June 22, 2010

Summerbreak '010: Disney FTW!!

With Disney's new nighttime spectacular, World of Color, in it's second week of blowing minds over at Disney (Finally-There's-A-Reason-To-Go-There-Even-If-You-Don't-Have-An-Annual-Pass) California Adventure and this week's release of Pixar's Toy Story 3 capturing hearts with record-breaking box office and critical success, I think it is safe to say that Disney is winning the summer entertainment race. In terms of storytelling, quality, and technical innovation, John Lasseter (with a little bit of Bob Iger) is the second coming of Walt Disney as far as I'm concerned. It's an exciting time to be a Disney fan because those imagineers and storytellers haven't been pushed to their full potential in a while. And they have to be. Competition has never been so fierce. Universal's much anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter also opened this month, and to universal (more than just pun intended) acclaim. Those lucky enough to have already experienced it are consistently praising it as the most immersive theme park experience yet. Who will win the epic battle of theme park awesomeness? Well, hopefully no one. It's the competition that is the best news for my fellow leisure-ites and enthusiasts. The fiercer the competition, the more incredible the attractions will be and they'll be unleashed at a faster rate too as both powerhouses continue to one-up each other. It's a great time to be alive! Anyway, I won't be able to make it out to the Wizarding World until November (but you can look for my thoughts on it after Thanksgiving), but below I'll be sharing my thoughts on Disney's new summer offerings.

Toy Story 3
What is there to say about Toy Story 3 that hasn't already been said by every fan and critic across the country? Nothing really. It's a trilogy so finely crafted and superior to most everything else in every possible way that choosing one installment over another is simply impossible. Every second and inch of the frame is utilized to maximum effect, there is never a wasted moment. The Toy Story saga is an unbelievable triumph of storytelling...a true gift from the movie gods that will be timeless and beloved for as long as stories and goodness exist. I must say though that one of my favorite aspects of this film were the new characters, specifically Bonnie's thespian toys, and I feel like we could have been given a little more time with them. Obviously a lot of work went in to making them immediately likable with the likes of Timothy Dalton, Bonnie Hunt, and Jeff Garlin voicing Mr. Pricklepants (the German hedgehog), Dolly (the doll), and Buttercup (the unicorn) respectively. Not to mention the voice-less, yet already lovable, Totoro. And they had to be great characters too, because they weren't given much time to be developed, yet by the end they were fully fledged members of the core Toy Story gang. Oh well, I already have something to look forward to in the inevitable Toy Story 4. Even though TS3 is an ideal conclusion to an exceptional trilogy, I can see Woody and Co. going on plenty more adventures and as long as those adventures are crafted with as much love as the first three, you won't hear any complaints from me.

Jeff Garlin loves Chocolate Rain

World of Color
After years of much anticipation, World of Color does not disappoint! It's a dazzling, epic, technical and artistic spectacle to behold. The color and projection of these high-tech water fountains are so unbelievably vibrant that photos and video could never do it justice. And the water fountain choreography is unlike anything ever seen before. It definitely keeps the audience awestruck for its 25 minute running time as it dances through the various "movements" featuring favorite Disney movie moments, as well as some surprisingly obscure characters and songs. Gotta love that classic Wonderful World of Color theme song remix. It is a truly spectacular show Disney has created, especially considering they pretty much only need one cast member to press a start button 3 times a night for it to entertain thousands. Having said that though, WOC is not perfect. I have minor gripes: The only Mickey Mouse presence in the show is the face on Mickey's Fun Wheel that serves as its backdrop. The much hyped Alice in Wonderland sequence featuring new paper cut-out animation is basically cut from the final show. The viewing area is definitely not adequate for the size of the crowd. You will get wet. As much as I loved World of Color, I still prefer Fantasmic!. Although the plot is very thin, there is still a logical flow and storyline to follow in Fantasmic! and live actors really do add an important component to a show. When it comes to a Disney show finale, you really can't beat a heroic Mickey shooting sparks from his fingers. Plus that finale music is so incredibly magical and triumphant as the Mark Twain filled with dancing characters comes rolling out from behind Tom Sawyer's Island! ...it's the best. But World of Color is pretty damn good too! ...and there is a really cool pre-show that precedes it...but I'll let you experience that delightful bonus for yourself.

Glow Fest
Glow Fest? What the whaaat? What all those World of Color advertisements don't tell you is that you have to get to the park when it opens and stand in a long line to to get a coveted WOC Fastpass just so you can stand in an area where you can actually see the show. For everyone who doesn't get to see WOC (and also everyone who did), Disney invented Glow Fest as a distraction from the disappointment. And it ain't such a bad deal, it's a lot better than nothing. Glow Fest is an all evening dance party that takes place in the Hollywood Backlot area of DCA that includes dancers, lasers, a DJ, remixes to pop and Disney music, video screens featuring Disney video remixes by internet-famous DJ Pogo, and I think it starts off with some sort of show with musicians...I don't know, I wasn't there for that part, waiting and watching WOC and all. Also, there are multiple "bars" set up down the backlot area selling glowing alcoholic (and non-acoholic) beverages to drown those WOC-less blues away. And I must say, it's a pretty freakin' sweet thing they've got going! I have never been on Disney property and watched multiple dance circles form! It was just plain fun, everyone pumped up from the music and booze and bright colors. I wouldn't mind seeing this as a permanent fixture of DCA, but I'm not gonna get my hopes up....it's not particularly small-children friendly either.

To conclude this post, Disney has some pretty sweet stuff going on over at California Adventure this summer, with a lot more awesome new stuff coming in the next couple years. We may not be too far away from DCA growing up into a real Disney theme park someday! So get over there! Glow Fest won't be around forever, although you do have some time with World of Color as I'm sure it will be a permanent fixture of the park for the next 20 years. And go see Toy Story 3 immediately, its a true masterpiece! Great job, Disney.

DJ Pogo's Alice Remix

Leisure on!

1 comment:

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