Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lego Dragon Maleficent vs. Prince Philip - Disney (Lego Store) Snapshot of the Day

Today's Disney Snapshot of the Day brings you the artistry of master Lego building, on display outside of the Lego store in Downtown Disney. Your average mall Lego store may have on display some of the more elaborate sets available for purchase as a consumer, enclosed in cubes of Lucite. These sets, whose pieces number in the thousands are impressive. But these seem like six piece Duplo preschool creations when compared to the awesome masterworks displayed at the Disney Lego Store. These massive Lego sculptures, comprised of innumerable bricks and pieces are truly awesome to behold. The amazement you feel as you contemplate the time and effort required to construct these displays is second only to the wonder at how they survive the elements of Florida's brutal summer heat and intense storms. 

Pictured below is one of the most elaborate sculptures on display at the Disney Lego Store. As a nod to the upcoming release of Disney's live action Maleficent film, we present this Lego recreation of the final encounter between the dragon Maleficent and Prince Philip. This impressive piece towers above guests as it sits between the Downtown Disney Lego store and the cavernous World of Disney shop. Just one of many truly impressive pieces, this sculpture is selected as our first Disney Lego Store Snapshot of the Day. Look for more in the future. 


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The Maleficent vs. Prince Philip Battle Recreated in Lego Outside the Downtown Disney Lego Store



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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Will Disney Turn the Maelstrom into a Frozen-themed Attraction?

Rumors have been circulating through the internet that the Maelstrom attraction at the Epcot Norway pavilion may be closed in the near future and retooled into a Frozen-themed attraction. Disney’s latest blockbuster film has raked in over a $1 billion at the box office and surpassed Toy Story 3 as the highest grossing animated film of all time. Frozen has snagged Oscars for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song for the immensely popular “Let It Go.” It has (with a little help from John Travolta) placed the name Idina Menzel in the lexicon of pop culture, even though she had previously starred in two of the most successful Broadway shows of all time (Rent and Wicked). It has created seemingly endless character greeting lines, some with people waiting for hours to meet its stars, Anna and Elsa, at Disney World. Considering all of this, investing in Frozen and allowing Maelstrom to fall by the wayside would appear to be a no-brainer for Disney. Yet, the purists and traditionalist are likely to cry foul as Disney pushes another corner of Disney World further from Walt’s original vision…again. Should Disney say “Let it Go” to the Maelstrom in favor of a Frozen theme? darthmaz314.com weighs in.



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The Cold Never Bothered Her Anyway

The Norway and Mexico pavilions in Epcot’s World Showcase are unique because they are the only ones to feature actual “rides.” Although the modern version of the Mexico boat ride features Donald Duck and friends as the Three Caballeros, most would agree that Maelstrom is the more intriguing ride experience. Your boat ride journey aboard Maelstrom comes complete with Vikings, trolls, an ocean storm, and a movie…not bad for your entertainment dollar. In fact, you could say that Maelstrom comes as close to a thrill ride as World Showcase has to offer. The attraction draws enough crowds and lines that it became a rare World Showcase FastPass attraction. So why mess with it? Disney is always tip-toeing the line between traditionalism and change in search of the best experience for their guests. It is a strategy that has served them well over the years, both as an entertainment provider and a business entity. It is safe to say that Epcot appeals to a more mature audience than the other three Disney parks. Early on, this appeal was even stronger than it is today. In the 80’s, the emphasis at Epcot was more on “edutainment” than entertainment. Educating the guests on the topics of science, technology, and world cultures while entertaining them, seemed to be the focus. There were no characters. There were no thrill rides. The overall feel of the park was more subdued and low-key. While it may not have been the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow envision by Walt Disney, it was certainly a vastly different experience than that offered by Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom.

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The Universe of Energy - An Epcot Classic "Edutainment" Attraction 

Yet in the three-plus decades since it opened, Epcot has slowly made strides away from a more mature edutainment feel and toward a more kid-friendly Disney experience. Nemo and Friends commandeered The Living Seas pavilion. Kidcot Fun Stops (now Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure) were set up in every country’s pavilion to engage the young ones. Mickey’s traveling companion, Duffy the Bear, unpacked his bags and made the park his permanent residence.  Character greetings were added throughout World Showcase. The Princess Storybook Dining buffet made landfall in Norway’s Akershus restaurant. The World of Motion became the thrill ride Test Track. Horizons became Mission Space. Figment was excommunicated from "Journey Into Imagination" and then brought back into the flock by popular demand. You get the point.  

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Figment was Evicted and Brought Back By Popular Demand

In light of all of this, converting Maelstrom into an attraction based on the current top grossing animated film of all-time seems to be a no-brainer. First, it will bring more people, particularly those with kids, to Epcot, which continues the trend toward making the park more kid-friendly. People who left Epcot off of their Disney itinerary may just be tempted to tear themselves away from the Magic Kingdom and make their way over to see the Frozen attraction at that park with the “big golf ball.” Once in Epcot, they will discover that there are characters there too, a Nemo-themed attraction, and a car ride that their young son was begging them to ride as soon as he heard the ear-shattering roar of the ride vehicle as it passes over the attraction’s entrance. The next thing you know, those same parents are buying a “Figment ears” hat and telling everyone they see how great Soarin’ was. The next time they make their way to Disney, they have a new park solidly marked on their itinerary, which happens to now be one day longer that the previous visit. Disney wins. The family wins too. See how genius it all is?

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Italy at Night in World Showcase

To expand that theory to another level, let’s assume that that same family wanders over to some of the other country pavilions in World Showcase. Dad discovers the beer in Germany…or England…or one of the other eleven countries. Mom discovers that there are items being sold on property that do not have characters plastered all over them or rotating lights and mouse ears. Mom and Dad discover that there is a treasure trove of restaurants tucked away in World Showcase that don’t force them to stand on a line for a burger or chicken sandwich and then move on to the condiment station to load up on the free pickles. You can almost hear them now. “There is a steakhouse here?” “Where is this Mexican restaurant?” “They have a German biergarten?” “While I was in the bathroom, I hear someone saying that there is a phenomenal Italian restaurant here!” “Oh yeah, I heard there were TWO of them!”

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Tutto Italia in Epcot

Let’s take it a step further. While in Epcot, the family realizes that there is a very different experience available in this park. There is quite a lot you can learn here. Whether it is communication, science, technology, or world cultures, you can truly soak in a lot at Epcot if you are open-minded and willing to expand beyond what many feel is the “typical Disney experience.” All the members of our fictional Disney vacation family may not like everything and it is possible that they may like very little of it and find that it is “just not for them.” But if they never make it into the park, they will never have a chance to decide for themselves.

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Can't Hold it Back Anymore

So if the logic presented above (which is based solely on the opinion of your humble blog host) holds true, it seems that capitalizing on a current Disney film to expand the sheer numbers or the demographic mix of a park’s attendance is a wise business decision. So we come back to whether a change like the one being rumored is another step away from “Walt’s original vision.” Does that even matter anymore? Who even knows what Walt’s vision was at this point? Who is the custodian of this vision? I wouldn’t even begin to attempt to answer these questions.

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Elsa and Anna  - The Sisters of "Frozen"

The simple fact is that Walt Disney left us a long time ago. However, although it has been 48 years since his passing, the cornerstones of Walt’s vision continue to be many of the reasons why the Disney name reflects the gold standard of entertainment around the world. This is probably more evident in Walt Disney World than in any other facet of the Disney empire. During the planning and design phases of Disneyland, Walt believed that building a park where parents and children could enjoy time together and both be entertained was essential. Disney World is the perfect realization of this vision. Within the property boundaries of Walt’s World, from the spires of Cinderella Castle to the barstools of the House of Blues in Downtown Disney, there is quite literally something for everyone. That is one reason why it is the number one vacation destination on Earth. Adding more kid-centric entertainment to Epcot will actually play into Walt’s philosophy of an experience that the whole family can enjoy together.

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Frozen!

Will replacing Maelstrom with Frozen remove some of the cultural flare of the Norway pavilion? Yes, but the remaining elements of the pavilion still retain the essence of the country and provide opportunities to learn about its culture and history. If they were planning on bulldozing the entire attraction for “Frozenland,” I would say that perhaps there is a better home for that idea. However, although I am a Maelstrom fan, I think it may be time to “let it go.”    

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Disney's Latest Billion Dollar Baby - Frozen

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pirates of the Caribbean "Here, Doggy!" Scene - Disney Snapshot of the Day

Today's Disney Snapshot of the Day uncovers an iconic image that is a true treasure. If you have ever boarded that wooden boat and set sail down into the dark caverns where dwell the Pirates of the Caribbean, then ye surely have cast yer gaze upon this scurvy lot, aimin' to outsmart that unmoving mangy cur. Yes, for forty-seven years at Disneyland and forty-one at Disney World's Magic Kingdom, that dog has held the keys to that cell and in those combined eight-eight years, those pirates have never given up on their attempt to trick the cagey canine. 

Not only has the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction entertained Disney guests for nearly half a century, as technology has exploded around it and made it almost seem prehistoric in comparison, but it has inspired a film series, which has grossed over $3.7 billion at the box office worldwide.

So to honor one of my all-time favorite Disney attractions, we break the rules of the Disney Snapshot of the Day by featuring two photos today. First the iconic "Here, Doggy!" scene from the attraction, followed by its recreation from the blockbuster film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Don't look now, but art has imitated art.

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"Here Doggy! We Have a Nice Bone for Ye"


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Art Imitating Art - "Here, Doggy!" Scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl


What is your favorite Pirates scene (attraction or film?)


What is your favorite Disney World attraction?


Send us a comment and let us know. We would love to hear your thoughts and post your comments.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain - Disney Snapshot of the Day

Today's Snapshot of the Day features one of Disney World's newest thrill rides, Expedition Everest, which opened on this day in 2006. The newest of Disney's "mountains," this attraction is as intimidating on the inside as it is on the outside. It scales great heights as its peak reaches 199 feet into the Florida sky. Yet its greatest threat may be within the mountain, as there lurks the massive Yeti, Disney's largest animatronic ever. 

You quickly realize that you should have heeded the warnings of the local legends and not trespassed on the Forbidden Mountain as you pierce the sky in an intense climb, which send you screaming along the track at 50 mph not just forward, but backward. You encounter hairpin turns, a broken track, and an up close and personal encounter with the towering guardian of the mountain, the ferocious Yeti, who does his best to make sure you don't leave the mountain with a tale to tell your friends back home.   
Look for more Expedition Everest photos in future Snapshot's of the Day.   

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Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain - Enter if You Dare...


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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Water Paintings on the Ground of Disney Parks - Disney Snapshot of the Day

There are many types of artistry displayed throughout Disney World. However, today's snapshot features a very unique one. There are few displays of Disney art as fleeting as the "water paintings" that certain talented cast members paint on the ground of Disney parks. These characters have only a  brief appearance on the "World's stage" as they literally evaporate into nothingness as the Florida heat dries up the water that allows them to bring smiles to passing Disney guests who can't help but stop, stare, and well, sometimes take pictures.

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A Different Type of "Water Painting"

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spaceship Earth's Fall of Rome Smoked Mozzarella - Disney Snapshot of the Day

If you have ever been through Spaceship Earth, then you probably remember the "fall of Rome" scene that is the focus of today's Disney Snapshot of the Day. In true Disney fashion, Spaceship Earth truly immerses you in the story being told. You see the sights, hear the narration from your ride vehicle, and you are bathed in the scent of what can only be described as smoked mozzarella. Yes, you know it's true. 

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Smells like Smoked Mozzarella, Not Teen Spirit



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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Disney Feels the Force Years Before the Lucasfilm Acquisition - Disney Snapshot of the Day

Disney may have bought Lucasfilm in 2012, but the Force has been strong with the Mouse for a long time. Today's snapshot, taken in 2009, hints a universe where Disney and Star Wars are one...a universe we all live in today.

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"Everything that has transpired has done so according to the Mouse's design..."


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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Disney Snapshot of the Day - The Sleeping Monk from Spaceship Earth

Copying the Bible can tire a monk out. So every now and then, even an animatronic monk needs to take a nap. Today's snapshot is a glimpse of a scene from Spaceship Earth, an Epcot original that has entertained countless guests in it's thirty-two year run. In this scene of the attraction, which chronicles humankind's journey through the development of communication, a Gregorian monk hand-copies a Bible in the hopes of preserving the sacred text for generations to come. 

On Spaceship Earth, guests journey along with the human race as they progress from primitive cave drawings to the internet on a quest to reach new and better ways to communicate and share information with one another. This amazing dark ride is housed in the most unique ride building in the world, a geodesic sphere. 

I can still remember the first time I rode this attraction, whose cars passed only a few feet from these amazing audio animatronic figures, which seemed so lifelike that you could not help stare at them in amazement. Back then, in 1986, it was a much simpler time and audio animatronics were a wonder to behold. Fast forward twenty-eight years and although computer technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, Spaceship Earth is still a marvel of technology inside and out. Click the links below for more on Spaceship Earth. 

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This Monk Has Been Sleeping for Thirty-two Years
Spaceship Earth: A Technical Marvel Inside and Out Part I




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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Disney Announces "The Incredibles 2" and "Cars 3" at Annual Shareholders Meeting

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Big News from Disney CEO Bob Iger

Last Tuesday, during a shareholder’s meeting, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that sequels to two of Pixar’s heaviest hitters are planned for the future. After ten years, a sequel to The Incredibles 2 has been greenlit, bringing the superhero family back to the big screen.  Also announced by Iger was the return of the Radiator Springs crew in a third installment of Cars. Should The Incredibles tread the thin ice of the sequel world? Do we need a third Cars film? darthmaz314 weighs in.

The Incredibles is a shining example of Pixar’s masterful
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model for storytelling in the modern world. This model has at its core, the creation of a great story, which acts as the foundation for all that follows in the development of the film. Pixar attempts to create a story that engages people; not just young people or parents, or people who buy toys, or people who like animation. All of the best Pixar films are driven by stories that allow the audience to relate to real-life situations. The Incredibles does this in so many ways, although you may not recognize it because, as a viewer, you are having too much fun following the story, or enjoying the great dialog, or the actors’ fine voice performances, or the amazing way that Pixar artists have recreated life in stunning detail from a collection of millions of triangular pixels in a computer.

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One Big, Happy, Incredible Family

On the surface, The Incredibles is very entertaining film. But it is also much more than this. The Incredibles is an animated superhero film that deals with the issues of mid-life crisis, a married couple’s struggle to keep their relationship afloat amidst stagnation and doubt, a child’s rejection by a larger than life role model and the damage that does not only to the child, but to the world, and our society’s obsession with tearing down heros…just to mention a few. Are you kidding me? How many live action films manage to tackle all that emotional baggage and not come off as a preachy piece that tugs way too hard at your heartstrings in search of Oscar votes? 

The Incredibles takes it all on, while telling an animated action-adventure tale, which is ultimately marketed for children. Do I want to see a sequel? Absolutely, but only if the sequel can come close to the original in terms of story, character development, and the ability to connect to the audience. That may be a tall order, but if anyone can do it, Pixar can. They did is last year.

Aside from the Toy Story trilogy, in which each sequel
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"Cars 3, really?"
actually trumped its predecessor, Monsters University is the best example of Pixar successfully bringing back the magic of one of its blockbusters in a sequel. Initially, I was not wildly impressed by Monsters University. The first film had earned such a special place in my heart, that any sequel would almost definitely be a letdown. In fact, I considered the sequel just that after I had seen it in the theater. However, after seeing it a few more times on Blu-ray, I came to appreciate it more and more. It was then that I began to appreciate how this story, perhaps even more than the original, had taken fictitious monsters made of computer pixels and infused them with more emotion and humanity than most of the characters portrayed by human beings in live action films. This coupled with the stunning recreation of reality displayed in the visuals of the film catapulted near the top of my Pixar list.  

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Incredibles sequel? Bring it on. Another Cars? I am not so sure. I loved Cars as much as the next Disney fan. It too is one of my favorite Pixar films. However, the sequel is the one misstep in what has otherwise been a truly phenomenal run by the animation giant. Is Cars 2 a complete disaster devoid of any entertainment value? Not by any means. Does it stand toe to toe with some of the other classic titles Pixar has produced? Not by any means.

One problem with evaluating Cars 2 stems from the fact that the film is held to an undeniably high standard.  Pixar set the bar so high and really never had to lower it. The Pixar audience grew so used to excellence and came to expect it year after year. Cars 2 is no worse than Turbo or How to Train Your Dragon, but when you hold it up against the original Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles, it pales in comparison.


It is even difficult to pinpoint why I did not enjoy Cars 2 was much as the original. It did have elements of humor and sentimentality and it was entertaining enough to keep your interest. Yet the story was not up to par with the usual Pixar film. Cars 2 seems to skim the surface rather than dig in deep and force the audience to invest in the story. As an adult, it made you feel that you were too old to be watching it, whereas with other Pixar films, you almost feel bad that the kids don't get the more mature references and jokes.

My opinion aside, (because who really reads this anyway?)
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Cars 2 also failed to garner much critical acclaim. It is widely regarded as a sub-par Pixar film, although it did gross more at the world box office than its predecessor ($560 million compared to $462 for Cars.) Considering the box office numbers, it is easy to see why Disney would greenlight another Cars film. Couple this with the fact that Carsland in Anaheim’s Disney California Adventure park has been a huge success, revitalizing that park and prompting rumors that an east coast version is destined for Walt Disney World. In addition, the merchandising of the Cars brand has been a virtual printing press of cash for Disney. For all these reasons, Cars 3 makes perfect sense. We will all have to place our faith that Pixar can bring back the magic and charm of the original in the second sequel. 

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Flaming Stuntman From Lights Motors Action Extreme Stunt Show - Disney Snapshot of the Day

Think you're having a bad day? You could be this guy. Today's snapshot features a moment from the "Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show" at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Prior to this moment in the show, the stuntman pictured wipes out on his motorcycle and skids across the pavement for about twenty feet and then through a line of flames before being almost instantly ignited as you see him here. He then spends the next thirty or more seconds flailing around engulfed in flames until he drops to the ground and is blasted with fire extinguishers to douse the raging fire. He does this three times a day. And you thought your job sucked.....

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Imagine This Being Your Job
photo courtesy darthmaz314.com


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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Idina Menzel Performs "Let It Go" on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots

Idina Menzel stopped by the New York studio of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon earlier this month. There, in the "Tonight Show Music Room" she performed the Oscar winning hit song "Let It Go" from the Disney blockbuster film "Frozen" with Jimmy and The Roots. darthmaz314.com brings it to you here, courtesy of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon's YouTube channel.




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Por Favor Mantengase Alejado De Las Puertas - Disney Snapshot of the Day

Today's snapshot features an item of Disney merchandise that is truly a classic...a hat that only someone who has taken a ride on the world famous Walt Disney World Monorail can truly appreciate. If you are one of those people, then you have surely heard these famous words...


"Please stand clear of the doors."

"Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas."

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Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pirates of the Caribbean Full Ride Through with Night Vision - WDW Video Featurette

In today's Walt Disney World Video Featurette, darthmaz314 brings you a full ride through video of one of the the most classic Disney Parks attractions, the Magic Kingdom's Pirates of the Caribbean. This timeless attraction has inspired four blockbuster films which made Disney treasure troves of box office gold, launched the careers of Kiera Knightley and orlando Bloom and catapulted Johnny Depp from the world of obscure but impressive roles into the stratosphere of the Hollywood A-list. The films then in turn inspired a re-tooling of the attraction itself, which infused the character of Jack Sparrow into the classic storyline in which the port of Tortuga is infiltrated by some of the sea's scurviest scoundrels. "Pirates" is one of the true gems of Disney's "dark rides," it doesn't matter if you became a fan of the attraction before the films or after, there is little doubt that it is timeless and an absolute Disney must see.






What is your favorite Disney World attraction? Post a comment and let us know. darthmaz314 always welcomes your comments and shamelessly asks you to share this and all our posts with your friends (or enemies) if you like what you see. Also, please visit, follow, and like our facebook page...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Disney Snapshot of the Day - The Sorcerer Mickey Topiary Display at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Here in the Northeast USA, winter seems to be dragging on without end. So today's Snapshot of the Day features a welcome site of sunny Orlando, Florida. The Disney Hollywood Studios Sorcerer Mickey topiary display, which was situated adjacent to the Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant and just outside the Animation courtyard archway, will hopefully reminds us all of warmer times and sunnier skies! 

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If he has any magic left, hopefully Mickey can bring some of that Florida sun to the New York area!

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Godfather Trivia: Round II


Ready for Round II? darthmaz314.com makes you an offer you can't refuse and brings you our second installment of trivia on The Godfather. Buona fortuna!

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"You have to answer for Santino, Carlo"

1.  At Connie and Carlo’s wedding, photographers take a photo of one of the guests and immediately afterward, that guest signals to his men, who swoop in and grab the camera. That guest then opens the camera and rips out the film and throws it on the floor. Who was that guest?

A. Barzini

B. Tattaglia

C. Vito Corleone

D. Sonny Corleone



2.  What was Sollozzo’s nickname?

A. Virgil

B. The Turk

C. The Black Hand

D. The Prince of Powder



3.  Johnny Fontaine goes to his godfather Don Corleone for help in convincing Hollywood studio chief Jack Woltz to give him a role in his upcoming war film. Although the name of the fictional film is never mentioned in The Godfather, the character of Johnny Fontaine is said to be based on a real life singer/actor whose career was revived by appearing in what actual film?


A. The Bridge on the River Kwai

B. The Caine Mutiny

C. Tora, Tora, Tora

D. From Here to Eternity


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"and in a month from now, this Hollywood big shot is gonna give you what you want."  Don Corleone to his Godson Johnny Fontaine

4.  Don Corleone sends Luca Brasi to meet with which rival family hoping to deceive them into believing he is unhappy with the Corleone family and willing to betray them?

A. Barzini

B. Tattaglia

C. Cuneo

D. Tommasino

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Luca Brasi Before He Slept With the Fishes

5.  Where does Michael hide after assassinating Sollozzo and McCluskey?

A. Palermo

B. Taormina

C. Rome

D. Corleone



6.  What is the name of the girl Michael marries while he is in hiding?

A. Kay

B. Talia

C. Apollonia

D. Francesca

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"Michael, the women in Sicily are more dangerous than shotguns" Calo to Michael in The Godfather

7.  Which of the following was not involved in the protection of Michael while he was in hiding?

A. Calo

B. Don Tomassino

C. Fabrizio

D. Don Altobello



8.  Who betrays Michael while he is in hiding?

A. Calo

B. Don Tomassino

C. Fabrizio

D. Signore Vitelli



9.  How is Apollonia killed?

A. She is shot

B. She is in Michael’s car which explodes when started

C. She is poisoned

D. She is strangled
 
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No! No! Apollonia!

10 . On the day of which occasion does Michael settle all family business?

A. The wedding of his daughter

B. The Communion of his son

C. The Baptism of Connie and Carlo’s son

D. The funeral of his father


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Don Vito Corleone

Answers:

1.    A. Barzini


2.    B. The Turk

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"I think you and I can do business." Sollozzo to Luca Brasi in The Godfather

3.    D. From Here to Eternity


4.    B. Tattaglia


5.    D. Corleone

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Michael Corleone in Hiding After the Assassination of Sollozzo and McCluskey


6.    C. Apollonia


7.    D. Don Altobello


8.    C. Fabrizio

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Fabrizio Realizes His Plan Has Gone Wrong and Runs

9.    B. She is in Michael’s car which explodes when started


10.  C. The Baptism of Connie and Carlo’s son   

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Today He Settles All Family Business

Check out Godfather Trivia Round I by clicking here:


Find out the significance of oranges in The Godfather in darthmaz314's "Godfather Orange Omen" post by clicking here:



All images copyright Paramount Pictures


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