Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Mouse Castle Lounge 11-26-2014 - Disney Imagineer Terri Hardin Jackson, Part One

Terri Hardin Jackson
Terri Hardin Jackson
Terri Hardin Jackson is a woman of many talents. The former Disney Imagineer is an artist and sculptor, not to mention a puppeteer, an actress and a writer. Her creative output spans from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Dragon's Lair at Disneyland Paris to the films Ghostbusters, Men in Black II and The Flintstones. In The Mouse Castle Lounge, Terri talks with me about her Imagineering career, how she ended up at Disney and how she almost became the voice of Figment at Epcot. We also share our mutual obsession for Disneyland's Flying Saucers because THEY WERE THE FLYING SAUCERS, THE COOLEST RIDE EVER!



Related Story: The Mouse Castle Lounge 12-03-2014 - Disney Imagineer Terri Hardin Jackson, Part Two

Monday, November 24, 2014

Inside The Mouse Castle 11-24-2014 - 'Into the Woods,' 'Cinderella' and 'Strange Magic'

So, yeah, there was a lot of news today about the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming out this Friday. Perhaps you heard about it.

We know it's going to be 88 seconds long because the film's director, J.J. Abrams, told us so.

A note from J.J. Abrams

We also know in which theaters and what cities the trailer will first appear because made it all official.

Nope, it's not in my hometown. How about yours?

Question: How soon after it hits theaters will the Episode VII trailer surface online? And I'm not talking shaky footage from some guy's iPhone. I'm talking an official release from Disney/Lucasfilm to avoid another Avengers: Age of Ultron embarrassment. Methinks not long. Those living in the correct select cities may get an early first look, but they won't beat the rest of us on the Interwebs by much.

Anyway, just so you know, Anthony and I aren't talking about any of that Star Wars stuff in today's episode of Inside the Mouse Castle because we recorded the show before all the trailer news came out.

Sometimes our timing really sucks.

James Corden and Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
The Baker (James Corden) and the Witch (Meryl Streep) go Into the Woods.
But, have no fear, we've got plenty of other movie news for you. The cast of Disney's Into the Woods made an appearance in New York Saturday night to talk about the film and we've got soundbites from director Rob Marshall as well as stars Meryl Streep, Chris Pine and James Corden. Of course, if you'd like to see the whole presentation, we've got that right here.

Also, Anthony and I break down the new trailers for Disney's Cinderella and Lucasfilm's Strange Magic along with the video clips introducing the emotional characters from Pixar's Inside Out.

Sorry about not catching the Star Wars news fast enough. We'll try to do better next time.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens



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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Live 'Into the Woods' Q&A in The Mouse Castle

Want to take an early trip Into the Woods? Yahoo! Movies is hosting an exclusive Q&A with the film's stars and you can watch it live right here in The Mouse Castle. Scheduled to appear are Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski, director Rob Marshall, and screenwriter James Lapine. The event starts today at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time and will include a first-look at a new Into the Woods featurette. So, why don't you stay with me and find out more about Disney's upcoming film based on the award-winning Stephen Sondheim musical? It opens in U.S. theaters on Christmas Day.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness: Meet the Emotions of 'Inside Out'

Pixar's next film will dare to go into a confusing, scary and extraordinary place, the mind of an eleven year-old girl.

Inside Out is the story of young Riley, who moves with her family from the Midwest to San Francisco and encounters all the hectic mental turmoil that comes with having a major life change at that age. We get to see it all play out through the emotions that occupy her head: Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). Although Joy is used to running the show, all her fellow emotions begin jockeying for position and control in the wake of all the change.

The film is directed by Pixar veteran Pete Doctor (Monsters, Inc., Up) and co-directed by Ronnie del Carmen. It opens in the U.S. on June 19, 2015.

Inside Out is a film I'm super excited to see. I already love the look and feel of the little bit we've gotten to see in the trailers. The color scheme is great and the Aerosmith track is perfect.

Meet the gang:

The New Trailer for 'Strange Magic' is Pretty Creepy

Fairies and elves do battle with goblins and other scary creatures over a magical potion in the animated comedy action-adventure Strange Magic. The story, written by George Lucas, is based loosely on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The screenplay is by David Berenbaum (Elf), Irene Mecchi (BraveThe Lion King) and Gary Rydstrom, who also directs.

The animation in the trailer above is lush and detailed--and just a bit creepy, teetering into uncanny valley territory. It was created by Lucasfilm Animation Singapore and Industrial Light & Magic, who also did Rango, another creepy-looking animated film.

Strange Magic has a music soundtrack that draws from "popular songs from the past six decades." You can catch snippets of the '60s staple "Wild Thing," the Motown classic "I Can't Help Myself" and the reggae-tinged "Say Hey" in the trailer. I can't say I'm a fan. They're great songs, but their over-familiarity makes them that much harder to weave into a musical film (See: Moulin Rouge, Gnomeo & Juliet).

Strange Magic stars the voices talents of Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Kristin Chenoweth and Maya Rudolph. It opens in U.S. theaters on January 23rd.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Mouse Castle Lounge 11-17-2014 - Walt Disney's Trains

Michael Campbell, guest curator at the Walt Disney Family Museum
A dapper Michael Campbell celebrates Walt's trains.
Michael Campbell showed up at the presentation in a train conductor's uniform. Being president of the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society, I suspect he's done this before. 

He came to the Walt Disney Family Museum to talk about Walt Disney, trains and the museum's new exhibition he curated, All Aboard: A Celebration of Walt's Trains. It contains over 200 artifacts from Walt's railroad loving past. 

Michael, along with the museum's executive director Kirsten Komoroske, are my guests in The Mouse Castle Lounge. They talk at length about how the exhibition came together and the many unique items that make it up, Michael also shares a delightful and touching story of how Disney animation legend Ollie Johnston--who shared Walt's passion for trains--had the train ride of his life at Disneyland with the help of John Lasseter. 

Michael Campbell and Kirsten Komoroske
Michael Campbell looks on while Kirsten Komoroske speaks at
the Walt Disney Family Museum.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Celebrating Walt's Trains at the Walt Disney Family Museum

Mickey's Choo-Choo, 1929
Mickey's Choo-Choo (1929).
The Walt Disney Family Museum shines the spotlight on Walt's lifelong fascination with trains in their new exhibition, All Aboard: A Celebration of Walt's Trains, running now through February 9th. Over 200 artifacts document the influence railroading had on Walt's life and work and its importance to the Walt Disney Company even today.

This is a different kind of special exhibition for the museum. While past shows have focused on a specific artist (Mary Blair, Tyrus Wong) or film (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), Walt's Trains covers a broader spectrum of history and ideas. We not only learn about Walt's early experiences with trains (he was a news butcher in his youth, selling magazines and snacks on the trains traveling in and around Kansas City), but we also see how trains worked their way into the cartoons and films Walt produced (Dumbo, The Great Locomotive Chase). Naturally, Walt's beloved Carolwood Pacific, the scale model train layout he operated in his Holmby Hills backyard, is represented as are the many trains of Disneyland including the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad, the Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland and the Casey Jr. Circus Train. Also included in the exhibition are train-related items belonging to Disney Legends Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnston, who also shared Walt's passion for railroading.

Walt Disney riding the Carolwood Pacific, 1951
Walt taking the Carolwood Pacific for a test run at the studio in 1951.
Lilly Belle design drawing
Design drawing for the Lilly Belle, named for Walt's wife.
Crossover track from the Carolwood Pacific Railroad
Crossover track from the Carolwood Pacific Railroad.
Casey Jr. story sketch from Dumbo.
Casey Jr. story sketch from Dumbo (1941).
Side panel from the Ernest S. Marsh locomotive
Side panel from the Ernest S. Marsh locomotive that once circled Disneyland.
Walt Disney's coveralls. He wore them on occasions when he
piloted a train on the Grand Circle Tour of Disneyland. Guests rarely
knew that Walt was behind the throttle.
Disneyland Railroad attraction poster
Disneyland Railroad attraction poster.
Walt Disney aboard the E.P. Ripley at Disneyland in 1955
Walt aboard the E.P. Ripley at Disneyland in 1955.
Rainbow Caverns attraction poster
Rainbow Caverns attraction poster surrounded by concept art for
the Mine Train and the Casey Jr. Circus Train.
Yosemite Valley train diorama
This mini Yosemite Valley is one of several train dioramas on display
at the Walt Disney Family Museum.
The Disneyland Limited now leaving for a Grand Circle Tour
"...The Disneyland Limited now leaving for a Grand Circle Tour..."
Walt's Trains at the Walt Disney Family Museum
Walt's Trains at the Walt Disney Family Museum.
This weekend, Kirsten Komoroske, executive director of the Walt Disney Family Museum, and guest curator Michael Campbell will be my guests in The Mouse Castle Lounge as we talk about Walt's Trains.

For more information, visit

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Inside The Mouse Castle 11-12-2014 - 'Strange Magic,' 'Frozen' on Ice and Walt Disney's Trains

There's a lot of movie news in the latest episode of "Inside The Mouse Castle." Some of it we're excited about, some of it...meh.

Strange Magic from Lucasfilm
We're as surprised as you are. Strange Magic from Lucasfilm opens January 23rd.
  • Disney surprised us this week with the announcement that Lucasfilm is producing Strange Magic, an animated musical film based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The story was penned by George Lucas himself (who is also executive producer) with a screenplay by David Berenbaum (Elf), Irene Mecchi (Brave, The Lion King) and Gary Rydstrom, who also directs. The music will come from "popular songs from the past six decades." If that formula of Bill the Bard meets pop music sounds familiar, it's because Disney and Elton John tried it in 2011 with Gnomeo & Juliet. That didn't end well. Strange Magic opens in the U.S. on January 23rd.
  • Big Hero 6 was a solid #1 at the box office last weekend, but will it have enough momentum to stay there this weekend? Anthony and I have a whopping 50 cents riding on whether BH6 can beat Dumb and Dumber To, which opens Friday. I say it will. Anthony says otherwise.
  • Star WarsEpisode VII (aka The Force Awakens) recently wrapped up filming at England's Pinewood Studios. The Star Wars crew (at least some of them anyway) will return to Pinewood in the near future to shoot what is believed to be a spin-off film based on a single franchise character. More details to come as soon as Disney and Lucasfilm lift the veil of secrecy...or until someone leaks it.
  • There is a new(ish) trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron. We like it.

  • There is a new trailer for Disney's McFarland, USA starring Kevin Costner. It hits U.S. theaters on February 20th. Meh.

  • There is also a new trailer for the direct-to-Blu-ray Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast. It comes out March 3rd. Your kids will like it.

  • Frozen is touring the U.S. right now as a Disney on Ice show. Who didn't see that coming? The surprise may be just how strong ticket sales are. I mean, we knew tickets would sell, but prime seats at this weekend's shows in New York City are pretty much sold out and what few remain are going for almost $200. Before the tour is done, around 3 million tickets could be sold to see Anna and Elsa skate themselves into a little frenzy. Is Frozen coming to your town? Find out at We recommend you order your tickets as soon as possible.
Walt's Trains at the Walt Disney Family Museum
Walt's Trains at the Walt Disney Family Museum
  • All Aboard: A Celebration of Walt's Trains is the new exhibition at the Walt Disney Family Museum that shines the spotlight on Walt's lifelong love of trains and the many ways it influenced his work and personal life. Over 200 artifacts are on display including Casey Jr. concept art from Dumbo, Walt's coveralls from the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad and train memorabilia from Walt's fellow train enthusiasts at the studio, Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnston. The exhibition runs through February 9th. This weekend, we'll hear from the curator of Walt's Trains, Michael Campbell, in a special edition of The Mouse Castle Lounge.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Inside The Mouse Castle 11-07-2014 - 'Toy Story 4,' 'Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens' and 'Big Hero 6'

Anthony and I have beer and movies on our minds as we recap a busy week for Disney, Pixar and Lucasfilm in the latest Inside The Mouse Castle. We brought beer because, well, it's the weekend, so why not?
  • Like it or not, there will be a Toy Story 4, directed by John Lasseter and released on June 16, 2017. Anthony's really looking forward to it. I'm cautiously optimistic but concerned that Pixar is going to the well one too many times in the name of Woody and Buzz. 
  • Star Wars: Episode VII is now officially known as The Force Awakens, but you knew that already, didn't you? We'll talk about it anyway.
Baymax in "Big Hero 6"
Baymax in Big Hero 6.
  • Big Hero 6 has opened this weekend to enthusiastic reviews and rightfully so. This superhero origin story is pretty basic by comic book standards, but it's buoyed by a high-energy sense of fun and wonder, plus exquisitely detailed, jaw-dropping animation. Go see it...and whatever you do, stay until the end of the credits.
  • The new trailer and character images for Into the Woods starring Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp have significantly raised my enthusiasm for the Rob Marshall-directed film, but Anthony isn't sold on it yet. We'll pass final judgment on the movie musical when it comes out on Christmas Day.
The Avengers
The Avengers
  • Disney and Marvel aren't pulling any punches when it comes finding the person who leaked the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer before it's scheduled release. They have traced the leak to a Google Drive account and have subpoenaed Google to provide more details before November 18th. Grab your popcorn. This is going to be good.
  • Fijian boat makers are in a tizzy over a single piece of concept art Disney has released for the upcoming animated film Moana. Apparently, the image depicts a small, crudely-made boat similar in style to a type the islanders have been building for centuries. They are requesting compensation from Disney for borrowing the design that has no apparent origin or trademark owner. No, really.
  • Fantasmic! is going Fastpass at Disneyland beginning December 12th. Find out why we think it's about time.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Okay, 'Toy Story 4,' But What About 'Incredibles 2' and 'Cars 3'?

John Lasseter discusses Toy Story 4 with his story team.
John Lasseter discusses Toy Story 4 with his story team.
Today's announcement that Pixar will release a fourth Toy Story movie directed by John Lasseter in 2017 has raised a lot of questions, the biggest one being "do we really need a fourth Toy Story movie?" I'll give Pixar the benefit of the doubt on this one for the time being because, let's face it, they have a pretty decent track record when it comes to movies. Even their rare disappointment (*cough* *cough* Cars) is still better than most animated films. It is concerning that Pixar wants to go to the well one more time for a franchise that was so beautifully wrapped up in Toy Story 3, but we still have plenty of time to speculate on what possible new story could arise from Woody, Buzz and little Bonnie.

Which brings up another question: What's going to happen with Pixar's other announced sequels, Incredibles 2 and Cars 3?

Here's a theory.

Pixar's release schedule is set for the next two years. Pete Docter's Inside Out comes out on June 19, 2015 and The Good Dinosaur, held back from 2014 because of story development issues, will hit theaters on November 25, 2015. Finding Dory, the follow-up to Finding Nemo is slated for June 17, 2016 with Toy Story 4 coming out almost exactly a year later.

Now it gets tricky.

Walt Disney Animation Studios has no announced films for 2017 making room for the two Pixar releases. Disney's Zootopia and Moana will hit theaters in 2016 with the revisionist Jack and the Beanstalk tale Giants expected to bow in March 2018 (no word yet on the inevitable follow-up to Frozen--Christmas 2018 perhaps?). An untitled Pixar release was previously announced for November 22, 2017 and will probably be Lee Unkrich's long-awaited Dia de los Muertos movie. That leaves one summer 2018 slot open for Pixar, which I hope will be Incredibles 2, a way more anticipated film than Cars 3, which would be bumped to a not-yet-announced 2019 release date. Those dates also fit into the schedules of their expected directors. Brad Bird will be done with Tomorrowland following its summer release next year. Assuming he doesn't take on his often-rumored 1906 project, Incredibles 2 will fit nicely into his schedule. Likewise Lasseter, who directed both of the Cars films and we can only guess will want to direct Cars 3, would be free to do so upon the completion of Toy Story 4.

This is all speculation, of course, subject to change without notice, blah, blah, blah. What are your thoughts?

Walt Disney Animation/Pixar anticipated release dates:

Inside Out (Pixar) - 6/19/15
The Good Dinosaur (Pixar) - 11/25/15
Zootopia (Disney) - 3/4/16
Finding Dory (Pixar) - 6/17/16
Moana (Disney) - 11/23/16
Toy Story 4 (Pixar) - 6/16/17
Dia de los Muertos (Pixar) - 11/22/17
Giants (Disney) - 3/9/18
Incredibles 2 - 6/15/18
Untitled Disney (Frozen 2???) - 11/21/18
Cars 3 - 2019

Into the Woods: New Trailer and Character Images

The message may be, "Be careful what you wish for," but the new trailer for Into the Woods now has us wishing for more and expecting a lot from director Rob Marshall's film adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine Broadway musical. This is not going to be your typical Disney fairy tale. The woods are dark and forbidding and the characters in it conflicted and a bit selfish. Bad choices and dire consequences are at hand.

In addition to the new trailer, Disney has released some pretty cool character images. They're compelling and just a little eerie.

James Corden as the Baker
James Corden as the Baker

Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife
Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife

Meryl Streep as the Witch
Meryl Streep as the Witch

Anna Kendrick as Cinderella
Anna Kendrick as Cinderella

Chris Pine as the Prince
Chris Pine as the Prince

Billy Magnussen as the Other Prince
Billy Magnussen as the Other Prince

Mackenzie Mauzy as Rapunzel
Mackenzie Mauzy as Rapunzel

Daniel Huttlestone as Jack
Daniel Huttlestone as Jack

Lilla Crawford as Little Red
Lilla Crawford as Little Red

Johnny Depp as the Wolf
Johnny Depp as the Wolf
Into the Woods opens in U.S. theaters on December 25, 2014.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Inside The Mouse Castle 11-04-2014 - Fire on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Disney Movies Anywhere and the Walt Disney Family Museum

It was a hot time in the old mine Saturday night. Stray embers from a firework at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom set fire to a building in the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The blaze was quickly put out and there were no injuries but the video we saw made it look anything but minor.

Here are some of the other scorchin' topics Anthony and I take on in this edition of Inside The Mouse Castle:
  • Halloween has come and gone at the Disney parks, which means they're leapfrogging Thanksgiving and going straight to Christmas. We've got our likes and dislikes inside the berms this holiday season.
  • Disney Movies Anywhere, once an Apple-only app is now available on Google Play and Android devices. By cross-platforming, Disney has turned DMA into a must-have app.
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
  • There are more Marvel rumors to speculate on and get excited about: Tom Hiddleston will be in Avengers: Age of Ultron as Loki and Jessica Chastain might be Captain Marvel in 2018.
  • We're pretty sure Star Wars: Episode VII has wrapped filming in London. Can a teaser trailer for the December 2015 release be far away?
  • There are two new exhibitions opening at the Walt Disney Family Museum in November. All Aboard: A Celebration of Walt's Trains opens November 12th and The Lost Notebook opens November 26th. Get thee to San Francisco.

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