Disney Legends Awards Ceremony
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’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.
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
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.”
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
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.
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 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
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.
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!
Hasbro will offer a 6 sided boxed Carbonite Chamber-style boxed set. Each side will feature a character from each of the 6 movies on Lost/Pulled from the depths Card Art. The top of the box is a Carbonite chamber picture and when you open the flap and reach in, a Carbonite Jar Jar Binks can be found on a Black Vintage card (not numbered like Salicious and Mouse Droid).
By: Chris Bucholz, Cracked.com, February 14, 2012
I don’t see what the problem was with the old one, and I don’t see what the problem is with the new one. There’s just nothing here to get worked up about, and there never will be, so long as there’s no goddamned backflip sword fighting.
Finally let’s go back to “Han shot first” — the most egregious violation of everything, ever. I won’t defend this completely — it’s a clear-cut example of Lucas making his film worse — but it’s nowhere near the big deal some people would make it.
For the uninitiated, here’s the Coles Notes version of the controversy: While in the Mos Eisley Cantina, Han Solo is getting the gears from Greedo, a bounty hunter looking to collect space dollars. In the original film, as the conversation turns sour, Han gets the drop on Greedo, blowing him away under the table. In the revised version of this scene, Greedo shoots and misses, then Han shoots a fraction of a second later, finding his mark. Many people loathe this change, preferring the original version, where Han shoots first because they think this makes him more of a badass.
I’ve since found out that Lucas has made about five more versions of this scene with small variations, but in all the versions, the same three things are unchanged:
1) Han was reaching for his blaster because he was about to use it.
2) After shooting Greedo, Han walks away coolly, like he’s done this kind of thing before, and is kind of bored of it.
3) George Lucas is an idiot.
Whether George Lucas is an idiot and Han is a badass or George Lucas is an idiot and Han is a very lucky badass honestly makes no difference in how we think of Han or watch the rest of the film or live our lives. I will freely acknowledge that it’s a stupid change to make because of how it muddies the waters, but it’s way less of a big deal than everyone makes it. And even though it is undoubtedly a mistake, that actually turns out to be a good thing, because …
#2. It Gives Us Something to Complain About
Let’s take a holistic look at the whole Star Wars experience:
But if I had one final word of advice for the complainers and bitchers rushing to the ramparts to battle these latest revisions, it would have to be “moderation,” because lest we forget …
#1. It’s Just The Phantom Menace
Come on, fellas. It’s The Phantom Menace we’re talking about here. This one just isn’t worth getting that worked up about.
Save your real fury for when he puts an R2-D2 flying scene in the next Episode IV revision.
By: Chris Bucholz, Cracked.com, February 14, 2012
Last weekend the re-release of the prequel of one of the Star Wars movies came out, because apparently no one’s gotten tired of that shit yet. Rejiggered to now be in 3D — because no one’s gotten tired of that shit yet either — a number of other changes are evident in the film when compared to its original theatrical release. There’s a new Yoda now, some tweaked special effects, and, probably, an extra 28 hours of scenes set in the Galactic Senate.
This is fairly typical for the Star Wars franchise, which has a long history of “Special Editions” and “Re-releases” and something called “laser discs,” all of which feature movies that are slightly different from each other. People who always have a little bit of fudge on their faces have tracked these changes exhaustively, and as is their way, at times have even gotten quite upset about them. News that Lucas was planning changes again with this latest re-release even prompted threats of a boycott from these folks, news which delighted scientists who had created a device capable of measuring extremely small threats, and were looking for something to calibrate it with.
I’m not actually going to get too condescending here, because I am more or less a Star Wars fan myself. I’ve seen the films, I’ve played the games, I even went through a regrettable Star Wars novel phase in high school. (The phase was what was specifically regrettable, although the novels are no things of glory either.) I know all about Han shooting first, and I know the logical explanation for the Millennium Falcon making the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs (it makes so much sense when you think about it). I am, for lack of a better word, a tremendadork.
What I’m not though, is upset about the changes Lucas keeps making. Here’s why:
#4. Because They’re His Damned Movies
An obvious point, but it needs to be stated clearly: Star Wars fans don’t own the Star Wars movies. We just like them. If they get changed and we don’t like them any more, that’s perfectly cool, because we don’t have to like them any more. That’s the deal. All sorts of creative works come in multiple editions, director’s cuts, abridged versions, expanded versions. Lucas appears to be far more into this tinkering than other filmmakers, but he’s hardly unique. Take Blade Runner:
Really, if Lucas wants to fix something he thinks was mistaken in an earlier film, that’s his business. Our lives aren’t affected in any serious way if he changes it, nor does he have a contract with us to preserve The Phantom Menace as some kind of cultural monument to poor plotting. We’re just not talking about something that’s that important; it’s not the Constitution, or the Bible, or The Godfather.
I should be clear that none of this is to say that Lucas is right or wise to make these changes. Irrational or not, he knows these changes will piss off a portion of his fan base, and although pissing off his fan base hasn’t done much damage to him yet, it’s not something many other creators get away with so readily. And under no circumstances should this be taken as a blanket defense of the artistic merit of the changes, which Lucas has a very spotty track record on.
But it turns out that not all of the changes Lucas has made have been bad ones, nor is it a guarantee that any future changes he makes will be bad ones. In fact, there’s always a chance that …
#3. He Might Actually Make The Movies Better
Amongst all the hair-pulling about Greedo shooting first, or that new Jabba scene with an ambulatory beanbag chair clumsily CGI’d over a fat guy…
That Episode IV: A New Hope prefix wasn’t there in the original theatrical release. It was added a couple years after, when it became evident that Star Wars was going to be a thing. Isn’t that a nice little tweak? Makes the movie seem like part of a greater whole? “What an epic story this must be!” the audience says. “But where the hell were the first three parts? Did I … did I black out for several years again?” These troubling questions set the hook perfectly, priming them for an unforgettable cinema experience, and forcing them to confront their demons.
Let’s look at the biggest change being made in The Phantom Menace 3D, aside from the addition of the dreaded Z-axis. The original release featured a puppet Yoda which has since been replaced with the CGI version we see in the other two prequels. Now I’ve seen The Phantom Menace a few times, and can’t recall a thing about Yoda — which I’m inclined to say is a good thing. In retrospect, this was probably my favorite interpretation of Yoda, in that he didn’t do any goddamned backflip sword fighting in this film. But if you look at new Yoda side by side with old Yoda, both look fine.