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  • Jim Hill

    How the Grinch gave Universal Studios Hollywood a Christmas to call its own

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    So now that the ball has dropped in Times Square and all those flower-covered floats have rolled through downtown Pasadena, that then means we can officially put the 2015 holiday season behind us ... right? Not according to the folks who run the Disney and Universal theme parks. Where Christmas will continue to be celebrated through January 3rd. Now before some baby boomer out there decides to play their " ... it wasn't like this when I was growing up" card, let me point out here that...
  • Jim Hill

    What would Walt have thought of "Two More Eggs," Disney XD's deliberately anarchic series of animated shorts?

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    It's a really interesting time to be a Disney fan. After all, in a year where " Star Wars: The Force Awakens ," " Avengers: Age of Ultron " and " Inside Out " helped Walt Disney Studios blow past the $5 billion box office barrier for the very first time in the Company's history, the Mouse Factory honestly doesn't look all that much like the outfit that the Disney Brothers started back in 1923. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Which is...
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    Winchester Mystery House puts a paranormal twist on the holidays with its "Spirit of Christmas" event

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    Are you looking for something a little different to do this holiday season? If so ... Well, given that one of the more popular tales to tell this time of year (i.e., Charles Dickens ' "A Christmas Carol" ) is just loaded with ghosts, maybe you'd be up for a visit to one of America's most haunted homes? To be specific, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. Which -- earlier this month -- kicked off a brand-new "Spirit of Christmas" event that allows people...
  • Jim Hill

    Don Hahn shines a spotlight on Disney Legend Richard M. Sherman with 'Songs of a Lifetime"

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    Given that he's the guy who produced " Beauty and the Beast ," the first animated film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, as well as " The Lion King ," Don Hahn is used to getting the lion's share of the accolades. But these days, Don is more concerned about making sure that other Mouse House veterans get their moment in the sun. Take -- for example -- Disney Legend Richard M. Sherman , the surviving member of that Academy Award-winning songwriting team which provided...
  • Jim Hill

    By thinning "The Good Dinosaur" 's herd, Pixar Animation Studios wound up with a far better film

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    Given that -- this past weekend -- "The Good Dinosaur" was once again the No. 1 family film at the box office , there are a lot of parents on the prowl right now for toys that draw their inspiration from this new Pixar Animation Studios production And as luck would have it, there's a good number of "Good Dinosaur" -related playthings on the market right now. The Disney Store -- for example -- has a Jack the Ankylosaurus action figure which features swinging tail action .....
  • Jim Hill

    What goes on behind-the-scenes at Macy's before its Thanksgiving Day Parade can step off

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    So where are you right now when it comes to your Thanksgiving to-do list? You know, that running tab of things that you need to get done between now and tomorrow afternoon? Well, as busy as you may be, I'm betting that your Thanksgiving to-do list looks like a Post-it note compared to all of the tasks that the talented folks who work for Macy's Parade & Entertainment Group have to accomplish before 12 noon ET on Thursday. November 25th arrives. Copyright 2015 Macy's Inc. All rights...
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    Phyllis Smith talks about the joys of voicing Sadness for Pixar's "Inside Out"

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    So how exactly does one get hired to voice a character in a Pixar film? Well, to hear Phyllis Smith (i.e., the " Office " vet who voiced Sadness in " Inside Out ") tell the tale, it wasn't talent or luck that actually won her this part. But -- rather -- insomnia. (L to R) Jason Segal, Cameron Dias and Phyllis Smith in "Bad Teacher." Copyright 2010 Sony Pictures. All rights reserved " Jonas Rivera -- the executive producer of 'Inside Out' -- couldn't...
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    Everything's big about Universal Orlando's opening-in-2016 Skull Island: Reign of Kong

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    For nearly 30 years now -- ever since King Kong Encounter was first added to Universal Studios Hollywood 's tram tour back in June of 1986 and that 7 ton, 30 foot-tall animatronic figure began blasting tourists with his banana breath -- theme park goers have been going ape for this massive movie monster. Copyright Universal Studios Hollywood. All rights reserved Which is why -- when the East Coast version of this Hollywood must-see threw open its gates on June 7, 1990 -- one of Universal Studios...
  • Jim Hill

    Universal Orlando mixes hi-tech & simple tricks to serve up scares at Halloween Horror Nights 25

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    With October 31st just a few days away now, millions of people are in the process of putting the finishing touches on their home Halloween displays. All with the hope that they'll then be able to impress the neighbors and/or thrill some trick-or-treaters when they come a-knockin' on All Hallows' Eve. But what are the exact components of a truly successful seasonal display? To get a definitive answer to this question, I reached out to Mike Aiello , Director of Entertainment - Creative...
  • Jim Hill

    How Universal Orlando sets the stage for Halloween Horror Nights 25 in just 60 minutes

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    One hour. 60 measly minutes. That's all the time that Show Director Lora Wallace and her team are given to transform the streets of Universal Studios Florida . Change these highly themed but family-friendly thoroughfares into a setting better suited for the hundreds of scareactors who work the nation's premier Halloween event, Universal Orlando 's Halloween Horror Nights 25 . Copyright 2015 Universal Studios. All rights reserved So how exactly does Universal Studios Florida pull off this...
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    Disney plans "Descendants" sequel for 2017, will hold fan event at the Disneyland Resort this Saturday

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    It's one of those hard-and-fast rules of the Disney Universe. That -- Flora (i.e., The leader of the good fairies in "Sleeping Beauty" put it) once put it -- " ... evil die and good endure!" So how then to explain the success of Disney's "Descendants." This Disney Channel Original Movie -- which was built around the teenage sons and daughters of Disney's most infamous villains -- debuted back on July 31st and wound up being cable television's fifth highest...
  • Jim Hill

    How Eric Goldberg created the Genie Outtakes for Disney's Diamond Edition of "Aladdin"

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    Here's an interesting tidbit for all of your animation fans out there: An excerpt from the screenplay for Disney's " Aladdin ." To be specific, the scene where the Genie makes his dramatic entrance in this motion picture: Aladdin rubs the lamp with his sleeve. It glows slightly -- and then, POOF! Colorful smoke spews out of the spout. It eddies and swirls, filling the cave, taking shape and solid form -- Towering above Aladdin is the gigantic GENIE of the lamp. He is a hip, hyper...
  • Jim Hill

    Ariel Winter looks ahead, prepares for life after "Modern Family" and "Sofia the First"

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    Between recording dialogue for "Sofia the First: The Secret Library" and getting ready to take her College Boards in real life, Ariel Winter has really been hitting the books lately. Copyright American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved "I just took the SAT yesterday," Ariel admitted during a recent phone interview. "Which -- I have to admit -- kind of freaked me out." But given that Alex Dunphy (i.e., the character that Alex plays on ABC 's "...
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    How Universal Studios Hollywood uses Krusty Burger to keep theme park guests from peeking at Harry Potter

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    Tomorrow night, "The Simpsons" kicks off its 27th season on Fox with an episode entitled "Every Man's Dream." Coincidentally, West Coast-based fans of this animated Fox animated comedy have been dreaming for decades now about getting the chance to visit Springfield (i.e., that hyper-detailed burg that Bart, Lisa, Maggie, Marge & Homer call home). Maybe do a little shopping at the Kwik-E-Mart. Grab a Ribwich at Krusty Burger. Or -- better yet -- drop by Lard Lad and treat...
  • Jim Hill

    Don't wear Green & Gold to Universal Orlando's Jurassic Park unless you want the raptors there to see red

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    Just a bit of advice to all your Green Bay Packers fans out there: On the heels of yesterday's season opener (when the Packers traveled to Chicago's historic Soldier Field (and then beat the Bears 31 to 23), you're probably feeling pretty proud right about now. Which is why -- most likely -- you're wearing Green & Gold today. Well, if that's really the case and you're currently on vacation in Central Florida, you may want to steer clear of the Jurassic Park section of...
  • Jim Hill

    There's something fishy about Asher Blinkoff's voicework in "Hotel Transylvania 2"

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    When you're 6 & a 1/2, almost 7 years-old, you view the movie-making process differently than -- say -- your typical SAG-AFTRA member. Take -- for example -- Asher Blinkoff. The talented tot who's providing the voice of Dracula's grandson Dennis in Sony Pictures Animation 's " Hotel Transylvania 2 ." Copyright Sony Pictures Animation. All rights reserved What excites Asher most about making movies? Is it walking the red carpet with his fellow "HT2" cast members...
  • Jim Hill

    "Ant-Man" director Peyton Reed recalls working with Disney Legend Dean Jones

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    As the director of Marvel's most recent summer blockbuster, Peyton Reed has a lot to be thankful for these days. " 'Ant-Man' was a fantastic experience. The cast was amazing," Reed admitted during a recent phone call. "I'm really pleased with the way the finished film turned out. And I'm hoping that we get to do a follow-up." Peyton Reed (L) confers with Paul Rudd on the "Ant-Man" set. Copyright Marvel / Disney. All rights reserved Mind you, 20 year...
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    From beach house to the White House: How "Aladdin" 's Courtney Reed spent her summer vacation

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    After spending the last year & a half soaring high above the stage floor of the New Amsterdam Theatre aboard a magic carpet, Courtney Reed (who plays Princess Jasmine in the Broadway production of Disney's "Aladdin" ) was ready for some more down-to-earth activities. Courtney Reed & Adam Jacobs in the Broadway production of Disney's "Aladdin." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved "I was looking forward to spending some time on the Outer Banks...
  • Jim Hill

    Macy's Parade Studio gets some major Buzz (Lightyear) going at D23 EXPO 2015

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    Can you believe it? This November (November 19th, to be precise) marks the 20th anniversary of the release of " Toy Story ." Copyright Disney / Pixar. All rights reserved D23 -- the Official Disney Fan Club -- wanted to do something special to commemorate this occasion. So they arranged for John Lasseter , Pete Docter , Andrew Stanton , Lee Unkrich and other Pixar Animation Studios veterans to come on down to Anaheim. Where -- as part of D23 EXPO 2015 (which officially gets underway today...
  • Jim Hill

    Star Wars and star power -- plus Marvel, Pixar, and plenty of Disney -- at this year's D23 EXPO

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    When D23 -- Disney's official fan club -- launched the D23 EXPO back in 2009, all the "wonderful worlds" of Disney was pretty much just Disney. And -- of course -- Pixar , a Disney acquisition in 2006. And ABC , which Disney purchased over a decade before that. But now Disney's "world" has come to include a "universe" and a "galaxy" (albeit one far, far away). So how does Disney bring all of these seemingly disparate brands together for its biennial...
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    Get ready for Lord Dominator, "Wander Over Yonder" 's new extreme bad guy who happens to be a gal

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    It was Rudyard Kipling who said it best ( in rhyming couplets , no less): "The female of the species is more deadly than the male." And if you want animated proof of this proposition, then I suggest that you tune in to " Wander Over Yonder " tonight. Which is when Lord Dominator -- a brand-new female fiend -- makes her debut on Disney XD at 9 p.m. ET / PT as this Annie Award-winning series kicks off its second season. "And why is 'Wander' adding a new villain to its...
  • Jim Hill

    Could we see a king-sized character in Disney "Descendants 2" ?

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    Look, I really don't want to be that guy . Especially since I just wrote an article for HuffPost that talked about how Kenny Ortega and his creative team got the Disney-related details right on " Descendants ." But then I was told to take a closer look at the map of the United States of Auradon that makes a brief appearance at the very start of this Disney Channel Original Movie. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Given that there's a Bald Mountain stashed in...
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    Will "Descendants" become the Disney Channel's next big franchise? Director / choreographer Kenny Ortega sure hopes that it does

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    Given that Kenny Ortega made a fortune for the Mouse a decade ago when he directed " High School Musical " (i.e., that 2006 Disney Channel Original Movie which eventually launched a best-selling album, a sold-out ice show, a super-popular concert tour as well as stage productions around the globe) ... Well, it only makes sense that -- as a reward -- Mickey would offer Kenny the Magic Kingdom's crown jewels. As is: Give Ortega the opportunity to build a brand-new Disney Channel Original...
  • Jim Hill

    "Jessie" co-star Cameron Boyce graduates to the big leagues with Disney XD's "Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much Everything"

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    You're familiar with the concept of a farm team, right? That place where would-be professional ballplayers go to get the training & experience that they need before these talented young athletes are then ready to move on up to "The Big Show" ? Well, the Disney Channel has a similar sort of system in place. And there's no better example of someone who's steadily climbed the ladder, worked his way up through the ranks at the Mouse House -- going from a guest appearance on...
  • Jim Hill

    Ron Diamond's Animation Show of Shows coming to Comic-Con, getting ready for nationwide debut

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    Toon fans rejoice! The Animation Show of Shows will soon be coming to a theater near you. Thanks to a successful KickstartASOS.com campaign (which still has a few hours left to run, by the way), this animation industry favorite will now transition from being an insider-only exclusive to becoming a program that film fans around the world can participate in and enjoy. For those of you who don't know: The Animation Show of Shows has long been Ron Diamond 's baby. For the past 16 years, this...
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