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  • 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...
  • Jim Hill

    Will Disney "Frozen" blow past "Toy Story 3" to become the top earning animated film of all time?

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    Talk about your Hollywood endings. On the very same day that Disney "Frozen" won the Academy Award for Best Animation Feature , this Walt Disney Animation Studios production then becomes a member of Hollywood's exclusive Billion Dollar Club . (L to R) Peter Del Vecho, producer of Disney "Frozen," Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck onstage at the Dolby Theatre as they win this year's Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. P hoto by Adam Taylor. Copyright American Broadcasting...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- Joseph Gordon-Levitt loves how Hayao Miyazki's "The Wind Rises" celebrates the magic of normal, everyday life

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    He's helped Batman battle Bane in " The Dark Knight Rises ." Not to mention going toe-to-toe with the G.I. Joes in " The Rise of Cobra ." He's even braved multiple levels of the human subconscious in " Inception ." Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the last man standing in Christopher Nolan's sci-fi thriller, "Inception." Copyright 2010 Warner Bros. All rights reserved So given that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has gotten so good at doing the action-hero thing in...
  • Jim Hill

    The Mouse continues its hi-tech, hand-held roll-out with today's debut of Disney Movies Anywhere

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    This ain't your Dad's Walt Disney Company anymore. Sure, every so often, you'll see the Company fund the construction of some massive immersive environment like Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park or that AVATAR-inspired "land" which finally officially broke ground at Disney's Animal Kingdom last month. But increasingly these days, Disney is deliberately bypassing these bigger-than-life projects so that it can deliver to its fans magic that they can then hold in...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- How Walt Disney Animation Studios evolved Mickey Mouse backwards for "Get A Horse!"

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    It's the question that most animation professionals ask immediately after they've seen " Get A Horse! " How did Walt Disney Animation Studios actually pull that short off? How'd they first replicate the exact look & feel of a Mickey Mouse cartoon of late 1928 / early 1929 and then (SPOILER AHEAD) send a CG version of Mickey & Horace Horsecollar hurtling out through the screen into today's world? Well, director Lauren MacMullan & producer Dorothy McKim were obviously...
  • Jim Hill

    No one Forced Freddie Prinze Jr. to voice Kanan, the cowboy Jedi on Disney XD's "Star Wars Rebels"

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    There are a lot of people on this planet who are excited about " Star Wars Rebels ." But perhaps the person who is most looking forward to this program (which will debut on Disney XD in the Fall of 2014) is Freddie Prinze, Jr . You see, as Prinze revealed at a Disney Consumer Products presentation yesterday at Toy Fair 2014 ... "If you're anywhere near my age -- I'm almost 40 -- Stars Wars is pretty much in your DNA. You can't get away from it. You've probably heard...
  • Jim Hill

    Lucas Grabeel trades high school for preschool by voicing a character on Disney Junior's "Sheriff Callie's Wild West"

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    So what's Lucas Grabeel 's favorite memory from all the " High School Musical " craziness? Was it when the soundtrack for this super-popular Disney Channel Original Movie became the best-selling album in the United States for all of 2006? Or when the cast of this TV movie traveled the globe and then performed live in front of tens of thousands of people as part of the "High School Musical: The Concert" tour? "I have to admit that that concert tour was completely nuts...
  • Jim Hill

    Huffington Post -- Bobby & Kristen Anderson-Lopez reveal the real-life inspirations for Disney "Frozen" songs

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    They're the reason that the Disney "Frozen" soundtrack has already sold more than 1 million units. They're also why this Walt Disney Animation Studios production has -- after 12 weeks of being in theaters -- seen a sudden resurgence in domestic ticket sales . As thousands of people rush back to their local multiplex so that they can then take part in the new sing-along version of this Oscar-nominated film. But did you ever wonder what the inspiration was for "Frozen" 's...
  • Jim Hill

    Remembering Shirley Temple and her many ties to The Walt Disney Company

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    You know, as I sit and watch footage of Shia LaBeouf behaving like a jackass at the Berlin Film Festival or hear yet another story about how Justin Bieber continues his transition from talented tween to delusional jerk , I wonder: How did Shirley Temple do it? Shirley Temple on the red carpet at the world premiere of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" at the Carthay Circle Theater December 21, 1937. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved I mean, Shirley (who passed away peacefully...
  • Jim Hill

    SeaWorld's animal ambassadors were a big hit at the 2014 Boston Globe Travel Show

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    Nancy and I drove down to Massachusetts yesterday to tour the 2014 Boston Globe Travel Show . And it was pretty easy to see most people from around here have already had their fill of ice & snow. Given that there were absolutely no takers at the Alaska Land & Cruise Adventures booth ... Photo by Jim Hill Meanwhile, right next door in the Florida aisle , it was body-to-body. Photo by Jim Hill Given the steady stream of people that kept going in & out of the Universal Orlando Resort booth...
  • Jim Hill

    Disneytoon Studios' "The Pirate Fairy" brings Captain Hook, the Croc & Skull Rock into the "Disney Fairies" fold

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    Did you catch the Annies this past Saturday? The members of ASIFA-Hollywood obviously thought a lot of Disney "Frozen ." For this Walt Disney Animation Studios production wound up coming out on top in five different categories. Best Animated Feature Directing in an Animated Feature Production Music in an Animated Feature Production Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Pixar Animation Studios also did okay at this year's Annies...
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