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  • Jim Hill

    How Jim Dale turned his 60+ years in show business into 90 minutes of Broadway magic

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    So how do you know Jim Dale ? To be honest, it kind of depends on which decade you grew up in. If you were in the UK back in the 1950s, maybe you were lucky enough to catch Dale's stage debut where -- at the tender age of 17 & a 1/2 -- he became the youngest professional comic to work the English Musical Hall circuit. If you're a child of the Sixties, perhaps you know Jim as the lyricist for "Georgy Girl" (which Rolling Stone -- back in 2002 -- said was No. 36 on that magazine's...
  • Jim Hill

    Seven Dwarfs Mine Train literally puts a new face on the Disney theme park experience

    When it comes to the Walt Disney Parks & Resorts , it's kind of a tradition that good enough isn't really good enough. Case in point: " Pirates of the Caribbean ." When Walt Disney first envisioned bringing buccaneers into his first theme park in the late 1950s, he was thinking more of a walk-through attraction. A place where Disneyland Guests would first descend from street level in New Orleans Square and then stroll past this elaborately-themed dungeon which was to be filled...
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    Remembering when Ronald Reagan came to EPCOT Center to see the President's Inaugural Bands Parade

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    After having dealt with those record low temperatures that this past Winter's Polar Vortex whipped up, I have to admit that I am genuinely enjoying this year's belated (but much appreciated) Spring. But that said, I recognize that late 2013 / early 2014 wasn't the only time that things got really, really cold here in the US. One other time that immediately comes to mind is January 21, 1985. Which is when things got so cold in Washington D.C. that then-President Ronald Reagan was forced...
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    How is LEGOLAND becoming Florida's new must-see attraction? One brick at a time

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    Back when our grandparents used to visit the Sunshine State, there was always one place that they had to visit. And that was Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida . Started back in 1936 by Dick Pope Sr. and his wife Julie, this 170-acre park quickly became world-famous for its lush botanical gardens & elaborate water skiing shows. But with the opening of Walt Disney World in 1971, the center of gravity for Florida tourism suddenly shifted over to Orlando. And with fewer & fewer folks now...
  • Jim Hill

    Why not watch Pixar's latest short, "Radiator Springs 500 1/2," from the road this weekend with Disney Movies Anywhere?

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    Given that the Memorial Day Weekend is traditionally when Americans take their first road trip of the year, it's entirely appropriate that Disney Movies Anywhere has just rolled out a brand-new " Cars " short, "Radiator Springs 500 1/2." Copyright Disney Pixar. All rights reserved This film is the first in a brand-new series of Car Toons from Disney*Pixar, "Tales from Radiator Springs." And when I asked Rob Gibbs -- the director of "Radiator Springs 500 1/2"...
  • Jim Hill

    Teaser trailer for Disney's next animated feature, "Big Hero 6," will debut on Yahoo Movies tomorrow at 9 a.m. Pacific Time

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    So how do you follow Disney "Frozen," the top grossing animated film of all time ? That Academy Award-winning motion picture which then went on became a pop culture phenomenon ? The movie that taught people around the planet to "Let It Go" ? The quick answer is: You don't. Borrowing a page from Walt himself (i.e. " You can't top pigs with pigs "), Disney decided go in a very different direction with its "Frozen" follow-up. Which is why -- much in the...
  • Jim Hill

    Want to preview the original cast recording of Disney "Aladdin" ? Then head on over to EW & BuzzFeed

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    For those who are keeping tabs on these things ... Nancy and I are now in Week 1235 of dealing with the cold-that-won't-quit. So our mornings are spent snuffling. Our afternoons are spent hacking. And as for our evenings ... Well, they're mostly spent cleaning up after all of that snuffling & hacking. In the entire 55 years I've been on this planet, I've never honestly been this sick for this long. And given that all of this coughing & wheezing has completely fried my voice...
  • Jim Hill

    James Monroe Iglehart, the Genie from Disney's new Broadway musical version of "Aladdin," recalls the phone call that changed his life

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    2012 is not a year that James Monroe Iglehart looks back fondly upon. Mostly because he spent a lot of that year staring at his phone, waiting for it to ring. Adam Jacobs and James Monroe Inglehart in the 5th Avenue Theatre's 2011 production of Disney "Aladdin." "We had done the pilot production of 'Aladdin' in Seattle at the 5th Avenue Theatre in July of 2011. And then the powers-that-be at Disney went off to decide if they really want to bring this show to Broadway,"...
  • Jim Hill

    Disney's decades-long quest to turn "Don Quixote" into a full-length animated feature

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    " To dream the impossible dream ... " That's the first line from the hit song from " Man of La Mancha ." Which was the stage musical adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes ' seventeenth century masterpiece, " Don Quixote ." Image courtesy of S/R Laboratories Animation Art Conservation Center But in a weird sort of way, that line also describes Walt Disney Studios' attitude toward Cervantes's spoof of chivalry. You see, the Mouse tried four separate times to...
  • Jim Hill

    Remembering "Monster Planet of Godzilla," that theme park attraction which put you toe-to-toe with the Tokyo terror

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    You know it's going to happen, don't you? Given that " Godzilla " has been projected to earn as much as $75 million over its opening weekend , you can bet that -- come Monday morning -- some theme park fan, as they're telling their friends & family about this Legendary Pictures production, will then say "Wow! Wouldn't be great if someone built a Godzilla ride?" Well, as it turns out, 20 years ago, someone did actually did build a "King of the Monsters"...
  • Jim Hill

    Harry Potter cast members reunite to shoot new scenes for Universal Orlando's "Escape from Gringotts" thrill ride

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    Let's cut to the chase here: " Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts " (i.e. the feature attraction for Diagon Alley , that new Harry Potter-themed land which will be opening at Universal Studios Florida later this summer) isn't just a thrill ride. It's really " Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2.1 " According to Thierry Coup , the Senior Vice President of Universal Creative (i.e., the arm of Universal Parks & Resorts that designs all of the rides...
  • Jim Hill

    "Once Upon a Time," Disney wasn't always so careful when it came to the licensing of the Company's characters

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    I'm sure -- by now -- that you're heard that " Once Upon a Time " teased that Elsa from Disney "Frozen" will be coming to Storybrooke for Season 4 of this hit ABC series. Copyright American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved Now some of you out there (I'm sure ) will see this as a naked cash grab. The Mouse finding yet another way to make money off of this mega-hit Walt Disney Animation Studios release. But that's really not what happened here. As...
  • Jim Hill

    Storyboards reveal what Marvin Acme's funeral in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" would have looked like

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    So when your winter cold (which wouldn't let go) becomes a spring cold (that just won't go away) suddenly mutates into the Black Plague ... Well, it's then finally time to do something. That -- in a nutshell -- is what happened here at JHM. Nancy and I have been trading the same cold back & forth since late February / early March. And in the middle of a work week that featured some pretty amazing professional opportunities (i.e., being allowed to cover this year's Actors Fund...
  • Jim Hill

    From the JHM Archives -- M - I - C in NYC : Disney at the 1964 New York World's Fair

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    There has long been this legend about the importance the 1964 New York World's Fair played in the history of the Walt Disney Company. How the Fair was supposed to be this vital stepping-stone in the creation of Walt Disney World. How Walt had to see if his theme park rides and attractions would meet with the approval of those East Coast sophisticates before he'd agree to buy all that land around Orlando. It's a nice story. Not true, mind you. But it's a nice story nonetheless. Truth...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- Annecy attendees will be the first to feast their eyes on "Feast," Walt Disney Animation Studios' newest short

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    It's become one of the real high points of the animation industry's annual calendar: The world premiere of Walt Disney Animation Studios ' latest short at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival & Conference . Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved This practice actually began back in the summer of 2003 right after work on " Destino " had wrapped. Given that this surreal animated short -- which had originally begun production back in the 1940s as...
  • Jim Hill

    Disney's marketing of "Frozen" may have frustrated animation fans, but it won over a far larger audience for this film

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    In response to yesterday's " " Transcendence" & "Rise of the Guardians" illustrate the fine art of how NOT to promote a motion picture " story, FuseMP posted the following comment in JHM's discussion boards: I cannot remember the last good marketing campaign carried out by Disney, you mentioned that Guardians suffered from trailers that concentrated on the wrong thing (in this case, the elves for comedy which felt Minion-ish which they were), that is exactly...
  • Jim Hill

    "Transcendence" & "Rise of the Guardians" illustrate the fine art of how NOT to promote a motion picture

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    When something is transcendent, it's supposed to " ... be far better or greater than what is usual." Well, that's clearly not what happened with " Transcendence " this past weekend. At least when it comes to this Warner Bros. release reaching its true box office potential . That's all anyone in Hollywood can talk about right now (Other than that other story , of course). Whether "Transcendence" 's under-performance at the box office -- coupled with "...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- The extremely hard lessons that the themed entertainment industry learned from Hard Rock Park

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    For music fans, it's all about being able to say that they were there at the Newport Folk Festival when Dylan went electric . For baseball fans, it's being able to say that they were at Dodger Stadium when Sandy Koufax pitched his perfect game . But when it comes to theme park fans, what do they brag about? These folks like to say that they actually got to experience Hard Rock Park . Copyright HRP USA LLC. All rights reserved Six years ago this week, that ill-fated theme park opened off of...
  • Jim Hill

    Disney, Marvel, Star Wars & ABC fans will find lots of wonderful presentations to attend at WonderCon 2014

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    After spending the better part of yesterday wading through W2s & 1099s (Quick question: If you have a dependent who actually wear Depends, does that then count as two deductions?), I can't tell you how nice it is to be sitting here paging through the Quick Guide for WonderCon Anaheim . I mean, given how easy this 21-page booklet is to understand, it just can't have been written by some brainless bureaucrat. A real human being who's actually been to the Anaheim Convention Center before...
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    Pilot program at Disney Reservation Center uses info from your previous WDW vacations to better tailor your next trip to the Resort

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    "I'm not going wear a MagicBand . I don't like the idea of Disney being able to track every single move that I make in one of their theme parks. And the fact that the Mouse is now going to keep track of my purchases -- learn what my likes & dislikes are -- really, really bothers me." That's basically been the battle cry of the tinfoil-hat crowd ever since The Walt Disney World Resort first revealed that My Disney Experience / FastPass + was in the works. This paranoid bunch...
  • Jim Hill

    "Despicable Me Minion Mayhem" is the latest step in Universal Studios Hollywood's reimagining of its Upper Lot

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    By now, you've probably already heard that Universal Studios Hollywood 's version of " Despicable Me Minion Mayhem " opened on Friday. Copyright 2014 Universal Studios. All rights reserved And as you might expect, there was the usual hoopla ... Gru is joined onstage by Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gier and Elsie Fisher, the three talented young ladies who voiced Margo, Edith & Agnes in "Despicable Me" and "Despicable Me 2." Photo by Shelly Valladolid ... that now...
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    Huffington Post -- Disney's skillful mix of high art & low clowning helped make "Aladdin" the surprise hit of this season

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    It was June of 1913 that Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. moved his legendary Follies over from the Moulin Rouge to the New Amsterdam Theatre . And for the next 14 years, this NYC landmark was not only home to the most beautiful costumes, sets & showgirls in the city, it also played host to an amazing array of clowns. We're talking legendary comics like W.C. Fields , Ed Wynn , Eddie Cantor and Will Rogers . Which is why it's kind of fitting that Disney "Aladdin" has now set up shop at...
  • Jim Hill

    While the US downsizes from Disney Stores to Disney Shops, Shanghai is getting the largest Disney Store in the world

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    So what exactly is going on with the Disney Store these days? The reason I ask is ... Well, it wasn't all that long ago (October of 2009, to be exact) that The Walt Disney Company announced that it would be reinventing all 340 of its stores in the United States and Europe. We're talking floor-to-ceiling redos that supposedly drew their inspiration from what Steve Jobs had done with the Apple Store. Well, these rebranded "Imagination Park" Disney Stores soon began popping up around...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- For Imagineer Joe Lanzisero, Hong Kong Disneyland's "Mystic Manor" is a high point of his career

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    You know what they say: If you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it. Joe Lanzisero, Senior Vice President - Creative, Walt Disney Imagineering. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Back in 2007, it's arguable that no one person was busier at The Walt Disney Company than Joe Lanzisero . As a Senior Vice President - Creative at Walt Disney Imagineering , Joe was riding herd on all of the Tokyo Disneyland & Hong Kong Disneyland Resorts' theme parks. Not...
  • Jim Hill

    It's wall-to-wall construction walls as WDW's Downtown Disney is gradually transformed into Disney Springs

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    Has it really been eight months since we last peeked over the fence to see how construction of Disney Springs was going ? Photo by Jim Hill Earlier this week, Nancy, Angela & I drove over to Walt Disney World to see how the reinvention of Downtown Disney is progressing. And as we took to the Epcot exit off of I-4 ... Photo by Jim Hill ... it was hard not to notice all of that construction ... Photo by Jim Hill ... & timber clearing that was going on in the stretch of forest between the highway...
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