Update on The Magic

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Since I visit Walt Disney World a few times a year, I now begin a new EG feature where, at the conclusion of each Orlando Chronicle, I shall bring various news, updates, bits and reviews about the current state of things Disney.

There are two types of Orlando Chronicles these days.  There is the full blown-out Chronicle, which involves friends/chroniclers staying in a Disney resort, and there is the more family based Chronicle, which has me based at my moms house and usually involves some, but limited, park time.  This was the case with the just-completed OC30. However, it was not without it’s share of things worthy to report…

The Seas with Nemo & Friends has given me chills since i saw it in Cast Member previews back in October.  It is now even more of a welcome addition to WDW as its chill-inducing and technologically amazing climax ties in nicely with the all-new Finding Nemo: The Musical, which had its grand opening Jan 24th at Animal Kingdom. This attraction brings much-needed new themes to hum while exploring this park.Â

Kristen Anderson-Lopez and her husband, the Tony-winning composer for Broadway’s long-running puppet musical, Avenue Q, are just two of the theater peeps Disney has hired for “Nemo.” Also included are the artistic director of a Tony Award-winning regional theater, the Tony-nominated choreographer of Urinetown and the co-creator of the puppets and masks for The Lion King. All of them mixed it up to make a 30-minute musical out of Nemo, which was never intended to be one. A Disney first.

In Broadway news,
Disney was trying to keep their casting of the role of Ariel for the upcoming Bway production of The Little Mermaid under wraps until a big Broadway press conference before it’s preview bow this summer in Denver. Seems the father of 24 year old Sierra Boggess, who currently plays Christine in Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular, let it slip about his daughters casting. Mermaid begins its preview run at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater on Nov 3, 2007.

Which reminds me, I have to get tickets for the last Beauty and the Beast performance on July 29 ! If it’s anything like the last perfomance of Aida, it’s sure to be an emotionally packed show. I was there with Phil for the first show…here’s hoping he’ll join me for the last!

– In Walt Disney Pictures news, here’s an oddity that is so out of left field, it’s crazy enough to actually work…
Nic Cage IS Yensid!!

– This is the best!……

The multi award-winning team of Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey join forces with The Walt Disney Studios to set-up a new performance capture film company, it was jointly announced by Dick Cook, chairman, The Walt Disney Studios and producer/director Robert Zemeckis.
The company will create films using the performance capture technology, a technique of digitally recording actors’ movements that are fed into a computer allowing for the development of state-of-the-art 3D motion pictures.
Zemeckis, Rapke and Starkey will produce all of the films with Zemeckis expected to direct a number of the projects. The Walt Disney Studios will distribute and market the motion pictures worldwide.
In making the announcement Cook said, “The creation of this new company is yet another step in our leadership role in cutting edge technology as it relates to the movie industry.” Cook continued, “Bob is an amazing director who continues to push the envelope in creating the best in cinematic experiences. Along with his partners, Jack and Steve, they are one of the finest producing teams in the business. They have a real pulse on the future of motion pictures especially as it pertains to the creativity and technology of motion capture and 3D film experiences. They are true leaders in every sense of the word and we are proud to be partners with them in this new endeavor.”
Zemeckis added, “Jack, Steve and I are looking forward with great excitement to be working with Dick Cook and his team. In addition to being an enthusiastic champion of 3D movies, The Walt Disney Studios is committed to the advancement of digital cinema in all areas including performance capture.”

– The all new Disney.com launched on Feb 6, 2006. The Underdog teaser is now up over there. I loved it up until he opened his mouth.

– My sources tell me that Disney is waiting for any publicity for Pirates III until they release a trailer in March. They are weary of overexposure. I for one think this a great move, especially in this day and age of give-it-all-up trailers just to pack ’em in on that opening weekend. If i were running the show i would only release a teaser in March. Just a snippet of Jack and his Dad and smash to the logo and the date. It’s all they need. The more surprises left to opening night the better, I say!

– Back to park news, my sources tell me that Star Wars Weekends will be held entirely in June this year, not to overlap with Celebration IV taking place in May. No word yet on the guests or if Warwick is back as our host.

– California Adventure is about to get an awesome thing. Muppet Mobile Labs. The second fully mobile audio-animatronic character. Berg met the first, Lucky the Dinosaur, and cannot wait to encounter Beeker this May!

– I was denied my first look at the all-new evolved characters. Seems they are not always in their “evolved” state at this early stage. This was the biggest let-down of the week. However, I did get to see WDW’s first full size Tink during the special parade for their Pirates & Princess’ Party which I attended while down there. While my first thought was that a “human” Tink would be better portrayed by a little person, i was soon won over by her enthusiasm!

– Another attraction that will have to wait until June’s OC31 is The Monsters, Inc. The Laugh Floor Comedy Club in Tomorrowland, which replaces the good ol’ Timekeeper. This was to be in previews but will be delayed a few months so that Walt Disney Imagineering can make “adjustments”..which translates to the need for jokes that are actually…funny.

Says WDW’s press release…
The delay will give staff members a chance for more training in the complex technology being used, and writers a chance to re-script parts of the show based on audience feedback, he said. Chris Eliopoulos, who was in one test audience, said he thought the overall structure was sound and the crowd found the technology exciting, but the humor was a bit flat and the jokes didn’t hit their marks.

Hopefully, Mike & Sully will make Berg laugh it up when he catches them during OC31 in June during his annual Star Wars Weekends visit to Orlando. Â See you then!