Disney World Videos

Like many a Disney nerd, I occasionally surf around on youtube for videos of characters at the Disney parks. They can be amusing and funny, especially if it is of a character you really like. I was surfing around one day and found this video, which quickly became one of my favorites.

I like this video because it really is an effective way of capturing all the fun of a trip to Disney. You can really tell how much the people in it enjoyed making it, and recording a few seconds of you dancing with the characters you want to meet seems like a much more fun way to do that than standing still for someone to snap a picture, then moving along. It’s just a silly little video, but I’m sure it holds tons of memories for the people involved in creating it. What better way to remember your trip? It makes me want to create a similar video on my next Disney vacation.

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Animation Review: Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh was released only a few days ago, but I’ve already seen it twice. Once on opening day, and again today (yesterday, by the time you read this), with my grandmother. Although perhaps not my favorite Pooh film it is still a wonderful movie.

The animated short The Ballad of Nessie accompanies this film. On my first trip I was a few minutes late, and ended up missing all but the last few seconds of this. I made extra sure I got to the theater in time to catch it the second time. Though very good, this short is exactly that. Short. I watch a lot of animated shorts, but this one seemed even shorter than it should have been. The story is about Nessie, aka the Loch Ness Monster. She lives in a small pond with her rubber duck friend MacQuack, until a businessman buys the land and builds a golf course right where poor Nessie’s pond had been. She and MacQuack travel around Scotland to find a new home, being told to keep their chins up and not cry, until finally she can’t handle it anymore. She cries and cries and eventually her tears create Loch Ness. It is an adorable story, emphasized by the adorable animation. The backgrounds in particular stood out to me. The hills of Scotland are drawn as a green plaid. Yes, it may be a bit much (we got that it’s in Scotland, no need to stick plaid everywhere) but it is a neat effect that I haven’t seen before.

After Nessie was over it was time for the main feature to begin. This too is very short, only about an hour long, which was a huge disappointment. It opens with some live-action shots of Christopher Robin’s bedroom, complete with the toys themselves, before transitioning into the animated opening. Though the song is now sung by Zooey Deschanel what we see is very similar to the opening of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, in that it is the characters move around a map of the Hundred Acre Wood inside the book. And it was nice to hear Tigger’s name added to the song. Pooh wakes up to find he is out of honey, and while searching for something to eat, he discovers Eeyore’s tail is missing. The whole gang gathers to find a new tail, but nothing seems to work. Later, Pooh is looking for Christopher Robin, but his friend is missing, having left a note saying he was busy, but will be back soon. Owl misreads this, and everyone thinks Christopher has been kidnapped by a monster known as a Backson. This launches one of the coolest scenes in the entire movie. They sing a song about the Backson and what terrible things it does, but they are drawn as chalk drawings on a blackboard. It was very neat.

Overall the animation was superb. In today’s world of computer generated animation, it is nice to see something traditionally animated, and done so well. I’m a fan of all things meta, so the characters interacting with the narrator and the words in the book as much as they did was wonderful. The tone of the film is very calm, and while I personally prefer Pooh movies that have a bit more edge to them, such as the Tigger Movie or Pooh’s Grand Adventure (which this reminded me of a lot), I cannot fault something for sticking so closely to the source material. If you’re  a fan of the original Pooh movie, or the books themselves, you will adore this.

One scene I had trouble with comes a little over halfway through the movie. While preparing to hunt down the Backson there is a bit that seems more like they are preparing for a war. It seemed oddly out of place for such an otherwise lighthearted film, and both times I have seen it I couldn’t get over just how jarring it is to the rest of the movie.
My verdict? This is an excellent movie. Between the lighthearted nature and the frequency of more, shall we say, trippy scenes, it would not be out of place among classic Disney films. Don’t go into this expecting something along the emotional level of Princess and the Frog or Toy Story 3, it is definitely a more childlike film, but even if you don’t have kids to see it with it can still be an enjoyable experience.

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Weird Park Coincidences

It has been many years since my dad last went with me on a trip to Disney World. However, back when he did go with us every year there was always something we could expect to happen. Yes, there were the normal jokes we could always expect him to make. For instance, every time we were about to go into the Enchanted Tiki Room? He would look up to the sky and, regardless of the weather, remark that “It looks like it might rain”.

I was an embarrassingly high age before I realized he said that in reference to the scene when it rains in the show itself.

But no, silly jokes are not what this post is about. There was always something quite eerie that would occur. Whenever my dad would ride the Haunted Mansion, without fail, the attraction would stop while we were in the room with Madame Leota. If he was off riding something else while some of us got on the Haunted Mansion? It would work fine, or at the very least stop in a different room. I can remember a time when I thought it odd, because we had stopped in the next room, but then remembered my dad was a few doom buggies behind mine, and that he would still have been in the room. It turned into a Thing with us, always pointing out that yes, we did stop there, or when he wasn’t there, ‘Oh my gosh we didn’t stop in the room with Leota, Daddy, it must have been because you weren’t there!’

 

Has anything like this ever happened to any of you? Odd patterns that seem to happen with you at the parks? Surely I’m not the only one… because that would be even spookier.

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Filed under General, My Life, Theme Parks

Choosing the Park(s) to Visit

Not every trip to Walt Disney World can include a visit to each of the four parks. Whether it is time constraints or finances, it’s just inevitable that an average family will not be able to do all four every time they visit the world. How do you go about deciding which park to visit? Each has pros and cons, and a first time visitor might not be aware of these and left to choose blindly. Here is a quick little guide that might help in making this most important decision.

 

The Magic Kingdom

This park is, without a doubt, the quintessential ‘Disney World’ park. It’s what most people think of when they think about WDW, and for good reason. It was the first park to open, it is the one with the castle, it has the People Mover, and it’s attractions are some of the most well-known throughout the world. Everyone has heard about It’s A Small World, not everyone has heard about, say, Epcot’s Universe of Energy. For me a trip to Walt Disney World isn’t complete without visiting the Magic Kingdom, but everyone else may not agree. Certainly if you have small kids this is the perfect park. Most of the rides are geared towards kids. There’s only three roller coasters, one of which is a ‘kiddie’ roller coaster, and the other two, Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain, are fun but not exactly the most terrifying of thrill rides. Still, it’s called the Magic Kingdom for a reason; if you’re looking for that Disney magic that makes WDW so popular this is definitely where you’ll find it. Plus? There’s just something special about watching fireworks in the sky around Cinderella’s castle.

 

Epcot

Epcot is my favorite park to visit, but most of my family have rather differing opinions on it. Epcot is divided into two sections. The front half, or Future World, and the back half, the World Showcase. Future World is largely dedicated to technological innovations, the focal point of which is Spaceship Earth, or ‘the Epcot ball’ as many refer to it. This is my absolute favorite attraction in any theme park, a ride that takes you through the progress of human technological evolution. My siblings do not find Future World nearly as enthralling as I do, criticizing it by claiming it leans too heavily on the educational side and not enough on the entertaining side. I say they just don’t appreciate a place where you can find Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and dinosaurs all under the same roof. The World Showcase has a completely different feel to it from the other half of the park. This side is home to pavilions celebrating eleven different countries from around the world. While some pavilions may be more interesting and entertaining than others, it is still a wonderful way to travel the world without actually traveling the world. You can find souvenirs and delicious food from each country, and there are even a few hidden gems of attractions here. The American Adventure is brilliant, the Maelstrom is fantastic, and the Gran Fiesta Tour Staring the Three Caballeros… well, it stars the Three Caballeros, need I say more?

 

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Originally named MGM Studios (and boy, does my head still have trouble referring to it by the new name at times) this park is meant to explore the making and enjoyment of all things film. This park has something for everyone. You can see how car chase scenes in movies are made via live demonstrations at Lights! Motors! Action!, you can go on the Backlot Tour to see what it is like on a movie set, or you can play what is perhaps the most fun and interactive attraction of them all, Toy Story Midway Mania. If you are an animation fan this is the park for you. Though it isn’t in use for animation any more, the Magic of Disney Animation building is where Lilo and Stitch, Mulan, and Brother Bear were animated. Nowadays you can view a presentation about how Disney animated films come to be, and also get a sneak peak at upcoming Disney films. Remember when I said the Magic Kingdom was not the park to visit if you’re looking for thrill rides? Well, this is the park for that. Here you’ll find both the Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Roller Coaster. If you enjoy live shows you can also view Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, and the epic nighttime show Fantasmic. However, this is a somewhat small park, and I’ve often found myself running out of things to see and do long before the park closed.

 

The Animal Kingdom

The newest Walt Disney World Park is very interesting. Imagine a theme park and an African safari meeting, and you get the Animal Kingdom. If you like zoos this will be your favorite park. While it’s not a zoo, not exactly, you can still see many exotic animals in addition to the regular attractions. One attraction in particular, the Kilimanjaro Safaris, takes you on a Safari through ‘Africa’, where you can see giraffes, lions, hippos, elephants, and many other animals.  Expedition Everest is a fun roller coaster through the Himalayas, and if you like Finding Nemo, this park is home to the wonderful Finding Nemo the Musical. While a fun park with many gems, it does seem to close early, sometimes closing at 6 PM, so you may come away feeling you haven’t gotten your full day’s worth of admission. An easy way around this, however, is to get a Park Hopper ticket, so you could spend the morning here and your evening at a different park.

 

I hope you will find this a helpful guide. Obviously the best way to plan a Disney trip is to allow time for all parks, whether it’s by going to a park four full days, or by getting a Park Hopper and dividing up your time. Sometimes this isn’t possible though and so regretfully some sacrifices must be made.

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Disney Comics App

Disney Publishing has announced a new app for iphones, ipods, and ipads that is now available in the itunes app store.

Disney Comics gives readers instant access to one of the most extensive collections of comics, short stories and graphic novels ever created, ranging from classic adventures starring Mickey Mouse to brand new comics from Toy Story and Cars 2.

The launch collection includes more than 50 comics for readers of all ages and features Disney classic characters like Donald Duck; Disney-Pixar comics featuring Toy Story’s Buzz and Woody; Disney Channel-inspired content including High School Musical; and feature film-based comics based on Tron: Legacy and Tangled. Disney Publishing will release two new titles each week following the launch.

The Disney Comics App will launch in the U.S. and will also be available on the App Store in over 80 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Additional markets will launch Disney Comics later this year.

“Comics are a tremendous part of our heritage and we see great potential and interest in bringing our extensive catalog of Disney Comics to mobile devices,” said Russell Hampton, President, Disney Publishing Worldwide. “We create over 25,000 original comic pages each year and it’s critical that we deliver this content to our readers around the world. We have over 1 billion Disney comic readers today, and our Disney Comics App will further broaden that audience.”

The Disney Comics App offers a new, director-style reading experience; readers can choose portrait or landscape mode, automatic or manual smart paneling, and can view double spreads. Disney Comics also enables readers to preview comics before making a purchase, share their stories with Facebook friends, and save all content to their iPad, iPhone or iPod touch for offline reading. An added feature lets readers receive automatic updates when stories relating to a favorite Disney character become available.

 

I for one am looking forward to being able to read Donald Duck on my phone. Hello, the Future. My guess is those with ipads will find this a much more enjoyable app to use than those of us with iphones and ipods. Tiny screens do not make comic reading very simple, but it’s something I’ll live with. It does make me wonder if they are planning on creating apps for other smartphones and tablets. While this is a step in a very cool direction, they are alienating a lot of their possible audience by not offering it for more readers.

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Free Disney Parks Vacation Planning DVD

When I was a kid my grandmother would receive these videos in the mail every so often. They are guides to the Disney parks, for people to help plan a trip. Well, we had been to Disney so many times we didn’t really need to help planning, but my brother and I loved watching these videos. It was like a bit of the parks in our house, which was exciting.

So whether you are a park newbie who might need an extra bit of help deciding what you want to do, or if you just want to have something to give the kids to watch, you can sign up to get this free DVD sent to your house!

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More Brave News – Trailer and Still

The other day I reported that the first posters for Pixar’s next film Brave had been spotted. Since then there have been some more odds and ends released for Brave!

The first is a still from the movie, of Princess Merida herself.

That hair. Just look at it. Beautiful.

Additionally, as some of you may know, the first teaser trailer was attached to Cars 2. I think it must only have been with the 3D version, because I did not get to see it yesterday when I saw Cars 2 in 2D. No worries though, it has been leaked to youtube, so if you’ve not yet had an opportunity to see it now is your chance.

The video is not the greatest quality, due largely to the fact that it is someone filming a 3D trailer with a regular camera, but it isn’t unbearable. There’s no telling how long it’ll stay up on youtube, so get it while it’s hot!

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Filed under Animation, News