Archive | October, 2013

Have a Haunted Halloween! – Fun Facts about Disney’s Haunted Mansion

31 Oct

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!

Welcome, foolish mortals, to this blog post dedicated to a staple attraction at every Disney park. In the spirit of Halloween, here are some rarely known, bone-chilling facts about the attraction.

1) Haunted Mansion’s backstory is the most complex of any attraction backstory in ANY Disney park.

2) Ever wonder what the Ghost Host looks like? There’s a portrait of him hanging in the knocking doors hallway.

Just in case the corpse swinging from the noose in the Stretching Room wasn’t enough for you…

3) There’s this hidden Mickey you probably never noticed in the graveyard scene.

And there’s also one on the table during the ballroom scene.

4) The Haunted Mansion (or Phantom Manor) at Disneyland Paris was designed to be the scariest variation of the attraction.

It also has the most variation from the original. The premise being a young bride’s father murdered her fiancé, only to have her father mysteriously disappear in a tragic accident. Overwhelmed by grief, the bride believes her fiancé will somehow return and is consequently haunted by a menacing demonic spirit.

And I speak from experience when I say it is a million times darker and scarier than its WDW companion.

5) Who is Master Gracey? Is he the same as the Ghost Host?

Nope, not quite. However, the name was taken from Imagineer Yale Gracey who was a lead designer of the “spectral effects” for the original Haunted Mansion.

6) Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is already prepped for Christmas!

Well, Haunted Mansion Holidays that is…

7) Your doom-buggy’s backwards fall out of the attic supposedly symbolizes your inability to handle what you’ve witnessed thus far, so you jump out of the attic to your death.

Which also explains why the ghouls are suddenly so happy to see you in the graveyard scene, and might be why the groundskeeper’s dog is so scared of you.

8) Haunted Mansion CMs and Tower of Terror CMs are the ONLY Cast Members instructed not to smile on the job.

9) The newest Haunted Mansion, known as Mystic Manor, in Hong Kong Disneyland opened spring 2013 and uses Danny Elfman-produced score and trackless system.

So friggin cool.

10) In the WDW version’s pet cemetery, there is a headstone to Mr. Toad from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, an attraction that closed in 1998.

11) Ever wonder how the stretching room works? At Disneyland and Disneyland Paris, guests step inside a carefully concealed OTIS elevator. At WDW and Tokyo Disneyland, the ceiling itself stretches as guests are already located on the base floor of the attraction.

12) Want to get to the front of the queue after the stretching room? Head for the pink lady’s portrait. That’s always the wall that will open, regardless of which room you enter. (This only works at the WDW version)

13) The organ found in the Disneyland version’s ballroom scene is an actual prop from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. All other HM’s organs are direct replicas of that one organ.

 

Happy Halloween! “Hurry baaaacckkk…. We’ve been dying to have you.” What’s your favorite part of the Haunted Mansion? Comment below!

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All Things “FROZEN”

25 Oct

As it finally starts cooling down here in Orlando, the widely-anticipated FROZEN premier date draws nearer (okay, it’s widely anticipated if you’re me who has been anticipating this movie for nearly two years…).

Anna and Elsa dresses are now sold in the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique and in several merchandise locals throughout the parks. New clips keep popping up from Walt Disney Studios left and right, including Demi Lovato’s version of “Let it Go,” a song that will be sung by Idina Menzel’s Elsa in the film. This version will undoubtedly be a part of the ending credits.

But most importantly, the picture book has been released. Why am I freaking out over a kid’s picture book? THAT MEANS THEY HAVE REVEALED MORE OF THE PLOT THAN WITH ANY OF THE TRAILERS. Essentially, I spoiled the movie for myself when I read the book in Mouse Gears last night, but it was worth it.

So, with that being said, here’s what audiences can expect from FROZEN, according to what I remember from the picture book:

SPOILER ALERT: ONLY CONTINUE READING IF YOU ARE OKAY WITH RUINING PARTS OF THE MOVIE BEFORE IT COMES OUT.

Of the two sisters, Elsa is the oldest and Anna is the youngest. Growing up, the girls were quite close, but the family had always realized Elsa had a power to control ice and snow and in the sunny kingdom of Arrendelle, snow was quite unheard of. One day while playing, Elsa accidentally hit Anna with a chunk of ice she couldn’t control. Anna was fine, according to a wise troll who said Elsa hadn’t hit Anna’s heart, just her head. The girls’ parents didn’t think it was okay, so they locked Elsa up and out of sight. Fast forward many years to Elsa’s coronation (and with it being a Disney movie, yes the parents have mysteriously disappeared somehow). Anna meets dashing Prince Hans at Elsa’s coronation and they fall in love. Hans asks Anna to marry him, but when Anna asks Elsa for permission, Elsa’s all “Girl, what are you thinking? You literally just met the guy. Cool your jets. You can’t marry him.” This causes Anna to be pretty upset, which causes Elsa to get more flustered, which causes Elsa to lose control of her powers. She bolts from the kingdom, ready to establish her own icy hideout. Anna, instantly feeling sorry, mounts a horse and sets off after her sister.

Just as most great Disney heroes/heroines when they set off on a horse, the horse gets lost along the way, leaving Anna stranded in the snow. She meets Kristoff, a mountain man with a moose-friend, and they set off together to find Elsa. Kristoff and Anna meet Olaf, a talking snowman who was created by Elsa. The three (four if you count the moose) set off and reach Elsa’s kingdom. Anna finally gets to Elsa’s palace and pleads with her sister to come back to the kingdom. Elsa isn’t convinced, believing she’ll just be locked up again like she was in her childhood. In a fit of frustration, Elsa loses control and hits Anna in the heart with ice (not piercing her heart, but it looks like a solid blow to the chest). Elsa throws Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf out of the kingdom and makes Super-Frosty-the-Snowman to guard her castle.

Anna and Kristoff consult the same wise troll from the beginning of the story, who tells them only an act of true love can bring Elsa back and save Anna, whose hair is slowly turning white due to Elsa’s hit to her heart. If nothing is done, says the troll, Anna will turn into a block of ice. Anna immediately thinks “Oh hey, Prince Hans! True love’s kiss! The traditional stuff! He can break this curse” and they set off to find him.

Meanwhile, Prince Hans finds his way to Elsa’s kingdom and begs her to return the kingdom to normal. She swears she can’t because she doesn’t know how to control her powers. In a moment of Elsa’s self-doubt, she is taken captive by Hans and his men and locked up.

When Anna returns to her palace, she begs Hans to kiss her and save the kingdom. He refuses, saying at this point, Elsa is better off dead and she cannot be saved. Anna is appalled and realizes Hans never loved her at all but only wanted to separate the sisters and gain power (I ain’t saying he a gold digger…). This causes Anna and Kristoff (who at this point is madly in love with Anna but only Olaf can see it) to scour the palace for Elsa. Hans goes to Elsa’s prison to tell her Anna is dead, frozen solid, and it’s all her fault. Elsa despairs and is ready to give up her life when BOOM Anna bursts through the door to block Hans’s sword. As his sword comes down, it shatters into tiny pieces because Anna has turned into a solid block of ice. Elsa, seeing this final act of courage and love, hugs her sister tightly to avoid any further blows from Hans.

That act of love breaks Anna’s curse and everything is happily ever after from there on out. I assume Anna and Kristoff get together and Elsa takes her place as rightful ruler of the kingdom.

Very little is said about Hans’s fate, and nothing was ever mentioned about the Duke (who I’m assuming is Hans’s father and mastermind behind all of this treachery). However, when the Tangled coloring book came out with the plot, very little was said about the depth of deception Mother Gothel used and the final sequence between Flynn/Gothel/Rapunzel was very vague. Needless to say, I was wrong in my plot predictions about most of the film.

That’s the beauty of Disney: once they think they’ve got you going in a pattern, they completely break the mold and leave you astounded. My excitement levels are off the charts.

 

Ten Ways You Know You’re a Disney Cast Member

21 Oct

Cast members around the world are a special breed of people. Working for the company has also given us a special (and at times odd) skill set. Here are 10 things I’ve noticed since working at WDW:

1) You can judge a group just by glancing at its size.

Sure, you always ask “how many in your party?” but you already know the answer. Yes, of course you included the babies in the count when the parents don’t. You’re already prepared when the Guest doesn’t respond with a number and only points to the large group and says “us.”

2) You can’t help but call little girls “princess,” even on your days off.

And when you do accidentally let that slip, her parents look at you like the biggest creep…

3) You can tell exactly what time it is by the fireworks shows around Disney property.

I once had a CM at Hollywood Studios point to IllumiNations and say “Oh hey look! It’s Wishes!” My response? “Nope, there’s too much red used in those fireworks for it to be Wishes. It’s Illuminations. We use more blue.”

4) You dream about work once you go home.

This can be good or bad. I’ve had nightmares about evacuations-gone-wrong on the PeopleMover. I also dreamed Stitch high-fived me before he teleported out of the chamber.

5) You get super-defensive about your job, especially if you work attractions.

Sure, you can vent to your coworkers that you think your ride is lame, but you’ll defend your attraction to the death to a Guest who tells you it sucks and Disney should take it out.

6) You keep tabs on the cool new merchandise and when your seasonal discount pops up, just waiting to buy what you want.

Yeah, I’ll take a pair of Glow with the Show ears and that adorable Eeyore pillow pet, please.

7) The letters “E” and “R” are your favorite letters, especially when put together.

Conversely, the number “101” has the potential to be the most stressful number you hear at work.

8) You know exactly when to hit up your favorite attraction while playing in the park for maximum fun.

Riding Rock and Rollercoaster three times in one hour thanks to the single rider line? Yes, that sounds quite nice.

9) You still fan-girl over seeing characters and friends of characters backstage.

Hey, Prince Phillip. You like pizza? That’s cool. Me too.

10) You get really creative when answering Guests’ questions.

“Oh that line coming from Cinderella’s castle? Well, Peter Pan drew that in the sky for Tinkerbelle to follow. He doesn’t want her to get lost.” “Sorry, guys. Stitch escaped and did more damage than we thought. Come back later on tonight and see if we’ve got the teleportation system back under control.”

I know this is a really general list, so feel free to comment with even more ideas. To my CMs, what are quirks you’ve noticed working for the company?

NEW FROZEN TRAILER

18 Oct

I was pleasantly surprised when I checked my newsfeed to find Idina Menzel’s Facebook page posted this beauty. A NEW FROZEN TRAILER. Finally, WE GET MORE OF ELSA. Unlike the first trailer, this new one develops the internal struggle Elsa will deal with through the course of the movie. The movie doesn’t come out until next month and I already know I’m going to love both Anna and Elsa. (What is it with Menzel playing the misunderstood character? First Elphaba, now Elsa. Not like I’m complaining.)

It also features ANOTHER original song, sung by Kristen Bell. Is that some of Idina’s amazing voice I hear in the harmony? I think so!

And I still laughed at Olaf’s baby unicorn comment. Yup, he’ll be a really good supporting character.

Frozen merchandise is already being sold at the parks, especially Magic Kingdom. Facial characters will be greeting guests starting early next month. It’s getting hard to contain my excitement.

AVATAR Expansion Announcement

13 Oct

As most of you might already know, Disney unveiled their plan for Animal Kingdom’s AVATAR-themed world late Friday night at Japan’s D23 Expo. (No, not the airbending Avatar cartoon. The Avatar with the tall blue people.)

In a statement on the Disney Parks blog, Tom Staggs, Chairman of Walk Disney Parks and Resorts, said the company will be working closely with James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment to bring Pandora to life.

Newly revealed concept art for AVATAR expansion in WDW Animal Kingdom

Newly revealed concept art for AVATAR expansion in WDW Animal Kingdom

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And speaking of bringing things to life, it was also announced the Tree of Life would be getting a facelift. As a part of the new nighttime “spectacular” planned for Animal Kingdom, the Tree of Life will be getting lights.

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Don’t hold your breath for Wishes-style fireworks, though. I don’t think they’ll be doing those ever due to the animals. There will also be a nighttime version of Kilamanjaro Safaris (I wonder how the animals feel about working later hours…).

In a comment, Staggs said the projected opening will be sometime in 2017. Best of luck to the Imagineers, because the concept art looks amazing!

Personally, this seems like an idea I should hate. What connection did Disney ever really have to Cameron’s AVATAR in the first place? But, looking at the concept art, I know I’ll be so giddy whenever they develop more. I’m sold.

Actors Who Should Consider Being Disney Princes

11 Oct

I know Disney is trying to expand more into their live-action film potential, but everyone knows their real gems are the classic animated fairytales. And let’s be honest, not all of the princesses are as fabulous as their films (cough cough Aurora cough). Sometimes, the princesses far overshadow their princely counterparts, but the role of the prince to balance or foil the princess cannot be overstated. (Calm down, now. I’m not saying princes are crucial. I’ve seen Brave. I’m just saying typically the role of furthering the heroine’s character development is given to the prince. Oh, and there’s a lot of conflict surrounding that relationship in Disney movies, let’s not forget that either.)

So, just from letting my mind wander and fingers Google image search, here are some actors – past and present – who in their prime would/should/better be Disney princes.

1) Matt Bomer

 This man is a walking Disney prince. Just look at the guy: perfectly coiffed hair, cut jaw line, sly grin, crystal blue eyes. Let’s not forget he can sing, and not the Zachary-Levi-modern-raspy-tone singing either. Bomer’s voice harkens back to the vibrato-laden songs of the original Disney princes.

2) Aaron Tveit

From his role as Fiyero in Wicked to a starring role in Les Mis, Aaron Tveit has come a long way in under seven years. While he’s not (yet) a household name, he would be a perfect Disney prince. Let’s be real: who actually knows the prince’s voice actor before a Disney movie came out? (The only exception *maybe* is Zachary Levi as Flynn.)

3) Taye Diggs

Wife Idina Menzel will (hopefully) become a princess in Frozen, due out this November, but Taye is equally as talented a singer and a good actor, as seen on Private Practice. Oh, and he’s perfect too. Forgot to mention that.

4) Robert Redford

I have no earthly idea if Redford can/could ever sing, but by looking at his roles in romance movies (flashbacks to The Way We Were), he’s got all of the components of being a Disney prince. I guess Jay Gatbsy will have to be iconic enough of a role.

5) Ricky Martin

If you grew up in the 1990s and did not have a crush on Ricky Martin, you’re bluffing. In addition to being a talented singer, he’s also seems like a decent actor. (Okay, don’t judge me.)

6) Dan Stevens

Now that he’s not doing Downton Abbey anymore (WHY, MATTHEW!? WHY?!), he’s got some room on his plate for new projects. He’s in the new Wikileaks biopic The Fifth Estate, but we all know when he sang with Lady Mary he was destined for greatness as a Disney prince.

7) Darren Criss

He played everyone’s favorite Boy Wizard in A Very Potter Musical. He’s not nearly as technically trained as Diggs or Tveit, but he has boyish charm and excellent comedic timing. Plus, he performed this medley for Alan Menken. I’m surprised Menken hasn’t already written a ballad for him.

8) Tom Hiddleston

Yes, I know he’s Loki. He’s also soon-to-be Captain Hook. Yes, I also know he’s not a great singer, but he’s got this warmth to his voice that makes him irresistible as a leading man/villain/pirate. Plus, he’s already used to delivering rousing, princely speeches to troops as heard in this clip performing as Prince Hal.

9) Leo DiCaprio – He’s done just about everything else under the sun for acting. Why not add Disney prince to the list? He probably won’t win an Oscar for that role either…

10) James Marsden – Oh wait… Just kidding.

Epcot Food & Wine Festival

5 Oct

The culinary spectacle known as Food & Wine Festival is in full swing at Epcot, and this Wednesday, I was fortunate enough to visit for my very first time.

Everything I sampled was delicious. Absolutely delicious. The beauty of F&W is that you’re paying for a small sample, not a whole meal, so prices are much smaller than most Disney meals.

My favorite countries were Greece, Ireland, and Australia for their overall atmosphere.

I sampled the Greek gyro, Irish chocolate pudding with Bailey’s cream sauce, Japan’s California roll, and Africa’s spinach and paneer cheese pocket. And, while I am still under-age and cannot partake of the alcoholic beverages served at F&W, I can say they all looked and smelled delicious. France is offering a Sparkling Pomegranate Kir and it smells amazing. Of course, Ireland doles out the pints of Guinness more than they do their Fisherman’s Pie; naturally, it made me homesick for my study abroad experience last semester (*sigh*).

When I go back to Epcot, I’m trying the Canadian cheese soup. It’s received rave reviews from my friends. Also, everything sold in Italy looked fresh, and I’m not one to pass on good Italian food.

There are only a few things I wish Epcot included for F&W. Where was the Indian food? Where are the delicious curries? I get a feeling Indian food would be a huge hit at F&W if given the chance.

I also couldn’t comprehend why the entire continent of Africa had one booth with two food options, and the states of Hawai’i and Florida both had large booths with more options. Come on, Epcot. I know for a fact Egyptian food and Kenyan food are completely different. Don’t just clump the continent together and say “Meh, Africa has part of Animal Kingdom… That’s enough.”

Overall, I had a great time at my first Food & Wine festival. I cannot wait to go back and sample more food.

What do you look forward to most about Food & Wine? Leave comments below.