Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 06-29-2015 - Selfie Sticks, Disneyland Expansion and Club 33 Lawsuit

By Tim Callaway

Paint the Night
Last week, Anthony visited Disneyland, rode the Lilly Belle, previewed Ant-Man, and finally saw Paint the Night, but who cares? Because all we want to do is talk about selfie sticks.

The sometimes useful, mostly annoying camera accessories will be banned from all Disney theme parks--including DisneyQuest and the water parks at Walt Disney World--effective June 30th.

And while Anthony and I ponder how to take pictures of ourselves with our short arms, we also focus on these fascinating stories:
  • Disneyland could be investing $1 billion in the Anaheim resort in return for the City of Anaheim extending an existing tax exemption on park ticket sales. This seems kind of a purposeless trade since Disney will probably spend that much on expected expansion projects in Tomorrowland and Hollywood Land anyway.
The nursery in Peter Pan's Flight has some new sparkle to it.
  • Annual passholders have gotten a sneak preview already, but the general public will finally get a look at the newly refurbed Peter Pan's Flight at Disneyland starting July 1st. 
  • We know for certain Captain EO is making another nostalgic return to Epcot on July 19th, but could Michael Jackson's space hero also be coming to Disney Infinity 3.0? We're hearing rumors.
  • Like a little Disney magic with you text messaging? You've got to get the new Disney GIF app for iOS. It's a super fun keyboard extension and it's free. Get it here.
  • Is there a creative partnership pending on the horizon between Disney and gaming giant Nintendo? Once again, we're hearing rumors.
  • In August, Pixar will have a bigger presence than in the past at the D23 Expo. For the first time, the animation studio will have an exhibit on the show floor. We're especially looking forward to the display of John Lasseter's custom Hawaiian shirts based on most of the Pixar films. Order your Expo tickets now before prices go up.
  • It's been a busy week for Disney in the land of lawsuits. They settled out of court with filmmaker Kelly Wilson over similarities between her animated film The Snowman and the first teaser trailer for Frozen. Then, a disgruntled former member of Club 33 filed suit saying he was wrongly ousted from the club. Disney is claiming he repeatedly violated membership rules. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 06-25-2015 - Doug Lipp Talks About Disney University and Disney Legend Van France

By Tim Callaway

Author Doug Lipp
The Summer 1967 issue of Disney News magazine contained an article entitled, “University of Disneyland: An Institution of Smiles.” The story told of the park’s in-house training of more than 5,000 cast members each year, cast members who were taught to “welcome each guest with a smile that’s sincere” and ensure every new employee became a “people specialist” before he or she actually set foot on the job. This progressive, people-centric approach to training was the brainchild of Van Arsdale France, who joined Disney in March 1955, just months before Disneyland’s grand opening. 

With the support and encouragement of Walt Disney, Van France created the University of Disneyland, which would soon become the gold standard of employee training programs. Over the decades, the program would evolve into what is now called Disney University and to this day it takes its cues from the principles and standards France developed 60 years ago.

Doug Lipp was hired by Disney in the late 1970s and would later work with and be mentored by Van France. Fluent in Japanese, Doug was part of the start-up team at Tokyo Disneyland in preparation of the resort’s grand opening in 1983. Since leaving Disney, Doug has gone on to become a renowned speaker and training consultant with Fortune 100 companies. He’s written eight books, including his most recent, Disney U: How Disney University Develops the World's Most Engaged, Loyal, and Customer-Centric EmployeesHe has a lot of stories to tell about Walt Disney, about Van France and about the guest experience at Disney Parks worldwide. Doug Lipp is my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 06-23-2015 - The New Spider-Man, 'Inside Out' Review, Deadmau5 Settlement

By Tim Callaway

Inside Out
After weeks of wild speculation, Marvel and Sony finally announced Tom Holland will be the new Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Jon Watts will direct the next standalone film for the web slinger. We expect that Holland will also appear as Spidey in next year's Captain America: Civil War.

In other movie news, Inside Out couldn't beat Jurassic World at the box office over the weekend, but that didn't stop it from scoring the second biggest opening in Pixar history. I give my review of the Pete Docter-directed film while Anthony and I get in touch with our emotions in this week's episode of Inside The Mouse Castle.
  • Maleficent made over $750 million worldwide last year. So, umm, yeah, there's going to be a sequel. Linda Woolverton is currently penning the script. No confirmation yet whether Angelina Jolie is on board, but come on, why wouldn't she be?
  • Zuri's Sweet Shop has opened at Disney's Animal Kingdom and it's serving poop candy. That's really all you need to know.
Zuri's Sweets Shop at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
  • Also at Animal Kingdom, Starbucks has opened up shop. Meanwhile, down the road at the soon-to-be demolished Walt Disney World Speedway, we've learned that the space is destined to become a parking lot. 
  • Our condolences to the family and friends of JoAnn Dean Killingsworth, who passed away Saturday at the age of 91. The long-time actress and ice skater was an original Disneyland employee in 1955 and the park's first Snow White.
  • Historian Didier Ghez is a good friend of The Mouse Castle and we're very excited about his upcoming book, They Drew as They Pleased: The Hidden Art of Disney's Golden Age. It's the first in a series of books Didier is writing about the great concept artists of the Walt Disney Studios. It will be out on September 8th.
  • Disney and musical artist Deadmau5 have settled their legal differences over Deadmau5's performance headgear, which bears a striking resemblance to a certain cartoon mouse. The terms of the settlement have not been released (and probably won't be), but the two sides are now playing nice.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 06-15-2015 - 'Inside Out' Premieres, 'Tomorrowland' Flops, 'Phineas and Ferb' Ends

By Tim Callaway

Inside Out had its Hollywood premiere last week, gearing up for its U.S. wide release this Friday. On this week's episode of Inside The Mouse Castle, we hear from the film's director, Pete Docter, and the some of the voice cast including Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and Lewis Black.

I expect Pixar's journey into the mind of an 11-year old girl to be a sure-fire hit while Anthony thinks the film, as good as the early reviews are, is going to under-perform at the box office. It won't do as bad as Tomorrowland, though, not by a long shot. The Brad Bird film starring George Clooney is having a dismal run in theaters and could put Disney in the red $140 million or more. 

And, Disney or not, no movie conversation this week is complete with mentioning Jurassic World, so we'll touch on that too, plus these other mind-bending topics:
  • In the story that won't die, is Asa Butterfield really out of the running to be the next Spider-Man? Are Tom Holland, Charlie Plummer and Matthew Lintz the new favorites?  Who knows? Because apparently Marvel and Sony can't agree on anything concerning the franchise.
  • We now know the voice cast for Pixar's The Good Dinosaur. After a series of production delays, including a director change and a reworking of the story, the film will open in the U.S. on November 25th.
  • Have you seen the new teaser trailer for Zootopia yet? I think it looks cute. Anthony, not so much.
Frozen Ever After concept art.
  • Frozen Ever After is coming to Epcot's Norway pavilion next year, taking over the space once occupied by Maelstrom. Guests will be able to experience a "Winter in Summer Celebration" courtesy of Queen Elsa in the kingdom of Arendelle. That includes a trip to Elsa's ice palace (see above). 
  • Two new restaurants are coming to the Disney Springs (aka the revamped Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World): The Edison and STK Orlando. It's the latest in a long list of new shopping and dining establishments added to the area. Is it starting to be too much of a good thing? Disney Springs is a far cry from the quaint Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village us old-timers remember from the 1970s and 80s.
  • Star Wars will be in Hall H of this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Marvel will not. Next.
  • Goodbye, Phineas and Ferb. We'll miss you. Well, we'll be missing new episodes. I'm sure you'll be rerunning on Disney Channel and Disney XD for a long time to come.
  • J.K. Simmon is joining the voice cast of Gravity Falls. We hope he doesn't throw a chair at Grunkle Stan. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

'The Good Dinosaur' Voice Cast Announced

By Tim Callaway

Pixar's The Good Dinosaur
We now know a bit more about Pixar's fall release, The Good Dinosaur. Disney and Pixar have announced the voice cast (descriptions courtesy Walt Disney Studios Publicity):

Raymond Ochoa (NBC’s The Night Shift, TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles, Disney’s A Christmas Carol) provides the voice of an Apatosaurus named Arlo.

Jeffrey Wright (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - parts I & II, HBO's Boardwalk Empire) was tapped as the voice of Poppa, Arlo’s father.

Steve Zahn (Captain Fantastic, Ridiculous Six, Rescue Dawn, Mad Dogs) provides the voice of a pterodactyl named Thunderclap.

A.J. Buckley (TNT’s Murder in the First, FX’s Justified) voices a T-Rex called Nash.

Anna Paquin (HBO’s True Blood) is the voice of T-Rex Ramsey.

Sam Elliott (FX's Justified, I’ll See You In My Dreams, Grandma) was called on as the voice of a tough T-Rex named Butch.

Frances McDormand (HBO's Olive Kitteridge, Fargo) was tapped as the voice of Momma, Arlo’s mother.

Marcus Scribner (ABC’s black•ish) voices Arlo's brother Buck.

Jack Bright (Monsters University) provides the voice of Arlo’s unlikely human friend, Spot.

This is the second time Pixar has announced The Good Dinosar's voice cast. Originally, Neil Patrick Harris, Bill Hader and John Lithgow were among the voice talents attached to the project, but story and script changes, not to mention a new director brought in mid-production, caused delays--and changes in the cast. Only Frances McDormand remains from the original cast.

The Good Dinosaur playfully speculates what might have happened if an asteroid hadn't wiped out the dinosaurs millions of years ago. The film is directed by Peter Sohn and opens in the U.S. on November 25, 2015.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

New 'Zootopia' Teaser Trailer

By Tim Callaway

Zootopia is a "modern, civilized world" mostly because humans do not exist. They never have. And so, animals go about their daily lives, upright and fully-clothed. But not everything is perfect. Mortal enemies like, say a conniving fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) and a police officer bunny named Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) find themselves at odds with one other. Learn more in the new teaser trailer for Disney's comedy-adventure Zootopia below. 

Zootopia, from Walt Disney Animation Studios, is directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore and co-directed by Jared Bush. It will open in U.S. theaters on  March 4, 2016.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Inside The Mouse Castle 06-08-2015 - Silly Symphonies and Broadway at the D23 Expo, 'Walt Disney' on PBS

By Tim Callaway

Disney's first color cartoon, the Silly Symphony Flowers and Trees.
After a week off, Anthony and I are back Inside The Mouse Castle. This week, we start off with a couple of musical extravaganzas at the upcoming D23 Expo in Anaheim. Disney in Concert: A Silly Symphony Celebration will screen some of Walt Disney's great musical cartoons of the 1920s and '30s accompanied by a 32-piece orchestra. The massive fan gathering will also welcome Disney on Broadway's The Originals, celebrating Disney's great theatrical shows and starring Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins), James Monroe Iglehart (Aladdin) and Josh Strickland (Tarzan).

Anthony and I also imagine a world where Nicolas Cage is in every Disney animation-to-live-action movie adaptation, but I digress.
  • Disney will produce a live action film based on the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence from Fantasia. Nicolas Cage as Chernabog, am I right?
  • Disney has wiped Tron 3 off the grid. There will be no follow-up film to Tron: Legacy and that makes the users sad.
  • Would you be willing to pay more to go to Disneyland during peak summer and holiday seasons? How about paying less to go in the off-season? A recent survey of Annual Passholders had social media buzzing about (gasp!) another ticket price increase.
Marvel's Ant-Man.
  • DCA guests can catch a preview of Marvel's Ant-Man, starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, beginning June 19th in the...wait for it...Bug's Life Theater. Didn't see that coming, did you?
  • A recent New York Times article has people questioning hiring practices at Walt Disney World. Two hundred fifty tech workers were laid off last October, but not before many of them trained their replacements: Indian immigrants working in the U.S. on temporary visas.
  • Another WDW labor issue: can cast members in character costumes at the parks share their exploits on social media? Disney says no because it ruins the magic. We agree.
  • Walt Disney Company CFO Jay Rasulo announced his resignation effective at the end of this month. He was passed over for the COO's position earlier this year in favor of Tom Staggs, who is now the heir apparent to replace Bob Iger when he retires. Publicly, Rasulo's departure from Disney will be amicable. We suspect he won't be unemployed long. "Almost" good enough to run the Walt Disney Company isn't a bad thing to have on your resume.
  • We're very excited about the upcoming documentary, Walt Disney, scheduled to run on PBS September 14-15 as part of their American Experience series.
  • Tangled, a new animated series based on the movie, is coming to the Disney Channel in 2017. I've already started obsessing on Rapunzel's hair length. It appears long in concept art for the series, but since it takes place after the movie, shouldn't it be short? Yes, I know hair grows. Don't start with me.
  • The Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection will be out on Digital HD August 11th followed by a Blu-ray release on August 18th. The best of the bunch in this 12-film set are Paperman, Get a Horse!, Lorenzo and The Little Matchgirl. Get it.

  • Disney's new line of high-tech, interactive toys looks intriguing. Playmation uses wearable tech, motion sensors and assorted action figures to create a toys-to-life experience that kids (and imaginative adults) can enjoy indoors or out. Go on adventures with the Avengers or (beginning next year) use the power of the Force in the Star Wars edition. They're even working on a Frozen version (of course they are).

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Mouse Castle Lounge 06-07-2015 - Former Disney Animation Story Man Steve Hulett, Part Two

By Tim Callaway

Two weeks ago in the Lounge, I began a two-part conversation with Steve Hulett. In the 1970s and 80s, Steve was a story man at Disney Animation, following in the footsteps of his father, longtime Disney artist Ralph Hulett. In part one, Steve shared how he started his career at Disney—working for writer Larry Clemmons—and ten years later, how his Disney career ended. Today, in part two, Steve tells more behind-the-scenes stories about some of the Nine Old Men including Woolie Reithermann, Ward Kimball, Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas.

Steve talks candidly about the departure of Don Bluth and a group of other Disney animators to form their own studio in 1979, the challenge of working for animator and future Disney Legend Ken Anderson, the arrival of Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg in the mid 1980s, and finally, the notorious internal memo that incited the wrath of Disney Feature Animation president Peter Schneider. Steve Hulett is my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

'The Originals': Broadway Comes to the D23 Expo

By Tim Callaway

Broadway's original Mary Poppins, Genie and Tarzan will perform live at two concerts during August's D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center. Ashley Brown, James Monroe Iglehart and Josh Strickland will present Disney on Broadway's The Originals, a 70-minute show full of music, behind-the-scenes videos and interviews from Disney's theatrical productions.

Iglehart, the Tony Award-winning Genie in Aladdin, will host the event, which will be presented twice at the Expo on August 15th at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Stage 23.

Brown originated the title role in Mary Poppins on Broadway and performed in the show's national tour. She was nominated for Outer Critics, Drama League and Drama Desk awards for her work.

Strickland played the title role in Tarzan during the show's 15-month run on Broadway. He currently appears in Vegas! the Show at the Planet Hollywood Casino & Resort in Las Vegas (hey, my hometown).

The D23 Expo, mega-con of all things Disney, runs August 14-16. Discount tickets are still available for purchase before June 30th. Visit www.D23Expo.com for more details.

'Walt Disney' Documentary to Air on PBS September 14-15

By Tim Callaway

PBS has released a new trailer for Walt Disney, a "warts-and-all" documentary of the great showman directed and produced by Sarah Colt. The four-hour American Experience program will air over two nights, September 14-15 at 9 p.m. Eastern. It will include rare archival footage plus interviews with animators, artists and historians including biographers Neal Gabler and Michael Barrier.

Walt Disney will celebrate Walt's great triumphs, like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Disneyland, but also promises to take an unflinching look at his shortcomings, including the 1941 studio strike and his own sometimes irascible personality.

This is a story about Walt not to be missed.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

'Tangled' is Coming to Disney Channel

By Tim Callaway

Wait, isn't Rapunzel's hair
supposed to be short?
Rapunzel and Eugene...ahem...I mean Flynn Rider...are getting their own show on Disney Channel.

Tangled, a new animated series based on the 2010 Disney animated film, will premiere worldwide on Disney Channel sometime in 2017. Returning will be the original voices of Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) and Eugene (Zachary Levi) as well as the film's original songwriters, Alan Menken and Glenn Slater. Animation veterans Chris Sonnenburg and Shane Prigmore are developing the show for Disney Television Animation.

The series will take place during the period following the feature film, after Rapunzel returned to her parents in the kingdom of Corona, but before her wedding to Flynn in the 2012 short Tangled Ever After. Episodes will follow Rapunzel's adventures as she tries to adjust to royal life after being locked away in her tower for so long.

Most of the supporting characters from the film will appear in the series including Pascal, Maximus and the Snuggly Duckling Pub Thugs. New to the show will be Cassandra, Rapunzel's no-nonsense handmaiden.

The Making of the New Harold Inside Disneyland's Matterhorn

By Tim Callaway

Walt Disney Imagineering shares a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Matterhorn's new abominable snowman at Disneyland. The updated Harold is more active and more fierce and he only gets better each time you see him. The attraction also has a great homage to Matterhorns past inside the mountain--keep your eyes peeled as your bobsled zooms through.

And yes, the ride is still as bumpy as hell, but I digress.

If you have yet to experience the new Matterhorn Bobsleds for yourself, be warned. This video contains many spoilers, but it's an amazing look at Imagineering magic.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Disney/Pixar Teases That Other Dinosaur Movie

By Tim Callaway

Disney and Pixar finally gave us a look at their upcoming animated film The Good Dinosaur. Speculating what might have happened if that giant asteroid hadn't wiped out the dinosaurs millions of years ago, the movie tells the tale of an Apatosaurus named Arlo who develops an unlikely friendship with human child. Like most Disney/Pixar teasers, this one doesn't give away much in the way of plot details. The asteroid misses, dinosaurs run around. Although we do get a peek at the child on top of Arlo's head.

The Good Dinosaur is directed by Peter Sohn (Partly Cloudy) and will open in U.S. theaters on November 25th, marking the first time Pixar has released two films in one year (Inside Out opens on June 19th).