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  • Jim Hill

    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...
  • Jim Hill

    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...
  • Jim Hill

    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...
  • Jim Hill

    Seward Johnson bronzes add a surreal, artistic touch to NYC's Garment District

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    Greetings from NYC. Nancy and I drove down from New Hampshire yesterday because we'll be checking out Disney Consumer Products ' annual Holiday Showcase later today. Anyway ... After checking into our hotel (i.e., The Paul . Which is located down in NYC's NoMad district), we decided to grab some dinner. Which is how we wound up at the Melt Shop . Photo by Jim Hill Which is this restaurant that only sells grilled cheese sandwiches. This comfort food was delicious, but kind of on the heavy...
  • Jim Hill

    James Earl Jones returns to voice Darth Vader as "Star Wars Rebels" begins its second season on Disney XD

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    Do you remember how big, strong & scary Darth Vader was in " Star Wars IV: A New Hope " ? Well, that version of this Dark Lord of the Sith -- back when Vader was at the very height of his powers -- will be front & center as " Star Wars Rebels " begins its second season on Disney XD this Saturday, June 20th at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT). Copyright Lucasfilm / Disney. All rights reserved Better yet, to make sure Darth sounds exactly he did in the original " Star Wars "...
  • Jim Hill

    Phineas and Ferb finale, "Last Day of Summer," may not be as final as we think

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    In Stephen Sondheim's " Merrily We Roll Along " (which is this wonderful if flawed musical about friendship & show business), there's this particular line of dialogue that talks about the importance of a properly timed exit. It states that ... "You know what true greatness is? It's knowing when to get off." Well, tonight -- after 126 episodes, five one-hour specials, and a Disney Channel Original movie -- " Phineas and Ferb " are heading for the exit...
  • Jim Hill

    Wondering what you should "Boldly Go" see at the movies next year? The 2015 Licensing Expo offers you some clues

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    Greeting from the 2015 Licensing Expo , which is being held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. Photo by Jim Hill I have to admit that I enjoy covering the Licensing Expo. Mostly becomes it allows bloggers & entertainment writers like myself to get a peek over the horizon. Scope out some of the major motion pictures & TV shows that today's vertically integrated entertainment conglomerates (Remember when these companies used to be called movie studios?) will be sending...
  • Jim Hill

    It takes more than three circles to craft a Classic version of Mickey Mouse

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    You know what Mickey Mouse looks like, right? Little guy, big ears? Truth be told, Disney's corporate symbol has a lot of different looks. If Mickey's interacting with Guests at Disneyland Park (especially this summer, when the Happiest Place on Earth is celebrating its 60th anniversary ), he looks & dresses like this. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Or when he's appearing in one of those Emmy Award-winning shorts that Disney Television Animation has produced...
  • Jim Hill

    When did the Imagineers first dream of bringing a Marvel character into a Disney theme park?

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    Given that the highly anticipated "Iron Man Experience" won't actually open at Hong Kong Disneyland 'til the Fall of 2016 ... Copyright Marvel / Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved ... I thought that it might be interesting to look back at how the Marvel movies and characters first began filtering into the Disney theme parks and resort. Because it didn't happen overnight, folks. Though The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in the latter...
  • Jim Hill

    Rapunzel & Flynn Rider's adventures continue with "Tangled" animated series, which debuts on the Disney Channel in 2017

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    Given that Disney Theatrical has a "Frozen" musical in the works AND Walt Disney Animation Studios is already working on "Frozen 2" AND a "Frozen" ride will be opening at Epcot early next year, it's easy nowadays to forget that there was actually a CG Disney Princess which preceded Anna & Elsa. And that's Rapunzel of "Tangled" fame. In fact, to hear some Disney insiders talk, if "Tangled" hadn't been as successful as it was when this...
  • Jim Hill

    The Disneyland That Might Have Been: Mickey Mouse Club, Treasure Island & Lilliputian Land

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    Given that Disneyland Park kicked off its 60th anniversary celebration last month, I thought it might be fun to take a look at some aspects of the Happiest Place on Earth that didn't make it off the drawing boarding. Take -- for example -- the Mickey Mouse Club. 1953 site plan for Disneyland Park, showing Walt originally envisioned all of the "lands" at his theme park being placed. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved According to the "Inside Disneyland"...
  • Jim Hill

    Items up for bid at today's Rick Baker auction include development art from "Captain Eo" and Disney's never-produced live-action "Gargoyles" movie

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    I apologize for the extremely short notice here. But if you're a fan of modern film fantasy and live in the Los Angeles area, you need to get in your car NOW and immediately drive to the Hilton Universal City . Why For? Prop Store (the "Ultimate Movie Collectables" folks) are riding herd on an auction of over 400 items from Rick Baker 's Cinovation Studios. And that auction gets underway in the Hilton Universal City's convention space at 11 a.m. Pacific Time TODAY . Copyright...
  • Jim Hill

    Universal Orlando Resort announces Volcano Bay, the world's first water theme park

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    For the past six months or so, guests staying at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort have been looking their windows and watching as a mysterious mound of dirt grew ... Universal's Volcano Bay construction site in December of 2014. Photo by Jim Hill ... and grew. Universal's Volcano Bay construction site in February 2015. Photo by Jim Hill And when Universal Orlando officials were quizzed about what the Resort was building on this triangular piece of property (which is bounded by I-4...
  • Jim Hill

    It's the details that really make "Disney Paint the Night," Disneyland Park's all-new electrical parade

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    Greetings from the Happiest Place on Earth, where the Disneyland Resort is kicking off its Diamond Celebration . Last night was the media premiere of " Disney Paint the Night ," which is the all-new Electrical Parade that Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Creative Entertainment whipped up for Disneyland Park 's 60th anniversary celebration. Photo by Michelle Valladolid Three years in making, "Paint the Night" is full of fun nods to previous Disney theme park parades. Take -...
  • Jim Hill

    Disneyland's new magic program allows some of Walt's oldest dreams for his theme park to finally come true

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    This past weekend, theme park fans around the globe collectively lost their minds as images of the Hatbox Ghost began to pop up online. The modern era Hatbox Ghost made his debut in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion this past Saturday. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved "And what's the big deal with the Hatbox Ghost?," you ask. Well, you have to understand this gruesome ghoul was originally supposed to have been one of the 999 happy haunts that Disneyland Guests would...
  • Jim Hill

    The end is near! Phineas and Ferb "Last Day of Summer" to air on Disney XD June 12th

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    Well, you can't say that Dan Povenmire & Jeff "Swampy" Marsh -- the creators of the Emmy Award-winning "Phineas and Ferb" - didn't warn us that this day was coming. I mean, the first line of the title song for this acclaimed animated series flatly states that ... There's 104 days of summer vacation And school comes along just to end it Copyright Disney XD. All rights reserved After 126 episodes, five one-hour specials and a record-breaking Disney Channel Original...
  • Jim Hill

    Universal Orlando's "Skull Island: Reign of Kong" promises thrilling multi-experiential adventure through King Kong's domain

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    For almost 40 years now, there have been King Kong-themed attractions at the Universal theme parks. Whether it was the King Kong Encounter which was added to Universal Studios Hollywood 's tram tour back in 1986 ... Copyright Universal Studios Hollywood. All rights reserved ... or the King Kongfrontation ride, which was one of the opening day attractions at the Universal Studios Florida ... Copyright Universal Studios Florida. All rights reserved ... Kong has always been a big part of the thrills...
  • Jim Hill

    Universal Orlando's Lora Wallace is always at least one holiday ahead

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    You know the old saying -- "April showers bring May flowers" -- right? Well, that's not how Lora Wallace -- who works as a show director for Universal Orlando Resort -- looks at her calendar. Copyright Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved "You have to understand that -- here at Universal Orlando -- we prep for Halloween Horror Nights year 'round," Wallace explained. "We had our first meeting for the 2015 edition of Horror Nights three weeks before the 2014...
  • Jim Hill

    It takes more than movie magic to pull off "Disney Night" on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars"

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    So how long does it take to add some Disney magic to " Dancing with the Stars " ? Would you believe 9 months? "That's actually how long we've been having meetings about 'Disney Night,' which is the theme of this week's show," explained Rob Wade , the executive producer of this long-running ABC series. "But you have to understand that -- when you're building an episode of ' Dancing with the Stars' around Disney -- you've got this huge assortment...
  • Jim Hill

    Kermit & Co. spontaneously converse with small kids on Disney Junior's new "Muppet Moments" shorts

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    To hear Nancy Kanter tell the story, it was her favorite part of working on " Sesame Street ." Being able to walk down to the stage while scenes with the Muppets were being shot and then listening in as the younger members of that show's cast interacted with those much-beloved characters. "Those pieces when -- whether it was Kermit or Grover -- you saw a kid interact with the Muppets, they've always been one of my favorites because they are so genuine," Kanter recalled...
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