Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Avatar is coming to Animal Kingdom in a New Land

Disney announced one of the most perplexing pieces of news this week completely out of the blue (ha ha, puns): Avatar is coming to the Animal Kingdom as a new land, construction will start in 2013 and is set to open sometime in 2016. That’s it, that’s all they announced. There was also the normal PR statements like:

“James Cameron is a groundbreaking filmmaker and gifted storyteller who shares our passion for creativity, technological innovation and delivering the best experience possible,” said Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “With this agreement, we have the extraordinary opportunity to combine James’ talent and vision with the imagination and expertise of Disney.”

My problem with this statement is that unless the movie is rated R, James Cameron’s movies are overly long and kind of suck. What movies do people think about when they’re talking about James Cameron? Terminator and Aliens, not Avatar and Titanic.

“AVATAR created a world which audiences can discover again and again and now, through this incredible partnership with Disney, we’ll be able to bring Pandora to life like never before. With two new AVATAR films currently in development, we’ll have even more locations, characters and stories to explore,” said James Cameron. “I’m chomping at the bit to start work with Disney’s legendary Imagineers to bring our AVATAR universe to life. Our goal is to go beyond current boundaries of technical innovation and experiential storytelling, and give park goers the chance to see, hear, and touch the world of AVATAR with an unprecedented sense of reality.”

Ugh, a trilogy of Avatar films? Maybe they’ll actually have stories that are worth telling.

“AVATAR is a uniquely powerful franchise that has global appeal with audiences of all ages. Its spectacular settings, intriguing characters, imaginative creatures, and strong themes of family and loyalty make it a perfect fit for Disney,” said Thomas O. Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We can’t wait to give our guests the ability to journey to Pandora and explore the incredible immersive world of AVATAR in person.”

Spectacular settings? Yes. Imaginative creatures? Yes. Strong themes of family and loyalty? Yes. Intriguing characters? WRONG. The characters were one dimensional stereotypes that were completely uninteresting to watch on film and only made the story seem even less interesting than it already was. The Avatar land is very obviously Disney’s response to the runaway success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but I am dubious as to the staying power of Avatar compared to the staying power of Harry Potter.

I really did not like Avatar. I thought it was a pretty movie that was completely vapid when it came to characters and story. All of this was made worse by the fact that it was about an hour to an hour and a half too long. That being said, I am cautiously optimistic about this new Avatar/Animal Kingdom project. The world building in Avatar was very impressive and I would love to explore the world of Pandora, just as long as they keep the story and characters from the movie out of it. Avatar just does not have a strong enough story to hold up a single attraction let alone an entire land. Besides, a Disney park is no place for any form of military industrial complex.

The possibilities of this land is what interests me the most. In 2010, Disney patented a technology that would allow puppeteers and their puppets the ability to “fly” with their puppets and the obvious implementation of this is to have the dragon things and the Na’vi in some sort of show. The world of Avatar is a very well designed one and they could do some very cool things with the Living Character Initiative for interacting with animals if Disney were to put the necessary money into it (and the land is supposedly going to cost 200 million dollars) and the attractions could end up being very cool if they stay away from the story of the movie. The world of Pandora could work inside Animal Kingdom if they handle it correctly, and I really hope they do. Animal Kingdom was supposed to be about both real life animals and beasts of fantasy, the fantasy inspired Beastly Kingdom land seems to be completely gone at this point, so Pandora could fill in that role (actually, it wouldn’t surprise me if they use some of the plans for Beastly Kingdom for Pandora).

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Update… TO THE FUTURE

So some of you might have noticed that there haven’t really been any updates after the 51 Days of Disney were over, well there’s a reason for that. The 51 Days were a very grueling time for me, so I’m taking a bit of a sabbatical until after Otakon (July 29-31st in the Baltimore Convention) while I finish some costumes for said convention and get my Disneyland content in line. I’ve got some posts to write, some videos to edit, and some pictures to sort through. After Otakon, I’m going to switch to a Wednesday/Saturday release schedule. Wednesdays will be Disneyland content until I finish with that and Saturday will be everything else (which is looking like there is going to be some TV, anime, and video game reviews coming). If I can get posts out quickly, I might switch to a 3 update a week schedule, but that is just a possibility right now.

E3 2011: Microsoft Underwhelms, Sony is Okay, Nintendo Wins

Last year, Internet Gods Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins accurately summed up what happened at E3 that year:

That comic can also accurately explain what happened at this year’s E3.

Here was Microsoft’s press conference:

That is honestly not a joke. Microsoft was all about the Kinect this year and they even managed to announce a video game about Disneyland that made me not want to play it. Seriously, they made Disneyland shovel-ware. It’s bad. To top of the steaming pile that was their press conference, they announced Halo 4, a game in a series that has never been better than mediocre since the beginning and now it’s not even being made by Bungie.

Sony’s press conference was a little better. They have the new PlayStation Vita, which is their new PSP, but considering that I have a PSP now that I don’t really play that much, I’m going to wait to see what the actual handheld is like before putting out the $249 to buy one. This isn’t a Nintendo handheld, Sony has not proven to me that there will be worthwhile games that will be released for it. The fact that there is a new Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet, and an original BioShock game coming, I will be watching the news about the Vita with a small amount of cautious optimism.

They also announced a 24-inch 3D monitor made for the PS3 that has some pretty cool implications for multiplayer gaming. If you buy a second pair of 3D glasses (each pair will be $69, but the TV comes with one pair), you will be able to essentially have your own screen with the way that the active shutters on the glasses work. The TV itself will be $500.

Now we come to the big gun, Nintendo. Nintendo won E3 again this year. Last year it was the 3DS, this year it’s the WiiU. The console is HD, the controllers have 6 inch screens on them, a camera, gyroscope, and motion sensors. You will be able to play games directly on the screen without using the TV or you can use the TV and the WiiU like a giant DS and play in that way. Wiimotes will be able to be used in conjunction with the WiiU and there is a slew of third party titles that will be coming to the system. Nintendo seems to have finally gotten out of it’s slump when it comes to third party games and the WiiU looks like it’s going to be a complete revolution like all of the previous Nintendo systems have been in the past few years.

They haven’t actually announced any 1st party games for the WiiU yet, but they showed off how Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (out on the Wii this holiday, finally) will work with the new system. They did announce Mario Kart 3DS and Luigi’s Mansion 2, Super Mario 3DS (now with more Tanooki suit), and did the biggest cocktease ever by announcing a new Super Smash Bros. game that will be for the 3DS and the WiiU and will connect between the two, but they didn’t actually reveal any information besides that.

Wally Boag Passed Away at Age 90

Comedian and actor Wally Boag passed away today. He was best known as Pecos Bill and the Traveling Salesman in the Golden Horseshoe Review at Disneyland and as Jose in the Enchanted Tiki Room. Boag was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1995 and even has his own window on Main Street. His style of comedy influenced Steve Martin and even got him onto the Muppet Show as a guest host. Mr. Boag will be sorely missed by the Disney community.

Lions, and Warthogs, and Beasts, Oh My.

This is a trend in 3D that I might be able to get behind and I’ll tell you why:

Disney’s cel and hand animated movies use the multiplane camera to simulate depth. If the 3D conversion actually uses those inherent levels, seeing the film in 3D could actually be worthwhile and I could actually add it to the very short list of films that I have seen in 3D that I have actually worked in 3D (those movies are TRON: Legacy, Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, and James Cameron’s Wahvatar (seriously, I hate that movie with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, but the 3D actually worked))

The Lion King 3D will be in theaters only for 2 weeks starting on September , 2011 and will be released on Blu-Ray in both 2D and 3D versions on October 4th and a 3D Blu-Ray release of Beauty and the Beast is scheduled to follow, but no actual date has been scheduled.

May I Please go Under the Sea Now? Please?

Some of the first full footage of The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure have been posted online.

Short review: HOLY CRAP THE AUDIO ANIMATRONICS ARE AMAZING.

A long review will come after I ride it.

New Fantasyland Will be Great, But it Could be Even Better

Most of you Disney fans out there should already know about the New Fantasyland coming to the Magic Kingdom in 2012. It’s the largest expansion in the history of the Magic Kingdom and is adding some pretty cool attractions and restaurants to Fantasyland, attractions like the Under the Sea: the Journey of the Little Mermaid (which is just a renamed version of the Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Disney California Adventure), Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Enchanted Tales with Belle, the Beast’s Castle, the Princess Fantasy Hall, and the Great Goofini; and restaurants like Gaston’s Tavern and Be Our Guest Restaurant. I am terribly excited about what is going on over and beyond the old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Lagoon and the possibility that the East Coast Fantasyland could finally match up to it’s West Coast sister.

The plans in this image are the original ones, so the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is not included. This image is in this post just as a visual aide for the area

As stated earlier, the expansion is going to add a number of new attractions, but one thing that I noticed while looking over the concept art for the entire area is a lack of expandability. The announced attractions will completely fill up the open area in Fantasyland, from it’s a small world and Pinocchio’s Village Haus, across Fantasyland and all the way over to the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, absorbing Mickey’s Toontown Fair in the process. I don’t have any problem with the attractions being added into Fantasyland, and they’re much better than the numerous Princess meet-and-greets that were originally planned. My problem comes from something that was told at Destination D, which was kind of like a miniature D23 Expo that happened this past weekend. Tony Baxter did a panel about attractions that were never built and two of the attractions named were a new version of the Alice in Wonderland dark ride and a Sleeping Beauty dark ride.

When I heard about these attractions via Twitter, as I could not be at Destination D myself, my heart immediately sank. Sleeping Beauty and Alice in Wonderland are two of my favourite Disney movies, and the thought of maybe being able to have attractions based off of those movies so relatively close to home was a tantalizing thought. In fact, that was the reason that I started doing the research, I desperately wanted to know if there was any more room in the Magic Kingdom (because there sure as hell isn’t any in Disneyland). The Alice in Wonderland attraction would be similar to that of Roger Rabbit’s CarToon Spin at Disneyland and would feature ride vehicles that looked like teacups that would spin throughout parts of the attraction, and the ride system could have even been like Crush’s Coaster at the Disney Studios in Disneyland Resort Paris, with a combination of a standard dark ride and a roller coaster sort of like Primeval Whirl at Animal Kingdom. All and all, the Alice in Wonderland dark ride could have ended up being like the announced Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (a combination dark-ride/roller coaster) but it could have been so much better. Besides, since when does Disney not have multiple attractions that are very similar in ride system (I’m looking at you Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye and Countdown to Extinction).

The Sleeping Beauty attraction would have been a more standard dark-ride attraction, but there would have been a possibly full sized Maleficent dragon that breathed fire at the ride car, which would definitely make it a more thrilling experience than say Snow White’s Scary Adventures. I really wish that these attractions could have been built in an American Fantasyland, that being said, the plans for Shanghai Disneyland is supposed to be a new breed of Disneyland style park, and we might get at least one of these attractions there. Fingers crossed!