This is probably the last post I’ll write before I go to see Disney’s new live action Beauty and the Beast, which comes out on March 17th. As a huge fan of the original film, I look forward to the remake with a mix of excitement (Emma Watson is perfect casting), worry (still not loving the computer animated enchanted objects), and the knowledge that the quality of the new film does nothing to change the first one and the way I feel about it. The impending premiere also has me revisiting some of the interesting details I’ve learned about the original movie and its creation. This includes a few answers (or near answers) to some of the Internet’s burning questions, which is what I’m going to share with you today.
We usually highlight comics characters you might want to know more about when a new movie or TV series puts a little known character in the spotlight. Disney is currently ramping up promotion for a new DuckTales series due out next year, making this the perfect time to get to know the richest duck in the world.
2016 has already had more than its fair share of notable deaths, from legends of the music world to beloved actors to genius comics artists who left us far too soon. But there’s one passing I’d like to recognize here. On May 19 at the impressive age of 96, actor Alan Young died of natural causes. Most of the obituaries I’ve seen focus on his time playing the straight man to a certain talking horse. But to Disney fans, he was and ever shall be the voice of Scrooge McDuck.
One of our faithful readers recently brought our attention to a massive list of Disney songs ranked from worst to best via our Facebook page. Guess which Lady with insomnia read the entire thing in one sitting and has opinions?
Before I dive into those opinions, let me make a few things clear. The sheer volume of Disney music means that just getting through such an undertaking is an accomplishment to be praised. Allison Shoemaker and Dominick Suzanne-Mayer have done an admirable job, even if I don’t agree with all of their choices. Lists on the Internet are just about the most subjective things out there. There is no scientific formula for determining if one Disney song is better than another. They’ve listed their opinions, many of which I think are spot on. This is (mostly) a list of the ones I don’t agree with.
This weekend, Cartoon Sara and I returned from another trip to Walt Disney World. This didn’t leave a lot of time for gaming with The Boy, so this week I wanted to talk about our recent trip.
Mickey’s Not So Scary (Oh, how I hate the name) Halloween Party is a special ticketed event held on select nights in September and October, plus the first night of November. The Magic Kingdom closes to most of the public 7pm and those who purchase party tickets are treated to a night of special shows, parades, fireworks, character greets, and even more additional pay events. The fan following for this event can be pretty enthusiastic, but when an adult ticket is going to cost you around $70, you can’t help but start to wonder if this event is really worth the cold hard cash.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are thinking about attending either as an adult or with your family:
You can wear costumes, even adults.
It is possible that you have always dreamed of running around the Magic Kingdom in full costume. The trouble is that if you are an adult, Disney doesn’t really encourage such things. In fact, people have been booted out of the park for wearing a costume that might be easily confused with that of an actual paid character performer. Disney spends a lot of money training their walk-around characters and they don’t want some Tinkerbell impostor interacting with the guests without the Disney seal of approval. I know for some people this feels a little extreme, but it makes a lot of sense. You get two Tinkerbells crossing paths and the whole illusion can be ruined for a little one. And once you see how genuine and real those little kids are with the Disney characters, you won’t want anyone ruining things for them either.
During the Halloween Party however, all bets are off when it comes to costumes. People and families must plan all year because rarely has the people watching been so good when I have been at the park. And don’t even get me started on how sweet it can be to see Mom and Dad as Jasmine and Aladdin carting around a baby dressed as Abu.
Candy, Candy, Candy
During the Halloween party, everyone gets a bag and is welcome to visit the candy stations. You don’t even have to say “Trick or Treat” before a cast member starts shoveling candy into your bag. The good news is that the candy is good stuff, and one stop at the treat station had us sugared up for the rest of the night. So that is certainly a plus. If you put this into the perspective of your $70 ticket, it becomes a lot less impressive because the candy lines can also get very long. And while I stood there, negotiating trades for The Boy’s Now and Laters, it certainly crossed my mind that I could buy an awful lot of candy with $70.
Special Things – Shows, Parades, and Rides
I feel that this is where you can see the real value of your party ticket. Disney has exclusive shows, fireworks, and a parade that can only be seen during the party. For me, this turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag. Though Disney will only sell a certain amount of tickets for the party event, the place was still really crowded and I am not a fan of getting dirty looks from parents when I find myself standing in front of their children (even if I have been there for 15 mins already and they are only coming up behind me a few minutes before the show is supposed to start). Also, I am not a huge fan of the shows that happen in front of the castle as they are often too cheesy even for me. The thing is that this year’s show has a return of the Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus and they are just SOOOOOOOO amazing. No really, feel free to spoil yourself by watching the video below. I thought my face was going to snap off from all the smiling and nostalgic glee.
Beyond that though, I am not that into character greets and fireworks. Also, they only keep certain rides open, so it is possible that you were trying to get to something earlier in the day that you still won’t be able to get to at night. Happily, most of the popular things are still running and the lines stay manageable since there are no fast passes are available, putting everyone essentially in the same spooky boat.
You gotta give it to Disney when it comes setting the stage. As soon as the party starts, all the lights change in the park and even the cast members have changed into their party clothes. I was really quite impressed. So much that I even grabbed The Boy and Cartoon Sara at the Haunted Mansion to sneak a peek at a cast member who had eerily positioned herself in one of the hallways, staring at guests as they walked by. Oh, and she had skeletal make-up and cobwebs in her hair. Very cool. But $70 cool?
More chances to spend all your money!
The parks is just full of party “exclusives” to spend your money on. T-shirts, $15 pins, mugs… It’s true that you can find some of these elsewhere and later, but it can be very hard to resist that lemonade slush filled poison apple mug when you are trying to stay up for an 11pm parade. Disney is a business and their business is making money. Don’t you ever forget that. And in case you were wondering, of course I bought that mug.
While I don’t have any serious regrets about going, I will say that attending this event is something that I would certainly plan better going forward. With the high prices, this party can get insanely expensive before you even enter the park. The idea here is to decide what is important to you. Want a night when you can see as many Disney villain as possible? Love parades and fireworks to an insatiable but healthy degree? This party might be your dream come true. But if you have already been at the park all day, there is a very good chance you have done all the rides and are feeling tired, this leaves getting your money’s worth feeling more like a chore than a fun challenge. Don’t quite love the cutesy shows and literally bubble-gum scent parade floats? An evening at Trader Sam’s Grotto might be more up your alley instead. As much as I enjoyed myself, I couldn’t help but tally things in my head and think about what other things The Boy and I might have been able to do for $140. Especially since the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival is happening at the same time. Actually, now that I think about it, I think I might have seriously enjoyed this event more with a beer, or a shot of rum in my Dole Whip. 😉 Sadly, that kind of thing is impossible to come by in the Magic Kingdom.
If I were to attend this event again, I would not bother buying a ticket for the day. Instead, I would just buy a pass that with one less day and just use the event ticket to attend in the evening. I could then spend the day relaxing and getting ready. Otherwise, I would just leave the park at 7pm, avoid the party completely and find a quiet lounge to wind down in. Maybe destroy some poor unsuspecting but well-meaning families at Disney pub trivia. Now that my friends, is something I can say without a doubt is a good time.
Sounds like a good time? Ever been to the event yourself and want a chance to chime in? You know what to do! Get all up in that comments section below!
As they have in so many fields, ladies have long struggled for the respect and recognition they’re due in the world of animation. The nature of animation means few creators get the spotlight to begin with, but the less in-depth histories of the art form don’t tend to include a lot of women’s names. Women have certainly been part of the history of animation from its earliest days, but their contributions are given far too little attention.
Fortunately, there have been efforts to correct this. One recent highlight was the 2015 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, which made women in animation one of its themes for the year. Evidence of the theme could be seen in the very first all-women jury for the festival and the following series of shorts promoting both the festival and the work of five ladies who made major contributions to the art form. These beautiful shorts were created by students at the internationally renowned Gobelins school in France and depict fanciful versions of these amazing women’s lives and careers. Since these gorgeous shorts are more fantasy than biography and the few lines at the end only provide a bit of background (for those of you who can read French), I’ve added short bios of the ladies featured in the shorts should you want to learn more.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the opening of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion and Disney (never one to miss a promotional opportunity) has decided to start the party early rather than wait an additional 5 years for the Golden Jubilee. The internet is filled with all sorts of news about new merchandise, a tv special, and a delicious teaser for a new movie. All this can be pretty hard to navigate for some, but for those of us who feel that the Haunted Mansion is quite possibly the greatest ride the parks have ever created, it’s a fine time to once again join the 999 happy haunts and celebrate.
In order to start things off right, I have compiled a guide bursting with spooky goodness and ideas for all levels of Haunted Mansion fans – from the tech buffs to the all out Disney-phile. So hop in your doom buggy, relax, and just make sure you keep an eye out for unwanted hitchhikers.
Cartoon Sara and Tiny Doom have joined forces for total juggernaut of a post! Lego+Disney+Princesses! Will the blog survive? Eh, probably. Below we review 2 of the Lego Disney Princess sets (we skipped Cinderella’s Castle,Ariel’s Magical Kiss and Rapunzel’s Captivity, er…Creativity Tower).
Tiny Doom: My perspective on the Lego “Friends” line has been a long time coming. And well, it’s complicated. I was a lucky kid. My dad was always very supportive of non-traditional toys for girls. He never bought dolls. Instead he brought home “Construx”, “Capsela”, and other toys in blue boxes (yes, I made a motorized dinosaur for a school project). The world continued to turn.
While I feel one could argue that Lego sets are largely gender neutral, Lego does have the “Friends” line that is specifically marketed to girls. The Friends themselves are shaped differently than the traditional Lego mini figures and the sets are a more gender-skewed in terms of subject matter and coloring. The Lego Friends camp, shop, and play music in a magical pink and pastel colored world.
This is the direction they went with the Disney Princess sets.
Cartoon Sara: My relationship with Disney licensed toys is a tough one, particularly when it comes to the merchandising juggernaut that is the Disney Princesses. I’m a longtime Disney fan and the chance to have toy representations of some of my favorite characters is one that I jump at. Or I would, if there were more that met my standards. Admittedly, I am pickier than the average six year old girl at whom these toys are aimed. But you would think that, of all the various companies that create Disney Princess products, at least one would be interested in making figures or dolls that were as screen accurate as possible. Unfortunately, capturing the look of the characters seems to take a back seat to making minimal tweaks to the Barbie mold, or having the doll light up, or making collector-aimed dolls that look very fancy, but not very accurate. The biggest case of “so close and yet so far” for me was the “Animator’s Collection,” a series of high end dolls based on top Disney animators’ drawings of the characters…as toddlers.
With Lego, my expectations were different. Lego is not in the business of making faithful figural representations of licensed characters. Instead, they translate characters into their existing mini figure style, with the classic cylindrical yellow faces, c-grip hands, and block compatible feet. That’s part of the fun of licensed Lego characters: seeing how they look in the Lego style. So surely that was what we’d be getting with the Lego Disney Princesses, right?
Tiny Doom: You would think so wouldn’t you CS? Especially since Lego mini figures do come in the mermaid and red-headed archer variety. But sadly, no, and this brings us to my first issue with these sets. This is really my issues with the Friends line in general. After all the mini-figures are a huge part of purchasing a Lego set. So when it comes to Lego Friends, why not a traditional mini-figure? Why the need to Barbie-ize the iconic shape of Lego Mini figures? Friends figures are thinner and taller and therefore lack the feel of a Lego mini-figure. I don’t think it’s made them any cuter, just perhaps less interesting. Functionally, the figures are not articulated so Merida can’t hold her bow properly. The hair for these figures is also a bit more rubbery with matte-ish finish. Perhaps that is supposed to be more realistic? I can tell you one thing, it doesn’t snap on to the head as well, and that’s annoying. Additionally, Ariel and Merida have the same faces. That seems a bit lazy to me, or is the message here really that Disney Princesses are that interchangeable?
Cartoon Sara: The sets themselves suffer from some of the same problems as the figures. Neither one is outright bad and if all you’re looking for is a set to build, you won’t be disappointed. This is the classic Lego building experience with the nice, clear instructions and bricks that snap together with ease (and require the strength of a thousand weight lifters to separate), plus a newer innovation: numbered bags separating the pieces into groups. But if you’re hoping for environments from the Disney Princess films faithfully replicated in brick form, you may be disappointed with Lego’s offerings. In part because each princess gets only one or two sets, as opposed to the more generous offerings for movie licenses such as the Harry Potter or Star Wars films, the sets aren’t so much sets for a single scene as hybrids of various parts of the films. Instead of an accurate Lego version of Ariel’s grotto, we get a weird small environment with an archway and Triton’s trident inexplicably mounted overhead. Merida’s Highland Games fares a little better by including part of the castle and some archery targets. But it also seems to borrow from other parts of the movie by bringing in a fish on a spit and Merida’s three brothers as bears. From a play standpoint, this set at least gives kids more options for what their minifigs can do in the play set. But from a Disney nerd standpoint, it’s not as exciting as seeing every last detail of a classic Disney scene remade in Lego. Continue reading
There are a lot of guides out there for adults who are planning to visit Disney World without children. As I have been planning my most recent trip down there, I have found these guides to be rather useless. The problem is that many of these guides operate under the following assumptions: a) I’m rich b) I like to golf and c) everyone in my party loves Disney. I know that is might be hard for us Disney-philes to understand, but it is very possible for a person to visit a Disney Park and not really be all that into Disney movies, characters, music, and whatever new thing The Mouse and his minions are providing for us to throw our money at.
As you read this post, I am (hopefully) down in Florida, literally rolling around is all the sugary sweet Disney goodness…because that’s the kind of girl I am. Along with me however, are The Boy, Tiny Doom, and her partner in matrimony, the Goog. Neither Tiny Doom nor The Goog hold a candle for the Disney Parks like The Boy and I do, so part of the challenge in planning this trip has been to find a decent balance. How do grown-ups with varying levels of interest in Disney enjoy a vacation together? Well, here is a list of what I have been focusing on.
A little knowledge, as they say, can be a dangerous thing. It’s particularly true in the case of movies based on real events. If you know absolutely nothing about the actual history the movie is based on, you can watch it without wasting a second of your moviegoing time worrying about what the film is getting wrong. If you know enough to write a thesis on the events in question, you can make a choice to pick apart what the film gets wrong, rejoice in what it gets right, or ponder the reasoning behind whatever changes have been made to the real story. But if you know just enough to realize that what you’re seeing probably isn’t 100% true, you’re left with far more questions than certainties. If you know that the movie got a few things wrong, is everything you’re not certain of total fiction?
This is the situation I found myself in while watching Saving Mr. Banks, Disney’s recent film about the making of Mary Poppins, specifically the pre-production stages that author P.L. Travers was involved in. I did enjoy the film, but I frequently found myself wondering about whether certain events depicted in the film actually happened that way. I may know more about the making of Mary Poppins than the average person, but I still don’t know everything there is to know about the behind the scenes dramas and the people involved. I was left with a lot of questions. Fortunately, this being the internet age, the answers weren’t very far away. So if anyone finds themselves in the same boat I was in, or just wants to learn a bit about what went on during the making of Mary Poppins, here’s what I’ve learned about what the new movie got right, got wrong, got partially right, and completely forgot about.
The following sections contain spoilers for the film Saving Mr. Banks. Read at your own risk.