Friday, March 30, 2012

Dreamin' Disney - Googlin'

Betweenland is often cold, wet, dark, and too white as everything is covered with ice and snow.  Seriously, you can sled on a frozen towel in Betweenland.
Then it becomes brown and mucky and too wet.  For awhile it is pristine and green.  But shortly after Betweenland becomes so hot that you have to eat your ice cream so fast you always get a ice cream headache.  Yeah, living in Betweenland can be rough sometimes!
But there is a place where the weather is perfect.  There is a place where there is just enough snow and sun and everyday is just right.  Of course, I am referring to one of my favorite all time Disney rides, Soarin’ Over California.  Every time I queue up and carefully observe my flight attendant Patrick and his instructions, I know I am going to a place where everything is going to be beautiful with the perfect soundtrack for the moment. 
But alas I can’t duplicate this perfection at home.  Well, until now.  Glen Whelan, a Disney enthusiast familiar to fans of WDW Radio, has created Googlin’.  Googlin’ uses the soundtrack and video from the ride and images from Google Earth to provide riders in Betweenland a Soarin’ experience.   Visually, it's not a crisp HD presentation, but it is a fun diversion on a Betweenland afternoon.  But then I also insist on blowing up the video and trying to dip my toes through the river on the screen.   

Thanks to Googlin’, Glen has given us one more way to escape Betweenland and tour a California more prefect than our reality. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mousey Movies - The Avengers Primer

With John Carter behind us we move onto Disney’s guaranteed blockbuster, The Avengers.  Disney you say, why yes, yes it is.  Though we find Marvel characters and rides in Universal Studios Orlando, Disney owns the Marvel universe.  If you question whether or not the Avengers or Marvel is part of the Disney family, prepare yourself for an Avengers monorail wrap much like we saw with Tron Legacy.  Disney may not be able to host Iron Man or Captain America meet and greets in the parks due to the Universal contract, but the Marvel presence is soon to be evident in our favorite vacation spots.  Bob Iger at the 2012 Annual Meeting stated that there are plans to introduce Marvel characters into the theme parks.    
Captain America is Ready to Meet You, But Not at Walt Disney World!

As a kid who grew up reading The X-Men, The Amazing Spiderman, and the occasional Avengers I have been excited about what I have informally referred to as the “Avengers Project” for over five years.  And after Disney bought Marvel after the project kicked off, my interest went straight through the roof. 
Development of The Avengers actually started in 2005, years before Disney purchased Marvel Comics.  So in many ways, Disney inherited a string of blockbusters.  The concept was to release several Marvel hero movies and then have then all wrap together into one movie that included the stars of the previous films.  The connective tissue was a initially minor character, Nick Fury.  Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson in the Avenger movies, is the longtime director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (The Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division) a government agency working to ensure the overall security of the United States.  S.H.I.E.L.D. would appear first in 2008’s Iron Man in Agent Coulson, brilliantly played by Clark Gregg, but Fury would not appear until a short interaction with Tony Stark after the credits!  Though the role of Nick Fury was expanded in some future offerings, especially Iron Man 2, Fury has largely been a secondary plot point which guided viewers forward to this year’s The Avengers.  The following are quick summaries of the movies to date leading to The Avengers including which major characters key to the plot of The Avengers are introduced, as we know it to date:

Iron Man (2008) 
·        The audience is introduced to billionaire playboy and arms manufacturer Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr.  Kidnapped in a foreign land the genius Stark develops the Iron Man suit of armor.  Stark struggles with balancing his own personal failings with becoming a public superhero and fights to save his technology and company from falling into the hands of his business partner and mentor turned bad.
·         S.H.I.E.L.D. comes out of the shadows to discuss with Tony the implications of his technically advanced suit of armor.  Agent Phil Coulson is charged with investigating the Iron Man technology.  The unintimating Coulson proves to be more than a man in a suit but an ally in Stark’s struggle to control his invention.
·         Nick Fury after the credits visits Stark on a recruiting visit to work with S.H.I.E.L.D.  

·         In this semi-sequel to the 2003 Hulk, Doctor Bruce Banner, played by Edward Norton, struggles with overcoming the Gamma radiation poisoning that turns the bookish scientist into the mindless and destructive Hulk.  Norton taking over the role from Eric Bana, plays a more cerebral Banner and is a character more familiar to fans of the 1970’s Bill Bixby The Incredible Hulk, than a smash everything brute. 
·         A cameo from Tony Stark after the credits notes that a team is being put together. 
·         Honestly this is the one Avengers movie that I have never watched more than once.  So I think many forgot its role in moving forward the Avengers story. 
·         Norton is replaced as Bruce Banner/Hulk by Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers.  In my opinion, Ruffalo’s appearance appears to be in the brainy Banner mold, not the hunkish and rock hard action hero.  
Iron Man 2 (2010)
·         Iron Man 2 was released after the Disney acquisition of Marvel and was promoted heavily by the Walt Disney Company as seen by the merchandise found in places like the Disney Store. 
·         Tony Stark returns and seriously loses his mojo as he faces death due to a heart defect.  He is also confronted by business rivals and a new villain that insists that Stark’s business and personal life should be his own.
·         Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, with the aid of Agent Coulson put Stark on a path to hopefully restore Tony’s groove.  Fury does question if Stark is able to cooperate with others and be material for the team he is assembling. 
·         Another S.H.I.E.L.D. agent The Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson is introduced.  The Black Widow is a martial arts and espionage expert assigned by Fury to keep a watchful eye on Stark and will return as a member of the Avengers.
·         Coulson is called away to a situation in New Mexico.  After the credits, Coulson calls back to report he has found something.  This scene leads us into the next Avengers themed movie. 
·         Many prefer the first Iron Man movie to the sequel but as a Disney fan this is my favorite due to its Mouseyness.  The parallels between Howard Stark, Tony’s father, and Walt Disney are impossible to miss. 

Thor (2011)
·         This film introduces another member of the Avengers team in the Norse god Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth.  Thor due to a poor decision making is thrown out of his home of Asgard by his father Odin.  Thor must find himself and his power again during a busy weekend in New Mexico.  As he finds himself, he struggles for control of Asgard and with his brother Loki, brilliantly portrayed by Tom Hiddleston. 
·         A post credits scene with Nick Fury hints that Loki will return.  The trailers for The Avengers confirm that Loki returns as a major villain.
·         It is revealed that the item Agent Coulson has found in New Mexico is Thor’s mystical hammer Mjolnir.  S.H.I.E.L.D. has a major presence in the story, guarding and investigating Mjolnir. 
·         Another Avenger is briefly introduced.  As Thor attempts to steal back Mjolnir from S.H.I.E.L.D. he is under the watchful eye of Clint Barton or Hawkeye played by Oscar nominated actor Jeremy Renner.  Hawkeye is a sharp shooter whose weapon of choice is a bow and arrow.    
·         Captain America: The First Avenger is the last piece of The Avengers puzzle at it introduces World War II era hero Captain America played by Chris Evans.  Lightweight Steve Rogers fails in his attempts to be inducted into the Army to fight the Axis powers.  Noticed by a government scientist he is selected for a program that gives him superhuman strength.  Under the name Captain America he fights a faction of Nazi scientific elite called HYDRA under the command of the Red Skull. 
·         The ending of the movie, sorry for any possible spoilers, transitions to the modern day as Nick Fury introduces an unaged Steve Rogers to the modern world.  After the credits, Fury returns to ask Rogers about joining a team he is putting together.  
Setup your Netflix queue or visit your local Redbox because you have your homework to finish before May 4thThe Avengers, unlike one of my favorites of this year John Carter is sure to be a hit for Disney.  And as a Disney fan we are sure to be seeing much more from the Avengers team and these individual superheroes to come.  Follow-up movies from Marvel Studios have already been announced including an Iron Man 3, Thor 2, and Nick Fury.   Superheroes are going to be supported by the House of Mouse for years to come! 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Goofy Gadgets - Epic Mickey 2 Announced

Earlier this week Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two was announced for an October release date.  Here is the game trailer:

What are your thoughts?

I got the original as a gift two Christmas' ago complete with the paintbrush nunchuk.  I enjoy the original and my kids love watching the gameplay, but I seem to lack the time to commit to finishing it.  I would rather play multiplayer games that the Between Kids can enjoy too.   Epic Mickey is the platform that introduced the Between Kids to Oswald.  But the game play itself is above the youngest abilities.  So Kinect Disneyland Adventures has become our default game. 

But I am excited to see that unlike Epic Mickey the sequel will be released on multiple platforms, and not just the Wii.  And the first question that I got from the kids was, can we play Oswald?  And the answer is yes, yes you can.  And the sequel has allows for two players, the brothers of Mickey and Oswald together for the first time.

Are you excited for this next adventure in the Wasteland?

Mousey Movies - The Muppets Addendum

The Muppets are back and here to stay for awhile.  At the March 13, 2012, annual meeting, Walt Disney President Bob Iger stated that a sequel is in the works for The Muppets.  Clearly the House of Mouse is happy with the performance of this Mousey Movie.    
When I first watched The Muppets in the theater I immediately declared it a Mousey Movie.  It is just so so rich when you are seeking Disney references.  With the release of the movie on DVD and Blu-ray I realized that I missed tons of Mousey reverences and that I needed to correct my oversights from my original viewing. 

·    The Disneyland Band:  What is a Muppet production without a big musical number?  “Life’s a Happy Song” at the beginning of the movie really sets the story, letting us know how great things are in Smalltown and the positive attitudes our main characters Walter, Gary and Mary have towards life.  Of course if you have a big musical number you need a band!  A marching band dances and plays behind the citizens of Smalltown as our happy trio lead the community in song.  The marching band is made up of members of the Disneyland Band.  Okay, I can’t take credit for finding this one, because to me all marching bands pretty much look alike.  The credit for this find goes to the official DisneyParks Blog.            

·    Theme Park Problems:  Walter has a problem as he plans his visit to the home of his heroes, The Muppet Studio.  What to do first?  Which attraction will have the shortest lines and the longest lines?  Walter needs to maximize his touring day!  Every parks addict knows what Walter needs is a Touring Plan!      

·    Kermit’s Wall of Stars: At the Muppets Studio one could visit Kermit’s Office, it used to be the highlight of the tour I hear.  On Kermit’s wall are several portraits of Kermit with celebrities and former guest hosts for the The Muppet Show.  One may find a former English nanny and sometimes Queen of a small European nation on the wall.  You can also see pictures of Kermit with Steve Martin, a former Disneyland cast member who credits the late Disney Legend Wally Boag for inspiring much of his early comedy.  But for me the picture that jumps out is one of Kermit with his creator Jim Henson.  This may be cheating to call a tribute to the creator of the Muppets as Mousey, but in 2011 the late Jim Henson was named a Disney Legend securing his place within the legacy of the House of Mouse. 

·    Toy Dinosaurs:  Music supervisor Bret McKenzie was familiar with actress Kristen Schaal as both worked on the show Flight of the Conchords, but so are Disney fansSchaal’s anger management instructors share a voice with all Disney fans second favorite dinosaur, first with web surfing skills, Trixie from Toy Story 3

·    Hidden Mickey: As everything great and wonderful should start with a larger than life musical number, we all know from spending time in the parks that the night should end with fireworks.  Towards the end of The Muppets we get those fireworks.  For those who want to see it, three firework explosions create a classic hidden Mickey.

·    The Lost Scenes:  The special features of the Blu-Ray disc contains tons of Mousey Moments.  I direct your attention to the Deleted Scenes!  One scene includes an alternative arrival for Walter, Gary and Mary in Los Angeles.  In this version the Greyhound bus delivers them directly to the front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, a duplicate of which can be found in Disney’s Hollywood Studios containing The Great Movie Ride.  Television executive Veronica shows the Muppets a number of popular shows on her network.  This includes Credit Card Club which stars Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland and So Random’s Sterling Knight.  And another deleted scene shows the Muppets staging a fake Academy Awards presentation to find a host for their telethon.  The event is broken up by frequent Academy Awards host Billy Crystal, who notes some of the Oscar statues are made of chocolate.  Everyone loves Crystal as the voice of Mike in Monsters, Inc. and the future Monsters University
The Muppets is such a rich movie when it comes to gags, puns and pop culture references.  I am sure I will see even more in my next viewing, and the one after that.  It already has a place of honor in the Between Household as the Between Kids are addicted to “Man or Muppet.”  The Muppets make everyday in Between Land a day where “Everything is great everything is grand”      

This post is part of the Disney Blog Carnival. Head over there to see more great Disney-related posts and articles."

Monday, March 19, 2012

Between Books - Walt Disney: An American Original

Bob Thomas in Walt Disney: An American Original chronicles the life and legacy of Walt Disney.  Thomas discusses briefly the Disney ancestors and then details Walt Disney’s birth in 1901 and childhood.   The book charts the moves of Walt Disney’s formative years from his birthplace in Chicago, to Disney’s idealized Marceline, Missouri, to Kansas City, back to Chicago, France and finally his return to Kansas City.  In this final relocation to Kansas City, Disney took his first steps into animation forming his own animation studio.  After setbacks and failures in the Midwest, Disney moves to California in 1923 asking his older brother Roy O. Disney to partner with him in a new animation studio.  Thomas covers the successes and failures of the Disney brothers including Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the birth of Mickey Mouse and the production of a full length feature in Snow White released in 1937.  Thomas details Walt Disney’s steps into new endeavors including live action movies, television productions, and theme parks with the opening and growth of Disneyland.  Finally, Thomas discusses Disney’s final days and death in 1966 followed by the Walt Disney legacy with his unfinished dreams including the Walt Disney World Resort and EPCOT.  Along with chronicling the business and intellectual career of the historical figure, Thomas also discusses extensively Walt Disney the son, brother, husband and father. 
Walt Disney: An American Original is a Disney library must have.  It balances a comprehensive biography on Walt Disney with a readable narrative.  It is small enough to fit into a backpack for a Disney vacation, hint hint, while still being comprehensive enough to give the reader a good overview of Walt Disney’s life.  Thomas interviewed many individuals who knew Walt Disney personally and had the support of the Walt Disney Archives in providing content and sources.  However, I do wish as a historian that there were footnotes, as they would help guide further reading.  The text itself is highly readable and enjoyable, in fact it is more readable than most historical narratives that I have run across. 
This was one of the first Walt Disney biographies I ever read.  I found it not too short, not too long but just right!  It was a story, a true life one at that, which grabbed me and made me even more interested in Disney history.  When you read of the setbacks Walt Disney experienced one cannot help but be inspired.  You find a Walt Disney that really does embody the “Keep Moving Forward” spirit of Meet the Robinsons.  Additionally, I found myself becoming interested in expanding into other topics.  One topic that I was left wanting to know more about was Walt Disney’s vision for EPCOT, the Experimental City of Tomorrow and not the Epcot Park.  And I instantly wanted to find more information about Roy O. Disney, the older brother who stood beside Walt Disney and gave him the support needed to be the creator and innovator that he was.  Walt Disney: An American Original is a story that makes you want to know more!      

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mousey Movies - The Rocketeer

I saw The Rocketeer when it originally was released in the theater and years before I became Between Disney.  I have remembered this superhero movie, starring Billy Campbell about a pilot who uncovers an experimental jet pack in 1938 which leads to a conflict with Nazis and mobsters, as a typical superhero action movie.  And it was something that I never watched again since 1991.  I did not hate it, I did not love it.  Today The Rocketeer is considered by many as a cult classic.  A recent viewing of this film has confirmed my personal opinion that it is a fun movie but not ground breaking.  What I did not remember was how Mousey of a movie that it is:
·        Joe Johnston:  The Rocketeer was Johnston’s second directorial assignment, with his debut being a Mousey Movie in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, which has left its own mark on Disney parks.  Johnston originally started in movies as a designer for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and art director for Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, films which provide the story background for Star Tours: The Adventure ContinuesIn 2011, Johnston returned to the House of Mouse directing blockbuster Captain America: The First Avenger.      

·        Terry O’Quinn:  O’Quinn plays Howard Hughes, the real life billionaire and aviator.  In The Rocketeer, Hughes is the inventor of the X-3 jet pack in the film.  Both the actor and the role are Mousey.  O’Quinn would later go onto star in ABC’s Lost as John Locke beginning in 2004.  But Hughes also has a hidden Disney history.  He designed the Hughes H-4 Hercules or the “Spruce Goose”, a plane made out of wood.  As noted in Jack Lindquist’s In Service to the Mouse, Disney purchased the Spruce Goose in 1988 as an attraction for a proposed Port Disney park in Long Beach.  When plans for this new park were halted, Disney liquidated its ownership of the aircraft.     

·        Timothy Dalton:  Dalton plays actor Neville Sinclair, a man with a secret interest in the jet pack and an eye for Cliff Secord’s (Campbell) lady.  When I saw this the first time, the Dalton casting had my attention with my third favorite James Bond at that time (Connery, Moore, Dalton and then Lazenby) as a bad guy.  In 2010, Dalton would yet again portray an actor for Disney as Mr. Pricklepants in Toy Story 3.  Personally though Sinclair did his own stunts, Mr. Prickelpants appears to be both a better student and artist. 

·         Millie:  To many actress Margo Martindale may be best known as the family friend of serial killer Dexter Morgan.  But to me she will forever be Grandma Ruby in Hannah Montana: The Movie!  In The Rocketeer, she plays Millie who runs the Bull Dog CafĂ© frequented by the Secord and his fellow airfield co-workers. 

·         Disney’s Hollywood Studios:  There are several references to The Rocketeer in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The most prominent is Peevy’s Polar Pipeline named after Secord’s friend and mechanic A. “Peevy” Peabody played by Alan Arkin.  Decorations for this snack stand include a replica Rocketeer jet pack. 

I love superheros and superhero movies.  And The Rocketeer is worth the watch, especially if you are a Disney fan as this film is rich with Mouseyness and could help deepen a visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.      

Monday, March 12, 2012

Walt's Windows - Ward and Groucho

The Internet is not all jumping cats!  Sometimes you can find some awesome stuff out there on the web, finds that help you connect to your Disney experience.
Ward Kimball was one of Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men, animator, director, artist, and Imagineer.  Kimball loved trains, a hobby that he shared with his employer.
Ward Kimball

On March 18, 1954, over a year before Disneyland would open, Kimball appeared on Groucho Marx’s trivia game show “You Bet Your Life.”  One can find Kimball’s complete appearance on YouTube, so much better than a tap dancing feline. 
The video gives us a fantastic look into one of the men who helped Walt Disney’s dreams become reality.

This video made me laugh, as it clearly shows that Kimball was a funny man.  As Kimball discusses his trains his love for them is clear and I doubt Marx met many men with three full trains in his backyard.  In 2005 Kimball’s love of trains was honored when Disneyland Engine #5 was named Ward Kimball.
My favorite moment of course is when he was asked a trivia question about a Walt Disney production.  The designer of Jiminy Cricket’s heart must have jumped when he heard his creation’s name.  Another favorite is his response on why he moved away from Minnesota, those living Between Disney completely agree!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mousey Movies Preview - John Carter

I have been really critical of Disney and science fiction offerings in the past.  So I have been watching reports and rumors for John Carter with both hope and fear.  I have said several times that Andrew Stanton’s involvement convinced me that the film would be solid.  And I read the original John Carter book Princess of Mars and loved it.  I could see how it would be the great foundation of a movie.  But reports that are predicting that John Carter will be a flop have worried me.  And I have had my own fears because the initial trailers did not do justice to the movie I hoped for.  I was finally able to form my own opinion of John Carter at the D23 nationwide previews held before the movie release.
The bare basics of the story are that John Carter is a Civil War veteran and cavalry officer attempting to find his fortune and maybe himself in the western frontier.  In the search for his cave of gold he is transported to Mars, or Barsoom.  On Barsoom he finds himself meeting new peoples and cultures such as the Tharks, a green Martian race, and getting caught up in a struggle for control of Barsoom.  Once it is discovered that Carter has super strength and jumping ability due to his Earthly birth, he is urged to enter this struggle by Princess Dejah Thoris, who of course serves as a love interest.  Here are my initial thoughts on John Carter:
·        Beauty:  This film is wonderfully framed with vast and intriguing landscapes.  Mars may not be red, but it is a desert world with sweeping views and interesting geological features.  Let’s be honest this is kind of a weird place to start, but those of us raised on Star Wars learned to look to the background because it sets the mood of the movie.  I honestly believed that the story was occurring in an interesting and alien world, not on a Utah set.  Because of these great shots I would skip the 3D personally. I find 3D to be distracting at time, maybe the technology is just not there yet.  And it gave depth to the scenery, but I also felt like the glasses, weird flickers, and the dimness that comes with the glasses at times kept me from fully entering the frame.        

·        Story Changes:  The source material Edgar Rice Borroughs' Princess of Mars is a century old and never envisioned as a movie.  And having read the book and seeing the trailer I could not always determine how they paralleled.  For example I knew that the Therns a villain group from the second John Carter book The Gods of Mars were added to the movie.  So I was a little confused if the movie adapted one or two books.  First, I now understand why the Therns were added, as the seemed to lack connective material and seemed like thinly connected adventures to me.  The Therns now provide the story a consistent villain.  Second, I still found the movie to honor the original Princess of Mars very well.  Scenes are repurposed.  So Dejah, John and the Thark Sola still take a river voyage but now it is for a different purpose.  And key elements are retained though abbreviated for the delivery of a movie.  So the movie still explains the relationship between Sola and Thark Jeddak, chief, Tars Tarkas, but it is explained in seconds not a chapter. 

·        Tars Tarkas:  If John Carter had one character that I would have critical expectations of it is Thark Jeddak Tars Tarkas.  Tars Tarkas needed to be big, green, fierce, compassionate, loyal and loving all at the same time.  Visually, I was impressed with the green Martian.  Story wise, Tars Tarkas delivered for me. And actor William Defoe delivers in voicing the Jeddak, giving him wisdom, maybe Martian Yoda, mixed with experience.  If I was going to be lost with a character it was Tarkas and I was pleased.  
Tars Tarkas Meets John Carter

·        Is Something Weird Here:  Many of the scenes in this movie include live action and computer generated animated characters in the same frame.  Most of the time this works very successfully.  There is only one scene I can remember where I felt like I could tell that there was a mix of real and animated actors.  But for me most scenes are like the scenes with John, Dejah and Sola canoeing down the river, nothing strange here.  Humans interact with green Martians all the time!  It all seems to blend. 

·        Woola: Woola is a hairless Martian dog, one who loves John Carter.  Now in line I had a conversation with another dad a few years older than me.  The discussion started with Star Wars, led to Jar Jar Binks and climaxed with his hatred of Ewoks.  Now I live on the other side of the Ewok Line as described on How I Met Your Mother.  I’m very okay with Ewoks.  The key is the Ewoks were written to satisfy my young self, where older viewers just found them campy.  Woola is the Ewoks of John Carter.  Older viewers are going to question Woola’s extraordinary abilities, but the Between Kid with me loved it.  Woola is going to make the kids happy.  Now if the movie wasn’t rated PG-13!

The Ewok Line

·        Of Mars?:  When I originally read Princess of Mars, John Carter did not always resonate with me.  Sometimes he seemed unfamiliar.  He was a veteran of the civil war, he had extraordinary abilities on Mars, and sometimes he did not seem nice.  He did not connect with me in the same way as a character like farm boy Luke Skywalker.  Originally the title of this film was John Carter of Mars.  There has been a lot of debate about why they shortened the title artistically and marketing wise.  Now I understand more, John Carter really is John Carter of Earth for most of this film.  They have added to the story to ground him on earth, give him a back story that I can better relate to and in many ways I am more sympathetic to the character in the movie than in the book.  In short, John Carter the man is better fleshed out in the movie and I understand him better now thanks to a few screenwriting additions.

·        Sequel: I want a sequel.  I have seen interviews with Stanton where he points out the movie can stand alone, though he would like a trilogy to be completed.  Yes John Carter could stand alone.  But they have left it open for a second offering.  And knowing the content of the Gods of Mars which they would work from for a sequel they have done an excellent job preparing us for a follow-up.  I’m crossing my fingers this is not a Disney financial write off and hoping for a box office that forces Disney to make a sequel.     
I have not been a fan of Disney sci-fi.  Everyone debates how to fix Tomorrowland.  Tron is a cult classic.  And that is not even addressing animated films like Mars Needs Moms and the critical reaction.  But I won’t complain about John Carter.  Instead I am excited for more adventures on Barsoom.  And I hope enough of us vote by visiting the theater to give Stanton the green light to jump into the next production.      

Dreaming Disney - D23 John Carter Preview

During my first two years of being a D23 member I was not able to participate in many of the events that D23 sponsored.  In my third year of membership I have been able to attend two!  Recently, I was able to attend the D23 John Carter nationwide previews.  I was pretty excited about the opportunity to both participate in a D23 event without needing an airline ticket and of course being able to see John Carter for free before it was released. 

I found the event relatively easy to register for.  I had pulled up the designated page about five minutes before registration opened.  I made sure to refresh often.  At the announced time the page was updated with a code, a code which I then used on a third party site,  I did have to register and setup an account on the website after I provided the screening code D23 provided.  I was very quickly sent an email with my ticket enclosed and directions for the night of the screening.
On the screening night I arrived about an hour and ten minutes early and found that the line had already started.  The oldest Between Kid and I found ourselves about 40 to 50 behind the front of the line.  About 20 minutes later they announced that no cell phones would be allowed and that we could check them or take them to our car.  I have to admit, even at the D23 Expo I never had to check my phone though I knew it had occurred for some of the sessions.  They gave us the chance to take our phones and lock them in our cars if we wanted and fans watched each other’s place in line as shifts of fans went out to their cars.  I did see that checked phones were held in numbered paper bags, for which I assume audience members were given matching tickets. 
As I talked to others in the line it became clear that not everyone there were D23 members.  Many, no most, had glossy ticket looking pamphlets with the Disney logo on them.  I never found out the source of these tickets, I guess I got distracted.  I had a printout!  So I asked the gentlemen standing beside him if he was there with D23.  No, he told me he was there with an invite from Disney Visa.  Later, a staff member went through the line asking for D23 and Visa members.  We were then pulled out of line and taken to the front!  So we jumped from around 50th to 5th.  The Between Kid was very impressed by this and kept making comments that we were VIPs.  So despite the fact that a third party not Disney was clearly running the event, our D23 membership made us still feel special.  This new line placement meant we saw John Carter from the middle of row, that wasn’t too high, wasn’t too low and was just right! 
Another advantage of being placed with D23 and Visa members were everyone standing around me were Disney fans.  We spent the time awaiting the movie sharing stories of parks, rides and other favorite movies.  And of course our kids kept coming up in conversation. 
In the end, this event did not have the bells and whistles that you often hear D23 events described with on podcasts.  But it was free.  And my membership did give me something I really wanted to do, was probably going to do anyway.  Did I mention it was free?  And we did hear staff explain to the others in line that Disney was doing something special for us, though I am not sure they knew what D23 was. I really appreciate that Disney was attempting to reach out to us D23 members Between Disney even in a small way.