Star Wars Celebration Reveals New Star Tours Adventure

During Star Wars Celebration in Orlando last week, Star Wars fans got their first look at the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Fans attending a special panel discussion entitled Star Wars and Disney Parks: A Galaxy in the Making also learned that a new destination will be coming to Star Tours – The Adventures Continue at Disneyland park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios later this year featuring some of the iconic actions and locations showcased in the trailer!

New Star Tours Adventure - Star Wars: The Last Jedi

This new Star Tours adventure, first announced by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek last fall, will take guests to the planet of Crait in the middle of an epic battle … and it’s like nothing that frequent Starspeeder travelers have ever seen!

Broadway’s ‘Frozen’ Sets Initial Principal Casting

Initial principal casting has been announced for Broadway’s Frozen, the new musical based on Disney’s Academy Award-winning musical film. As previously reported, the show will play the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Buell Theatre August 17–October 1 before arriving on Broadway in spring 2018 at the St. James Theatre.

The cast will be led by Caissie Levy and Patti Murin as Arendelle’s royal sisters.

Levy, who last appeared on Broadway as Fantine in the revival of Les Miserables, will create the role of Elsa, a young woman wrestling with powers beyond her comprehension or control (voiced on screen by Idina Menzel). Levy’s additional credits include Ghost and Hair, both in the West End and on Broadway, as well as Broadway’s Wicked and Hairspray.

Murin, who made her Broadway debut in Xanadu and has since appeared on the New York stage in Lysistrata Jones, Lady, Be Good!, and Love Labour’s Lost, will star as Elsa’s younger sister Anna, who tries to reconnect with the person once closest to her.

The two will be joined by Greg Hildreth (Peter and the Starcatcher, Cinderella, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) as Olaf, Robert Creighton (The Little Mermaid, Anything Goes, Off-Broadway’s Cagney) as Duke of Weselton, John Riddle (The Visit) as Hans, and Jelani Alladin in his Broadway debut as Kristoff. Additional principal and ensemble casting will be announced soon.

Tony winner Michael Grandage (Red) directs the production.

Producers also announced April 17 that Tony Award winner Rob Ashford has joined Frozen’s creative team as choreographer. Christopher Gattelli, previously announced as choreographer, has chosen to leave the show ahead of rehearsals in June. Ashford is a Tony winner for Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Single tickets for the Denver engagement, which start at $25 with a limit of eight tickets per account, will go on sale May 1 at 10 AM MT at DenverCenter.org. Tickets for the Broadway production will go on sale later this year.

In spring 2018, Frozen will join Disney Theatrical’s other Broadway mainstays The Lion King and Aladdin. Broadway dates will be announced at a later date. Levy and Murin were previously announced to play Elsa and Anna in a developmental lab.

The new musical features music and lyrics by the creators of the film’s score, Kristen Anderson-Lopez (In Transit, Up Here) and EGOT winner Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon, Up Here), and a book by Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph), the film’s screenwriter and director (with Chris Buck).

The design team for Frozen includes Tony- and Olivier-winner scenic and costume designer Christopher Oram (Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Evita), Tony-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz (Aladdin; Hello, Dolly!; An American in Paris), and sound designer Peter Hylenski (The Scottsboro Boys, Motown, After Midnight).

Two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Oremus (Avenue Q, Wicked, The Book of Mormon) is music supervisor and creates vocal and incidental arrangements.

Frozen won two Oscars in 2014: Best Song (“Let It Go”) and Best Animated Feature.

Frozen is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions.

Disney Parks Imagineers and Lucasfilm Share Details of Their Collaboration on Star Wars-Themed Lands

At a panel discussion today at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando entitled Star Wars and Disney Parks: A Galaxy in the Making, creative minds from Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Imagineering discussed their unique partnership and shared additional details about the new galactic lands being created at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. Everyone in the room got to experience the excitement and commitment this team is bringing to this project.

Here’s a look at a video shared at today’s event which gives some insight into this incredible collaboration.

Star Wars Land Video

The team shared exciting new details about the story behind this mysterious destination somewhere on the Outer Rim — lying on the edge of the Unknown Regions. The remote village was once a busy crossroads along the old sub-lightspeed trade routes, but the prominence of the outpost has been bypassed with the rise of hyperspace travel. Now home to those who prefer less attention, it has become a thriving port for smugglers, rogue traders and adventurers traveling between the frontier and uncharted space. It’s also a convenient safe-haven for others intent on avoiding the expanding reach of the First Order.

Star Wars-Themed Lands at Disney Parks

Unusual characters from across the galaxy have landed here, preferring the “no questions asked” environment as well as easy access to exotic supplies and an abundant supply of ready rogues looking to join a crew for their next adventure.

As Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced last month, Star Wars-themed lands are scheduled to open in 2019. There will be more exciting updates to share as work progresses on each of these lands.

Disney Debuts ‘Star Wars’ Charity Push Ahead of 40th Anniversary Celebration

Disney is kicking off the Star Wars franchise’s 40th birthday party with a new fundraising campaign aimed at raising money for UNICEF and Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Star Wars: Force for Change, a charitable initiative from Disney’s Lucasfilm and online fundraising platform Omaze, launched a new campaign on Tuesday that will allow fans of the sci-fi film saga to donate money to those global children’s charities for a shot at winning one of three Star Wars-themed experiences.

Called “Past, Present, and Future,” the fundraising campaign features potential prizes like the opportunity to appear in Disney’s upcoming standalone Han Solo movie or a one-night stay at Skywalker Ranch, the secluded workplace of Lucasfilm founder George Lucas. Another winner will get tickets to the global premiere of the next installment of the Star Wars saga, The Last Jedi. One grand prize winner will be able to experience all three of those prizes, which will be handed out to randomly-selected donors on a weekly basis until the campaign ends on May 11.

To announce the new campaign, Omaze released a video featuring Star Wars actors Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley encouraging fans to donate for a crack at the prizes:

Ultimate Star Wars Experience Announcement

The campaign kicks off as Disney gets ready for the Star Wars Celebration fan convention that begins on Thursday in Orlando. Star Wars fans will gather at the event to see various actors from the films (Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, Hayden Christensen) and attend fan-focused events and panels while celebrating four decades of a franchise that debuted in May 1977 with Star Wars: A New Hope. The convention is also expected to reveal the first movie trailer for The Last Jedi, which hits theaters in December.

The combination of the Star Wars 40th anniversary and excitement over The Last Jedi likely means the months leading up to December’s premiere will feature a prolonged marketing push from Disney. The latest Star Wars film is easily one of the most-anticipated movies of 2017 and it is a strong bet to help Disney smash more box office records this year. In 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens soared to a new domestic box office record with $936 million in North America, on its way to more than $2 billion in global ticket sales.

The Last Jedi will be the second installment in the trilogy of new Star Wars films coming from Disney, which bought Lucasfilm in 2012. A third film is planned for 2019 and Disney is also releasing a handful of spin-offs, like last year’s Rogue One.

From Fortune

Walt Disney World Looking to Fill More Than 1,000 Jobs with Online Hiring Event

Walt Disney World Resort is looking to fill more than 1,000 open job positions this spring during an online hiring event.

Available jobs include both part-time and full-time positions at the four Walt Disney World theme parks and two water parks. Positions are also available at Disney Springs, 20 resort hotels and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Bus drivers, lifeguards and parking attendants are some of the jobs Disney is looking to fill.

You can apply for a job and find more information by clicking here.

Dwayne Johnson Surprises Disney World Tourists and Commandeers Jungle Cruise Ride

It’s a jungle out there, all right.

Amid his global press tour for Universal Pictures’ The Fate of The Furious, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson managed to find the time to plug another project that’s close to his heart. “Surprise! Once I committed to our Disney partners to make JUNGLE CRUISE, I wanted to dive head first into the research,” the 44-year-old actor wrote in an Instagram caption Monday. “So I headed to Walt Disney World and surprised tourists by commandeering the JUNGLE CRUISE ride.”

Johnson, whose visit took place in early April, had a “GREAT day on the river.” He “learned a lot,” too. “For example, it takes approximately 12.6 minutes for all the passengers to get over the shock of me jumping on the boat and thinking I’m a DJ look-a-like. One passenger even said, ‘Oh, the real Rock is much smaller than this guy,'” the actor wrote. “I threw his ass off the boat.”

“Jokes aside (and yes, with me as the Cruise Skipper there will be plenty of puns) this is such an amazing, fantastical and cool world to build out. Best part about this surprise research day was knowing how FUN of an experience we’re gonna work hard to create for families around the world,” Johnson told his 82.5 million followers. “That’s the part that gets my excited the most.”

Johnson has been attached to star in the theme park-inspired film since 2015. Production is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2018, with a wide release tentatively slated for 2019.

“Next step, is finding our visionary director to help build this world. The movie. The ride. The experience. It’s the cruise of a lifetime. And trust me, you’ll want me as your Skipper,” said Johnson, who voiced Maui in the studio’s megahit Moana. “Just don’t forget to bring my beer.”

Before Johnson begins production on Jungle Cruise, he’ll shoot New Line’s video game adaptation of Rampage later this spring—around the same time Paramount’s Baywatch reboot surfs into theaters. Later this summer, Johnson will begin filming Skyscraper in China, which will wrap in the fall. His next film, Columbia Pictures’ Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, is out Dec. 22.

From ENews

George McGinnis, Last Imagineer Hired by Walt Disney, Dies at 87

McGinnis was the show designer on a variety of projects while at Walt Disney Imagineering including Space Mountain at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

McGinnis’ senior project while attending the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles was for a high-speed train that caught the eye of Disney.

Upon graduating in 1966, he was invited to work at WED Enterprises (the name then of Walt Disney Imagineering, the company that designs Disney theme parks and rides).

His first assignment was to design the miniature transportation models for the Progress City display that was part of the Carousel of Progress attraction.

Other designs at Disneyland included the “Mighty Microscope” inside Disneyland’s “Adventure Through Inner Space” ride.

“George was a disciplined “pro” – a designer who truly paid attention to every detail,” said Marty Sklar, the former vice chairman of Walt Disney Imagineering in a statement.

For a while, he was assigned to work on designs for Walt Disney World including the still operating WEDway Peoplemover in its Tomorrowland.

He also helped out with the designs for upgrades to both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World monorails.

For Epcot Center, McGinnis was the lead show designer for the Horizons Pavilion, which opened in 1983.

Sklar said in a statement: “I was just writing something about the Horizons pavilion in Epcot at Walt Disney World, and found this quote from George: ‘We’re convinced that even though environments will change, people won’t. Teenagers in our show will still monopolize the phone; kids and dogs still exasperate mom and dad. We believe one of the main differences high technology will make is that it will give us more choices.’”

Before retiring from Disney he designed a variety of vehicles for its theme parks around the world, including the “jeeps” for the Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland.

After his retirement, McGinnis continued to take on occasional design projects including the trolley for The Grove in Los Angeles.

He also wrote a book about his experiences that was published in 2016, “From Horizons to Space Mountain: The Life of a Disney Imagineer.”

McGinnis is survived by his wife and family.

By Mark Eades from the Orange County Register

Britney Spears to Receive Inaugural Icon Award at Radio Disney Music Awards

Britney Spears has been tapped to receive the Radio Disney Music Awards’ inaugural Icon Award at this year’s ceremony, set for April 29.

The Icon Award was created to recognize artists who have not only cultivated massive success in pop culture, but who also have a strong following of Radio Disney fans.

On selecting Spears to receive the award, Phil Guerini, vp music strategy at Disney Channels Worldwide and general manager at Radio Disney Network, said in a statement: “Having just celebrated 20 years of Radio Disney in 2016, we are excited to introduce the DMA Icon Award as special recognition of an artist whose music has been loved and adored by generations of Radio Disney fans. We are proud to celebrate Britney as the first recipient for this award acknowledging her chart-topping career on Radio Disney since 1998.”

At just 16 years old, Spears made her splash on the music scene with her 1998 hit single, “…Baby One More Time.” Following her debut album, Spears has gone on to sell more than 150 million records worldwide, earned eight Grammy nominations and debuted six albums at No. 1 on the music charts. The pop singer and mom has had 15 chart-topping singles on Radio Disney, with two recent tunes making Radio Disney’s Top 30.

Apart from her albums, Spears’ Las Vegas residency show Britney: Piece of Me has broken records with ticket sales of more than $100 million. In 2015, the production was voted “Best Overall Show” and “Best Bachelorette Party” by readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal. The following year, Spears was voted “Best Resident Performer.”

The Radio Disney Music Awards will take place Saturday, April 29, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The ceremony will be telecast the following night from 7-9 p.m. ET/PT across multiple Disney-branded platforms.

From The Hollywood Reporter

Classic Disney Songs Get the Heavy Metal Treatment on This Wild New Cover Album

Have you ever wondered what Sir Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King soundtrack would sound like if it had been re-recorded by Ozzy Osbourne? Or maybe you’ve always loved the title track from Beauty and the Beast, but thought that Angela Lansbury’s genteel vocals would sound just a hair better if she had the shrieking warble of a demon veering down the highway at 90 miles per hour — you know, like if the artwork from a heavy metal record came to life. If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions or, “What would it sound like if Dokken covered The Little Mermaid?,” then Disney has the album for you.

It’s called Metal Disney, by the D-Metal Stars, and it’s out in stores and on streaming services (like Spotify) today. The group is comprised of Obsession vocalist Mike Vescera, Ozzy Osbourne bassist Rudy Sarzo, Obsession guitarist John Bruno, and Dokken drummer BJ Zampa. A new feature published by Rolling Stone takes readers inside the making of the album, officially licensed and produced by Disney, surprisingly enough — or not, for those familiar with Nightmare Revisited, the 2008 album of covers celebrating the 15th anniversary of the beloved crossover-holiday classic, which collected new versions of the film’s iconic tunes sung by artists like Fiona Apple and Marilyn Manson.

Metal Disney isn’t exactly new. It was originally released last fall in Japan, where it was a massive hit, quickly climbing to the third spot on Amazon’s rock and metal charts, and the second spot on the kids charts — again, not surprising in the least, as metal is huge in Japan (Google “Baby Metal” and you’ll see what’s up). But unlike a Marilyn Manson cover of a kooky Danny Elfman track from an animated film produced by Tim Burton, these metal covers of iconic songs from classic Disney movies are not exactly what you might expect…and yet, they are exactly that.

Like this version of “Beauty and the Beast”

From ScreenCrush

Exciting New Attractions, Entertainment Sparkle at Disneyland Paris for 25th Anniversary

Bonjour from Disneyland Paris.

If you’ve never been here – this is the year to come. It’s all your favorite things about a Disney theme park – with a definitely French twist. Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy at Walt Disney Studios Park is a MUST DO for any Disney theme park fan!

Disneyland Park is ABUZZZ with excitement where Mickey – along with a cast of nearly 15,000 – are getting the park ready for the big celebration.

Starting Sunday, March 26, the celebration begins with new entertainment, updates to some favorite attractions, special merchandise and food and beverage. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Star Tours: The Adventures Continue – Launched at the opening of Disneyland Park in 1992, Star Tours soon established itself as a cult ride. 25 years later, it’s back with a new experience, new destinations, a new pilot, new characters and new 3D technology. Introducing Star Tours: The Adventures Continue! Prepare for lift-off on an all-new, action-packed, 3D intergalactic voyage…it’s sure to be epic.
  • Meet the Dark Side of the Force – Disneyland Paris guests will finally get the chance to meet the formidable Darth Vader every day. Head to the new dedicated area near the Star Tours: The Adventures Continue ride for a private meet and greet.
  • Disney Stars on Parade – Another exciting journey awaits guests in the brand new Disney Parade. With dizzying new floats, new music, a plethora of Disney Stars and new costumes, Disney Stars on Parade will dazzle guests of all ages. Guests follow Mickey and Friends on a real journey of discovery to the land of imagination – with eight “chapters” of fun.
  • Mickey presents “Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris” – A brand new stage show specially-created for the 15th Anniversary. Disney Stars invite guests to gather in front of the stage at Sleeping Beauty Castle for a huge anniversary celebration, every day of the year.
  • The Starlit Princess Waltz – Another brand new show. With a sprinkle of fairy dust, Tinker Bell opens the festivities in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Aurora wants to invite the other Disney Princesses to the ball: Ariel, Belle, Snow White, Cinderella, Jasmine, Rapunzel and Tiana. Each princess makes her entrance in a magnificent ball gown, specially created for the 25th Anniversary. Their message: to remind the audience that every little girl, regardless of her age or background, is a Princess.
  • Disney Illuminations – As night falls, it is time for the final spectacular new experience: Disney Illuminations. This all-new show, featuring state-of-the-art technology, incorporates sound, lights, projections, fountains and breathtaking pyrotechnic effects.

Europe’s number one tourist destination is leaving no corner un-sparkled! Mickey and Minnie even have new, “sparkling blue” 25th Anniversary costumes.

And if that weren’t enough!

  • Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain – Later in Spring 2017, Star Wars will take over a legendary space-themed ride. Space Mountain will become Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain for a totally unique experience. In a brand new environment inspired by the Star Wars universe, guests can join the famous Rebel Alliance and become pilots on a sensational mission. They will travel through the Star Wars galaxy at intense speed, to the epic soundtrack of the saga.
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