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  • Jim Hill

    So which Hollywood legend was actually responsible for the creation of "it's a small world"? Would you believe Mommy Dearest?

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    I realize that everyone out there in Online-land is already getting ready for the long Fourth of July Weekend. But before you plunge into three straight days of backyard barbeques & fireworks, I wanted to direct your attention to something cool that the Disney History Institute just posted: Project Fair Winds . Jeremy Marx spent the past 8 months putting together a CG version of the Tower of the Four Winds. Which recreates all 52 of the mobiles which decorated that 120 foot-tall, 100 ton structure...
  • Jim Hill

    "The Beast Within: The Tale of Beauty's Prince" puts a "Wicked"-ly entertaining twist on Disney's "... tale as old as time."

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    So what did you think of "Maleficent" ? This past weekend, that Robert Stromberg film blew through the $200-million-in-domestic-ticket-sales barrier. Which makes this Walt Disney Pictures a blockbuster by modern Hollywood standards. That -- coupled with the $383.7 million that "Maleficent" has earned overseas to date -- means that this reimagining of "Sleeping Beauty" will ultimately be a very profitable enterprise for the Mouse. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All...
  • Jim Hill

    Which Santa do you want to see in the DreamWorks DreamHouse at your local mall this coming holiday season?

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    Well, it's July 1st. And you know what that means. Only 177 shopping days 'til Christmas. Mind you, when you head out to the mall this coming holiday season, you may discover something entirely new. Which is the DreamWorks DreamHouse. "And what is the DreamWorks DreamHouse?," you ask. Well, it's a whole line of business for that Glendale, CA-based animation studios. One that DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg talked up last month during his keynote address at the 2014 Licensing...
  • Jim Hill

    From skeletal Simpsons to Grumpy Cat, the 2014 Licensing Expo had it all

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    Janet from Another Planet sent me a note this past weekend, saying: I thought you were going to tell us more about what you saw at this year's Licensing Show in Las Vegas. What happened to that article? Photo by Jim Hill Nothing, actually. It just took me a while to wade through the hundreds of photos that I took at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center earlier this month. You gotta understand that the Licensing Expo kind of redefines sensory overload. As soon as you make your way onto the show...
  • Jim Hill

    Are you a "Frozen" fan who just can't get enough Olaf? If so, does Disney Consumer Products have an ice surprise for you

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    All day long, I've been getting e-mails from JHM readers about "Frozen Summer Fun: Live at Disney's Hollywood Studios," which kicks off on July 5th and then runs straight through September 1st. What people most seem to want to know is this really Disney's response to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley (which -- not-so-co-incidentally -- officially opens to the public on July 8th)? Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Well, while I enjoy a good...
  • Jim Hill

    Minions & zombie princesses invade the Strip as Las Vegas gets ready for the 2014 Licensing Expo

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    Greetings from Las Vegas, where Licensing Expo 2014 officially gets underway later this morning. Photo by Jim Hill As you wandered through the upper floors of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center yesterday, you couldn't help but notice the folks who were hurrying to get the hall ready for today's events. Photo by Jim Hill Either by hanging banners or by using forklifts to carefully put heavy three-dimensional promotional pieces into place. Photo by Jim Hill Mind you, not everyone was willing...
  • Jim Hill

    Universal Studios Hollywood pushes ahead with construction of West Coast version of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Springfield, U.S.A.

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    I know that stateside Harry Potter fans have been focusing on the upcoming opening of Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida ... Copyright Universal Orlando. All rights reserved ... while folks overseas have been counting down the days 'til The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens at Universal Studios Japan . But it's also important to remember that Universal Studios Hollywood will soon be getting its own Wizarding World. And as I toured the Upper Lot yesterday ... Photo by Jim Hill ...
  • 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...
  • Jim Hill

    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...
  • Jim Hill

    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...
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