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Friday, July 31, 2015

The Magic of Disney Animation is Now Closed at Disney Hollywood Studios

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The Magic of Disney Animation - courtesy darthmaz314.com

On 6/24, darthmaz314's Disney Snapshot of the Day featured the signage display for the Magic of Disney Animation attraction. Little did we know that this attraction would be announced as closing forever a few days later. 


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Animation Courtyard Archway at Disney
 Hollywood Studios - courtesy darthmaz314.com
The Magic of Disney Animation was an original attraction of the then-named Disney MGM Studios and was situated at the far end of the Animation Courtyard beyond The Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Playhouse Disney. At the time of the attraction's debut, one of the most innovative and unique of its experiences allowed guests to look down on Disney animators as they worked in partially glass-walled offices, eerily bringing to mind some sort of voyeuristic human workplace safari. The attraction was the front end of the actual Walt Disney Animation Studios Orlando division, which turned out some impressive work before its closure in 2004. Some of the most notable work to emanate from the Orlando studios was ink and paint work for The Little Mermaid, the "Be Our Guest" sequence from Beauty and the Beast, the "I Just Can't Wait to be King" sequence from The Lion King, and full production work on the features Brother Bear, Mulan, and Lilo and Stitch. However, as the years passed, any semblance of actual studio production, live action or animated, was slowly extracted from the park but a few of the safari-like animator offices/studio tour elements remained. 

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Animation Workstation from the Magic of Disney Animation in Disney Hollywood Studios - courtesy darthmaz314.com

The Magic of Disney Animation also featured a short film that examined the process of bringing a Disney animated character to life. In this experience, a cast member interacts with an on-screen incarnation of Eddie Murphy's Mushu the dragon from Mulan, as they comically describe the process of creating an animated character, from the first pencil marks on paper all the way through its explosion on screen as a vibrant and seemingly living creature. The original version of the film featured an animated Robin Williams as the comic relief alongside legendary newsman Walter Kronkite, who functioned as a guide and narrator for guests. In this iteration, Robin Williams is transformed into an animated version of himself as a Lost Boy from Disney's Peter Pan. Williams portrayed an adult Peter Pan in the 1991 Disney film Hook. The Williams/Kronkite version of the attraction film was quite entertaining and endearing and can now be looked back on with great nostalgia, since both men have passed on. 

For the those who enjoy a look behind the scenes at the animation process, both films were enjoyable and worth the time, particularly since they provided a respite from the oppressive Orlando heat. For those not wishing to sit through the film, it could be bypassed by walking through the back of the theater and out into the next section of the attraction.

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You're A Character Interactive Station at The Magic of
Disney Animation - courtesy darthmaz314.com


Another major portion of the Magic of Disney Animation attraction was the "Animation Station" area which featured interactive computer consoles that allowed guests to paint animation scenes, try their hand at adding sound effects to a
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Theming at The Magic of Disney Animation -
courtesy darthmaz314.com
scene from a Disney film, and play a game called "You're a Character" in which they answer a series of questions to determine which Disney character best represents them. This area was also home to the Animation Academy, which was a scheduled attraction during which guests are given a crash course on creating a character sketch by a Disney animator.


Also featured in the Magic of Disney Animation were several character meet and greet areas, the two most significant featuring Sorcerer Mickey and characters from the most recent Disney/Pixar film. The last area included a waiting queue that was always very cleverly and heavily themed around the featured characters' film.

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Toy Story 3 Themed Character Meet and Greet Area at
The Magic of Disney Animation - courtesy darthmaz314.com

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Ratatouille Themed Character Meet and Greet Area at The Magic of Disney Animation - courtesy darthmaz314.com

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Huge Ratatouille Scenery Animation Cel Used as Theming for
Character Meet and Greet Queue Area at The Magic of Disney Animation - courtesy darthmaz314.com

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Another Huge Ratatouille Scenery Animation Cel Used as Theming for  Character Meet and Greet Queue Area at The Magic of Disney Animation - courtesy darthmaz314.com


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Wreck It Ralph Themed Character Meet and Greet Queue Are at The Magic of
Disney Animation - courtesy darthmaz314.com

Lastly, the Magic of Disney Animation pavilion also housed a museum-like section that featured concept art, storyboards, sculpted maquettes, and other story development and promotional materials from a recent Disney or Pixar release. Adjacent to this was another room with a display case that housed Academy Awards won by Walt Disney and the Walt Disney Studios.

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Concept Art & Cels for WALL-E at The Magic of Disney Animation - courtesy darthmaz314.com

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WALL-E Model at The Magic of Disney Animation -
courtesy darthmaz314.com

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Concept Art for Tangled at The Magic of Disney Animation -
courtesy darthmaz314.com

While it is true that I am among those extremely excited to see Hollywood Studios revamped and expanded to include a Star Wars Land (and hopefully a version of California's Carsland), I am sad to say goodbye to some of the attractions (like Magic Of Disney Animation) being closed to make room for these changes. This attraction offered a variety of experiences that were uniquely Disney and fit the "behind the curtain" production experience that was once a part of Hollywood Studios concept. It was also a great spot to escape the sauna that is Orlando in summer, while still being entertained in true Disney fashion. An addition, the character meets and greets often featured some of the more rare characters, many of which you would not find anywhere else on property. Some examples I personally have witnessed included Stitch, Jafar, Mulan, Miko the Racoon, the Incredibles, Frozone, Pinocchio, Geppetto, Captain Hook, Smee, the Genie and more. 

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Characters That Have Appeared at The Magic of Disney Animation
Meet & Greet - courtesy darthmaz314.com

In fact, one rainy and not so crowded day at Hollywood Studios about five years ago, my family had some of the greatest character interactions ever in the meet and greet area with several of the characters mentioned above, all of

whom were at the top of their games in terms of guest interaction. Particularly memorable, was Stitch, who truly created one of those unforgettable Disney moments for my family, which included wrapping himself around my wife's leg and refusing to let her leave. 

The Magic of Disney Animation officially closed on July 12th. It now exists only in our memories and the photos and videos in which we may have captured it over the years. If you have interesting photos of the attraction, feel free to e-mail them to darthmaz314@gmail.com and we may include them in follow-ups to this post.


Check back soon for a follow-up post featuring more of darthmaz314's photos from The Magic of Disney Animation. 

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Friday, July 10, 2015

darthmaz314 is Back! with a Disney Snapshot of the Day - Stuntman Takes a Fall at Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show

We fell...off the face of the earth...or more accurately, the internet, for a few days. Through the genius of our web hosting service and the credit card company we pay for it with, our site was down for a few days, unbeknownst to us. Due to a very poorly timed fraud protection block which occurred simultaneously with our web hosting renewal, we were yanked unceremoniously off the net. For anyone who noticed...we're back! Keep checking back for new content and thanks for your support.

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Stuntman Takes a Fall at Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show 



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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Frozen Fireworks for the Fourth - darthmaz314 Celebrates Independence Day

darthmaz314 celebrates the Fourth with the Frozen Fireworks from the Frozen Summer Fun Celebration. This show is by far one of Walt Disney World's best fireworks shows. You can enjoy the video from the viewer below right  here at darthmaz314.com or on our YouTube channel Joe Darthmaz.  

Enjoy and Happy Fourth of July from darthmaz314.com.




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Happy 4th of July from darthmaz314.com's Disney Snapshot of the Day: Disney Fireworks

As America celebrates it's Independence Day, the darthmaz314 Disney Snapshot of the Day brings you an image that is unmistakably American...Disney fireworks. In a time of immense turmoil in the world, and more disturbingly, right here in our homeland, it is crucial to remember that with all its flaws and blemishes, our nation, unlike many others, has its roots in freedom, self-determination, and opportunity. Only in America, could a young man on the verge of financial ruin, make a sketch of a cartoon mouse on a cross country train trip and though his perseverance, determination, hard work, and imagination, parlay it in to a multi-billion dollar entertainment empire that brings joy and wonder to millions every day across the globe.

Today, let's be proud. Proud to be a young upstart nation that refused to yield. Proud to be part of a nation with a short past, but a bright future. Proud to enjoy the freedom that makes us vulnerable at times, but strong always. Let's be proud of that which makes us hated by others, the envy of not being able to attain in their ancient lands, what we have built and maintained here for over two hundred years. In short, let's be proud to be American.

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Fireworks Disney Style and the Fourth of July: Two Things All American Through and Through

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

darthmaz314 Disney Snapshot of the Day - The Magic of Disney Animation

darthmaz314's Disney Snapshot of the Day today offers a look at the signage for The Magic of Disney Animation attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios. This attraction combines a look at the process of making Disney/Pixar animated films with character interactions and sneak peaks at concept art from current Disney/Pixar films. At the far end of the Animation Courtyard, nestled between Playhouse Disney and the Voyage of the Little Mermaid and right next to that omnipresent sea of strollers, you will find this charming attraction sign, an elegant and subdued nod to the Walt Disney Studios in California and to classic Disney animation. 

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Disney Snapshot of the Day - The Magic of Disney Animation 


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Thursday, May 21, 2015

darthmaz314 Disney Snapshot of the Day - Disney After Dark - Cinderella Castle

darthmaz314's Disney Snapshot of the Day today features a nighttime view of Cinderella Castle with the obligatory reflection in the moat water. While my obsessive nature and love of all things clear and crisp when it comes to photos and video nearly prevented me from offering this one up, I do feel that there is something different about the slight out of focus fuzziness that makes this photo somewhat charming. Hopefully, you agree...all seven of you. 


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Disney After Dark - Cinderella Castle



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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

darthmaz314 Video Featurette: Full HD Video of Festival of Fantasy Parade from Magic Kingdom


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Maleficent Dragon from Festival of Fantasy Parade at Disney's Magic Kingdom

The last few years have brought many changes to central Florida theme parks in general and Walt Disney World in particular. Intense competition and major park additions over at Universal, Disney's main competitor, have compelled Disney to initiate a whole slew of construction projects which will debut over the next several years. One of the more recent additions to Walt's World was the introduction of New Fantasyland, which brought us an expansion of the classic Dumbo attraction, a new interactive water play area named Casey Jr.'s Soak Station, the truly unique Be Our Guest Restaurant experience, and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train family thrill ride, to name a few.

New Fantasyland also brought with it a new Magic Kingdom daytime parade entitled Festival of Fantasy. Disney is world renown for setting the standard when it comes to parades. True, there is nothing like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and there are those who would swear that nothing can hold a candle to the Tournament of Roses Parade, but these are painstakingly planned and prepared for across 364 crescendo-building days and then they explode into a few hours of organized chaos. 

What sets Disney apart in comparison to these parades of pageantry and tradition? Disney puts on a parade every day. In fact, they put on several of them a day, sometimes putting on the same one twice in one day. Considering all of this, it is hard to imagine that Disney could still surprise their die-hard fans. Well, whether you are a die-hard or a newcomer, if you haven't seen the Festival of Fantasy parade, prepare to be surprised.

This parade combines all the traditional elements of a classic Disney Parks parade, but infuses a few new twists that bring the experience to a whole new level. As with all Disney parades, there are plenty of characters, drawn from many of your favorite Disney films such as Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, The Little Mermaid, Brave, Pinocchio, and of course, the instant classic, Frozen. New and imaginative floats, each unique and distinct from one another are featured in this parade. While the previous Magic Kingdom day parade leaned toward uniformity with a multitude of floats spotlighting characters enclosed in snow globes, the Festival of Fantasy parade rolls out a cavalcade of floats all painstakingly designed and themed to the film that they represent. Case in point is the Pinocchio float, which consists of an enormous whimsical recreation of Monstro the whale, which the famous wooden boy rides "on" in this parade, instead of "in" as he does in the classic film.

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Pinocchio Float from Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom 

If there is a criticism of this parade, it would be that as with much of Fantasyland, it is heavily themed toward princesses and therefore, the female audience. But if you can keep the boys and men from fleeing the parade route when the testosterone begins to rage, they are in for a treat...a very large, ominous, fire breathing treat. Toward the end of the parade, the true star of the parade makes her appearance. A mechanical (some say "steampunk" decribes it best) version of the Maleficent dragon comes gliding down the parade route in all its powerful and menacing glory. As if its mere presence wasn't enough, it rears is ferocious head and breathes a blast of fire high above the crowd to let everyone know whose parade this truly is. This alone is worth offering up fifteen minutes of your Disney World day. 

So be sure not to miss the Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom if you will be at Walt Disney World in the near future. If not, please enjoy the full parade in HD video right here at darthmaz314.com or on our YouTube channel Joe Darthmaz. Also be sure to check out our Festival of Fantasy photo post for HD stills from every portion of the parade coming soon. 


Watch the full Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom here on darthmaz314.com or by visiting our You Tube channel Joe Darthmaz by clicking the link below:





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Monday, May 4, 2015

May the Fourth Be With You from darthmaz314.com!

darthmaz314.com wishes you a Happy Star Wars Day!

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One of the Best Star Wars Shirts Ever


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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Part II of A Look Back on The Force Awakens Speculation: darthmaz314 Repost: Part II of "Episode VII: Can It 'Bring Back Star Wars?"


Star Wars: The Force Awakens is less than eight months from release, so darthmaz314 thought it would be fun to look back on two blogs posted over two years ago speculating in the ability of the film to revitalize the Star Wars franchise. Here is Part II of our repost of "Episode VII: Can It 'Bring Back Star Wars?"

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A Long Time Ago…There Was a Great Story  

So what will make Episode VII a success?


darthmaz314
The Archetypal Characters
of Star Wars 
The same thing that has captivated audiences since the tribal elders spun yarns around the fire, eons ago will make Episode VII a success…a good story filled with interesting characters. Sure there are successful films with scripts not worth the paper that they were printed on, but crammed full of stars and special effects that make big money and are beloved by moviegoers, but they are rare. The true powerhouses of modern cinema history are all driven by a good story. Star Wars was a compelling tale told in theclassic mythological tradition and chock full of classic (archetypal) characters (the idealistic, adventure seeking youth, the wise old wizard, the swashbuckling pirate, etc.). Star Wars was unlike any film people had seen before 1977, but the special effects alone would not have made it the legend that it became. It was a very basic story that we could all relate to that drew us in and hooked us forever. What kid didn’t dream of being Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia? What dad didn’t secretly dream of being Han Solo, or for those with a darker soul, Darth Vader? It sounds simple, but it works…a good story filled with interesting characters. 

Great Performances 
Even the best story can crash and burn when told through weak performances. In my humble opinion, the casting of Anakin Skywalker doomed the prequel trilogy from realizing its true potential. We could have overlooked Jar Jar. We could have overlooked Darth Vader’s tragic wail of “Noooooooooooooooo” at the end of Revenge of the Sith.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
 We could have overlooked some of the weak and cheesy dialog that peppers the prequels. Yet it is hard to overlook a subpar performance delivered by the principal character in all three films. To be fair, I have never seen Jake Lloyd or Hayden Christensen in any other films. They may be the best actors since Greek tragedy first debuted in Athens, but they are difficult to watch at times in Episodes I – III.

darthmaz314
Hayden Christensen May Not Have
Been the Best Choice
True, Jake Lloyd was only a young child and he is not the worst child actor ever captured on film, but asking him to carry one of the most anticipated films of all time, may have been a burden too heavy for his little shoulders. Yet the blame shouldn’t fall on him. It is impossible to imagine that there were not better actors that tested for the part of Anakin (at both ages.) The performances are more glaring when held up against costars like Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Natalie Portman, all three of whom are among the best actors working today.

In retrospect, good casting makes you unable to comprehend anyone portraying the characters other than those that appear in the movie. Could anyone else have played Han Solo? In 1976, you could probably have made a case for several other actors. But after the legend of Han Solo was enshrined in the hearts and minds (and action figures) of the world, we couldn’t even fathom Christopher Walken as the Corellian smuggler in anything other than an SNL skit. Who else but Ewan McGregor could have played young Obi Wan Kenobi? After watching Revenge of the Sith recently, I almost felt as though McGregor had been in the original trilogy and had pulled a Benjamin Button on us all. 


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Ewan McGregor is Brilliant as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Prequel Films

Episode VII will have the benefit of familiar (and legendary) faces to bolster the cast. Recent reports all but confirm that Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher have been secured to reprise their iconic roles as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia for Episode VII. Whether or not Han Solo lives through the new trilogy will remain to be seen. Harrison Ford tried talking George Lucas into killing Solo in The Empire Strikes Back. As if the ending of that film was not dark enough for my (at the time) seven year old mind!

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Harrison Ford Thought Han Solo Should
Die in The Empire Strikes Back
Luckily, Lucas was stubborn back then too and having complete autonomy in the Star Wars universe, he got his way. The difference was that we all agreed with his point of view and there was no internet, so no one called for his head in 1980. Although the original trilogy principal actors will return, they will most likely be relegated to supporting roles. This means that the plot will be driven by a crop of newly cast, younger actors, in whose hands the Force, and the success of this next trilogy will be placed. All we can hope for is that the casting folks will, take a cue from the knight guarding the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and will “choose wisely” when filing the key roles for Episode VII. 

No Soap Opera Miracles
A sure fire way to doom the franchise would be to attempt to somehow resurrect Darth Vader, although one can’t imagine how when we all watched him die and saw his body incinerated on a funeral pyre. Oh, and we also saw him appear as a “force ghost” at the end of Return of the Jedi. Actually, we saw this twice, with two different actors, so one could assume, aside from a soap opera style resurrection, that Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader is dead.

darthmaz314
The Circle is Now Complete
The Emperor, although less conclusive in terms of evidence, should also be dead based on what we saw in Return of the Jedi. Could he be brought back in some possible way? He could, but he would be ridiculously old and it would be a real stretch to believe that he made it out of the Death Star after essentially being in the middle of a nuclear meltdown. 
The point is that a new trilogy can be very successful with a new crop of villains. Darth Maul, Count Dooku, and General Grievous were all interesting and intriguing characters, all newly imagined for the prequel trilogy. The Star Wars audience is an intelligent and extremely invested group that takes the “universe” of Lucas’ creation very seriously. Bringing back Vader like Bobby Ewing in the shower on Dallas would insult their intelligence and be a monumental mistake. 
darthmaz314
The Prequel Villains Held Their Own - They Should Not Try to Resurrect Darth Vader

Don’t Mess with the Force 

Although, I was a fan of JJ Abrams’ “Star Trek” reboot, there were many Star Trek fans that were twisted by his disregard for the decades-old Star Trek timeline. In the film, Abrams essentially creates a new alternate reality that Star Trek fans now have to deal with if they wish to continue following the movies. His tampering with the backstory and history of Star Trek is astounding considering the near biblical reverence and attention that was previously afforded to the Star Trek legacy before the new film. This history was preserved and guarded by so many people, across decades of time, five television series, and almost a dozen films, that it was near blasphemy to even consider changing a syllable of the Trek gospel. Yet, it was done. 

darthmaz314
Episode VII Director
JJ Abrams 
How is it possible for this to happen? The answer is simple. Abrams was allowed to do it. The owners of the franchise were most likely desperate to reinvigorate Star Trek, as it has been dead since (and essentially during) the Enterprise television series. So how do they bring back a “brand” that has been in existence in popular culture since the 1960s? Obviously, you change what was has existed and endured for forty years, how else? New fans will never know anything was changed and you can hopefully lure them and their future kids, in for the next forty years. The risk is that you alienate the fans from the previous forty years. Luckily, the Star Trek reboot was faithful to much of the franchise’s classic lore, so previous fans can still follow if they can swallow the deviations. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Abrams made one hell of a movie. 
darthmaz314
Longtime Collaborators & Friends
Steven Spielberg & Kathleen Kennedy
The fact that Episode VII will be a continuation of the Star Wars tale should eliminate the option of Disney taking too many liberties with the history. Also, the fact that George Lucas is still drawing breath on planet Earth assures me that no one is going to screw around with his story. He may have been given four billion dollars be Disney, but something tells me that there is a creative consultant clause buried under all that money as well. Another safeguard may be Kathleen Kennedy, the new queen of Lucasfilm. Being a lifelong collaborator with Lucas’ buddy Steven Spielberg, and I’m pretty sure fairly tight with George himself, it is hard to imagine that she will desecrate the gospel of Star Wars while the brand is under her stewardship.
  
All in all, the future appears to be bright for Episode VII. darthmaz314 is optimistic that Episode VII will reinvigorate the Star Wars franchise and bring back the glory days of the Force. So for those who heard about Episode VII and said, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” darthmaz314 understands your trepidation, but offers another tidbit from the Star Wars universe, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”    

 darthmaz314 always welcomes your comments and 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...