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December 2015 Archives

December 1, 2015

"Zootopia" Press Day, Part 1

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Earlier this year, Walt Disney Animation Studios gave us a sneak peek at some of the work they've been doing on their 55th animated feature, "Zootopia."

[All photos and video provided by Disney]

"Zootopia" tells the story of Judy (Ginnifer Goodwin) Hopps--a bunny from out-of-town, whose dream is to come to the big city of Zootopia and become the first bunny on the police force. Unfortunately, this proves more difficult than she anticipated, when the larger, more predatory animals on the force relegate her to the position of meter maid.

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Still determined to do the best job she can, Hopps pursues her job with enthusiasm until she runs afowl of Nick (Jason Bateman) Wilde: A con artist fox with more angles than a dodecahedron.

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When Judy's big (and only) chance to become a real police officer ends up depending on getting Nick's cooperation to solve a dangerous case, Judy's determination and Nick's wits will be tested to the utmost.

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On the way to untangling Judy's case, the two unwilling allies also abut ideologies--Nick's fatalistic view that each animal's position in the natural order of things is immutable, and Judy's optimistic belief that in Zootopia, no matter what you are, you can be anything.

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In the next installment, we'll look at the Walt Disney Animation Studios Tujunga Campus, where filmmakers Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush, Clark Spencer, and many other talented animators shared insight into the detailed research and development they did for "Zootopia."

December 12, 2015

"Zootopia" Press Day, Part 2

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So this last October, Walt Disney Animation Studios invited us in to their studios to see and hear about their upcoming 55th animated feature, "Zootopia."

[Photos provided by Disney.]

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The day started off with a presentation of some footage by Directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore, and Producer Clark Spencer.

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Clark Spencer: [On the four ingredients in every movie WDAS makes] "First, we strive to tell timeless stories for today's audiences. Second, we make these movies to be entertaining for all ages around the world. Third, our films must contain a combination of both great humor and deep emotion; and fourth, these films must live up to the standard of Walt Disney--after all, his name is on each and every one of these movies."

[On the genesis of Byron Howard's concept for Zootopia] "...One day he came up with the idea of an all-animal city named "Zootopia." When he pitched it to John Lasseter, John literally picked Byron up and hugged him--true story. John had always wanted to do a talking animal film and he was so excited to return to this great legacy. But he charged Byron and the team with one very important thing: He said we have to make an animal movie that no one has seen before. And that's been our mantra on this film as we've been making it."

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Byron Howard & Rich Moore
: [On the construction of Zootopia] "Zootopia had to be built for every size animal and safety was a big concern for us--mice had to be able to cross the street safely near elephants and rhinoceroses...hotel beds have to safely and comfortably accomodate a rhino, an elephant, a fox or a mouse or a shrew..."

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"...For desert animals, this is Sahara Square, a huge desert area which is hot and dry. It's kind of like an upscale Dubai or Monte Carlo with lots of casinos and high-end shops--just glitz through the roof. We actually took a research trip to Vegas..."

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"...Tundra Town, where the cold weather animals live like polar bears, moose, and arctic shrews, and the cool thing about this is that they have coolers and refrigerated coolant under the sidewalks to keep it cold, they have something called a 3 o'clock blizzard...and lucky for us, we get to reuse a lot of that snow from 'Frozen!'"


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"And then there's the Rainforest District...where it's wet and humid....And the question was, and this all goes back to research, how do you get a Tundra and a Desert into one city?...We talked to people who were experts in air conditioning and they said if you had enough money and determination, and these animals do, you could build a massive air conditioning and heating wall that stretches across the city."

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"And there's also in town a little itty bitty neighborhood called 'Little Rodentia'...and there is Bunny Burrows which has millions and millions and millions of adorable super-cute bunnies."

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[On casting Shakira as Gazelle] "...(After the pitch) she walked up and said 'I love it guys, I hope you guys keep me on the list and I hope you call me,' we're all like 'NO NO NO, IT'S JUST YOU, THERE'S NO ONE ELSE ON THE LIST,' and so she said 'oh, well then I'm in,' and it was like the shortest meeting, the shortest deal in Hollywood history."

[On having a moral vs. becoming preachy] "We never want to preach...what we like to do is to take an issue and examine it, and not try to beat it over the audience's head...What I take away from this film, if there's a message, a moral, or a theme to it, it's that you define you. The world has opinions, of who you are, but you ultimately define yourself, not the world....What we always discussed in creating this story is...we're going to give Judy this mantra, that "anyone can be anything," and we are going to test it for three acts of a film, and how are we going to have her walk away from this thing?...Personally, that's what I take away from this film."

Next time: We hear from the specific animation departments involved in creating the world and denizens of Zootopia.

December 16, 2015

Review: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"

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"You sure you're up for this?"
"Hell, no."
--Han Solo and Finn

Opening this week is what must surely be one of the most anticipated films of recent history: The latest installment of the evergreen Star Wars saga, "The Force Awakens."

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Set a few decades after the events of "Return of the Jedi," this story revolves around the increasingly powerful First Order--a military organization based around the glorification of the now-fallen Galactic Empire that seeks to once again subject the galaxy to oppressive domination.

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Rising up to stop them is the Resistance--a new version of the Rebel Alliance--led by General Leia Organa. In an effort to gain an advantage in their struggle, one of their best pilots is sent on a daring mission to uncover the location of a lost asset. Captured by a team from the First Order, headed by powerful Force Sensitive Kylo Ren, Poe Dameron manages to hide the map in a small droid who takes off into the Jakku desert in search of help.

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Along the way, BB-8 will pick up a scavenger...

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An ex-stormtrooper...

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And who knows who else? Along the way there are traumatic separations, gallant rescues, touching reunions, and a whole lot of explosions, as you'd expect from a Star Wars film.

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Director JJ Abrams parallels "A New Hope" pretty closely in some regards, but is savvy enough to realize that today's audiences would have difficulty viewing the stark good-vs-evil space conflicts with the same naiveté as they did in the 1970s. Here, an effort has been made to ensure all characters have layered motivations and mixed impulses--which sometimes robs the Dark Side of the almost absolute menace Darth Vader illustrated so well.

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Of the new characters, Daisy Ridley does an excellent job with Rey, making her both strong and self-sufficient, without turning her into a dour Lara Croft. John Boyega invests Finn with a light sense of humor that plays well off of the others.

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As far as the villains Kylo (Adam Driver) Ren and General (Domhnall Gleeson) Hux go, they get the slightly more challenging part of trying to jockey for favor from the CGI Supreme (Andy Serkis) Leader (Captain EO anybody?) There's little denying that Serkis is the King of Motion Capture, but I'm not sure if he's solely the reason I kept wondering why Gollum was running the First Order.

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The three major returning cast members look great and are used to good effect throughout the film. Although the storyline is definitely centered around the new cast, the legacy cast serves to ground the film in Star Wars history and lends it a depth it would certainly not have had without them.

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While the plot is action-filled and stuffed with enough references and winks to the original films to satisfy any long-time fan, I found the first half to be stronger overall. The introduction of the new characters and their escape from the First Order feels both exciting and fresh. The second half, in which a lot of conflicts resolve in somewhat predictable ways, seems a little familiar. The fact that the story is also clearly meant to continue from film to film gives it something of a serialized air.

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At the end of the day, however, none of that really matters: This is Star Wars...or as close to it as we've come since 1983. It looks great and it feels authentic. If you weren't a fan before, you'd be hard-pressed not to be a fan by the time you leave.

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"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is presented by Lucasfilm and directed by J.J. Abrams. Rated PG-13, it stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Max Von Sydow.

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"Aren't you Han Solo?" "I used to be."

Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk are producing with Tommy Harper
and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” releases in U.S. theaters on December 18, 2015.

December 19, 2015

Disneyland Resort - Super Hero HQ

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks featuring a look at the Super Hero HQ in the Tomorrowland Expo Center (formerly Innoventions). This space re-opened on Monday 11/16 and is located on the upper floor. The ground floor is the Star Wars Launch Bay.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

Looking at the central core from near the VAULT area. To the right is the gift shop to my left is Iron Man and Thor. Behind me the VAULT with Spider-Man.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015
The V.A.U.L.T. is currently hosting Spider-Man. It was about half an hour to meet him this afternoon..
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015
Interesting the props are from Ant Man and Guardians of the Galaxy though. Hints of future meet and greets?
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015
A look around the gift shop which is in the former ASIMO space.   
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015   
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015  
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Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

D-Tech On Demand smart phone cases are available.
  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  
I found this sign very interesting. Notice the characters it highlights. Hints of things to come? None of these are currently meeting...right now it is Thor and Spider-Man.

  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015



Moving on..



Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015  

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015  

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  

Looks like more to come...a sign but nothing in the space.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015


The Microsoft video game area is still here. Some new signage and colors.

  

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015
  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015

  
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Iron Man area remains just as it was before  

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015


The Thor exhibits and meet and greet are still the same.  

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, November 20, 2015



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, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.








December 22, 2015

Disneyland Resort - 12/18/15 - Aladdin Emporium Window

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, December 18, 2015.

The final new Emporium window on Main Street USA has been unveiled and it features a scene from Aladdin. The scene starts off with the magic lamp.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

Aladdin approaches the lamp.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015
Jafar watches from the entrance to the cave.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015
Abu reaching for a jewel and Carpet trying to stop him as Aladdin rubs the lamp and the magic is released.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015
The Genie appears
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015
Abu gets his jewel.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015
Video of the full sequence of the new Aladdin window.

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, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.







December 23, 2015

Disneyland Resort - 12/18/15

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, December 18, 2015.


The tram/vehicle support facility is moving along in the Pinocchio lot.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015



The signs in the garage and at the tram stop have been updated to have the new security policies on them and not just the selfie stick ban like before.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015



The big news story this week is the addition of metal detectors. There were several at all entrances to the resort and guests were randomly being selected to walk through them.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

As you entered Cast Members were passing out commemorative pins for Star Wars: the Force Awakens.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015



The last Emporium window has been unveiled. It features Aladdin. I have a separate post here on AllEars.net looking at the window.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

I went for a cruise on Small World Holiday to start my day and we were stuck for about 15 minutes in the US scene right before the finale. For the first 5 minutes the music played then they muted it for us. Here is a video clip with the music on.



Here is a video clip with the music muted.. so you could hear the dolls' movement.





I caught the Dapper Dans performing at Refreshment Corner.


The Hook and Ladder Co was out so stopped for their set too since I was in no hurry.



A couple video clips from the Hook & Ladder performance including Cruella de Vil and Chip & Dale.





At Disney California Adventure, for the final weeks of Aladdin they are offering FastPass using these mobile units to distribute them.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

No visible progress on Luigi's from ground level. Thought they may open for the holiday rush.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

Tough to Be A Bug has returned as the Good Dinosaur preview has ended.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

The Cove Bar expansion appears to be just about ready to open.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015




From across the water way near the Screamin launch.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

While walking through Grizzly Recreation Area noticed the Christmas decorations were lit up today. They were not my last trip.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015
Work continues on the restroom facade.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

Arrived back in Disneyland as the 3:15pm parade was making its way through Town Square. So traffic was bottled up.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

Walked through the Launch Bay, nothing was going on. Waits for Star Wars characters were 30 minutes, Spider-Man upstairs 20 minutes.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015


They did give me a Aurebesh Decoder upon entering.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015



There's a new version of the Jedi Training Academy: Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. The Jedi Master and recruits prepare.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015


The temple rises.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015


Darth Vader comes out to try to convince them to join the dark side.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015


Seventh Sister from Star Wars Rebels joins in. Darth Maul is no longer part of the show.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

After the Jedi Training the Tomorrowland Terrace dance floor is roped off and not in use the last 7 hours of the Disneyland operating day.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

Time for a night cruise on the Mark Twain. Our Captain working the spot light.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

Main Street after the 5:45pm Paint the Night Parade, a large number of guests were exiting after the parade (the crowd on the left).


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015



The lights in the trees look great this year.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

Next stop Grizzly Peak Recreation area. I was really disappointed with how these pictures came out. The jars look substantially better in person and my pictures do not do them justice at all.



Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015



The lights were on for the Cove Bar expansion this evening.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

The Tweedles were MIA tonight at the Mad T Party.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015


A Star Wars window in World of Disney.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015


The D-Street window features Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015

The AMC theater has extra security now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015



As does the Monorail entrance.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015


D-Street features mostly Star Wars merchandise now. Surprised they did not rename it like they did the one in Orlando to Galactic Outpost.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015


A quick look inside.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015



There was some Vinylmation and other merchandise toward the back.


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, December 18, 2015



A group of Carolers performing, several video clips from their performance. They opened with Star Wars and the set included Frozen. In between those Christmas carols.


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, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.









December 28, 2015

A Tour of Walt Disney's Office Suite

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Earlier this month, the Walt Disney Archives (WDA) unveiled the recently-restored suite of offices used by Walt Disney at the Walt Disney Studios.

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As part of the 75th anniversary of the Studio, the WDA seized the opportunity to renovate and restore Walt Disney's original offices to the state he left them, back in 1966. As a permanent exhibit, it is a tribute to Walt Disney and a fascinating look into the working environment he personally shaped for himself.

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The first of the four room suite is Walt's secretary's office, featuring her desk and filing cabinet, and an impressive award cabinet.

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The various items are a mix of originals, reproductions, and occasional props from "Saving Mr. Banks." The displayed specialty honorary award Walt received for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is one such prop.

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Moving on into Walt's formal office, one is struck by a variety of toys and figurines decorating the shelves, most of which were apparently gifts. As the place where he would commonly meet with dignitaries or heads of companies, the furniture is impressive, without being ostentatious.

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While the desk side of the room had been reproduced earlier as part of the exhibit installed in the 70s for "The Walt Disney Story Featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln," the opposite side (where the audience would have been) was a completely new recreation.

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In the corner sits the grand piano where the Sherman Brothers used to play "Feed the Birds" whenever Walt's mood required it.

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The third room was Walt's working office--where he read scripts and met with his Imagineers and planned out the future.

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[Photo by Disney]

The contents of his desk have been ordered as exactly as possible to the way Dave Smith inventoried it when he started the Archives in 1970.

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On the opposite wall are large photos and schematics of his future plans for both Disneyland and EPCOT.

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The far wall, as also seen in "Saving Mr. Banks," has sliding doors that retract to reveal Walt's kitchen, complete with some of his favorite foods.

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Finally, the fourth room was used as Walt's private quarters. As few people ever saw the inside of that room, barring his immediate family and the Disney Studio Nurse, Hazel George, this room was not recreated, and only a photo of it shows what it used to look like.

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Instead, the room has been refashioned into a rotating exhibit space. This first exhibit is dedicated to Kem Weber--an architect who was a major influence on the Streamline Moderne look of the studio, down to designing the furniture and the font used throughout.

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A last case in this room also holds a small assortment of Walt Disney's personal effects.

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For a more in-depth view of the suite, I invite you to check out the video I took of the tour Chief Archivist Becky Cline gave to us, assisted by Disney Legend Bob Gurr and Archivist Kevin Kern.

If you have any interest in Walt Disney, I think this is a great opportunity to peer into a snapshot of time when he was arguably at the height of his powers and involved in so many projects that could have been so influential to the world around him. If your interest goes way past the common into fascination/hero worship like mine, then this is a remarkable experience to see the things with which Walt chose to surround himself; to stand where he must have stood; and to look out on the vistas he must have contemplated while devising all the myriad creations that continue to bring joy to so many worldwide.

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On January 29, 2016, D23 is offering a special tour of Walt's offices with presentation and dinner at the Disney favorite, Tam O'Shanter. Details can be found at https://d23.com/d23-event/d23-behind-scenes-experience-walt-disneys-office-suite/ Tickets will go on sale January 4, 2016. Subsequent Studio tours will take place on April 9th, June 25th, and November 19th.

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About December 2015

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in December 2015. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2015 is the previous archive.

January 2016 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.