Click on the link, silly... You expect me to do everything for you?
Forty-five years ago today the Enchanted Tiki Room opened up in Disneyland...
It was the first ride to use Audio-Animatronic figures and was revolutionary concept at a time when people thought jet backpacks were just around the corner.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
"Success is simply a matter of luck. Ask any failure."
- Earl Nightingale
Yes, I know...
Some of you think I hate the Suits and love the Creatives. You're half right...
While I do love the Creatives, I don't hate Suits. I simply hate it when they overstep their boundaries. I've seen and heard too many stories where a project that started out good or even great evolved into nothing more than a mess of incomprehensible proportions. In Hollywood in particular, and entertainment in general, everyone looks for a meaning to why they're given such large salaries. To justify the lifestyle they live they tend to believe they have powers beyond those of mortal men(or Suits). An executive for the Mouse or some other company will ask for a plot point/character to be changed so that he may take credit when the film is a hit, a bean counter will ask for a cut from a particular scene on a film or lower the budget needed to add an addition AA figure so that he can show his boss he was able to contain cost, and on and on it goes. I've got a friend that actually sold a script about a bunch of older priest involved in a supernatural thriller. The executive said to loose the old guy(the lead character in the script) and add some sexy, hot nuns(there were no women in the story). They proceeded to turn his script which was quite good into something unrecognizable. Something like this goes on all the time in the entertainment business. Sometimes it's films... other times it's theme parks...
As I said earlier, there are good Suits, most that I know are a hybrid of Suit/Creative. That said, there are also good Suits that are in no way Creatives. Bob Iger is one of these. In fact, he's the primary one of these. My favorite Suits tend to be the hybrids, the ones that are equal parts Suit and Creative. John Lasseter is this, although he is a little more Creative than Suit... he tends to have great organization skills. The great thing about Iger is his ability to know where the limits of his creativity end and he doesn't overstep them. He knows when to hand off the responsibility to others.
Unfortunately, there are still people within the company that still have the pre-Eisner mentality. Jay Rasulo is the primary Suit that needs to be removed, but he's not the only one. Some of the executives in charge of Parks and resorts still haven't gotten a clue...
The most notorious examples of this are in Florida at Walt Disney World. It's distance and notoriety insulate it from the scrutiny that it deserves. For several park managers its almost a fiefdom that control without the prying eyes of Burbank looking over their shoulders. Sure, there are bright spots. The new head of Epcot has so far been a pleasant surprise. Hopefully, he'll get the ability to let this park blossom again. My main problem with the Little Mermaid attraction cloning for this park stems from these Suits and many of their middle management. Instead of trying to find things that make WDW different from the other parks it tries to emulate them(Disneyland in particular). Like a bigger, younger brother that is always jealous of the attention his sibling gets, the Suits at WDW are constantly trying to imitate it's Anaheim counterpart and also trying to force it at times to bend to the marketing and promotions it uses for Florida. The problem there is that the guests that enter Florida are different than those that wind up going to California. You can't operate these parks as if they were built with a cookie-cutter no matter how much Rasulo would like.
The reasoning behind TLM ride's planned addition to Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom is cost. They justify it as spreading it across two or sometimes three parks. From a shortsighted perspective it makes sense. But if you look at the opportunity it provided to get travellers to come to WDW for the unique experience an original attraction would offer, it would be better to focus on a long term strategy. Imagine if WDW had built that Western River Expedition and it was only available in Florida? Think of the foreign travellers, not to mention Californians that would decide to make the trek east to experience what could only be experienced in WDW. This is only one of many, many attractions that WDI has proposed that have been waved aside over the last two decades. Granted, there have been several projects that made it through. Mission: Space and Expedition Everest being the primary examples... but trust me when I say there were many more that would have given you thrills and wonder beyond any experience you've had with these rides. I'm not complaining that they're there, I like them quite a bit. But the Suits at the Magic Kingdom have had plenty of opportunity over the last two decades to add E-tickets only to hid the E-Stop on plans based on soulless projections by bean counters. The same people that would have told Walt his plan for a park in Anaheim was going to be a bust...
When executives only look at the bottom line they don't see the attendance lines. The ones people stand in to ride these things they build. Several attractions that have been constructed over the past two decades... mostly C and D-Tickets haven't gotten the lines or projections they've expected. This is where my "If You Build It, They Will Come" philosophy comes into play. Both Winnie the Pooh attractions are a result of this. Particularly the one here in California, but Florida's as well. When you deliver an experience that is adequate the amount of guest riding it also turns out to be adequate. When you go on Pooh's Hunny Hunt in Tokyo, you get a genuinely "Disney" experience... and next year when Monster's Inc: Find and Seek opens up it'll be another case of a totally immersive "Disney" experience. Just not in the American parks... and most certainly not in the Florida Project that Walt envisioned.
As long as Suits remain unimaginative and just scream and whine that they want what Disneyland has then the parks won't be independent destinations that people can plan so as to enjoy all the different experiences each location has to offer. A variety of individuality will create more reason to go to more parks, not less... Instead of building what Disneyland has... built something that Disneyland would want. Create some envy back in the opposite direction.
Now wouldn't that be a change?
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Those of you lucky enough to be in the Los Angeles area on July 18th are in for a treat...
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is having one of their Gold Standard Screening Series. That Friday at 7:30 pm in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills a digitally restored print of Walt Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" will be shown. The event will be hosted by Leonard Maltin and after the showing there will be a discussion with animator Andreas Deja, preservationist Theo Gluck, Disney sound department chief Terry Porter and Dave Bossert, creative director of special projects. The event is open to the public and tickets are only five dollars...
I'll be there... Will you?
Walt Disney Animation Studios has released a teaser poster for John Lasseter's debut as a Disney animation producer, Chris Williams & Byron Howard's "Bolt"...
I'm looking forward to the first actual trailer for this film, which should be released very, very soon.
Here's the first of a few posters to be released... Enjoy.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Thirteen years ago today, the Walt Disney Company announces the plans for its fourth theme park at WDW in Florida, called "Disney's Wild Animal Kingdom" and budgetted just under 800 million dollars. The name will be changed after Mutual of Omaha expresses concerns over copyright violations to "Disney's Animal Kingdom".
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Interesting times we live in.
With Steven Spielberg's unhappiness over his deal with Paramount, it appears that Dreamworks SKG could end up not being part of the family very much longer. Even though Paramount paid over a billion dollars for rights to the company and its library there just happens to be an escape clause for Spielberg and Geffen that could be used as early as next year. Jeffrey Katzenberg has a separate deal with the company as Dreamworks Animation is actually a separate company.
Dreamworks has already lined up 500 million in cash for a new slate of films and is currently pursuing an equal amount so that it has a billion dollar fund that can support a production of four to six films a year.
So how does the Walt Disney Company fit into this? Well, Dreamworks needs a distributor. As of right now, Universal is in the lead to be the company that winds up with that deal and 20th Century Fox is apparently a close second... but the Mouse is also in play. I consider it a long shot, but with the new management under Iger and company it has a chance of securing the deal. It could happen, but it's not the most likely option. After all, who would have thought we'd be seeing a Star Wars film released through Warner Brothers?
Now you would wonder how Dreamworks could be free of Paramount after being bought for so much money? Or will they have to come up with a new name? Well, Spielberg, Geffen and Katzenber are nothing if not very smart businessmen. The name Dreamworks isn't actually owned by Dreamworks. It isn't owned by Paramount. It's owned by Jeffrey Katzenberg through his Dreamworks Animation company. The Animation company that has brought us "Shrek, "Madagascar" and the new "Kung Fu Panda" isn't owned by Paramount and should the other studio founders bolt, could lend or sale the name to the new company thus allowing Dreamworks to continue anew.
Under this scenario future films by Spielberg could be carried under the Disney or Touchstone banner and we might possibly see "Kung Fu Panda 2" released as a partner to Walt Disney Animation Studios. What a strange set of coincidences that would be, eh?
Now will it happen? Doubtful, as I already said... but the fact that there is a possibility of Katzenberg working tangentially with his old employer shows how you can never say never. Iger has a chance to land these big shots in neverland... as the new Disney Fairies line say: Believing is only the beginning.
Time will tell...
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
It's my opinion that Walt Disney was irreplaceable. While Bob Iger is turning out to be a very good leader, he's not a Walt Disney.
The Walt Disney Company's largest shareholder, Steve Jobs is the closest thing to Walt today(John Lasseter is a prince in waiting, imo). He's the soul of Apple Inc. and were he not there it would be a simular story to what happened when Walt passed away back in 1966. The Street has an interesting business interview with Jim Crammer where he discusses this I thought you might find interesting...
Give it a looksie.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The Lamp's released a nice little clip of the new short Presto! that shows the zany and cute aspects of this next Pixar short subject. And yes, for the record, it's as good as some are saying... very Pixar with nods to the old Warner cartoons.
Also the folks over at Coming Soon have gotten some new stills and a great Hi-Res of the poster. Go over and check it out...
Today "Toy Story Midway Mania" opens up at the Paradise Pier area in Disney's California Adventure...
It's a new day. A new dawn for a park that was badly under-funded, under-themed, under-built and under-planned.
Let this be the start of something big... something magical that turns this park into a true "Disney Park".
Walt Disney Studios has purchased the spec script "Science Fair" after a bidding war with Walden Media whom the Mouse has been producing the Narnia series with. The price Sullivan got for the script is $275,000 against $575,000.
Described as a "Night in the Museum" type story, it concerns a science fair where all the kids projects come to life and wreak havoc upon the school. Walt Disney Studios president Oren Aviv and executive vp production and development Brigham Taylor were directly involved in the acquisition.
Monday, June 16, 2008
On this day in 1955, Walt Disney Productions premiered "Lady and the Tramp", it's fifteenth animated feature in Chicago. It was the first film Disney made in CinemaScope. A wonderful story filled with heart and romance, it's entertained audiences throughout the world for generations.
Eating spaghetti would never be the same...
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Those of you that attend the grand opening of "Toy Story Midway Mania" on June 17th will get to see a great celebration of what could be the beginning of the Second Gate we always wanted.
Watch the skies while you're there. You may see some real Green Army Men parachuting into the pier...
Happy Father's Day!
Wish someone's dad a HFD everyone. If not your own, your friends, your uncles or even your dads! Wether you're having a traditional barbeque cookout, taking him to lunch, dinner, a nice relaxing game of golf or dare I say it...
Taking them to Disneyland?
Here's the one day we guys get a little respect around the house... who am I kiddin'? Hehehe...
Anyway, go out and show dear ole' dad a good time!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
With all this talk about Disney cutting back, I thought it might be appropriate to reflect on what Imagineers have worked on in the past few decades. Remember that they're a house filled with many ideas and unfortunately the Suits haven't always bought what they've tried to sell them. So let's reminisce about what was proposed before and could someday be again(in some form)...
In no particular order:
Also known as "Shadowlands," a theme park that was proposed as addition to Walt Disney World. It's never gotten far enough along to be approved, but this park would be a villain's theme park designed as a reverse of the Magic Kingdom. In this one, the Disney Villains are in charge and the center of the park was to have been Malificent's Castle. There was supposedly plans for a Captain Hook attraction, a Night on Bald Mountain roller-coaster ride, rides built around Ursula, Cruella De Ville and others. Personally, I would go crazy at this park were they to have given it the detail of Tokyo DisneySea.
A proposed new land for Disneyland in the late 70's. Discovery Bay was a Victorian place, a village or small town that was supposed to have cropped up in the north west around the turn of the nineteenth century. Imagine if Captain Nemo had escaped the disaster at the end of Leagues and had came across a mining town nestled in a bay in northern California in the middle of the Gold Rush. He and other reclusive inventors would have used the place as a base for experimenting and developing their ideas for a brighter future. The kind of place that Verne or Wells would have inhabited. An area where airships could be flown in seclusion(much like the Videopolis in Paris) or one could have dinner inside a luxury restaurant aboard the Nautilus(again, part of the original proposal for Discoveryland in Paris). Or you could have a Journey to the Center of the Earth ride... sounds familiar, don't it? Many of the concepts of "Discovery Bay" have made it into parks in Paris, Orlando or Anaheim. This land has also been talked about as a park unto itself. Some have suggested it could be one of the new theme parks proposed in Asia, but it's doubtful that this will be the Second Gate for Hong Kong.
Disney's attempt in 1993 to build a park celebrating the greatness of America which went down in flames a year later when preservationist and various interest groups began to protest the location of the park in Virginia. The design of the park, headed by Bob Weis(DCA's head Imagineer) was to be eight distinctly themed lands. The plans for Disney's America called for 8 distinctly themed areas:
A Native American Village depicting an accurate Native American village reflecting the tribes that were known in this part of the country. And also enjoy interactive experiences, exhibits and arts and crafts, as well as an exciting white water river raft ride that would have gone all around the area, based on the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Civil War, based around a Civil War Fort would have plunged guests into a more turbulent time of American history, and adjacent to it, a big battlefield, where Civil War re-enactments and water battles between the Monitor and the Merrimac would have once again be fought.
Ellis Island, which moved into the 20th century, a replica of Ellis Island building where many immigrants came through, guests would have live the "immigrant experience" through music, ethnic foods and a great live show presentation.
State Fair Area which was going to show how even during the big Depression of the '30s, Americans knew how to entertain themselves. With folk art exhibits and a live show on baseball, guests could have enjoy, too, classic wooden thrill rides in memory of Coney Island.
The Farm, recreating an authentic farm where guests could have the opportunity to see different types of farm industries related to food production in addition to some hands-on experiences like milking cows and learning what homemade ice cream tastes like.
President's Square, which was a celebration of the birth of democracy and those who fought to preserve it. The Hall of Presidents of Walt Disney World would have moved to Disney's America.
Enterprise, representing a factory town, would have highlights American ingenuity and guests could have ride a major roller coaster attraction called the "Industrial Revolution" , traveling through a 19th century landscape with heavy industry and blast furnaces. And, on either side of the coaster, exhibits of famous American technology that have defined the American industry in the past, as new developments that will define industries in the future.
Victory Field, celebrating aviation where guests would have experience what America's soldiers faced in the defense of freedom during the world wars. It would have look like an airport area with a series of hangars containing attractions based on America's military fight using virtual reality technology. The airport would have serve also as an exhibit area of planes from different periods, as well as a place for major flying exhibitions.
Disney's MGM Studios Backlot
This attraction, which was kind of a hybrid park/mall was to be situated on 40-acre park in Burbank, near the Walt Disney Studios. Many of the rides and attractions that would show up in Disney-MGM Studios were included in this design(Great Movie Ride, ect.). Some believe that the park would have never seen the light of day and it was only proposed as a threat to Universal Studios plans to open a version of their Hollywood park in Florida.
This new "land" for Disneyland would have been an expansion to Main Street USA designed as as side street that was themed around the addition of electricity into American homes. Would have featured a statue of Thomas Edison, and a stage show about harnessing electricity.(The Carousel of Progress would borrow from this plan).
Sounds kind of familiar to you guys that have read the latest "Blue Sky Buzz", eh? This was also known as "Roger Rabbit's Hollywood" at times and would have a 30's Hollywood theme that included representations of Walt's famed Hyperion Studios among others, located between Main Street USA and Tomorrowland. The side of Space Mountain facing the land would have been converted into the hill with the Hollywood letters on it. It would have featured The Great Movie Ride from Disney's Hollywood Studios and Dick Tracy's Crimestoppers along with several other attractions.
This was an additional side street off of Main Street in Disneyland that would have been a side street expansion to Main Street USA themed around a New England town circa the American Revolution. It would featured themed period shops, The Hall of Presidents, a beautiful bay scene, and recreating many famous American landmarks(much of this idea would come to fruition at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Liberty Square).
A new land addition to Disneyland that was based on Greek and Roman myths, it would focus on classic creations, Hercules was supposedly an idea floated around as one of the center attractions. Some of the ideas for this land were discussed as a possible theme park of its own, many of the ideas from this would influence the proposed land in Disney's Animal Kingdom that was known as "Beastly Kingdom."
After designing the elaborately detailed Euro Disneyland park, WDI wanted to expand the Resort into a real resort that didn't just have a park with a bunch of hotels. Planning to create a European version of Walt Disney World, the guys in Glendale planned to create a water park as beautiful as the theme park they were just completing. The Imagineers came up with a Polynesian themed attraction that was built beneath a glass dome to handle the weather of Paris. Of course, once Euro Disneyland has such a bad first year the project was shelved. It would never see the light of day.
This was to be the third themed area of the new animal park that Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde was planning on opening. It's original intend(lost now to many) was to focus on: The actual design was animals that are extinct(Dinosaurs), animals that are living(those alive today) and animals that were fantasy(the stuff of myths and legend). As a cost cutting measure, Michael Eisner chose to cut this land to keep the budget down and instead put in a "meet and greet" area know as Camp Minnie-Mickey. The land would have had all sorts of elaborate rides and shops with two "E-Tickets" that explored fantasy. One would be a good ride known as "Quest for the Unicorn", while the other would be a foreboding roller-coaster that was a dark ride know as "Dragon Tower." There were plans(hopes) to add the attraction at a later date. It would eventually get shelved like so many other rides. If the economy stays good and WDW continues the good times over the next few years we may see a new version of it come to life. If you look at the logo for DAK you'll notice that it has a dragon on it to reflect that part of the park which was to be built.
Mineral King Ski Resort
To be located within a subalpine valley in southern Sequoia National Park, this project was to be an elaborately themed ski resort unlike anything before it. One of Walt Disney's last projects, Mineral King was to look like an old Alpine lodge resort that blended in with the surroundings of the beautiful nature that this valley offered. The Country Bear's Jamboree was going to play a part in this entertaining people. When the project was canceled in the 70's because of environmental concerns, those ideas moved on to become part of the parks.
This was going to be the much hyped about retheming of TL that Tony Baxter and others planned on doing to give a new experience to the dated look that the area was becoming. It involved an elaborate show at where Innoventions is and would have turned TL into something out of the Star Wars cantina. The area would be teaming with detailed creations that Imagineers wanted to use to create the impression that you were in an alternate future. The cost of the project continued to rise until Michael Eisner, dealing with the fiasco that was Euro Disney started to cut back funding for the park. What we got was Tomorrowland 98, which was a very pale and anemic layover that resembled little of what WDI had planned on doing to this cherished part of Disneyland(a future article about TL 55 is coming).
A proposal known as the "Long Beach Project," that was to be located near the Queen Mary that would feature aquatically themed rides based around the ocean, seas and exploration. The project would have a terminal for the yet to be finished Disney Cruise Line, 300 slits in the marina, five ocean related resort hotels and a theme park called, what else: Disneysea in which the center icon would be "Oceana," a giant bubble-like structure that would have been the water equivalent of Spaceship Earth in EPCOT. Some believed that this was a park proposed just to intimidate Anaheim into ponying up more to have the Second Gate built there. It finally went down in flames after a couple years, but luckily for us parts of it were resurrected to form the basis for Tokyo DisneySea.
This West Coast version of EPCOT was to be built where DCA now resides. The limit of land would have made the majority of the park resemble the World Showcase section of EPCOT, only instead of individual countries there would be a focus on the "Four Corners of the World", with the Americas Corner, the European Corner, the African Corner and the Asian Corner. It would feature at its center a Spaceship Earth that was gold instead of the silver one we're all familiar with in Florida. Alas, it was not to be and went down in flames under the weight of the Euro Disneyland mess... and from it arose DCA and the mess we've been left with. Ahem...
Today is the day we honor the "Stars & Stripes".
Seven red stripes...
Six white stripes...
It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened that day by resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day; in August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress. It's not a federal holiday because... well, there are enough days we get off don't you think?
When I go to Disneyland they have those ceremonies with the lowering of the flag and I'm reminded of how much Walt loved this country and wanted to honor it. I believe it's appropriate we do the same on this website.
Friday, June 13, 2008
The New York Times has an interesting article by Brooks Barnes that's an example of what we discussed about Mickey Mouse a few days ago. It focuses on how Warner Bros., Disney and others are trying to keep their franchise characters relevant to modern audiences and how difficult it can be sometimes to stay fresh and makes one think about the problems of trying to not destroy a character entirely...
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Walt Disney Pictures 37th animated feature premiered on this day in 1999. The Mouse's retelling of Edgar Rice Burrough's story of a white man raised in Africa by apes does well at the box office, but doesn't equal the earlier "Second Golden Age" films.
I've always enjoyed Disney's interpretation of Tarzan, but felt like it was incomplete. There was something missing from it's story and the film's ending felt rushed. Buy hey, that's me... it's actually one of my best friends favorite Disney films. So to each his own... lets celebrate Disney's Tarzan on its 9th aniversary.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I've seen alot of talk out there, not to mention having quite a few e-mails showing up in my box all asking the same thing:
"I've heard that because of the economy all projects for DCA are on hold or canceled."
Well, my sources tell me that this is bunk. Absolutely not true. Simple rumors that have been started around the Net by Disney fans own version of the "sewing circle". This isn't to say that there won't or couldn't be problems, but unless the economy takes a disastrous nosedive and attendance at the parks plummets(it hasn't, btw) the walls will go up again this fall.
All companies have contingency plans for worst-case scenarios, but for this to be true it would have to be known by a very, very few people inside Burbank. So don't go screaming the sky has fallen...
Until it's fallen.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Ok, I know I've been promising this one for a while now and I apologize for the tardiness...
Before I talk about what I thought of "Prince Caspian" I think it would be best to describe my feelings about the first Narnia film, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe".
I first read C.S. Lewis' classic children's novel when I was just entering high school. Having been a fan of fantasy fiction I picked up a copy in my high school library and read it one day during breaks between classes. It was a wonderful escape from math and science class... but not my history class. I finished it the next day and noticed that there were other books in the series. I decided to find them and read the rest of the series...
And then I got caught up in school, girls, movies, girls, arguing with parents, girls. You get the picture? I never got around to it. I really enjoyed the book, although it wasn't my favorite tale and it did seem to be aimed at an audience a little younger than I was... but it was a good read. And I thought nothing else about it as time went on.
When Disney announced that it would be making the big-screen adaption of the novel I vaguely remembered the book and thought it would be fun to see how they adapted it. Before it came out I finally bought the entire seven book series and reread TLTWATW and disconvered it was very much as I remembered it.
Now when I saw "Prince Caspian", it was an entirely new experience for me having never gotten around to reading it.
So what did I think of the sequel?
I thought it was moderately enjoyable, but not as good as the original that I thought was enjoyable... moderately.
You see, I was never a huge fan of the book and therefore when I saw the first film I wasn't a huge fan of it either. I was entertain for sure, but I always felt that the world of Narnia was "Lord of the Rings-Lite" and never got fully into it like some. I don't mean to offend anyone that are avid fans of this series, but it was just never my favorite form of fantasy. Just a personal preference, really.
My problems with the film begin with the Pevensie siblings. I really wanted to get to know them more and never felt that I did. I was actually interested in how their lives had changed while back from Narnia. The film rushes to get back to the fantasy world and I understand why... it is where the adventure begins, but I found them the most interesting part of this tale and felt that we never got to know them. That's a problem for a film that revolves around them.
As for the star of the title of the film, Prince Caspian, played by Ben Barnes? I have to say I found him pretty. Pretty boring, that is. I never got into his character or wanted to believe in him. And the Spanish accent he and all his fellow Telmarines was very distracting. Had Narnia been ran over by the Spanish? Having not read the book I don't know if this was a part of the story or a creative decision made by director Adamson. Even the armor they wore looked like it had evolved from Spanish Conquistadors so that further made me fell this way.
The battles that take place were interesting and the effects have come a long way since the original film, but I also felt that they were put there to say "See? We've got cool battles that can compete with other fantasy films!" and they didn't seem to advance the story.
And the villain? I felt the nemesis in this second outing was very generic when compared to the Snow Queen in the first one. To go from Tilda Swinton as the White Witch to a generic ruler trying to kill his nephew was underwhelming for sure. The White Witch does make a small cameo, but again, I don't know if this is in the book or just another attempt to inject a better villain. This was my biggest complaint, as I love Disney villains and consider the White Which worthy of such an honor as to be called one... King Miraz was not.
My favorite character other than the siblings was Reepicheep the swashbuckling mouse. He was a fun, entertaining character that I wish I knew more about, but sadly didn't. The film definitely takes a darker turn in order to pull in larger, more adult audiences, but it seems more hollow than the original. I can only hope that the addition of a new director for the third outing will inject new life into the Narnia series the way a new director for the Harry Potter series injected new life into it.
I didn't go in wanting to hate this film and I didn't come out hating it. But I wanted to be transported to a world that was filled with wonder and I was more bored than entertained. If I reviewed films with stars(which I don't), I'd generously give this outing two and a half stars. Generously.
When the next chapter comes out I hope that I'm drawn back into the world of Narnia, because it's a world full of possibilities that "Prince Caspian" failed to show me...
When "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" comes onto the screen I want the journey to be worth it.
Sorry about the delay in putting up this review, but events and time conspired against me...
We haven't done one of these in a long while, so I guess it's about time to explore some more of what the Mouse left behind.
Where The Money Is
Walt Disney Pictures and Scott Free Productions(as in Ridley and Tony) purchased this spec from screenwriter Max E. Frye for 375,000 versus a cool million right before 1996. The story was a spy thriller that's a dark comedy about a bored young nurse who discovers a retired bank robber living in her nursing home. As they become friends, she persuades him to rob a bank to put some thrills into his life and her own.
A contemporary adventure with elements of fantasy about a group of explorers searching for the locations discovery of the birth of humanity. Ronnie Christensen's script was bought by the Mouse for $400,000 versus $750,000 in the middle of 1995 and hasn't been found since...
The most rotten family in America moves into a small town and causes trouble deliberately. Their son becomes a huge disappointment when he becomes an upstanding citizen. Gee, I really don't know why this one failed to make it though... Uh hmm. The comedy, written by Dan Mazur and David Tausik was fetched for $ 150,000 versus $225,000 in early 1996.
Two guys that continually watch 1970's cop shows get jobs working for the Los Angeles postal police after trying for seven years to get into the LAPD and failing the entrance exam. As postal cops, hilarity ensues... Frank Antonelli and Jeffrey Berman's screenplay was picked up by the Mouse and Wind Dancer Films for a low six figure versus a high six figure price that was not disclosed in late 1997.
Joe In Accounting
A script about a CEO(who happens to be female) that starts to date a very low ranking employee to stop him from blowing the whistle on the company and naturally, she falls in love with him. Riiiiight. Only in Hollywood do fairy tales like this happen... still it could turn out to be a clever script. It does happen. This romantic comedy script by Andy Marx and Tony Peyser was bought by Disney for a low six figure in early 1998 and well, I don't think much has happened since.
A story set in the Dark Ages that follows a group of Vikings. It involves sword and sorcery with the Norsemen winding up in uncharted territory. Gavin Scott(Small Soldiers) sold this as spec script for a mid six figure versus a million dollars. Lisa Henson was in charge of developing the project. I don't know if the script was any good, but I always love a script that has Vikings in it...
Tricks Of The Trade
Four brash business school graduates who can't find employment, team up with the mob to help their business affairs. Accidentally, the grads put the bad guys on the internet, and as I say... hilarity ensues. Rich Taylor and Jeffrey Goldberg wrote the script which Jerry Bruckheimer picked up for the Mouse in late 2000.
A High seas adventure of the infamous pirate, who began his sea-life as a merchant marine in the 1600's. After being mistreated, he took to a life of crime but was a hero to many of his subordinates, treating them fairly and giving them an honest split of the booty he stole. This script by David Weisberg and Douglas Cook was bought for close to a million for Ridley Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer to produces as a co-production between Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Scott Free Films in 2000. Ridley was tapped to direct and Jerry would produce. Of all the projects in this post, the one I would have loved to have seen gotten made was this one.
The Superconducting Super Collider Of Sparkle Creek
A tale about a romance between a small town Wisconsin sheriff and the theoretical physicist whose team has built a particle accelerator beneath the unsuspecting town. Nothing like science to make you fall in love, eh? John Kamps and David Koepp(Indy 4, Jurassic Park, ect.) sold this script for 2.5 million versus 3 million in early 2001. Disney made a preemptive strike, purchasing this with Koepp attached to direct. What's happened lately? Nothing. Nada...
Monday, June 9, 2008
Sunday, June 8, 2008
On this day...
Seven years ago, "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" opens up in Los Angeles and New York. The film will go on to become another box office disappointment for Disney's animation division. While the script is muddled and the characters don't have the emotional attachment you would want or expect, the story itself is a great idea... it's just not executed as well as I would have liked. The animation though, is stunning and a perfect example of why hand drawn animation should never be abandoned in favor of CG films. In fact, some of the animation in Atlantis is a combination of 2D/3D and works fine. It would have been interesting to see what the Submarine attraction at Disneyland would have looked like had the film been a success. Oh well, I guess those ideas will have to go into a future Tokyo DisneySea attraction...
Saturday, June 7, 2008
You know when it comes to animated stories, Pixar is the king. They're the rulers, the man on the mountain to knock off. All films(Disney's included) have rightfully been compared to their films. They've not only created a list of successful films, but really entertaining ones as well. I always have said to one of my friends that a bad Pixar film is better than most live-action films that get released anyday. Hands down.
When it comes to CG animation, Pixar is the tops. Dreamworks and Fox tend to be second tier and the other tend to fall into a third tier or lower. I'd say, in my opinion, "Shrek" and "Ice Age" would be second tier, followed by "Madagascar" a little lower with films like "Bee Movie" taking up the bottom ranks. Anything below that on this list wouldn't really be anything I'd even think about seeing.
Now here comes "Kung Fu Panda"...
For the first time, I actually have seen a film, a CG animated film that isn't made by Pixar that's worthy of being a Pixar film. That film is Kung Fu Panda. I loved this film. It's an instant classic. This film is both endearing and heartwarming with a clever, well written script that is lean and fast(the film clocks in at 92 minutes).
Jack Black plays the title character, a big pile of lovable Panda who literally dreams Kung Fu. He's obsessed with it and naturally finds himself in a world where he has no hope of becoming his dream, only dreaming of the dream. This is one of those "follow your heart" films that feels so much like something John Lasseter would have turned out. It's really that good.
The story is equal parts Kung Fu and comedy with neither one hogging the other for screen time. If you're a fan of 70's Martial Arts pictures, then this film will be like a long lost love letter wrapped in some amusingly funny paper of course. This film pays respects to those films while being refreshingly new and contemporary. There's not an ounce of fat on this script/film. What's needed to be shown is, what's not needed is simply not there. My main complaints about "Speed Racer" were in regard to its length and too much exposition. The Wachowski Brothers should use this film as the template by which they make anymore family films.
I remember when I first heard of this and thought of it as just some throwaway film with another gimmicky story like "Over the Hedge" or something even worse. It's not. Jeffrey Katzenber should be commended for putting together this jewel of a creation. It's definitely something I'm going to see again this week and one film I plan on adding to my DVD collection. Personally, I think it's great when a film like this comes out of the blue... Pixar needs competition so it doesn't get lazy and having to live up to this film's high standards is a challenge the Lamp is worthy of achieving. Kung Fu Panda puts Dreamworks Animation into a whole new field that they've never occupied before.
Your turn John Lasseter...
Friday, June 6, 2008
As in "John Carter of Mars"...
It appears The Pixar Blog got Andrew Stanton to divulge what his next project was. Surprise, surprise... he announced it would be "John Carter of Mars", which if they follow the series of books will be "Princess of Mars". We've had others confirm for us that Stanton was directing this, but we finally have the man himself admitting it... I guess Lasseter and crew are comfortable with him admitting his involvement in the project finally.
Now, I wonder how far along the script is? Could it be already done? Not likely. When will it be shooting? How much will be live-action versus cg? Who will they cast? This answer brings up lots of questions.
Go over and take a looksie...
Thursday, June 5, 2008
On this day...
Ten years ago, Walt Disney Feature Animation's thirty-sixth film, "Mulan", premieres at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. I just watched this again a couple weeks ago... it plays much better than my memory of first seeing it(Is it just me or does Eddie Murphy's Dragon sound eeirily like Donkey from "Shrek"?). The film is one of several that were made in Florida before the box office results convinced Michael Eisner to fold up that operation.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Now I admire Angelina Jolie's "talent", uh-hum... as much as the next guy, but I think living the life she does keeps her out of touch with the real world.
In a recent interview posted over at the Digital Spy website, Angie... can I call you Angie? Well, she talked about how difficult it is to show her kids Disney films because they have no "African-American Princess"... I guess being in showbiz doesn't mean you keep up with all the comings and goings. She's not heard the news about "The Princess and the Frog" opening next year, I take it?
Even if it wasn't coming out next year, I detest the idea of having a quota for each film based on the color of the character's skin. I want good stories, I don't care what color the lead characters are... I do expect them to be a little geographically correct though. I mean, if Disney has made films based on European myths and folklore then I don't expect the people in it to be of some other race. I don't consider that to be racist which is what Angie seems to imply... It's not like all of Disney's princesses have been white(although the majority have been). If she had bothered to watch some over the past decade she would have seen a Persian Princess, a Chinese Princess and an American Indian Princess. I don't want another one to happen just to check off another color of the rainbow. I also know the history of Disney and other companies when it comes to race. But I feel that she's either falling victim to, or playing the politically correct game of expectations. I don't think a character in a film has to be white for me to like or identify with him. My favorite actor happens to be Samuel L. Jackson and it ain't cause he's black, it's because he's an incredible actor and one powerful presence. Does Angie think that her kids can only identify with a heroine if she's of the same color? That's ignorant in my opinion...
Perhaps next time she goes off on a mission for the United Nations she should bring along a few DVDs so she doesn't stick her foot in her mouth?
Hat Tip to Animated News