Thursday, August 23, 2012

If I Ruled The World: Animal Kingdom

I sit upon my throne at the top of Cinderella Castle, and I look at a map of my land, and I can’t help but turn my attention to my zoo, Animal Kingdom. Now that I have more efficient Transportation and am working on Downtown Disney I send my unlimited funds towards the newest addition to my world: Animal Kingdom.
If I Ruled The World: New Animal Kingdom Map

New CMM close up.
Camp Minnie-Mickey:
  • The Lion King show has grown on me, but I don’t think it belongs there in CMM. It doesn’t fit with the theme. Move it to Africa somewhere behind the Tusker House. I can’t be the only one who thinks that a show that takes place in Africa should be in the African section of this park.
  • Also, in CMM, I think the theme should be extended even more. Add several more Kids Discovery Club locations here. Maybe with a conservation/merit badge theme. Some kind of cross between Kidcot at the World Showcase at Epcot and the interactions of Innovenetions.
  • I’d also open up a path from CMM to the new Lion King show, to complete the outer circle walkway.

Africa/Rafiki’s Planet Watch:
  • I enjoy Africa as it is. And I like the train ride to Rafiki.

  • Fix the Yeti! It’s sad that the largest Audio Animatronic is broken.

Dinoland USA:
Torosaurus - Joan Marcus
copyright CPC 2008

  • I would take out Finding Nemo: The Musical. It’s a great show, but it doesn’t fit with the theme. I have other plans for this show. I think this show building could be used for a dinosaur themed production. Something like the traveling show Walking With The Dinosaurs. This show would invoke the same feel of Nemo but be truer to the dinosaur theme.
  • I don’t like Chester and Hester’s Carnival. Why are there carnival rides in a Disney park? Isn’t that why Walt created Disneyland, so parents and children could ride rides safely, and together? Also, any theme that has you on a parking lot is a bad theme. Is the Dino-Institute allowing them to be there? I don’t have an idea of what to replace these attractions with, but given my unlimited resources, I think Imagineering can come up with something.
New DinoLand U. S. A. close up.

Discovery Island:

New Discovery Island close up.
  • It seems as though I don’t really like any of the shows in the park. It’s Tough To Be A Bug is an okay show, but I don’t see it as the center attraction. It just doesn’t belong in the park’s weenie. Something Chip and Dale might work, it makes sense for them to be inside a tree, they are B list characters, they are funny. They can be guiding guests through some kind of animal misadventure.
  • Boats! So much of this park is water, but why aren’t there boats in Discovery River. If I ruled the world, there would be.
  • AK needs some sort of closing, nightly show. I know that I can’t have fire works. So perhaps something like California Adventure’s World of Color. I would put it in the Discovery River between Asia and DinoLand USA.

And after my hard day ruling over the Animal Kingdom, I bid adieu for now.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

PIXAR Animation Studios: Part 12: Cars 2

Series Intro: In my purposeful retrospective of WDAS I couldn’t ignore it’s younger sister: PIXAR. This is Part 12 in the retrospective of PIXAR

Official Title: Cars 2
Release: June 24, 2011br /> Running Time: 106minutes
Estimated Cost: $200 million
Estimated Revenue: $559.85 million (only have as much as Toy Story 3
Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Plot Summary: (Abridged)
While racing abroad with most of the Radiator Springs crew, McQueen and Mater have a fight. And Mater leaves for home, but is stopped when British Intelligence believes he’s an American Spy.
As Mater is off having misadventures, more and more cars are dying in McQueen’s race. The media is blaming a new fuel. The audience is aware that if the fuel gets heated by electricity, it will explode.
Mater and McQueen make up and despite his low intelligence Mater saves the day and is accepted for who is his.
Back in Radiator Springs McQueen and his rival – Francesco – along with other race cars, race in the first every Radiator Springs Grand Prix. The British spies return to ask Mater to join them, but he declines, because he wants to spend time with his friends.

Plot Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Eh, just like the first movie, I really couldn’t get into it. Why does McQueen revert to his bitchiness for this movie?

Animation Rating: 3 out of 5
PIXAR dropped the ball on this one; it just didn’t love up to its predecessor’s standards for animation. I thought the eyes and eyelids looked hand drawn. Not what I want from a PIXAR movie.

Final Thoughts: The film felt like it was rushed. It was so after Cars that I didn’t really care to find out more of what happened to these characters. I know that this is a strong franchise for PIXAR and Disney is milking it for all it’s worth (nee: Carsland and Disney California Adventure), but it’s just not for me.

Next Up:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

If I Ruled the World: Hollywood Studios

When my royal mind needs a break from the daily grind of ruling the happiest place on Earth, I call my lackeys and have then entertain me with films and things of the sort. But all is not well in the little park that could. For what was once the epitome of theming has now turned into one dead-end street after another that barely reflects the Hollywood that Never Was. Of course, I am talking about Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney/MGM Studios).
If I Ruled the World: New Hollywood Studios Map
Hollywood Boulevard:
Not the best photo manip, but
better than the hat.
• Remove the hat! It’s just an eye sore. I don’t like it. I don’t want it. And there is no one in Imagineering you can convince me otherwise.
• The Great Movie Ride once was great, because it mixed classic movies with contemporary ones to give you a long-range view of movies. However, that’s not the case anymore. I think the ride just needs a few new scenes. I personally don’t like the Public Enemy scene nor the western scene, but there are other places to update movies. Disney Studios has many more classic (and modern classic) movies than it did when the park was built, use some of those properties.

Echo Lake:
• I would do something with the Sounds Dangerous building. I have never seen it used for the Drew Cary show. The last time I was in the park, they were doing something with America’s Funniest Home Videos in the space, but I couldn’t get in, so I don’t know what was going on. This unused space could be turned into a preview center. Show exclusive trailers and behind the scenes featurettes for upcoming Disney releases.
Skywalker Ranch with Indiana Ride
from Disneyland Map and Cantina.
• Next, I would rename the area on the left side of the lake to “Lucas Films Land” or “Skywalker Ranch” to better reflect some of the other changes happening over there.
 • Indiana Jones: I love the stunt show and want to see more Indy. Import Indiana Jones Adventure from Disneyland to just behind the stunt spectacular.
• Transform Backlot Express to the Mos Eisley Cantina. It would serve exotic sounding food (but really maintain its current menu of burgers and fries) with an Audio Anamatronic cantina band playing Star Wars music all day long (think Sunny Eclipse at Magic Kingdom’s Cosmic Ray’s Starlight CafĂ©).
They would play all day!
• Also, at the Mos Eisley Cantina, one might be able to run into Star Wars characters. A meet and greet in one corner of the restaurant would allow fans face time with some of their favorite characters.

Streets of America:
Muppet Hollywood Studios Land.
(Dark ride building is courtesy of
Walt Disney Studios Park Map - Paris)
• Studio Tour: What to do with this studio tour? I understand that nostalgia has kept this here, and what would a studio be without its back lot tour? But this tour used to be something. Now it’s a shell of its former self. Catastrophe Canyon looks likes it’s been through a catastrophe, it’s dirty and your can clearly see where everything is going to fall. And Pearl Harbor? When did that come out? I say, close it down for a lengthy refurbishment. Gut the whole this and start from scratch.
Toy Story playland from Disney Dream.
• Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure: reposition it’s entrance to be part of Pixar Place and change it to a Toy Story Movie Set Adventure, something like the Oceaneer’s Club on Disney Cruise Line’s Dream and Fantasy.

• I would also split this land up. I would take the entire left side and call it “Muppet Hollywood Studios,” where the word “Muppet” was placed on top the world “Disney” in a sign that looked just like the park’s logo.
• Muppet Vision 3D would need updating. A new movie and working 4D effects.
 • Pizza Planet: To better fit the Muppet Hollywood Studio’s theme. Pizza Planet would be turned over to the capable hands of Swedish Chef.
• Mama Mel Rose’s would also be rethemed to Muppets.
• A Muppet themed dark ride. Behind the streets of San Fransisco, I want a new show building for a Muppet dark ride. Muppet’s fit so well with the Disney ride ideology of “then something when wrong.”

Commissary Lane:
• No changes.

Pixar Place:
Pixar Place with new Toy Story Playland
(courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Park Map)
• To help ease the transition from old Pixar Place to the new Toy Story play area, the show building that currently houses Studio Catering Company, would be broken up to create the new pathway to Toy Story play area.
• This show building next to Toy Story Mania will be for the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor. It doesn’t belong in Tomorrowland (monsters have nothing to do with the future). But it fits right in with Pixar Place.

Mickey Ave. and Animation Courtyard:
Why doesn't this walk way
already exist?
• Update the Voyage to the Little Mermaid. Use HD footage, create new costumes, etc.
• There would also be a paid experience added to the backstage area new the Magic of Disney Animation. I really enjoyed the area where you are taught to draw characters. The problem here is that the room is too small for how many people want to do it. I would add another studio that required a special admission (perhaps with a backstage tour aspect), which would give you a couple hours of drawing class.
• I’d also add a path between the courtyard to Sunset Boulevard. It is really annoying to go from one to the other – being forced to go to Hollywood Boulevard.

Sunset Boulevard:
• Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage. The map calls this a musical Broadways-style show. However, I’ve seen Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, and I don’t remember seeing any characters that wore masks (or heads). I would just update the costumes for Beast and the Beast’s enchanted servants. Make is a combination between what is there now (very representative of the movie) and Broadway (a bit too fanciful for Hollywood Studios).
• Fantasmic! – If Disneyland can have Fastpasses, so can we!

So ends another day of spending and fixing. I know I did not make Hollywood Studios have a more cohesive theme (in fact, I made it more sporadic by splitting some of the lands), but I believe these changes will help make this park stronger.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Walt Disney Animation Studios: Part 51: Winnie The Pooh

Series Intro: This is Part 51 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors.

Official Title: Winnie The Pooh
Release: July 15, 2011
Running Time: 63 minutes (wow, one minute shorter than Dumbo)
Estimated Cost: $30 million ($130 million less than Tangled)
Estimated Revenue: $33.15 million (barely broke even. Last movie to flop was Home on the Range loosing about $7 million)
Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Plot Summary: Abridged
Pooh just wants a pot of honey but gets distracted by helping Eeyore look for his tail and avoids the Backson, who they all think has kidnapped Christopher Robin. An unseen narrator helps tell the story as all the characters interact with the text of their storybook. Pooh finds Eeyore’s tail at Owl’s and Christopher Robin rewards him with a giant pot of honey.

1. Winnie the Pooh
2. The Tummy Song
3. A Very Important Thing To Do
4. The Backson Song
5. It’s Gonna Be Great
6. Everything Is Honey
7. Pooh’s Finale
8. So Long

I was frankly surprised that the song “Winnie the Pooh” wasn’t just a remastered version of the original from Many Adventures. I didn’t like the new version. However, the rest of the songs were true to the oringinal.

Plot Rating: 3 stars out of 5
It just didn’t seem like enough was happening/happened the entire movie. I felt a little jipped at the length and then not given powerhouse stories. Although I did enjoy that Pooh’s quest for honey was carried throughout the entire movie.

Animation Rating: 3 out of 5
It’s been a while since I’ve called a WDAS movie “cartoony” but this one was. It didn’t look like WDAS spent money on it. And they didn’t. In fact, they used the animation software that DisneyToon (the animation studio responsible for Disney cartoon series and direct-to-video sequels).

Final Thoughts:
Not worth the wait. And where does WDAS get off giving us only 63 minutes. We aren’t in between world wars here.

Next Up:
Wreck It Ralph

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Walt Disney Animation Studios: Part 50: Tangled

Series Intro: This is Part 50 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors.

Official Title: Tangled
Release: November 24, 2010
Running Time: 100 minutes
Estimated Cost: $260 million (nearly twice the cost of Frog)
Estimated Revenue: $590.72 million
Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
Rapunzel holds a drop of sun in her body, thanks to her mother using it to survive childbirth. However, the flower that had grown from the drop of sun was being used by Mother Gothel to stay young. After hundreds of years of staying young, Mother Gothel steals the baby and discovers her hair now holds the magic of the sun and locks her in a tower.

Eighteen years later, Rapunzel wants to leave the tower to find out about the festival of lights that occurs on her birthday. Of course Mother Gothel refuses, but Rapunzel tricks Mother Gothel to leave the tower for a few days.

Flynn Ryder, local thief, has stumbled upon Rapunzel’s tower, while running away from the lead horse of the guard (Max), for stealing the princess’ crown. Rapunzel makes Flynn take her to the festival to see the lights in person.

Rapunzel and Flynn have many misadventures (ala the frogs in Princess and the Frog and many other buddy films from WDAS). But Mother Gothel has grown wise to their scheme and sends Flynn’s betrayed partners after them.

After the wonderful day at the festival, Rapunzel and Flynn find themselves in harms way as Flynn is captured by the guard and Rapunzel returns home after an attack by Flynn’s partners. Rapunzel believes Flynn sold her out, and is betrayed as she just thought they were falling in love.

While home Rapunzel realizes she is the lost princess for whom the festival of the lights is for. At the same time, Flynn escapes a hanging thanks to his fellow riff-raff (whom were charmed by Rapunzel). Mother Gothel, refusing to let Rapuzel return to her true home, begins to take her away from the tower, when Flynn (thanks to his new partner, Max) enters to be stabbed by Gothel. Rapunzel trades her freedom for saving Flynn. Gothel agrees, but Flynn has another plan, he cuts off Rapunzel’s hair and it looses all its magic. Gothel falls out the window (with a little help from Pascal (Rapunzel’s chameleon side-kick). Rapunzel cries over her lost love, but her tears contain the drop of sun and save his life.

Flynn and Rapunzel return to the castle to be welcomed into the royal family. And they lived happily ever after.

1. When Will My Life Begin?
2. Mother Knows Best
3. When Will My Life Begin? (Reprise)
4. I’ve Got A Dream
6. Mother Knows Best (Reprise)
7. I See the Light
8. Healing Incantation

Welcome back Mr. Menken! It has been too long. The music for this movie was interesting. While there were some standout songs, like “I’ve Got A Dream” (that evoked old feelings of belonging not seen in quiet a few movies). I didn’t quite like the pop feel of the “I want” song – “When Will My Life Begin?”

Plot Rating: 5 stars out of 5
The music, did help move this plot along, and the whole movie hand a much closer structure to WDAS’ renaissance. I fell in love with both leads almost from the moment they were on the screen.

Animation Rating: 4 out of 5
WOW! Just WOW! Finally, WDAS has learnt from PIXAR. The CG animation was clean and the hair was amazing (not just Rapunzel’s 70 feet) but all of it. The soft matted backgrounds from Bolt return to make the characters live in a hand painted world. The characters moved and lived very well in the world. Of course though, there were some moments when the CG was overwhelming, but they were few and infrequent, although when they happened (say when a character was moving too fast) it did take me out of the story and reminded me that I was watching CG.

I did have some trouble believing that Rapunzel was 18. She was so much smaller and less developed than Mother Gothel and the Queen. I kept thinking she was 14 or 15.

The Test of Time:
Rapunzel became the 10th Disney Princess even before the movie hit the theaters. I think Disney was jumping the gun, and we do need to wait.

I also feel that this section will close now too, and be called “Final Thoughts,” as “The Test of Time” can’t exist from now on, as not enough time has passed.

Final Thoughts:
WDAS was extremely proud of this movie, as it marked the 50th animated movie released into theaters.

Next Up:
Winnie the Pooh

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

PIXAR Animation Studios: Part 11: Toy Story 3

Series Intro: In my purposeful retrospective of WDAS I couldn’t ignore it’s younger sister: PIXAR. This is Part 11 in the retrospective of PIXAR

Official Title: Toy Story 3
Release: June 18, 2010
Running Time: 103 minutes
Estimated Cost: $200 million
Estimated Revenue: $1.063 billion (yes, Billion with a “B” – $1,063,171,911)
Overall Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
Andy has grown up, as boys tend to do, but his toys remain ever faithful that one day he will play with them. But due to a mix-up the toys (other than Woody, who has been saved to go to college) believe they have been thrown away. They decide that being donated to a day-care is a better fate. Woody follows them to right their error.

All seems to be going well at the day-care, Buzz, Woody and the gang (Mr. and Mrs. Patato Head, Slink, Jessie, Bullseye, Rex, Ham, three aliens and Barbie) meet a charming bear, Lots-O-Huggin’ (Lots-O), a Ken doll, and a Big Baby. Woody escapes to return to Andy, but is taken by a young child, Bonnie. Things turn worse for the gang left behind as all new toys are placed with the two year olds. Buzz seeks Lots-O to remedy this, and he is reset to factory settings, and now polices his former friends. Lots-O rules the day care with an iron paw.

After a fun day with Bonnie, Woody tries to head back to Andy, but finds out that Lots-O is a dictator, due to the fact that he lost his child and was replaced. Woody sneaks back into the day care and begins the plot to save his friends.

After an elaborate plan, Woody and the gang make their way to the dumpster, only to be stopped once again by Lots-O. Big Baby, tired of being bossed by Lots-O, pushes the bear into the dumpster, but he pulls Woody in with him, just as the garbage truck takes the trash. Buzz, Jessie, Bullseye, Ham, Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head, Rex and the three aliens jump on to the truck to rescue Woody (Barbie stays with the new reformed Ken).

At the dump, the toys meet with certain fate several times, only to be clever enough to save themselves. However, once they trusted Lots-O to turn off the conveyor belt, things looked bleak as Lots-O double cross puts the toys in a collision with an incinerator. Thanks to the dues-ex-machina of the aliens controlling the “Claw” the toys are safe.

Lots-O is fated to spend the rest of his life on the front grill of a garbage truck, as the toys head back to Andy’s. Woody, changes the label of the box from attic to that of Bonnie’s house. Andy brings the toys to Bonnie, including Woody, and spends his last day before college playing with his old friends.

Plot Rating: 5 stars out of 5
This movie continues the wonderful plot of the previous two. This picture can explain the entire plot rating:
Who hasn't had to get rid of beloved toys?

Animation Rating: 4 out of 5
I know that it’s been 10 years since the last Toy Story, but it doesn’t look like that. The only thing that looks different (more advanced) is the hair.

Final Thoughts: I don’t know if I want a fourth movie. The toys clearly have more adventures to tell, but this movie wrapped up such a large chapter of their life.

Next Up:
Cars 2

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Walt Disney Animation Studios: Part 49: Princess and the Frog

Series Intro: This is Part 49 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors.

Official Title: The Princess and the Frog
Release: December 11, 2009
Running Time: 97 minutes
Estimated Cost: $105 million (nearly $50 million less than Bolt)
Estimated Revenue: $267.05 million
Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
Since childhood, it has been Tiana’s dream to open a restaurant. And she is close during this Marti Gras. She has been working two or three jobs, never having fun since her childhood days of playing with Charlotte La Bouff (who’s life-long dream is to become a princess).

At the same time, Prince Naveen (disowned by his parents) comes to New Orleans to find a rich wife to return to the life he has grown accustomed to. Charlotte has her daddy throw Naveen a party. But in the streets of the French Quarter, Naveen is tricked by Dr. Faciller, who wants to rule New Orleans, and this can be done by killing Charlotte’s farther (the king of the Marti Gras parade). Dr. Facilier turns Naveen into a frog and Naveen’s manservant, Lawrence, into a copy of Naveen.

Frog Naveen gets away and meets Tiana at the party (where Lawrence is masquerading as Naveen), and convinces Tiana to kiss him (mistaking her costume grown for a real thing). This turns Tiana into a frog and thus begins their misadventure on the bayou to solve their problems.

Along the way they meet Louis (a trumpet playing alligator) and Ray (a firefly). The four go to look for Mama Odie to help solve Tiana and Naveen’s frog issue. Tiana and Naveen fight a lot (he’s free loving, she’s rule following).

Mama Odie sends them back to the Marti Gras parade for Naveen to be kissed by Charlotte (princess of the parade). Dr. Facilier sends shadow creatures to keep the frogs away. Only at the last moment, does Dr. Facilier get taken by the shadow creatures (after killing Ray). Charolette is told the entire saga and tries to kiss Naveen, but the clock strikes midnight and is too late.

Frog Naveen marries Frog Tiana (they had learned to love each other along the Bayou), and when they kissed they were both turned into human (when he married her, Tiana became a princess).

Naveen, now settle down, is welcomed back into his family, and they help Tiana open her restaurant, where Louis is the main entertainment. Charlotte thinks she will marry Naveen’s brother (she will wait until he’s much older than 6). And Ray joins his love, a star, in the night sky.

I’m so happy to have this section back!
1. Never Knew I Needed
2. Down in New Orleans (Prologue)
3. Down in New Orleans
4. Almost there
5. Friends on the Other Side
6. When We’re Human
7. Gonna Take You There
8. Ma Belle Evangeline
9. Dig a Little Deeper
10. Down in New Orleans (Finale)

I found it odd that WDAS didn’t bring in Alan Menken (of Mermaid, Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Hunchback, Hercules, and Home On The Range) considering how successful so many of his previous scores have been. Yes, Randy Newman wrote the score to Pixar’s Toy Story, Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monster’s Inc, and Car but none of these were musicals. I think Menken would have given the score more “umph.”

Plot Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
The movie has all the elements for success, but it just didn’t do it for me. As I said above, the score wasn’t enough (save for Almost There). I liked the idea of Dr. Facilier using voo-doo and I thought it was interesting that this movie took place in New Orleans. I just didn’t enjoy the leads begin frogs for most of the movie.

Animation Rating: 4 out of 5
It was so nice to see the gorgeous hand drawings again. Although WDAS had claimed that Home on the Range was to be the last hand-drawn animated feature, I am happy they were wrong. The backgrounds were still too CG’d for my tastes, and there were several moments when I had to reflect on how little growth WDAS had made in making their characters look natural in the settings. Of course the CG settings mimicked those of Bolt that they looked like paintings, but just the way the character interacted with the settings seemed too forced.

Above I mentioned the song Almost There, this song (both musically and stylistically) was the standout moment of this movie. The art deco design and oil pastel colors beautifully matched the jazz music.

The Test of Time:
Tiana has been forced down our throats as a princess equal to the status of her predecessors. I can’t help but wonder, is she only there because she’s African American. Yes, she was the star of a good movie, but I don’t think we know if she has the staying power.

Through the Modern Lens
Isn’t this modern? This section is now closed.

Next Up:

Monday, May 21, 2012

PIXAR Animation Studios: Part 10: Up

Series Intro: In my purposeful retrospective of WDAS I couldn’t ignore it’s younger sister: PIXAR. This is Part 10 in the retrospective of PIXAR

Official Title: Up
Release: May 29, 2009
Running Time: 96 minutes
Estimated Cost: $175 million
Estimated Revenue: $731.34 million
Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
A young boy, Carl, falls in love with a young girl. We watch a montage of them growing up, getting married, growing old and the girl (Ellie) dies, never getting to Venezuela – her life long dream. Carl, still living in their honeymoon house, is staying in the house, despite a huge construction project around his house. Then after an incident, Carl is sent to live at a retirement community. He has other plans. A former balloon salesmen, he blows up hundreds of helium balloons and makes his house float away, his ultimate goal is Paradise Falls, Venezuela. To Carl, the house represents Ellie.

Along the way, Carl picks up a Wilderness Explorer, Russell. Russell tries his best to help Carl make it to Paradise Falls. Along the way, they encounter Kevin, a large female bird with a penchant for chocolate, and Dug a dimwitted dog with the ability to talk due to a device around his neck.

Carl and Russell drag the floating house around the jungle surrounding Paradise Falls and meet up with Carl’s childhood hero explorer Charles F. Muntz; owner of Dug and the troop of talking dogs. Muntz turns out to be hunting Kevin and chases Carl, Russell and Dug around the jungle and up onto his blimp. Carl chooses to save Kevin, Russell and Dug and let his house (nee: Ellie) go.

Kevin returns to her children and Carl takes Russell back home (and adopts Dug). Carl and Russell have a lot of fun together, doing all the things Carl and Ellie did together.

The house landed exactly where Ellie had wanted to live.

Plot Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
There are a few plot holes that I’ll talk about below.

Animation Rating: 4 out of 5
The characters looked like they where traditional stop motion characters. They had a wonderful “real” feel. The character designs were refreshing and enjoyable. However, they didn’t quite match their environment. They stood out. There were moments when this was reminiscent of WDAS’ use of CG in hand drawn movies like Treasure Planet or the opening of Tarzan.

The Test of Time:
I’d like to take this moment to note that the events of this movie have Carl and Russell in South America for three days. For the length of this part of the movie, I couldn’t help imagine Russell’s mother back at home. Were there no missing persons’ reports? And when they return, there were no questions asked, Mom was just sitting happily at the merit badge ceremony. Although it had already been established that his dad was not a part of his life, nothing was said about his mom. I just couldn’t get past this point for most of the movie.

As far as its test of time. not much seems to have happened with this movie.

Next Up:
Toy Story 3

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Walt Disney Animation Studios: Part 48: Bolt

Series Intro: This is Part 48 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors.

Official Title: Bolt
Release: November 21, 2008
Running Time: 96 minutes
Estimated Cost: $150 million
Estimated Revenue: $309.98 million
Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
Bolt is a dog actor, who has been raised to believe that his TV character “Bolt” is his real persona. All is good, until Bolt gets loose one day and finds himself lost in New York. There he meets an alley cat, Mittens, who he believes is part of the TV villain’s plot to capture his human. Bolt forces Mittens to return him to Penny in Hollywood. Mitten does not believe Bolt has special powers.
Mittens and Bolt have several misadventures and along the way meet Rhino, a hamster that believes the TV Bolt is real. As they continue to travel West, Bolt learns that he is an ordinary dog, however he still wants to be with his human, despite Mittens wanting to stay in Las Vegas.
After saving Penny from a studio fire (caused by Bolt’s replacement), Penny and Bolt retire to a farm where they both get to be normal. Penny also adopts Mittens and Rhino.

Not a musical, and the score wasn’t memorable.

Plot Rating: 4 stars out of 5
I was reminded of Cars while I watched this movie, in the fact that for the first third, I really didn’t like the main character. Then, as the “buddy-movie” feeling finally kicked in, I felt like I was watching a childhood favorite, Homeward Bound. I do enjoy WDAS’ buddy movies, so this was when I really liked the movie.
Interestingly enough, there wasn’t a villain in this movie.

Animation Rating: 5 out of 5
Now this is what I’m talking about WDAS. Finally, they have a CGI movie that looks good enough to bare the “Disney” name. The new “Non-photorealistic rendering” made this move so bearable. The backgrounds looked hand painted. The characters had cartoony looks but not overly so nor overly realistic.
For those keeping track, the last time a WDAS movie scored “5 out of 5” in Animation was for Lilo and Stich (only 6 movies have this rating)

The Test of Time:
Where’s Bolt? After he stopped being a jerk, he was cute.

Through the Modern Lens
I hope that this rings in the modern renaissance. It has been too many mediocre movies in a row.

Next Up:
Princess and the Frog

Thursday, May 10, 2012

PIXAR Animation Studios: Part 9: Wall-E

Series Intro: In my purposeful retrospective of WDAS I couldn’t ignore it’s younger sister: PIXAR. This is Part 9 in the retrospective of PIXAR

Official Title: Wall-E
Release: June 23, 2008
Running Time: 98 minutes
Estimated Cost: $180 million
Estimated Revenue: $521.31
Overall Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:(Abridged)
Wall-E is the lone “living” creature (nee: Robot) left on Earth. That is until Eve comes and the two seem to fall in love. Eve finds a living plant and her robot instincts take over. Wall-E hitches a ride to her home; where obese people never leave their seats as robots do everything for them. Wall-E and the ship have a huge battle about Eve and the plant, until finally, the ship returns to Earth. Wall-E and Eve live happily-ever-after.

Plot Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Much better than the last few! I enjoyed the fun joking of Wall-E and the hard nosed, rule following of Eve. My favorite part would have been the use of Hello Dolly!

Animation Rating: 4 out of 5
PIXAR continues to up its game, however, I’m not sure I can see any difference.

The Test of Time:
Wall-E seems like it’s lost in limbo. It was such a fabulous movie, but I’m not seeing much of it around. I don’t even think my Kindergarteners would know who he was.

Next Up:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

PIXAR Animation Studios: Part 8: Ratatouille

Series Intro: In my purposeful retrospective of WDAS I couldn’t ignore it’s younger sister: PIXAR. This is Part 8 in the retrospective of PIXAR

Official Title: Ratatouille
Release: June 29, 2007
Running Time: 111
Estimated Cost: $150 million
Estimated Revenue: $623.72
Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:(Abridged)
A rat, Remi, doesn’t feel like he belongs with the other rats, so after an accident, he strikes out on his own. He meets inept chef, Linguini, and together they become one of the best chefs in Paris. Until their restaurant is closed because of rats in the kitchen.

Plot Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Again, the movie was fine, but I just couldn’t get over the fact that a rat was cooking. I was a bit grossed out most of the time.

Animation Rating: 4 out of 5
Nothing stood out as amazing. PIXAR just continues to make wonderfully animated movies.

The Test of Time:
Remi makes appearances in at Disneyland Paris and has his own restaurants on the Disney cruise ships The Dream and The Fantasy. I hate to say this, but this movie was just a run-of-the-mill PIXAR!

Next Up:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

If I Ruled The World: DownTown Disney

With the recent new about Downtown Disney possibly getting a major rehab/refurb, I’ve decided to skip DTD as having it’s own blog, but before abandoning it completely, there is one thing I would like to see: another people mover.

This one is self explanatory: the people mover would follow the street between DTD and the parking lot. It would be elevated to allow for safe pedestrian crossing.

Stops would include:
West Side: Circ du Sole
West Side: Main
West Side: Bus Bay
Pleasure Island
Market Place: Main
Market Place: Bus Bay

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

If I Ruled The World: Transportation

This is the first entry in a blog series called “If I Ruled The World,” where I will explain what I would do to make Walt Disney World better. Of course, I know some of these things aren’t feasible or financially responsible but as the keeper of the Kingdom, I can do just what I want.

Some of these changes will be to make the guests’ experiences easier, and some of them are just my wish lists for better theme-ing.

So without further ado, here is the first entry in “If I Ruled The World: Transportation.”

Walt Disney World has excellent internal and external transportation. One can get from the airport to the property, around the property, to the parks, shopping, dinning, resorts and back to the airport with ease. But only if you travel in a set path. Want a high-speed option? I hope your staying at a Magic Kingdom resort. Want to get from Animal Kingdom Lodge to Fort Wilderness? Ha!

WDW Internal transportation was made to get you from your resort to a park or Downtown Disney. The busses are clean and are generally driven by courteous drivers. Disney says busses run about every 20 minutes and are limited to “Resort to Park” or “Park to Park.”

In addition to busses there are three monorails; the Magic Kingdom (MK) express (from the Transit and Ticket Center/Magic Kingdom Parking Lot (TTC) to the MK); MK resort loop (stopping at MK, Contemporary, TTC, Polynesian, The Grand Floridian); and Epcot loop (from the TTC to Epcot).

There are water taxis that can take you around the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake (making stops at MK, Contemporary, Polynesian, The Grand Floridian, Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge). Also at the MK you can take a ferry boat to the TTC.

Friendships can take you from the International Gateway (Epcot) to Hollywood Studios making stops at the Swan/Dolphin, Boardwalk, Beach/Yacht Club.

If money is no object, the following map would be identifying the new monorail routes. If money is an object, this would be a hard rail map. This wouldn’t replace the busses, however, it would supplement them and make park and resort hopping faster and more convenient.

The Red Line would travel in a loop (in both directions). Stops will include:
• Epcot
• Typhoon Lagoon
• Hollywood Studios
• Wide World Of Sports
• Blizzard Beach
• Animal Kingdom

Blue Line:
• Animal Kingdom Lodge
• Animal Kingdom
• Coronado Springs
• Blizzard Beach
• All-Star Sports
• All-Star Music
• All-Star Movies
• Wide World of Sports

Green Line
• Wilderness Lodge Villas
• Wilderness Lodge
• Fort Wilderness
• Epcot
• Beach Club/Beach Club Villas
• Yacht Club
• Swan/Dolphin
• Boardwalk/Boardwalk Villas
• Caribbean Beach
• Pop Century/Art of Animations
• Wide World of Sports

Orange Line
• Epcot
• Port Orleans Riverside
• Port Orleans French Quarter
• Old Key West
• Lake Buena Vista Golf Course
• Saratoga Springs
• Downtown Disney Area Resorts

You’ll notice the Orange Line doesn’t go to Downtown Disney’s Shopping districts. I’m keeping with Disney’s current philosophy that because the parking is free, they don’t want people to park there to get to the parks.

Yellow Line
• Palm Golf Course
• Magnolia Golf Course
• Oak Trail Golf Course
• Wilderness Lodge Villas
• Wilderness Lodge
• Osprey Ridge Golf Course
• Eagle Pines Golf Course
• Port Orleans Riverside
• Saratoga Springs
• Lake Buena Vista Gold Course
• Old Wey West

In addition to the new monorail/hard rail lines above, I also see a place for a people mover. See below. It is a pleasant walk from Hollywood Studios to Epcot and a long boat ride. I recently walked this twice and thought it would have been a great place for a people mover.

Stops are:
• Epcot International Gateway
• ESPN Zone/Boardwalk
• Swan/Dolphin Bridge/Boardwalk
• Hollywood Studios
There are a few other places in the world that can have people movers, but I’ll talk more about them in their parks.

Finally, there are the waterways. Of course, they are slow (the opposite of rail above), but I would like to be able to take boats to more places at WDW. Here are the new waterways I’d like to see:

In the new waterways boats would launch in a circular pattern – in both directions:
• Magic Kingdom (at the current MK dock at the front of the park).
• Epcot (at the current Epcot dock at the International Gateway).
• Hollywood Studios (at the current HS dock at the front of the park).
• Animal Kingdom (at a new dock in between The Oasis and Discovery Island).

This boat service would not replace the current Friendships that travel between Hollywood Studios and Epcot and make stops at Epcot area resorts. The new route would only stop at theme parks.

Returning to the busses, I believe Disney should have a “next bus” type system to help guests better judge the wait time, and now that there are multiple ways to get around, knowing the times would be very beneficial in planning the trip to your destination.

That’s what I’d love to see at the world in relationship to transportation.

What do you think? Comment below on any areas of transportation that the park could use.

And for your listening pleasure:
A song…sung to Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok”
Wake up in the morning feeling like Walt Disney
Grab my ears, I’m out the door, I’m gonna hit the Kingdom
Before I leave, brush my teeth with my Donald tooth-brush
‘Cause when I leave for parks, I’m in quite a rush!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Walt Disney Animation Studios: Part 47: Meet the Robinsons

Series Intro: This is Part 47 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors.

Official Title: Meet the Robinsons
Release: March 23, 2007
Running Time: 95 minutes
Estimated Cost: n/a
Estimated Revenue: $169.34 million (ouch!)
Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
Orphan child, Lewis, is a poor inventor, but on his way to stardom, when one day he meets a boy from the future, Wilbur. Because of the Bowler Hat Guy, Wilbur and Lewis wind up in the future. Lewis finally feels like he’s part of a family while he works on the time machine at Wilbur’s. Things turn bad when Bowler Hat Guy follows Lewis into the future, bent on stealing Lewis’ inventions. It’s revealed that the Wilbur’s family is actually Lewis’ family, in the future. And Bowler Hat Guy is Lewis’ roommate from the orphanage. Lewis’ inventions save the day, and as his dream of seeing his birth mother (before she left him on the steps of the orphanage) becomes reality, he realizes that the past is behind him and he mist “keep moving forward” and think of his future family. Lewis is adopted by the judge of the science fair, and we can see how his future family evolved out of the people surrounding him during the science fair.

Not a musical, but a great score.

Plot Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Overall, I enjoyed this movie.

Animation Rating: 2 out of 5
WDAS did up it’s game. The animation was less bulky and more fluid than Chicken Little, but was still amatureistic when compared to PIXAR’s current release Cars. In fact, the animation was reminiscent of 1997’s Toy Story.

The Test of Time:
Hasn’t stood up at all!

Through the Modern Lens
PIXAR’s John Lasseter took over this film and rewrote about 60% of it. That would explain why the plot was SOO much better than Chicken, but not as to why the animation wasn’t up to par. I LOVED the future world (think about it). There were lots of nods to the Tomorrowland areas of Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. Not only was there Space Mountain and the Astro-Orbiters, but the bit that sent me rocketing, was the People Movers (last time I was in WDW, I road the People Mover about three times a night across three or four nights). Plus, “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” (from Carousel of Progress).

Next Up:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

PIXAR Animation Studios: Part 7: Cars

Series Intro: In my purposeful retrospective of WDAS I couldn’t ignore it’s younger sister: PIXAR. This is Part 7 in the retrospective of PIXAR

Official Title: Cars
Release: June 9, 2006
Running Time: 117 minutes (another long “kids” movie)
Estimated Cost: $120 million
Estimated Revenue: $461.98 million (about $150 million less than The Incredibles)
Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
Hotshot, rookie race-car, Lighting McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), ties for first with two other cars in a huge race. But on his way to the tie-breaking race, he gets pulled over and arrested for speeding, in a backwoods, former Route 66 glory town, Radiator Springs. The residents of Radiator Springs are proud of their depressed town and force McQueen to stay and repair the road he tore up when trying to escape his prison sentence. Being a racing-car he wasn’t built for hauling loads and finds this task very difficult. As he, begrudgingly, fixes the road, he becomes friends with the eclectic residents and possibly falls in love with Sally Carrera. But Doc Hudson, former race car champ himself, sees through McQueen and tells the media where to find him. McQueen makes it to the race on time, without saying “good-bye” to his new friends. During the race, the residents arrive to be McQueen’s pit crew (fulfilling some of their dreams). One of the race-cars, Chick Hicks, cheats his way to the finish line, by crashing into forerunner Strip “The King” Weathers. McQueen refuses to cross the finish line first as The King is unable to finish the race. Hicks crosses first, to boos from the audience, while McQueen (thinking of Doc) helps The King cross the line – McQueen coming in third. Dinoco, who was to sponsor the winner of the race, refuses to sponsor Hicks, but offers the job to McQueen. McQueen turns it down to return to Radiator Springs and put it back on the map!

Plot Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Overall, it was an excellent movie, but I hated McQueen for over half the movie. He was just a jerk. I was routing for him to be arrested and enjoyed watching him struggle in Radiator Springs. This is generally not what one wants from a hero.

Animation Rating: 5 out of 5
PIXAR has done it again, there were moments that I truly forgot this was a cartoon, as some of the cars looked real (except of the anthropomorphic aspect)!

The Test of Time:
A new land in Disney’s California Adventure, a sequel, a possible tv series in the works plus my Kindergarteners still carrying Cars lunch boxes. I believe Cars has stood the short test of time it has faced.

Next Up:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Walt Disney Animation Studios: Part 46: Chicken Little

Series Intro: This is Part 46 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors.

Official Title: Chicken Little
Release: October 3, 2005
Running Time: 81 minutes
Estimated Cost: $150 million
Estimated Revenue: $314.43 million
Overall Rating: 1 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
Story of Chicken Little, plus a fat pig that made me feel uncomfortable and aliens.

It there were any, I was distracted by the bad animation and iffy plot.

Plot Rating: 1 stars out of 5
I am happy to never watch this movie again.

Animation Rating: 1 out of 5
WDAS had such a beautiful movie in Home, and here the cartoony animation reminded me of when Walt himself brought the feature length to the big screen. There just was too much “Saturday morning” for my tastes.

The Test of Time:
Happy to not see this movie standing the test of time.

Through the Modern Lens
That fat pig really did make me feel awkward. And why couldn't the fish talk?

Next Up:
Meet the Robinsons

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

PIXAR Animation: Part 6: The Incredibles

Series Intro: In my purposeful retrospective of WDAS I couldn’t ignore it’s younger sister: PIXAR. This is Part 6 in the retrospective of PIXAR

Official Title: The Incredibles
Release: November 5, 2004
Running Time: 115 minutes (pushing two hours!)
Estimated Cost: $92 million (about $10 million less than Home On The Range
Estimated Revenue: $631.44 million (about$500 million more than Home on The Range
Overall Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
The movie opens in the 1920s, the heyday of the superhero! However, times change (as times often do) and the “Supers” are no longer allowed to practice vigilante justice, as ordered by federal law. Mr. Incredible (the hottests “Super” of the day, settles down for a civilian life with his new bride, Elastagirl, and they have a few kids. Times continues to move forward and Mr. Incredible, now just Bob, finds himself itching to be a Super again. And he takes a highly suspicious job that requires him to fight robots on a tropical island. The job turns sour as it is revealed that Mr. Incredible’s new “boss” is really a spurned lacky who has now turned evil, wanting to be the only and most power Super – he goes by the name, Syndrome. Mrs. Incredible discovers that Bob is in trouble and she hauls to the island to find him (with the older children as stowaways – these children also have super powers). The family works together to escape the island, and back in the city they work together to defeat the robot (who is no longer under Syndrome’s control). After defeating the robot, they return home to find that Syndrome has kidnapped the baby (who up until now has not shown any super powers). The baby, saves himself, with the newfound powers and Supers are welcome back into society.

Plot Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Wow! What a great movie! The story was enthralling, and the characters were three dimensional (and I’m not talking about the animation). One of the best parts of this movie, were how real the characters are – Mr. and Mrs. Incredible have a domestic dispute!

Animation Rating: 4 out of 5
The hair, the faces… all wonderful. The movie really pushed the envelope for animation. It’s going to be really interesting watching what Disney will do with their first CGI movie as compared to this.

The Test of Time:
A few years ago, when I was at WDW, the Incredibles characters has one of the longest waits (just about the same as the Up characters. However, I don’t see continued use of the franchise since the movie’s ended.

Next Up: