Disney Shutters DisneyToon Studios

Disney has decided to shut down the animation house of Disneytoon Studios, the people behind the “Planes” movies immediately.

“After much consideration, we have made the decision to end production activity and close Disneytoon Studios,” a Disney Spokesperson said in a statement.

Disneytoon Studios was created to work on the Disney’s direct-to-video projects. This notably included the “Fairies” films from 2008-2014. Disneytoon Studios was also responsible for two worldwide theatrical releases: “Planes” in 2013 and “Planes: Fire & Rescue” in 2014

It has been rumored that Disneytoon Studios had been in development on an untitled project since 2014. The project has since been removed from the theatrical release schedule and is no longer in development.

According to Indiewire, approximately 75 people will be laid off.  The decision to shut down the studio is apparently unrelated to the recent leadership announcements at Walt Disney Animation and Pixar.

While no one likes to see people lose their jobs, creatively DisneyToon Studios has been a failure. With nothing having been released since 2014 and nothing in the creative pipeline it was a smart decision to shut down the studio.

I’m sure the people laid off will find jobs elsewhere.  Many may even find jobs at either Walt Disney Animation or Pixar.

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Disney Announces Jennifer Lee, Pete Docter to Run Disney Animation, Pixar

Disney has officially announced that Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter will split John Lasseter’s duties at Disney.

This announcement comes shortly after Lasseter announced that he was stepping down as Chief Creative Officer at the end of the year, after taking a six month leave of absence that was related to allegations of sexual misconduct.

Docter, the director of “Up,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Inside Out,” along with numerous writing credits has been tapped as chief creative officer at Pixar Animation Studios.  This has been rumored and talked about in the Disney fan community ever since Lasseter announced his leave of absence.  I along with many Pixar film fans are pleased with this announcement.  I personally have not heard any comments that express any unhappiness with Pete Docter taking over at Pixar.

“I started here 28 years ago,” said Docter. “I am fortunate to work alongside some of the most talented people on the planet, and together we will keep pushing animation in new directions, using the latest technology to tell stories we hope will surprise and delight audiences around the world.”

Even though both have been rumored to be in the running to  assume the announced roles, I still found Lee’s announcement a bit more of a surprise..  Lee has quite a pedigree as a writer, having writing/screenplay credits for “Wreck-It-Ralph,” “Zootopia,” and “Wrinkle In Time.”  She also has directed “Frozen” and “Frozen Fever” and is currently directing “Frozen 2.”

“Animation is the most collaborative art form in the world, and it is with the partnership of my fellow filmmakers, artists, and innovators that we look ahead to the future,” said Lee. “My hope is to support the incredible talent we have, find new voices, and work together to tell original stories.”

Both will report to Alan Horn, the studio chairman.

I personally am happy and enthusiastic about Pete Docter leading Pixar.  Since I personally am not as familiar with the leadership style of Jennifer Lee, I am optimistic about her leading Walt Disney Animation.

Disney Animator Dave Michener Dead at Age 85

Animator and story artist Dave Michener, who worked at Walt Disney Studios for more than 30 years, has died at the age of 85.  His wife Donna said he died at his Los Angeles home on February 15 from complications due to a virus.

Michener co-directed “The Great Mouse Detective” alongside John Musker and Ron Clements.

Michener starting with Disney in 1956, right out of college, and worked there until his retirement in 1987.  He contributed to classics like “Sleeping Beauty,” “One Hundred and One Dalmatians,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Jungle Book,” “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day,” “The Aristocats,” “Robin Hood,” “The Rescuers” and “The Fox and the Hound.”

He was hired by Walt Disney himself, who had seen one of his art exhibits at the Chouinard Art Institute. Michener also produced and directed character animation for Epcot Center in the 1980s, followed by similar duties at Tokyo Disneyland’s “Meet the World” attraction and the pre-show PSA on the history of aviation at Disneyland.

Disney Releases New Pixar-Themed MagicBands

Earlier today Disney released five brand new Pixar-themed MagicBands at Shop Parks.  The movies that are being featured are Toy Story, Monsters University, Up, Cars, and Wall-E!

The brand new designs are for the MagicBand 2.0 and for the first time, two of MagicBands have designs on the center icon that is not the Mickey Head symbol we’ve come to expect.

Each of the new MagicBands sells for $22.99 plus tax and can be found in the Shop Parks app and on the Shop Disney website.

Here are the new designs –

I’m kind of partial to the Toy Story and WALL-E ones myself.  How about you?

I imagine that these new MagicBands will be extremely popular, so if you like them and want to get some, you might not want to wait around too long.  Just sayin’.

Avengers and Other Super Heroes to Assemble in New Themed Area at Disney California Adventure in 2020

Yesterday Disney announced that new Marvel-themed areas will be coming to Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland in the near future.

The new Super Hero-themed land at the Disneyland Resort will begin recruiting guests in 2020.  Spider-Man and the Avengers will be joining Guardians of the Galaxy in a completely immersive Super Hero universe in Disney California Adventure. The new land will be anchored by the immensely popular Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!, in the area that is currently occupied by “a bug’s land.”  “It’s Tough to Be a Bug” already closed on March 19 and the rest of the land is scheduled to close later this summer.

Disney also announced that as part of the transformative multi-year expansion announced for Disneyland Paris, the new Marvel-themed area at Walt Disney Studios Park will include a reimagined Rock ‘n Roller Coaster where riders will team up with Iron Man and their favorite Avengers on a hyper-kinetic adventure in 2020.

Also announced were multi-year expansion plans at Hong Kong Disneyland, including a new themed area that will include an exciting attraction where guests team up with Ant-Man and The Wasp.

It was great to finally get some details about the Marvel-themed land at Disney California Adventure.  This area has been hinted at by Disney for a while now, so it was nice to finally get some official “vague details” to hype-up the fanbase.

I for one am very excited about this new area.  While there is a portion of the Disney fan community that are upset that in getting this new land means the extermination of “a bugs land,” I am not one of those.  The movie “A Bug’s Life” that the area was based on has never been one of my favorite Pixar movies and I’ve not been all that fond of the attractions is this land either.  In other words, I’m not all that broken up to see the bugs go away.

If Walt Disney Imagineering can replicate the great work that they were able to do on Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! the area could be amazing.  Personally, the year 2020 cannot come soon enough….I am really excited and am already planning on a possible trip for when it opens.

Disney Marvel fans….ASSEMBLE!!!

 

Walt Disney World to Begin Charging Hotel Guests for Overnight Parking

On Wednesday Walt Disney World announced that with all reservations made starting March 21 they will begin charging guests for standard overnight parking at their resorts. This charge will vary depending on the resort category and will be applied to guests’ hotel folio upon check-out.

The Standard Overnight Parking charges per resort category will be:

Value Resorts: $13 per night

Moderate Resorts: $19 per night

Deluxe Resorts and Deluxe Villa Resorts: $24 per night

Disney Vacation Club Members will not be charged for parking when they are staying at a DVC Deluxe Villa regardless of whether they are using points at paying cash for their stay.  Members also will not be charged for overnight parking if they are using points to stay at any Walt Disney World Resort hotel.

As you can imagine this is raising quite a stir in the Disney fan community.

Why is Walt Disney World doing this? No one really knows for sure, but Disney has publicly stated that charging for overnight parking is becoming an industry standard and they are just falling in line.

This could be true and if it is it could be another indication that Disney is caring less about the total guest experience and leading the industry. Back in the late 1950’s having pay stalls in bathrooms was the “industry standard” yet, as the story goes, Walt Disney saw that no one was using them at Disneyland and guests were standing in line to use the free stalls. Walt had the pay stalls all converted to free ones. Guest experience mattered…at least it did then.

Some people have speculated that Disney is doing this to reduce the number of cars at the hotels and on property. Others have speculated that its because Disney doesn’t want you wandering off property for food or visiting Universal.

There have been dozens of other guesses as to why Disney is doing this.

In my mind I think the explanation is much more simple…its a cash grab that they feel that they can get away with.

Face it…the fees that they are planning on charging aren’t ridiculous or insane. I’m sure Disney has done their research and looked at the industry and figured what they can charge and not have major objections.

Also, think about who visits Walt Disney World and has a car.

There are the people who live close enough to Walt Disney World that driving is practical and flying isn’t worth the little bit of time saved. These people will still bring their car.

There are those where driving (even if it’s 12-20 hour drive) is significantly cheaper than flying. This is my family when everyone is going along and we have the luxury of time for the trip. This parking charge isn’t going to push anyone over the edge towards flying. It just isn’t.

Then there are those (me included when we don’t drive) who fly but rent a car because they like the convenience and flexibility and don’t want to hassle with the Disney busses. My guess is a huge majority of these people will still rent a car and bring it onto property.

I have no data, but I’ve talked to people…people who have had a car on property and even though inconvenient, this charge is not going to keep many people from still having their own car or renting a car while staying at a Disney Resort.

And this is the key..I think Disney knows this. They know the vast majority of people who are inclined to have a car on property will continue to do so and just pay the fee. They will just build the charge into the price of their vacation.

Now…in full disclosure, we’re DVC members and for most of our trips we’ll be exempt from the charge. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it or agree with it.  Honestly even if I’m paying for at hotel room I’m still going to want a car and I’ll end up paying the charge. This isn’t going to keep me from taking a car on property. I’m being honest….it’s just not.

After Over a Decade McDonald’s & Disney Partner Up for Disney-Branded Happy Meals

After more than a decade Disney and McDonald’s are back together just in time for the release of ‘Incredibles 2′.  The new partnership will bring Disney-branded Happy Meals back to McDonald’s this summer.

The two companies parted ways when childhood obesity rates were rising and there was widespread concern over calorie-laden children’s meals at fast food restaurants.

Earlier this month McDonald’s announced that it was revamping its Happy Meal menu and would offer selections that were lower in calories, sodium, saturated fat and sugar. This meant ditching cheeseburgers and chocolate milk from the kids’ menu.  These items will still be available for purchase, but McDonald’s will not list them on the menu.  The thought being that these items will be less likely to be ordered.

McDonald’s plans to promote “Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet” in November.

Okay…..who besides us used their kids to get the toys….errr…..’collectibles’ for themselves?  Okay…I’m not proud of it, but yeah we did.

When my kids were younger the Disney-themed Happy Meals did their job.  Depending on the toy being offered we often went weekly and sometimes checked with McDonald’s in the area to see if they had a particular toy to complete our sets.

It’s great to see the return of Disney-themed Happy Meals at McDonald’s….not necessarily for the food but for another way to get unique ‘collectibles.’

Unfortunately my kids have now grown up and are too old for Happy Meals…or are they?

Disney Makes Series of Announcements for Parks Around the World at D23 Expo Japan 2018

Yesterday at D23 Expo Japan, Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, announced a series of exciting  new updates for Disney Parks around the world.

One of the most anticipated items that was announce at D23 Expo last July is the Star Wars-inspired resort planned for the Walt Disney World Resort.  According to Chapek, “It is going to be unlike anything that exists today.”  At the D23 Expo Japan Disney shared a new look of the first-of-its-kind resort that will combine a luxury resort with a complete immersion into an the Star Wars story.

Many of us Star Wars Disney fans were looking forward to the immersion at this resort will that will stand out among all of the Disney resorts around the globe.  The huge announcement was that it will be seamlessly connected to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  This will give guests a total Star Wars experience.

I don’t know if I’ll ever stay at this resort, but I am excited about the concept and the possibilites that could be incorporated into it.

Chapek also unveiled a first look at Epcot’s highly-anticipated “Guardians of the Galaxy”attraction. The big takeaway…. it’s a roller coaster!

According to Disney, “With the “Guardians of the Galaxy”-inspired coaster, we’re going big. This one-of-a-kind family attraction will be one of the world’s longest enclosed roller coasters when it’s added to Future World at Epcot.”

If the Imagineers at WDI do anything close to what they came up with for Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! this attraction could be truly amazing.  I for one cannot wait until it opens.

Now to the Disneyland Resort.  Chapek announced that Pixar Pier will open June 23 at Disney California Adventure park.  Pixar Pier will be featuring four whimsical neighborhoods representing beloved Pixar stories with newly themed attractions, foods and merchandise.

As announced earlier, Pixar Pier will also include the Incredicoaster.  This coaster will be a super combination of character figures, lighting and special effects that that is being promoted, will bring the Parr family racing alongside you in a high-speed adventure.

I am a huge Incredibles fan.  I think that it’s one of my favorite Pixar movies.  Of all of the things coming to Pixar Pier, this attraction is the one that I am looking forward to the most.

In addition to the Incredicoaster the announcement, Disney also announced that in June a dazzling new float for the popular “Paint the Night” parade featuring Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone from “The Incredibles” will be coming to Disney California Adventure.

I absolutely love the “Paint the Night” parade.  In my opinion it’s the best nighttime parade Disney has ever produced for the domestic parks.  Adding an Incredibles float makes it even better.

Chapek also announced that Disney’s first Mickey-themed ride-through attraction, “Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be  opening next year.

According to Chapek, “Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will have a new catchy theme song created especially for the attraction as well as a new experience that defies logic that we’re calling 2 ½-D.”

While I will really miss “The Great Movie Ride,” I am really looking forward to this attraction.  I’m hoping that it’s done really well making it a fun attraction for the Studios.  The “2 1/2 – D” sound like it might be a lot of fun.  In Disney’s description it is supposed to be like 3-D except without the glasses.  What can I say….except….sign me up!

As for Disneyland Paris, Disney is re-imagining one of its resort hotels into Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel. Chapek shared a sneak peek into one of the rooms that will open the re-imagined hotel in 2020.

Chapek also announced that the Marvel Super Hero universe will be coming to Walt Disney Studios Park.  The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith will be totally reimagined as a high-speed, hyper-kinetic adventure where guests riding the coaster will team up with Iron Man and their favorite Avengers.

I don’t know when I’ll ever get to Disneyland Paris, but if I ever do get there, this attraction will be on the top of my list to see and do there.

I like what Disney announced at D23 Expo Japan 2018.  What do you think?

Disney News Today to be Re-Imagineered

First of all….I would like to thank all of you that have been coming to Disney News Today for your Disney-related news stories.  I really appreciate it.

I have been struggling recently with how I have been presenting the news to you over the past nearly four years.  Over the past four years I have  been diligent in scouring the Internet for interesting Disney news.  As you may have noticed that a lot of the stories are reprints of press releases and stories found elsewhere.  I’ve been happy to be your conduit to stories that you may or may not have had access to.

In doing this I have chosen not to comment on or editorialize these stories.  This is why I’ve decided to re-imagineer the site.

This is where the change for the site will be heading.  After a short break…this shouldn’t be more than a few days or a week…I will continue to provide links to stories that I find interesting and have an opinion on.  With the link to the story I will provide you with my take on the story.  The take from a Disney nerd that loves the parks, their movies (Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Animation, Disney-Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars) and Disney-related podcasts.

When I find something that I want to comment on or find interesting, you will find it here.  I hope that you will like this change and I appreciate your future support.

Walt Disney World Introduces New Magic Bands

It’s been quite the year for MagicBands at Walt Disney World Resort, with the resort-wide rollout of the versatile and easily customizable MagicBand 2, the addition of the super convenient MagicKeeper accessories and an assortment of popular new limited and open edition designs. As Disney continues to expand this innovative wearable, we’re very excited to share a first look at two open edition MagicBands featuring new highly-requested colors that will soon be available for purchase online and wherever MagicBands are sold throughout the Resort.

The first new MagicBand is a solid-color millennial pink, the fashion-forward, trendy shade of pink that continues to grow in popularity. If you’re not familiar with this particular color, its hue is a delicate, softer pink, and we’re already hearing wonderful feedback from guests about this product. The band retails for $12.99 and will debut on Jan. 8. This new MagicBand color is a great addition to the already popular rose-gold Minnie Ears.

The second new color is brown and will first be featured in a fun new design starring the Seven Dwarfs from the Disney classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” The design includes the whole gang – Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, and Sneezy – as well as a few diamonds dug from their famous mine. Guests will have the opportunity to purchase this fun, new MagicBand, selling for $22.99, beginning today.

These colors join the new solid-color black MagicBand, which Disney released last month, offering guests even more choices for how they want to unlock the magic of their Disney vacation. As always, these MagicBands connect the vacation choices and purchases guests make in My Disney Experience – from effortless theme-park entry to Disney PhotoPass association, dining plan redemption, room entry and more. And as a reminder, with the MagicBand 2 design, you are able to remove the center icon to mix and match colors and create multi-color bands or take advantage of one of the MagicKeeper accessories to give you even more options on how to wear the magic.

From The Disney Parks Blog