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Disney California Adventure Park’s Grand Reopening – Videos!

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As readers of this blog surely know, when Disney California Adventure Park opened almost 12 years ago as a second gate to Disneyland it wasn’t the hit that Disney or its fans hoped it would be. In fact, it was written off by many as a ridiculous concept done on the cheap. For the record, I’ve always enjoyed the park, but I understand what people were saying, it needed more everything: rides, shows, food, theming, and above all else, it needed more magic. It needed more Disney.

Hello, and welcome to DCA 2.0Read More »Disney California Adventure Park’s Grand Reopening – Videos!

A Cars Land Teaser

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Let me just say that Cars Land at Disney California Adventure is exactly what you want it to be, except you would probably want more. That’s not to say it’s a small land (after all?). I attended the grand opening of DCA’s newest area, and it was much bigger than I had anticipated. However, it is so fun that it leaves you wanting more, which, if I’ve learned anything from television, is a good thing.Read More »A Cars Land Teaser

Meet Katherine Sarafian, Producer of Brave

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On my recent visit to Pixar Studios I had the great pleasure of interviewing Katherine Sarafian, the producer of the highly anticipated film Brave. She shared some nuggets (seems like there should be a McNuggets joke in there somewhere) about working at Pixar and the story behind Brave, which, in case I haven’t made it clear, looks awesome.

On her career with Pixar:

Well, it has been a long road, but I think that Pixar is one of those places where you can work on lots of different films and have a different career on each film, so I try. On each film I grew into a new role. I started sort of entry level, at the bottom, and moved up. By the time I was on “A Bug’s Life” I was a first-time manager, and once I learned that I could manage people, and really enjoyed doing that, then there was a progression into marketing for a while.

… Pixar is very much about how you recover from your errors. Because I, you know, we, learned on the job. A lot of us did here.

Read More »Meet Katherine Sarafian, Producer of Brave

Behind Brave: The Pixar Process

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You may recall that I took a trip to Pixar Studios to learn more about the upcoming film Brave, and you may also recall that the experience was awesome. In addition to learning about bagpipes, archery, and kilts, our wandering group of press and bloggers spent some quality time with the creative team behind the film. Emphasis on creative.

Louis Gonzales is a Story Artist at Pixar and was part of the team that traveled to Scotland for research (it’s all relative, they had to travel to the dump for Toy Story 3). It sounded amazing. He told this great story about a small, simple dinner they had one night while in Scotland, and how a woman had started singing a haunting, beautiful song that really touched him. He was so inspired that he created a scene with a similar song. His version wound up being a lullaby sang to Merida by her mother. There was a whole process that he had to go through in order to have the scene added to the film. It involved his having to sing falsetto in front of the Pixar bigwigs, and from the sample he played us it’s lucky he has such a fantastic day job:Read More »Behind Brave: The Pixar Process

Interview With Steven M. Barrett, Author of Hidden Mickeys

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Steven M. Barrett, Author and Mouse Hunter

If you’ve been to the Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World, or even on a Disney Cruise, chances are you’ve seen people walking around with a bright yellow book and a tendency to periodically stop and stare at rather obscure signs, windows, and random bits of architecture. Those folks are hunting Hidden Mickeys. Be very, very quiet.

The book in question is by Steven M. Barrett, and is part of his popular series titled Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to (insert Disney location here)’s Best Kept Secrets. There’s also an app for that!

Each book offers a number of Hidden Mickeys for Disney guests to search for on their visit. What is a Hidden Mickey? “A partial or complete image of Mickey Mouse that has been hidden by Disney’s Imagineers and artists in the designs of Disney attractions, hotels, restaurants, and other areas. These images are designed to blend into their surroundings. Sharp-eyed visitors have the fun of finding them.” — from Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Disneyland Resort’s Best Kept Secrets, Chapter 1 “Hidden Mickey Mania”

Barrett has been canvasing Disney parks (and ships) to track the elusive Hidden Mickeys for over 20 years. He’s found a few.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Barrett via Skype about his books, the website that they have spawned (HiddenMickeyGuy.com), and life as America’s most-celebrated Hidden Mickey hunter.  Read More »Interview With Steven M. Barrett, Author of Hidden Mickeys

To Pixar and Beyond

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The author and Merida, both shooting for their own respective hands. Photo courtesy of Pixar.

Last week I had the fantastic opportunity to visit Pixar Animation Studios for a preview of the upcoming film Brave. Needless to say, it was exactly what I hoped it would be: Incredible(s).

We (assorted press/bloggers) were broken into groups (Clan Dingwall!) and sent on a whirlwind tour that included interviews with Mark Andrews (Director of Brave), Katherine Sarafian (Producer of Brave), a host of Pixar animators that worked on Brave, and also an interview with Enrico Casarosa who created and directed the Oscar-nominated short La Luna that will accompany Brave in theaters (we screened La Luna, and it was both sweet and breathtaking). However, all of those interviews and experiences are currently under embargo. Don’t worry, I’ll share everything before Brave opens!

What I can talk about is my visit to Pixar Animations Studios, and all the fun things that we were able to do.

Read More »To Pixar and Beyond

Disney’s Lion King 3D World Premiere

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El Capitan Theatre

In case you’ve been under a rock (Pride Rock?) you probably know that Disney has put a shiny coat of 3D magic on the classic film, Lion King. Saturday was the world premiere of Disney’s Lion King 3D at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. Yes, I know I just said “the the” and I’m okay with it.

The Disney Blog had press credentials, so I took my fancy camera (read, iPhone) and my talent (read, 8-year-old son Atticus) and bellied up to the green carpet to let the stars come to us — which they did by the limo-ful (or whatever they drove, I didn’t have to valet this time).

Sadly, my iPhone couldn’t capture sound and picture with any clarity. I blame the thousands of people around us and the gentle lullaby of Hollywood Blvd. And by “gentle” I mean loud and freaky. Rather than have video without audio I went with the still photographs and casual conversation. Plus, my son was a little too nervous to conduct the interviews, and it was really, really hot out. We decided to play it cool, which works for us.

Read More »Disney’s Lion King 3D World Premiere

D23 Expo Recap: Day 1

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Friday, August 19 was opening day of the D23 Expo (I’m working under the assumption that you are familiar with D23) and it kicked off with a bang. Or a mouse, as the case may be. It always starts with a mouse.

D23 crowdsWhile the expo was open to the general ticket-buying public, it did offer a number of perks specifically to official D23 members, such as discounted passes, special “members only” events and early admission. It pays to belong, people!

Friday’s itinerary started at 9:00 a.m. with two of the aforementioned members only events, namely the Disney Store Opening Ceremony and the Radio Disney Road Crew Dance Party.

Other events that morning included an art contest with Disney.com, vintage footage showcasing the history of the Disneyland Hotel (congrats, DH, on the new ranking!), meet and greets with artists Jim Salvati and Robert Olszewski of the Disney Store and Disney Dream, respectively, and characters from Disney Channel’s Jake and the Never Land Pirates.

Then it was time for the 2011 Disney Legends Ceremony, which was, as you might imagine, magical. However, not everyone was able to attend the ceremony, so they had to settle for other really cool things like The Wonderful Words of Disney… Behind the Page: Kingdom Keepers presentation with Ridley Pearson. I would have loved to have attended this event to discuss some of my issues with the continuity, or lack thereof, within the series, but alas, Mr. Pearson was spared my fanboy criticism, and is probably the better for it.Read More »D23 Expo Recap: Day 1