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  • Jim Hill

    Meet the team who brought Maui to life for Disney's "Moana"

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    You'd think - looking at Maui from Disney's " Moana " - given this demigod's dimples (more importantly, those eyebrows) that Dwayne Johnson was always supposed to be this character's voice. But that's where you'd be wrong. "You have to understand that - when we're initially developing these movies - we typically get them up on reels 5 or 6 times so that John (Lasseter , the chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios ) and the other...
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    From toxic gas leaks to the triumph of 'Finding Dory,' Lindsey Collins has loved every minute of her time at Pixar Animation Studios

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    When it comes to " Finding Dory " producer Lindsey Collins , she takes "going-with-your-gut" to a whole new level. To explain: This Occidental College graduate joined Walt Disney Animation Studios straight out of school in 1994. And after working as a PA on " Pocahontas " & " The Hunchback of Notre Dame ," Lindsey had just been made assistant production manager on " Hercules " when she began hearing people talk about Pixar. "I was working...
  • Jim Hill

    New animated series, "Mickey and the Roadster Racers" to premiere at Fathom's "Disney Junior at the Movies" event this Saturday morning

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    Is your toddler anxious to take a look under-the-hood at " Mickey and the Roadster Racers " ? See how this new animated-series-for-preschoolers stacks up against all of their other favorite Disney Junior shows? Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Well, if you want your kid to catch "Roadsters" 's actual debut on this cable channel, that isn't scheduled to happen 'til early January of 2017. Which is an awful long time for any 3-to-5 year-old to wait...
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    WDW's new "The Muppets Present ... Great Moments in American History" show brings authentic Muppet mayhem to Liberty Square

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    Anyone who's ever seen " Jim Henson's Muppet*Vision 3D " can tell you the title of that elaborate pageant which Sam Eagle has put together to close out that show. It's called "A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America." Sadly, things don't quite go as this self-proclaimed super-patriot had planned. As "Muppet*Vision 3D" predictably descents into chaos, Kermit the Frog asks Sam if that part of the show is now ready to go. "It's a glorious three...
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    Disney XD's "Milo Murphy's Law" offers optimistic alternative to election night coverage

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    With just one day left until America votes, people are really stressing right now. They keep looking at all the polling data and then wondering "What happens if everything goes wrong and the wrong person gets elected?" Well, I can't tell you how to vote. But I can tell you what to do after the election, especially if your candidate doesn't win. Which is: Be more like Milo Murphy. Copyright Disney XD. All rights reserved You've heard about " Milo Murphy's Law ,"...
  • Jim Hill

    How Hurricane Matthew forced Universal Orlando to extend Halloween Horror Nights 2016's run through early November

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    Halloween is one of those holidays that lingers, isn't it? Whether it's all of those decorations that are still out in the yard (which you'll finally get around to taking down & packing away later this weekend ... right?) or that bowl of leftover Treat-or-Trick candy that you've been slowly make disappear one fun-sized bar at a time, while All Hallows Eve should have been over at the stroke of midnight on October 31st ... Well, just like that jack-o-lantern that the kids carved...
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    Universal Orlando will use cutting-edge tech to reimagine the water park experience at Volcano Bay

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    Seven years ago, Dale Mason - the Vice President and Executive Art Director at Universal Creative - had an idea. He wanted to do a water theme park. Not a water park, mind you. A water theme park. Something that would then move the whole water park experience to an entirely different level. "So I and this very small team of people put together a very small brief on this idea," Dale recalled during a recent phone interview. "And we thought that the concept that we had come up with for...
  • Jim Hill

    TASCHEN 's "Walt Disney Film Archives" features stunning artwork, seldom-told stories from that studio's past

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    As one very wise cinephile once put it, "Every Disney film is someone's favorite movie." Editor / author Daniel Kothenschulte tried to keep that in mind over the past two years as he worked on " The Walt Disney Film Archives: The Animated Movies 1921 - 1968 " ( TASCHEN America, October 2016). But given that he only had so many pages to work with as Kothenschulte tried to cover this massive chunk of Mouse House history, Daniel began the pruning process almost as soon as he...
  • Jim Hill

    Knott's Berry Farm puts an awful lot of thought into all those celebrities that it skewers at Halloween Haunt

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    So what happens tonight after the last Hanging is held at Knott's Scary Farm ? Well, the entertainment team at America's First Theme Park gets a well-deserved night of rest. But after that, these talented folks plunge right into compiling a constantly changing list of celebrity scandals, political faux pas, memorable movie moments and quirky pop culture phenomena which next year's Hanging can then be built around. "Since we have to have a treatment of this show ready by the first...
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    Disney Junior reimagines "Muppet Babies" as a CG-animated series which will debut on that pre-school cable channel in early 2018

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    Someone better tell Nanny that she needs a new pair of green & blue knee socks. Because the Muppet Babies are headed back to the nursery. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Sometime in early 2018, a reimaging of this much-beloved TV show (which - back in the 1980s - was a four-time winner of the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program) will premiere on Disney Junior . A co-production of that cable channel, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media 's (DCPI)...
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    First draft of Disney's "Steamboat Willie" scenario coming up for bid in S/R Lab's next animation art auction

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    The Walt Disney Company is really going all out for Mickey Mouse's 88 th birthday . Over the next four weeks, they will be sending this beloved character / corporate symbol around the globe. Where (I'm quoting from the official press release now) Mickey will be making " ... surprise appearances at iconic, real-world locations" where the Mouse will then interact with his many " ... fans and friends." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Mind you, all of...
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    What Peter Swords King went through while doing make-up for Disney's "Alice Through the Looking Glass"

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    To hear Peter Swords King talk, there's no such thing as " ... making it up as you go along" while you're handling the make-up end of a major motion picture. And given some of the projects that Peter has worked on over the past 15 years (i.e., all three of Peter Jackson 's "Lord of the Rings" films plus "The Hobbit" trilogy. Not to mention Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," " Into the Woods " and the just-released...
  • Jim Hill

    Steampunk stylings make the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen a stand-out at Universal Orlando's CityWalk

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    It's the one-two punch that's been dazzling visitors to the Universal Parks & Resorts ever since The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade first opened back in June of 2010. Combining immersive theming with a top quality dining experience that's set in a specific world. And what with all the people who now line up at the Three Broomsticks so that they can then knock back a Butterbeer with their lunch (Not to mention all of those "Simpsons" fans who wait for an empty...
  • Jim Hill

    Would Woody Allen have been a better fit for LeFou in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" ?

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    Given that the silver anniversary of Disney's " Beauty and the Beast " is coming up (This Kirk Wise & Gary Trousdale film initially went into wide release back on November 22, 1991), a lot of bloggers have recently been writing about this hand-drawn animated feature. Using Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment's release of the signature collection edition of "Beast" (which includes a Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD version of this Academy Award-winning movie) as an excuse...
  • Jim Hill

    Universal Studios Hollywood's The Walking Dead Attraction is amazing. Just don't make the mistake of calling it a maze

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    When Southern Californian fright fans return to Universal Studios Hollywood this Friday for the official kick-off of Halloween Horror Nights 2016 , they'll have a wide assortment of scares to choose from. They can climb aboard the Terror Tram (which is presented by horror auteur Eli Roth & his digital network Crypt TV) and have a far-too-close encounter with "Hollywood Harry," the serial killer clown. Or - if these USH visitors prefer -- they can explore the more public portions...
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    How the makers of Disney's "Moana" almost chickened out

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    It's kind of a tradition at Walt Disney Animation Studios that the hero or heroine of each new production has an animal companion. Sometimes they talk (EX: Flounder in " The Little Mermaid ") and sometimes they don't (EX: Abu in " Aladdin "). But these furry, feathered or finny friends always provide support - emotional & otherwise - for that film's lead character. More to the point, these animal companions always find a way - even when they can't talk - to...
  • Jim Hill

    Will "Kubo" be the next "Iron Giant," a great animated film that has to be rediscovered before it can then be fully appreciated?

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    Let me get right to the point here: It kind of breaks my heart that "Kubo and the Two Strings" hasn't done better at the domestic box office. Copyright Focus Features. All rights reserved I mean, this stop motion movie is arguably the best thing that Laika has ever produced. And if you go over to Rotten Tomatoes , you'll see that - given the 96% freshness rating Focus Features ' most recent release has gotten (Not to its audience score of 91%) - I'm not the only one who...
  • Jim Hill

    How long should theme parks & movie studios wait when dealing with projects & products that have been impacted by tragedy?

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    Six times a day, Louis the Alligator is up onstage at WDW 's Magic Kingdom . Performing in front of Cinderella Castle as part of the cast of characters featured in " Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire ." Which wasn't always the case. When this new theme park show officially debuted at the Walt Disney World Resort back on June 21st, this trumpet-playing gator from Disney's " The Princess and the Frog " was nowhere to be seen. Which is perfectly understandable. Given...
  • Jim Hill

    "Phineas and Ferb" creators put an optimistic spin on Murphy's Law with their new animated series for Disney XD

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    If you have a kid in your house, ask them what comes after the following line? There's 104 days of summer vacation ... If they respond with " .. . And school comes along just to end it ," you have a " Phineas and Ferb " fan on your hands. And they're no doubt still in deep mourning. Given that this Emmy Award-winning animated series officially ended back on June 12, 2015. Copyright Disney XD. All rights reserved Okay. Given that there were 222 episodes produced over the...
  • Jim Hill

    "American Horror Story" -themed maze brings fiends from the popular FX series to Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights

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    It's often been said that "good things come in threes." For fans of FX's " American Horror Story ," that will most definitely be the case with this year's " Halloween Horror Nights " at the Universal Orlando Resort & Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. For the 2016 edition of the ultimate Halloween event, they're building one massive maze that will then pay tribute to three separate installments of this critically-acclaimed horror anthology series...
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    How "Pete's Dragon" went from being a "Mary Poppins" wanna-be to an "E.T." -inspired delight

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    It's the movie that Leonard Maltin is calling " ... the summer's best family film." Disney's "Pete's Dragon" reboot - which opened in theaters earlier today - is a genuine Hollywood rarity. A reimaging that actually improves on the original. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Which - if we're being completely honest here - probably wasn't all that hard to pull off. As delightful as this "E.T." -inspired reboot is, the original...
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    Disney XD's "Future-Worm!" puts a pre-teen twist on time travel

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    Over the nearly 15 years that he'd been working in animation, Ryan Quincy had done a great many things. He's helped create Emmy Award-winning episodes of " South Park ." Not to mention " Out There ," that acclaimed series for IFC. "But what I hadn't done was work on anything animated that I could then show my son, who's 11, and my daughter, who's 9," Quincy recalled during a recent phone interview. "And that had genuinely begun to bother me."...
  • Jim Hill

    Andreas Deja shares the lessons he learned from those animation masters, Disney's Nine Old Men

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    When Andreas Deja was a little boy growing up in Germany, he loved going to the movies. He especially enjoyed catching the theatrical re-releases of classic Disney animated features like "Lady & the Tramp" and "The Jungle Book." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved "And as I watching the credits for these films, I couldn't help but notice that the same names kept appearing over & over," Andreas recalled during a recent phone interview. "Given...
  • Jim Hill

    How a PR problem led to the creation of Disney's first Latina princess, "Elena of Avalor"

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    Back in October of 2012, the Internet temporarily lost its mind when Jamie Mitchell - the producer of the then-soon-to-launch "Sofia the First" television series - mistakenly identified this show's title character as Disney's first Latina princess. Princess Sofia and her mother, Queen Miranda. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Within a day or so, The Mouse House was walking back Mitchell's off-the-cuff comment. But where everyone else saw an embarrassing...
  • Jim Hill

    Women in Animation panels prove that there's more to San Diego Comic-Con than just promotion of pop culture

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    Thanks to Comic-Con International , now through Sunday, San Diego is the white-hot center of the pop culture universe. Photo by Jim Hill Mind you, there's more to this four day-long event than those high-profile presentations in Hall H. Which is where various movie studios will be parading celebrities & showing exclusive clips. All with the hope that those 6000 early adopters who have (some of them, anyway) been camped out in this cavernous convention center for hours ahead of time will then...
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