Tale of The Lion King Coming to Disney California Adventure

The Disneyland Resort announced today that they will celebrate the beloved characters and music of Disney’s “The Lion King” with an creative new adaptation of the popular and timeless story this summer. This celebration will be presented as a highly-theatrical outdoor musical production entitled, “Tale of the Lion King.”

“Tale of the Lion King” will take place on the Palisades Stage at Disney California Adventure for a limited time this summer, starting June 7.

According to Disney…

The show will feature a cast of 18 performers, including actors, singers, dancers and drummers, who form an ensemble called the Storytellers of the Pride Lands. This traveling troupe specializes in retelling revered stories in their own contemporary style, weaving their tale through language, song and dance.

Creative Director Susana Tubert and the team at Disney Parks Live Entertainment are in the midst of a series of workshops and rehearsals with the cast in preparation for the opening of “Tale of the Lion King” later this summer. Here’s a look behind the scenes.

Behind the Scenes Video

In this creative theatre production, the scenic, prop and costume designs celebrate the spirit of Africa.  According to Tubert new musical arrangements have been written for the most treasured songs from “The Lion King,” creating a score for the show with elements we associate with the emotional sweep of the original compositions, yet focused on the vocal performances of the actors and music from the drummers to drive a unique percussive sound.

I can’t wait to see this new show this summer when I’m there prior to D23 Expo.

Disney to Launch Disney+ November 12th

Earlier today at Disney’s 2019 Investor Day, Disney announced that they will be launching Disney+ in the United States on November 12, 2019. The subscription VOD service will cost $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

The streaming service will represent Disney’s most aggressive move into the video-streaming market. By pricing it well below Netflix’s $12.99 per month Disney is apparently betting that it can drive up its customer base with its mix of content that appeals to multiple demographics which includes Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and Disney brands.

In the announcement Disney CEO Bob Iger stated, “This is our first serious foray in this space, and we want to reach as many people as possible with it.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about this and they basically have my money for Disney+. November cannot come soon enough.

Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dead at Age 78

Dave Smith, the founder of Walt Disney Archives, died earlier today at the age of 78.

The Walt Disney Company honored Dave with this –

Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith passed away in Burbank, California, on February 15, 2019. He was 78. Dave dedicated his four-decade career at The Walt Disney Company to preserving Disney’s precious treasures from film, television, theme parks, and beyond. Named a Disney Legend in 2007, Dave was beloved by fans around the world for his wide knowledge of the Company’s rich history, which he shared in books and through his popular magazine column “Ask Dave.”

“I’m deeply saddened to learn of Dave Smith’s passing,” said Bob Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “He was the unsung hero of Disney’s history who, as our first archivist, spent 40 years rescuing countless documents and artifacts from obscurity, investing endless hours restoring and preserving these priceless pieces of our legacy, and putting them in context to tell our story. Dave was a true Disney Legend, and we are indebted to him for building such an enduring, tangible connection to our past that continues to inspire our future.”

Dave was hired in 1970 by Walt’s brother—and The Walt Disney Company co-founder—Roy O. Disney, and his first responsibility was cataloguing every item inside Walt’s office suite, which had been left untouched after Walt’s passing four years prior. Thanks to Dave’s meticulously detailed notes and records, the Archives was able to restore the suite in 2015, and today Disney employees are able to visit and draw inspiration from this remarkable space. During his time as Disney’s Chief Archivist, Dave grew the Archives from a simple one-person department to a model among corpo­rate archives. He was regarded by fans and historians as the final authority on matters of Disney history, and was an active member of the Society of California Archivists. He served from 1980 to 2001 as Executive Director of the Manuscript Society, an international association of collectors, dealers, librarians, archivists, and others interested in manuscript material.

Born and raised in Pasadena, California, the child of librarians and educators, Dave earned a B.A. in history and a Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of California at Berkeley. Before coming to Disney, he gained library and archives experience working in the Manuscript Department of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, interning at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and serving on the staff of the Research Library at U.C.L.A. 

Dave wrote extensively about Disney history, with regular columns in Disney fan publications and websites, as well as authoring, co-authoring, and editing numerous articles and books on Disney history, including the official Disney encyclopedia Disney A to Z, Disney: The First 100 Years, The Quotable Walt Disney, Disney Trivia from the Vault, and The Ultimate Disney Trivia Books 1, 2, 3, and 4.

In October 2007, Dave was honored with the prestigious Disney Legend Award. A resident of Burbank, California, Dave retired in 2010 after his 40th anniversary with The Walt Disney Company and continued working for the next nine years as a consultant for the Company, with the title of Chief Archivist Emeritus.

Our condolences and thoughts go out to his family and friends at this time.

Dave Smith was a true Disney Legend. I’ve met him once and he was the real deal. I loved his books and his ‘Ask Dave’ contributions in The D23 Magazine twenty-three. Dave will be missed.

Walt Disney World Announces Plans to Build New Nature-Themed Resort

Earlier today Walt Disney World announced plans to build a nature-inspired resort along the shores of Bay Lake.  The new resort will be located between Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge on land that previously was the long time closed River Country water park.

The deluxe resort will be themed to complement its natural surroundings.

Disney said the new resort, which has not yet been named, will open in 2022.  The new resort will include 900 hotel rooms and Disney Vacation Club villas.

“Walt Disney World is in the midst of our most significant expansion in the last two decades and the combined 1,700 new hotel rooms and proposed Disney Vacation Club villas we are building at four different resorts will create thousands of new construction and permanent jobs and will drive economic opportunity and incremental revenue for Central Florida,” said George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort. “We continue to add new attractions, new lands — and these beautiful accommodations will be right in the heart of all that magic.”

The resort has not been named as of yet will be Disney’s 16th Disney Vacation Club property.

“This resort experience will be a celebration of Walt Disney’s lifelong love and respect for nature, with some fun and even surprising accommodation types that families will find irresistible,” said Terri Schultz, senior vice president and general manager of Disney Vacation Club. “It will give our members and guests yet another opportunity to stay in close proximity to all the newest attractions and experiences in our theme parks, and with the flexibility, value and world-class service families expect from Disney.”

 

 

 

Walt Disney Company Plans to Eliminate Plastic Straws by Mid-2019

The Walt Disney Company announced today that they are planning on eliminating single-use straws in all of its owned and operated locations by mid-2019.  This will include all of Disney’s theme parks with the exception of Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea.

Disney claims that this elimination amounts to a reduction of more than 175 million straws and 13 million stirrers annually.

Disney appears to be joining the trend that was recently spearheaded by the announcement from Starbucks earlier this month that they would phase out single-use plastic straws from its more than 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020.

In addition to the Walt Disney Company and Starbucks, McDonald’s announced in June that it would scrap plastic straws from restaurant locations in the U.K. and Ireland and replace them with paper straws, starting in September. Vail Resorts, owner of Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe and sister resorts in Colorado, Utah, British Columbia, Vermont and the Midwest, has also banned plastic straws.

“Eliminating plastic straws and other plastic items are meaningful steps in our long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Bob Chapek, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products. “These new global efforts help reduce our environmental footprint, and advance our long-term sustainability goals.”

For guests staying at Disney hotels or traveling on Disney cruise ships, there are additional changes coming.

Over the next several years there will be a transition to refillable in-room amenities, a move that is expected to reduce plastic by 80 percent, the company estimates.  This has been rumored to be going property-wide for a while now after Walt Disney World had previously begun implementing this at some of its resorts earlier.

Disney also said they plan on reducing the number of single-use plastic shopping bags in owned and operated parks and on cruise ships, offering guests the option to purchase reusable bags.

It will be interesting how guests respond to the new straw policy.  I personally don’t care whether I have a straw with my drinks.  I only use the plastic ones Disney provides at sit-down restaurants because they toss it at my glass.  I refuse to use the paper ones because I find that they don’t last a meal and that they disintegrate in my beverage.  While I do use the plastic straws at quick-service restaurants, I’ll adapt and just not use anything.  There are people that I know that cannot drink anything with ice in it without a straw or use a straw with any drink either out of preference or necessity.  How these guests respond is anyone’s guess.  Many people have already mentioned that they’ll bring their own straws, some reusable, some not.

I personally wouldn’t be surprised if at some time in the near future Disney starts selling Disney themed/branded re-usable straws in its parks.

Equally interesting will be the implementation of the “decreased number of single-use plastic shopping bags” in the parks.  I suspect that what’s probably going to happen is purchased items won’t automatically be placed in a bag and that guests will be asked if they want a bag.  At that point they will be offered the “opportunity” to purchase a re-usable bag.  I imagine Disney will still have to use bags for guests that want purchased items transported to the front of the parks to be picked up later or if guests want their items sent back to their resort.

Okay….now it is time for my cynical take on this.

I’m sure some part of the Disney Company is doing this for the sole concern of the environment.  I have no doubt that this is contributing to the decision.  I suspect that the biggest reason for this decision is financial and if there is a PR win that comes with it…so be it.

Look at it this way…

Disney spends a lot of money having someone make straws for all of their restaurants and beverage carts.  They know that with this change people will use fewer straws provided by Disney, even the paper straws.  People will just use less of them.  This means Disney spends less money.

The same in regards to the bags.  Some guests will decide not to use bags or will purchase the re-usable bags.  Again, less money spent on plastic bags.

If in fact Disney decides to offer Disney-themed or branded re-usable straws this is a new found revenue stream.  Also, Disney mentioned that instead of plastic bags they will “offer” re-usable bags.  We all know that this means “sell” don’t we?  Again…a new revenue stream.

So, Disney spends less money, finds new revenue streams and they come off as environmentally friendly.  It’s a win-win-win situation.

 

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.

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!!!