Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 01-29-2015 - 'Walt Before Mickey' Author Tim Susanin

By Tim Callaway

Walt Before Mickey
Walt Before Mickey
Tim Susanin is an investigative attorney by profession whose curiosity was piqued just over ten years ago on a family vacation to Walt Disney World. He became fascinated with the Florida resort’s namesake and began to wonder how Walt Disney went from a simple midwest upbringing to founding an animation studio that became a worldwide media empire. So, Tim started reading and researching and digging. He soon discovered that while there was plenty written about Walt after Mickey Mouse made him a success, there was very little detailed documentation about the years that led up to that. What happened to Walt after he returned from France in 1919? What did he do until success ultimately found him in 1928?

Tim did extensive research on the period and talked to other authors and historians, even members of the Disney family. The result of his efforts became the book Walt Before Mickey: Disney’s Early Years, 1919-1928. It was published in 2011 and was received well by fans, historians and critics. Today, Walt Before Mickey is about to become a motion picture starring Thomas Ian Nicholas as Walt Disney and Jon Heder as his brother Roy Disney. Tim Susanin is my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

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Disneyland's 60th Anniversary: Is that all there is?

By Tim Callaway

"You used to be much more...'muchier.' You've lost your muchness." -- The Mad Hatter

Disneyland Diamond Celebration
I'm not sure exactly what I wanted from Wednesday night's announcements about Disneyland's 60th birthday celebration, but they definitely needed to be muchier.

Sure, the details of the new fireworks show, nighttime parade and World of Color update sounded intriguing enough, but the fact that enhancements to these shows were pretty much expected left me feeling underwhelmed.

They were missing, as Steve Jobs used to say, "One more thing."

Another 24-hour party to kick off the celebration would've been nice. I know Anthony, my cohort from Inside The Mouse Castle, was hoping for some kind of a Haunted Mansion hatbox ghost announcement (the rumor is back and gaining traction--what's with the mysterious panel across from the bride in the attic these days?). Nicki, who loyally follows us on Facebook, was jonesing for anything to do with 60th anniversary merchandise.

We expect to hear more between now and May 22nd, when the festivities officially kick off, but for now we'll have to be satisfied with these Disneyland Diamond Celebration announcements. Will the celebration be better than what we experienced during the 50th year? We'll see.

Tinker Bell in Paint the Night

Paint the Night - 1.5 million LED lights will illuminate this Main Street Electrical Parade on steroids. With a clear tie-in to Fantasmic!, Mickey Mouse will use his imagination and some pixie dust from Tinker Bell to bring Disney dreams to life. Among those dreams will be familiar characters from Monsters, Inc., Cars, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story and Frozen.

Disneyland Forever Fireworks

Disneyland Forever Fireworks - I really like that Disney Legend Richard Sherman has penned a new song ("Kiss Goodnight") for Disneyland's latest "dazzling fireworks show." I also like that new projection effects on Main Street, U.S.A., it’s a small world, the Rivers of America and the Matterhorn will create unique viewing experiences throughout the park. But will Disneyland Forever touch my heart like Remember...Dreams Come True did during Disneyland's 50th birthday?

Okay, the new projections do look cool.

World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney - World of Color has always been a great technical show at Disney California Adventure, but it lacks the heart and engagement of Fantasmic! across the esplanade at Disneyland. Will this nostalgic variation paying tribute to the life and accomplishments of Walt Disney finally make World of Color a show worth seeing again and again?

Sleeping Beauty Castle and Carthay Circle Theatre 60th anniversary concepts.
Both parks will of course be adorned with Diamond Celebration decor (the construction walls have already gone up around Sleeping Beauty Castle to prepare for the transformation), but is that all there is? Walt Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Tom Staggs says there will be more. We hope so. If last night was just the start, then surprise us, Tom. The changes are nice, but they still feel routine. In a year when Disneyland won't have any new attractions opening (and is unlikely to announce any until the D23 Expo in August), the 60th anniversary is going to need to be something much more special.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle - Emma Watson is Belle, 'Strange Magic' is Bad, Disney Cruise Line is Frozen

By Tim Callaway

Emma Watson
In a surprising and pretty exciting casting announcement, we learned today that Emma Watson (Harry Potter and the etc., etc.) will play Belle in the live-action movie version of Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Okay, I'm excited, but Anthony's a little skeptical.

Still, Emma Watson is going to be Belle!

The film, directed by Bill Condon, will start shooting later this year and likely be released in 2016. And yeah, I get that this is yet another live-action redo of classic Disney animation (see 101 Dalmatians, Cinderella and The Jungle Book), but, dude, Emma Watson is going to be BELLE!

Also in this episode of Inside The Mouse Castle:
  • Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner) is hopping aboard Pirates of the Caribbean 5. The film is currently in pre-production in Australia and is looking at a July 2017 release date.
  • Strange Magic crashed and burned at the box office over the weekend. The Lucasfilm release, with a story by executive producer George Lucas, was skewered by critics and took in a paltry $5.5 million.
  • One story George Lucas won't get credit for is the one for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In a recent interview, Lucas said, "The [stories] that I sold to Disney, they came up to the decision that they didn't really want to do those. So they made up their own."
Anna, Olaf and Elsa join Disney Cruise Line
Anna, Olaf and Elsa want to take you on a sea cruise.
  • Some classic Disney comic books from the past will make a return later this year when IDW Publishing releases a series of Uncle Scrooge, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Walt Disney Comics and Stories titles.
  • It's that time of year. Ticket prices at Disneyland and Walt Disney World are due to increase soon--at least that's what the rumor mill says. Let the emotional outbursts from fans begin!

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