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Disney Classic: A Magical Night: Disney Movies in Japan Get the Concert Treatment

What mother daughter relationships in Disney films have been shown in this theater?

In Japan, they have these multimedia “Disney Classic: A Magical Night” concert events. There’s an orchestra, a Japanese emcee, and English singers who perform various roles in the film for the night. This isn’t a concert; it’s a full-on movie experience where the singers perform the dialogue form the film and provide various sound effects. These events have happened since 2002.

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Disney in Arbat, Moscow, Russia

Disney in Arbat: Mickey Mouse

It always neat to see how Disney has been appropriated in other countries. As we walked the area, we saw a lot of Disney in Arbat. The Mary Poppins Hotel is a chain of sorts in Moscow. Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen were at the local toy store. Mickey Mouse stood outside of a children’s place, and the Cheshire Cat in its 1951 “Alice in Wonderland” style floated above more traditional Alice characters at the door of an Irish Pub. Check out photos of Bulgakov’s house in Arbat.

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Disney Lego MiniFigs Series 1: Collectors’ Corner

Disney Lego Minifigs Series 1

(This article contains affiliate links. If you click on a link that goes to Amazon and purchase a product, you support our writing effort without having to pay more for the items you order. Thank you.) If you couldn’t tell by my numerous Disney blog posts or the books I’ve written about Disney (“Disneyland Is Creativity,” “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity,” “Penguinate! The Disney Company”), I’m a Disney fan. Maybe a little less well-known is I love Legos. They’re great for inspiring creativity, especially the basic sets that allow you to build what you imagine rather than following a set of plans and instructions. So, when I saw the Disney Lego Minifigs series 1, I looked at my budget and knew I had to have them.

Disney Lego Minifigs Series 1 Characters

Lego decided to start its series with three of the Big Five represented. Mickey, Minnie and Donald or among the 18 figures. They added Daisy to the group assumedly for symmetry in the release. In fact, only Maleficent and fan-favorite Stitch are without a partner of some sort. Buzz Lightyear has a Little Green Man, Aladdin has the Genie, and classic Alice has the Cheshire Cat. Grown-up Syndrome is ready to battle with the young Mr. Incredible, which I guess timeline-wise doesn’t really work. Peter Pan can take on his nemesis Captain Hook, and Ariel can sing for Ursula.

Appeal of Disney Lego Minifigs

Aside from the fact that they are Lego and Disney, the minifigs have an additional appeal of the blind draw. Not knowing what’s inside increases the anticipation. With each packet you open, you narrow down the one’s you want to get. Soon, you’re wondering if you’re going to get your 10th Syndrome, or if it will be one of the other three characters you need to complete the question. At the end, you hoping to get either the character you need to complete the collection or another of the best characters in it. When that final character is revealed… YOU WIN! It’s exciting and wonderful and fun. Some people would prefer to know what they’re getting, but others enjoy the thrill of the chase.

The Best Disney Lego Minifig

The blind draw gives the Little Green Man the advantage as the best Disney Lego Minifig in Series 1 because you can get a thousand Little Green Men and never have too many. It’s the only character where repetition doesn’t hurt, and in fact, it might help. Little Green Men always seem to travel in groups, except when they are selected by the claw. Some of the other characters seem to be available in other Lego sets if you can afford them. That makes Mickey Mouse a little less exciting though he appears to be in different outfits. The Cheshire Cat is cool, but I’m going to have to give the nod to the Little Green Man.

Collecting and Creativity

Why is collecting a part of our creativity? Ideas come from combining two or more things that haven’t been previously combined. Collecting allows us to have visual and tactile stimulation to improve connections. Oftentimes, people who collect items, don’t focus on just one thing or category. They tend to collect multiple categories of items over time. Perhaps, the most famous example of this is Ray Bradbury’s office at the beginning of Ray Bradbury Theater. He characterizes it as a place where he’ll never starve for ideas. Join us on Patreon for more creativity (and penguins)!

Did you collect and complete your Disney Lego Minifigs Series 1? What are you collecting now? Let us know in the comments.

Can you solve the Disney Lego Minifig Series 1 mashup?
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Disney Films, Academic Essays, and an Open Mind

Partners statue in Disneyland

I typically shy away from books and essays that critique Walt Disney and his films. There are several reasons for this. We don’t need to kill our heroes. Walt was a product of his times. It’s easier to critique and tear down things than it is to create them. However, the biggest reason is that too many of these types of essays contain inaccuracies and falsehoods that come from someone not being an expert in Disney knowledge and/or doing sloppy research. It’s insane how many “educated” people believe Walt’s frozen head lies in a secret lair under Disneyland. It’s hurtful how many people say he was racist or anti-Semitic when those who worked with him deny those allegations. Sometimes, it’s just ridiculous the interpretations that people come up with for Disney films.

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Preorder ‘Penguinate! The Disney Company’

Book cover for Penguinate! The Disney Company

On April 14, 2019, my 8th book “Penguinate! The Disney Company” will be released on Amazon Kindle. (That’s just in time for my birthday!) “Penguinate! The Disney Company” looks at aspects of the company that Walt Disney would recognize. It includes thoughts on Disney Parks, Disney creativity, and Disney movies, including “Frozen 2” plots Disney probably never considered.

This wholly unauthorized look at the Disney Company is designed to help you think deeply and share your thoughts. The more you practice deep thinking, the more creative you’ll become. Preorder the Kindle version today at Amazon, or preorder the paperback here.

The Table of Contents:

Acknowledgements    iv
About This Book 1
The Disney Family 3
Walt Disney’s Road to Creativity 4
Diane Disney Miller, Grandma and Disneyland 6
The Disney Parks 8
Standing in Line Is Part of the Appeal 9
FASTPASS Is too Fast 10
FASTPASS, Reservations and Time 11
Why the Characters at the Parks Matter 12
Disney Parks Don’t Need New Rides to Increase Attendance 14
How Disney Can Save Itself and the World 16
The Disneyland Resort 19
The Birth of Disneyland 20
The Submarine Voyage (1959 to 1998) 22
Star Wars Land Vs. Tomorrowland 23
Put the ‘Tomorrow’ Back in Tomorrowland 26
Investing in Parks Is the Best Way to Deal with Crowds 28
Mickey Mouse Foods and Happiness 30
Disney California Adventure Is still No Disneyland 31
World of Color – Winter Dreams 2013 33
Eulogy for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 34
Walt Disney World 35
Reflections on the College Program 2012 36
Why Would Walt Want to Build a City? A panel with Paul Anderson at Salt Lake Comic Con 2013 38
Walt Disney World’s Internal Communication 40
Walt Disney World’s External Communication 41
Walt Disney World and Change 42
Why MyMagic+ is Genius 43
Crew Spaceship Earth with Aaron Wallace and the Rest of Humanity 45
Critique of Epcot Misses Context 47
The American Idol Experience Will Suck You in like the TV Show 49
Disneyland Paris 51
Disneyland Paris 2015 Is Like Disneyland 2000 52
La Taniere du Dragon: Magic at Disneyland Paris 54
Disney’s Synergy 55
Disney Does the Dumb: No Longer Going to Infinity and Beyond 56
Disney/Fox Merger Sounds Death Knell for Small-Time Writers and Creatives 58
Did Disney Cut the Cord? 60
‘Agent Carter’ sets stage for Captain America vs. Batman and Superman 62
Let’s Get Dangerous: Disney Dominates Movies and Music 64
Why Fox’s Fantastic Four Flop Is Good News for Disney 65
Disney Jumps to Light Speed with Creative Properties 66
ESPN Fishes for Its ‘Little Mermaid’ 68
The Disney Princess Stories 72
The Saving of Snow White: Rethinking Criticisms of Disney Films 73
Dying Ugly: The Misguided Actions of the Evil Queen 75
Cinderella’s Choice: Rethinking Criticisms of Disney Films 76
‘Frozen’ 78
‘Frozen’ Warms the Heart 79
Hans: Clever Schemer, Opportunist, or Love Corrupted by Power 81
Scarcity Fuels ‘Frozen’s’ Fire 83
Possible ‘Frozen 2’ Plots 85
‘You Can’t Top Pigs with Pigs’: ‘Frozen 2’ on Thin Ice 89
‘Frozen’ vs. the Super Bowl 92
‘Frozen Fever’ opens for ‘Cinderella’: What’s at Stake? 94
The Rise of Olaf and Baymax 96
Disneyland’s Frozen Paradise 2015 97
How Disney Changed the Princess Story for Success in the Modern Age 100
‘Maleficent’: Visually Stunning, Epic Fantasy 111
‘Frozen’ and ‘Maleficent’ Create Instant Cliché 113
Evil Isn’t Complicated; It’s Easy 115
Maleficent Changes Her Character 117
‘Maleficent,’ Misogyny and Metaphor: Disney Hits a Cultural Nerve 118
An Alternate Ending for ‘Maleficent’? 119
Other Disney Films 121
‘Wreck-It Ralph’ Explores Ways to Fix It 122
Why Maui is the bad guy in ‘Moana’ 124
Disney Stuck in a Rut: Sequels Rule the Box Office 126
Keep Moving Forward with ‘Tomorrowland’ 128
‘Tomorrowland’ Brings to Screen What Theme Park Lacks 129
Society Needs Its Dreamers 131
What Kid’s See in Disney Films May Not Be What Adults See 133
Disney Products 135
Disney Products: D23Expo 2017 Explores Past and Future 136
Appendix 1: Other Disney Books to Consider 139
Appendix 2: Disney Vocabulary 141
About the Author 143
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Disney Paper Parks Online Magic for You to Color

Partners Statue at Disneyland

The Disney Parks Blog has been releasing Paper Parks during the quarantine. These templates are drawn by Disney artists. You can download them, print them, color them and then assemble them into your very own Disneyland. (Part 3 is Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland.) For Disney fans, this is an amazing opportunity to build their own parks in real life. (Disney Magic Kingdoms allows them to build one in virtual life.)

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The Top 8 Books on Disney and Creativity

The Walt Disney Company has been considered powerhouse in creative endeavors. With its innovations in animation, movies and theme parks, people associate the Disney brand with creativity. So, aside from my two books, “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity,” what are the best books about Disney and its creative process? Here are my Top 8:

“Brain Storm: Unleashing Your Creative Self” – Don Hahn gives readers practical advice for getting more creativity from life. He uses his life experience and his work at Disney to provide some of the best insights and most fun stories for creativity.

“The Imagineering Way: Ideas to Ignite Your Creativity” – The imagineers explore creativity principles and provide examples on how to add more creativity to your everyday life! Use it in conjunction with “The Imagineering Workout: Exercises to Shape Your Creative Muscles” and get your creative muscles in shape.

“The Imagineering Workout: Exercises to Shape Your Creative Muscles” – The imagineers give you some exercise to improve your creative output in this companion book to “The Imagineering Way: Ideas to Ignite Your Creativity.”

“One Little Spark! Mickey’s Ten Commandments and The Road to Imagineering” – Marty Sklar leads us on an exploration of the rules that imagineers follow to come up with and implement their ideas. Go inside the idea process with the experts at the Walt Disney company.

“Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration” – The section on Steve Jobs makes this book about Pixar and creativity worth the read. Ed Catmull does an outstanding job with this story of the Pixar Studios. Read my review at our archive website http://www.penguinate.weebly.com.

“Dream It! Do It! My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms” – Marty Sklar was a prominent imagineer who got his start writing for Disneyland before the park opened. “Dream It! Do It!” is Sklar’s autobiography as it relates to his work with the Walt Disney Company. Check out the review at our archive website http://www.penguinate.weebly.com.

“How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life” – Pat Williams takes an honest and positive look at Walt Disney’s life. Williams pulls out creativity principles using Walt’s biography as the basis for illustrating those principles.

 “Walt Disney: An American Original” – Biographies are a great way to get inspired and to dig into what made someone creative. Bob Thomas’ seminal work on Walt Disney was released not long after Disney’s death. It is one of the most accurate portrayals of Walt’s life and how he accomplished what he did. Start here before looking at the more modern biography by Neal Gabler.

Tell us which book on Disney and creativity is your favorite!

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‘Ride of a Lifetime’ Offers Iger’s Lessons Learned at Disney

Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disney CEO Bob Iger shocked the business world by announcing his decision to step down from the company’s top position. He led Disney through some of its largest expansions – both in terms of intellectual property (IP) through acquiring Pixar, Marvel, LucasFilm and 21st Century Fox, and parks built or expanded, including Shanghai Disneyland and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. In his book “The Ride of a Lifetime” (affiliate link), Iger allows the reader to see what he has learned during his tenure at the Disney Company, where he started at the bottom and worked his way up.

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Penguinate! The Disney Company

Book cover for Penguinate! The Disney Company

A look at the Disney Company that Walt would mostly recognize, including:

  • Plots for “Frozen 2” Disney probably never considered
  • How Tomorrowland is more like Todayland
  • Walt Disney’s Road to Creativity
  • How the parks could change themselves and the world

These essays and short stories provide quick insights to the Disney Company and inspire deeper thinking about what we can all do to improve our life.

A Wholly Unauthorized Look at the House Walt Built

Also available on Amazon in eBook form. To be released April 14, 2019.

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Disney Has an ‘Avatar’ Problem

In 2010, the Walt Disney Company released “Alice in Wonderland” starring Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowski, Anne Hathaway, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, and Stephen Fry. With an estimated budget of $200 million, Alice went on to make over $1 billion worldwide. It was a hit that many attributed to Depp’s lovable Mad Hatter and the newness of the 3D technology.

Six years later, Disney released “Alice through the Looking Glass” as a sequel focusing on Depp’s Hatter and his family. With an estimated $170 million budget and the addition of Sacha Baron Cohen, the film flopped, making less than $300 million worldwide.  Whether this was due to the allegations leveled at Depp by Amanda Heard the week of the film’s opening, Depp’s inability to be a main character when playing an eccentric (see “Mortdecai” and possibly “The Lone Ranger,” which was more about Depp’s Tonto than Armie Hammer’s titular character), or the mundanity of 3D technology that was novel when the first film released, the six years between the two films, or the meandering story line of the film itself, “Through the Looking Glass” couldn’t hold a candle to the original.

Now, in a “hold my (non-alcoholic) beer” moment, Disney’s going to commit the same mistake with four films and a theme park at stake. “Avatar” was released the winter of 2009 and became the biggest grossing movie of all time with $2.8 billion worldwide. (As of this writing, “Avengers: Endgame” may or may not take the top spot.) Disney collaborated with Cameron and added an Avatar-themed land to its Animal Kingdom. It has purchased 20th Century Fox and now owns the rights to the Avatar intellectual properties.

In 2009, 3D was a true novelty, and “Avatar” capitalized on the effect with its beautiful scenery and amazing alien landscape. The movie faced scant competition from “The Princess and the Frog” and “The Blind Side” its first weekend. The next weekend, it faced Robert Downey Jr.’s “Sherlock Holmes”, and after that it dominated the film competition until February’s “Dear John.” The story itself is a retelling of the story of Native Americans if they had actually decided to destroy the explorers that came to the New World. It’s not exceptionally original with its quasi-back to nature message and its ignoring of real history.

“Avatar 2” is scheduled to be released in 2021, 12 years after the first film. While “Avatar” made a lot of money, it’s not a beloved film. Its main appeal was in the new world’s Cameron was able to bring to life. The story was trite and untrue. “Avatar 2” won’t be able to capitalize on a pent-up desire for its characters or world (like Star Wars), and it won’t be able to rely on a stable of characters people have to come to love (like Marvel). Instead, it’s a risk with almost no reward. Even if “Avatar 2” scores a billion dollars, it will be a comparative flop. If it does less than that, it could sink the three sequels that are to come after it and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Whether or not these films are successful will depend on what Disney expects from them. If the company is okay with decaying box office totals in the hundreds of millions with the understanding that the films are keeping its Animal Kingdom in the public eye, maybe box office won’t matter so much. But an outright flop of the first sequel will create shockwaves that will reverberate throughout the company without being limited to the movie division.

For more Disney related content, order “Penguinate! The Disney Company.” Get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.