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Blast to the past at D23’s Disney World & “Rocketeer” anniversary events

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Whenever Walt was asked about where he got the idea for
Disneyland, he'd always trace that project's origin back to …

… when my daughters were very young. And Saturday was always
Daddy's day with the two daughters. I'd take them to the merry-go-round and as
I'd sit there, sat on a bench, you know, eating peanuts, I felt that there
should be some kind of an amusement enterprise built where the parents and the
children could have fun together.

So where did the idea for Epcot come from? Well, according
to Disney Archivist Steven Vagnini, to get an answer to that question, you then
have to look to the next generation. To be specific, Diane and Sharon's
children. Walt's grandkids.


Walt with his grandchildren Tammy, Joanna and Chris at the May 1960 grand opening of
Disneyland's "Mine Train through Nature's Wonderland" attraction. Copyright Disney
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"I mean, here was a grandfather looking at the decay of the urban
landscape in the 1960s and thinking 'What sort of legacy are we leaving for our
grandchildren," ' Vagnini explained. "And Walt being Walt … Well, he can't
just sit idly by and not do anything. So he dives right in, learns as much as
he can about urban planning. About what the cities of the future be like,
should be like … And that's where Epcot really came from."

And trust me, folks. Steven knows what he 's talking about.
After all, he's spent the past six months getting ready for Destination D: Walt
Disney World 40th
. That two-day long event that D23 – the Official
Disney Fan Club
– will be presenting in the Fantasia Ballroom at Disney's
Contemporary Resort
May 14 – 15th in honor of "The Vacation Kingdom of the
World
" 's upcoming 40th anniversary.

"It's been great fun going to the Archives' satellite
facility in Burbank and then pulling out all of the 'Project Florida' boxes.
Looking at files that probably haven't been touched for decades at this point,"
Vagnini continued. "All in an effort to find those bits of Disney history,
those rarer-than-rare items that we know D23 members will really appreciate."


Walt in 1966, standing in front of the original site plan for "Project Florida."
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Mind you, Vagnini's looking to use a lot of the archival material that he just
recently unearthed as part of Destination D's "EPCOT: Walt Disney's Great Big
Beautiful Tomorrow" presentation. Which is why Steven and Disney expert Paul F.
Anderson
will walk you through Walt's Epcot. The futuristic city and innovative
industrial center that the Company's founder hoped to build out there in the
swamps of Central Florida.

"Just wait 'til you see that Epcot movie that Walt made in
1966. Ed Hobelman (Editor's note: Hobelman is the Manager of Media Preservation
at The Walt Disney Company) has just finished restoring this footage. So it's
never looked better," Vagnini said.

But it's not just archivists and historians who will be
sharing their thoughts about how Walt Disney World came to be. D23 has
persuaded people like Robert Foster – the lawyer that Roy O. Disney turned to
1963, entrusting him with the seemingly impossible task of acquiring the
thousands of acres of land that were necessary to build Walt's dream – to return
to the Resort that he helped create and then talk about what is like to be part
of the early, early days of Walt Disney World.


Marc Davis working on the model for "Western River Expedition," the never-built attraction
which was supposed to have put a cap on "Phase One" of Walt Disney World's
construction. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"We've also got just plain fun presentations like 'Weird
Walt Disney World.' Where Becky Cline and Paul Anderson will show you some of
the stranger stuff from WDW history," Vagnini stated. "And Tony Baxter will be
doing a 'Walt Disney World That Never Was' presentation. Which will feature
concept art and storyboards from all sorts of rides, shows and attractions that
never made it off the drawing board."

All this – plus Tim O'Day's sure-to-be-entertaining talk
with Disney World veterans like Jack Lindquist, Bob Matheison, Tom Nabbe, Charlie
Ridgway
and Bill Sullivan. Not to mention Disney Legend Marty Sklar holding
court with other Disney Legends like Orlando Ferrante, Bob Gurr and Ron Logan.
If you're a Disney history buff, the Fantasia Ballroom is really where you want
to be on May 14 & 15th.

If – on the other hand – you're a fan of Joe Johnston's
wonderful 1991 film, "The Rocketeer," then where you want to be this morning at
10 a.m. PT is online. To be specific, at the D23 website. Which is where &
when the Official Disney Fan Club will be releasing information about its June
21st event at the El Capitan Theatre. Which will be celebrating the  20th anniversary of this Walt
Disney Pictures release
.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Given that this late 1930s pulp period piece is primarily set
in and around Hollywood … Well, there's no better place in the world to stage a
"Rocketeer" tribute than at the El Cap. But wait. It gets better. Prior to the
screening, D23's arranged for a selection of cast & crew members to come by
the theatre that night and reminisce about what it was actually like to work on
this much beloved motion picture. "And who's going to serve at the MC of this 'Rocketeer'
panel?," you ask. None other than writer & director Kevin Smith.

And the fun will continue even after this screening is over.
After the last reel of "The Rocketeer" is shown, event participants will then be
encouraged to hike on over the Hollywood Museum (which is located inside of the
historic Max Factor building). Once there, people will be able to explore all
four floors of the museum's exhibits. Which will include – for one night only –
a special selection of "Rocketeer" props & costumes culled from The Walt
Disney Archives
' collection just for this event.

So if you're a "Rocketeer" fan, the El Cap is the place you
really need to be on June 21, 2011. Mind you, the only way that you'll be able
to get a guaranteed reserved seat for this once-in-a-lifetime event is if you're
a member of the Official Disney Fan Club. Otherwise … Well, you'll just have to
wait 'til seats go on sale for the general public (which is May 23rd) and hope
that something is still left at that point.


The interior of the El Capitan Theatre, one of Hollywood's last true movie palaces.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

For further information on D23's Destination D: Walt Disney
World 40th event, "The Rocketeer" 's 20th anniversary
screening and/or how one goes about obtaining a membership in the Official
Disney Fan Club, might I suggest that you drop by the D23 website?

Your thoughts?

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Video Games & Technology

“Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion” game coming this summer

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Adventure Time Pirates of the Enchiridion

“C’mon on, grab your friends … ” A new Adventure Time game is coming out across multiple platforms.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

In this open world game, Finn and Jake will be sailing on a raft (Named Jeff) through the flooded land of Ooo to solve the mystery of why water engulfed their home and to help others & get in hijinks along the way. With a ragtag gang of friends (From a vampire, to an Ice King, to a little robot) Finn and Jake will travel from the melting Ice Kingdom to the Fire Kingdom and fight in turn-based combat like an RPG.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

The trailer shows off some absolutely gorgeous character models and environments. I’m particularly enchanted by the gorgeous Candy Kingdom that’s briefly shown in this footage. The art design sticks close to the show, but brings with it a soft, sweet design rarely seen in adventure games. Which is a refreshing thing to bring to the table. Likewise, it’s a joy to see the characters translate to 3D so well. Outright Games has done some fantastic work here with their art design.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

Likewise, the voice cast for the show will be reprising their roles as characters in the land of Ooo. And they’ll have a lot of lines to record. Not only can you control Finn and Jake, but you’ll be able to play as BMO and Marceline as well. You can upgrade these characters to unlock unique abilities for combat and the map holds plenty of fun mysteries too. With side stories and secret locations, this seems like a game that’ll have hours & hours of fun.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

What strikes me particularly about this game is how much it resembles Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. This is no coincidence. Adventure Time have a history of being direct corollaries to Legend of Zelda games. “Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!” ‘s gameplay references “Zelda II: The Adventure of Link” and “Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom” has the same top down look & combat stylings as “Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.” With this in mind, it’s absolutely delightful to see a Wind Waker homage with a series like this. Wind Waker was a gamechanger for the Legend of Zelda series, and it feels like “Pirates of the Enchiridion” will be a gamechanger for the Adventure Time games.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

‘Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion’ will be out July 17th for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC. 

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Video Games & Technology

Do you like treasure hunting and/or cooking soup? Then Pokemon Quest is the game for you

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Pokemon Quest

Immediately after the Pokemon press conference on May 29th, the mobile-switch cross platform game Pokemon Quest was available to download on the Nintendo eShop (with the mobile device version debuting later this month). Curious about the ‘Free-to-Start’ game, I snagged a download and started playing.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo. All rights reserved

Pokemon Quest is a game that feels best letting itself auto-run. You check in several times a day to see what Pokemon have appeared at your camp (The conceit behind this game is that you’re a treasure hunter & Pokemon flock to you to fight their brethren in your honor. They also sometimes just come by because you make really good soup. What can I say?). With the Pokemon at your disposal, you build a small exploration team much in the same style as the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game series. And you then set them out to fight other Pokemon in open levels. From these battles, you win power stones (which allow you to upgrade your Pokemon’s health & attack power), and ingredients to lure other Pokemon to your camp.

You may’ve taken notice use of the term ‘Free-to-Start’ earlier in this article. That’s because — like many mobile services — this game offers add-ons for purchase. I don’t see any age limit on the Nintendo Switch version to take away ads for purchases (which many mobile games have chosen to add. See Disney’s own ‘Disney Crossy Road’) but the Pokemon Company may be expecting parents to set their own controls over the switch with the parental controls available on the system.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo. All rights reserved

Still, the game is typical in mobile game fare for trying to wring money out of players. Energy to play the game costs P tickets, which you can earn 50 a day … or you can just buy. The game gives you an amount to start with, shows you how to use them to speed up your game, and then takes you to the shop where you can see an advertisement to buy it — along with Pokemon furniture to help your team.

These packages can go up to $30 and include Pokemon in-game items & exclusive furniture. And while Pokemon Go offered items in bundles like this, it’s still odd to see in a Pokemon game — let alone a Pokemon game on the Nintendo Switch (albeit, this is a cross-platform game). The game itself doesn’t seem to have any sort of hard-pay line for gameplay, though. I’m up to the fifth world in my game without making any purchases. And while the game difficulty has dramatically ramped up, likely to encourage purchases, it’s still completely manageable to play without paying.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo. All rights reserved

In that sense, for a free game, it’s really cute & enjoyable. The graphics are pleasing and colorful. And if you return to camp, you’ll find all the Pokemon you’ve befriended hopping around adorable decorations. Sometimes stacking on top of each other, other times following each other around in what seems like games of tag.

The ‘cooking’ mechanic to encounter a random Pokemon makes encountering them feel less like gambling and more like strategy. By cooking certain recipes from materials you find on missions, you can draw certain types of Pokemon to your camp. Cooking in certain pots (unlocked by playing through the game) can draw higher powered Pokemon at the cost of more materials. And waiting while your energy fills up means running out of ingredients (At the point of the game I’m at, about half-way through) doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo. All rights reserved

All in all, I’d say, if you have access to this game, check it out and see if it’s for you. There doesn’t seem to be cross platform support for other Pokemon games. But as a standalone, it’s a cute, fun blip of a game. The hard ‘end’ of the levels within surprises me, especially since it seems to end with 150 Pokemon (out of the over eight hundred available). So I’m not sure what there is to get out of it when you get to the end level outside of getting every Pokemon. But it’s still a fun, very casual strategy game. Just keep an eye on purchases if your children decide to play. 

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“Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” & “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !” to come to the Nintendo Switch this year

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Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu

During a conference in Japan earlier this week, the Pokemon Company revealed three new games : A mobile and Nintendo Switch cross platform game, “Pokemon Quest,” with graphics similar to Crossy Road and some absolutely adorable furniture in a “free to start” format; and for the Nintendo Switch, “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” and “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !”

Taking inspiration from gameplay styles from the popular “Pokemon Go” for mobile devices, “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” and “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !’ adopts the thrown Pokeball system. By using one controller with the Switch system, you can make a tossing motion to throw a Pokeball and capture a cute critter for your team.

Copyright the Pokemon Company. All rights reserved

Additionally, you can buy the “Pokeball Plus” accessory to act as an additional “Joy-con” controller for your Switch to capture Pokemon. Then load a Pokemon into your pokeball, and take it out on the go.

From there, with the accessory, you’ll be able to interact with the Pokemon you have inside. Although current information doesn’t offer whether we’ll have more options than putting Eevee or Pikachu in the Pokeball Plus, the footage seen in the linked trailer is absolutely adorable.

The game itself seems to be a remake of Pokemon Yellow, a game released twenty years ago for the Game Boy Color. You explore the Kanto Pokemon region, and seem to be limited to the 150 Pokemon available when that game was out (Well, 151, if you were lucky, or good at exploiting glitches). But these games ditch the random encounters of mainline Pokemon games and adopt the overworld encounters of Pokemon Go. What Pokemon you see on the overworld is what you get.

Copyright the Pokemon Company. All rights reserved

Additionally, Pokemon can follow you around and you can ride some of them. In footage, we see a trainer riding a giant Onyx (i.e., a giant snake made out of rocks. Who wouldn’t be comfortable riding on that?) and followed by a starting Pokemon, Bulbasaur. Although in these two games, you start instead with the series mascot Pikachu, and the evolution Pokemon Eevee, which can evolve into several different pokemon. You can also put little outfits on them. Which is – frankly — incredible.

Likewise, this seems to have local multiplayer. Hand the left Joy-con to a friend and let them enter your game. Or if you’re feeling really lonely, put the left Joy-con in your hand and pretend you have a friend while controlling the new trainer that arrives. What a fun time!

You and your friend can then team up to capture Pokemon together, or go exploring together- And you can have Pokemon you capture in Pokemon Go (of the original 151 Pokemon) arrive in your game. You can also send “Presents” back to your Pokemon Go game, including a possible new form of Pokemon as the trailer discusses.

Copyright the Pokemon Company. All rights reserved

“Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” and “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !” will be arriving on the Nintendo Switch this November. Likewise, a new Pokemon game will be released in the second Half of 2019. With a Mario movie in development and theme park additions on the way, it’s sure to be a busy year for Nintendo. 

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