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 at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts in 2017

While ongoing downsizing of entertainment in the parks unfortunately continues, occasional new (or returning) options do thankfully emerge.

Today, I’d like to take a look at a few new, recent and upcoming offerings at both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts that I’m excited about in 2017!

Disneyland Resort

Disneyland

  • THREE beloved experiences are returning to Disneyland Park this year. First, the Main Street Electrical Parade has been brought back from the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort where it has dazzled for the past several years. It will be running at Disneyland from January 20-June 18, 2017. (It is expected that Paint the Night parade will then return for the summer months.) I’m excited to see this classic parade back on Disneyland’s Main Street for the first time in decades and am planning an upcoming feature to spotlight it!
  • Second, perhaps Disneyland Park’s best fireworks show ever – Remember Dreams Come True, the 50th Anniversary spectacular – is returning with weekend performances beginning February 3rd. I always felt this was a far superior representation of the park’s history than Disneyland Forever, which was introduced (and ended) for the 60th anniversary celebration.
  • And finally, after having been closed while the Rivers of America were re-routed for the new Star Wars Land, Fantasmic! will once again brighten the Rivers with its magic and music later this year! While I’m thrilled for this wonderful atmospheric show’s return, rumor has it that it is being significantly revised, losing the extremely popular Peter Pan and Hook sequence in favor of a Pirates of the Caribbean scene. We’ll see how this changes the show, but since the original was pretty close to perfect (except maybe the silly Pinocchio bit), it’s going to have to work extra hard to impress!

Continue reading

Character Spotlight: Mickey Mouse at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts

In honor of the birthday of the Mouse that started it all, I thought today would be a good day to run through some of the places where you can see and/or meet with Mickey Mouse himself at both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts.

I’d suggest trying some of these spots!

Disneyland Resort

Disneyland

  • Mickey Mouse can often be spotted in Town Square on Main Street, USA doing a Meet & Greet with guests. But the best place to find him for daily Meet & Greets is in Mickey’s House in ToonTown!
Mickey Mouse March!

Mickey Mouse March!

  • Mickey Mouse joins the Disneyland Band and the Dapper Dans in a March-Along held generally around late morning or lunchtime each day.  While the March-Along is usually announced over the loudspeakers a few minutes beforehand in Town Square, your best bet is to check at City Hall in the morning to ask when it will happen. Mickey also participates in the Soundsational parade (and seasonally he can currently be seen in A Christmas Fantasy Parade).
Hiya Mickey!

Mickey says hi in his Mapmaker outfit!

  • Mickey and the Magical Map – watch Mickey Mouse learn the secrets of the map in this wonderful musical theatrical adventure as he aspires to become a fully-fledged mapmaker!

Check your daily Entertainment Times Guide or the Disneyland app for the schedules for the parades and showtimes. Continue reading

Show Spotlight: Disney “Alice Through The Looking Glass” Sneak Peek

What is Disney “Alice Through The Looking Glass” Sneak Peek?

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The image looks a bit off as it is shown on the screen in 3D. If you put on your 3D glasses in the theater, the title would seem to be floating in front of the background.

This is a 10-minute long promotional preview for the new Disney film Alice Through the Looking Glass at Disney California Adventure (and also at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort playing in the theater at One Man’s Dream). It features extended scenes from the movie and runs only in 3D so you must wear the glasses provided – and return them to the bins outside afterward!

Through the 3D looking glass…

Through the 3D looking glass…

Prior to entering the theater in Hollywood Land, however, you wander through the remnants of the only partially-covered leftover decorations from the Frozen Sing-Along in the hallway and lobby. Once inside the lobby, the only items of note are a pair of photo booths (previously seen at the D23 Expo 2015) which allow the users to step inside and have video projections of themselves morphed into the various Looking Glass characters while the bystanders watch on the video screen outside the booth. I did not try this, but my understanding is that you can then email the video to yourself afterwards.

After a few minutes’ wait for the previous screening to end, you are allowed to enter the theater to wait for the video presentation to begin.

Who are the performers?

A lit movie poster at the entrance to the theater lobby.

A lit movie poster at the entrance to the theater lobby.

There are no performers – just a Cast Member who introduces the preview and tells you when to put on your 3D spectacles!

Otherwise, it’s just what you see onscreen.

Well, maybe not quite… at Disney California Adventure this is advertised as a “4D” experience, meaning there are in-theater effects. Honestly, I only really noticed one – when I was getting rained on (yeah, keep your electronics put away during this one – you’re not allowed to record this show anyway)!

When and where can I find it? Continue reading

Show Spotlight: Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage

Mousertainment Memorandum: Apologies for the lateness of this post, but I had to make an unexpected extra trip to the Disneyland Resort today to catch a show that I sat through twice in a row because the cast was so good (Aladdin).  And then I went to another show because it was there (World of Color – to be spotlighted… eventually).  Such emergency park visits happen when you’re a Mousertainment fan.  Now, on with the show… spotlight…

“True, that he’s no Prince Charming – but there’s something in him…”

What is Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage?

Beauty and the Prince.

Beauty and the Prince.

Disney has mounted various productions of the popular Beauty and the Beast story over the years including a successful Broadway edition (I saw a touring cast of this show and it was wonderful!). The stage play performed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort is actually the longest-running iteration however, as it premiered the same day as the film on November 22, 1991!

It is probably more comparable in production values to a “Disney on Ice” show (or even a Sid & Marty Krofft show if you’re old enough to remember those!) than the more modern, Broadway-style presentation of the Aladdin show performed at Disney California Adventure. But this is definitely a larger-scale dramatization than the much-missed Royal Theatre version of the “tale as old as time”, that was replaced at Disneyland Park with yet another re-telling of Frozen.

This show provides a nice theatrical experience that the whole family can enjoy, featuring many beloved songs and characters from the Beauty and the Beast animated film. There’s even a fun use of many of the familiar voices from the movie itself!

Who are the performers?

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The cast of characters of the show includes, well, the cast of characters from the film!

Belle and her Beast, Gaston, Mrs. Potts and Chip, Lumiere, Cogsworth and more appear here, along with a background lineup of singers and dancers. It’s actually one of the best opportunities to see such a large amount of characters from a Disney film all performing in one place!

When and where can I find it? Continue reading

Once Upon a Time in Disney Parks

The book!!!

The book!!!

Probably to no one’s surprise reading this site, one of my favorite current television shows is the ABC fantasy series Once Upon a Time.

And not just because Sebastian Stan was (if only briefly, prior to his Marvel role) one of the best Mad Hatters ever! I actually wasn’t that big a fan of spinoff series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, however – although I was happy that its best character, the Knave, appeared recently on the flagship series, and I hope he returns with a good storyline.

Ads for Once Upon a Time and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland inside a Walt Disney World Resort bus.

Ads for Once Upon a Time and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland inside a Walt Disney World Resort bus.

What I really like is how Once manages to incorporate both Disney fairy tales and other classic stories yet twist them a bit into entirely new adventures. (Last season of course, it synergetically utilized Frozen’s Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and even Sven in its storyline!)

Plus, it has two of the greatest (villain? hero?) characters on television in Rumplestiltskin and Regina!

But what some folks may not realize is that Once Upon a Time has a presence at both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts! Continue reading

East vs. West: Fantasmic!

“Mysteries and magic, visions fantastic…”

Murphy the Dragon – the mascot of Fantasmic! at Disneyland Park.

Murphy the Dragon – the mascot of Fantasmic! at Disneyland Park.

In this season of villains, it only seems appropriate to shine a spotlight on one of the greatest villainous battles you can find at a Disney Park – the nighttime extravaganza Fantasmic! However, since there are somewhat different stagings of this show at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, let’s see how one stacks up against the other… at least in my personal opinion!

I remember that my overriding first impression of the Walt Disney World Resort was being blown away by the sheer SIZE and immensity of everything compared to the Disneyland Resort. I couldn’t stop saying “IT’S HUGE!!!”

I looked at Main Street, U.S.A. and said, “It’s HUGE!”

I looked at Cinderella Castle and said, “It’s HUGE!”

I looked at Spaceship Earth and said, “It’s HUGE!”

I looked at the Tree of Life and said, “It’s HUGE!”

So you can imagine the mindset I went in with to see Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ version of Fantasmic! – my absolute favorite Disney nighttime spectacular and one of the most thrilling, emotionally moving and magical experiences I think any guest can have at a Disney Park.

But I knew something was off as I approached the stadium bleacher seating under the bright lights, with Cast Members peddling popcorn and snacks across the rows of people while a couple of other guys shouted bad jokes at the crowd and tried to get them to do “the wave”…

And then I saw the size of the waterway and the cave set that the show would be performed on… and I started to laugh… “but it’s all so small!”

And I didn’t stop laughing until long after the show ended.

So I’m going to give you the spoiler result right up front: Disneyland Resort wins this comparison hands (gloves?) down. And here’s why… Continue reading