Tyrus Wong, Pioneer ‘Bambi’ Artist, Dies at 106

Tyrus Wong, whose paintings served as visual inspiration for Disney’s animated classic “Bambi,” died Friday, Dec. 30. He was 106.

Wong’s death was announced on his Facebook page.

“With heavy hearts, we announce the passing of Tyrus Wong,” the post read. “Tyrus died peacefully at his home surrounded by his loving daughters Kim, Kay and Tai-Ling. He was 106 years old.”

Wong was born in China before immigrating to the Bay Area at age 9. From there he went to art school on a scholarship followed by accepting a low-level animation job in 1938. After hearing about Walt Disney’s “Bambi” project he put together some paintings of deer in a forest, which impressed Disney enough to use them as inspiration for the film. The animated classic isn’t all Wong is known for though, he’s also worked on film’s like “Rebel Without a Cause, “The Green Berets,” and “The Wild Bunch.”

In 2001, Wong was named a Disney Legend, and in 2013 he had his artwork featured in the Walt Disney Family Museum. In October of this year Wong received two honors at the Asian World Film Festival. He was awarded with a lifetime achievement award on the opening day with the following day (his 106th birthday) being the screening of the documentary about him titled “Tyrus” directed by Pam Tom.

Wong is survived by his daughters Kim, Kay and Tai-Ling.

From Variety

Characters in Flight Closing Briefly in January for Redesign

Characters in Flight at Disney Springs will be closing for a redesign from January 9th through January 13th and will reopen to guests on January 14th, 2017.

Reportedly part of there refurbishment will include a brand new look for the balloon, complete with a new color scheme. The original Characters in Flight was designed for Downtown Disney, and it is expected that the new look will be more closely aligned with the Disney Springs look.

Magic Kingdom Welcome Show to Move to Cinderella Castle Stage

Beginning January 9, guests will be allowed to enter the Main Street, U.S.A. area of the park even earlier than the park’s scheduled opening time. This will allow guests time to savor the charm of Main Street, U.S.A., enjoy breakfast or a warm drink at the Main Street Bakery featuring Starbucks. Then promptly at opening, a new welcome show will officially open the park for the day on the Castle Forecourt Stage. A Royal Herald will appear to deliver a proclamation and welcome a few familiar characters to the stage, officially opening the park so “the magic can begin!”

The Welcome Show takes place on the Main Street Railroad Station. More security screening has made the entrance area of the park increasingly crowded, and the existing Welcome Show causes significant crowds to gather at the entrance. Besides the additional shopping and dining time, the move should help to alleviate some of that congestion, making arriving at the park a more pleasant experience.

Iconic Star Wars Actress Carrie Fisher Dies at 60: ‘She Was Loved by the World and She Will Be Missed Profoundly’

Carrie Fisher, the actress best known as Star Wars‘ Princess Leia Organa, has died after suffering a heart attack. She was 60.

Family spokesman Simon Halls released a statement to PEOPLE on behalf of Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd:

“It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning,” reads the statement.

“She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly,” says Lourd, 24. “Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”

Fisher was flying from London to Los Angeles on Friday, Dec. 23, when she went into cardiac arrest. Paramedics removed her from the flight and rushed her to a nearby hospital, where she was treated for a heart attack. She later died in the hospital.

The daughter of renowned entertainers Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Fisher was brought up in the sometimes tumultuous world of film, theater and television.

Escaping Hollywood in 1973, the star enrolled in the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, where she spent over a year studying acting.

COURTESY DEBBIE REYNOLDS

Just two years later, though, the bright lights of Hollywood drew her back, and Fisher made her film debut in the Warren Beatty-led Shampoo.

Her role in Star Wars would follow in 1977 – and she detailed the experience, including her on-set affair with costar Harrison Ford, in her  latest memoir, The Princess Diarist. She was only 19 when the first installment of the beloved sci-fi franchise was filmed.

LUCASFILM/20TH CENTURY FOX/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

In addition to the second and third Star Wars films – and last year’s The Force Awakens – Fisher starred in 1980’s The Blues BrothersThe Man with One Red Shoe, Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters in 1986 and, later, When Harry Met Sally.

STEVE LARSON/THE DENVER POST VIA GETTY

Fisher wed musician Paul Simon in 1983. It was an explosive marriage, according to Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon author Peter Ames Carlin, and was cut short by swinging stages of depression, the actress’s drug use and an array of personal insecurities. The relationship continued, though, on-and-off for several years after the pair divorced in 1984.

PAUL SIMON AND CARRIE FISHER (CREDIT: RON GALELLA/WIREIMAGE)

Fisher was candid about her substance abuse issues over the decades, starting at only age 13 when she began smoking marijuana. She said she later dabbled in drugs like cocaine and LSD. Fisher explored her own issues with addiction in her 1987 bestselling, semi-autobiographical novel, Postcards from the Edge, which was later turned into a movie starring Meryl Streep.

“I never could take alcohol. I always said I was allergic to alcohol, and that’s actually a definition to alcoholism — an allergy of the body and an obsession of the mind,” Fisher told the Herald-Tribune in 2013. “So I didn’t do other kinds of drugs until I was about 20. Then, by the time I was 21 it was LSD. I didn’t love cocaine, but I wanted to feel any way other than the way I did, so I’d do anything.”

In 1985, Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and she subsequently became an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness.

Throughout much of the ’90s, Fisher focused on her writing career, publishing Surrender the Pink and Delusions of Grandma. In addition, Fisher helped craft the scripts for numerous Hollywood films, going uncredited, for films like The Wedding SingerHook and Sister Act.

Billie Lourd, Fisher’s only child, was born in July 1992. The Scream Queens star’s father, talent agent Bryan Lourd, dated Fisher for three years and is now married to Bruce Bozzi.

In 2005, Fisher was recognized with the Women of Vision Award by the Women in Film & Video – DC. Three years later, Fisher’s Wishful Drinking autobiography was turned into a one-woman stage show and eventually an HBO documentary.

Of returning to the role that launched her career – Leia – for The Force Awakens, Fisher told PEOPLE in 2015, “I knew that something enormous was likely going to impact my life from this film and that there was absolutely no way of understanding what that was or was likely to be.”

The film – which brought Fisher back into the spotlight – earned  her a nomination for the 2016 Saturn Award for best supporting actress. She had already filmed scenes for the next Star Wars installment, Episode VIII, due out in December 2017.

Just last month, Fisher also revealed her surprising on-set affair with Star Wars costar Harrison Ford in The Princess Diarist, telling PEOPLE of the three-month fling during the making of the 1977 movie, “It was so intense.” The memoir, which drew from Fisher’s old diaries and notebooks, brought up mixed feelings for the actress.

“I had forgotten that I’d written them, and I’ve never written diaries sort of like that,” she said. “I write when I’m upset … it was about two or three months of upset.”

Fisher added, “It was sad because I was so insecure, and it’s very raw and obviously I didn’t expect anyone — including myself, I suppose later on — to read it.”

She is survived by her mom Reynolds, daughter Lourd, brother Todd Fisher, half-sisters Joely Fisher and Tricia Leigh Fisher, and beloved French bulldog, Gary.

From People.com

Disney Legend Charlie Ridgway Dead at 93

Charlie Ridgway was behind many of Disney’s most iconic moments.

He helped coordinate media coverage of the opening of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in 1971, along with the openings of Epcot, what is now Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. For more than 40 years, if you were in the media and covered Disney, you knew Ridgway and his unmatched personality.


The Disney Legend died at his Longwood home on Christmas Eve. He was 93.

He graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism and served in World War II. A former reporter, Ridgway covered the opening of Disneyland in California in 1955 for the Los Angeles Mirror News. A few years later, he’d join the team and help promote the park and large openings across the globe.

He was behind the iconic LIFE Magazine cover showing nearly 3,000 cast members in front of Cinderella Castle during the opening of Magic Kingdom.

He also was behind some of the more quirky and creative ideas to promote the park over the years. Ahead of Donald Duck’s 50th birthday, Ridgway arranged for the character to introduce himself to baby ducklings at birth. The ducklings formed an attachment so they would follow Donald around the park. They also appeared on a float for the birthday celebration, wearing birthday hats.

He even rubbed shoulders with Walt Disney himself over the years. Both he and Walt agreed their favorite part of the theme park giant was the guests, he told Disney’s fan club D23 in an interview.

“Watching people react to all the things we have is the most fun of all,” he said.

Ridgway was loved by all and former coworkers say he touched everyone who knew him.
“Charlie defined Disney public relations,” said Rick Sylvain, who was hired by Ridgway to join Disney’s public relations team in 1995. “He never lost his childlike enthusiasm for all things Disney. That enthusiasm was infectious. As a new recruit, you had two options: try to keep up with him or get out of the way.”

Ridgway was inducted in 1999 into The Disney Legends, a program that recognizes those who have made an extraordinary contribution to the company, his decades of work.

“Disney doesn’t throw around accolades lightly,” Sylvain said. “So being named a Disney Legend and having his name on a window of Main Street U.S.A. speaks to the esteem Disney held for Charlie.”

Walt Disney World Resort President George Kalogridis agreed, adding the legend will be missed.

“I had the pleasure of knowing Charlie Ridgway, and he was a true Disney legend who was known for his boundless creativity,” he said in a statement. “…He was beloved and respected, and he will be greatly missed by those who were fortunate enough to work with him.”

Ridgway was also honored in 2013 by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer for the decades of commitment to Central Florida. He declared July 26, 2013 as Charles Ridgway Day.

In a statement, Dyer said his legacy will live on in Central Florida.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Charlie. My thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and friends during this difficult time. His legacy will live on in our community, especially through his work with Disney that helped make Orlando the most magical place on earth,” he said.

From the Orlando Sentinel

Star Wars Day at Sea Returns on Select Disney Fantasy Sailings

In 2017, Disney Cruise Line guests can celebrate the legendary adventures and iconic characters from the Star Wars saga during a day-long celebration aboard 15 special sailings on the Disney Fantasy: Star Wars Day at Sea.

Star Wars Day at Sea combines the power of the Force, the magic of Disney and the excitement of cruising for an out-of-this-galaxy experience unlike any other.

Occurring one day during each of 15 Disney Fantasy sailings, Star Wars Day at Sea transports guests to a galaxy far, far away — in the Caribbean. The event features a full day of Star Wars celebrations, including a deck party, encounters with favorite characters, Star Wars-themed family and youth activities, unique food and beverage offerings, and special merchandise.

Throughout the day, Star Wars Younglings and Jedi Masters alike can enjoy the immersive entertainment. Intergalactic highlights include:

Force-filled Fun for Everyone

  • Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, Stormtroopers, Boba Fett, Sabine, Ezra and other characters from across the Star Wars galaxy are onboard for interactions and photos.
  • Kids and families enjoy friendly competition during Star Wars trivia games, putting their knowledge of the film and television sagas to the test.
  • Guests are encouraged to bring their costumes and cosplay and participate in the costume celebration held in the ship’s atrium.
  • Guests can watch “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” the first in a new series of standalone Star Wars films, as well as all seven films in the Star Wars

Younglings Use Their Power

  • In “Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple,” Force-sensitive children learn the ways of the Jedi and put their skills to the test in a final face-off with Darth Vader and the Seventh Sister.
  • In “Padawan Mind Challenge,” Younglings participate in a fun, brain-bending battle of wits and trivia to become mind challenge masters.
  • “Star Wars Saga: Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away” is a guest participation show featuring retelling of favorite Star Wars stories, with the help of props and special effects.
  • Star Wars-themed arts and crafts, games and activities are offered throughout the day in all youth spaces.

Star Wars Deck Celebration Spectacular

  • The day concludes with more intergalactic fun when the “Summon the Force” deck party blasts off to an exciting evening filled with music, dancing and games.
  • The “Summon the Force” deck show is accompanied by John Williams’ epic score, now including theme music from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
  • The party culminates as Star Wars characters converge for a celebration of the saga in an epic show, complete with fireworks finale.
  • In 2017, there is a new story, with more pyrotechnics, special effects and stunts.

Merchandise, Food and Beverage

  • Event merchandise exclusive to Star Wars Day at Sea is available on each sailing, including a range of collectible items, customizable nametags and 11 special trading pins.
  • An epic day is not complete without a feast for the palate, so the dinner menu includes creative fare such as Sand People salad, Bantha steak empanadas, Opee Sea Killer shrimp cocktail and Qui-Gon’s crisp chicken. Sweet endings complete the meal with Calrissian velvet cake, Cloud City macarons and a frozen carbonite sundae.
  • Specialty Star Wars-themed beverages include the colorful Galaxy in a Glass made with rum, coconut, mango and strawberry and a non-alcoholic Planetoid Punch.
  • For sipping, there are non-alcoholic beverages in collectible cups like a BB-8 sipper and Chewbacca stein, and for snacking, popcorn is served in containers themed to Darth Vader’s helmet or a tie fighter.

Film Screenings

  • Guests can watch all seven films in the Star Wars saga and follow Darth Vader, Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Rey and Finn along their epic journey.
  • Enjoy the latest Star Wars installment, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
  • Also showing are episodes of the new Disney 😄 animated series, Star Wars Rebels.

Star Wars Day at Sea will be on 15 Disney Fantasy seven-night cruises sailing from Port Canaveral.

Departing Jan. 7, 21; Feb. 4, 18; March 4, 18; April 1 and 15, 2017, the western Caribbean itinerary includes Cozumel, Mexico; Falmouth, Jamaica; Grand Cayman and Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.

Departing Jan. 14, 28; Feb. 11, 25; March 11, 25; and April 8, 2017, the eastern Caribbean itinerary includes Tortola, St. Thomas and Castaway Cay.

To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, guests can visit http://www.disneycruise.com, call Disney Cruise Line at 888-325-2500 or contact their travel agent.

Disneyland Resort Expands Lunar New Year Celebration to 17 Days

Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Mulan and Mushu will join guests for a bigger-than-ever Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney California Adventure Park, from Friday, Jan. 20, through Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017.  This joyous celebration for the Year of the Rooster expands to 17 days, with colorful live performances, fun-filled activities, beautiful decor, Disney characters in their Lunar New Year costumes, and special food and merchandise offerings.

Guests at the Lunar New Year Celebration will discover new Disney magic as they experience Asian culture through a variety of live performances, including Chinese acrobats and authentic musicians. Each night prior to “World of Color,” a new feature called “Hurry Home” will tell the tale of a journey home for Lunar New Year. The six-minute feature is presented in sequences, utilizing projected animation along with the lighting, special effects and powerful fountains of “World of Color.”

As “Hurry Home” unfolds, guests will get to follow along on the journey of a Little Lantern returning home for the annual celebration of good luck and fortune. Little Lantern encounters three “dream sequences,” featuring appearances by Mulan and the dragon Mushu. “Hurry Home” employs two contrasting animation styles, with fully rendered CG animation and sequences inspired by traditional Chinese paper cut-out style animation. The story is scored with music created for the opening ceremony of Shanghai Disney Resort by Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dun (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”).

Lunar New Year, traditionally celebrated within Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures, commemorates the moment when both the sun and the moon begin their journey for another year. Highlights of the Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney California Adventure include:

  • Three new Asian marketplaces offering foods inspired by Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures
  • Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Mulan and Mushu, dressed in their Lunar New Year attire to welcome guests and join them for photos
  • Live performances with an impressive array of authentic performers, acrobats, musicians and more
  • A New Year’s Wishing Wall, where guests may add their own wishes for a wonderful future
  • Lunar New Year décor, including beautiful ornamental lanterns and banners wishing guests a Happy Lunar New Year in English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese
  • Lunar New Year commemorative merchandise, including a specially designed t-shirt, pin and the traditional red envelopes for gift-giving

For a limited time only, Disneyland Resort guests may celebrate the tradition, sights, sounds and tastes of Lunar New Year with a touch of Disney magic, only at Disney California Adventure. Guests may check for daily entertainment schedules as they become available, at www.Disneyland.com/LunarNewYear.

‘Remember … Dreams Come True’ Returns to Disneyland on February 3

With the classic Main Street Electrical Parade coming home to Disneyland park on Jan. 20, spring 2017 is already shaping up to be a great blast to the past for Disneyland fans. Now there’s even more excitement in the air with the return of the beloved fireworks spectacular “Remember… Dreams Come True.”

Initially presented as the evening highlight of the 50th anniversary of Disneyland Resort in 2005, “Remember… Dreams Come True” features Tinker Bell’s flight, brilliant fireworks, soaring music, dazzling special effects and an amazing journey through the various lands of Disneyland with archival audio tracks, favorite songs and familiar phrases from some of the park’s most popular attractions, past and present. I’m partial to seeing flame effects erupt from Sleeping Beauty Castleduring the Indiana Jones Adventure sequence and the feeling of being in a virtual stretching room as fireworks launch straight into the sky to welcome the Haunted Mansion’s “Grim, Grinning Ghosts.”

You’ll have a chance to relive all those moments and more, when “Remember… Dreams Come True” once again begins regular weekend performances on February 3rd.

‘Rogue One’ Officially Makes Disney Hollywood’s First $7 Billion Studio

An impressive opening weekend for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was more than enough to help Walt Disney capture a new Hollywood record for yearly global box office gross.

The company said on Monday that Walt Disney Studios will set an industry record today by becoming the first Hollywood studio to top $7 billion in global movie ticket sales in a single calendar year. For Disney, which had already bested its own single-year record for box office revenue by November, Rogue One‘s $290.5 million global opening easily pushed the studio’s overall 2016 haul to record heights. The previous yearly box office record belonged to Comcast’s Universal Studios, which pulled in $6.9 billion worldwide just last year.

Disney ruled the movie market in 2016 with a series of blockbusters throughout the year that put the studio within close grasp of a new record heading into a weekend in which the latest Star Wars product from its Lucasfilm division was expected to dominate the global box office. And, Rogue One‘s strong showing is a fitting way for Disney to end its big year, considering that 2016 kicked off with Star Wars: The Force Awakens continuing its own dominant box-office run. (Released on Dec. 18 of last year, The Force Awakens ultimately grossed $2.07 billion worldwide for Disney, with a large chunk of that coming in 2016 and counting toward this year’s tally.)

Following up on The Force Awakens‘ record-setting success, Disney churned out no less than three movies that went on to gross more than $1 billion globally—the animated hit Zootopia, Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, and Pixar’s Finding Dory. Meanwhile, Rogue One is forecasted to join that list with what should also end up being a worldwide haul north of $1 billion. Other big movies for Disney this year include The Jungle Book, Marvel’s Doctor Strange, and another animated hit in November’s Moana.

While not all of Disney’s 2016 releases struck box office gold—Alice Through the Looking Glass and The BFG led the list of disappointments—the studio managed to find success across all of its silos. Whether it was live-action and animated movies—or those produced by previously-acquired units Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Studios—Disney churned out a variety of mega-blockbusters throughout 2016.

“This historic achievement is possible because all of our film studios are bringing their absolute best to the table, telling great stories of all kinds that resonate with audiences across borders, gender, and generations,” Alan Horn, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, said in a statement.

The film studio’s success has come at an opportune time for Disney, which needed a silver lining for a year in which subscriber losses at cash-cow cable network ESPN and declining advertising sales continued to weigh on the company’s revenue. Disney’s big year also comes amid what should be another record year for Hollywood in general. The industry is on pace to break the yearly box office record set in 2015, when Hollywood studios topped $11 billion in domestic ticket sales for the first time ever.

From Fortune.com

 

Dick Van Dyke to Appear in Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

Back in September, BWW reported that legendary song and dance man Dick Van Dyke revealed to NBC’s TODAY that he has had discussions about making a cameo appearance in the highly anticipated re-imagining of MARY POPPINS. “I think they want me to come in as the old banker and sing a little song, and do a little dance, which I’d love to do,” he told Today’s Al Roker, adding “I think Julie [Andrews] may be in it it.”

In a new feature shared in The Hollywood Reporter titled “Creative Until You Die,” the legendary performer confirms the news that he has agreed to appear in the Poppins update. “This one supposedly takes place 20 years later and the kids are all grown up,” reveals the Emmy, Grammy and Tony winner. “It’s a great cast – Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury and that guy [Lin-Manuel Miranda] from Hamilton.” The 91-year-old goes on to share that he has no plans to retire anytime soon. “I think it’s the worst thing you can do,” he says. “Certain people who do retire suddenly age. I think you have to stay active.”

As previously reported, MARY POPPINS RETURNS will be helmed by Rob Marshall and will star Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Filming on the movie is already underway in London with the reboot expected to hit theaters on Christmas Day, 2018. Marshall, John DeLuca, and Marc Platt will produce.

Dick Van Dyke starred in the films Bye Bye Birdie, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and in the TV series The Dick Van Dyke Show and Diagnosis: Murder. He recently appeared in supporting roles in Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. Recipient of five Emmys, a Tony and a Grammy, Van Dyke was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1995.

He received the Screen Actors Guild’s highest honor, the SAG Life Achievement Award, in 2013. Van Dyke has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard and has also been recognized as a Disney Legend.