Page 1 of 5

June 23, 2016

Recap: E3 2016

jeaninebanner.jpg

So back we went again for a look at this year's E3--the preeminent trade show for electronic entertainment. Here is where most of the major game companies make their big announcements and trailer releases for the year.

IMG_3115.JPG

The big shockers for me actually came some months ago, when Disney first announced they were pulling out of E3, and then a few weeks beforehand abruptly revealed they were closing down Disney Infinity and shuttering Avalanche, their internal console game studio. While they will still be licensing their various franchises to other game developers, they are apparently ceasing to self-publish their own console games.

Another big blow to E3 was the revelation that EA, the company currently responsible for making the bulk of the Star Wars games, was also going to sit E3 out this time around.

In an interesting spin, EA instead held their own version of E3 off-site and open to everyone, not just the Industry and Media traditionally allowed into E3. All guests to EA Play were treated to swag bags, refreshments, and the opportunity to demo four of EA's upcoming games: Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, FIFA 17, and Madden NFL 17.

IMG_3129.JPG

While it was a nice facility, outside of the demo areas it had kind of a vacant, stark vibe. There was a separate floor for VIPs which was probably more populated.

IMG_3145.JPG

I had kind of hoped they would have some/any information on the new Star Wars projects or the upcoming Mass Effect Andromeda, but there really wasn't much outside of merchandise beyond the demos for the four games.

IMG_3131.JPG

(I did wind up demoing Battlefield and Titanfall, which was pretty humiliating as I am possible the world's worst at FPS. My experience was very much like this tweet:)

In any case, however, it was certainly easier to demo the games with specific appointment times here, rather than wait hours on the show floor as is sometimes required.

IMG_3125.JPG

With two of the traditionally largest and splashiest booths missing, this year's E3 was quite a bit more sedate than in years past. While there were still quite a few photo-ops and demos available, it seemed a lot quieter with a lot more room to move around.

DSC05463.JPG

IMG_3153.JPG

The big piece of technology that was present and promoted at what seemed almost every booth this time around was VR--either in the conventional form of games, or as a facet of what looks like an upcoming trend in theme parks rides.

IMG_3157.JPG

I rode one ride demo that was basically a roller coaster motion simulator with a VR headset--it was nice if you're not a gonzo roller coaster fanatic as I am not, but I think people looking for the same kind of thrill as the live version will be a little disappointed.

DSC05481a.JPG

While I don't think the VR I saw was really good enough to simulate real-life situations, where it does shine was at putting you into a completely unworldly environment. The ability to look in all directions and see a seamless 3-D environment you can travel in and interact with is astonishing. I don't know that I'm ready to plunk down the money for a system just yet (the PlayStation VR headset will launch in October of this year for a MSR of $399,) this definitely seems to be the direction the industry is headed.

Out on the main show floor, there were the usual elaborate booths set up to simulate various game environments, whether they were a street in New Orleans, complete with fortune tellers and jazz funeral processions...

DSC05476.JPG

...A post-apocalyptic fallout shelter...

DSC05483.JPG

...Wherever "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" is supposed to be...

DSC05513.JPG
(This booth was so popular, there were actually two lines to get one--one that took forever that enabled you to actually play the demo, and one slightly shorter just to walk in and look around.)

...Or the ubiquitous zombies.

DSC05469.JPG

Over at the LEGO booth, they were demoing the upcoming "LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens" game.

DSC05467a.JPG

DSC05501.JPG

As far as Marvel games, Sony announced a new "Spider-Man PS4" game, in partnership with Insomniac Games.

Probably the closest Disney tie exhibited however, was over at the Square Enix booth which was heavily promoting the upcoming compilation "Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue."

DSC05475.JPG

A crossover RPG featuring both Final Fantasy and Disney characters, the long and convoluted series has recently been repackaged into "Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix" and "Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix" for the PlayStation 3. "Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8" and the even-further-off "Kingdom Hearts III" which was announced at last year's D23 Expo will both be for the PlayStation 4.

While I don't have any experience with the game currently, I can tell you that if "Kingdom Hearts III" does, as they said last year, base its plot around Baymax, I am all in.

KHDDD.jpg

So looking back, I would say that this E3 felt the smallest of all the ones I've attended. There does seem to be a movement away from this "professionals only" show towards companies wanting to open it up to fans and players as well, which may indicate a change in the way games will be marketed and distributed in the future. E3 did give a nod to this by holding "E3 Live" which was an off-site event that was supposed to be a mini-E3 anyone could attend. Unfortunately, as I walked through it, I found it was mostly a small collection of vendors with very few game-playing opportunities available. If E3 does want to hold these kind of inclusive events, they're going to have to try to emulate the actual E3 environment a little better in order to avoid disappointing people's expectations.

IMG_3161.JPG

Another thing that would help the experience is figuring out some way to manage the lines for the demos better. PlayStation at least had an app where you could make reservations to try out various games or watch trailers, but other popular companies had brutal lines. I tried briefly to line up for the new "South Park" demo, but bailed quickly after I was told the wait was thought to be around three hours.

IMG_3183.JPG

In all, despite the low numbers of booths and long lines, it was another fun E3 filled with announcements and teasers for an abundance of good-looking games. Now if only I was a little better at combat...

DSC05504.JPG


June 20, 2016

"LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures" Premiering This Week

jeaninebanner.jpg

"Focus your abilities. Master the Force, and you can lead us to the crystals!"
"That was a lot of words, and my mind wandered in the middle."

index1.jpe

"LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures" debuts this week on Disney XD as the latest addition to the panoply of stories in the Star Wars universe.

This new Disney XD series takes place between "The Empire Strikes Back" and
"Return of the Jedi," It follows the adventures of the Freemaker family: Sister Kordi Freemaker, older brother Zander Freemaker, younger brother Rowan Freemaker, and their droid RO-GR a.k.a. Roger.

index2.jpe

The three siblings together make up the entirety of Freemaker Salvage and Repair--a relatively unsuccessful scavenger business that involves them collecting debris from various space battles and vehicle crashes and reformulating the LEGO bricks into spaceships they can sell. Kordi is the brains and saleswoman of the enterprise, while Zander is the gearhead that designs and constructs their ships. Rowan, as the youngest, is usually relegated to RO-GR's relatively ineffectual guardianship...which does not tend to mitigate his propensity for causing disaster.

index3.jpe

Their lives tend to revolve around making their business pay enough to keep from getting evicted from their workspace until Rowan is discovered to have a Force Sensitivity that draws him to pieces of the legendary Kyber Saber. This, the first light saber ever made, holds enormous power and becomes a source of some interest to Emperor Palpatine and his apprentice.

Recently, Executive Producers Bill Motz and Bob Roth and the voice cast of "Freemaker," Eugene Byrd (“Zander Freemaker”), Vanessa Lengies (“Kordi Freemaker”), Nicholas Cantu (“Rowan Freemaker”), and Matthew Wood (“Roger”) met at a press conference to answer questions about the new series:

IMG_3061a.JPG



Some points of note from the discussion:
--That two of the characters were named "Kordi" and "Zander" was not intended as a nod to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
--The show aims to be more intense than you'd expect from the LEGO franchise, but still retain the fun and humor.
--They have no intention to tell the story of the Freemaker's parents.
--There will be a crossover with Luke, Leia, Dengar, and others.
--The color for the Freemakers is "nougat," a pre-existing LEGO color, indicating their undefined, mixed ethnicity.
--The storyline is "canon" in the sense that it is in continuity, enacted by a child playing with LEGO.
--Your media correspondents are willing to risk burning to death in a building to get you information on LEGO Star Wars.

index4.jpe

"LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures" airs June 20th, 10:00 am EDT on Disney XD. A new episode will be released each day of this week at that time until June 23rd.

June 19, 2016

Disneyland Resort Updates - 6/17/16

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, June 17, 2016.

An overview of the Star Wars site from the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure.

Now a pan across the site from left to right.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

The large mound of dirt is shrinking as trucks haul it away.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

The Skyway building is now gone this week. Almost all the demolition work is done and major clearing. They have now started to build.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

Soarin' Around the World premiered today here (as well as in Epcot; Shanghai opened yesterday). Only change outside I noticed is the "Around the World" replaced "California".

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

FastPass logo has been updated. Not surprisingly they were almost gone for the day at 1:35pm.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

Since the wait was posted at 75 minutes and looked slightly shorter I decided to get in line at 1:38pm.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

FastPass distribution ended around 1:50pm and they closed it up while I stood in line waiting. They made an announcement of technical difficulties and they would be down to one theater. Which doubled the wait time.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

Almost to the front door at 2:36pm, an hour in. They were letting less than 10 standby guests into each cycle. So we were moving very slowly. The FastPass return line stretched out toward the entrance of Smokejumpers Grill (it turned the corner and I could not see the end).

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

Finally made it inside the door at 2:58pm I saw no changes to the interior queue. Background music seemed the same loop too.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

Watching the pre-flight video at 3:33pm. Instead of clouds and cities the new one has a map that features the locations.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

The safety video is the same, just no over California in it. I was seated and ready for my flight at 3:38pm

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

On my way up the exit at 3:45pm. So it was 127 minutes from when I entered the queue till I exited the building.

My first impressions - The clarity of the new film is impressive and the scenic locations are amazing. Though I felt they went to the computer graphics well too many times. The locations themselves are visually stunning and in almost all cases did not need the "enhancements". Sometimes they seemed to dominate and distract from the amazing sights. I also found the transitions between scenes to be annoying - the abrupt motion and sound versus a peaceful transition bothered me. I would have liked to have seen them show a little more restraint and pick/choose where to use the effects more.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

The Silly Symphony Swings are back in operation.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

Frozen Live at the Hyperion is up to four shows daily now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

Next stop Disneyland. Surprised there was nothing going on for Finding Dory. First stop for me was the Big Thunder Trail. A second fence with mesh has gone up blocking the nice clear view we had of the Star Wars construction.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

There was a small crack left with no fence, so here are a couple quick pics. The forms look to be up near the old Big Thunder Trail, wonder if it is for a retaining wall or structure that will be the visual barrier for the new walkway.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

The hole in the fence here is still available (this week at least).

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

The 2016 All-American College Band started their summer in the park on Thursday. Here is Ron at the nightly Flag Retreat.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

The All-American College Band performing a Disneyland Attraction Medley during their 6:15pm The Castle Set



The band moves to Main Street to perform music from the Incredibles

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

As they move toward Town Square they play Gonna Take You There from Princess and the Frog.



They stop again near the Emporium and perform Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

After their performance I headed for Tomorrowland.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

Autopia was down for some reason.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

Time for the 7:15pm All-American College Band set at the Train Station in Town Square. The set opens with "Bubbles was a Cheerleader."



Meet the 2016 All-American College Band.



The set features a Jungle Book medley this year.



The band plays a pre-parade starting at 8:15pm near Small World with their Disney Movie Medley.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

They then move to the hub and perform Uptown Funk.



The band stops on Main Street and performs Let it Go.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

The last stop for pre-parade is Town Square and they performed a Star Wars Medley.



Since I was in Town Square I found a spot for Paint the Night

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

I closed out my evening with Disneyland Forever

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 17, 2016

Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, https://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.







June 16, 2016

Disneyland Resort - Jammin' on the Backlot & Polynesian Nights - 6/10/16

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, June 10, 2016.

This posting will focus on two of the summer evening entertainment options. For a look at other happenings on Friday visit the full picture set on my site.

Jammin' on the Backlot has taken over for the Mad T Party this summer. It kicked off at 6pm and runs until park closing.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

The benches are turned to watch the DJ and dance party. Not much happening on the dance floor right now. Just a couple kids out there. This was around 6:15pm

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

The DJ for the evening on stage. She was playing a mix of music including current tracks and some Disney ones on occasion.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

A couple of set pieces on the stage.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

A few more families join the dancing.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

The DJ was working to try and engage the guests.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

The decorations are minimal for this event compared to previous events like the Mad T Party and ElecTRONica.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

The food truck is open. Here is the menu.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

Picnic tables to sit at in the former House of Cards stage area.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

A closer look at the tables

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

The former House of Cards Bar is un-named with covered menus, but it was open in the evening.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

Here is the menu. Guessing this will change after Grad Nite season concludes.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

The face painting area has returned, this was open throughout the day too.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

The Backlot Stage does not appear to be in use for the party.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

This was around 6:40pm

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

In Downtown Disney this summer each night has a musical theme. Fridays are Polynesian nights..

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

Tupua has returned again and the show is nearly identical to previous years. You travel the South Pacific through music and dance.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

Hawaii

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

Samoa

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

I returned to California Adventure and took another walk through the Backlot. This was just before 8pm

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

A few more guests around the dance floor vs a earlier.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, June 10, 2016

Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, https://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.








June 13, 2016

"Finding Dory" Filmmakers and Cast Press Conference

jeaninebanner.jpg

findingdory56bb94989859f.jpg

Debuting on June 17th, is Disney-Pixar's latest film, "Finding Dory." A continuation to the Academy Award-winning "Finding Nemo," it follows Dory, a blue tang with short-term memory loss, on her search for the parents she had lost and forgotten.

[All non-attributed photos and video courtesy of Disney.]

Recently, the talent from either side of the vocal recording booths met at a press conference to talk about their experiences making the long-awaited sequel. First up was Director Andrew Stanton and Producer Lindsey Collins.

DSC05135.JPG

Some points of note from the video above:

DSC05130.JPG

Andrew Stanton on why he wanted to make this movie thirteen years after the original: "The real truth is, I wasn't expecting to ever go back. Four years with fish is a long time to work on a movie...The brain's an interesting thing. So suddenly I was watching the movie again because I hadn't watched it in years, and 2011 we had to see the 3D version, and I walked out very worried about Dory. And I couldn't stop thinking about how she needed closure."

Stanton on the themes of the movie
: "Well, I always knew that the film was going to be about her accepting herself...The premise I ultimately came with is that you're not at peace until you can truly accept who you are. And I think she was always going to be unsettled until she experienced what it was like to succeed on her own completely. And I don't think she ever really had. She had learned how to survive in the wild by being the best co-pilot ever, and so that meant she was always dependent on somebody else to be successful. I knew that the only way she was going to feel completely fulfilled is if she, like a little kid, 'did it all by myself.' And so that was really a grand design to just do that simple thing for her."

DSC05117.JPG

Lindsey Collins: "We also felt as though she needed to grant herself the same grace that she feels she grants everybody else. She kind of apologizes for herself...and she never expects anybody to apologize for themselves and in fact, is kind of more open with them than anybody. I think that's why people love Dory, and why the 'just keep swimming' kind of resonates so clearly, because it's such a genuine...'it's ok! Just persevere! You're gonna do it!'...And so the fact that she, as a character, was not giving herself the same grace...it was like, how do we get her to that place, and who grants that to her, and then [Stanton] was like 'the only person who can grant that to her is herself.'"

Stanton on setting "Finding Dory" at an aquarium: "Once we started to look back at the unintentional bread crumb trail of Dory, she knows how to read English, she knows how to speak whale, and she's got this odd eclectic knowledge of stuff. And so I said 'I think she has to be around Humanity. I think she has had to have just seen the most bizarre stuff." In an early pass, there was a moment where she was at the glass revisiting her exhibit and everything she ever said had an association with the wall, like Keyser Söze at the end of 'The Usual Suspects.' It was like 'sea monkey has my money,' like 'natural blue,' ...and it was funny in the moment, but it was so reliant that you were like an expert on the first movie that we just didn't use it."

--Stanton's favorite character: Hank
--Collins' favorite character: Bailey and Destiny
--Stanton voices the Loud-Mouthed Clam in addition to Crush.
--Stanton didn't want to put Crush in the film initially, for fear it would look like a vanity move, but he needed a fast way to get everyone across the ocean.
--The kelp forest environment was one that Stanton had wanted to put into the first film and finally got to use for this one. It lent Dory's search a fairy tale quality.
--The addition of Sigourney Weaver to the movie was initially an internal joke that they didn't think would make it into the final cut, but proved to be too funny to exclude.
--Stanton felt the long interval of time from the last film helped because he is now a better writer and might not have been able to break the story any earlier.

Next up was the bulk of the major voice cast of "Finding Dory:" Ellen DeGeneres (voice of “Dory”), Ed O’Neill (voice of “Hank”), Ty Burrell (voice of “Bailey”), Kaitlin Olson (voice of “Destiny”), Albert Brooks (voice of “Marlin”), Eugene Levy (voice of “Charlie”), and Hayden Rolence (voice of “Nemo.”)

DSC05147.JPG

The cast on whether they are a planner, like Marlin, or choose to "go with the flow" like Dory:

DSC05148.JPG
Albert Brooks: "I've never had a flow. So I don't know. I'm not a 'go with the flow' person. I would be a planner."

DSC05149.JPG
Hayden Rolence: "I guess I'm sort of a planner too."
Brooks: "Good. Thank you."

DSC05162.JPG
Eugene Levy: "I like to think of myself as a go with the flow person...but I'm not. So I think I would put myself in the planner category."

DSC05140.JPG
Kaitlin Olson: "I'm definitely a planner, and since I've had kids, I turned into an anxiety-ridden control freak planner. So the past two years of my life have been very much me consciously trying very hard to go with the flow and let it happen and I got this...I got all these mantras I'll share with you guys...yeah, I'm trying very hard to be more of a 'go with the flow' person."

DSC05151.JPG
Ty Burrell: "I don't think I'm a planner or a go with the flow person. Which makes me a worried person without a plan. That is not what you want."

DSC05161.JPG
Ed O’Neill: "I don't plan. I don't really go with the flow either. Mostly confused. I just sort of put one foot in front of the other--sort of like 'keep swimming,' right? I just sort of...you know, I'm up in the morning, and here I am. And then...I move around..."
DeGeneres: "Very, very, very deep man."
Burrell: "I have that coffee mug, actually."
Brooks: "And then what happens? What happens around 3:00?"
DeGeneres: "I'm glad you didn't go moment by moment of your day."
O'Neill: "I stopped. I knew where that was going."
DeGeneres: "Yeah, I know. I knew where that was going, too. I'm pretty much a planner."
Brooks: "By the way, I think there may not be such a thing as a flow. I think if you don't plan, you're flowed right out the door."

DSC05156.JPG

Ellen DeGeneres on what she would say if she could go back in time and talk to herself at the age of six.: "I think, as Albert was saying, as you get older you get wiser and you start looking at life in a completely different way. You can tell a six-year-old whatever, but a six-year-old is going to go 'uh-uh,' so you can try...but I would tell that six-year-old that life is a very interesting journey. And that it is filled with surprises, and sometimes they're good surprises and sometimes they're bad surprises. And, they're all good. Because even the bad ones get you ready for something else and they build another part of you that you wouldn't have inside of you. And I think we're made up of all kinds of different things, and if we were just made up of joy and love and all good things, and nothing bad happened to us, we'd just be a little less layered. So I would tell that six-year-old to just take everything in and just embrace the bad with the good and...just keep swimming."

After the two panels, we were also treated to a short presentation by Director Alan Barillaro and Producer Marc Sondheimer on the development and creation of the terminally cute short "Piper" which will accompany "Finding Dory" in theaters.

DSC05185.JPG

DSC05207.JPG

An enormous amount of work went into making all the birds and aquatic animals as realistic as possible, while still investing them with the appeal and personality of an animated character.

DSC05209.JPG

"Piper" and "Finding Nemo" will open in theaters June 17, 2016.


June 7, 2016

Tick-Tock Tea Time with "Alice Through The Looking Glass" and the El Capitan Theatre

jeaninebanner.jpg

AliceThroughTheLookingGlass56c20221afcf7.jpg

On selected days throughout the run of "Alice Through The Looking Glass" at the El Capitan Theatre, a special tea service was offered in conjunction at the Chado Tea Room in the Hollywood and Highland complex.

DSC05431.JPG

"Tick-Tock Tea Time" took place about two hours prior to the start of selected showtimes, and provided guests with a pleasant selection of scones, sandwiches, and desserts, along with all the tea you could drink.

DSC05435.JPG

The service began with a choice of five teas, some of which were Alice-themed, and some of which were Chado's most popular blends. The servers were diligent in pointing out which ones were caffeinated and non-caffeinated in case parents had a preference in what their children ingested. Each person received their own pot of tea, along with a glass of iced tea.

DSC05429.JPG

The first tier of treats for each person was a scone accompanied with strawberries and cream, and assorted jam flavors.

DSC05437.JPG

Next up were finger sandwiches: An open-faced salmon, cucumber with cream cheese, chicken with cranberry-lingonberry sauce, and tea-marinated egg salad.

DSC05438.JPG

The dessert course consisted of cookies, strawberries, and a chocolate mousse cup.

DSC05436.JPG
For Gosh's Sake, don't throw your crusts under the bed!

As a parting gift, each person also received a nice "Alice Through The Looking Glass" mug, presumably in which to drink their own tea at home.

DSC05433.JPG

The food was very nice and the whole experience fairly soothing, despite the fact that every other table was generally celebrating a birthday. Although the menu sounded a trifle twee initially, it actually was a pretty hardy meal and after sucking down a pot of tea each we were all relatively full.

Afterwards, guests marched down the same stairs the Academy Award attendees walk to get to the Dolby Theater and crossed the street to the El Capitan Theatre to watch "Alice Through The Looking Glass." [Reviewed by Kristen Ford here.]

IMG_2938.JPG

As part of the tea package, VIP tickets were provided that included drinks and a commemorative popcorn bucket.

IMG_3042.JPG

Rob Richards started off the show as usual, with a snazzy performance on the theater's Wurlitzer Organ.

DSC05452.JPG

After previews, the audience was treated to a new psychedelic light and projection show featuring some of the film's prevalent images.

00064.jpg

00064-003.jpg

00064-004.jpg

After the movie, guests could then appreciate a display of concept art, hero props and costumes on display around the El Capitan.

DSC05440.JPG

DSC05445.JPG

DSC05447.JPG

DSC05449.JPG

DSC05451.JPG

IMG_3039.JPG

On the whole, the tea/movie package was a very pleasant way to extend the movie-going experience at the El Capitan, and a great way to celebrate a special occasion. For similar future events I would note that the room was pretty small--so if you were interested in booking it, you probably wouldn't want to wait, because the chance of it selling out is high. Also, the tea room validates parking for two hours, but the theater validates for four hours, so it's best to wait until getting across the street to take care of that. (Despite that, the chances are the tea and the movie will take longer than four hours, so be prepared to add on another $2-6 onto the usual $2 parking toll.)

Unfortunately, the Tick-Tock Tea has finished its last session--however, the Chado Tea Room offers very similar tea services on a routine basis, more information about which can be found on their web page here. "Alice Through The Looking Glass" continues at the El Capitan Theatre through June 12, 2016.

AliceThroughTheLookingGlass55d27d3ce5ba0.jpeg

Daily showtimes are 10 a.m., 1:10 p.m., 4:20 p.m., and 7:30 p.m., with a 10:40 p.m. on opening weekend (Friday through Sunday) and each Friday and Saturday during the engagement of the film. Tickets are on sale now through June 12, available at the El Capitan Theatre (6838 Hollywood Blvd.), online at www.elcapitantickets.com or by calling 1-800-DISNEY6. Special group rates for parties of 20 or more are available by calling 1-818-845-3110. Showtimes and dates are subject to change.

May 31, 2016

Disneyland Resort Updates Including Star Wars Land Construction - 5/27/16

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg
Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, May 27, 2016.

In this post I will take a look at the Star Wars construction and some other random pictures as I walked the park. It will be "Frozen-Free" for the most part because Laura and Jeanine will be covering that new attraction in depth. If you want to see the view from the balcony you can check out my full picture set.

I started off checking out the Star Wars construction progress. They have done a lot more clearing since I was last at the park. Looking to the right, the berm is gone and the concrete that the backstage buildings were on is now gone, too. No berm or other obstructions.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

In the foreground it looks like a hole is being dug on the left. With the trees you really could not see.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Interesting to note that the tunnel is still there, but the dirt around it is now gone.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

The skyway building is still standing.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

What appears to be a path with dirt built up on both sides is taking shape in the middle of the site. Maybe it is one of the entrances where the train will pass overhead.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Going to the far right of the site now -- In the distance is the Hungry Bear. In the middle is where the berm ends now. To the right, equipment breaking up and removing concrete from the former backstage support buildings.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

A couple video clips taken from the parking structure of the construction.

One last wide shot of the site before heading to the parks.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Frozen billboards at the Mickey and Friends Tram Stop

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Donald was out on Buena Vista Street. I do not recall seeing this costume before.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Moving over to Disneyland... Donald and Minnie were greeting guests near the entrance.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

At the Main Street Train Station they have opened the cab of the Ernest S. Marsh so you can go inside and take pictures.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Time for the nightly Flag Retreat, a good way to mark the Memorial Day weekend.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Taking a look at the Star Wars construction from the end of the Big Thunder Trail.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Pirates of the Caribbean has reopened. This area was very congested because the bridge is closed (due to treehouse work).

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Walking up the trail to Critter Country. The parking structure is clearly visible giving a reverse angle on my opening pictures.

You can see the berm is gone and you can see clear through to the tramway fence.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

A look through the fence from near the canoe dock.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

That is the Hungry Bear dining area screen on the left.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

From the second story of the Hungry Bear you can see what appears to be the new path for the river taking shape.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

A better look at what appears to be the new river path.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Looking to the left they are still sorting and clearing.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

A couple video clips of the work from inside the park.

There are quite a few promotions going on right now. The Hungry Bear registers are looking really cluttered.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

A Disneyland cat was making the rounds of the Hungry Bear dining area as I ate. It was begging for food from guests.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

The Bootstrappers were performing as I walked through New Orleans Square. Here are some clips.

As I mentioned earlier the Pirates bridge is closed due to treehouse work.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

The reason the bridge is closed -- the scaffolding takes up the walkway.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

The Space Mountain Restrooms have reopened.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

You can now buy Mickey popcorn buckets with prepackaged popcorn.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

One seagull is MIA this week.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Paid a visit to the skyway building.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Finally found one of the new cans. I spotted two, both near the corn dog truck.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

I returned to Disney California Adventure. The challenge trail is closed in the evenings now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

The swings are being re-assembled.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

One AP promotion this summer is a refillable popcorn bucket. It's $15 for the bucket and $1 for each refill.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Noticed the screen was not over Mickey tonight on the Fun Wheel, so there were no projections there during World of Color.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Instead they had them on the Screamin' loop.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

I opted to watch Disneyland Forever from the parking structure to avoid some of the congestion. This is from the Finding Nemo segment. With the trees gone you get an OK view.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Finally, here are the new park guides for the summer.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 27, 2016

Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, https://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.

May 28, 2016

Review: "Frozen--Live at the Hyperion"

jeaninebanner.jpg

A new show has taken residence at the Hyperion Theater in Disney California Adventure this summer: "Frozen--Live at the Hyperion."

[Photos and video not attributed were provided by Disney.]

PR2_5697%20%281%29.jpg

Taking the place of "Aladdin--A Musical Spectacular," which ran in the same venue for thirteen years, this production takes the hit animated film into the realm of live musical theater.

To translate the widely embraced tale of two sisters divided by fear and questionable parenting, Disney Creative Entertainment enlisted the Tony Award nominated Director Liesl Tommy to weave a large-scale production involving video projections, a 2,200 square foot video wall, and a cast and crew of more than 200. Michael Curry, who co-designed the animal puppets for "The Lion King" on Broadway created versions of Olaf and Sven in the same vein.

DSC05398.JPG

Technically, the production is gorgeous. The back video wall is so clear and high-definition that sitting in the first ten rows of the orchestra, it didn't even initially occur to me that it wasn't a practical backdrop. The 45,000 sq. ft. "Aurora" curtain surrounding the stage looks beautiful and allows the projections to surround the audience and create a sense of environment and motion that is far and away better than any use I've seen yet made of similar effects.

DSC05372.JPG

IMG_2981.JPG

The main set piece is Elsa's ice stairwell which allows her to walk out a little ways over the audience. It's an impressive structure and is used to greater effect than her ice chandelier which is pretty enough to be disappointing when it doesn't do a big "Phantom of the Opera" crash down.

DSC05400.JPG

DSC05399.JPG

The musical numbers, in many ways the strength of the original film, have justice done to them as all the Anderson-Lopez/Lopez songs are represented in the show. "For the First Time in Forever," "Love Is An Open Door," and "In Summer" in particular are expanded out into larger ensemble pieces to nice effect. While the music is all pre-recorded, the vocals are all performed live.

DSC05393.JPG

103 performers are used for the various performances, with a couple different actors switching out for the major roles throughout the day. From the three performances I saw, some were a little better vocally, and some had the edge as far as acting, but all did a very capable job. The standout in general for me was Olaf, all of whose actors/puppeteers really caught his quirky charm.

There would, I think, be little point in remaking an exact duplicate of the animated film on stage, and to their credit, this production does emphasize slightly different facets of the story while still adhering pretty closely to the original. The returning motif for this version is doors (of which they have seven different pairs)--the physical ones shut between the girls by their parents in childhood, and the emotional ones they must reopen to reconnect in a time of need.

DSC05378.JPG

Probably the weakest part of the production is, in fact, how near it keeps to the plot of the movie (which I originally reviewed here.) The resolution has always seemed rushed in parts with a lot owing to coincidence at the end. Here, because of practical limitations of time and scope, virtually all scenes with Elsa between her transformation and her reunion with Hans and Anna at the end are clipped to brief tableaus--if you blink, you might miss her capture which is barely even implied. While the Broadway production of "Frozen" currently in development is said to be completely separate from this, it's hard not to think that "Live at the Hyperion" isn't being used as something of a test, in which case one would hope that they would devise something different for these parts, that works better for stage.

PR2_5461.jpg

By this time, I think most people have figured out for themselves whether they are on the "Frozen" train or not. If the last two years have totally burnt you out on the movie, this is probably not going to convert you into an instant fan. If you still enjoy it, as I do, then this is a nice version that is technically a huge step forward from the erstwhile "Aladdin," and could be a terrific way for people to introduce themselves to live musical theater.

The first time I watched it in previews, the group behind me discussed beforehand how none of them had seen "Frozen" before (apparently not big animation fans.) Observing them cheer for Elsa as she begins to find her power, "OH SNAP" at the Hans reveal, and rise to their feet for a standing ovation at the end makes you think that after all this time, Elsa and Anna's story of fear, loss, empowerment, love, and redemption still has life in it.

DSC05408.JPG

"Frozen--Live at the Hyperion" runs 70 minutes and is currently playing three shows a day. Fast Pass ticketing recommended.

May 26, 2016

"Alice Through the Looking Glass" Press Junket

jeaninebanner.jpg

AliceThroughTheLookingGlass56c20221afcf7.jpg

On May 27, "Alice Through the Looking Glass," the sequel to Tim Burton's hit film "Alice in Wonderland" opens in theaters throughout the US.

[All non-attributed photos and video courtesy of Disney.]

As part of the recent appearances the cast and crew have been making to promote the movie's premiere, a press junket was held in Beverly Hills. In attendance was Anne (“The White Queen”) Hathaway, Mia (“Alice Kingsleigh”) Wasikowska, Director James Bobin, and Producer Suzanne Todd.

DSC04982.JPG

Some points of interest from the discussion:

DSC04984.JPG

Suzanne Todd on why she decided to make this sequel: "Well, it took us a long time now, after the first movie, to come up with an idea that we felt was worth taking on--as everyone here knows, these movies are very difficult to make. So we went back into the literature: We went back into what was so popular for 150 years, and themes came up that we were were interested in...that Linda Wolverton, the screenwriter, wanted to take on, and when James [Bobin] came on board, that he was interested in. And we really focused on what you see in the movie now, which is time, and the preciousness of time, and the importance of spending time with loved ones...and also what a pretty, kick-ass girl can do if she sets her mind to it! And she does!"

DSC04981.JPG

Mia Wasikowska on revisiting the character of Alice: "Yeah, it was great...at the beginning of this film she has been traveling around the world for the last two years, and she’s the captain of her own ship, so she’s coming from a very empowered place. I just love that she has this really strong sense of who she is, and despite the fact that expectations for her are really low when she returns to England, she’s able to hold onto that sense that she’s worth more than what other people want for her. Yeah, I think she’s great.”

DSC04979.JPG

Anne Hathaway on wearing the film's elaborate costumes: "You know, I thought that Colleen’s [Atwood] costume probably created my character. I knew I had had certain kind of incorrect ideas about who she was, and then as I found the dress I just thought, ‘oh, she’s air.’ I also started to think about the relationship between her and Helena [Bonham Carter] and I thought, if you have a family member who has a very very large personality, who has a lot of emotions, you compensate by taking up less space...and so I thought, ‘here’s somebody who’s turning herself into almost weightlessness.’ And yet, it’s still so ornamented, so I just thought it’s very rich and very airy..and that’s how I kind of came up with my airhead.”

DSC04974.JPG

James Bobin on how to make the new film distinct from the original, while still paying respect to it: "Of course we really owe a debt to Lewis Carroll...having Time be a person was of course Lewis Carroll’s idea. Lewis Carroll wrote in the book, when the Hatter meets Alice for the first time, ‘I’ve been stuck here since last March, when Time and I quarreled,’ so it’s kind of those bits. It’s basically trying to incorporate elements of Lewis Carroll, whilst maintaining a Tim [Burton] world, but then bringing something of what you think those things are."

DSC04978.JPG

Suzanne Todd on her first introduction to "Alice in Wonderland": "Growing up in California, I went to Disneyland and I rode the Alice ride! There are actually two Alice rides at Disneyland, there's Mad Tea Cups and there's an Alice's Adventures ride, and yes, as a very young girl I was, and still am, obsessed with Disney--not just Disneyland, but all Disney parks. They're the happiest places to be! After going on the Alice ride, I did get very interested and I did read the books and have a very literary reaction to it, but yes, it all started with the rides at Disneyland."

May 16, 2016

Disneyland Resort Updates - 5/13/16

laura%27s%20masthead%20copy2.jpg

Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, May 13, 2016.

Since Laura covered the re-opened and new attractions I will use this post to check in on the projects around the resort. This trip marked my 13th trip of the year, appropriately enough on Friday the 13th.

Let us start off with a check of the Star Wars construction. They have removed more backstage buildings since my last visit and it appears they have now done the initial demo work on all the buildings and the fence line/perimeter of the project is set. Here you can see the far end of it stretches all the way to the Winnie the Pooh show building.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

A short video overview of the site taken from the Mickey and Friends parking structure.





Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

Looking toward where the Big Thunder Ranch used to be. In the distance you can see the old Fantasyland Skyway building.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

There were several large earth movers cruising the site adding to the large mound of dirt on the former Circle D site.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

Another video clip of the site.

A large mound of dirt has been created on the former ranch site using the old berm and river banks dirt.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

Working on clearing the plants and other debris from the berm near Critter Country.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

A second Starbucks is slated to open this summer, it is being painted now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

The Monorail is closed for renovation.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

The House of Blues closes the end of the month.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

LittleMissMatched is gone and Chapel Hats has moved in.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

The closure list for today.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

Pirates is closed and rumor is FastPass is returning.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

From the bridge near Splash Mountain. In the distance you can see the parking structure where I took the earlier pictures.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

Looking through the fence.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

From the Hungry Bear.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

A video clip of the Star Wars work from the Hungry Bear.



Star Wars work from the Big Thunder Trail.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

A video clip from the Big Thunder Trail of the Star Wars work.



Big Thunder this afternoon.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

The Super Hero HQ sign has been removed.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

The Paradise Garden Grill closed several weeks ago, internet reporting is due to budget cutbacks around the resort.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

The swings are closed for renovation.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

Grizzly River Run is closed for renovation too. No signs of work going on, though.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

The Rambler had the tailgate open today.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

There was audio coming from the car too. Here is a video clip so you can hear the music playing.

Gone Hollywood has become a Star Wars and Marvel store.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

A look around. On the right when you enter is Marvel.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

On the left Star Wars

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

The Pixar Play Parade rolling by

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

The Studio Store in Hollywood Land now features some Alice & Dory merchandise.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

Zootopia has been removed from the Animation Building.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

The animation building was busy this afternoon.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

Soarin' will receive a new film on June 17th featuring global sights. In preparation for this the signage now sports the new logo and many California references have been removed over the past several months.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

Walked through Elias and Company. A lot of Finding Dory merchandise is available now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

Back to Disneyland. The restrooms at the Space Mountain exit are closed for renovation.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

Watched Paint the Night from Main Street.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

Found a spot for Disneyland Forever

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

Showtime

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, May 13, 2016

Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, https://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.







Page 1 of 5

Return to Blog Central

Categories