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
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My Global Disney Parks & Resorts Bucket List

A hint/spoiler for the top of my “bucket” list!

Earlier this week on April 12, Disneyland Paris (originally “EuroDisney”) celebrated 25 years since its opening. Some friends of mine were there amidst the bustle and festivities. Along with various merchandise offerings, there was a grand promenade of 25 rare characters including those from more obscure films like Treasure Planet and Meet the Robinsons. Special appearances also included Jessica Rabbit, Pleakley from Lilo & Stitch, and – most exciting to me – the Cheshire Cat and March Hare!

And yet impressive as this was, given the opportunity, Disneyland Paris would still be lower on the list of global/non-U.S. mainland Disney locations that I’d most like to visit.

I’ve previously shared my “Disney Do” list of Disney experiences I’d like to someday have, but today I’m going to share my global Disney Parks & Resorts list of where I would go if I won the lottery or if someone magically said “you can go anywhere in the world today – where would you like to go?” (Because of course my answer would be somewhere Disney!)

5. Aulani

  • To be honest, I have very little interest in visiting Aulani as it seems to be too much of a hybrid – it’s Hawaii by Disney and therefore, to me, seems to be not enough Hawaii if I was looking for that authentic experience and not enough Disney if I was looking for that magical experience. It is lowest on my Disney priorities, however, if I really did win the lottery and could visit EVERY Disney location in the world, I’d certainly stop here, too. The resort looks lovely and the lazy river looks very relaxing. If I was doing a global tour, this would be my final stop to just slow down and rest at the end of it all.

4. Disneyland Paris

  • The home of the first Alice in Wonderland maze attraction (this one dedicated to the original animated version of the film) also has a unique Ratatouille-themed area in its Walt Disney Studios Park. While I’d start with those two attractions, I’d also be interested in seeing their parades and lights and fireworks spectaculars, along with the Paris-exclusive live shows such as Forest of Enchantment and Mickey and the Magician. I also like that their interpretation of Tomorrowland – called Discoveryland – has a steampunk vibe to it, and of course visiting their Phantom Manor attraction (their variation on the Haunted Mansion) and seeing the dragon that lies beneath their castle would be musts, too! 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

Mad Hatter Day is Just My Cup of Tea

Mad Hatter pin

Mad Hatter pin

For some time, October 6th or “10/6” has been celebrated as “Mad Hatter Day” since 10/6 is part of the inscription on the sales tag tucked into the character’s hat in many traditional depictions and illustrations of this character from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The original meaning of “In This Style 10/6” was literally an advertisement of the cost of a hat of that design made by a hat-maker – ten shillings and sixpence.

So in honor of this mad occasion, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite performances of the Mad Hatter!

5) Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, 2010)

  • This version inherits Johnny Depp’s special brand of madness, being another in a string of Tim Burton’s lost, lonely, longing boys (including Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Ichabod Crane, Sweeney Todd, and Barnabas Collins). They’re all variations on a theme, made appealing by Depp’s projected vulnerability. While the shtick didn’t work quite as well in the sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, his sweet, innocent, mad sorrow still charms in the first film under the direction of Depp’s artistic soulmate, Burton.

4) Mad Hatter (Ed Wynn – voice character, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, 1951)

  • Don’t let’s be silly! One of Walt Disney’s favorite actors to work with provided not just the voice of the Mad Hatter, but also the visual reference for the animators, as well as some improvised dialogue. His comic instincts and the actor’s lisp helped define the resulting character onscreen. Charming, delightful and of course, mad as a hatter, he was the one I wanted to dance around a tea party table with as a child. But I would not trust him to fix my watch! Continue reading

Top 5 Other Things That Could Be Done With Disneyland’s Tomorrowland

I’ve previously addressed some areas of Disneyland Park that I’d love to see upgraded – one, Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree, is no more and the other, Mickey’s Toontown, is rumored to be a future expansion site, likely for Fantasyland.

So today I’d like to turn your attention to the other land in most dire need of an overhaul at Disneyland Park (and some would argue at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort, too) – Tomorrowland.

Currently, it functions as a temporary Star Wars Land – featuring the Star Tours and Hyperspace Mountain attractions, the Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple show, the Star Wars Launch Bay Meet & Greet location, the Star Wars: Path of the Jedi highlight reel running in the Tomorrowland Theater, plus assorted themed food concoctions such as the meals served at the Galactic Grill (formerly Tomorrowland Terrace). Oh, yeah, there’s Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and the Astro Orbiter there, too. (Okay, and Autopia and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage as well, but they’re so on the outskirts they could still be considered Fantasyland attractions.)

Unfortunately, none of this mish-mash of attractions actually represents anything resembling “tomorrow”. The subs and rockets and cars (despite a recent Autopia refurbishment, still running on gas rather than electric) are all decidedly retro technology, the Toy Story attraction belongs at the Pixar Park – Disney California Adventure, and Star Wars takes place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”.

So what can be done with Tomorrowland?

In the short term, nothing. While the actual Star Wars Land is being built on the opposite side of the park, Tomorrowland will likely continue to be the temporary version of it for the next few years. But after that, then where will we be?

Well, here are some of my off-the-top-of-my-head personal suggestions…

First off, I’d’ve put Star Wars Land here given the choice, but I accept that the space is not ideal for the matching lands being designed for both Disneyland Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort. But I would’ve been happy to see:

  • Pizza Port or Tomorrowland Terrace become a Star Wars cantina (WITH entertainment daily and nightly)
  • Retheme Buzz Lightyear to Star Wars: Rebels
  • Redesign Astro Orbiter vehicles into landspeeders or Rey’s speeder bike
  • Raze Innoventions and Autopia and put a dark ride there
  • Tear down the People Mover tracks if they can no longer be used OR put an Empire Strikes Back speeder bike attraction up there using a similar system to the new TRON bikes at Shanghai Disneyland
  • Make the subs a visit to an undersea alien world

Second, I’d’ve also been fine with this area becoming a Marvel Land:

  • Innoventions would’ve been a perfect Stark Expo location (keep the Meet & Greets they had and add more as new films were released plus have some technology previews – only keep them current and relevant)
  • Turn Star Tours into a variation of the Iron Man Experience going into Hong Kong Disneyland
  • Retheme the Astro-Orbiter as a trip to Asgard
  • Retheme Buzz Lightyear as an animated Avengers attraction
  • Retheme Space Mountain to Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Just accept that subs and cars are actually part of Fantasyland and adjust the maps

However, since Star Wars Land is happening elsewhere, and the removal of Marvel Meet & Greets from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure is strongly signaling that the rumored Marvel Land will most likely be built somewhere around the Hollywood Land area, neither of these are possibilities for Tomorrowland at this point. So what else could be done? Continue reading

My Disney Do List

“If you can dream it, you can do it!”

I think that people’s dreams are as diverse as people are themselves. So what I dream of doing may be completely different than what you dream of doing – and that’s awesome! Because if everyone wanted to do the same thing, how boring (and crowded!) would that get?!

Some people dream of climbing Mt. Everest, of winning the lottery, or getting a medal at the Olympics. Some dream of becoming President or marrying royalty. Some dream of hitting the perfect note or creating the next iPhone or Facebook.

As you can probably tell from this blog, I pretty much eat, sleep and breathe Disney.  So it’s probably no surprise that my dreams are about Disney, too! If I wanted to travel the world – I’d want to travel it with Disney. And I’ll admit, I’d love to visit all of the Disney Parks worldwide, but I don’t really expect to have the opportunity to do so.

But there are a few Disney dreams that I have already had the chance to make come true:

I visited the Walt Disney World Resort. More than once. (And I hope to go back again in the next year or two. And again after that!)

I ate at Club 33. The real one – before it was totally changed and redesigned. The one that Walt Disney himself oversaw much of the design of.

Those were HUGE – probably my top two Disney dreams that I waited decades to achieve.

But there is still so much more I dream of doing – and a lot of it, I really hope and think I can do!

So here is my Disney Do List – the things that I would most love to do in the wonderful world of Disney in order from smallest to biggest!

  1. Ride in the tender seat on the Disneyland Railroad.
  • Really, I’ve no excuse for not doing this other than I always seem to be rushing from show to show when I’m at the park and I simply never took the time to either arrive early enough to request this unique perspective of traveling on one of the trains or waited long enough to do so. On the last day of the railroad before it closed a few weeks ago, the wait for this prime spot was several hours long at various times during the day even with multiple trains running. So now I have to wait till the railroad re-opens. And then I need to do it!
  1. Earn my Pilot’s Certificate by riding in the wheelhouse of the Mark Twain
  • This one, too, I only have myself to blame for not doing it. It was something one could request, though again there was always a wait and the spots often filled up quickly for the day. Although my understanding was that by the last few weeks before the recent closing of the Rivers of America, you could no longer request the opportunity, it was just being given randomly. I don’t have confirmation on that, however. But I do know when the Mark Twain returns to the Rivers, I will make it a priority to try!
  1. Ride in the Lily Belle Presidential Train Car on the Disneyland Railroad
  • This luxury caboose that was out periodically was usually just available in recent years to Club 33 members and their guests. Unfortunately, I was not aware of this at the time I went to Club 33, so I missed that opportunity. Every once in a while though, supposedly a few members of the general public have been allowed aboard. I hope for this chance when the railroad reopens, but it may be a rarity.
  1. A visit to Walt Disney’s apartment at Disneyland Continue reading