Monday, December 21, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 12-21-2015 - 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Spoiler Edition

By Tim Callaway

Star Wars. Nothing but Star Wars. That's what today's episode of Inside The Mouse Castle is all about as Anthony and I share our thoughts about J.J. Abram's epic Episode VII. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens destroyed just about every opening weekend box office record and is expected to challenge Titanic and Avatar as the all time box office champ. Is $2 billion in worldwide ticket sales reachable? We think so. Isn't it crazy that anything short of that will make the movie a financial disappointment?

Money aside, we think The Force Awakens is a stellar return to form for the Star Wars franchise. We love the newcomers to the cast (Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver) and were thrilled to welcome back some old friends (Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill). We were impressed with a story that paid homage to the original trilogy while setting in motion some exciting new story arcs. We can't wait to see what happens next--in about 18 months when Episode VIII opens {sigh}.

I could tell you more about our respective takes on the film and what we think is still to come, but it's way more fun if you give the show a listen. I'll say this again. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. Lots of them.

Enjoy! May the Force be with you!

Oh, and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 12-20-2015 - Jim Korkis's 'Vault of Walt' and the Spirit of Christmas at the Winchester Mystery House

By Tim Callaway

When you know as much stuff about Disney history as Jim Korkis does, you get asked a lot of questions. Sometimes it’s pretty basic like “When did Disneyland open?” Other times it’s more obscure like “When did Mickey Mouse start wearing gloves?” Then there’s the question that’s totally off the wall like “How much does Walt Disney World weigh?”

No really, someone asked him that once.

By the way, the answers are July 17, 1955, in the 1929 cartoon The Opry House, and haven’t got a clue. But, I digress.

Jim is back in the Lounge once again, finishing up a conversation we started last week. We heard all about his latest book, Secret Stories of Walt Disney World. Today, we take a look at his other recent publication, The Vault of Walt: Volume 4. Jim always has terrific stories to tell about Disney. Today is no different.


The Spirit of Christmas at the Winchester Mystery House.
Earlier this month, I took a trip up to the San Francisco Bay Area and paid a visit to my friends at the Walt Disney Family Museum. I finally got to see their special exhibition Disney and Dali: Architects of the Imagination. By all means, go see it. It runs through January 3. While I was there, I was also invited to drive an hour down the road to San Jose to visit the Winchester Mystery House. Now, unless you’ve lived in the Bay Area, like I once did, you may not be familiar with the Winchester Mystery House. It’s a sprawling Victorian mansion in San Jose once owned by the widow Sarah Winchester. Sarah’s late husband, William Winchester was heir to the Winchester firearms fortune. Sarah was quite well off financially.

In 1884, Sarah purchased an unfinished farmhouse in the Santa Clara Valley and commenced adding onto it--for the next 38 years. At the time of Sarah’s death in 1922 the house spread over six acres and contained 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms, and 6 kitchens. Why Sarah kept building all those years remains a mystery. Was she distraught over the deaths of her husband and infant daughter? Did she believe that continually building would somehow appease evil spirits? Was she just a kindly woman who chose to spend her money supporting local builders, carpenters, landscapers and artisans? Whatever the reason, the continuous construction resulted in a labyrinth of rooms and hallways, staircases running into ceilings, doorways leading to nowhere and all manner of building oddities.

You can still tour the house today and marvel at its mind-boggling construction and design. Visit during the holidays and you can see the house decorated in Christmas finery with over 20 custom designed Christmas trees. On select nights you can enjoy like I did the Spirit of Christmas with carolers, festive beverages and holiday treats. Don’t be surprised if you see some snow fall too.

Here to tell us more about the Winchester Mystery House is tour director Janan Boehme, my second guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.


Secret Stories of Walt Disney World and The Vault of Walt: Volume 4 are published by Theme Park Press.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 12-16-2015 - 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' World Premiere

By Tim Callaway

The cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
We are just days away from the release—finally—of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh episode in the Star Wars saga and the first since Disney plunked down $4 billion to buy Lucasfilm and all its assorted intellectual properties. It’s been ten years since we saw a new Star Wars film in theaters and—let’s be honest—32 years since we saw a really good one. The Force Awakens comes with ridiculously high expectations from older fans who grew up with Star Wars as well as generations of younger fans gearing up for the next wave of new Star Wars films that will be coming out every year until at least 2019.

No pressure, but the future success of the franchise really hinges on how good a film director J.J. Abrams delivers this week. Certainly $100 million in advance ticket sales and early positive reviews aren’t hurting The Force Awakens one bit. We’ll see if the fan base embraces it as well. I’m catching it Thursday night and I cannot wait. I especially can’t wait until you see it so we can have dorky conversations without worrying about spoilers.

J.J. Abrams and George Lucas.
Anyway, flashback to Monday night for this special edition of The Mouse Castle Lounge. We are eavesdropping on the red carpet on Hollywood Boulevard for the world premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now, in the annals of Hollywood world premieres, this ranks up there as one of the biggest if not the biggest ever. The red carpet stretched about four blocks—a quarter of a mile—in front of the El Capitan, Dolby and Chinese theaters, all three of which screened the film for celebrities, invited guests and lucky fans. The majority of the red carpet was covered by tents which housed an after-party following the screenings. It was an epic night for the latest installment of the epic Star Wars saga and we'll be hearing from the cast today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher
(with Peter Mayhew in the background).


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Monday, December 14, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 12-14-2015 - "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Premieres and Dick Van Dyke Turns 90

By Tim Callaway

We can finally say it. Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens this week. Wow!

It's been a little over a year since the first teaser trailer dropped and we all went bonkers watching the Millennium Falcon go loop-de-loop into those TIE Fighters. Now, we are poised just days from the movie's wide release and the anticipation is staggering. Will J.J. Abrams deliver the film Star Wars fans have been clamoring for? Our wildest hopes and dreams say, "He better."

In today's episode of Inside The Mouse Castle, Anthony and I take our final preview look at The Force Awakens and try to get a handle on all the madness. We also discuss a few other items.

Dick Van Dyke celebrates his 90th birthday at Disneyland.
  • Everyone's favorite chimney sweep, Dick Van Dyke, turned 90 on Sunday and was feted all weekend long by flash mobs in Los Angeles and park guests at Disneyland. It was quite the jolly holiday for ole' Bert.
Salvador Dali and Walt Disney.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 12-11-2015 - Disney Historian Jim Korkis and Restoring Walt's Office

By Tim Callaway

Walt Disney's granddaughters (l. to r.) Michelle Lund,
Jennifer Goff and Joanna Miller cut the ribbon with Bob Iger
to reopen Walt's office. 
This week, the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank unveiled and rededicated the restored office suite of Walt Disney. It was a painstaking labor of love by Disney studio employees and archivists to recreate Walt’s office exactly as it appeared at the time of his death. It was authentic down to the actual furniture and personal items that were there in 1966. On hand for the dedication were Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger, Walt’s granddaughter Joanna Miller, and Disney Legends Richard Sherman and Dave Smith. We’ll be hearing from all of them in today's show.

Before that, though, we welcome the return of Disney historian Jim Korkis to the Lounge. Jim is a meticulous researcher and a marvelous storyteller and his two most recent books from Theme Park Press, Secret Stories of Walt Disney World and The Vault of Walt: Volume 4, belong in your collection, as do Jim’s many other books.

Secret Stories of Walt Disney World
by Jim Korkis
Please welcome Jim Korkis, My guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 12-07-2015 - Han Solo, Annie Award Nominations and Dating Disney Style

By Tim Callaway

We're less than two weeks away from the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters. The most surprising thing, though, is we're a week away from the film's star-studded world premiere and we have no idea where it's going to be held. Just add it to the ever-growing list of tightly-held Star Wars secrets we've come to expect from J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm. We're guessing they'll tell us eventually. Maybe.

Here's what else we've got going on this week Inside The Mouse Castle:

  • The search for who'll play young Han Solo in a new Star Wars spin-off film is underway. No less than 2,500 actors will be considered to play the role originated by Harrison Ford. Lucasfilm has time. The origin story about the scruffy-looking nerfherder isn't scheduled to start shooting until 2017.
Star Wars Launch Bay at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
  • Star Wars invaded Disney's Hollywood Studios again as the Star Wars Launch Bay, Star Wars: Path of the Jedi and Star Tours: The Adventure Continues all made their debuts at the Florida park. But, is there as much excitement for these attractions as there was for their Anaheim counterparts?
  • Star Wars Rebels is getting a third season on Disney XD. This is a series that has grown on me, with interesting character arcs and some great throwbacks to the old Star Wars: The Clone Wars series.
The Good Dinosaur.
  • Pixar's Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur dominated the nominations at the Annie Awards. It's a good thing too. Dinosaur needs all the help it can get. It took a nosedive at the box office over the weekend and could end up being Pixar's lowest grossing film ever.
Historical images from the Walt Disney Archives
are now available at
  • We're really excited about the new Photographs from the Walt Disney Archives website. There you can order fine art prints of historical photos of Walt and his many creations. Prices start at $59 for unframed 11 x 14 images and increase from there based on size and framing options. 
  • Are you single and ready to mingle with a fellow Disney fan? A new dating site, has launched and, well, it's a dating site. For Disney fans. Anthony will be happy to meet you there.


Friday, December 4, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 12-04-2015 - Producer Don Hahn Talks About Disney Legend Richard Sherman

By Tim Callaway

Don Hahn
On December 17, PBS SoCal will air the musical special Richard M. Sherman: Songs of a Lifetime. It’s a one-hour studio performance by the songwriter and Disney Legend. Just him, a piano, and a few friends to sing along. It celebrates the decades-long musical collaboration that was the Sherman Brothers and it’s certain to include tunes from such classic Disney and non-Disney films like Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and so many others.

Richard M. Sherman: Songs of a Lifetime is produced by my guest today, a gentleman who’s also made significant contributions to the Disney legacy. Don Hahn’s producer and executive producer credits include Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, The Emperor’s New Groove, Waking Sleeping Beauty, Frankenweenie, Maleficent, and the Disneynature films Oceans and African Cats. Don is a respected author, whose latest book, Before Ever After, recounts in exquisite detail the history of the artists’ training program at the Walt Disney Studios in the 1930s and ‘40s. Don is also a tireless supporter of preserving animation and film history. You know, someone should probably give him an award for that. Don Hahn is my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

Songwriter and Disney Legend Richard Sherman.

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 11-30-2015 - 'The Good Dinosaur,' 'Captain America: Civil War' and Big Trouble in Disney's China

By Tim Callaway

The Good Dinosaur.
Pixar's The Good Dinosaur opened in theaters over the weekend and, depending on who you talked to, was a big success or a bigger disappointment. It had strong box office numbers for a Thanksgiving weekend release, but ranked far down the list among the first weekends of every other Pixar film. I saw it on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed it. It has its flaws--most notably an alarming lack of originality--but it's beautiful to look at and has a huge amount of heart and emotion. Thumbs up. Go see it. 

That said, The Good Dinosaur probably won't be regarded as one of Pixar's more memorable films. Toy Story, Wall-E and Up it ain't With that in mind, Anthony and I offer our two cents on the least memorable Pixar movies of all time in this week's edition of Inside The Mouse Castle.

We also tackle a few other items:
  • Bromance, betrayal and one badass superhero three-way. Ladies and gentlemen, the first trailer for Captain America; Civil War.

  • Oh yeah, here's a trailer for Disney Infinity's Star Wars: The Force Awakens play set. I want it.

  • China is cracking down on a hotel chain in the country that has been blatantly using the Disney name without permission. Apparently, plunking down $4 billion to build a resort in Shanghai buys you a considerable amount of trademark protection.
  • You can now buy Haunted Mansion Funko Pop! characters based on the Hitchhiking Ghosts and the Hatbox Ghost, but only at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. I want them.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 11-23-2015 - 'Star Wars,' 'Gravity Falls' and 'Captain EO'

By Tim Callaway

The Star Wars Launch Bay at Disneyland's
Season of the Force.
After an unexpected week away from the show, Anthony and I are back with our take on Season of the Force at Disneyland. Is the Star Wars overlay of Tomorrowland worth your attention? Spoiler Alert: Hyperspace Mountain is about as good as you could hope for. And because we're easily distracted, we also talk about Adele, Pirates of the Caribbean overlays, Strange MagicMouse Castle charities and Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. We're pretty much all over the place. Again.

We do manage to stay on topic, sort of, for this stuff:

  • J.J. Abrams made it official: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is done. Completed. Finito. No more tinkering. Nada. Can we see it now?
  • The Force Awakens has blown past $50 million in advance ticket sales before its December 18 release. This begs the question, will we ever again be as excited about a new Star Wars movie as we are right now?
  • One person who doesn't seem to be as thrilled about Episode VII as the rest of us is...surprise!...George Lucas. He's made some curious comments recently about the latest installment of the film franchise he started. Butt-hurt, table for one.
  • Want to go to the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in L.A. or London? It could happen. Just pry open your wallet and be generous about it.
Gravity Falls.
  • We are sad to learn that Alex Hirsch, creator of Gravity Falls, is pulling the plug on the animated series when its second season comes to a close. We are seriously going to miss Dipper, Mabel, Grunkle Stan and all the other denizens of the Mystery Shack.
  • To make up for the loss of revenue from the Fantasmic! dining packages at Disneyland when the show goes on hiatus in January, the park will begin offering dining packages for the Paint the Night parade. More details coming soon.
Rivers of Light at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
  • In an effort to make Disney's Animal Kingdom more than a half-day park, a new Rivers of Light nighttime show will debut at the park next spring. It will incorporate many of the lighting, water and projection effects we've come to know and (mostly) love in Fantasmic! and World of Color to create a distinctly mystical, nature-themed show.
  • Captain EO will end its run at Epcot on December 6. And while no official announcement has been made at Disneyland, we think it's unlikely to return there as well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 11-17-2015 - On the Red Carpet with the Cast of 'The Lion Guard'

By Tim Callaway

Kion is working on his roar.
Disney is returning to the Pride Lands for a new Disney Channel animated series based on The Lion King called The Lion Guard. The series itself will get underway in January, but you can get your first look at the next generation of Lion King characters when The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar debuts on Disney Channel on November 22 at 7:00 p.m. It’s a one-hour movie that introduces us to Kion, the second-born son of Simba and Nala—if you’ve ever seen the direct-to-video Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride, you might recall Kion already has an older sister, Kiara.

Meet the Lion Guard  (l. to r.): Dusan Brown, Max Charles, Joshua Rush, Atticus Shaffer and Diamond White.
Kion is tasked with forming the Lion Guard, a group of young animals responsible for protecting the Pride Lands. And while the Lion Guard has traditionally been an all-lion team, Kion opts to include a variety of animals with their own special strengths. So you have Bunga, a brave honey badger; Ono, an intellectual egret; Fuli, a confident and very fast Cheetah; and Beshte, a good-humored and well-connected hippo.

(l. to r.): Beshte, Ono, Fuli and Bunga.
The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar is voiced by a mostly youthful cast, but there are some returning veterans. Just as he did in the original Lion King, Ernie Sabella will voice Simba’s loyal warthog friend Pumbaa and James Earl Jones will be heard once again as Simba’s wise father Mufasa. Simba is voiced by The Grinder’s Rob Lowe and Gabrielle Union provides the voice of Nala.

On Saturday, I got to hang out at the Walt Disney Studios for the premiere of The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar and chatted with members of the cast, including Max Charles, Joshua Rush, Dusan Brown, Atticus Shaffer, Ernie Sabella, Eden Riegel, Sarah Hyland, Madison Pettis, Jonny Rees and Khary Payton. They are all my guests today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.


(l. to r.): Madison Pettis (Zuri), Ernie Sabella (Pumbaa), Jonny Rees (Mzingo) and Sarah Hyland (Tifu).

Friday, November 13, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 11-11-2015 - Disneyland Holiday Decorations, Season of the Force and the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon

By Tim Callaway

So, after wrapping up this week's episode of Inside The Mouse Castle, I thought I'd wait until I got to Anaheim to write up my show notes. You know, just take it easy, soak in all the Disneyland ambiance, get ready for runDisney's Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon this weekend and OH MY GOD, DID YOU SEE THE PICTURES FROM SEASON OF THE FORCE?!?!?!

All photos by Paul Hiffmeyer/Disney.

The interactive showcase of all things Star Wars includes the Launch Bay, which takes up an entire floor of the former Innoventions building. Guests will find a treasure trove of film prop replicas, costumes, ship models, droids, artwork and "other notable items." There will also be character meet-and-greets representing both the Dark Side and the Light Side of the Force. 

Next door, Space Mountain is getting a Star Wars overlay, transforming it into Hyperspace Mountain where you'll find yourself thrust into the midst of an X-Wing Starfighter battle.

In Star Wars: Path of the Jedi, inside the Tomorrowland Theater, you can catch an assemblage of clips from Star Wars movies past and present. Yes, that means you'll get a glimpse of The Force Awakens.

Meanwhile, Star Tours is getting a new destination from The Force Awakens. Here's a little taste:

Finally, the Tomorrowland Terrace and the Pizza Port will feature some new Star Wars-inspired menu items, and beginning December 8, the Jedi Training Academy will get an update, Trials of the Temple, a "reimagined battle experience (that) takes younglings to the secret site of an ancient Jedi temple, where they discover if they have the makings of a true Jedi."

Most everything in Season of the Force is set to open on Monday, November 16, but we're kind of hoping for a soft opening this weekend. Please, Disneyland? Pretty please?

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yeah, Anthony and I did a show this week. It's all about Star Wars (of course), Anthony's recent visit to Disneyland, #ForceForDaniel, the new trailers for Finding Dory and Alice Through the Looking Glass, Robin Williams, the Muppets and the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend. Whatever.