Friday, April 11, 2008

"it's a small world" anquish continues

If you didn't see it, Disney Archivist Dave Smith has written a letter to the community that makes the same arguments as Marty Sklar's letter. John Frost at The Disney Blog let's Dave Smith have it for not bringing anything new to the table.

The Disney Blog also found this great defense of why change at Disneyland must be carefully considered from the Disneyland Nomenclature blog. It turns out even the ultimate "change agent" Walt Disney wasn't willy-nilly with his changes, but rather focused on plussing and filling in under utilized spaces.

Finally, check out the Save The Small World campaign site for it's latest bit of news and an strong argument against placing characters in the attraction.

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Disney Animation Update

From the Animation Guild blog two quick updates on Bolt and The Princess and The Frog, the next two films from Walt Disney Animation Studios:

< < < <

Bolt is moving into higher gears as more of the staff begins getting overtime. As one artist said:

"I caught a screening of the film, mostly story reels now, a few days ago. I hadn't seen it in some time, and they've revamped the story a lot since January. And I really thought it worked well ..."

Princess and the Frog now has production animation going on, as well as experimental animation. The studio formed a study group to analyze the hand-drawn features of the nineties to sort out what elements worked and what didn't, how they can get the most bang for their production buck, etc.

> > > >

I'm really keeping my fingers crossed that Bolt turns out to be lightning in a bottle for Disney. They need a good hit soon. But I still regret that Chris Sanders style has been excised from the picture.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Disneyland setting itself up for bad PR with "it's a small world" Rainforest Downsizing

That an America scene is being added where the rainforest scene was previously and that the rainforest has been incorporated in another scene hasn't been denied and isn't ruled out in Marty Sklar's letter. He just ruled out that the scene is "Up With America" by which I assume Sklar meant "overly patriotic"... but I don't think that was ever anyone's complaint.

Even if the rainforest isn't going away, it is being downsized (and replaced) by America. If that isn't a metaphor for what's wrong with our attitude to Global Warming right now, I don't know what is.

If Disney opens "it's a small world" with those changes they're in for a hell-hole of bad publicity about how the attraction's new message is anti-green instead of pro-peace. Not exactly how a modern multi-national wants to be positioning itself in these days of rising fuel prices, disappearing ice-caps, and consumers looking for what's green instead of what's next.

Disney Public Relations had better start their spin now.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Orlando Bloom is the Prince of Persia?

Has Orlando Bloom been cast as the Prince of Persia in the upcoming film of the same name? Well, that was the rumor as of this morning. Reportedly a princely sum of $40 million was offered to secure Bloom's lovely visage and acting chops for the role in what was to be Disney's tent-pole trilogy for the next five years.

Turns out the rumor was untrue and Walt Disney Pictures quickly issued a denial. That's not to say Orlando Bloom wouldn't be great in the role. I thought he was great in Kingdom of Heaven, and that other little trilogy that he helped to propel to over $3 billion (with a b) in box office.

We do know that Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) is directing and Jerry Bruckheimer is producing.

Any juicy gossip we're missing here?

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Monday, April 7, 2008

The truth about the changes to "it's a small world"

The real story behind the goofy change coming to Disneyland's classic and beloved "it's a small world" attraction is beginning to leak out. The changes being made this year are the sad remnants of a greater plan to massively update the attraction with new audio-animatronic style dolls, updated scenery, and a greater variety of nationalities and cultures represented in a new prayer for world unity and peace from all the world's children.

That was the plan discussed eight years ago. But somewhere over the years the original plan fell by the side and when money left in the budget to update "it's a small world" was about to be lost, forces sprung into action to do something, anything, to make a change. What is coming now is a version of plans that were made for Hong Kong Disneyland, not exactly the same, but close enough.

Disney never makes one of something when they can get two for near the same price. But how to use that second doll? Why not do something at Disneyland. Sad but true, that's the exact thought behind part of this change.

So when the new plans were leaked the press smelled a scandal this caused some people to get cold feet. WDI Ambassador and tried and true corporate spokesman Marty Sklar was asked to step in and save the day. His letter was as much desperation as it was spin. Disney was getting bad press in more than just the online fan groups, something had to be done, and the fans were the perfect scapegoats.

But as it turns out, Marty Sklar was being less than truthful in his open letter to Disney fans. When he said there would be no "Up with America" scene and that the rainforest remains, that wasn't exactly the truth. The rainforest has indeed been bulldozed to make way for a new room honoring America. The rest of the nations of the world have to share rooms with other countries on their continents, but the USA gets its own room. That prominent placement is "Up with America" enough. But to devastate the rainforest for the change is an unseemly metaphor.

The rainforest has been downsized and moved to another area of the attraction to make way for athe US of A. And when Marty said that Mickey Mouse won't be added to the attraction, that didn't mean that other Disney characters, non-humans like Mickey and Minnie, wouldn't be added. What do non-children characters have to do with the theme? No one has yet said.

How to explain those little lies? They can't, so you'll just have to trust them that they know what's best.

Oh Disney fans, you have been snookered. While you weren't looking Disney has ripped out the heart and soul of one of Walt's most memorable and meaningful attractions. There is no more world unity, there is America and we're more important than y'all. The rainforest has been harvested and Wal-Mart put in its place. There is no more children's prayer for peace and world unity, there is Disney merchandise opportunities with a famous Disney character in nearly every scene. There is no more small world, just a faceless soulless corporation out to get every last buck from their 'guests' with no care for its legacy.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Disney Heroes as Underwear Models

Artist David Kawena over at deviantART has a deft touch for drawing some of Disney's most popular animated characters. Last year he took on a project to bring to life, in near photo-realistic, what each of Disney's classic hero characters would look like as drawn in the typical "Hero Pose". I don't know about you, but they make me think of those giant posters underwear models you see in Times Square.

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