Friday, October 24, 2014

Mousey Movie Preview - Avengers: Age of Ultron Teaser Trailer


During the credits for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. it was announced that the world premier of the first Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer would be played the following week.  Instead it was leaked 6 days earlier and Disney reacted by providing the full HD version of the trailer online.


My initial reactions are:
  • Ultron is scary and this movie feels darker than the original.
  • Disney fan freak out moment, I hope they keep the ties to a Disney animated classic in the soundtrack and dialogue.
  • I want to see this right now!
  • I loved Disney/Marvel's reaction, Hydra leaked it!

With nearly 30,000,000 views at the time of this posting, I am thinking I am not the only one who wants to see this.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Between Books - The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion


When I was in college one particular professor was my role model.  He was knowledgeable, but also allowed himself to have some fun. He could communicate clearly with little confusion.  He spoke about facts and let rumors and off-hand stories be heard but clearly noted for what they were.  I think this is why I have come to respect Jeff Baham for his work on the Haunted Mansion.  He knows the gossip around the attraction, but he also labels it for what it is.  And his own quest to find more truth about the Mansion has helped uncover lost history behind the famous Walt Disney attraction.  And these new truths are one he has been able to communicate in an easy to understand manner. 

The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion by Jeff Baham is a comprehensive history of the world famous Haunted Mansion.  Baham starts his tale decades before ground was broken in Disneyland, discussing the haunted houses and theme parks that Walt Disney would have been exposed to especially in Kansas City.  The story heats up in the 1950s as Walt Disney builds his first theme park and plans for a Ghost House within his new adventure.  Baham next outlines the evolution of the concept as the Ghost House was transformed from a walking attraction to the Omnimover driven dark ride we have today.  In describing the concept evolution he details the roles of Imagineers such as Ken Anderson, Rolly Crump, Yale Gracey, Mark Davis, Claude Coats and X. Atencio including their disagreements and rivalries.  Much of the inside story follows Crump's tale, with the Imagineer also writing the Foreword.  After developing the ride, Baham takes his readers for a tour through the Haunted Mansion discussing history and variances between different versions.  And finally he provide an Appendix focused on Haunted Mansion themed merchandise.  

I am going to sneak in my two nit picky issues while also pointing out how much I like this title.  First, I really wish that an index was included.  Luckily, this is a short book under 150 pages so it is easy to scan through.  But it is both well-written and filled with excellent history of the Haunted Mansion.  In fact, as Haunted Mansion history evolves it is likely the most complete to date with the inclusion of the Sauer "Castle" and discussions of the homes that inspired the facades of both American Haunted Mansions.  But an index would be such a nice tool for younger researchers who might want to dig into the design story of the attraction.  Second, I wish there was a conclusion from Baham about his thoughts on Haunted Mansion history.  The text as is feels like it abruptly stops with the attraction walk through and then merchandise.  I think it is fair to say that Baham knows more than the typical Disney fan about the Haunted Mansion.  And this deep knowledge and understanding comes out in his very easy to read informative text.  But I would have loved to see his reflections on either the Haunted Mansion or his own personal quest to fully document the Mansion in great detail.  Yes, it may not have added to the facts.  But I feel it would have been a more than fair addition, especially since my experiences listening to his Mousetaliga podcast have shown him to have great insight into Disney history.

Let us be honest, I complain only because I enjoyed this book so much.  And these are really minor quibbles.  

Then there is the ghost in the room, what if you bought Baham's first Haunted Mansion book, An Unofficial History of Disney's Haunted Mansion?  Do you buy the second one?  Baham in interviews makes it clear there is new material and reorganized material.  There are at least 20 additional pages in the newer book.  And it seems to me that there are less images in the updated book, which means there is even more text.  Additionally the new book's page size is around half an inch bigger.  All of this means again more content!  And the content includes greater discussion of Walt Disney and the people who made the attraction.  Another difference is images.  The pictures found in the updated history are sharper and clearer.  If you are considering purchasing between the new history and the older Baham history I would select the newer one just due to the influx of new content.  And if you have the old Baham book, buy the new one too because you are clearly a big Haunted Mansion fan!

When I heard that Jaff Baham was going to be working with a publisher to offer a new updated Haunted Mansion history, I got excited.  Since I heard it mentioned on his podcasts, I have kept this book on my radar despite having reader the earlier book.  The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion is a must have for Disney book fans, Haunted Mansion fans and parks fans.  It is well written, well produced and filled with fact about one of the most storied Disney attractions of all time.  It is clear for Baham that the Haunted Mansion is a passion.  We are just lucky he is willing to share the vast history he has uncovered. 


Review Copy Provided by Theme Park Press

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mousey Movie Preview - Inside Out's First Trailer



Disney/Pixar's Inside Out recently got it's first trailer so we can start getting ready for my birthday 2015 weekend plans!



Here are my first thoughts?
  • It very much seems like Tron in your brain!
  • Like most Disney trailers recently, we are being reminded of past hits instead of giving us a ton of insight into this film.
  • I like the poster, it reminds me of Epcot!
  • I do enjoy Aerosmith's  "Sweet Emotion"!
 What do you think?  Are you excited Betweenland?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Between Books - Death in the Tragic Kingdom




This morning I was overloaded as I commuted to work. I had my book bag, my lunch, and a really heavy bag of stuff for a presentation. The big bag was making me a little wobbly. So as I walked up to a train platform and found myself walking into the yellow warning area closest to the tracks, I wanted to yell, “come on people, I don’t want to have an accident here.” You see I am at the moment a little hyper-aware of what a simple little fall can do after reading Death in the Tragic Kingdom.

Death in the Tragic Kingdom: The Unauthorized Walking Tour Through the Haunted and Fatal History of Disney Parks by Keaton Moll walks readers through the unfortunate early deaths of cast members and guests in Disney theme parks and the cruise line. The majority of cases consist of a short paragraph. Where newspaper articles and court documents exist, the descriptions of the events are longer. Moll takes his readers through these incidents like a tour guide, walking us through Disney property as we move from death to death. Along with accounts of death, Moll provides information about the urban legends of Disney hauntings. The book ends with a series of maps where one could follow the events of the book as a walking tour.

Moll’s tone is non-judgmental. He explains how deaths occur but generally does not pass judgment. He makes sure to explain that deaths at Disney are inevitable. The parks are cities! Just due to numbers of cast members and visitors, accidents and natural causes will lead to unexpected deaths. He does note some bad maintenance practices that have attributed to deaths in the past. But generally he assumes good will on Disney’s behalf. There are a few typos, but the do not interfere greatly with the experience. My only real complaint about Moll’s writing is that transitions for me are not always clear, but that could be an issue of spacing.

I do not like scary. When it comes to ghost stories, he passes the story along but makes it clear with some stories that he has trouble believing them. Moll makes it clear many of the ghost stories he shares are of a likely fictional nature, though he does share his own creep out moment. But I will say as I read this book I could feel goose bumps on the back of my neck. Honestly, I love these places he discusses. And the idea of any of these locations being haunted creeps me out a bit. But there are plenty of people who like a good scare!

Here is what I have learned from Moll. And honestly these are probably lessons Disney would like us to take note of. Though this is the type of book they would never endorse. Do not get out of your ride vehicle unless a cast member authorizes it. If Disney puts up a sign that states do not enter, don’t! And slipping and falling creates unsafe situations everywhere. Sadly another lesson is that some people chose the happiest place on Earth for their final resting place.

Death in the Tragic Kingdom outlines a piece of Disney history we rarely discuss, death. Keaton Moll provides us locations and stories on how these often sad events occurred. Additionally, he shares Disney’s ghost stories. For me, the last few days I have been careful of where my feet have been taking me. If a surface looks slick, I am going to step carefully. And as I walk with my headphones blaring a Disney podcasts in my ears I am paying more attention to traffic. Because if an accident can take me in my favorite parks, it could easily happen on my commute!



Review Copy Provided by Theme Park Press

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mousey Movie Trailer - Tomorrowland's First Trailer


We have been awaiting a peek for Disney's Tomorrowland for awhile.  And then suddenly boom, there it was on the internet!
Yes, I would like to go there now!  And Yes if I was Disney adjacent I could go there now!  

I think Disney will be selling a lot of pins to non-pin traders in the future!

And for the first time in a long time, a Disney trailer got me excited!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Between Books - Star Wars: A New Dawn




Disney has made it clear that with the purchase of LucasFilm we have a whole new Star Wars. The old Expanded Universe now has Legend status. All new books are considered to be canon for LucasFilm storytellers. Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller is on the vanguard of that new canon while also introducing fans to Kanan and Hera, two heroes from Star Wars: Rebels.

Kanan Jarrus has a secret. He is in fact a former Jedi on the run from the Empire after the purge of the Jedi order. He has hidden himself for years wandering the galaxy staying away from the attention of the Empire and their Jedi hunters. Kanan prepares to leave his job hauling explosives to mine the strategically important thorilide, used to stabilize a key component of Imperial warships, and slip yet again into another new life. His plans to slip away are interrupted by the arrival of two newcomers. Count Vidian, an Imperial industrial magnate and advisor to the Emperor, has been sent to improve operations of Gorse the refinery world, and Cyndathe mineral rich world. Vidian’s operations directly impact the lives of the few beings that Kanan cares about. Vidian arrives at the same time as Hera, a attractive Twi’lek seeking information about the Empire’s operations and any dissent that they may cause. Hera and Kanan become unlikely partners as the two attempt to thwart Vidian’s plans for Cynda and the horrible impact on Gorse.

I found Star Wars: A New Dawn an easy read. The biggest struggle is the fact that except for the mentioned but not present Emperor all these characters are new. So I have no relationship with them. I will say that was fine since I wanted to use this Between Book as an introduction to Star Wars: Rebels. But some may find it difficult since they are new faces. For me I do feel more ready for Star Wars: Rebels since I understand the tension in the Kanan/Hera relationship, they both clearly like like each other. However, there is still plenty of tension as Hera is not looking for romance. And I got to watch them grow into a division of labor I expect we will see on the television; Hera gets ideas but Kanan implements them. The book was not my favorite Star Wars book, but I still find it worth the read. The story is small, it’s only life and death for one system! But it is also nice to not have the entire galaxy on the line for once!

I think a big win for Jackson Miller is that when I read I see Kanan as Freddie Prinz Jr. I do not yet picture the animated version but a live action hero. But I hear the voice actor’s voice and even see his face when Kanan talks.

No attachments was a Jedi maxim. Because of this, Jedi make great fugitives. The power of attachments and relationships is a big theme in this book. For Count Vidian a lack of attachments makes him vicious. But for Kanan developing attachments allows him to rechannel the heroic part of his personality. And despite the fact Kanan is a drifter, everyone notices he is a good man even if he does not see it. I look forward to seeing how this personality growth works out on the show since he will be mentoring another. Will he instantly be the good man, or will he start by being a little rough around the edges?

I think if you read Star Wars books, you need to pick up Star Wars: A New Dawn. If you are interested in the animated series, as I am, I would say it is a read you might want to jump into. But for Disney fans not interested in LucasFilm, you can probably pass. Now I am excited about Star Wars and how Disney will continue to roll out and built the new toy. And I would say Star Wars: A New Dawn has me hopeful about some new personalities in a growing universe.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cap's Comics - Figment #5



I can truly say that Figment #5's last page is one that delights.  As I read it to the Between Kids, because they fought about who got to experience it first and so a family read was the only way to break the tie, a large whoop of excitement rang out as we flipped to the last brilliant full page panel  with art by Filipe Andrade and colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu.  It is a true payoff to the entire Disney Kingdom's comic series, one that will tickle even the non-comic Disney fan!

Jim Zub completes his origin of Dreamfinder and Figment in 'Journey Into Imagination Part Five."  Blarion and Figment return to London with Chimera and Fye in tow.  But London is now falling under the control of the orderly Clockwork Control and its robotic leader the Singular.  A physically, intellectually and spiritually changed Blarion has become someone new.  He is the Dreamfinder.  Dreamfinder uses his control of Dreams and his newly created Dream Machine to fight Clockwork Control for London, or Lon-don.  The cost of battling Clockwork Control in the end could be a high one, one that could lead some of our heroes starting a new journey.

Figment has been wonderful.  And I say that as a guy who does not obsess about Figment and Dreamfinder.  The Between Tween has fond memories of Figment from our last trip to Walt Disney World...over 5 years ago!  And for the Tween it has been nostalgia (yes I am aware some of you are shocked by this).  But for the Between Kid it has been an first introduction to Figment, which might lead to the question of where's Dreamfinder in the future?  And it is Dreamfinder that we get in this final issue, complete with the traditional model we would expect.  I am guessing that both will be tickled in the future when they find the Dream Machine hidden in Epcot!  Zub and his team have introduced a whole new batch of fans to this classic Disney characters.

As an adult Disney fan I find myself now placing Figment higher on my like list.  But that is an emotional response.  You see, I was able to share a comic book with my kids.  We all talked about the story.  I got to read it with them.  And I loved the excitement when I would come home with the newest issue.  This is a major win for a comic fan dad.  The fighting was appropriate.  The costumes were not skin-tight.  I got to share with my kids the fun.  And is not something that would have made Walt Disney happy?

At this time Disney Kingdoms has not announced the next journey.  I will say I think Zub and Andrade should be approached about another chapter!  Dreams are big and as endless as imagination.  And I feel there is more story to tell.  The Between Kids want more story.  And I want to share more with them.

Figment has been a major success in Betweenland.  I have discussed comics with Disney fans who do not read comics.  I got myself a pull list!  And I am just one of a few that would love to see and read more!