One Hour at D23 Expo 2017 – Part One: Costume Displays

I hadn’t actually planned on going to the D23 Expo this year. I’d been priced out of being able to afford tickets, so I’d made alternate plans for last weekend including going to see a band gig at a concert in the park one night and seeing other favorite performers throughout the day and evening at the Disneyland Resort. But then thanks to a friend, I wound up unexpectedly getting a ticket for Sunday. I knew I needed to head over to the park that day around 12-ish, but I figured I might be able to squeeze in an hour or so on the Expo show floor, so I said yes, please, and thank you!

I knew from previous years that the earlier you arrived in the morning, the longer the wait to get in as it takes a while for the crowd and security to start flowing once the doors open. So I got there when I could and it took me “only” about an hour and a half wait in the line to get inside the convention center (as opposed to the two to three hour wait other friends reported who arrived earlier than I had).

The line outside the convention center. I know it just looks like a crowd, but it was a constantly twisting and turning line!

Once inside, sure enough, I was going to have just one hour to see whatever I could see before I had to leave. So this meant I couldn’t stand in line to get inside two of the most popular areas – neither the Parks & Resorts Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area:

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge display area. This contained models and props from the new Star Wars lands at Disneyland Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Nor the Walt Disney Archives’ Pirates display:

The Walt Disney Archives “Pirates Life For Me” showcase.

Instead, I had to wander the Expo floor and see what I could see! Fortunately this included a couple of great costume displays, which I will share with you today. Next week, I’ll share some pictures of other things I spotted while I was there!

First I walked right into some live action Disney princess and villains costumes. Continue reading

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40 Things I Love About Star Wars

In honor of the major milestone on May 25, 2017 of the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope, I decided this week to run down a list of 40 things I love about the Star Wars franchise.

Note: these are in a random order pretty much off the top of my head as they occurred to me aside from the final number one choice!

 

  1. Kylo Ren’s temper tantrums – EPIC, but duck!

 

  1. Darth Maul – such a bold colorful character created randomly in the middle of the prequel chaos. He was the Boba Fett of the prequel trilogy and I still wish we had seen him more in films.

 

  1. Poe Dameron / Cassian Andor – I would like to take this time to personally thank the casting directors for giving us Oscar Isaac and Diego Luna. That is all.

 

  1. General Leia – for all the girls who grew up wanting to be Princess Leia… and then became the women who want to grow up to be General Leia, Carrie Fisher is owed a great debt of gratitude.

 

  1. Getting to see actors from the prequel series and the original series in the sequel series and standalones. Yay for continuity!

 

  1. Wicket. Yes, the space teddy bears were probably not the best idea in retrospect. But still… cuddly Wicket.

 

  1. Getting to make your own custom Star Wars action figure with your own face on it at various Disney Star Wars events via D-Tech Me. Everything. REALLY hoping this comes to the new Star Wars Lands as a regular offering.

 

  1. And along with that – the “Build Your Own” stops at both Disneyland Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios where you can build your own light saber, droid (ala R2-D2) and newly introduced protocol droids (ala C-3PO).

 

  1. The dearly missed Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. No, I never went to one, but I always enjoyed reading about them and would have loved to attend even once.

 

  1. Hugging Chewbacca at the Launch Bay at either Disneyland Park or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you have not been hugged by a Wookiee, your life is incomplete. Sorry.  Continue reading

Mousertainment Movies: What’s Worth Watching in 2017?

Today I look ahead to the films being released in 2017 and make my best guesses as to which ones will be worth watching in theaters (for me at least!), although a few may wait for home entertainment releases.

There are a good amount of big tentpole films that are must-see for me in the coming year, but there are also a few smaller films on my radar as well.

Here is my list in order of how much I’m anticipating seeing them!

10) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Drax
  • Baby Groot
  • Kurt Russell as Ego
  • Chris Pratt as Star-Lord
  • Continuation of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) storyline

9) Cars 3 (Jun 16)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Pixar
  • Another visit with the wonderful Cars characters
  • Really hoping it’s better than Cars 2

8) Stephen King’s It (Sep 8)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Love the original source material
  • Love the original mini-series – it’s absolutely perfect and this will have a lot to live up to but I’m strangely rather optimistic about it.
  • Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise – nobody can compare to Tim Curry in his defining take on this role, but it looks like they’re going for a different style here and I am a big fan of all of the Skarsgards – Bill was terrific in the wonderful Netflix series Hemlock Grove. He can definitely do menacing and creepy.

7) Kong: Skull Island (Mar 10)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Tom Hiddleston
  • I’ve yet to see a King Kong movie I really like but I am intrigued by the concept and origins of the character.
  • I miss the amazing banana-breath audio-animatronic version of King Kong at Universal Studios Hollywood.  Not sure anything digital will ever top anything practical, however.

6) Murder on the Orient Express (Nov 22)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Director Kenneth Branagh
  • Agatha Christie stories are always fun
  • Stellar cast

Continue reading

Mousertainment Movies: What Was Worth Watching in 2016?

Today I will look back to my predictions at this time last year to see if I guessed correctly as to what films were worth watching and therefore brought me out to see them in theaters in 2016 (marked with an *) and which films I opted to wait to see as home entertainment releases.

Below were my picks in January 2016 in their original order of my interest in seeing them. At the end of the feature, I’ll put them in the order in which I actually liked them best!

Here was what I was looking forward to a year ago:

10) Finding Dory *

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Pixar
  • Ellen Degeneres as Dory

Reasons to go see it:

  • Baby Dory
  • Otters and Sea Lions
  • Ellen Degeneres as Dory

9) Zootopia *

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Disney animation
  • Ginnifer Goodwin as Judy Hopps
  • Humor looks cute

Reasons to go see it:

  • Flash
  • Probably the most entertaining story of the three Disney and Pixar releases this year
  • Appealing original world and characters

8) Gambit

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Continuation of X-Men Universe storyline
  • Channing Tatum reportedly really wanted the role – let’s see what he does with it!

Reasons I didn’t go see it:

  • A few weeks after this list was originally posted, this film was pushed back to a future production date. It has not yet been released.

7) X-Men: Apocalypse

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Continuation of X-Men Universe storyline
  • Finally getting to see a proper-looking Professor X in the prequel timeline!
  • Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy

Reasons I didn’t go see it:

  • Waiting for home entertainment release

6) Moana *

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Disney animation
  • Dwayne Johnson as Maui
  • But let’s not forget Lilo & Stitch did a Hawaiian-set film first!

Reasons to go see it:

  • Terrific soundtrack
  • Dwayne Johnson as Maui
  • But Lilo & Stitch is still a way better film 

Continue reading

The Animation Courtyard – A Magical Retreat at Disney California Adventure

Inside the Animation Courtyard.

Inside the Animation Courtyard.

There is a hidden gem inside the Disney Animation Building in Disney California Adventure’s Hollywood Land: the Animation Courtyard.

This is not only a central location to lead you to other attractions such as the Animation Academy (to be spotlighted tomorrow!) and Turtle Talk with Crush, along with the Meet & Greet area for Anna and Elsa. But it is a destination unto itself – a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle of the parks.

It functions both as a place to get out of the rain or sun and just rest for a bit, as well as a wonderful showcase for Disney and PIXAR animation and musical history.

I love going in here and just sitting (either on one of the couches here or even on the floor) and watching and listening – whether for a few moments or the full half-hour-ish loop of songs, animation and drawings projected in 360 degrees all around you!

So many films are represented here – from classics like Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty artwork.

Sleeping Beauty artwork.

Through the renaissance of Disney animation like Aladdin and The Lion King

The Lion King animation.

The Lion King animation.

To modern showstoppers like Frozen. I’ve yet to see “Let it Go” play here in the Courtyard without many guests breaking out into the chorus along with Elsa! Continue reading

Mousertainment Movies: Top 5 Favorite PIXAR Films and Top 5 Favorite PIXAR Shorts

Right off the top I’ll explain why I’m splitting this list into five and five rather than just doing a Top 10 PIXAR favorites list: there are shorts that I like as much or better than the PIXAR feature films, so while my features list really likely would’ve been closer to “Top 7”, I thought that was silly, so I’m splitting it in half this way.

Now it may seem like film fan blasphemy to only have seven beloved PIXAR films, but the truth is, while I like several more, there are only my main grouping that I truly love and would and do re-watch regularly.

So here is that features list:

5) Monsters, Inc.

  • A far more satisfying buddy film for me than the Toy Story films (nothing against them, it’s just that the Monsters films engaged me more). I loved the universe of the monsters, the friendship between Mike and Sulley, the villainy of Randall, the bureaucracy of Roz and the adorableness of Boo. Not to mention the great visuals of the door factory. I thought this was a fun world to experience and I was happy to return to it in the prequel!

4) Ratatouille

  • This movie is not what you think it is. It is not about a rat who wants to cook. It’s about dreaming and achieving and not cowering to others’ perceptions of your limitations. The core message of the film is not just “Anyone Can Cook”, but “Anyone Can Do Anything They Dream”. And it’s a foodie film, too. Get beyond your distaste of rats (and critics!) to find your taste for Ratatouille!

3) WALL-E

  • If my top two weren’t so beloved, this could also easily have topped my list. A love story as classic and eternal as Lady & The Tramp or Beauty & The Beast, if you don’t get teary as WALL-E courts EVE, then you may be more of a robot than he is! At its center, yes, it’s about a PC that falls in love with a Mac. Well, okay, no, that’s just the visual of it! But really, it’s a terribly romantic film, wrapped up in an eco-warning that if we don’t clean up after ourselves and stay healthy, we can lose both the planet and our independence. But really, just watch it for one of those beautiful perfect moments in a film – WALL-E’s “dance” with EVE and a fire extinguisher in outer space. Continue reading

Mousertainment Movies: Top 10 Favorite Disney Animated Films

I’ve been looking forward to doing this feature – and tomorrow’s, too!

So obviously everyone’s “top 10 favorites” list will look a bit different from anyone else’s and it’s all subjective, of course. And while my top 25 Disney animated features list was pretty easy to whittle down, narrowing it to just 10 was more difficult. Still, I had a general feeling for what most of this list would consist of, though I wasn’t totally sure in which order they would fall. And I could continue to wiggle a few of these around into different rankings, but the top few are definitely my biggest favorites even if they were switched around in order a bit.

Before I get into my list, however, I’d like to stress that this is my grouping of *favorites* – which would absolutely fall into a different order and even different films than a 10 *best* list – which I may do another time.

And one more thing I’d like to acknowledge: while I grew up with and love all of the classic Disney animated films, none of them – even my beloved Alice in Wonderland – actually made it onto this list! The reason for this is that I made my selections based on the films that I watch most often, in many cases due to my love of their soundtracks, but also the themes addressed in them.

Now, without further ado – my top 10 favorites!

10) The Little Mermaid

  • The glory of the soundtrack featuring the brilliance of Howard Ashman, combined with some of the most colorful and gorgeous hand drawn animation ever makes for one of the greatest Disney films ever. Perfect songs, perfect princess, perfect villain, perfect sidekicks. This is the textbook on how to do it right and it’s no surprise this was the film that jump-started a new golden age of Disney animation.

9) Beauty and the Beast

  • Next year, audiences will fall in love all over again with this “tale as old as time” with its new live-action incarnation. But in the meantime, I strongly recommend you revisit this touching story of a girl who sees beneath the surface of a beast to the potential prince within. The ballroom scene alone is worth watching the entire film for, but the absolutely exquisite voice casting of Angela Lansbury, David Ogden Stiers and Jerry Orbach show just how critical the sidekick characters can be – especially in the showstopping number, “Be Our Guest”!

8) The Lion King

  • Yes, it’s a whole lot of Hamlet. And that’s just fine with this Shakespeare fan! While Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent may generally be the most popular villain in the Disney canon, to me, Scar is the absolute tops! From his purring, seductive tones to his sheer murderous actions, his evil is devastating as it is so very human. While theoretically, this is Simba’s story, I’m wild about all the rest of the characters from the fussy Zazu and wise Rafiki to the hilarious henchmen hyenas to the beloved sidekicks Timon & Pumbaa. Not to mention Simba’s parents, the noble Mufasa and loving Sarabi, and of course, Simba’s spunky romantic interest, Nala. Again, it is all tied together by an amazing soundtrack. The resulting film is timeless and amazing.

7) The Emperor’s New Groove

  • Wait, what? So few people seem to even remember this one exists, but between the absolute brilliance of David Spade’s Kuzco and John Goodman’s Pacha along with the sheer magic of Eartha Kitt’s Yzma and Patrick Warburton’s Kronk, the humor and charm of this film never fails to make me laugh out loud. From the first time I saw it, I dubbed it “a Warner Brothers cartoon as made by Disney”. Please do yourselves a favor and watch this underappreciated gem of a film!  Otherwise, Yzma may turn you into a flea, a harmless, little flea…

6) Hercules

  • And speaking of humor… this film absolutely belongs to James Woods’ makes-me-laugh-till-I-cry Hades. With some extra credit to his scheming henchmen Pain & Panic. But then there’s Meg – who breaks and steals my heart every time I watch this film. One of the most imperfect, yet relatable, Disney heroines ever, it is Meg who, as the audience surrogate, makes us appreciate “Wonder Boy” Hercules. And then there is the ultimate inspirational song, “Go the Distance” that makes you believe that anything is possible. Another overlooked film that’s worth your time. Continue reading