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Panel discussion? Product signing? Rarities screening? Which would you choose?

Panel discussion? Product signing? Rarities screening? Which would you choose?

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Do you remember that moment in Epcot’s “Journey into Imagination with Figment” ride when Dr. Nigel Channing realizes that “ … Imagination works best when it’s set free” ? And then suddenly you’re surrounded by multiple versions of Figment?

Figment stands atop a mountain while other figments dance in the background in Journey Into Your Imagination
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Well, this coming weekend, I wish that I were just like that little purple dragon and could be in a dozen different places at the exact same time. For – over the next four days – there are lots of events going on all around the country that are sure to appeal to theme park & animation fans.

For starters, there’s tonight Entertainment Designer Forum at the Mad Cow Theatre (which is located at 105 S. Magnolia Avenue in Orlando, FL). Some of the top designers working in themed entertainment today are taking part in these two panel discussions (one will be presented from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., while the other will run from 9 – 11 p.m.). As these talented individuals talk about the various rides, shows, attractions and major motion pictures that they worked on over the course of their careers.

We’re talking about some real superstars of the themed entertainment world. People like Jason Surrell (longtime Imagineer as well as author of “Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kindom to the Movies,” “The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies” and “The Disney Mountains: Imagineering At Its Peak”), Alan Gilmore (the art director for “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” as well as the films “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” ”Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and “The Bourne Ultimatum”) and J. Michael Roddy (the creative director/producer for “The Shark is Still Working” as well as the longtime macabre mastermind of USF’s Halloween Horror Nights).

The Hogwarts Express sits outside Hogsmeade Village at Universal Studios in Orlando
Photo by Kevin Kolczynski. Copyright 2010 Universal Orlando Resort. All
Rights Reserved. HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia
are trademarks of and copyright Warner Bros.  Entertainment Inc.
Harry Potter Publishing Rights copyright JKR

Tickets for tonight’s presentations (which will feature a silent auction of original artwork, theme park memorabilia as well as rare HHN collectibles) are $25 apiece. And all proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society Relay for Life in honor of Stephanie Girard (i.e. the set designer of the films “Ray,” “Leatherheads” and “Dear John” as well as UOR’s favorites like “Grinchmas”). So if you’d like to secure a seat at this sure-to-be-talked-about event, please click on this link.

Getting back to Figment now … If you’re a fan of that little purple dragon, you’re really going to want to swing by Epcot’s Art of Disney tomorrow. Where – from 11:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. – there’ll basically be a Figment-palooza event going on inside of this Future World shop.

For starters, acclaimed sculptor Bruce Lau will be signing his latest piece for the Walt Disney Classics Collection. Which is a 6 ½ inch tall version of Figment dressed up in tuxedo, top hat and tails.

Figment sculpture by artist Bruce Lau
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Only 750 copies of these hand-painted beauties have been created. Which is why – in order to make sure that these Figments actually get in the hands of “Journey into Imagination” fans, rather than out to greedy collectibles speculators – Disney’s restricting the numbers of statues that any one individual can purchase at this product release & artist signing. There’ll be a limit of 2 per Guest (with each of these pieces of porcelain selling for $140 apiece).

Bruce will be on hand to sign “Figment in Tuxedo: Top Hat and Tales” at Epcot’s Art of Disney from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then again from 3 to 4 p.m. And over the course of this day, he’ll be joined at this Future World shop by Disney Design Group artist Randy Noble. Who’ll be debuting two new little-purple-dragon inspired canvases, “Figment at Epcot” and “Figment with Confetti.

FYI: If you’d like to purchase Noble’s originals, these one-of-a-kind, framed, acrylic-on-canvas pieces of art will be selling for $2400.00 apiece. If that’s a little too steep for you (it is for me), Randy’s also made available a canvas glicee version of “Figment with Confetti.” There were only 95 of those made and Epcot’s Art of Disney will be selling these canvas glicee for $350 apiece. But if that’s still a little too high for most of you Figment fans … Not to worry: Noble has also created a petit print version of this painting that will be sold for $17.95 apiece. Which he’ll then be happy to sign for you from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday.

A colorful painting of Figment
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

What’s that you say? You’re not going to be at The Walt Disney World Resort tomorrow but you’d still like to get in on all this limited-edition fun. Not a problem. Just make your way to Disneyland Park. Where – tomorrow from 9 – 11 a.m. – Disney master artist Dave Pacheco will be on hand for a special appearance & signing at the Disneyana Shop on Main Street U.S.A.

“And what exactly will Pacheco be signing?,” you ask. A new Walt Disney Classics Collection piece entitled “Alice and Dinah: Riverbank Reverie.” The third sculpture in the Disney Artist series, this beautiful hand-painted piece of porcelain (which was designed by Dave but actually sculpted by Jacqueline Perrault Gonzales) is sure to be a hit with “Alice in Wonderland” fans.

Alice in Wonderland sculpture
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Mind you, if you’re an animation enthusiast, you really don’t want to dawdle after you’ve laid that $125-plus-tax down and had Mr. Pacheco sign your copy of “Alice and Dinah: Riverbank Reverie.” By that I meant: You have to get from Anaheim from Santa Ana before 1 p.m. if you’re going to catch this year’s “Disney Rarities” screening at the Newport Beach Film Festival.

I spoke with Dave Bossert (i.e. the longtime Disney Studios director/producer who’s been handling the NBFF’s “Disney Rarities” programming for the past three years) yesterday about the shorts that are to be screened at this year’s fest. And this time around, Dave decided to pull some seldom-seen educational films out of the Disney vault.

Donald Duck in a Disney raritie "How to Have an Accident at Home"
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Which – I know – might sound kind of dry. But truth be told, a lot of these Disney educational films from the 1950s are very entertaining. ‘How to Have an Accident at Home’ has just as many laughs as your typical Donald Duck cartoon from this period. And ‘Goofy’s Freeway Troubles’ is a lot of fun. So much so that the Company actually built an entire episode of ‘The Wonderful World of Color’ around this particular educational cartoon back in the 1960s.

So if you’re a baby boomer (which most likely means that you got to see one or more of these Disney educational films at a school assembly sometime back during the 1960s) … Well, now’s your chance to relive your youth by singing “I’m No Fool” along with Jiminy Cricket or – better yet – the “Litterbug” song (“Litterbug, litterbug, shame on you. Look at the terrible things you do. Soiling and spoiling each lovely view. Litterbug, shame on you …”).

Of course, another reason that you may want to attend this particular “Disney Rarities” screening is that Dave and his co-host – Roy Patrick Disney, son of the late Roy E. Disney – will be showing a tribute to that Disney Legend. The footage that’s going to be shown on Saturday was culled from an event that was held at the El Capitan back in January. To be specific, on the day that would have been Roy E.’s 80th birthday.

Roy Disney sits beside posters of some of the Disney Nature shows he piloted
Roy Edward Disney (1930 – 2009)

HERE’S A SPECIAL NOTE FOR ALL YOU D23 MEMBERS OUT THERE: I know that the Official Community for Disney Fans has been talking up get-$2-off-of-your-ticket-to-that-“Disney-Rarities”-screening-at-the-Newport-Beach-Film-Festival as one of D23’s perks for the month of April. But please be aware that – in order to get that discount – you actually have to purchase your ticket in advance online. So if you show up at the Regency South Coast Village Theater and then flash your D23 membership card at the box office … You ain’t gonna get that discount.

So if you still want to save two bucks on admission to this particular NBFF screening, please plan ahead. Book your “Disney Rarities” ticket NOW at the official film festival website.

Getting back to Saturday’s screening now … Those of you who’ve been to the Newport Beach Film Festival’s previous “Disney Rarities” events know that Dave Bossert usually hosts these things with veteran WDAS producer Don Hahn.

Don Hahn holds the "Truly Moving Picture" award that he won for "Waking Sleeping Beauty"
Don Hahn holds the “Truly Moving Picture” award that
“Waking Sleeping Beauty” won at 2009’s Heartland Film Festival

“And where’s Don this time around?,” you query. In Colorado, actually. Where – tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. as well as on Sunday at 2:15 p.m. – Mr. Hahn will be hosting Q & As with the Denver Film Society. Which – today through April 29th – will be screening “Waking Sleeping Beauty” at the Starz FilmCenter.

Mind you, if you can’t make it to Colorado … Not to worry. This Peter Schneider production (which celebrates the Second Golden Age of Disney Feature Animation) will be shown at the University of Miami School of Communication’s Bill Cosford Cinema today through Sunday.

And while you’re on the East Coast … You might want to consider heading up to NYC. Where the Museum of Modern Art's super-popular Tim Burton exhibit is coming to a close on Monday afternoon.

Figment paints a rainbow and gets involved in his music in a scene from Journey Into Your Imagination in Walt Disney World's EPCOT park
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Argh !? Now do you see what I mean? Why I want to be just like that little purple dragon in the climactic scene of Epcot’s “Journey into Imagination with Figment” ride? So that I could literally be in a dozen different places over the next four days and then get the chance to enjoy all of these animation, themed entertainment and collectibles-based events.

But what about you? If you had to choose just one of the events that I’ve described in today’s JHM article, which would you go to?

Your thoughts?

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  • Looks like I'll be heading out to the Starz FilmCenter to seeing "Waking Sleeping Beauty."  Finally, one of these events that's close to home!

  • Panel discussion, definitely. But then again, I live on the wrong coast to attend... :(

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