Friday, August 21, 2015

D23 Expo Announcements and Reactions

        As pretty much everyone knows, the D23 Expo was last weekend in Anaheim. I couldn't go, but I'm almost glad that I couldn't. All of the coverage that I saw of it, mostly through Instagram and Disney's blogs, made it seem exceptionally crowded and packed with a ton of things to see and do. Frankly, I probably would have had more than one panic attack had I been there, not mention I would have spent all of my money on the exclusive and limited edition merchandise, so being at home with my cats wasn't so bad.
        So many exciting things were announced and it's all a bit overwhelming so I'm focusing on what I found most interesting and sorting it all into a few categories.
  • Star Wars Expansions: This has been a long time coming, and with the new movies fast approaching, it was something that I don't think could be stopped. Now I'm not the biggest Star Wars fan (I haven't seen the movies since I was very little and, frankly, don't even remember them that well) but I'm still excited for these lands. It'll be a new challenge for the Imagineers and I'm curious to see just how immersive the lands are. It will be interesting to see what exactly we lose to gain these lands, especially at Disneyland. Before the official announcement I know that there was talk of losing Toon Town, but now it seems like we'll only be losing Big Thunder Ranch and some of the backstage areas nearby. It's sad that we won't have the seasonal events in the Ranch anymore, but I'm really excited to see what new rides and other sorts of attractions Disney has in store for us.
  •  Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios: While I've only been to Disney World once, I'm still always intrigued by any news from that resort. This land sounds like a ton of fun and a great way to show off the Imagineers' theming capabilities!
  • Pandora: The World of Avatar: Ever since it was announced, I haven't been thrilled with the prospect of this land. I personally didn't like Avatar that much and I don't think that it matches the tone of Disney very well, but I understand that it's got a ton of potential for immersion. The art shown this weekend certainly makes it all seem exciting but I'm still very skeptical.
  • Soarin' Around the World: I have extremely mixed feelings on this new version of Soarin' Over California that will feature new footage from all over the world. I absolutely adore Soarin' as it is, but I've also thought that it needed to update its footage for a long time. I don't think that this change will ruin the theming of the newly redone Grizzly Peak Airfield in California Adventure, as I've seen some people say, because it's still aviation themed. That being said, though, I do hope that they'll end the ride by focusing in on California and arriving at Disneyland.
  • Disney Animation: I've been quietly optimistic about Zootopia for a long time. It just sounds like fun and I'm always happy to see Disney balancing fairytale and non fairytale films. We didn't get much news about it though which is disappointing but understandable considering it's coming out in only a few months. Moana, meanwhile, is something that I am bursting with excitement for! It just sounds absolutely fantastic, with the directors of some of my favorite Disney movies directing and with an amazing setting and concept I have very high hopes for this movie. I'm also just so, so happy to see Disney still working on adding diversity to their films. The last movie to talk about for Disney Animation Studios is Gigantic, which we still don't know much about. One thing we do know, though, is that it's about a human boy and a young giantess. I get the feeling that this movie is going to be a lot about friendship and if Wreck-It Ralph is anything to go off of, that'll be amazing.
  • Pixar: A lot of the news surrounding Pixar was about the footage shown from The Good Dinosaur which was apparently fantastic. I'm trying to keep my hopes low after having a lack luster experience watching Inside Out, but I'm still excited. Of all of Pixar's up and coming films many of them are sequels. There was a line of posters at the expo showing a poster for all of their announced movies that are still in production, and most of them were sequels. I trust Pixar to make good sequels, but I'm worried that they'll overwhelm the original ideas that will also be debuting. The other original idea that was discussed was Coco which has something to do with Dia de Los Muertos. Not much is known, but it's supposed to be another great high concept film, so I'm hopeful.
  • Live Action: Frankly the only thing I really care about from the news about further live action films is that ORLANDO BLOOM WILL BE BACK FOR PIRATES 5! (This is all I've wanted since I saw On Stranger Tides.)
Merchandise: Not a ton to say here but there is supposed to be a ton of new merchandise coming this fall (some from Tokyo!) and it all looks very intriguing. I haven't ben thrilled with a ton of the merch that Disney has sold for a long time, so anything new is exciting.

Overall, an incredible amount of exciting news was shared at D23 and the future of Disney looks very bright.

All of the pictures and news discussed here can be found on the Disney blogs.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Getting Stuck on Peter Pan's Flight // Magical Memories

        Back in January, my best friend Megan and I took a trip to Disneyland on a rainy Friday afternoon. We knew that Peter Pan's Flight would be closing for refurbishment soon and that it would be our last chance to ride it as it was, so we got in line and waited 45 minutes to board our pirate ship and take our trip to Neverland.
        It started off great, of course, because that ride, even before its refurbishment, was one of the most magical attractions in all of Disneyland. As we flew over the streets of London, however, we heard an announcement reminding people to keep their hands inside of the ride vehicle. And then, after entering the Neverland room, just as we were about to circle the island, our ship stopped.
        Now I had never truly been stuck on a ride before, so I figured we would keep going momentarily, as had happened whenever rides like Haunted Mansion and Indiana Jones had paused. Then the lights came on. It was interesting, at first, to look around the room with the lights on. We saw Neverland in better detail than ever before, as the volcano continued to smoke. We could also see what created the stars around the room, fiber optics stretching out like branches from the wall. It was okay, for a while.
        But as the time passed by, panic set in. We hadn't seen or heard from a cast member and we were left dangling in the air. Maybe dangling is a bit dramatic, because having looked up at the track in full lighting I can tell you that it's not lightweight, but I'm afraid of heights, really afraid of heights, so it still felt exceptionally precarious to me. It didn't help that there was a little girl in the ship behind us that kept voicing aloud all of the worries that were running through my head.
        "How are they going to get us down?"
        "How long are we going to be up here for?"
        "What's wrong with the ride?"
        Megan and I were still discussing the details of the room that we could never see before when a cast member finally came in. He asked how everyone was doing and assured us that we would be out soon, but that just set a whole new wave of worry on me, because he never said how we would be getting out. In our ship, Megan and I tried to guess how they could possibly get us down the perhaps 10 ft. difference between us and the floor. The only thing we came up with was a ladder, which made me panic because I did not want to have to face my fears that day by climbing down a tall ladder.
        After about fifteen minutes of being stuck, it occurred to us that we should have eaten before hand because neither of us had eaten in hours and were starting to get hungry. We were already rationing our quickly emptying water bottles. Around the twenty minute mark, another cast member came into the room, but he didn't even say anything to us. He just walked around Neverland and went into the next room. Boredom had set in, because it turns out that there's not much to do inside of a pirate ship and cell phones can't connect to the internet from Neverland, and I was still stewing in worry about how exactly we would get off of the ride.
        Twenty-five minutes after we had stopped, I found out that I had worried for nothing. A cast member approached the boat in front of us, on the other side of the island, and after she did something to it, it started moving. Once they disappeared into the next room, she came and sent our ship on its way. The rest of the ride was odd. We moved along the track with all of the lights on and none of the sounds. The weirdest thing we saw was Tiger Lily, essentially coming out of the ground and missing her lower half.
        After we disembarked and finally left, we saw that, of course, there were still people not so patiently waiting to ride. It was sprinkling and we made our way to the Jolly Holiday Bakery and split a cinnamon roll, celebrating our survival.
        In retrospect, that whole experience is hilarious. We were only so eager to ride it that day because of its impending refurbishment, so essentially the fact that the ride needed work was why we got stuck. And frankly, it was great ride to get stuck on. We got to see behind the scenes and we weren't in uncomfortable restraints. I've seen videos online of other Disneyland rides breaking down and I can say assuredly that I would choose Peter Pan's Flight every time, ten feet off the ground or not.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Disneyland Official App Review

        Disneyland has finally released its own app! I haven't gotten the chance to use it in the park yet, but after messing around with it for a few days I've got a ton of thoughts about it, so let's jump right in!


  • Finally an official app to check wait times from anywhere in the parks! I've used some of the unofficial apps before and, frankly, they just weren't that reliable. As previously stated, I haven't used the app in the park yet, so I'm not sure how this one is, but I'll certainly feel more comfortable trusting it than I do with the others.
  • Character meet information! While I'm not sure if it's real time, it's great that this app gives guests knowledge about where their favorite characters might be. I and other frequent guests may know where to find Cinderella and Genie, but for people going for the first time or the first time in forever, it'll probably be loads of help!
  • Dining prices! Of course, the app doesn't give full menu information (more on that later) but it does allow people to have an idea of how expensive each location is. It does so by giving a rating ($, $$, or $$$) for how much an average meal for an adult costs. Again, for first timers and more casual Disney fans, that feature will probably help out a lot.
  • As someone who always forgets to grab a time guide upon entrance, this next feature is particularly exciting: show and parade times! Gone are the days of needing a time guide and having to dig it out of your bag to double check! Seriously, I can not tell you how happy this makes me! I feel like the times for Mickey and the Magical Map are constantly changing and I've heard more than one inaccurate announcement about it on the train, so I'm quite pleased that I'll have those times in my pocket from now on.
  • Easier access to information about guest services is another great feature of the app. I personally have found it kind of difficult to read the park maps in regards to these things and so I really love that they've got their own category in the app.     


  • I love the wait times, but I don't love that you can't sort by land. Of course you can just look at one land on the map, but that gets messy. I'd really like it if in the list mode you could organize according to land instead of just alphabetically.
  • You don't have access to restaurant menus. On Disneyland's website you have access to the full menus of most restaurants and I think it'd be great to add that to the app, or at least have links to them. They do tell you the cuisine type of each restaurant but I know that for me a full menu would be of much better use.
  • On top of that, there's no way of looking at just one style of cuisine. I wish that you could sort the restaurants by cuisine type, because if you're in the mood for Italian it'd be nice to just look at the places that serve that type of food.
  • Not really a true negative but I do find it odd that a major promotion point of this app is that pass holders can use it to enter the park when you can't use it for Fastpass and discount services. I guess it's nice to not have to retrieve your pass in order to park hop but it still seems silly that there's not much use for having your pass on your phone.
        Overall, I'm really excited about this app and I'm really looking forward to all of the things Disney can do with it through updates. I can't wait to use it on my next trip to the parks!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Disney Descendants Review!

        So let's just start this off with a warning: I did not like this movie and I will be spoiling it in all sorts of ways below. If you don't want to hear negativity or spoilers, stop reading now!

        I've been skeptical of Descendants ever since it was announced. To me, the idea of any movie linking together all of these different Disney stories and providing information on what "happily ever after" had in store for many of my favorite characters is horrific. The fact that it was a Disney Channel movie doing so made me dread it even more. That being said, I tried to watch this movie with an open mind, I really did. But I just couldn't like it, no matter how hard I tried.
        When I know that I want to review a movie I try to take notes during it. Usually I fail at doing that, because I just get lost in the story and want to dive into the film wholeheartedly. This time, however, I never stopped taking notes until the last five minutes of the movie. Some of those notes include:

  • Why did they make the castle look like Cinderella's if it's the Beast's?
  • Why the comment about Mrs. Potts that's awful.
  • OMG Beast has his beast face on his crown, WHAT?
  • Why are they slut shaming Evie?
  • Jay seems much more like Aladdin's son than Jafar's.
  • Kristin Chenoweth can do better than this.
  • Why do Maleficent's henchmen look like rejected lost boys?
  • How would Doug of all people not know all of the dwarfs' names?
  • Why would the Fairy Godmother give up her wand to a museum?
  • Why do they all wear heals all the time?
  • This is the worst thing I've ever seen.
  • "I'm not hideous" because even cool, seemingly confident and proud girls have to be self conscious about their appearances.
  • "I hope you like bikes." THAT IS A SCOOTER.
  • "We get to choose who we're gonna be" finally something good thank God.
  • Wow a bad montage sequence with footage we just saw, great.
  • Be Our Guest is the worst thing they could have done I am personally offended.
  • Why is Snow White a news anchor?
  • Let's just completely reinforce how important it is to be beautiful according to conventional standards, fantastic.
        And again, that's just some of my comments (some of which were edited for comprehension and to take out not-so-Disney-Channel-safe language).
        I strongly believe that this movie could have been a cute and campy musical full of fun, if not kind of stupid, references to the Disney classics that we all love, but there were many aspects that kept if from reaching that potential. For example, the musical numbers seemed very forced. It felt like they were merely a way to showcase Dove Cameron's voice, with a couple by Mitchell Hope thrown in to make it slightly less obvious. The dance routines were rather weak also, failing to pick up the slack of the less than impressive songs, two things which I never thought would happen in a Kenny Ortega movie. Mal, while at times a relatable and interesting character, also annoyed me because she seemed to have sudden moments of doubt for no reason when she had just been extremely sure of her status as either "rotten to the core" or better than what people assume of her.
        My main problem with this movie, however, was that it sent such awful messages toward its viewers, young girls--its target audience--especially. Throughout the film we're bombarded with stereotypes of girls. The idea that physical beauty, as defined by society, is of the upmost importance for girls is repeated tirelessly. Mal's transformations of everyone's hair being the way for her to gain popularity and Jane's unhappiness with her appearance driving her to act horribly both contirbute greatly to this exceptionally problematic idea. The portrayal of Evie is especially upsetting to me, as she is constantly judged for her interactions with boys and with the assumption being shown that she is stupid because she is beautiful. While she does come to find and embrace her intelligence, that is shown to be some giant surprise to everyone, including herself. It's as if no one could believe she had a brain to start with, let alone a bright one. Also upsetting are the ways that the Isle of the Lost and Auradon differ. The "good" people of Auradon are shown to be conventionally beautiful and rich, while the evil inhabitants of the Isle of the Lost have unique styles and appearances and outdated, broken electronics. These portrayals only reinforce the ridiculous and harmful notion that rich, pretty people are good and poor, ugly ones are bad.
        The central theme of the movie, that everyone can decide for themselves whether they are good or bad, is a wonderful message. It's a shame, though, that it is delivered in the midsts of awful stereotypes and misconceptions.
        (Also let's never forget the disaster that was that Be Our Guest remix. I wouldn't be surprised if Alan Menken leaves Disney forever and Howard Ashman rises from the grave just to slap Kenny Ortega across the face.)