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September 10, 2016

'Finding Dory' bonus features sure to make splash with Disney-Pixar fans

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My children and I had barely exited the theater after seeing Disney-Pixar’s “Finding Dory” in June before they were asking for confirmation that we would purchase the DVD as soon as it is released. The movie really was that good! (You can read my review here.)

Of course, I agreed. And I know now that I will be buying “Finding Dory” on Nov. 15 when the animated movie comes out on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand. Those who prefer viewing on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere can see “Finding Dory” a lot earlier – on Oct. 25.

The release dates were just announced, as well as details of the bonus features we can look forward to. And there is a lot to get excited about! From an all-new mini short featuring interviews with Dory’s pals from the Marine Life Institute to never-before-seen deleted scenes, including a digital exclusive featuring the Tank Gang from “Finding Nemo” who make it their mission to get Marlin and Nemo to the Marine Life Institute, fans will love these extensions of the story. Plus, viewers will be able to see “Piper,” the amazing theatrical short film starring an irresistible sandpiper hatchling, Loved it!

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Here are the official descriptions of the bonus features we can look forward to.

Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray & Digital HD:

** Theatrical Short: “Piper” – A hungry sandpiper hatchling ventures from her nest for the first time to dig for food by the shoreline. The only problem is that the food is buried beneath the sand where scary waves roll up onto the shore.

** Marine Life Interviews (All-New Mini Short) – Meet the inhabitants of the Marine Life Institute as they remember our favorite blue tang.

** The Octopus That Nearly Broke Pixar – Pixar’s “Team Hank” unravels the challenges, frustrations, and rewards of bringing to life the studio’s crankiest and most technically complicated character ever.

** What Were We Talking About? – This piece showcases the complex routes Dory’s story took as the filmmakers worked to construct a comprehensive narrative involving a main character with short-term memory loss.

** Casual Carpool – What’s it like to commute with the voices of Marlin, Charlie, Bailey and Hank? Join “Finding Dory” writer/director Andrew Stanton as he drives Albert Brooks, Eugene Levy, Ty Burrell and Ed O’Neill to work.

** Animation & Acting – How do you create a connection between a human audience and a fish? This behind-the-scenes look behind the curtain examines the process of constructing believable performances through a unique collaboration between the director, voice actors and animators.

** Creature Features – The cast of “Finding Dory” share cool facts about the creatures they voice in the film.

** Deep in the Kelp – Disney Channel’s Jenna Ortega guides us on a research trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to show how far the “Finding Dory” crew went to make Dory’s world feel real.

** Skating & Sketching with Jason Deamer – “Finding Dory” character art director Jason Deamer talks about how he got to Pixar, how he draws the characters in the film, and how falling off a skateboard teaches you lessons you can use in art and life.

** Dory’s Theme – A spirited discussion among the composer, music editor and director of “Finding Dory” about the musical elements that shape Dory’s quirky and joyful theme.

** Rough Day on the Reef – Sometimes computers make mistakes. Here you’ll see some of the funny, creepy and just plain bizarre footage the crew encountered while making “Finding Dory.”

** Commentary – Director Andrew Stanton, co-director Angus MacLane and producer Lindsey Collins deliver their personal perspective on “Finding Dory.”

** Deleted Scenes (introduced by director Andrew Stanton)

** Losing Nemo – While watching the stingray migration, Dory starts to follow two fish that remind her of her parents, leaving Nemo all alone.

** Little Tension in Clown Town – In this alternate version of the film, Dory tries to “follow her fins” to her parents, but ends up in a strange place with even stranger fish fashion.

** Dory Dumped – In this early version of the story, Dory’s parents had short-term memory loss as well.

** Sleep Swimming – Dory begins to talk and swim in her sleep, revealing what seem to be clues to her past.

** Meeting Hank – Wandering the Marine Life Institute’s elaborate pipe system, Dory happens upon the abode of Hank the cranky octopus.

** The Pig – Frantically navigating the pipes of the Marine Life Institute in search of her parents, Dory crosses paths with a terrifying cleaning device.

** Starting Over – Director Andrew Stanton presents four different versions of the movie’s opening scene to illustrate the filmmakers’ search for the best way to introduce Dory’s back story and to connect this new film to “Finding Nemo.”

** Tank Gang (Digital exclusive) – After a close encounter with a squid leaves them separated from Dory, Marlin and Nemo unexpectedly meet up with the Tank Gang from “Finding Nemo,” who make it their mission to get to the Marine Life Institute … by any means necessary.

** Hidden Seacrets of Finding Dory (Digital exclusive) – Take a deep dive to catch secret Easter Eggs throughout the movie. And just like Hank, they’re hidden in plain sight.

DVD only:
** Theatrical Short: Piper & Commentary



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June 21, 2016

Where to see Dory, Nemo and friends at Walt Disney World

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If you saw “Finding Dory” on opening weekend, you or your little ones likely have fallen in love with the characters, old and new. I know my kids and I did! The good news is that you don’t have to say goodbye to the characters at the theater. You can interact with Nemo, Dory and Crush and others and experience the Big Blue World at Walt Disney World. Here’s where to go and what to do:

Epcot
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This park has an entire pavilion dedicated to the ocean and its inhabitants. It’s located in the front section, Future World, and called The Seas with Nemo & Friends. Here, guests can ride on an attraction of the same name that is suitable for all ages. It’s a gentle journey in a “clamobile” that tells the story of “Finding Nemo,” complete with Dory, Bruce the shark, ultraviolet “jellies” and a swim through the EAC (East Australian Current) with sea turtle Crush and his little dude Squirt. The ride finishes with a song composed just for the attraction; I warn you that you will not be able to stop humming it afterward. But that’s not a bad thing!

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The Seas pavilion also is home to Turtle Time with Crush. Guests are seated in a small theater, where Crush can communicate directly with little dudes and dudettes using his high-tech “hydrophone.” Starting in May, characters from “Finding Dory" plus Squirt joined Marlin and Nemo: Destiny the whale shark, Bailey the beluga whale and Hank the septopus. Each 15-minute show is improvised and unique.

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In addition to these two attractions, guests can observe marine life in massive tanks on two different levels of the pavilion and hear various cast member presentations, including one about dolphin training and another about manatees. There's a cool photo opportunity, too, if you're brave enough to join the set! Near the exit is a gift shop that specializes in Nemo and Dory merchandise, of course.

Animal Kingdom
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At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, visitors can experience a Broadway-style musical that tells the story of “Finding Nemo” – and it’s included in park admission. The 40-minute show uses beautiful puppetry, original songs and creative sets to bring the story to life. There are 14 original songs composed by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. “Finding Nemo: The Musical” ends with the same song as The Seas with Nemo & Friends: “In the Big, Blue World.” This is the first time that Disney has taken a non-musical animated feature and transformed it into an original musical production, and you won’t want to miss it!

Art of Animation

Walt Disney World’s newest hotel, Art of Animation, opened in 2012, and the first suites and its main pool are themed with “Finding Nemo.” Stepping into the courtyard between the two Nemo-themed buildings that flank the main pool is to, quite literally, walk into the little fish's world. Imagineers and sculptors have built this recreation area so that guests are experiencing it from Nemo's point of view -- and size. Characters are built on a scale to support that premise with Crush being almost 30 feet tall and Mr. Ray having a wingspan of 26 feet.

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The centerpiece of the recreation area is The Big Blue Pool, which at 12,000 feet is the biggest on Disney World property, excluding those at the water parks. Little ones also can play under the dripping-water tentacles of four pinkish-purple jellyfish structures. Go underwater and you'll hear a sound system that continually plays music and talking characters.

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Adjacent to The Big Blue Pool is a splash pad known as the Schoolyard Sprayground, which has pop-up water jets on a soft, spongy landing around Marlin and Nemo in their 16-foot-tall sea anemone. There also are four separate characters that squirt water: Tad, Chicken Fish, Sheldon and Pearl. And behind that is Squirt's Righteous Reef, a dry play area with three slides and perfect photo opportunities.

Although the pool and recreation equipment are reserved for hotel guests, anyone is welcome to visit the hotel to have a meal in the Landscape of Flavors restaurant or to take a photo with the amazing backdrops. While you’re there, you also can see scenes from The Lion King, Cars and The Little Mermaid brought to life in their respective wings.



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June 18, 2016

'Finding Dory': a spoiler-free movie review for parents

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Dory may be forgetful, but “Finding Dory” is not forgettable. Not by a long shot.

Disney-Pixar’s sequel to ‘Finding Nemo” takes us deeper into the Big Blue World and introduces us to a new cast of characters that blend seamlessly with Marlin, Nemo and other favorites from 13 years ago. Has it really been that long since we met the clownfish?

“Finding Dory” takes moviegoers on a journey that is highlighted by laughter. I can’t remember the last movie that prompted me to laugh out loud so much in one sitting. And if our theater’s audience -- which was comprised of a mix of adults and teens on their own and families with younger and older children –- was a good example, the humor appealed to all ages.

The movie starts by giving us the back story explaining why adult Dory (voiced again by Ellen DeGeneres) has short-term memory loss. We see baby Dory, who is the cutest thing ever, and when Dory meets Marlin (Albert Brooks). Then the story jumps forward a year to when, through a series of flashbacks, Dory remembers who her parents are -- Jenny (Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy) – and where she grew up -- Marine Life Institute in Monterey, Calif. Her desire to reunite with her parents leads Dory, Marlin and Nemo (now voiced by Hayden Rolence) on a long-distance swim from the Great Barrier Reef off Australia to the west coast of the United States.

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This first part of the movie echos the storyline of “Finding Nemo,” and moviegoers may be tempted to think this sequel is just repurposing a tried-and-true format. Not so. Returning director and co-writer Andrew Stanton deftly shows us how this sequel joins the story that “Finding Nemo” started and then plunges us into a new world of hilarious and lovable characters. Dory’s sidekick is Hank (Ed O'Neill), a gruff, chameleon-like septopus -- an octopus that lost a tentacle -- who agrees to help her if she promises to do something for him. Along the way, Dory is reunited with a childhood friend, Destiny, a near-sighted whale shark who taught Dory to speak whale when they were younger.

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Destiny’s tank mate is Bailey, a beluga whale that is convinced his sonar skills no longer work. My almost-12-year-old daughter and I especially loved this part of the movie because it really explains visually how echolocation works – something my daughter is interested in because of her love of dolphins. We also meet a pair of snippy and clever sea lions and a crazy loon at the marine institute who help Dory in her quest to find her parents.

Without giving away the details, watch for Hank and Dory’s stroller scene, which my kids and I found hilarious. Also, the otters steal the show with their “Cuddle Time!” toward the end of the movie, so don’t get up to go get more popcorn then if you can help it.

“Finding Dory” comes to a satisfying conclusion after imparting positive messages about family, disabilities and perseverance. You might find yourself leaving the theater asking “What Would Dory Do?” as the blue tang does when she is gaining self-confidence. Surely, you’ll be making plans to see “Finding Dory” again, as my family and I did as we walked to our car. It’s truly that good.

By the way, make sure to stay in your seat through all the credits or you will miss out.

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A tip: Don’t miss the new Pixar short, “Piper,” that plays before the movie. It excels in its ability to evoke a range of feelings in those watching while conveying laughs and a good message without words.

DISCLAIMER: I viewed “Finding Dory” and “Piper” at a media screening before its official release. This did not affect my review; my opinions are my own.



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June 2, 2016

Dory After Dark events give 'Finding Nemo' fans chance to see 'Finding Dory' before release

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“Finding Nemo” fans in select cities – including Orlando and Lake Buena Vista -- have a special opportunity to see the highly anticipated sequel, “Finding Dory,” before it opens on June 17. Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios have announced a one-night Dory After Dark event, which starts with a screening of “Finding Nemo” and then is followed by “Finding Dory,” on June 16.

The Orlando event takes place at Regal Waterford Lakes beginning at 9 p.m. There will be a short intermission after “Finding Nemo” and then “Finding Dory” begins at 11 p.m. Tickets for the double feature are $19.99. Members of the Regal Crown Club, which is a free program for frequent customers, can purchase tickets for $17.99 and will receive a concession coupon. AMC Disney Springs 24 hosts the other Central Florida event, which also starts at 9 p.m. Tickets for that location are $31.95. Both screenings will be in 3D, and tickets are on sale now.

Dory After Dark is a celebration that invites fans to dive in with Dory, Marlin and Nemo, plus new friends Hank, Destiny and Bailey. Guests will receive an event-exclusive Dory After Dark reusable bag and an “I Speak Whale” button. There also will be opportunities to share the experience throughout the evening with custom Snapchat filters.

More than 90 locations in North America will take part in this one-night event. Click here to see the full list.

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The official description for “Finding Dory” is as follows:

“Finding Dory welcomes back to the big screen everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), who’s living happily in the reef with Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and Marlin (Albert Brooks). When Dory suddenly remembers that she has a family out there who may be looking for her, the trio takes off on a life-changing adventure across the ocean to California’s prestigious Marine Life Institute, a rehabilitation center and aquarium. In an effort to find her mom (Diane Keaton) and dad (Eugene Levy), Dory enlists the help of three of the MLI’s most intriguing residents: Hank (Ed O’Neill), a cantankerous octopus who frequently gives employees the slip; Bailey (Ty Burrell), a beluga whale who is convinced his echolocation skills are on the fritz; and Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a nearsighted whale shark. Deftly navigating the complex innerworkings of the MLI, Dory and her friends discover the magic within their flaws, friendships and family.”

On a related note, Disney Parks will be celebrating “Speak Like A Whale Day” on June 11 at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. According to the Disney Parks Blog, special events that Saturday will include:

** Guests at both resorts and aboard Disney Cruise Line ships will receive complimentary buttons to celebrate the day.

** At the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland and Disney Springs at Walt Disney World, families can dive into “undersea” themed activities, including a live DJ, games and giveaways. Young guests can attend “Whale Speak University.”

** At The Seas with Nemo & Friends in Epcot, guests can learn about the real-life counterparts of the characters from the film and see them in their massive 5.7-million-gallon saltwater aquarium home. Experts from Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment Team will be on hand throughout the day to help guests find Dory and her friends and get a closer look at their world.

** Dory, Destiny, Bailey and Hank have joined Crush at the Turtle Talk with Crush attraction at Epcot and Disney California Adventure.



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