1 The Mickey Mindset: February 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

News Update: February 28th 2014

Mitchell Stein- Another jam-packed week! Will there ever be a week without any Disney news?

Starting off this week with Muppets Most Wanted! With the movie only 20 days away, the promotion for the movie has been all over the place with brilliant ads and commercials. Lots was released this week, so head over to our sister site, The Muppet Mindset to read all about it!

Plus, the Muppets teamed up with Lipton Tea for this great ad, which clearly proves that New York is full of Animals.

In Frozen news, a brilliant parody has gone viral this past week of Frozen's popular song "Let It Go"!
A local traffic reporter in Cincinnati named Bob Herzog has released a parody named "Just Don't Go" warning people of the terrible weather during the winter. It's brilliant and hilarious so check it out right here:

The Disney Parks Blog held another live chat/video this past week for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train which is set to open in Spring. They released an entire video of the current ride-through compared next to the concept video shown at the D23 Expo. Not all the effects are added yet, so keep in mind all that will be added in the next couple of weeks before opening date. 

Rumors are surrounding The American Idol Experience, at Disney's Hollywood Studios which report of that the show will leave after this summer. Again, these are just rumors, and it is unknown if it would be replaced with another show (The Voice? X-Factor?) or these are just rumors. 

If you hadn't noticed, Thor: The Dark World was released on Blu-Ray and DVD this past Tuesday! Along with the Blu-Ray, you can purchase an awesome new print from the film's Head of Visual Development, Charlie Web as seen below! See more details here!

To tie in with the digital release of Frozen, Disney announced their new digital service, Disney Movies Anywhere! Now, by purchasing Disney films on iTunes, you will also receive Disney Movie Rewards along with your purchase. Linking up the app to your iTunes account, you'll be able to watch all your purchased films anywhere you go, as long as it's in the U.S. Sign up now and receive a free copy of The Incredibles! 

The Academy Awards of 2014 airs live on Sunday at 8 PM hosted by the very-funny Ellen Degeneres, who has quite a big amount of Disney connections. Many Disney films are up for Oscars, including Frozen, Saving Mr. Banks, Monsters University, The Wind Rises and The Lone Ranger. Be on the lookout for upcoming Disney movie TV spots. 

Frozen is on Blu-Ray on March 18th 2014, and to make you even more excited than you already are, we've been provided with a clip of The Making of Frozen, a musical behind the scenes featuring the cast of the movie. 
In the final and in the biggest news this week from Walt Disney World are plans to expand the Cinderella Castle courtyard, also known as The Hub to create more space for fireworks viewing and to create more space for busy parks. To get an idea of how much will actually be added, look at an aerial before and after photo, courtesy of Inside The Magic. Have no fear, the partners statue featuring Mickey and Walt will remain. 

MORE NEWS UPDATE: The good folks over at Stitch Kingdom have reported this morning that Disney will hold another major 24-hour extravaganza in the North America parks, called "Rock You Disney Side" following in the #DisneySide campaign that Disney Parks is promoting this year. 
A photo was released by Disney Parks this morning featuring a hashtag with 140 characters in it. We gotta hand it to you Disney, that was brilliant. 

That's it for the news this week! Have a great week! 

The Mickey Mindset: mickeymindset@gmail.com

Monday, February 24, 2014

Retro Reviews: Darby O'Gill and the Little People

John Perrucci- 
Darby O'Gill and the Little People is a 1959 Walt Disney Productions feature film directed by Robert Stevenson, with screenplay written by Lawrence Edward Watkin - based on the books of Herminie Templeton Kavanagh. The film's title is a slight modification of one of the two Kavanagh books, Darby O'Gill and the Good People. This title, and her other book; The Ashes of Old Wishes And Other Darby O'Gill Tales were the original source for this movie. The film features a wily Irishman and his battle of wits with leprechauns.

"In the small Irish town of Rathcullen, County Kerry, Darby O'Gill (Albert Sharpe) is the aging caretaker of Lord Fitzpatrick's (Walter Fitzgerald) estate, where he lives in the nearby gatehouse with his lovely, almost grown, daughter Katie (Janet Munro). Darby is past his prime as a laborer, so Lord Fitzpatrick decides to retire him on half-pay and give him and Katie another cottage to live in, rent-free, and give his job to a young Dubliner named Michael McBride (Sean Connery). Darby begs Michael not to tell Katie that he is being replaced, to which Michael reluctantly agrees. That very night, Darby is captured by the leprechauns while chasing Cleopatra, his runaway horse (he is actually led astray by a Pooka), on top of the fairy mountain Knocknasheega. Darby learns that King Brian (Jimmy O'Dea) has brought him into the mountain so that Darby can avoid the shameful admission to Katie about losing his job. Eventually, he is able to escape.

King Brian tries to fetch Darby, yet, is tricked into making him wishes. Once the third wish comes along, Darby decides to use it to ensure Katie's happiness. Which results, after a rocky beginning, growing an affection for Michael. Katie believes Michael is merely seasonal help, as her father could not bring himself to break the news of his retirement (and their imminent move).

The production of this film brought Sean Connery to the attention of producer Albert R. Broccoli, who at the time was casting the first James Bond film, Dr. No. Broccoli hired Connery on the recommendation of his wife, Dana Broccoli. One of the songs in the film, "Pretty Irish Girl", is sung by Michael and Katie (Sean Connery and Janet Munro).

Walt Disney devoted an episode of his show Disneyland to promoting the film, recruiting actors Sharpe and O'Dea to film special segments on the set with Disney, as well as Irish-American actor Pat O'Brien. The episode, "I Captured the King of the Leprechauns", marked the only known television appearance of both Sharpe and O'Dea."( ~ information from Wikipedia, edited)

I thought the story was great. Same with the music. Using a Netflix rating system, I give it 4 our of 5 stars, meaning: I really liked it.

The Mickey Mindset: mickeymindset@gmail.com

Friday, February 21, 2014

News Update: February 21st 2014

Mitchell Stein-Big news these past couple of weeks! First off, taking place just yesterday, popular pop culture rendition group The Piano Guys released their latest video, which is a brand-new beautiful instrumental rendition of Frozen's "Let it Go", which is also nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. If you haven't seen it yet, watch it right here:

Also new in Frozen news, it was officially confirmed that Idina Menzel would in fact be performing "Let It Go" live at the Academy Awards on March 2nd. The Oscars will be hosted by comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who has quite a few Disney connections in her career. Make sure to watch and to cheer Disney on during Hollywood's biggest night.
 Also, reportedly a new TV spot for Muppets Most Wanted will air during the Oscars. Be on the lookout for other movie TV spots, and possibly a Muppet cameo (hey, it's possible!). 

In Star Wars news, it was announced that the sixth and final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars has been produced, and it's heading to Netflix on March 7th 2014 in both Canada and the U.S. 
The Clone Wars has been running on Cartoon Network since 2008 and then Disney XD before being cancelled without a season finale. The ending will now be finally available to fans, as they get ready for the next new Star Wars TV series, Star Wars Rebels. 

As you probably read elsewhere online, there is a brand-new (Disney-Pixar's) Ratatouille themed section coming to Disneyland Paris summer 2014, which is only a few months away. They teased the internet with this video, as well as a piece of conecpt art as to what the finished project will look like. The attraction seems to be currently going under the name of Ratatouille: The Ride, which seems kinda bland if you ask me. I hope they have another name for the attraction in the park, but either way, the ride looks like it'll be a lot of fun. Now all I have to do is catch a plane to Paris this summer....

This isn't an official Disney released video, but AVbyte released this fun video, showing Disney princesses taking things into their own hands and being tired of being "damsels in distress". 
When Queen Elsa is tired of hearing how all the princesses are waiting for a prince to come and help them, she convinces them that they can handle things on their own and they sing "I Don't Need A Man" with music and lyrics by Anontius Nazareth. 
Watch it here, and then make sure to watch some of their other pop-culture videos, such as "Doctor Who: The Musical" and "Harry Potter: The Musical". 

Besides Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel has a brand-new film being released this summer, named Guardians of the Galaxy. Marketing for the movie has been rather quiet, but now with the release only a few months away, Disney/Marvel aired the first official trailer during Jimmy Kimmel Live! on ABC on Tuesday night. The movie is released in North America this August. 

As well as the trailer, they released the new poster for the movie, which reveals the movie's tag line "You're Welcome" which is quite an amusing one in my opinion. This movie looks like it'll be playing more for the comedy with a large dash of action. The trailer is interesting, but the movie is sure to be promising.

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story was released online for free and is available for free on the Google Play store. It's free to make an account, so make sure you sign up and download this truly amazing feature. 

The Academy Award nominated film, The Wind Rises, from Disney and Studio Ghibli opens nationwide tomorrow! The film marks the last directing job of award-winning director Hayayo Miyazaki. It gaining tremendous reviews and from what we hear, it's pretty good. I suggest checking this one out as well. 

In sad news this week, John Henson, late son of Muppets' creator Jim Henson has passed away. Read our tribute to John here and then take a look at how some Muppet magic happens every day with Chase Beecher's new article, Our Friend Kermit

For the last bit of news this week, Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade which has been performing for the past 13 years in Animal Kingdom will close to make way for 2017's Avatar-themed area. The last parade show will be in June, Inside the Magic reports. No new parade has been announced yet, but we bid a farewell to Mickey's Jungle Parade as that area gets lots of construction walls placed around it in the coming months. 

That's all for this week's news! Have a magical week! 

The Mickey Mindset: mickeymindset@gmail.com

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Interview With Chris Hemsworth, from Thor: The Dark World

Actor Chris Hemsworth, well known for his roles as Thor in Thor, The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World recently put down the hammer for a great interview that we're excited to share with you below. We hope you enjoy this interview as Chris Hemsworth himself delivers some insight into Thor and what we can expect from Thor in the future, just in time for  Thor: The Dark World hitting DVD shelves next week. 

Q&A With Chris Hemsworth

Q:        Please describe Thor and his weapon.
 A:        Thor is the God of Thunder. He’s incredibly strong and from a place called Asgard, which is within the Nine Realms of the universe. He has a weapon called Mjolnir, which is basically a big, magical hammer that has been forged from the heart of a dying star. It can summon the lightning and control the elements and also gives him the ability to fly.

Q:        What are the uses of the hammer in this film?
A:         The usual, like summoning the lightning and manipulating the elements and storms and wind as well as breaking things and destroying things. It’s certainly a weapon that he uses to destroy rather than build in this one.

Q:        What is it like to be back portraying Thor for the third time?
A:         I love playing the character. The trick is to find new ways to make the character have some sort of advance or growth from the last film. That’s the trick of the director, writer and the actor obviously coming together and asking what’s the next step and where are we going to take him.

Q:        As an actor, what is it like to play a character with such a rich arc?
A:         I love the fact that he is a god but that could be very bland and one-sided. But each time we get to break him down and find his human qualities and his vulnerable side it’s interesting because he has such a tough exterior and an unbreakable feel.

Q:        What did you change about the process this time around?
A:         It’s different from “Marvel’s The Avengers” because in that film you didn’t have your individual arc or journey. The arc of that story was the group, whereas this is certainly each of us, and we each have our own specific story. And for Thor, it really is picking up from “Thor” in a lot of ways, with the same questions he still has about his brother, about why and how they ended up here and what happened to their relationship. But the bigger picture is that potentially Thor is stepping into the role of king, and he needs to prove that he deserves to be there and also understand and come to terms with the responsibilities that becoming king carries.

Q:        Where do we find Thor in this film as opposed to the last?
A:         In the first film Thor was a young spoiled teenager, about to take on the throne and be king. Then his father realizes that he’s not quite mature enough to do that and his priorities are in the wrong place. He’s full of ego and attitude. During that film, he is humbled and we leave that first story with Thor about to step into the responsibility of possibly becoming king of Asgard. In this film we pick up with him really coming to an understanding of what that entails and the darker side of that responsibility. He figures out that it doesn’t necessarily come with all the privileges; there are a lot of sacrifices. It’s that next step in his evolution to become king.

Q:        Thor is back on Asgard in this film. What is he doing there?
A:         Thor and The Warriors Three and the other soldiers of Asgard have been basically putting out the fires across the Nine Realms since the Bifrost was destroyed, allowing the criminals of the universe to wreak havoc. So they’ve been doing some sort of peacekeeping and sorting out the various conflicts all over the place. It’s pretty direct, but also in some ways more immediate to what we had in “Thor,” with the Bifrost having been destroyed and the realms now being free of any sort of policing.

Q:        This film is called Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World.”  What is this “Dark World” that we’ll be seeing?
A:         The Dark World is a reference to the planet that the dark elves are from, but also I think Alan’s [Taylor] take on it was that this is a darker transition into adulthood for Thor and him becoming king, and the darker side of growing up. With the maturity and the responsibilities and then the secrets, it becomes very political about what the people of Asgard and the universe need to know versus what they want to know. You start to see the shadier side of the royal family.

Q:        What’s it been like having everybody back together again?
A:         It’s great. Tom [Hiddleston] and I obviously spent a lot of time together on “Marvel’s The Avengers,” so we jumped straight back into it. But certainly to see Natalie [Portman] and Anthony [Hopkins] and Kat Dennings and all the Warriors Three, and the whole cast was great. We had such a fun time on the first one and we picked up where we left off.

Q:        When you read this particular script, what did you connect with in terms of fleshing out the character?
A:         I’m always looking for some sort of conflict and what it is that Thor’s trying to work through as opposed to just being there and being central to the situation. You’ve got to make sure the hero is a big catalyst to the resolution; that he’s not just there to step in at the very end and save the day. You want a journey, and often the villains are so much easier to write on one hand, but also there’s an advantage just because they’re allowed to be more unpredictable; they’re allowed to be inconsistent, whereas I think we traditionally know the hero can be pretty obvious sometimes. So I think it was up to all of us to police that and make sure he was relevant in the story; he wasn’t just kind of there. I think what we managed to find was real conflict with Thor about where his place is. Is it with Jane on Earth, or is it here in Asgard? His senses are now awakening and he’s having a greater understanding of the world and its problems. That was something we wanted to thread in from the beginning, which allowed him to be proactive through the story and constantly searching for something. 

Q:        What is the relationship between Odin and Thor this time around?
A:         Once again, the challenge was not to repeat what we had in the first film, but at the same time, the conflict between Thor and Odin was something people seemed to love. So we found new ways of having them disagree. But it’s a much more mature, respectful disagreement as opposed to the first one where Thor was a young teenager.

Q:        What is it like working with Anthony Hopkins now that you have that relationship from the first film?
A:         He's the greatest. Obviously having worked together before, there’s an immediate ease and familiarity, which is great to dive back into. Anthony is one of those rare actors that I could just be around and watch all day long. There’s such a weight and depth to everything he does, no matter how subtle. I think we both have such a great time playing these characters and finding new ways to explore the conflict and love they have for one another.

Q:        How has the relationship between Thor and Loki changed throughout the movies?

A:         In the very first film Loki and Thor as brothers had a friendship where there was less hatred involved. We get to a place in this one where there’s more of that this time around again. Thor gets to ask Loki what this is all about and how they got to this point in their relationship.
Thor is able to confront Loki and say, “It’s about time that you recognize your role in this. You know, it wasn’t all everyone else’s fault.” In “ Marvel’s The Avengers” it was us yelling at each other and butting heads, and that happens a bit in this, too, but for the most part it’s a far more interesting dynamic.

Q:        What is it that Tom Hiddleston brings to the role this time around?
A:         We make the assumption that Loki is walking the line a lot of the time about which side he is going to fall to, and is it going to be the Loki we’ve come to know or is it the one we previously knew? Tom brings so much to the part; people love that character. He brought such empathy to Loki that audiences were conflicted. He’s the villain but we kind of love him. Any time you can do that, it makes it so much more interesting. Some of my favorite scenes are with Tom in every film we’ve done. It’s great.

Q:        Why is it important for the film to contain some of the humorous beats that it does?
A:         The humor in all the Marvel films is what ties them together. It also allows people to buy into the fantastical world that you’re a part of. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. In moments, it’s serious enough, but any chance you get to laugh takes the pressure off of having to believe that there’s a guy with a big hammer and a red cape flying around the place.

Q:        Give some examples as to where we see some humor in this film.
A:         The humor doesn’t lay so much in Thor’s kind of naiveté as it did in the first one when that fish-out-of-water quality played so well.  As much as we wanted to repeat that we couldn’t because it would contradict the fact that he was now becoming more mature and aware. But Kat Dennings and Natalie Portman certainly have a ton of humor in this and some great dialogue. It’s through their observations of how wacky our world of Asgard is. So, it’s sort of what we had in the first one, but a bit of a role reversal. It plays so well. The two of them are just so good at it and it brings that element into the story that it needs to buy into the fantastical world.

Q:        What are the evils that Thor and Asgard face in this film?
A:         The bad guys are the dark elves. They’re another race of beings that have come into conflict with the Asgardians thousands of years ago, and they since have been thought of as extinct; their planet’s been destroyed and they no longer exist. But they’ve reawakened and their big concern isn’t necessarily the Asgardians, it’s the weapon that the Asgardians happen to have that they’re after. Thor and his family are stepping-stones to the dark elves taking over the universe in the bigger picture, and they don’t see Thor and the Asgardians as much of a threat.

Q:        What was your impression when you first saw the dark elves in costumes and makeup?
A:         The prosthetics and costumes on the dark elves are incredible. The whole world that they’ve created for them, from the sets and the locations to shooting in Iceland, just made it feel so possible. There’s an epic feel to their world, but a grounded quality as well.

Q:        Where do Thor and Jane Foster stand in this film in terms of their relationship?
A:         Jane’s been wondering where the hell he is and where the hell he’s been, and why he hasn’t contacted her since he left. Thor did have a brief trip to New York with the Avengers but didn’t give her a call, so she’s not too happy at first. She comes to understand that he’s been saving the universe, so that’s not a bad excuse. But the two of them have to figure out whether or not this is a realistic relationship. They do feel strongly for each other, so regardless of everything else, they’re thinking with their hearts instead of their heads.

Q:        How do Thor and Jane not let their relationship cloud their judgment overall?
A:         It does cloud their judgment a bit until the very end. Then Thor actually gets to be honest and go, “Okay, now that the dust is settled, is this a crazy idea or is it possible?” And for Thor it certainly becomes then about the darker side of him taking on the throne, which is all about what people need to hear versus what they want to hear.

Q:        How do you think people will react to Jane being brought to Asgard?
A:         I hope they like it. It’s a bit of fun. It’s something that we’re nervous about as well, but anytime there’s a big risk with something, there’s a bigger payoff if you pull it off. It was done in a tasteful way, but at the same time there was a right amount of humor again for her character. It allows you to laugh with the ridiculousness of it as opposed to pointing your finger and rolling your eyes.

Q:        What kind of training did you have to do this time around?
A:         On this one I came in and said, “Okay, I want to make Thor more dynamic.” The guy can fly and split the earth in half with his weapon, yet a lot of the time we have seen him in the past just fighting hand-to-hand combat like a Viking, which is an element of his style, but I think we needed to embrace that he has far more advanced skills than that. So the idea of getting him off the ground a lot more, using more wire work. There’s a lot more wire work in this than previously. Developing different ways to use the hammer, but not always using the hammer. So it just became about making it a bit more dynamic.

Q:        What does Alan Taylor bring to the franchise and what is his process like?
A:         Alan’s fantastic. He’s got a great sense of story and a need to find the truth in this story and not have it be hokey and ridiculous. Very much like the “Game of Thrones” series, which was where Alan had just come from, there was grounding in reality no matter how mythical the world got. There were a lot of exterior locations and a lot of the sets were built outside with less blue screen, which I think is great. Asgard does look like a place you could visit. There’s a sort of medieval feel, but there’s also a science fiction quality to it. Alan wanted more of the Viking feel than the science fiction.

Q:        What has it been like working on these sets, and being in London?
A:         It’s great. It does feel like a place that exists as opposed to a set. There’s a worn quality to them, and they’re not quite as clean as they could’ve been, so it looks like it’s been lived in. A lot of the sets were built outdoors so we could use natural lighting as opposed to the indoor studio look.

Q:        What will we be seeing in terms of your wardrobe this time around?
A:         The hammer has been taken and roughed up and beaten a bit and scratched, so it looks like it has been through thousands of years of war and battle and it’s not straight off the rack. The sets, the costumes, the hair, the makeup—all of it was about making it look more realistic. Not having them so much like gods that they were unrelatable. There’s a human quality to them all, which is wonderful. 

Q:        Why do you think Thor is so relatable to audiences, considering it’s such a cosmic story?
A:         Thor’s in love with a human, so that helps. Instantly there’s a connection. It helps that we’ve brought the story into a more real, grounded look. But Thor is going through human problems. His conflicts and emotions are the same as ours. They’re not so far off that we can’t find any connection to it. He’s battling with his responsibilities and coming to terms with who he is, his place in the world, his relationships and family. You could take all these stories and put them in a little independent film. It’s a father with two sons battling for their father’s affection. Or there’s a Romeo and Juliet quality to it of two different families with children who want to be together and everyone thinks it’s ridiculous. It’s what they go through and their journeys that are similar to what we could go through.

Q:        How are you pushing the boundaries in this film to make it such an amazing product?
A:         It’s probably the scope of this film that feels bigger than any other Marvel film. We were in Iceland and London and various locations that were very rugged with very outdoor landscapes. So the feel of it wasn’t just New York City or Santa Fe, New Mexico. The whole scope of it was far larger than anything we’d seen before. 

Q:        What do you think separates these Marvel films from the typical Hollywood fare that we normally see?
A:         It was a big risk to individually build these characters up and then bring them all together. Marvel pulled that off and each film was recognized as its own thing and loved and then they slammed them all together in “Marvel’s The Avengers.” It was a big risk but a huge payoff. The Super Heroes are from different times; they’re from different worlds. There’s a unique quality to them individually, and that’s what makes them so special.

Q:        What is it that you love most about the fans of “Thor” and how they’ve reacted to these films?
A:         They’ve been really supportive and I love them for that. It could’ve gone the other way. Staying true to the comic books and these characters was something we were mindful of from the beginning. These characters already existed and had a fan base that was a lot more knowledgeable than we were, so you don’t want to let anyone down in that sense. But there’s a lot of feedback they give us that helps shape where we take these characters to.

Q:        What are you most excited to see once this hits the big screen as well as the small screen?
A:         This film is very different to “Thor” even to “Marvel’s The Avengers.” I’m excited for people to see the updated version of this world and these characters. I’m excited myself to see it all come together on the big screen. There are so many pieces in the puzzle and so many different sections and departments with everyone doing their bit that it’s such a satisfying thing when it comes together and works. It is what you thought it was going to be and hoped it would be.

Trademark Marvel, 2013. 

“Thor: The Dark World” is presented by Marvel Studios. The executive producers are Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Craig Kyle, Alan Fine, Nigel Gostelow and Stan Lee. The film releases on Blu-Ray combo pack February 25th, 2014, and is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Disney Animation Reviews #18 - The Sword in the Stone

Disney Movie Review: 18/53 - The Sword in the Stone

Ryan Dosier - The second to last animated feature overseen by Walt Disney was 1963’s The Sword in the Stone. This is a notably weak feature for Disney with many of the elements affecting it for the worst. It’s a mostly forgettable entry with only one or two memorable characters and scenes but very little else worth remembering.

Through most of the film the usually incredible Disney animation is notably weak. The only character to stand out is Merlin, the phenomenal wizard. He is the only particularly entertaining character in the film—and he truly is a blast. He deserves a much better movie than this.

"Wart," or the young King Arthur, is a particularly poor lead character. He has no quirks or traits that make him stand out. He also has two different voices throughout the film, which is very distracting. Wart just sort of flies along with Merlin throughout for no real reason. He could have been so much better if given some more personality.

The only other somewhat entertaining character is the devious, wicked, mad Madame Mim. Mim is a delightful witch and quite fun to watch. Her duel with Merlin is the undeniable highlight of the film. The animation in the duel is incredible and some of Disney’s best, period. It’s a shame that such an impressive animated feat is saddled in such a faulty film. Mim’s inclusion in the piece is completely random. The climax of the movie makes me wish she were a more constant, foreboding force throughout.

As a whole, The Sword in the Stone is unremarkable. Even the backgrounds and layouts, which are usually amazing, are tawdry and plain. The dabble of music in the piece is uninspired and completely forgettable. But more than anything, the tone of the movie never comes together. In the beginning it’s a drama, in the middle it’s a fantasy comedy, and at the end it gets heavy again. The Sword in the Stone completely lacks focus.

However, the movie is still worth watching if one is brushing up on their Disney history. It was obvious that Walt Disney’s hand was not as heavily placed on this film (most likely because Mary Poppins was in production at the same time). Merlin truly is a joy and a spectacular character. Watching his hysterical interactions as a squirrel and Merlin’s duel with Madame Mim make the film worthwhile. Unfortunately the rest of the piece can’t hold the humor or wonder that is so clear and focused in those
two great scenes.

2/5 Purple Dragons

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Where to find Roger Rabbit in Walt Disney World

Mitchell Stein- Many people complain that there is no Who Framed Roger Rabbit items or attractions to be found in Walt Disney World. Sure, he got a dark ride in Disneyland California, but why is Roger completely absent from the Orlando parks?

 After visiting the parks last week, I come to realize that you can find a lot of Roger Rabbit related locations in Disney’s Hollywood Studios itself! If you know where to look.
Today we’ll tour through the Hollywood Studios Park showcasing all the various different places you can find lots of hidden Roger Rabbi gems and secrets.

The first stop you might want to make is to see the Maroon Cartoons billboard just off of Hollywood Boulevard, across from Echo Lake and Hollywood & Vine. They usually set up a FP+ kiosk around there. On the sign (picture included) you’ll see Roger, Jessica and Baby Herman with the familiar Warner Bros. red back around. It seems to have faded throughout it’s time since it was put there in 1990’s and no one ever took care of it, but it’s still pretty cool and you should check it out.

While you’re there, do a 180-turn and face Hollywood & Vine. Above the restaurant, you see a window that reads “Valiant & Valiant Private Investigators” and right next to that, you’ll see a hole in the window that’s well…rabbit shaped, inspired by the scene where Roger emotionally breaks down and smashes through Eddie Valiant’s window!

Photos: StudioCentral.com

According to Disney historian Jim Korkis, if you follow the direct path from the window that leads to behind the Animation Courtyard, there’s a painting of Roger on the wall. It’s to be as if Roger ran out the window and headed straight for the courtyard. Sadly, you can only see that in the cast member section, so unless you happen to work there, you might not be able to see it.

You may have heard that after the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, many plans were pitched for a Roger Rabbit themed ride in the location where Rock N’ Roller Coaster stands today. As much as I love Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, a Roger Rabbit area would’ve been cool too. It’s unfortunate those never got made, as Disney (especially Michael Eisner) was very eager to make it.

They were so eager in fact, that they already started building it! As you walk down Sunset Blvd towards The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror! Pay attention to what you’re walking on. See those railroad tracks? That was intended for a Baby Herman inspired trolley that would go up and down Sunset Blvd leading in to this planned Roger themed area. Once the plans fell through, they ditched the area and painted over the tracks. The tracks remain there today, but they lead nowhere.

Turn around and head towards the recreation of the Grauman’s Chinese Theater (you know, the building behind the giant hat). There you’ll see the hand/foot prints of many famous celebrities, including Dick Van Dyke, Judy Garland, Julie Andrews, Jim Henson (and Kermit), Charlton Heston and Roger Rabbit! Look around for Roger’s print. He left quite an impression on the park (Wocka Wocka!)  It’s near the left side of the theater. If you can’t find it, ask one of the cast members in front of the ride, who are usually more than happy to help.

Now that you’ve seen his footprints, head towards the Backlot Tour.
The Backlot Tour is probably where you’ll see the most Roger Rabbit stuff in the parks. In the pre-boarding area, the room is filled with thousands of actual movie props. Sadly, they’re not labeled but rather just dumped into a big mess. The only props I currently found was above the Muppet car (you can’t miss it. It’s a giant car and has the word “Muppet Car” stamped on the side) and was several boxes of Acme Eye Balls which are in the Acme warehouse in the final scenes.

When you board the trams, be on the lookout for an Acme vehicle and the steamroller from the final scene. It’s the actual cars, so make sure you keep an eye out for those constantly. They’ll be found on both sides, so keep turning your head.

After the ride is over, you’ll be led into a gift shop (of course). This shop is actually designed to look exactly like the interior of Acme warehouse in the film. Keep an eye out for lots of hidden details and references.

When you walk out, continue in the park circle towards the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. Right in-between Indy and the Star Wars area, there’s a restaurant that most people don’t seem to notice (it’s directly across from the WDW Radio building, home of the former Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey). 

When you enter, you’ll notice an outdoor eating area and an indoor eating area (Forgive me, as I forget the name of the restaurant. It might be known as the Backlot Express). On the outside you’ll easily spot the Toon Patrol Car. This is probably one of my favorite hidden gems in the whole park. It’s really cool and it makes a great photo op. You can’t go inside the car, but you can touch it, which was pretty amazing anyway.

After you’re done drooling over the vehicle, walk inside the restaurant and look around. What you’ll see in here is just as cool.
In this restaurant, you’ll be able to find Benny the Cab. No, not a constructed Benny statue, but rather the car that Bob Hoskins sat on before Benny was drawn over him in the movie. It’s really cool and the pictures surrounding it show how the animators drew over it and some before and after scenes. It’s a must see! Take a picture too!

That’s all the Roger Rabbit locations I could think of for Walt Disney World. There of course used to be Mickey’s Toontown, in the Magic Kingdom which was inspired by the Toontown from the movie, but that sadly no longer exists as it made way for the very exciting New Fantasyland expansion (which probably will just be called “Fantasyland” one day).

Another location is off Disney's Hollywood Studios and at Disney's Pop Century resort. They have a section based off Roger. See blow in this beautiful photo from James Brandon!
                                                         Photo: James Brandon

If you can think of any other locations that I left out, p-p-please let us know in an email at mickeymindset@gmail.com and we’ll feature it in the article! Feel free to include pictures as well. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

FastPass+, Magic Band, MyMagicExperience REVIEW

The classic Disney's FastPass logo since 1999

Mitchell Stein- With the traditional FastPass system being shut-down and stored away, Disney started to roll out their brand-new FastPass system named “FastPass Plus” in Disney World this past week. So I decided to head down there and check it out for myself.

The new FastPass experience begins right when you walk up to the park. The traditional turnstiles and card swiping machines are gone and replaced with a simple stand to tap your brand new card against, scan your finger and walk in right away.

Photo: Walt Disney World Resorts

The new FastPasses are linked to the MyMagicExperience which hasn’t been fully opened to the general public yet. Guests staying at a Disney World resort can choose to test out the all new “MagicBand” which is a new band that wraps around your hand and stores all your info, such as FastPass reservations, your room key, and even allows you to pay for things in the parks when you connect it to your credit card as well (it can be hard to watch your wallet at times when paying is this simple, just keep in mind what you’re spending while in the parks).

If you have a MagicBand, you have the option of reserving FastPasses and restaurant reservations up to six weeks prior to your visit. If there’s an attraction you really don’t want to risk waiting in line for, you can currently do that if you’re staying at the resorts.

I’m a big fan of the simple “Tap ‘n Go” feature in front of attractions and the parks, but overall, I am not a fan of the new system. Personally, I dislike the idea of storing all your personal info onto one item that could easily be lost or stolen, and I dislike the idea of companies owning personal info. I can allow Disney to scan my fingerprint to get into the park, but that’s where I’ll draw the line. It’s something I try to be careful about. I dunno, maybe I just Britta’d it, but it’s just something I dislike. 

Personal issues aside, the new FastPass system is terrible for other reasons. On Thursday, we decided to park hop in both Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom where we discovered that the new FastPasses don’t allow you to reserve FastPasses in two parks in one day. Therefore, if you’re hopping, you’ll have to choose only three rides out of all those parks. That calls for a lot of frustration and discourages me from park hopping again in the future. Cast members told me they were planning to change that rule since they got a lot of complaints, but for the time being, that's the current rule in the parks.

Another problem is the ability to reserve FastPasses in advance. We arrived at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 10:00 when the park opening was at 9:00. We quickly ran to a kiosk (which I’ll talk about in a moment) to reserve a FastPass for Toy Story Midway Mania as FastPasses for those can disappear very quickly. They were all out of FastPasses, all due to the fact that it was reserved days in advance.

I don’t know how anyone in the world can decide what ride they are going to ride at what time. The whole fun of the trip is that it’s all spontaneous and you can ride whatever you feel like depending on your mood, but either way, this reservation thing is a big problem. It’s almost impossible to be able to eat at Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom because it’s been booked for weeks. I can allow reserving the day of, or a week in advance maximum, but weeks in advance is just unfair to everyone else. Very often these reservations are booked and the people who reserved it don’t show up. Of course when someone does not show up at their scheduled time the reservation goes back into the system and whoever can grab it first can get to the ride/restaurant FastPass line. Basically, whoever has the fastest smartphone wins.

The doors to Be Our Guest are closed to all those without a FastPass

The problem with the app on your smartphone is the fact you can only link one guest account to the app. I was travelling with two other people and only one of us had a smartphone with us, so we could not use the app for reserving FastPasses. We had to go to a FastPass kiosk to find a cast member to book our ride preferences for us.

Photo: APinchofPixieDust.blogspot.com

With the new FastPass system, you can choose three and only three attractions, which includes rides, shows, meet-and-greets and sometimes restaurants. Because they don’t want everyone picking the most popular attractions, they split the rides up into groups so for example in Epcot, Test Track, Soarin’, Maelstorm, and the Mickey meet-and-greet are all in the same category and you can only pick one. Everything else is in category two, which you can pick two from.

In Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can pick two attractions from the main category (which includes Tower of Terror, Rock n’ Roller Coaster and Toy Story Mania) and one from category two. Options vary depending on the park you are visiting, Magic Kingdom has the most attractions, and so most rides are in one category. The times you receive are good for that time (usually an hour) and that time only. Gone are the days where you can get a 1:00 FastPass and come back at 6:00 and still ride. Since its all-digital now, you won’t be able to walk on after your time is up. Keep this in mind before planning to see a show or doing anything else time consuming.
Just so that more people can pick more from category two, they added FastPass machines to attractions that never had FastPasses, such as Muppet-Vision 3D, The Great Movie Ride, and many shows.

To be honest, I'm not a fan of Disney grading their attractions either. Because they don't want everyone only booking the most popular attractions, they grade their rides into categories to tell you what you can pick the most of depending on the grading system.
To book FastPasses if you don't have a smartphone, you have to look through the park to find a FastPass kiosk, which is usually filled with people who are just as confused about the system as you are (so basically, there’s usually a lot of people on those lines.)

I guess eliminating FastPasses was supposed to shorten attraction lines, which it does quite well. It just moves all the lines to the FastPass kiosks instead.

A FastPass Kiosk in Tomorrowland

I honestly can’t figure out why Disney continued to go ahead with this, although it costed them so much money and effort. I like the idea of the MagicBand which will help create unique experiences such as meeting Mickey and he can interact with you depending on your info. If you rode Test Track in the past year and a half, you’ll be familiar with the system, except that in storing info about the car you designed, you’re storing personal info, like credit cards, home phone numbers, email addresses, room keys, fingerprints, and a lot more around your wrist.

This does not make me love Walt Disney World any less. I still hope to visit a lot more in the future, but if you are planning to head out in the next couple of weeks, just beware of the brand-new system. I suggest you arrive to the parks early to ensure FastPasses (Toy Story Mania runs out extremely fast, most than any other attraction in WDW) and upon arriving, never use one of the kiosks near the front of the park. Head to a kiosk near the back, where’s there’s a lot less people. It’ll save you a lot of time.

Of course, I appreciate that Disney includes their FastPass experience free with your price admission while other theme parks charge extra for that feature, but I will have to admit I preferred the original system better.
My solutions? Drop the reservations in advance thing. FastPasses should be on a first-come, first serve basis. Three attractions is a small amount. I think five per guest would be a nice and fair amount. I think this would improve the system a lot.

Eventually, people will get used to the system and the kiosk lines will be short. But if you're going in the next few weeks, just plan out your day accordingly.

Above all these current complaints, don't forget the system is only in it's first couple of weeks, so things will tend to get a little wonky at times. This post is really aimed for guests planning to visit within the next couple of weeks and to learn how to avoid problems and save time. Hopefully all of the mentioned problem will be fixed shortly.

Some TIPS:

  •  I would suggest you arrive to the parks early to ensure FastPasses. FastPasses would always run out quickly, and the new system is no exception.
  • Toy Story Mania runs out extremely fast, most than any other attraction in WDW. Keep that in mind when booking your FastPass schedule.  
  • Don’t use the FastPass+ kiosks near the front of the parks. For shorter lines, head further into the parks to find another kiosk where there would be less people. 
  • Don’t use your FastPasses on attractions that don’t normally have lines. For example, It’s Tough to be a Bug! normally doesn’t have a line longer than 5 mins. You may want to use your FastPasses for the other park attractions that would have longer lines (i.e. Expedition Everest, Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, Space Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, Toy Story Mania etc.) 
  • Beware what you’re spending with the MagicBand. When it’s so easy to pay, you can lose track of how much money you’re actually spending. Keep in mind your money when tapping for a pair of Mickey ears. 
  • Keep your MagicBand on you at all times. If lost, purchases can be made in stores without your knowledge. If lost, contact the nearest cast member, who will let you know how to cancel your MagicBand and how to receive a new one. 
  • Don’t use your FastPasses on shows. I guess the FastPass ensures you a better seat, but to be honest, you can see from wherever you sit. Save your FastPass for long attraction wait times. 

Have you been to Walt Disney World lately? Have you tried out the new FastPass experience? Let us know your thoughts in an email at mickeymindset@gmail.com! 

The Mickey Mindset: mickeymindset@gmail.com