D23 Expo 2013: The Imagineering Pavilion

This gallery contains 26 photos.

At this year’s D23 Expo, there were no big presentations from the Parks & Resorts division as there had been at previous expos.   The stated reason was that Parks and Resorts was coming off of some major expansions – Cars … Continue reading

More Galleries | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Richard Sherman and Alan Menken: The Disney Songbook

This first-ever joint performance by Disney Legends Richard Sherman and Alan Menken was probably the single thing I was most looking forward to at the D23 Expo.

IMG_3850

Between the two of them (and their writing partners), they are responsible for so much of the music that is associated with Disney films and theme park attractions.   It was truly a wonderful trip down memory lane.    There’s just no way to capture the magic in words, so I would highly recommend watching the linked videos of each performance.    If you can’t spare the time to do that, then just scanning the list of songs performed by each of them will give you a feel of how much each of these gentlemen has contributed to the Disney songbook

IMG_3855

In the first half of the concert, Richard Sherman played and sang  (age before beauty …. and the beast, as Alan said after they were introduced and he yielded the stage to Richard).   This first segment was hosted by Tim O’Day, a frequent host at the D23 events, who kept things moving along and kept a nice conversation going with Richard between songs.

Richard Sherman’s Set

Richard opened with the first thing he wrote for Disney, Taul Paul, a song written for Annette Funicello.   The Sherman brothers collaborated on a number of other songs for Annette; the second piece performed was Pineapple Princess, also written for Annette.

The Shermans also wrote for Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap; Let’s Get Together was the next piece on the program.

When Walt decided to be one of the first to start producing television shows in color, he asked the Shermans to write “something about color”.   The resulting Wonderful World of Color was used to open the television show, and still plays in Disney’s California Adventure every evening as the opening number in the World of Color water show.

The Ugly Bug Ball was written for Burl Ives to perform in Summer Magic .. I think this may be the only song Richard performed that I wasn’t previously familiar with.

Next we were treated to a trio of songs from Winnie the Pooh;  the title song, Pooh’s exercise song, and The Wonderful Thing about Tiggers.

Then a couple of songs from The Jungle Book .. That’s What Friends are For (the vulture song) and I Wanna Be Like You.     (Trivia note:  The Bare Necessities is not a Sherman Brothers tune, it was the only bit of music that survived from an earlier story treatment that predated the Sherman’s involvement).

IMG_3877While introducing the next number, The Aristocats, Richard mentioned that his father was also a composer, and had also written for the theme song’s singer, Maurice Chevalier.

From Bedknobs and Broomsticks, we heard The Age of Not Believing.

We heard some of the best-known Sherman Brothers theme park songs:   The Tiki Room, and from Epcot’s Imagination pavilion, One Little Spark and Magic Journeys.

At this point, Richard was joined on stage by Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak who play Richard and his brother Robert in the upcoming film Saving Mr. Banks.    They performed A Spoonful of Sugar.   Richard then continued with other Mary Poppins tunes Chim Chim Cheree and Feed the Birds.

Another theme park favorite, There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, was used to close out the set.    After leaving the stage briefly, Richard returned to serve up an encore of Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious.

Watch Richard Sherman’s full set here.

Alan Menken’s Set

Richard and Tim left the stage, and Alan came out to perform his set.    While Richard performed full songs, for the most part, Alan relied heavily on medleys of songs from each of his Disney productions.   This allowed him to cover just about twice the number of songs in roughly the same amount of time as Richard’s set.

Alan opened with The Little Mermaid, performing Part of Your World, and then a medley of Under the Sea, Poor Unfortunate Souls, Les Poissons, and Kiss the Girl.

IMG_3896

Next he did a medley of additional songs that were added to the Broadway version of The Little Mermaid;   If Only, She’s in Love, and Her Voice.

From Beauty and the Beast, we heard a medley of Belle, Gaston, Be Our Guest, and Beauty and the Beast.

From Beauty and the Beast’s Broadway production we heard Human Again (originally written for the movie, but cut) and If I Can’t Love Her.

IMG_3902

From Aladdin, a medley of Arabian Nights, One Jump Ahead, and Friend Like Me.

From Newsies, Carrying the Banner, King of New York, and Santa Fe.

Next was Pocahontas, from which we heard In the Middle of the River, If I Never Knew You, and Colors of the Wind.

A medley of Hunchback of Notre Dame songs included The Bells of Notre Dame, God Help the Outcast, and One Day Out There.

The Hercules medley comprised The Gospel Truth, Zero to Hero, and Go the Distance.

From Home on the Range, we heard Little Patch of Heaven, Yodle-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo, and Will the Sun Ever Shine Again.

For Enchanted, Alan shared that before he came on to the project, they were looking for a composer who could parody his musical style.    Turns out, he was just the guy to do that, and with True Love’s Kiss and Happy Working Song we hear songs that are amazingly good reproductions of Menken’s style, by Menken.

We heard four songs from Tangled:   When Will My Life Begin, Mother Knows Best, I’ve Got a Dream, and I See the Light.

Alan actually wrote a bit of music for Captain America.   Star Spangled Man With a Plan is played during the 1940’s era of the film when Captain America is being used to pitch savings bonds.

He also provided a song for The Neighbors sitcom episode “Sing Like A Larry Bird”, the song The Broadway Allen Song has been nominated for an Emmy and, if it wins, will give Alan the EGOT (Emmy, Golden Globe, Oscar, and Tony), as well as a Razzie.

To close out his set, Alan performed Somebody’s Got Your Back, from the under-development Broadway production of Aladdin.

Alan performed a solo encore of How Does She Know (from Enchanted).

Watch Alan Menken’s full set here.

Sherman & Menken Encore

Richard Sherman and Tim O’Day returned to the stage.    Tim asked, in an obvious set up, if either them had written any songs about “worlds”.

Alan responded with A Whole New World (Aladdin).

Richard then took the piano and asked Alan to perform the counterpoint as they led the audience in it’s a small world to close out the evening.

Watch the joint encores here

 

Posted in D23 Expo 2013 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

D23 Expo 2013: Highlights from the Imagineering Panels

Sunday at the D23 Expo was Imagineering day.    Early on, when schedule details were first being announced, it was revealed that there would be five Imagineering sessions on Sunday, but it wasn’t until the last week or so before the Expo kicked off that attendees were given any information about the sessions.

The sessions were similar in that each one was a panel, and the panels were somewhat more free-form than other panels and presentations.    As a result, there was some overlap, and in reviewing my notes, I felt it would be better to just combine my notes and create a single blog post for the three panels I was able to attend  (attending the Disney Infinity presentation required me to miss the other two Imagineering panels.   I’ve also included a few items from Marty Sklar’s solo presentation on Friday, which I had not previously written up.

The Panels

The three panels I attended on Sunday were:

Working with Walt, with panelists

  • Marty Sklar.  Disney Legend; Currently International Ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering; previously VP of Concepts and Planning, Vice Chairman and Principal Creative Executive.   Among many other things, guided the creative development of Epcot.
  • X Atencio.   Disney Legend.   Wrote the story for attractions such as the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean; also wrote the songs “A Pirate’s Life for Me” and “Grim Grinning Ghosts”.
  • Alice Davis.   Disney Legend.   A costume designer for attractions such as it’s a small world and Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as Disney films and television.   Widow of Disney Legend Marc Davis.
  • Bob Gurr.  Disney Legend.   Designer of ride vehicles including Autopia cars, the OmniMover system (Doom Buggies and similar), Matterhorn Bobsleds, Submarine Voyage submarines, and the Disneyland Monorail.

Leading a Legacy, with panelists

  • Marty Sklar.   See above
  • Bruce Vaughn, Chief Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering

Leave Em Laughing, with panelists

  • Dave Fisher, show writer
  • Kevin Rafferty, story development, senior concept writer
  • George Scribner, story development, director
  • Joe Lanzisero, Creative VP for Tokyo Disneyland
  • Jason Surrell, show writer and producer

The Content

Here are some of the things that I thought worth jotting down notes about during these presentations

(Marty)  The last time Walt appeared on film (October 1966) was in the much-shown introduction to “the Florida Project”, where Walt introduced the plans for what would become Walt Disney World, including EPCOT.   Marty was the writer for this.

(Alice)  The first time she met Walt was when she was having dinner with her husband Marc at the Tam.   (Tam O’Shanter, a restaurant near the studios popular with studio personnel).   Walt asked about her work.   She was in the garment industry — making girdles and brassieres.   Walt was fascinated (and as far as I can tell she was relating this entirely seriously) by her expertise with elastic.   Two years later, Walt called and asked her to do costumes for it’s a small world.

(Bob) Asked about first time meeting Walt, he said he was doing sketches for the Autopia cars.   Someone came through the office and took a look, and it wasn’t until he was on his way out and someone said “bye, Walt” that Bob realized who it was.   He thought maybe it was a night watchman or something, so I guess it must have happened after hours.

(Marty)  His first job at Disney was to produce a tabloid-style newspaper that would be sold on Main Street for ten cents.    It showed how, for Walt, Main Street was a real place, not just a mock-up.   No real small town of that era would be without a newspaper, so there had to be one or the story wouldn’t be right.

(Bob)  When doing the Lincoln animatronic, Walt had an actor do the speech, and filmed it as a reference.   Bob felt the first take done by the actor was excellent.   But Walt kept making him do it over, and over.  He knew what he wanted and kept pushing (but wasn’t giving any direction to the actor, just having him do it again).   The last take was the one Walt wanted.  The actor was clearly exhausted by that point, and Walt felt that was the way Lincoln would have been at Gettysburg.   That was the kind of authenticity that Walt looked for.

(Alice)  Making the dolls for it’s a small world, at some point she told Walt that no one had told her how much she could spend on each costume for fabric, buttons, etc.   Walt told her he had a building full of people to do “pencil work”, that she was to design the best costume that anyone from 1 to 100 would love to wear, and they (the pencil people) would figure out how to pay for it.   “People will know the difference; give them your best and they’ll be back.  Cheat them and you’ll never see hide nor hair of them again”.

(X)  After 20+ years in animation, Walt brought him over to do the script for Pirates.   Marty asked, having never done a script, why did Walt trust you to do that?   X: it was a direct command performance from the man himself.

(Bob) Walt was never interested in what you had done, but only in what you were going to do next.

(Alice) Walt would give you something you didn’t think you were capable of doing.  And you’d find a way to do it, because you didn’t want to disappoint Walt.

(Bob)  Walt remembered almost everything he ever heard, if you told him something, and came back with a different story later, he’d call you on it.

(Alice)  A young man came to Walt with a drawing and asked him “what do you think of this”?   After looking for a moment, Walt said “It’s very difficult to choose between one”.   He always wanted options.

(Marty)  The job of leading Imagineering is largely a job as a casting director.   For example, Marc Davis and Claude Coats were very different – they wouldn’t be caught dead going to lunch together.    (Not anything negative, they were just very different).   But putting them together created a really complementary team.

With the Haunted Mansion, Claude felt it should be scary, and Marc thought it should be funny.    The back and forth between them gave us the ride we have today, probably better than if we had gotten just Marc’s version or Claude’s version.

(Marty) asked about how to train for a job in Imagineering, Marty suggested learning as much as you can about as many things as you can.   Imagineering comprises 140 different disciplines (but Marty acknowledges they don’t really know how many, that’s just the number they use).   Cross-disciplinary skills are a must.

(Marty)  leading Imagineering is about casting, motivation, and gently helping someone understand when they have the wrong idea (“a bit of an art form”)

(Marty or Bruce — didn’t note)  An interesting thing with Hong Kong Disneyland (Shanghai will be similar) is that because of the one child law, the kid-to-adult ratio is inverted from other worldwide parks; influences a lot of what you do in park design.

(Bruce)  told a funny story about World of Color.   After investing millions in this very advanced fountain system, they decided to create new versions of many classic Disney songs.  So they had the London Symphony Orchestra record a brand new score for the show.   And when they first tried it out, it just wasn’t working.   Someone even said “what if fountains are just boring?” after they had invested tremendous time and money in the show.   Then, they dropped in the classic music (the arrangements we all know)  — and immediately it worked.   We are just really wired to respond to that music the way we know it.

Someone from the audience asked about Harry Potter at Universal; Bruce didn’t really rise to the us vs. them challenge, but used the question to re-affirm that it’s all about story — that ride, that area of the park is so powerful because it starts with a great story.

(not sure who told this one)  When Disneyland was about 6 years old, Walt sent Marc Davis over since he was between projects.   Walt asked what he thought, and Marc said what was missing was humor.   So Marc added things like the men climbing the tree to get away from the rhino in the Jungle Cruise.   (and apparently the original Jungle Cruise script was not funny;  it appears from history that the script got punched up at about the same time Marc began working in the parks).

(Kevin)  The version of one of the songs at Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree where Mater forgets the words to the song was completely intentional  (which is different than the story I’d heard about it previously).    The story is, when Kevin was demoing the song for Larry the Cable Guy (voice of Mater), he actually did forget some words and filled in with a “something something something”   — Larry said “we have to do that!” and did it in one take.

(Kevin)  Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree also is the first ride to have a “Joke” button; when the ride is loading, if it is taking a little longer than ideal, the operator can hit a “joke” button on the console and Mater tells a joke.    He played a number of the recorded jokes for the audience.   I don’t remember any or I’d share.

There was obviously a lot more in all of these panels, but those were the highlights as I saw them.    The biggest thrill was just being able to see so many Disney Legends and hear their stories.

Posted in D23, D23 Expo 2013, Disney, Disneyland, Imagineering, Walt Disney World | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disney Legends 2013

At the previous D23 Expo in 2011, the Disney Legends ceremony was the kick-off event for Day 1; it was a fantastic session that set the bar for everything that followed.   The inductees in 2011 including the singing voices of 4 Disney princesses  (Jodi Benson – Ariel, Page O’Hara – Belle, Lea Salonga – Jasmine & Mulan, and Anika Noni Rose – Tiana), among other honorees.   The four voice actresses sang individually, as well as together, as part of the ceremony.    We also got a live performance from Brian Henson as his father Jim was inducted as a Disney Legend.   These performances were so memorable that there didn’t seem to be any way the 2013 ceremony could top that.

The 2013 Disney Legends included 8 new honorees, 4 of whom were present plus 4 that were being honored posthumously.    There were no performances this time, so the ceremony was not as energetic or exciting — but it was moving, and I think everyone in the audience was touched and felt privileged to be a part of the celebration of the work of the newest Disney Legends.

Tom Bergeron (Host of Dancing with the Stars and Americas Lamest Jokes with Videos) hosted along with Bob Iger (Disney CEO)

Tony Baxter

The first honoree was Tony Baxter, for Imagineering.   Tony worked his way up at Disneyland, starting out scooping ice cream in the park.    Tom shared a brief recap of the story of how during a break, Tony snuck in to the still-under-construction Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, where he got a personal tour of the ride from legendary Imagineer Claude Coats (who would later become Tony’s mentor in Imagineering).   I’ve heard Tony tell a longer version of this story at another D23 event, and it really captures some of the pride of craftsmanship and eagerness to share that characterizes the greatest Imagineers.

Tony was moved into Imagineering in 1970 and participated in development of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.    He returned to California to work on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.   He participated in the development of many well-known attractions at various Disney parks after that, including The Living Seas, The Land, Journey Into Imagination, Star Tours, Indiana Jones Adventure, and Splash Mountain.   He was the executive producer of Disneyland Paris and continued work on various Imagineering projects until his quasi-retirement in 2013   (he remains an advisor to Imagineering).

In his remarks, Tony said that one of the secrets to success is recapturing the naive optimism of a 12 year old who believes that anything you can imagine is possible, and said that Disney is a company that encourages employees to find that childlike place again.

Ed Wynn

Ed Wynn’s career started in vaudeville and continued in television, movies, and on Broadway.    He was best known as a comic actor but did dramatic roles as well (earning an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for The Diary of Anne Frank).

His association with Disney begin with voicing the character of The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland.    (The King Candy character in Wreck-it-Ralph is a tribute, as Alan Tudyk does a pretty spot-on impression of Wynn’s voice in the role) .

He did many other Disney roles in films such as Babes In ToylandThe Absent-Minded Professor, Son of Flubber, and several others, but no role was better remembered than that of Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins.

Mr. Wynn’s granddaughter accepted the Disney Legends award on behalf of her grandfather.

Collin Campbell

Collin Campbell was an animator and, later, an Imagineer with Disney.    As an animator, he worked on such classics as Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians.    He’s another case of someone working their way up on the inside, having started with the company as a messenger.

Collin was one of the employees assigned to WED (the precursor to Imagineering) to produce attractions for the 1964 New York World’s Fair.    He built models and sets for the fair exhibits Magic Skyway, it’s a small world, and Carousel of Progress.   At Disneyland he worked on The Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Club 33.

Moving on to Walt Disney World, Collin produced concept art for the resort hotels and worked on areas such as Tom Sawyer Island and the entrance and queue to Pirates of the Caribbean.

Collin retired in 1990, but returned to work on the Tom Sawyer Island renovation at Disneyland.   He passed away in 2011.

The Disney Legends award for Collin was accepted by his son Jim.

John Goodman

John is best known for his work outside of Disney, as an actor in both dramatic and comedic roles in movies, TV, and on Broadway.   He was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actor in a Music for Big River.   He frequently appears in Coen Brothers films such as Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, and Barton Fink.

He is probably best known for playing Dan Conner in the long-running sitcom Roseanne, earning a Golden Globe and seven Emmy nominations.

His Disney appearances include the films Arachnophobia, Born Yesterday, Stella, Coyote Ugly, and Confessions of a Shopaholic.

His most loved Disney/Pixar work as as Sulley in Monsters, Inc. and this year’s Monsters University, but he has also lent his voice to animated characters in The Emperor’s New Groove, Kronk’s New Groove, The Jungle Book 2, and The Princess and the Frog.

In accepting the award, he indicated that he really felt he and Billy Crystal were being honored as a team; somewhat unusually for animated voice work, they performed their lines together in the studio rather than recording them separately.    (He also was thankful that he didn’t have to follow Billy in his acceptance).   John also said that it the true honor was just in being cast to work with the Disney artists in the first place.

Billy Crystal

Billy Crystal was a successful stand-up comic who gained a national audience through his appearances on the shows Soap (1977-81) and Saturday Night Live (1984-1985).   He hosted several Comic Relief fundraisers along with Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams.

He appeared in a number of Rob Reiner films including The Princess Bride (“Have fun storming the castle!”) and When Harry Met Sally.     He was nominated for Golden Globes 3 times for his film work.

He turned down the opportunity to voice Buzz Lightyear in the original Toy Story film before voicing Mike Wazowski in Monsters, Inc, a role he has called his favorite character he ever played.    He recently reprised the role for this year’s Monsters University.

As a 9-time host of the Academy Awards, Billy has surpassed everyone but Bob Hope in the number of times hosting the show.

In accepting the award, he reflected on the change in how we watch entertainment today — specifically recalling how watching Disney movies was something that brought the whole family together, with everyone watching together, rather than everyone wrapped up on their own iPad / iPhone or other device and doing their own thing.

Dick Clark

Dick Clark was recognized for his enormous contributions in the television industry, as a host and producer.

His best-known contributions are American Bandstand, which he hosted for over 30 years, and the annual New Years Rockin’ Eve special which he also hosted for over 30 years.   In addition to those shows, he performed on or produced many game shows, awards shows, and specials.

Dick won five Emmy awards and is a member of both the Television Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll hall of fame.    He passed away in 2012 and his Disney Legend award was accepted by his wife, Kari.

Glen Keane

Glen spent 38 years as a Disney animator, and is the pencil (or computer-pointing device) behind some of the most beloved characters of the second Golden Age of Disney Animation.

His father, Bil Keane, is the cartoonist behind the long-running Family Circus comic and devised all six of the jokes used in the strip.

Glen joined Disney just as the last animators that directly worked under Walt were approaching retirement, and was mentored by such greats as Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston and Eric Larson.

Characters animated by Glen include Penny (The Rescuers), Elliott (Pete’s Dragon), Tod, Vixey, and the bear (The Fox and the Hound),  Ariel (The Little Mermaid), the Beast (Beauty and the Beast), and the title characters in Aladdin, Pocahontas, and Tarzan.

Glen did much of the original development work on the Rapunzel story that eventually morphed into Tangled.

Glen retired from Disney in 2012 but continues to teach and inspire new artists.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is obviously best-known for his contributions to Apple, but his contributions to Pixar are bigger than many (or most) people realize.   Before reading Walter Issacson’s biography, I had assumed Steve was just an investor / owner; only after reading about his involvement did I realize how important his contributions were to the company that Pixar became.

When Disney acquired Pixar in 2006, Steve became Disney’s largest shareholder and a member of the Board of Directors.

Steve’s award was accepted by Pixar and Disney future legend John Lasseter.   The acceptance was certainly the most moving part of the Legends ceremony, and perhaps the most moving moment of the entire expo.     I recommend watching it here.

That concludes the 2013 Disney Legends; inductions are now biannual to coincide with the Expo so then next class of inductees will be named in 2015 shortly before that year’s Expo.

 

Posted in D23, D23 Expo 2013, Disney | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

D23 Expo 2013: Silent Auction

I attend the D23 Expos for the presentations and panels, but for many, it’s all about the shopping.   The Dream Store, Disney Store, and Mickey’s of Glendale are some of the top shopping destinations, and it’s not unusual for there to be lines outside the shopping venues that rival anything across the street at the parks.

While many of the shopping venues have limited edition merchandise, if you’re looking for a truly one-of-kind item, then the silent auction is the place to look.    While not everything in the auction is unique, or even rare, there are a few items that you aren’t going to find anywhere else.

Here, with minimal commentary, is a selection of items that were available for purchase at this year’s silent auction.    Several of the items were used in the parks or were part of displays at Disney Stores – you might recognize some of them if you’re a frequent visitor to the parks or your local Disney Store.

IMG_3737

Matterhorn Bobsleds, autographed by designer Bob Gurr. Track sold separately.

IMG_3693

About the only one I was tempted to bid on … but I heard it went for over $10,000, so I certainly would not have been the winner.

IMG_3632 IMG_3633 IMG_3634 IMG_3635 IMG_3636 IMG_3637 IMG_3638 IMG_3639 IMG_3640 IMG_3641 IMG_3642 IMG_3643 IMG_3644 IMG_3645 IMG_3646 IMG_3689 IMG_3691 IMG_3692 IMG_3694 IMG_3738 IMG_3739 IMG_3740

Posted in D23, D23 Expo 2013, Disney | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps

During the D23 Expo, I made many new friends, and there was a lot of sharing of what we were doing around the parks before and after the Expo.     One thing that was mentioned more than once was the Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps guided tour at Disneyland.    A version of this tour has been offered for some time, but it has been recently upgraded and revamped, and everyone who had taken it spoke of it very highly.    Since I was going to be in town for a while after the Expo, I called the Disneyland Tour number ( 714-781-TOUR ) and reserved a spot for myself.

The tour meets at the Guided Tour garden, across from the Main Street train station and adjacent to City Hall.    Upon check-in I was asked to make a meal selection from the Jolly Holiday Bakery menu, as we would be served a meal at the tour conclusion  (since I was on the afternoon tour, this was essentially dinner even though the tour description referred to it as lunch).      We were given bottles of water while we waited — nice since it was a warm day.    A few minutes before our 2:30 tour was scheduled to begin, our tour guide, Mia, began introducing herself to the guests and handing out the audio devices we would use to hear Mia and also to listen to pre-recorded portions of the tour.     (The pre-recorded portions were almost entirely snippets of Walt Disney talking about whatever we were currently seeing on the tour, and occasionally a bit of music).

The tour starts across from the Disneyland Train Station

The tour starts across from the Disneyland Train Station

Once everyone was wired up and name badged, we headed over to our first stop, which was the Main Street Fire Station.    Mia told us a bit about the overall design of Main Street — that while it pulls some elements from Walt’s home town of Marceline, MO, it was really not intended to be any specific place.  Every visitor is supposed to see a bit of their own home town in it.    The train station and city hall are largely based on ones in Fort Collins, CO, the home town of Imagineer Harper Goff, who designed those buildings for Main Street.

First stop:  The Fire Department.   Walt's private apartment, above, is where we will conclude the tour.

First stop: The Fire Department. Walt’s private apartment, above, is where we will conclude the tour.

From there, we made the short walk over to the Town Square.    We stood in front of the flagpole, right about at the spot where Walt delivered his opening day dedication.   We listened to a recording of that speech.   Mia shared several stories about the park’s opening day, which was not practically perfect in every way.

Hearing about Walt's opening day dedication

Hearing about Walt’s opening day dedication

We proceeded down Main Street, making particular note of the many windows in the upper floors of the buildings which are dedicated to particular figures in Disney history that made lasting contributions.    I saw Imagineer Rolly Crump’s window; I was actually looking for the Sherman Brothers but missed it, so I’ll have to go back and look more carefully.    At the end of Main Street we paused at the Hub, to the side of the Partners statue,  while Mia discussed the overall hub-and-spoke design of the park and the use of “weinies” to pull the guest along from one area to another.

At the Hub

At the Hub

We moved on to the castle forecourt, and learned that the castle drawbridge is actually operational, and how opening the drawbridge was a dramatic flourish on opening day.     We made our way across the drawbridge, through the castle, and into Fantasyland.

In Fantasyland we rode Peter Pan’s Flight, one of the original opening day attractions, and still one of the more popular attractions in the park.

In Fantasyland, about to ride Peter Pans Flight

In Fantasyland, about to ride Peter Pans Flight

From Peter Pan, we made our way over to New Orleans Square.   Here Mia told us about some of the non-public areas that were designed for Walt’s personal use and to entertain important visitors:  an expanded apartment over Pirates of the Caribbean (that Walt never got to use), Club 33, and a planned but never completed Jazz club.

We proceeded to the entrance to Club 33 — a very exclusive dining establishment for members only.    The waiting list for membership is quite long, and the membership cost is quite extravagant.    It’s on my bucket list to dine there someday, but for now, we were able to enter the lobby, which is not open to the public.   So while it’s not lunch or dinner at the Club, it’s still a very special opportunity, and I think one that everyone there really appreciated.

In front of Club 33

In front of Club 33

We wait by the door while Mia bribes some guards, or something

We wait by the door while Mia bribes some guards, or something

It appears to have worked, we're in!

It appears to have worked, we’re in!

The small, but very elegant, lobby area

The small, but very elegant, lobby area

Stairs or an old-fashioned lift provide access to the dining areas upstairs

Stairs or an old-fashioned lift provide access to the dining areas upstairs

IMG_3992 IMG_3994

In the lift -- should I just push '2' and go for it?

In the lift — should I just push ‘2’ and go for it?

After spending a nice amount of time in the Club 33 lobby — it’s very nice that we didn’t feel rushed through here and everyone got to take pictures in the lift — we made our way over to an area next to the Haunted Mansion, where we learned a little about the various early concepts for both the Mansion (or The Museum of the Weird) and Pirates of the Caribbean (or Blue Bayou Lagoon).   Here we listened to more audio of Walt, along with Imagineer Claude Coats, describing the concepts of the attractions as they were envisioned at the time.    We’ll hear more about these attractions later, but the interesting bit at this point was that both of these rides were originally conceived as walk-though attractions.

At this point, roughly the midpoint of our tour, we paused for a restroom break.   When we resumed, we crossed the park into Tomorrowland, taking up a spot in front of the Carousel of Progress.    (Yes, it’s Innoventions now, and if you’re a bit younger than me perhaps to you it’s America Sings.)     While standing here Mia told us some stories about the various incarnations of the Fantasyland and Tomorrowland Autopias that have existed over the years.   (I can’t share all the great stories, as then there’d be less reason to take the tour)

From here we moved over to a location between the Finding Nemo submarine voyage lagoon and the Matterhorn.   We heard about the major expansion of Tomorrowland in the late 1950s that brought the Matternhorn and Monorail attractions to the park, and how innovative the steel tube, block dispatch system for the Matterhorn was.

We moved over to it’s a small world to hear stories about what a turning point the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair proved to be for Disneyland.    Creating rides and attractions for a theme park like Disneyland is an expensive proposition … but with the World’s Fair, Disney was actually paid by sponsors to develop attractions that would later find their way back to the parks.    The attractions that were designed this way included Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, The Carousel of Progress, it’s a small world, and Ford’s Magic Skyway (which morphed into the PeopleMover System).   The Primeval World diorama seen along the Disneyland Railroad also came from the Magic Skyway exhibit.

I was aware of these attractions, and their World’s Fair heritage, prior to the tour.   But I didn’t realize that the Magic Skyway ride system was also the precursor to the Haunted Mansion’s OmniMover system (also used on a number of later rides),  and the small world boat system was similarly served as a prototype for the Pirates of the Caribbean flume.    So we can also credit the Worlds Fair experience of the Disney Imagineers for giving us those attractions in their current forms.

Now we crossed the park again, making our way to the Enchanted Tiki Room.    While this is an attraction many guests love to hate, I’ve always enjoyed it.    We experienced the show after hearing about Walt’s early work with audio animatronics.

Now our tour is almost at an end.   We make our way back up Main Street and stop in the gallery outside Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.   Here, standing in front of the last picture of Walt Disney taken inside his park, we hear about his illness and death in 1966.

IMG_3996

We then cross back over to the tour garden, where we are divided into smaller groups to go upstairs over the Firehouse and view Walt’s apartment.    Although we aren’t allowed to take photos in the apartment, our tour guide will take a picture of each of us, using our cameras, so I get a picture in front of the lamp that is always lit to signify Walt’s ongoing presence in the park.

In Walt's apartment above the Fire Dept.

In Walt’s apartment above the Fire Dept.

The tour was a wonderful experience — the access to Club 33 and Walt’s apartment are two very special experiences that by themselves justify taking the tour.    Hearing Walt talk about the park — the only Disney park in the world that he personally visited — while standing in the places he stood, or in front of the attractions he was talking about on his show, is just a really special way to experience these stories, even if you’ve heard them before.

At the conclusion of the tour, we came back to the Guided Tour area for the final time, and sat at the shaded tables there to eat the meals we had ordered at check-in.    Mia circulated around the tables, continuing to answer questions or share stories, or pose for pictures with the guests.    We all received the Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps pin, featuring a well-known photograph of Walt on the front and a reproduction of the park dedication plaque inside, along with a silhouette of the Partners statue.    Even though I don’t collect many pins this one is a very nice keepsake from the experience.

IMG_1426 IMG_1427

I had to get a picture with Mia after the tour

I had to get a picture with Mia after the tour

The Walk in Walt’s Footsteps Tour is currently offered twice daily, at 9:30 a.m  and 2:30 p.m.   For more information and reservations visit the official tour page.

Posted in Disneyland | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

D23 Expo 2013: To Infinity and Beyond (Disney Interactive)

I’m only a casual gamer, but even as someone who doesn’t follow gaming that closely, it was impossible to miss hearing about Disney Infinity prior to the Expo this year.    But even having heard about it multiple times, I still wasn’t quite sure what it was.   A new console (there definitely seemed to be a hardware component).   A single game, a series of games?    The bits and pieces I’d heard were not giving me a cohesive picture, but there was enough to intrigue me a bit and make me wonder what it was going to be.    (And as far as the other games introduced at the Expo — I had heard nothing about them prior to the Expo, so those were all completely new to me).

In preparation for the Expo, I did do a bit of research — mainly because I needed to figure out whether the Disney Infinity presentation was worth my time — in particular, whether I was willing to forgo the Imagineering and Pixar presentations happening at the same time in order to see what Disney Infinity was all about.

So I did my research, watched many of the YouTube videos on the game, and was hooked.   Enough so that I pre-ordered the game and put the Disney Infinity presentation on my schedule.

The To Infinity and Beyond presentation at the Expo actually covered 4 different games or interactive series:   Fantasic: Music Evolved,  a couple of web series (Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story and it’s a small world), the Disney Animated app for the iPad, and Disney Infinity.     In this post I’m only going to cover the Disney Infinity system; I may circle around and write up posts on some of the others later on.    (In particular, I’ve downloaded and have enjoyed playing with the Animated app and may have more to say when I’ve had a chance to explore it more).

Disney Infinity

The Disney Infinity system is a combination of software and hardware; it is available for the most popular console systems (Wii, XBox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii U).   The Wii version is somewhat more limited (less multiplayer capability) so if you have multiple consoles to pick from, one of the others may be preferable.   I’m a Wii and Playstation 3 owner myself so went with the PS3 version.

The analogy to think of with Disney Infinity is your toy box.    Watch any kid play with toys from the toy box, and there is no separation of toys into “franchises” — there isn’t any thought that you can’t have your old west cowboy play together with your futuristic space ranger, no idea that “those don’t go together”.   Anything you can imagine is fair game.    This is obviously the concept that brought us the Toy Story films, and is also one of the key ideas behind D:I — the ability to mix and match toys from such diverse worlds as Toy Story, Monsters Inc, The Incredibles, etc. and have them all play together.

To dive into Disney Infinity, you purchase the Starter Pack appropriate for whatever your console system is.   The starter pack will cost you about $75, and includes the “Infinity Base”, which is a bit of hardware used to allow you to use characters and power disks (I’ll get to that in a minute).    Once you’re purchased the Starter Pack, all of the add-ons (characters and power disks) are console-agnostic and can be used with any system.

The starter set comes with 3 figures — these are molded plastic figures, about six inches tall, that are themselves nice collectible action-figure type toys.  But when set on the Infinity Base, they cause the character to appear in the game.   The Infinity Base has a place to set two characters, and the software supports two-player cooperative play.   (Up to four players can play simultaneously in an online multiplayer mode)

The starter pack includes Jack Sparrow, Sully, and Mr. Incredible figures.    Many additional characters are available for purchase (see below for the complete list).

The starter set also includes 3 play sets corresponding to the included figures — Pirates of the Caribbean, Monsters University, and The Incredibles.

There are two modes of play with Disney Infinity — a more structured mode involving “Play sets”, and a more unstructured, free form mode called the “Toy Box”.      In the play set mode, you’re given an environment to play in the represents locations from the movie — so the Pirates of the Caribbean play set obviously involves ships and the high seas, while the Monsters University play set is a college campus.    Characters cannot be used in non-native play sets — you can’t use Jack Sparrow in the Monsters University play set.   But that’s where the Toy Box comes in — if you want Mater and Buzz Lightyear to play together, they can do so in the toy box, just not in a Cars or Toy Story play set.

Additional characters are available, at about $13 each, and are not machine specific, but you must have the appropriate play set to be able to use the character other than in the toy box.   There are also multi-character packs that give you a bit of a discount — 3 sidekicks (Violet, Barbossa, and Mike Wazowski) or 3 villains (Davy Jones, Randall, and Syndrome) for $30.

Additional play sets, such as Cars or the Lone Ranger, are about $35 and include two characters.

Finally, there are power disks.   These are another accessory that you place on the Infinity Base, as you do the characters.  There are two different flavors of power disks.   The round disks confer special capabilities to a character — such as greater strength, or resistance to injury — and are used by placing them between the character figure and the Infinity base (I’m not certain how many can be stacked).   Round disks work in both play sets and the toy box.

The hexagonal disks are played onto a special hexagonal port on the infinity base, and are used only in the toy box.   They unlock features or themes (appearance overlays) in the toy box.   Power disks come two to a pack, at $5 a pack; there are about 20 different power disks available at introduction.   The power disks are a blind item — you won’t know what power disks are in a package until you open it, so I am sure this will create opportunities for trading and a secondary market for the disks.

Playsets & Characters
Available at Introduction:
Pirates of the Caribbean
– Jack Sparrow (Starter Set)
– Barbossa
– Davy Jones

Monsters Inc
– Sully (Starter Set)
– Mike
– Randall

Incredibles
– Mr. Incredible (Starter Set)
– Elastigirl (Mrs. Incredible)
– Violet
– Dash
– Syndrome

Cars (additional play set)
– Lightning McQueen
– Mater
– Francesca
– Holley

Toy Story (no play set — toy box only?)
– Buzz Lightyear
– Jessie
– Woody

Lone Ranger – Additional play set with both characters
– Lone Ranger
– Tonto
Several new characters were introduced at D23 Expo; these had not been previously announced and I’m not sure if they are going to be available at release or sometime after.

Phineas and Ferb
– Phineas
– Agent P

Frozen
– Anna
– Elsa

Nightmare Before Christmas
– Jack Skellington

Tangled
– Rapunzel
Wreck it Ralph
– Ralph
– Vanellope

One final character introduction was The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mickey Mouse.    Everyone in attendance received Sorcerer Mickey as a gift (and many of them are already up on eBay).    The Sorcerer Mickey will be supported in-game at release, but will not be available for retail purchase until January.    (I also heard that the retail version will have a  different paint scheme than the giveaway item — I guess we’ll have to wait to see if that is true).

We also saw a sneak peek of Infinity on mobile devices — this is really a couple of different apps that enhance the Infinity experience in various ways.   A free app was shown that allows you to add Infinity character animations to your own videos.   There will also be a not-free app for the iPad that works with the console, but that was not being introduced yet so we weren’t shown or told anything about it other than it exists.

We saw an extended demo that involved creating a race track in the Toy Box mode; it is fairly easy (at least for the experienced person doing the demo — not sure how long it will take to get proficient at this) to set up a customized racetrack through the toy box, with various loops, jumps, and hazards, and then have characters race each other around the toy box.

One interesting feature of the toy box — especially for park fans such as myself — is that many park elements are reproductions of locations from the parks, such as Epcot’s Spaceship Earth.     It was mentioned that the game designer’s interpretation of Disneyland will be available at launch as an online download; you can be certain I’ll be adding that to my toy box right away.

So the game is out today …. if you have it, please share your initial impressions.    Due to my being in the middle of a move, all my gaming stuff is stored away for the next few months, so it will be a while before I have a chance to try this out myself.    (But I can play with my Sorcerer Mickey figure in the meantime, so that helps).

Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey, available in January

Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey, available in January

 

Posted in D23, D23 Expo 2013, Disney | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

D23 Expo 2013: Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

One of the highlights of any D23 Expo is the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives.   D23 curates an exhibition of interesting items (props, costumes, etc.) from the archives and takes over a large area on the second floor of the convention center to display the item.

This year’s exhibition was smaller and more focused than last year’s.   There were three primary themes to this years display.   The first was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of Mary Poppins.    The second theme was looking at Disney’s long association with Oz; not just the recent release, but a number of other Oz-related projects (some that never came to completion) Disney has done over the years.   And the final theme was ABC’s Once Upon a Time series.

For this exhibit, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are the pictures.

Exhibit Entry

Exhibit Entry

There was no flash photography allowed in the exhibit, and light levels were frequently low (and I did not think to bring along a tripod or monopod to steady the camera).   So there are a lot of blurry photos here; I apologize for the quality).

From Harrod's, a set of Disney-inspired dresses interpreted by famous designers.

From Harrod’s, a set of Disney-inspired dresses interpreted by famous designers.

IMG_3651 IMG_3652 IMG_3653 IMG_3655 IMG_3656 IMG_3657 IMG_3658 IMG_3659 IMG_3660 Costumes from Alice in Wonderland

IMG_3662 IMG_3663Costumes and props from Once Upon a Time

Costumes from "Once Upon a Time"

Costumes from “Once Upon a Time”

Props from "Once Upon a Time"

Props from “Once Upon a Time”

"Once Upon a Time" costumes

“Once Upon a Time” costumes

IMG_3667

Some of the Oz-related props from earlier projectsIMG_3668 IMG_3669

Props from "Return to Oz"

Props from “Return to Oz”

IMG_3671 IMG_3672

Costumes from "Oz: The Great and Powerful"

Costumes from “Oz: The Great and Powerful”

Props from "Oz: The Great and Powerful"

Props from “Oz: The Great and Powerful”

Getting into the Mary Poppins section of the exhibition now

Storyboards

Storyboards

Concept art

Concept art

IMG_3678

Mary's bag from Mary Poppins

Mary’s bag from Mary Poppins

IMG_3680

One of the costumes worn by Julie Andrews as Mary

One of the costumes worn by Julie Andrews as Mary

IMG_3682

Costumes from Mary Poppins

Costumes from Mary Poppins

Sherman Brothers costumes from "Saving Mr. Banks"

Sherman Brothers costumes from “Saving Mr. Banks”

Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) costumes from Saving Mr. Banks.

Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) costumes from Saving Mr. Banks.

The Sherman Brothers with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke

The Sherman Brothers with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke

At the conclusion of the exhibition was a display of fan art celebrating Mary Poppins.   A number of these were quite good, I only included a couple of my favorites.

My favorite fan art piece -- Mary Poppins done as if from the haunted mansion's stretching room (with Peter Pan thrown in as well)

My favorite fan art piece — Mary Poppins done as if from the haunted mansion’s stretching room (with Peter Pan thrown in as well)

Another clever bit of fan art

Another clever bit of fan art

 

Posted in D23, D23 Expo 2013, Disney | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

D23 Expo 2013: Live Action (Part 2: Disney Nature, Disney Studios)

(Part I of the Studios live-action presentation recap is here).

Disney Nature

The next Disney Nature film will be released on Earth Day 2014, and is titled Bears.   We saw the trailer, being shown for the first time anywhere, which featured footage of a family of bears in the Alaskan wilderness.

Disney

The last portion of the Studios live-action presentation was from Disney Studios, and was presented by the studio’s President of Live Action Production, Sean Bailey

Muppets Most Wanted

The setup here is that there is an international jewel thief that looks exactly like Kermit (well, almost — the jewel thief has a mole that Kermit lacks).   We saw a bit of footage from the film and an especially-for-D23 filmed bit from the set, where Miss Piggy was under the mistaken impression that she was addressing P23, the world’s largest gathering of Miss Piggy fans.   Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, and Ty Burrell join the Muppets.   Ty then drove onto stage in a very tiny car and chatted about the film for a bit before shoehorning himself back into the car to drive away.

Into the Woods

This filmed adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical fairy tale was previously announced, but this presentation was the first announcement of the film’s cast.

Meryl Streep will play the witch.   Johnny Depp with play the Big Bad Wolf.   Other cast members include Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, and Emily Blunt.

Rob Marshall (Chicago, Pirates of the Caribbean 4) directs.

Cinderella

Director Kenneth Branagh brings the classic fairy tale to the big screen in March 2015.   We were the first audience to see a sneak peek.   There isn’t much at this point, really just some costume tests (and we were told Cinderella’s gown may change).    Cast includes Lily James (Cinderella), Richard Madden (Prince Charming), Cate Blanchett (Stepmother), and Helena Bonham Carter (Fairy Godmother).

Maleficient

Coming July 2014; Director Robert Stromberg, Producer Joe Roth, and writer Linda Wolverton (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King).    Starring Angelina Jolie (as Maleficient) and Elle Fanning (as Aurora).

Angelina Jolie was on hand to talk about the film; says that since a child she has been drawn to the Maleficient character.    We were the first audience to ever see the trailer for the film; the trailer mostly features Maleficient laying a curse on the infant Princess Aurora, but that scene was intercut with various other scenes from the film.   Angelina looks quite frightening in the role and shared that when children would visit the set, they would generally want nothing to do with her if she tried to approach and greet them in a friendly manner.   (And in fact, her daughter plays the infant princess in some scenes because they were unable to find anyone else that wasn’t scared of her!)

Tomorrowland

Just not sure what to say about this one … if may turn out to be something very interesting, but the entire setup for the film is just a huge campaign of lies and misdirection, and I don’t think that’s the way to set about getting people excited about your project.

The presentation starts with the explanation of this mysterious box (labeled “1952”) that was found deep in the Disney archives.    Director/Producer/Writer Brad Bird and Writer/Producer Damon Lindelof came on stage to show us some of the contents found in this mysterious box — like a photo of Walt Disney and Amelia Earhart dated two years after her disappearance, an “Amazing Stories” comic book from 1928 with a mysterious hidden message, and a blueprint for the It’s a Small World attraction which, viewed under black light of the appropriate wavelength, reveals hidden rooms under the ride.

After the presentation ended, for the rest of the Expo you could view the contents of this mysterious box on the show floor, but any attempt to photograph anything would bring security on the run.    Must protect these precious fake artifacts!

Lindelof is best known as one of the produces behind Lost — which I loved.   But in Lost, we were drawn in first and foremost because we cared about the characters, and then we were presented with a complex, layered mystery to unravel.    Here we are being given what I’m sure is an equally complex and multi-layered mystery — but we aren’t being given any reason to care.    Maybe that will change as we learn more.

Tomorrowland is a December 2014 release starring George Clooney.    OK, I think I see why people will care.

Saving Mr. Banks

The story behind the story of bringing Mary Poppins to the screen; in particular, the difficult relationship between Walt Disney and author P L Travers as Disney attempts to get the rights to make the film.  Mrs. Travers (as she insists she be called, to no avail) has no interest in selling the rights, especially not to this man who makes cartoons.

As must as I’d like to, in the short amount of film we saw I just can’t stop seeing Tom Hanks; putting a mustache on him doesn’t make him disappear into the role.   I hope that’s just an initial reaction and that in a feature length film I’ll be able to forget it’s Tom and completely accept him as Walt Disney.

The footage we were shown looks great; I’m not sure how much of it is “true” and how much of it is “based on a true story”, but either way it looks like it’s going to be very entertaining, and quite funny.

Besides Hanks and Thompson, the film features Jason Schwartzman and B. J. Novak as composers Richard and Robert Sherman, Bradley Whitford as screenwriter Don DaGiadi, Colin Farrell, and Paul Giamatti.

B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman came on stage to talk about playing the Sherman brothers and getting to work with Richard Sherman  (Sherman even worked with Schwartzman, who plays the piano, to show him how to handle the phrasing).   An upright piano was then rolled out onto stage and they led us in a sing-a-long of Let’s Go Fly a Kite.   Richard Sherman joined them onstage (to a standing ovation)  to close out the studios presentation and send us off to our next Expo experience.

 

Posted in D23, D23 Expo 2013, Disney | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

D23 Expo 2013: Live Action (Part I, LucasFilm & Marvel)

The second day of the D23 Expo was again led off by a presentation of upcoming studio releases.   While Friday’s day one presentation was focused on animation, the Saturday presentation was about live action films.   Again, the presentation was segmented by the studio: LucasFilm, Marvel, Disney Nature, and Disney features.   Part I of this post covers Marvel (and the tiny bit that was shared about LucasFilm).

Bob Iger again kicked things off, but then quickly handed off to Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, to talk about the upcoming films.

Alan shared that Disney has grown its portfolio of studios quite a bit over the past years; with the acquisitions of Pixar in 2006, Marvel in 2009, and LucasFilm in 2011.

LucasFilm

Alan welcomed LucasFilm to the Disney family but disappointed the audience by saying there would be nothing new to share regarding LucasFilm projects.    He repeated some of what we already know — Episode VII will be released in Summer 2015; JJ Abrams will direct and is currently working on the screenplay with Michael Arndt; and John Williams will once again score.

Marvel

Marvel has been a very successful acquisition for Disney; they have two of the top 5 grossing films of all time with The Avengers and Iron Man 3.    Alan introduced Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige to cover the upcoming Marvel films.

The Avengers was the culmination of Phase I of the Marvel cinematic universe.   We are now seeing Phase II  (which will conclude with Avengers 2).   Iron Man 3 was the first of the Phase 2 films.    There are 3 more Phase 2 films before we cap it off with Avengers 2.

Thor: The Dark World will be the next release.    Director Alan Taylor took the stage and we got an extended first look at the feature.   (I believe this same footage was shown at Comic Con).   Cast members then came out on stage … Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Natalie Portman (Jane), and Anthony Hopkins (Odin).    Hopkins received a standing ovation; I think most of the audience was surprised he was in attendance.    Hiddleston did not sing for us this time.    We saw a new clip, of Jane’s first day on Asgard where she is suffering some sort of infection.   Odin insists that she be sent back to Midgard (Earth) where doctors there can take care of her.    She is fascinated by the technology being used (and appears to understand it far better than the Asgardians expect of someone from such a primitive place).   There is a good bit of humor in the scene while at the same time setting up a conflict between Thor and Odin regarding Jane that might be a significant plot point.

Captain American: The Winter Soldier was up next.  We were shown two clips, both action-oriented fight scenes.  The first, taking place in an elevator, was shown previously at Comic-Con.    I believe the second scene, taking place (mostly) on a boat, was being shown for the first time; much of it was in pre-viz stage with very rough blocked-in CGI.   Cast members Chris Evans (Captain America), Anthony Mackie (The Falcon) and Sebastian Stan (Bucky / The Winter Soldier) were on hand to talk about the film.    Filming has been completed and the film is now being edited for an April 2014 release.

And now for something completely different.   Guardians of the Galaxy is just underway (4 weeks into shooting).   We were shown some footage assembled from the first few weeks of shooting, but surprisingly some of the CGI characters looked very good for such early footage — so clearly they wanted to have something flashy to show for Comic Con and D23,  and it worked.   The characters of Groot (an Ent-like character) and Rocket Racoon (I think that one is self explanatory 🙂 ) look amazing.    This looks like it will be very humorous.   Release scheduled for August 2014.

We were then shown a brief teaser trailer of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.   There was nothing shown other than the face plate of the Ultron robot character.   The feature is scheduled for 2015.

 

Posted in D23, D23 Expo 2013, Disney | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment