Category Archives: Disney

Infographic: Disney’s Star Wars Commander Mobile Game Spreads Across the Galaxy

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Are you playing, Disney’s Star Wars: Commander mobile game? No? You might soon be in the minority. According to Disney Interactive, the game has now been downloaded five million times since it launched on August 21. To celebrate this milestone, they created the rather cool infographic below to give you a look at what percentage of gamers choose to play as the evil Empire versus the Rebel Alliance and how that varies country to country.

Here are some fun facts about the game play so far:

  • Five million players have now joined the war (downloaded Star Wars: Commander since its launch on August 21st).
  • With more than 57% of its players representing the Empire, Russia is one of the strongest Empire strongholds. Other nations that have fallen to the Emperor include Austria, Germany, Finland and the Ukraine.
  • India stands out as a strong member of the Rebel Alliance, as are most countries across South America and Africa.
  • The United States is nearly unanimous in its following of the Dark Side, with the single exception of North Dakota. The force is strong in North Dakota.
  • Half a billion troops have been deployed across both factions.

Star Wars: Commander is a free-to-play combat strategy game where fans will join either the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire to recruit and lead an unstoppable force across the Star Wars galaxy.

Star Wars: Commander features the full array of vehicles, weapons and technology from the Star Wars universe. Players who rally to the Rebellion will call upon iconic heroes such as Han Solo, Chewbacca and Princess Leia to support missions for justice and freedom, while leaders of the Imperial forces will command AT-ATs, TIE fighters and Stormtroopers to gain control of the galaxy. Star Wars: Commander also offers an original Star Wars storyline set within the Galactic Civil War of Episodes IV ­ VI, where commanders determine if it’s the Empire’s strength and relentlessness or the Rebellion’s heroism and resourcefulness that will win the war.

The game is free to download on iPhone and iPad.

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Source: John Frost, Disney’s Star Wars: Commander mobile game spreads across the galaxy, The Disney Blog, September 12, 2014, http://thedisneyblog.com/2014/09/12/disneys-star-wars-commander-mobile-game-spreads-across-the-galaxy/.

Star-Wars-Commander-infographic

Star Wars: Episode VII Cast Announced

star-wars-episode-7-cast-announce

April 29th, Pinewood Studios, UK – Writer/Director/Producer J.J Abrams (top center right) at the cast read-through of Star Wars Episode VII at Pinewood Studios with (clockwise from right) Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm President and Producer Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Writer Lawrence Kasdan. Copyright and Photo Credit: David James.

Source: http://www.starwars.com

The Star Wars team is thrilled to announce the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII.

Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film.

Director J.J. Abrams says, “We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.”

Star Wars: Episode VII is being directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, and John Williams returns as the composer. The movie opens worldwide on December 18, 2015.

Star Wars Episode VII (7) Details Emerge from Disney Shareholders Meeting

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Out of this world: (from left) director/writer J.J. Abrams, builders Lee Towersey
and Oliver Steeples, and Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy.
Photo: Twitter: bad_robot

The first installment of the third trilogy of Star Wars films will start shooting in London in May, Disney has announced.

Production on the highly anticipated Star Wars sequel – presently known only as Star Wars, Episode VII – will kick off in May.

Disney chief Bob Iger revealed the shooting date at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Portland, Oregon.

Although his audience was composed primarily of shareholders, very few of whom are likely to be declared Star Wars geeks, he also threw a few more choice morsels their way.

The film, Iger revealed, would pick up the story 30 years after the events depicted in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

In that film, which was released in 1983, the rebel alliance destroyed the second Death Star space station and, with the death of Emperor Palpatine, effectively toppled the Galactic Empire.

In the fourth, fifth and sixth chapters of the film, A New Hope (1977), The Empire Strike Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), producer George Lucas chronicled the struggle between the rebel alliance, led by Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and the tyrannical Empire.

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Lucas subsequently produced the early history of the saga, the so-called “prequels”, The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005), which examined the collapse of the Galactic Republic, the fall of the Jedi Knights and the rise of the Galactic Empire.

Adam Driver to star in Star Wars: Episode VII. Photo: Getty Images

Iger said the seventh chapter would feature “familiar faces including a trio of young leads” but noted that the only official cast member is the “astromech droid” R2-D2.

Lucas has previously said the only characters he wanted to span across the trilogies were R2-D2 and his counterpart, the “protocol droid” C3-P0.

There is intense speculation, however, that the three stars of the original trilogy – Hamill, Ford and Fisher – will reprise their characters in the new film.

Iger told shareholders that the movie “really looks amazing,” though presumably he was referring to pre-production material as principal photography has not yet commenced.

The film will be directed by J.J. Abrams and written by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan.

Kasdan was co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and the much-loved George Lucas/Steven Spielberg collaboration Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Disney purchased LucasFilm, which owns the Star Wars saga, in 2012 for $US4.05 ($4.48) billion. One of the most anticipated projects to come out of the acquisition is the prospect of a new Star Wars trilogy.

Lucas had, in the saga’s early life, flagged the possibility of a nine chapter story, but had later pared it back to six.

Star Wars: Episode VII is slated to open on December 18, 2015.

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Source: Michael Idato, Star Wars 7 details emerge from Disney meeting, The Sydney Morning Herald, March 20, 2014, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/star-wars-7-details-emerge-from-disney-meeting-20140320-353ob.htm.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Reopens at Disneyland

Thunder Mountain Railroad - The LA Times

Only at Disneyland would they tear down an old and dilapidated gold mining town in order to build a new and identical gold mining town and make it look old and dilapidated again.

“The goal was to bring it back to exactly the way it was,” said David Smith of Disneyland’s facilities and maintenance department, which oversaw the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster rehabilitation project.

The “wildest ride in the wilderness” is expected to reopen to the general public on March 17 after a 14-month rehabilitation, the most extensive overhaul since the ride opened in 1979.

Except for one key scene, the ride won’t look any different to the casual observer — and that’s the point.

So much of the Disneyland experience is about passing along generational experiences — parents and grandparents reliving their childhood memories with their offspring. To that end, Disneyland set out to make the refreshed ride look and feel exactly like it did for every one of the 225 million passengers who rode it over the past 35 years.

While the coaster follows the same route about three-quarters of the track has been replaced, with only the three lift hills and the maintenance spur unmodified. The new train bodies look virtually identical to the originals with an updated chassis underneath.

Throughout the attraction, the Bryce Canyon-inspired buttes have been repainted, the audio system has been refined and the animatronic animals have been reengineered. Even the Rainbow Ridge gold mining town at the end of the ride has been rebuilt from the ground up.

Brady MacDonald, a writer for The Los Angeles Times, rode the refreshed Big Thunder coaster this past weekend during employee previews and found the experience to be just as he remembered it with all the off-your-seat whoop-de-dos and come-over-dear seat-sliding turns still delivering the family-friendly thrills he loved for decades.

The track is still a bit tight and will take a while to break in, making the ride seem slightly faster than it used to be (although Mr. MacDonald was told it remains the same 28 mph). It’s definitely a smoother and quieter ride, making it easier to hear the enhanced audio effects you might have missed before (assuming you’re not riding with a train full of hooting and hollering cast members).

The first lift hill has an updated animatronic flying bat scene that recalls the dancing ghosts in the Haunted Mansion dining room. The stalactites and stalagmites that follow feature new paint and lighting that make the cavern glow with a rainbow of colors.

Along the way you’ll find all your favorite animatronic creatures right where you remember them — from the howling coyotes and dangling possums to the tail-rattling snakes and neck-swaying turtles. Everybody’s favorite dynamite-gnawing goat now sets up the payoff in the new explosive finale.

The new and improved third lift hill, which once quivered with quaking rocks, now features a series of “Danger – Keep Out – Blast Area” warnings that portend a combustible climax. As the train climbs the lift hill, a trail of fuses race up the walls toward a cluster of dynamite as steam blasts from cracks in the cavern. At the top of the lift a mix of sound, lighting and fog effects create the illusion of a tremendous explosion that envelops riders. Mr. MacDonald recommends sitting toward the rear of the train to get the best view of the special effects.

The Big Thunder refurbishment and the addition of the Captain America meet-and-greet at Innoventions mark this summer’s only major additions at Disneyland. Save for the possibility of a new parade and some spiffing up of old favorites, expect next summer to be equally light on new attractions with the park’s 60th anniversary on the calendar.

That leaves fans wondering and waiting for the next major expansion at Disneyland,  which could be another update to Tomorrowland with a Star Wars or Marvel overlay and a much-needed refresh for the 1977 Space Mountain indoor roller coaster.

Until then, we welcome back the beloved Big Thunder Mountain in all its old and faded glory.

YouTube Video

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

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Sources:

1] Brady MacDonald, Review: What’s old is old again for Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain, The Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2014, http://www.latimes.com/travel/deals/themeparks/la-trb-disneyland-big-thunder-mountain-review-20140310,0,1376848.story#axzz2vleWVtOI.

[2]  Anthony Hays, Disney News Round Up: Big Thunder Walls are down and more!, Micechat.com, March 12, 2014, http://micechat.com/60623-disney-news-round-big-thunder-walls/.

Disneyana Fan Club’s Disneyana Collectible Expo – February 16, 2014

The Disneyana Fan Club’s Disneyana Collectible Expo is the place where you will find the best mix of Disney collectibles and products, old and new, anywhere on the planet!  The expo takes place on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at the Crowne Plaza Resort in Garden Grove, California. The expo will run from 10:00 a.m. til 5:00 p.m. for the general public and with Disneyana Fan Club Members being granted admission at 9:00 a.m.

Discount Coupon Below

Disneyana Fan Club Expo

All happening at:

Crowne Plaza Resort

12021 Harbor Blvd

Garden Grove, California 92840

Some of the special celebrities joining us at the Disneyana Collectible Expo on Sunday, February 16th, will be Richard Anderson, Lou Wagner, Hank Jones and Gary Dublin.

Mr. Anderson guest starred on the Disney TV series “Zorro” and on two episodes of “The Wonderful World of Disney”.

Mr. Wagner performed in Walt Disney’s “Blackbeard’s Ghost”.Mr. Jones performed in many Disney films during the 1960’s and 1970’s, including “Blackbeard’s Ghost”, “Herbie Rides Again”, “The Shaggy D.A.”, “The Cat From Outer Space”, and “No Deposit, No Return”.

Mr. Dublin was the voice for Toulouse in Disney’s “The Aristocats”.Listed Disneyana Fan Club’s Special Guests are subject to change due to their availability.

Admission does not guarantee being able to meet every Special Guest. Additional purchase or fee maybe required for a photo or autographs, depending on the individual celebrity.If you would like more information on how to sell at this or one of our future events, please contact Patti at dfcpatti(at)aol.com.

Attachment Size
Expo General Admission Coupon 4.36 MB
Vendor’s Contract for February 2014 Expo 235.59 KB

Disney D23 Expo Highlights – Part 4

Disney Legends Awards Ceremony

Source: Micechat.com

The D23 Arena also hosted the 2013 Disney Legends Awards on Saturday.

The ceremony kicked off with a presentation honoring Disney Legends that passed away over the last year including Annette Funicello, Robert Sherman, Ginny Tyler and others.

America’s Funniest Home Videos host Tom Bergeron and Disney CEO Bob Iger hosted the awards ceremony which began by honoring Imagineer Tony Baxter. Bob Iger introduced Baxter by mentioning he was the creator of EPCOT Center’s Dreamfinder and Figment characters, noting that Disney “learned the hard way” just how loved the characters are by fans.

Baxter accepted his award by asking “When are we getting Dreamfinder back?” which got big applause from the audience.

Baxter’s acceptance speech centered on a discussion about his keys to success, recapping his early fascination with Disneyland, to his pursuit of a career with the company and how he achieved the things he did over his very rich history with Disney.

Awards also went out to those who have passed away including actor Ed Wynn, Imagineer Colin Campbell, and television icon Dick Clark.

Awards also went out to “Monsters University” stars John Goodman and Billy Crystal.

Retired Disney animator Glen Keane was also honored at the event.

As well as the late Steve Jobs, who was largely responsible for Pixar Animation Studios being alive today. Pixar head John Lasseter, a close friend of Steve Jobs, accepted the award on his behalf with a very emotional speech.

Richard M. Sherman and Alan Menken: The Disney Songbook

The D23 Arena ended Saturday with a spectacular concert with Disney Legends Alan Menken and Richard M. Sherman who are responsible for countless songs in Disney animation and theme parks.

Host Tim O’ Day welcomed Richard Sherman and Alan Menken to the stage

Richard Sherman took to the piano first, sharing stories behind his classic Disney songs and performing a variety of hits from “Winnie the Pooh” to “Mary Poppins” to Disneyland’s “Enchanted Tiki Room” and beyond.

Alan Menken performed songs spanning his incredible career with Disney, from “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin” to “Newsies” and “Tangled.”

The concert ended with an amazing duet of “It’s a Small World.”

Undiscovered Disneyland

On Friday, Disney Imagineer (and new Legend) Tony Baxter joined Imagineer Josh Shipley with an amazing presentation of rare color footage of Disneyland from its early years. Unfortunately, I missed this presentation but our friends at Disneyland Live have video that every Disneyland fan should see of Tony Baxter and Josh Shipley showing rare video of Disneyland’s Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland.

The presentation also included an announcement from Disney Parks head Tom Staggs that Disney will honor Tony Baxter with a window on Disneyland’s Main Street. Baxter later spoke with the LA Times’ Hero Complex blog about his career working at Imagineering.

The Art and Artistry of Aulani

Friday afternoon, Imagineers Joe Rohde and Jeanette Lomboy led a discussion on The Art and Artistry of Aulani, Disney’s new resort in Hawaii.

Rohde and Lomboy discussed in-depth the design choices made for the new resort, which all go back to celebrating the people and culture of Hawaii. The Imagineering team went to great lengths to get the Hawaiian people involved with the development of the hotel, ranging from calling on local Hawaiians to create art for the property, to having local musicians create the background music for the resort, to having native Hawaiian spiritual guides help with the planning of the resort.

The end result is a resort that has earned the respect of the Hawaiian people and is the only hotel on the island of Oa’hu that celebrates the living culture of the Hawaiian people.

Broadcasts from Buena Vista Street

On Saturday, voice actors that make up the cast of the radio programs you can overhear on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure joined together and performed one of the programs you can listen to in its entirety live for the audience. It was a remarkably entertaining experience and afterward the cast talked about their careers and experiences working on Disney projects.

Sounds Delightful! An Illustrated Audio Adventure

On Sunday, Disney artist and historian Stacia Martin led a fantastic discussion on early Disney records, which included audio samples from rare recordings including early songs recorded about Mickey Mouse, to records from Mickey Mouse Club star Annette Funicello.

Stacia talked about her life-long love of Disney music and record collecting

Stacia also treated the audience to demo recordings made for Walt Disney of songs from the never-completed “Rainbow Road to Oz” film. Stacia played demos of the songs that were made for the film and walked the audience through the movie’s story, explaining where the songs would have fit in. The songs had never been heard by the general public until this presentation.

Walt Disney Imagineering 60th: Craft of Creativity

Walt Disney Imagineering celebrated its 60th Anniversary with a series of panel discussions on Sunday, including “The Craft of Creativity” with Disney Imagineers

The Imagineers talked about their history with the company (Kathy Mangum started out as a store clerk at the Adventureland Bazaar) and sharing their thoughts on what makes a good Imagineer (Joe Rohde: “To be an Imagineer, “you have to be the kind of person who wants to share.”)

Walt Disney Imagineering 60th: Leading a Legacy

Sunday also included a discussion between Imagineers Marty Sklar (former head of Walt Disney Imagineering) and Bruce Vaughn (current head of Imagineering) on leading Walt Disney Imagineering.

Collectors Forum

Back on the Show Floor, the Collectors Forum hosted various fan sites, fine artists, and collectibles booths that fans could browse, meet Disney celebrities, or find treasures in.

The MiceChat booth was once again host to an amazing lineup of Disney celebrities including frequent visits from Disney Legend Bob Gurr.

Bob Gurr talking to Doug Barnes from the Season Pass Podcast and the MiceChat Podcast

Susan Egan

MiceChat’s Keith Gluck interviewing Bob Gurr at the Walt Disney Family Museum booth

…and Bob Gurr surprising Pat Carroll, the voice of Ursula, at the Gifts by Small Fry booth.

Thoughts on D23 Expo 2013

The 2013 D23 Expo has come and gone and proved to be a big success for Disney, with Friday and Saturday both selling out. The success of this year’s event prompted CEO Bob Iger to announce Saturday that the next Expo will take place in 2015.

Despite its success, not everyone in attendance was wowed by what Disney had to offer at this year’s event, with the main issue being the lack of big announcements and breaking news. It’s true that each Expo continues to grow in size and success for Disney, but how long can that success be sustained if Disney continues to pull back on its major announcements? The first Expo in 2009 set a precedent for the D23 Expo to be a major platform for Disney to showcase its future with unexpected announcements and in-depth previews of what was new and what was next. This year, however, Disney seemingly threw all of that out. Instead, major movie studio presentations mostly just expanded on projects that everybody was aware of, keeping the lid on things that would keep fans and the media talking for weeks. No new theme park announcements, no major movie announcements and hardly a peep on the recently acquired Lucasfilm or upcoming Star Wars sequel.

It would be one thing if Disney had never used the D23 Expo as a platform for major announcements, but the first two Expos were just that – the place for Disney to proudly show off its new toys and get people excited with big announcements on major new productions. Despite Disney announcing before the Expo that no new announcements would be made, the lack of information still stung fans and burned the blogosphere. Entertainment magazines and film blogs aren’t being shy about openly discussing the disappointment of Saturday’s live action presentation; Variety opens an article on the subject with “The disappointment was palpable at D23 Expo as Walt Disney Studios promoted 11 movies that it will release through the end of 2015.” Obviously, the biggest letdown from the studio was the lack of Star Wars announcements but that disappointment bleeds through to just about every other major division of Disney, including Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Are fans asking for too much? If Disney wants to host its own version of Comic Con then it needs to deliver something. You can’t buy up Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar and run the world’s premier vacation destinations without fans expecting you to make new announcements at your huge, biennial conventions. Aside from cosplaying and surprise celebrity appearances, major announcements are what conventions like this are known for. Instead, the 2013 D23 Expo just spent three days sharing information that had mostly been released already and celebrating the company’s history, rather than previewing the future. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating the company’s history, and D23 (a product of the Walt Disney Archives) does quite well at producing events that do just that. Still, those events are much smaller than the Expo and cater to a niche market. There’s certainly a place for Disney history at the Expo, but can the Expo really support company history as its primary draw? It’s a question that Disney is now going to have to weigh when they start planning the next Expo. It isn’t just the vocal Disney fan community voicing disappointment anymore – with Disney now owning Lucasfilm and Marvel, there’s more at stake than ever. Hopefully Disney will plan accordingly for the 2015 D23 Expo and bring their best game like they did in 2009 with major new announcements.

Despite the lack of breaking news or exciting new announcements, the D23 Expo improved greatly in other areas from the last convention in 2011. The most impressive improvements were increased capacity and better handling of crowds. Disney obviously listened to complaints and concerns from 2011 where attendees waited for hours to get into popular panel discussions only to be told there was no space left. Both Stage 23 and Stage 28 were significantly expanded with bigger seating and viewing areas and I had no issues getting into any of the presentations that I attended. Similarly, the D23 Arena included an overflow viewing area with screens for those who were unable to make it into the huge arena.

The new D23 Expo StagePass service was also a success, allowing attendees to secure seats for popular presentations in Stage 23 and Stage 28. I heard some frustrations from Expo attendees about waiting in long lines for StagePass, but I think it would be foolish to expect a first-year service like this to not have some kinks to work out. Hopefully StagePass returns in 2015 with improvements to the system, but its debut year seems to have been successful. I heard numerous attendees talking about how it allowed them to see more than they otherwise would have been able to, which is great.

Also worth noting is the continued growth of the D23 Expo’s show floor offerings. The trend here points toward bigger pavilions with more varied offerings and that’s great to see. The show floor in 2009 had a lot of potential for growth and it’s great to see Disney taking note of this and growing the show floor. There was always something happening – whether it be live performances, celebrity appearances, signings, demonstrations or giveaways. It’ll be interesting to see how the show floor continues to grow in the coming years.

So what the D23 Expo lacked in content this year, it made up for in production value, crowd management and event planning. From what I could tell, this was the easiest Expo to date for attendees thanks to smart scheduling, great planning and efficient crowd control. Congrats to the D23 Expo team for a successful event. Here’s to 2015!

Disney D23 Expo Highlights – Part 3

Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Source: Micechat.com

Speaking of priceless originals, upstairs at the Anaheim Convention Center, the Walt Disney Archives put together another display of props, costumes and artifacts from Disney’s rich history.

Unfortunately, the exhibit wasn’t as large or as strong as the display put together for the 2011 D23 Expo. What was great was planned overflow queue and smart handling of crowds lining up for the exhibit. Inexplicably, however, crowds coming to see the impressive displays of Disney history were greeted with a series of designer gowns based on Disney princesses.

The princess gowns were then followed up by costumes from the Disney Channel’s new “Teen Beach Movie”

“Teen Beach Movie” might be getting a good reception from Disney Channel fans, isn’t a bit early to call these costumes “treasures”?

The next room featured a collection of props and costumes from the hit ABC series “Once Upon a Time”

The exhibit picked up steam with its extensive display on Disney’s varied Oz efforts over the years. A great collection of art and artifacts from the canceled “Rainbow Road to Oz” production that Walt Disney worked on was on display.

A model of Rock Candy Mountain, a proposed expansion for Disneyland’s Storybook Land was on display which was very cool to see.

Props and costumes from Disney’s 1985 film, “Return to Oz”…

…as well as props and costumes from this year’s “Oz The Great and Powerful”

The big success of the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit was the huge “Mary Poppins” display. With the film approaching its 50th anniversary and the upcoming release of “Saving Mr. Banks,” the exhibit was a fitting tribute to the legacy of Walt Disney’s classic film.

The recently re-acquired carpet bag from the film was on display.

Lots of vintage memorabilia and collectibles

Iconic costumes from the film

As well as costumes from the upcoming “Saving Mr. Banks” film.

Art and Imagination: Animation at the Walt Disney Studios

On Friday, the D23 Arena hosted its big presentation on Disney Animation, giving the audience a look inside what the teams at Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios and DisneyToon Studios are working on. The audience was introduced to new characters and some of the voice actors made special appearances including Judy Greer, Bill Hader and Lucas Neff from “The Good Dinosaur” (2014) as well as Bill Hader (again) and Phyllis Smith from Pixar’s 2015 release, “Inside Out.” Pixar also teased the upcoming “Finding Dory” movie.

Walt Disney Animation Studios gave an in-depth look at “Frozen,” which will hit theaters this winter. Actor Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf the snowman, made an appearance and talked about his character and working with Disney.

Broadway star Idina Menzel made a surprise appearance with her performance of “Let It Go,” a song from “Frozen.”

Disney also treated guests to a screening of the new animated Mickey Mouse cartoon, “Get A Horse!” The new short will debut for the general public in front of “Frozen” this winter. The new short is unique in many ways, but perhaps most notably because it features Walt Disney’s voice as Mickey Mouse using audio pulled and stitched together from Walt Disney’s previous performances of Mickey. The effect is seamless and it’s really special to hear Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse again in a new cartoon.

Also teased were Disney’s upcoming film “Zootopia” (2016) which takes us into a world of anthropomorphic animals without humans as well as the Marvel-inspired animated film “Big Hero 6″

Let the Adventures Begin: Live Action at the Walt Disney Studios

One of the biggest events at the Expo was the big Disney live action presentation in the D23 Arena. Fans had high expectations for the show, many with the hopes that Disney would make a big announcement for the upcoming Star Wars sequel. Despite fan hopes, Disney stayed true to their promise that no Star Wars news would come out of the Expo but fans were treated to presentations from Disney’s live action studio as well as Marvel Entertainment which featured sneak peeks, celebrity appearances and more.

Marvel brought out stars from Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy

Disney also showcased its own slate of upcoming films including “Muppets Most Wanted” starring Ty Burrell, Ricky Gervais, and Tina Fey

“Maleficent” (2014) starring Angelina Jolie

As well as the upcoming “Saving Mr. Banks”

…and the upcoming “Tomorrowland” movie.

Tomorrow: Part 4

Disney D23 Expo Highlights – Part 2

Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Pavillon Journey Into Imagineering

Source: micechat.com

The big draw on the show floor was, of course, the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Pavilion. By entering through a facade evoking the Imagineering headquarters in Glendale, California; guests of the pavilion, put together by Walt Disney Imagineering, took a “Journey Into Imagineering.”

Guests entered the doors to 1401 Flower Street into the preshow room for the pavilion.

A large wall display of the Imagineering “lobby” transformed into a giant video screen for the pre show…

Upon entering into the main showroom, guests were greeted with a large throwback to the oil lamp that was part of the post-show at Disneyland’s classic Adventure Thru Innerspace.

As the sign above the door stated, “Journey Into Imagineering” was largely an “open house” for Walt Disney Imagineering and the main point of the pavilion this year was the ability for guests to be able to talk with Imagineers and learn more about what each of them do. The first room allowed guests to meet with Imagineers working on new projects at Walt Disney World, from the Disney Springs project (a major overhaul of Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney) to the Avatar project that is still being planned for Disney’s Animal Kingdom as well as a hint at new Star Wars attractions for Walt Disney World.

The big Disney Springs scale model let visitors get an idea of what the Downtown Disney transformation will end up looking like.

An Imagineering office cubicle was on display, filled with props, sketches and items related to the upcoming Avatar project in the works for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

With Disney not quite ready to announce details for the upcoming Avatar Land expansion, Imagineers working this booth managed keep straight faces when talking about taking a research trip to the fictional planet of Pandora to learn as much as they could about the Na’vi and the planet so they could properly recreate Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

A Na’vi-sized backpack.

Plenty to look at here but not really much to see.

Nearby, a stack of crates with various Star Wars references hinted at an upcoming Star Wars-themed project for Walt Disney World. Much like at the Avatar display, Imagineers here were tight-lipped and stuck to their script which said these crates were delivered to Imagineering but wouldn’t be able to find out what’s inside until they them get back to Glendale.

Also represented in the pavilion was the new MyMagic+ program coming to Walt Disney World. The RFID-based technology is expected to transform the guest experience at Walt Disney World and Disney says it will make vacations easier for guests. The display showcased a lot of MyMagic+ wristbands and hardware in a very clean, contemporary space.

Aside from these three previews at what’s new and what’s next, the rest of the pavilion largely focused on the history and legacy of Walt Disney Imagineering. Historical displays of attraction art and models and displays showing various departments of Imagineering allowed guests to learn more about the folks creating Disney’s theme parks and delve into the history of Disney theme parks. Below, a portion of the scale model for Walt Disney World’s never-built Western River Expedition:

This would have been an incredible ride.

A concept model for EPCOT’s Space Pavilion.

A gorgeous model of the never-built International Street for Disneyland was on display. Shame this didn’t get built – it looks like it would have been wonderful.

My personal highlight of the Parks and Resorts pavilion was the Imagineering Art Library walk-through experience. The walk-through showcased several pieces of iconic Disneyland artwork, including the original pencil drawing of Disneyland by Herb Ryman that Walt Disney took to the bankers to get funding for Disneyland. Also on display was the original black light painting of Disneyland by Peter Ellenshaw that Walt Disney showed off on television when announcing Disneyland to the public. I got chills when the black lights were turned on and Peter Ellenshaw’s nighttime vision of the park came alive. It was a truly incredible experience to see this art in person and a big thanks goes out to the folks in the Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library for putting this together. Unfortunately (but understandably), no video or photography was allowed.

The stunning original model for the Tony Baxter-designed Land Pavilion for EPCOT Center was on display as well. It was an absolute treat to see in person.

The original concept for the Land’s main attraction was a hot air balloon-themed ride through incredible show scenes, which you could see represented in the model.

Also on display was an early model for EPCOT Center’s Spaceship Earth. Really amazing stuff.

Much of the pavilion was divided into pseudo-workspaces for Imagineers where you could see what various Imagineering departments do and how they work.

Show Production featured a lot of paint, with Imagineers painting elevation renderings in person as well as live-painting a portion of a character wall over the course of the Expo.

The Illusioneering Lab paid tribute to master Disney special effects artist Yale Gracey.

Architecture and Engineering focused on Imagineering’s recent hit attraction, Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland

Research and Development let guests preview new interactive Animatronics including Fortuno and the returning Destini

El Fortuno, the latest interactive Audio-Animatronic from Imagineering.

Destini, interactive Audio-Animatronic.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises and most popular features of the pavilion was the Hat Box Ghost on display in the Show Animation department.

Imagineers wouldn’t say if the Hat Box Ghost would return to the Haunted Mansion anytime soon, but were quick to note that the figure was built specifically for the D23 Expo using a model of Audio Animatronic that Disneyland fans might normally know as the Auctioneer in Pirates of the Caribbean or President Lincoln in “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.”

The Imagineering pavilion also gave guests the opportunity to meet Marvel’s Captain America, who will be appearing in a new meet-and-greet and interactive kids show called “Avengers Academy” aboard the Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic ship.

The Dimensional Design booth let guests see some original macquettes and sculpture work from Imagineering.

Imagineers sculpted live while talking to guests.

The original marble Snow White Grotto statues that were sculpted in Italy under the supervision of Leonida Parma and given to Walt Disney in 1958 were on display. The originals were removed from Disneyland in 1982 and replaced with replicas.

Tomorrow – Part 3

Disney D23 Expo Highlights – Part 1

Welcome to D23 Expo

Source: micechat.com

Guests approaching the convention center were greeted by the huge Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s Waffle-inator which was home to the Phineas and Ferb Waffle-inator Challenge game.

D23 Expo Show Floor

The D23 Expo show floor featured booths and pavilions from just about every corner of the Walt Disney Company. Here are a few photos from around the show floor.

The Walt Disney Animation Studios pavilion was small but previewed and teased upcoming films including “Frozen,” “Big Hero 6″ and the new “Get a Horse!” Mickey Mouse short

The new “Get A Horse!” short was shown in its entirety for Expo attendees during the Disney Animation arena presentation and it was a delight. It will be shown before “Frozen” in theaters this winter.

Disney Interactive’s pavilion let guests get hands-on playtime with the new Disney Infinity, Fantasia, Resmatered Duck Tales and Mickey’s Castle of Illusion.

The Steamboat Willie Redux display showcased fan art celebrating the classic Mickey Mouse cartoon.

The “Tomorrowland” pavilion was unveiled on Saturday, a culmination of Disney’s “The Optimist” alternate reality game.

Unfortunately, photography of the pavilion was limited.

Classic Disneyland ride vehicles were on display:

A selection of the larger items from the D23 Expo Silent Auction were also on display:

Matterhorn Bobsleds signed by Disney Legend Bob Gurr!

Tomorrow: Part 2

Remembering Annette Funicello

Annette Funicello was discovered by Walt Disney himself while attending an amateur program at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank when she was just 13 years old. That single meeting led to one of the most enduring associations in show business history.

Earlier today, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said, “Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mouseketeer, and a true Disney Legend. She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney’s brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent. Annette was well-known for being as beautiful inside as she was on the outside, and she faced her physical challenges with dignity, bravery and grace. All of us at Disney join with family, friends, and fans around the world in celebrating her extraordinary life.”

The Mickey Mouse Club made its television debut on the opening day of Disneyland park, July 17, 1955. During countless appearances in the years that followed, Annette, now a television star, also became a familiar face at Disneyland park. In fact, some of the earliest pictures in our photo archive are of her.

Here are some favorite photos of Annette through the years and we are pleased to share them with you as we remember this very special lady who was so dear to so many. [SOURCE]

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Where it all began, July 17, 1955, at Disneyland park.

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In 1958, Annette welcomed Princess Sophia from Greece.

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That same year, this publicity photo for a new record was taken at Disneyland park.

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Here is another publicity photo, taken perhaps for “Tall Paul.”

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Annette always had time for her fans.

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Annette has a “Date Nite” at Disneyland park in November 1959.

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Annette channels Peter Pan at Skull Rock in 1961.

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This very rare photo of Annette in Town Square at Disneyland park was taken to promote a potential TV special, which was unfortunately never produced.

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In 1968, Annette reunited with her fellow Mouseketeers for a special appearance at Disneyland park.

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Annette returned with her family in the 1970s.

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Annette met two Disney Princesses during her 1993 visit.

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The final photo of Annette in our archive was taken in 1996 alongside her longtime co-star, Frankie Avalon, during a special cavalcade on Main Street, U.S.A.

Every photo of this Disney Legend seems to capture her grace, her talent, her warmth and her kindness – all the qualities which make it easy to understand what caught the eye of Walt Disney during that amateur program nearly six decades ago.