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  • 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...
  • Jim Hill

    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...
  • Jim Hill

    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...
  • Jim Hill

    When it comes to Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort, it's the little details that are going to go over big with baby boomers

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    Don't expect to find a lot of moderation when you visit the Cabana Bay Beach Resort , Universal Orlando 's first-ever moderate resort. Photo by Jim Hill The folks at Universal really went all out to make their newest on-site hotel a celebration of the family vacation circa 1958 - 1962. That time when Mom, Dad & the kids would all climbed in the station wagon and then drive on down to the shore. Where the family would then spent a week swimming & sun-bathing while they stayed at this...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- Mae Whitman doesn't want to Tinker with the way Disneytoon Studios runs its "Fairies" film franchise

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    It was early 2008 when Mae Whitman got this mysterious call from her voiceover agent, Melissa. Mae Whitman at the world premiere of "The Pirate Fairy" on the Walt Disney Studios lot back on March 22, 2014. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved "She was telling me that Disney had this very important project but that they wouldn't tell Melissa what it actually was. All she knew that that they were eager for me to come in and audition for this part," Whitman...
  • Jim Hill

    Ease on into the 2014 convention season by experiencing Emerald City Comicon

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    Please forgive me for fusing two entirely different Howard Ashman lyrics together. But I wanna be where the people are somewhere that's green. Yeah, if I had my druthers, I'd leave the frozen wasteland of Southern New Hampshire (where -- God help us -- it's supposed to snow again tomorrow night) ASAP and then catch a direct flight for Seattle. Where -- once I landed -- I'd immediately beat feet for the Washington State Convention Center , so that I could then surrender myself to the...
  • Jim Hill

    After 22 years, Lella Smith checks out as Creative Director of Disney's Animation Research Library

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    When Lella Smith 's 10-year-old godson, Rey, found out she was retiring from the Walt Disney Animation Research Library (ARL) , he was incredulous. "Why would you do that auntie?," he said. "You've got the coolest job in the world!" Smith has been the Creative Director for the ARL, the little-known department of the Mouse Factory once described by Disney CEO Bob Iger as "... the most important department in the Company." The ARL is the repository for all the...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- How Disney "Aladdin" went from being a diamond in the rough to Broadway's newest hit

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    When the reviews for Disney "Aladdin: The New Musical Comedy" finally came in last night, with the New York Times praising this production for its " ... relentless razzle-dazzle and its anything-for-a-laugh spirit," there was no one on this planet that was more pleased & relieved than Chad Beguelin . After all, it was Beguelin who - 5 years ago - was among the first artists Disney Theatrical Productions reached out to when it was looking to turn "Aladdin" into a...
  • Jim Hill

    Should Disney have made "The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made" instead of "Muppets Most Wanted" ?

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    As its box office totals continue to trickle in, you just know that there have to be people back in Burbank who are disappointed with the way " Muppets Most Wanted " performed this past weekend. Racking up just an estimated $16.5 million in ticket sales . Which doesn't compare all that well with the $29 million that " The Muppets " earned over the 2011 Thanksgiving weekend. So what exactly happened here? Was it just as Kermit & Fozzie musically foretold in "Muppets...
  • Jim Hill

    It was twenty years ago today ...

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    It was twenty years ago yesterday that I was standing in the Adventurers Club surrounded by some very incredulous WDW cast members. "Let me get this straight," said the woman who was playing Pamelia Perkins that evening. "Your wife is in a hospital, in labor right now ... And yet you're here?!" "You don't understand," I stammered. "I'm only here tonight because she sent me here ..." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Hang on...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- Universal Orlando will use lifelike animation & live special effects to recreate Harry Potter's journey aboard the Hogwarts Express

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    It seems kind of counte-rintuitive to use a plane to promote a train. But that's exactly what the Universal Orlando Resort did earlier this week. They jetted James & Oliver Phelps (AKA the two talented Brits who played Fred & George Weasley in the "Harry Potter" film series ) all over the globe. To London, São Paulo and New York City, to be specific. But then again, James & Oliver weren't talking up just any locomotive. This was the Hogwarts Express experience...
  • Jim Hill

    There were cars & stars at last night's world premiere of "Muppets Most Wanted" at the El Capitan Theatre

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    Yesterday evening, there were thousands of people lined up along Hollywood Boulevard . Photo by Alice Hill Not to mention hundreds more peering down from nearby rooftops. Photo by Alice Hill And why were all of these folks staring so intently at the El Capitan Theatre . Because that's where the world premiere of " Muppets Most Wanted " was being held last night. Photo by Alice Hill And as a long time Muppet fan, I have to say that it was really pretty sweet that Walt Disney Pictures...
  • Jim Hill

    Does Disney have a special 50th anniversary celebration in the works for "it's a small world" ? Recently domain name registrations suggest that it does

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    It's that time again. Time to take a look at the various domain names that The Walt Disney Company has registered over the past few months. Which might then provide us with a few clues as to what the Mouse has planned for the not-so-distant future. As you might expect, there are domain names that Disney grabs because it doesn't want anyone else using them. Take -- for example -- mymagicminus.com ... which the Company registered back on March 1st so those folks who aren't exactly fans...
  • Jim Hill

    CD reveals how Walt turned dysfunction at WED Enterprises into fun for the Disney theme parks

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    I got an e-mail this past weekend from a longtime Disney fan who I won't name. Mostly because he had some very unkind things to say about Bamboo Forest Publishing 's latest audio effort, " More Cute Stories, Volume 3 : Museum of the Weird ." Copyright 2014 Bamboo Forest Publishing. All rights reserved Here's a brief excerpt from that e-mail: "This recording features all sorts of mean-spirited stories about Marc Davis , Roger Broggie and Dick Irvine . According to what Rolly...
  • Jim Hill

    Film composer Christopher Willis talks about the challenges of writing music for Disney's new Mickey Mouse shorts

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    There's this terrific comment that someone once made about Fred Astaire . "Sure he was great. But don't forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards ... and in high heels!" And for some odd reason, that comment brings to mind British composer Christopher Willis . This is the guy who's been composing all of the music for that Emmy Award-winning series of new Mickey Mouse shorts which Disney Television Animation has been producing. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- How Rob Minkoff turned Mr. Peabody & Sherman into the original Modern Family

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    It's kind of ironic that " Mr. Peabody & Sherman " has a sequence involving the Trojan Horse . Because according to what Rob Minkoff -- the director of this DreamWorks Animation production -- says, this new animated feature is actually something of a trojan horse in and of itself. "When I was a kid, I used to watch a lot of television. And I was a big, big fan of Rocky & Bullwinkle ," Minkoff recalled during a recent interview. "And during the "Peabody's...
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