Friday, September 19, 2014

Backlot Studio Tour Closes Permanently on September 27th

In a shocking reveal to Walt Disney World cast members earlier this afternoon, the famous ever popular Disney's Hollywood Studios attraction Backlot Studio Tour is closing for good starting September 27th 2014.

The report was first rumored by the folks over at WDW News Today, who speculated a Pixar Place expansion in an article this morning. WDW News Today has got word of the confirmed expansion just recently and have posted about it on their website.

No official word from Disney on what will replace the beloved attraction, so this page will be updated as more info becomes available.

Thank you WDW News Today for the scoop! Follow them at @WDWNT on Twitter for up-to-the minute updates on everything in Walt Disney World.

(Photo Credit: WDW News Today) 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Film Review: As Dreamers Do

Mitchell Stein- As I sit here typing this review just moments after I finished As Dreamers Do which is finally available for purchase online  and in-stores. This awesome Nashville based film crew managed to put together a beautiful fitting tribute to Walt Disney, but unfortunately, copyright problems cause the writing team to go a little bit farther back in history, to the early days of Walt's animation, and the early seeds of the Walt Disney Company.

The film is wonderfully directed by Logan Sekulow. Mr. Sekulow does a great job at steering the story, mixing hilarious and emotional scenes scattered throughout the film. There are quite a few sequences that felt like they dragged on for far too long, but those mistakes are made up for later in the film with every perfect emotional scene. Some scenes don't flow as well as they should, especially in the first act of the movie, but as the film progresses everything falls into place perfectly.
The movie does take some time to find it's footing, but when it gets there, it's delightful. Every aspect of the story is spot-on, and writer Wendy Ott really did her homework when it came to writing this film. The story is fabulous, and the character development throughout is superb.

Speaking of characters, I think it would be appropriate to mention Olan Rogers who takes on the role of Walt Disney quite well. Maybe not quite as an honest portrayal as I would have hoped, but Rogers creates a charming, likeable character who the audience will love regardless of whether that's portrays Walt's exact persona in those early years. Ryan Dunlap does a good job of playing Roy Disney, portraying a loyal likable character and William Haynes does a brilliant job of playing Ub Iwerks, filling the character and steals almost every scene he's in.

The story ends off at a rather interesting point in Disney history, but one that really opened the doors to the impossible achievements that Walt conquered, leaving the beautiful message in it's midst: To never give up, and keep moving forward.

3/5 Stars

As Dreamers Do is now available to own on DVD and Digital Copy

Monday, September 15, 2014

111 Awesome Disney Songs, Part 6

Ryan Dosier - Part 6, Part 6, woo-hoo!

56.)   "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio
No song says Disney more than the theme from Pinocchio. In fact, this was (and in my opinion, still is) undoubtedly the anthem for The Walt Disney Company. "When You Wish Upon a Star" encapsulates everything that Disney stands for as both an entertainment company and an ideal to strive for. The "Disney Way" is this song, and it's perfection. Jiminy Cricket's original version from Pinocchio remains the stalwart best. Favorite Lyrics: "Like a bolt out of the blue/Fate steps in and sees you through/When you wish upon a star/Your dreams come true."

57.)   "Perfect World" from The Emperor's New Groove
Come on, I had to include a song from The Emperor's New Groove, one of Disney's most under-appreciated animated features. No, it's not a musical, but this number performed by rock and roll legend Tom Jones to open the film is spectacular. It sets the tone for the film immediately, and clues you into the fact that this will definitely not be the traditional Disney fare. "Perfect World" is a perfect song for this film. Favorite Lyrics: "He was born and raised to rule/No one has ever been this cool/In a thousand years of aristocracy/An enigma and a mystery/In Meso American history/The quintessence of perfection/That is he!"

58.)   "Once Upon a Dream" from Sleeping Beauty
This song is actually my favorite part of Sleeping Beauty. It's gorgeously animated, the backgrounds are incredibly stunning, and the song is magical. The lyrics illustrate such a beautiful ideal--meeting your true love in a dream, and knowing they're the one for you when you meet them for real. It's such a delightful moment in one of Walt Disney's classic films. Perfectly performed, stunningly animated, and a wonderful part of Disney music history. Favorite Lyrics: "I know you, I've walked with you/Once upon a dream/I know you, the gleam in your eyes/Is so familiar agleam/And I know it's true/That visions are seldom what they seem/But if I know you/I know what you'll do/You'll love me at once/The way you did once upon a dream."

59.)   "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" from Frozen
The newest song in the list this week comes directly from the icy world of Frozen, the latest Disney animated blockbuster. "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" is the catchiest song in the film and the one that stuck with me the most after my first viewing of the film. I love the angelic voices of the girls singing the song, the adorable way Anna says "It doesn't have to be a snowman," and everything else about this song. Favorite Lyrics: "Do you wanna build a snow man?/Or ride our bikes around the halls/I think some company is overdue/I've started talking to/The pictures on the walls!"

60.)   "Gonna Take You There" from The Princess and the Frog
I really don't understand how you could not love The Princess and the Frog. Stunning traditional animation, wonderful storytelling, and exceptional music from Randy Newman. Ray the Lightning Bug (voiced by voice actor virtuoso Jim Cummings) is my favorite character in the film, and this quick zydeco-flavored song he sings to Tiana is a blast. The animation in this scene is especially stunning, with the many lightning bugs hopping and flying through the swamp. It's a joy. Favorite Lyrics: "We all go through together/Down here that's how we do!/Me for them and them for me/We'll all be there for you!"

61.)   "Stand Out" from A Goofy Movie
I'm pretty sure I've already said this, but my goodness does A Goofy Movie have excellent music. "Stand Out" is the first Powerline song we hear in the film, as Max ruins his school assembly performing it with incredible light and video effects. The song is actually a really nice message of coming to terms with how you're different and how you stand out because of it. Plus, it rocks super hard. Favorite Lyrics: "Some people settle for the typical things/Living all their lives waiting in the wings/It ain't a question of if, just a matter of time/Before I move to the front of the line!"

62.)   "Go the Distance" from Hercules
Perhaps my favorite Alan Menken ballad, "Go the Distance" is the anthem for many, many people setting out to live their dreams on a grand scale. I adore this song so much and I've sang it in the car when I needed a reminder of how important dreams are on multiple occasions. It's one of those songs with a message that will never get old or stop being important. "Go the Distance" is one of many factors that makes Hercules so wonderful. Favorite Lyrics: "I have often dreamed/Of a far off place/Where a great, warm welcome/Will be waiting for me/Where the crowds will cheer/When they see my face/And a voice keeps saying/This is where I'm meant to be."

63.)   "On the Open Road" from A Goofy Movie
Ooh, yet another song from A Goofy Movie, and one of my favorites! This is the only true "musical" style song in the whole film, where there characters are spontaneously all singing the same song. Oddly, I think "On the Open Road" is my favorite tune from the flick. I love Bill Farmer's singing voice as Goofy and this song fits him so well. The chorus of other drivers who chime in are also incredibly well done. Favorite Lyrics: "Do ya need a break from modern livin'?/Do you long to shed your weary load?/If your nerves are raw and your brain is fried/Just grab a friend and take a ride/Together upon the open road!"

64.)   "Strangers Like Me" from Tarzan
Have we had any songs from Tarzan on the list yet? Probably... and I'm too lazy to go back and check! Anyway, Phil Collins' work with the music in Tarzan is wonderful. One of the few Disney animated features to feature prominent songs that characters don't sing, Tarzan features a plethora of hits. "Strangers Like Me" is a beautiful storytelling song in the film, but also works as a wonderful anthem for finding a place where you belong. A true highlight of the film. Favorite Lyrics: "Every gesture, every move that she makes/Makes me feel like never before/Why do I have/This growing need to be beside her /Ooh, these emotions I never knew/Of some other world far beyond this place/Beyond the trees, above the clouds/I see before me a new horizon."

65.)   "Reflection" from Mulan
Another beautiful anthem from a Disney animated feature, "Reflection" is a favorite of many girls and women who adored Mulan. But really, "Reflection" reflects all of us searching for purpose and trying to define who we truly are. It's a touching and staggering song expressing how most people feel at a young age. Trying to figure out who you are at the most confusing period of life is never easy, and this song explores and expresses that incredibly well. Favorite Lyrics: "Who is that girl I see?/Staring straight back at me/Why is my reflection someone I don't know?/Somehow I cannot hide/Who I am, though I've tried/When will my reflection show/Who I am inside?"

66.)   "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from Mary Poppins
Absolutely one of the most clever songs ever written, this impossible to spell Sherman Brothers classic is a delight. When performed by Julie Andrews and Dick van Dyke, "Supercali-" becomes a masterpiece. I adore this song and how silly and fun and wonderful it is. It's the definition of a nonsense song, and it's marvelous. Favorite Lyrics: "Because I was afraid to speak/When I was just a lad/Me father gave me nose a tweak/And told me I was bad/But then I learned a word to help me save my achin' nose/The biggest word you ever hear/And this is how it goes, oh!/Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!" 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Frozen Attraction Heading to Epcot in 2016, replacing Maelstrom dark-ride

The Disney Parks Blog announced earlier today that Frozen is heading back to Walt Disney World, but even bigger than better than ever. After much speculation, it was confirmed that Frozen will find a new home and attraction in the Norway pavilion of Epcot's World Showcase. The new currently unnamed attraction will replace the Maelstorm attraction which has been operating since 1988. The attraction is currently planned to open in 2016.

" We’ve made “Frozen” a part of the guest experience in a number of ways already and our guests have both loved them and asked for more." says Tom Staggs in a Disney Parks Blog post "So I’m pleased to say that we’re starting construction at Walt Disney World Resort on a brand new “Frozen” attraction at the Norway Pavilion in Epcot. The new attraction, which replaces Maelstrom, will take our guests to Arendelle and immerse them in many of their favorite moments and music from the film."

Disney Parks also revealed that Anna, Elsa, Sven, Kristoff, Olaf and the rest of the Frozen gang will be joining Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas Time Parade later this year with a special pre-show which will include Queen Elsa icing over the Cinderella Castle every night.

You can read more info about these upcoming attractions on the Disney Parks Blog. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide

With the premiere episode only a few weeks away, we've begun prepping up for Disney/Lucasfilm's epic new Star Wars adventure, Star Wars Rebels. Set five years before the events of Episode VI: A New Hope, Rebels follows young Jedi rebels as they escape and cheat the Empire as they continue to be hunted down because of their Jedi past. The series is bound to be just as incredible as Star Wars The Clone Wars was before it, so we couldn't be any more thrilled.

In order to prepare for the explosive new series, be sure to whip out your light-sabers and enter our latest giveaway contest. This month we're giving away a copy of DK Publishing's Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide. Be sure to enter so you can brush up on your Star Wars knowledge and stay up-to date with every passing episode.

To enter, just be sure to enter by following one of the easy tasks below. You can enter by simply following us on Twitter and/or liking us on Facebook, and tweeting and posting about the contest. The more times you tweet/post, the more entries you get to increases your winning chances. Be sure to enter through the Rafflecopter link below. Hurry! Contest closes Sunday September 21st.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

No purchase necessary to enter. Shipping address must be within the United States and Canada. Contest is open to fans of all ages.

Good luck, and may the Force be with you!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blu-Ray Review: Captain America The Winter Soldier

Mitchell Stein- In quite possibly what is the most brilliant Marvel movie yet to date, Captain America returns to the big screen, in an unbelievable nail-biting adventure that keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. It's intelligent story keeps the movie fast-paced and suspenseful, and the characters that fill it are all incredibly enjoyable to watch move the story along. Marvel has yet created another masterpiece and set Anthony and Joe Russo to direct it. Major kudos go out to Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely for giving it such an entertaining and suspenseful story, being far more than just "your average comic book movie", but rather a political spy thriller, but with the same action and excitement you'd expect from Marvel.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a major game-changer for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, preparing us for what's to come in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and by the looks of it so far, we're in for a pretty awesome ride.
Finally, this awesome adventure is available to own on Blu-Ray, so let's take a quick look at the Blu-Ray release to see if it matches up with the theatrical film.

Most notably, there's On The Front Line: An Inside Look at Captain America's Battlegrounds which gives insight from the Russo brothers and stunt coordinators at the wonderfully-choreographed battle sequences of the film and some behind-the-scenes looks at how they filmed some of the iconic scenes of the movie.
Along with that, there's Steve Rogers' Notebook, which is a short two minute feature about Steve's notebook, and specifically how the notebook was edited for international versions of the film according to the culture. Also there's another short delightful feature, On Set With Anthony Mackie: Cut the Check! with Anthony Mackie, a.k.a Falcon, (a.k.a your new favorite Marvel character) and how Mackie has brought life to the character on set, ending off each of his perfect scenes with "Cut the Check!". I have no idea where Mackie even thought up the idea, but it's pretty hilarious.

That's not it though! There's also an awesome Audio Commentary, four deleted scenes, and a hilarious blooper reel. The deleted scenes are rather short but still perfectly incredible, and the reason it was likely cut was due to the movie's time duration.

In the end, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a worthy Blu-Ray release, adding fun and exciting bonus features to an already brilliant movie. I very much reccomend you pick up a copy of this fantastic masterpiece.

Film: 4.5/5 
Blu-Ray Bonus Features: 3.5/5

Friday, September 5, 2014

Aladdin The Series: 20 Years Later

Mitchell Stein- Coming right off the tremendous success of Aladdin in 1992, it was clear that there was a lot of demand for more Aladdin products and films. Continuing directly off the events of Return of Jafar, the television show brought back all of the favorites from the Aladdin films and aired on Disney Afternoon for a few years before moving to CBS. 

Being a major fan of the Aladdin film, I really do enjoy this show a lot. It obviously doesn’t match up against the original film, but it stands as a great show on its own feet. Just like the films before it, Genie stands out as the greatest aspect of the show, delivering the most hilarious scenes. Dan Castenella returned to perform the voice of Genie, previously voicing the character in Return of Jafar. While not quite the same as Robin Williams, I couldn’t possibly think of anyone nearly as perfect to step into the role of Genie. Castenella is hilarious as the Genie, although sometimes he can end up sounding a bit like his character Homer Simpson. The other characters are great too. Gilbert Gottfried is back as Iago and even better than he was in the movie. Iago steals almost every episode with the most memorable of lines. Where Genie is more slapstick-type humor, Iago always delivers the last laugh through dialogue. Also returning is Scott Weinger as Aladdin, Linda Landin is back as Princess Jasmine once again and Jim Cummings as Razoul. 

Then of course the villains are equally fantastic. Most notably, there's Mechanicles, who describes himself as "the greatest of the great Greek geniuses" who planned his evildoing by his mechanical creations, most memorably, giant mechanical insects in the episode "Getting the Bugs Out". Sadira is a great returning character who begins as a jealous and determined girl who attempts to get Aladdin to herself by any means necessary. Although she makes an appearance in "Strike Up the Sand" her most notable debut was in "SandSwitch" where she sets a memory eraser over everyone in order to lure people with false memories that she was the princess and Jasmine was just another street rat. Unfortunately for Sadira, the spell did not work on animals, and Iago and Abu get in the way of her plans. Sadira comes to join up with Aladdin later in the series and becomes good friends with the group. My favorite by far is Abis Mal, voiced by Jason Alexander and makes his first appearance in Return of Jafar. He is the main antagonist in the first episode of the series, "Air Feather Friends" and makes several recurring appearances throughout the rest of the series. Jason Alexander is just hilarious so there's no doubt that this is my favorite villain throughout the series. 

Although it can be rather silly at times, I really love this show. I think it’s one of the best crafted Disney television of the era..The story follows Aladdin and Jasmine still planning to get married (which they never do in the series, but finally get married in The Forty Thieves). What I think it's lacking is probably musical numbers like The Little Mermaid television series did before it, or at least an original opening song. The opening theme used was reminiscent of "Arabian Nights" with very different lyrics. I think I would have preferred the show with some songs like the movies before them. 

Twenty years later, Aladdin: The Series still stands as a great and fairly entertaining television series, although quite forgotten by Disney fans. I do hope this series makes it's way to Blu-Ray or DVD sometime soon.