Solo: A Star Wars Story Review and Analysis (Spoiler Alert!)

Solo: A Star Wars Story Review and Analysis (Spoiler Alert!)

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They should have called it “Scoundrels: A Star Wars Story”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoyed this movie; I just don’t think it should have been called “Solo”. I didn’t love it, but I liked it and felt it was a good way to spend a lazy afternoon. However, I feel like it does better without the Solo name attached to it. I purposefully went into the theater trying to forget the Han Solo I knew and the original trilogy. I did not want my opinions of Han Solo as a character to color the movie. Nobody can replace Harrison Ford as Han Solo, so I made a point of separating Alden Ehrenreich’s Character from Solo entirely in my mind. On that level, it really works.

As a science fiction heist film it plays fairly well, but check your expectations of a Star Wars film at the door. There are several moments of heavy fan-service, but other than that, the film works best when you let yourself forget that it’s Han Solo or the Star Wars universe. After a few minutes or so of trying not to compare it to the Star Wars characters I know and love, it was easy to slip into the story at hand.

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On that point, the story is pretty solid. It’s nothing special, but it’s still enjoyable. A couple heists, a raving villain, some double-crossing shenanigans… you get the picture. It may be what people expect, no more and no less, but that’s part of the fun. Sometimes you just want some crowd-pleasing simplistic entertainment; the same viewer mentality of Saturday morning Kung Fu movies. As long as you go into it knowing what you’re in for, you might actually find yourself enjoying it!

There was a lot of fan service, even more so than Rogue One. But, besides from a few hammy and forced moments (The Imperial March playing in-universe, weird droid crushes, and Han’s gurgling linguistics as a few examples), these didn’t interrupt the flow of the movie very much. In my opinion, casual fans will have no problem getting into this movie as it doesn’t alienate them, and yet there are enough inside-jokes for the super-fans to feel special. A previous knowledge of the Star Wars canon isn’t really needed to jump in and enjoy the story. It truly is a standalone movie, with very little impact on the larger Star Wars Universe, and with very little interference from it in return. In fact, it’s actually a little crazy when you remember that there is no mention of The Force at all in this movie (something that has never happened before in a Star Wars film); an impressive feat when you realize how iconic the Force is to the Star Wars mythos.

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The movie has good design and special effects, something that you can always expect from Star Wars, and the cinematography is solid. The writing is competent, even if it’s nothing particularly memorable. The score is average, as is always the case when John Williams is not the composer for Star Wars, but it performs well for it’s purpose. The performances are actually surprisingly good for what the actors have been given, and as long as you separate Alden Ehrenreich from Harrison Ford in your mind, his performance is just fine. The real standout performance for me was Donald Glover as Lando (you probably saw that one coming); he really nails the charisma and confidence of Billy Dee Williams and does the character justice. A more surprising performance was the eccentric and creepy Dryden Voss (Paul Bettany) who really leaves a slimy impression with comparatively little screen time.

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Of course, some of the characters are little bit…extreme…for my taste, with some being unique in a good way, and others not so much. There was one character that I felt was a little bit preachy. I felt like the droid, L3-37, monologued about her political ideals a little too much. she could have gotten the same message across with little more subtlety, but that’s just my personal opinion. I freely admit that I’m very picky when it comes to subtlety in characters; preferring actions to speak louder than words when it comes to motivation.

However, even with this personal preference, I wasn’t bothered by the character and still enjoyed her antics. So no harm done in the end I guess. In the end, all of the characters fit well with the tone of the story.

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That’s another thing; the story could be better, but It’s a miracle that it’s not awful. Let me explain! Now, I’m just speculating, and I could be completely wrong, but I believe that we almost got a very bad movie! In my opinion, Lucasfilm seemed to abandon hope over Solo as soon as they fired Christopher Miller and Phil Lord. They released Solo a mere month after Infinity War, and had Incredibles 2 come out not long after, which bespeaks a fear that Solo wouldn’t do so well at the Box Office. Usually a company will only plan releases so close to each other if they expect one of them to be a failure. It’s no secret that Ron Howard is a ‘safe’ replacement and reshot 60-75% of the movie not long before its release.

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In my opinion, this was because the previous directors’ work was so bad that Lucasfilm was in emergency mode and made last-minute changes to try and salvage the situation; not even expecting someone as competent as Ron Howard to fix it. Now this is all speculation of course, but there are enough irreverent “21-Jump Street style” Jokes in the movie (They are awful and my least favorite part of Solo) which feel too much like Lord and Miller’s style for us to ignore this idea. Imagine a whole Star Wars movie of cringey wink-at-the-audience and fourth-wall-breaking jokes. I believe this sophomoric humor was the direction the film was going, and that’s why the directors were fired so disgracefully. If this was true, it’s a miracle that Ron Howard managed to make anything decent out of it.

But all that speculation aside, what we got wasn’t that bad at all! Solo is a solid film and not the complete disaster everyone was expecting it to be.

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What to Pack for the Disney Parks!

What to Pack for the Disney Parks!

When getting ready for a Disney vacation, it always pays to be prepared. With that in mind, here is our helpful packing list of what you should bring to Disney in order to have the happiest day possibly in the parks.

(Note: Here is a link to the official Disney Website if you are looking for a list of banned items in the parks… https://disneyland.disney.go.com/faq/parks/permitted-items/)

Let’s get packing!

 

  1. Your Backpack!

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I always recommend a normal school sized backpack, with comfortable straps and a sleek fabric. It is important that none of the zippers, buttons, or straps are broken because that will be an unwanted hassle for you during the day. Also, the style of bag is important to the individual, if you are used to carrying a backpack don’t bring a purse-style bag, it will get annoying!

Pro tip! Make sure the straps of the pack are long enough that when you are sitting you can easily strap it over one of your legs. On rides like Space mountain, the Matterhorn, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, you have to hold the bag by your feet. If you can slip a strap over your leg to secure the bag it will let you enjoy the ride more instead of trying to hold onto your bag.

 

 

  1. Light Jacket!

Even if the predicted temperature is 100 degrees, I still always recommend bringing a light jacket. You can use it for the cold, protection from water on Splash Mountain or Grizzly River Rapids, or as a seat cushion when waiting to see a show or parade.

Pro tip! Always pack the jacket first so it sits on the bottom of your bag and you can easily reach all of your other items.

 

  1. Water!

Bring a water bottle! There are water fountains around the parks and a cup of water is always free at food establishments, so you can fill up anywhere. It does add weight to your bag but staying hydrated is important and cheaper then buying drinks throughout your day to quench your thirst.

Pro tip! What my family always does is use plastic water bottles. Each person that has a backpack brings two or three and we refill those lighter bottles throughout the day.

 

  1. Snacks!

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Disney food can be expensive, that is no secret! If you are on a tight budget, or even a tight schedule, and don’t want to stop for snacks then bring some! I always pack a Ziploc bag of popcorn, pretzels or cheese-its. I also bring non-melting candy and fruit snacks. It is a common misconception that food isn’t allowed to be brought into the parks but it is, so stock up! 

Pro tip! Don’t forget to buy at least one Disney snack, they are delicious and totally worth it.

 

  1. Electronics!

Bring a portable battery! Taking Instagram-able pictures is just part of the experience but you don’t want your phone to die halfway through the day. Last time I went to the parks I brought two portable chargers for my phone! Also, if have a nice camera and really think you’ll pull out throughout the day and get some shots with it, don’t forget to pack that.

Pro tip! I always keep the portable batteries in the outermost pocket with nothing else in that pocket. This makes it easy to still use your phone while it’s charging and if it is alone it won’t tangle with other items.

 

  1. Wallet!

Make sure your wallet has a safe place for your admission ticket. Also, since this is a packing list, don’t forget other important things like your credit card or drivers license. But don’t forget it at your hotel, it is a real hassle, I know from experience. 

Pro tip! Since you have to use your ticket in order to use Fastpasses, try to find a small wallet with just the bare necessities. That way, you won’t lose track of it!

 

  1. Sun Protection!

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Besides the cute Mickey Ears, you probably also want to bring a cute baseball cap. Along with protection on the top of your head, you should also protect your eyes and skin. I would recommend bringing sunscreen and sunglasses; in your favorite Disney styles, of course.

Pro tip! If you are worried about a hat messing up your hair, you could always pack a small brush or just throw on mickey ears over it. That way you don’t have to care. 

 

  1. Space to bring home souvenirs!

If you’re at a Disney park you will most likely find something that you love and purchase it! So, make sure you have room to carry it around the parks so it doesn’t became a problem later in the day. Or if you collect something specific, bring things to accommodate your collection. For example I collect maps, so I bring a folder to put them in. That they don’t wrinkle. I also collect pressed pennies, so I bring a small coin purse to hold those too.

Pro tip! Try saving your souvenir shopping until the end of the day. You don’t want your bag to be to heavy! But, don’t forget to check out the various shops as you go through your day around the resort!

 

Thank you for reading my first post (This is Erin, by the way)! I hope this helps you have an even more magical time on your next Disney visit!

 

Walt Disney’s Final Dream: Legacy of Utopia (The EPCOT that never came to be Pt.3)

Walt Disney’s Final Dream: Legacy of Utopia (The EPCOT that never came to be Pt.3)

A Tribute to 95 Years of the Walt Disney Company

(Note: This is the final part of a 3-part post. You can find Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.)

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“Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney… and to the talents, the dedication, and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney’s dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring joy and inspiration and new knowledge to all who come to this happy place … a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn together.”

Roy O. Disney, Walt Disney’s brother and lifelong partner, stood in front of dozens of cameras on October 25th, 1971 as he dedicated the Walt Disney World Resort. Roy had always been camera shy, and it wasn’t easy for him to be the center of attention. That was always Walt’s thing. But now Walt Disney was gone. Roy had lost his best friend and business partner five years earlier, and although half a decade had passed, Roy still missed him terribly. It just wasn’t the same without Walt.epcot 52To honor his brother, Roy, then acting as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, had decided to officially rename Disney World as Walt Disney World; a small but powerful change that reminds the world who it was that started the Disney magic in their hearts. Roy decided to do everything he could to ensure that his brother’s final dream came to be. If Roy had anything to say about it, EPCOT, Walt’s final dream for a utopian city, would come true. He would make it a reality, no matter how much the board protested.

But sadly, it was not to be. A mere two months after he gave the dedication for Walt Disney World, Roy passed away. On December 20th, 1971, Roy Disney died at age 78, and the Walt Disney Company was left without the stable leadership of either of its founders.epcot 48Due to this, EPCOT would sadly never come to be. But that does not mean that all the ideas which came with it had to die. In fact, although we will probably never get to see Walt Disney’s final dream come to fruition, we can still see sparks of it in the final design of what became Walt Disney World.

3: Revisiting Utopia

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It wasn’t as if nobody tried to make Walt Disney’s dream of EPCOT a reality. Even after Roy’s death, members of the board who believed in Walt’s dream still championed the cause. In the late 1970’s Card Walker, Disney’s CEO at the time, even tried to get the board interested in the concept again. But every time the concept was brought up, it was shot down as too risky. Perhaps it was risky without the guiding vision of Walt Disney. With Walt Disney, nothing had seemed impossible. But after his death, the company was thrown in to turmoil, functioning on a “what would Walt do” philosophy, but without the actual vision and endless enthusiasm that the man himself had. It was a rough time for the company.

The result of this philosophy led to a sort of compromise. The Disney Board would allow the Walt Disney World resort to expand and add another theme park in honor the idea of EPCOT, but they would not actually build the city. So, the Imagineers, many of whom had known Walt Disney personally, decided to pour their hearts and souls into this ‘new’ EPCOT. Even if it wasn’t going to be the dream that Walt had in mind, they were determined to pay tribute to it as much as possible.

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A team of dedicated artists and craftsmen poured over the plans for EPCOT, trying to see what they could keep from the concepts and what would have to be removed. They settled upon the seemingly opposite concepts of technological innovation and honoring world culture. On one side of the park, Walt’s idea to show off the latest technology to visitors around the globe was repurposed as Future World. On the other side of the park, Walt’s idea of having a common place where the history and culture of every country could be honored and practiced came to be reimagined as World Showcase.

The Monorail went on to become the major transportation system for the entire Walt Disney World Resort, even if it wasn’t used quite the same way it was originally planned. The PeopleMover sadly never became the traffic-eliminating system that it was intended to be for future cities, but it was beautifully realized in the Magic Kingdom where guests can still get a taste for Walt’s vision for ease-of-access transportation today.

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Even EPCOT’s major means of funding was derived from Walt’s original plans. Partnerships with the world’s leading corporations, and even with the governments of the countries that the Imagineers would honor, led to the creation of a sort of permanent world’s fair and helped make sure that EPCOT would have the money it needed to get started. The leaders of industry from around the world would make sure that EPCOT would be up-to-date with the latest technological wonders and attractions, just like Walt had planned for the homes of his original concept.

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It’s hard to tell if EPCOT as it was originally intended would have been a success, but Walt Disney proved time and again that he was a man who could accomplish the “impossible”. It would have been fascinating to find out if that would have been the case in this instance. Even though EPCOT evolved into something different from what Walt originally planned, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t good! In fact, EPCOT was a resounding success and a phenomenal park; proof that the spirit of Walt Disney lived on in the hearts and minds of those who knew him. So, next time you visit the park, take a moment to stop and imagine what might have been, and allow yourself to be inspired by Walt Disney’s final dream. (<<PREVIOUS PAGE) (<FIRST PAGE>)

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Lifelong best friends, partners, and brothers Walt and Roy Disney pose with child actress Margie Gay for a publicity shot in 1925; a mere 2 years after founding their company.

Walt Disney’s Final Dream: Utopia Lost (the EPCOT that never came to be)

Walt Disney’s Final Dream: Utopia Lost (the EPCOT that never came to be)

A tribute to 95 years of the Walt Disney Company

(Note: This is Part 1 of a 3-Part Post. You can find Part 2 HERE, and Part 3 HERE)

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“And now, here is Walt Disney.” The narrator says as the camera focuses on an older gentleman sitting on a desk amidst concepts and artwork.

Walt Disney, the famous dreamer and architect of fantasy, warmly welcomes everyone during a special television program on October 27th, 1966; proceeding to explain what he’s been planning next. His eyes sparkle and a childish smile sneaks onto his lips. He’s filming this program to tell the world about his newest and greatest vision; the Florida Project, also known as Walt Disney World. With enthusiasm that is infectious, Mr. Disney points to a large map of Disney World and addresses the audience.

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“But the most exciting, and by far the most important part of our Florida Project, in fact the heart of everything we’ll be doing in Disney World, will be our Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow. We call it EPCOT.”

He points to the top of the map, to an area of land that makes Disneyland look like a small garden by comparison. It’s a massive area of land, miles across, and it so happens to be Walt Disney’s greatest dream; a utopia of innovation and inspiration. It’s a new project dedicated to making the world a better place, something that Mr. Disney always wanted to do. You can also tell by the look of pure joy on his face that it is something which he cannot wait to accomplish…

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But sadly, he never had the chance.

Walt Disney passed away a month and a half later.

On December 15th, 1966, the world was shocked by the loss of one of America’s most beloved icons, a mere ten days after his 65th birthday. It was sudden and unexpected, and the world was not ready for such a loss. The people grieved, and the dream of EPCOT never came to be…at least, not how it was originally intended.

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newspaper depicting the mourning of Walt

But what was the original intention for this ‘City of Tomorrow’? Why did it never come to be?

To celebrate 95 years of the Walt Disney Company, we will be uncovering the mysteries of this final Disney dream!

1: The Revolutionary Design:

In the 1960’s, after the enormous success of Disneyland, Walt wanted to take his ‘Imagineering’ to the next level. After seeing the sleazy motels, businesses, and tourism that popped up around Disneyland because of its popularity, Walt became dissatisfied with the chaos of the city. He desired a place where living and working were safe, comfortable, and beneficial to all. Thus, the idea for Disney World was born; a place for people to live and work that would have enough space for Walt to dream up anything that he could possibly imagine…and keep the chaos of the outside world from encroaching on it. It would be his own little world for people to work, live, and play. There would be a real Disney city in Disney World, not just a new theme park!

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Walt’s city would be a futuristic, carefully planned, well-organized, and beautiful near-utopia…at least, as close to utopia as imperfect humans could get; even Walt knew that they would make plenty of mistakes and that his city would be far from perfect, but that didn’t stop him from trying. He was determined to at least make it cleaner and more organized than similar American cities at the time; meticulously designed to provide ease-of-access to its citizens. This City of the future soon became known as EPCOT, The Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.

Inspired by revolutionary designs in city planning, specifically the garden city movement started by Ebenezer Howard in his book ‘Garden Cities of To-morrow’, Walt tasked his Imagineers with the careful and meticulous planning that EPCOT would require. The city design may have seemed simple at first glance, but each facet of the project had a million details that needed to be attended to.

 

 

The concept of EPCOT was for a radial city; a series of interconnected rings that could be built outward from the circular city center. This would theoretically keep the city connected and organized, preventing overcrowding and minimizing frustration with transportation and living conditions.

The City Center would contain the downtown and commercial areas of EPCOT. It would be here that the Cosmopolitan Hotel/Convention Center would be built; grounding EPCOT at the geographical center of the city as the tallest structure for miles around. This area would be surrounded by shops and restaurants themed to different nations and countries from around the world; catering to foreign residents and the multi-cultural audiences that wished to experience EPCOT; a concept that would eventually inspire the World Showcase section of the current EPCOT theme park. In addition, the city center was to be completely enclosed by a transparent dome to protect it from outside weather conditions and pollution.

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The second ring, referred to as the Green Belt, would contain the city’s public services, such as pools, libraries, parks, post offices, stadiums, and schools. The Green Belt would then connect to the third ring, which would contain the low-residential areas. This suburb-style area would be divided into petal shaped loops. In a green area in the center of the petals, there would be recreational spaces for the residents, with the houses and amenities circling them.

The final ring of the city, the rim of EPCOT, was to hold the high-density apartment housing and would also be EPCOT’s tourist hub; all incoming visitors would arrive at EPCOT’s airport located near this area. Walt didn’t just want EPCOT to be an isolated city, but rather an example to the rest of the world of how cities could be in the future. He wanted it to inspire visitors from around the globe to return home and make their own cities better.

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And indeed, the planned culture and lifestyle of EPCOT was very inspiring! You can read how in Part 2 HERE! Or, if you want to learn what eventually happened to the EPCOT concept, you can just move on to Part 3 HERE!

We’re sorry that we must divide this up into multiple parts! We promise that we’d be putting them all in one if there wasn’t so much to talk about! There’s FAR too much information to properly cover in a single post and we didn’t want to try and cram it in all at once. Thank you for your patience!

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Disney’s Peter Pan

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Disney’s Peter Pan

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Disney’s Peter Pan (1953)

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Walt Disney (born 1901) predated the creation of Peter Pan by 3 years. Therefore, he was the perfect age to grow up with the popular play. He was an even better age to be influenced by the subsequent novel which revived the popularity of the show in 1911; being among the thousands of young children who fell in love with story. After seeing it live, he could never forget it, and it even prompted him to play the title character in school.

So, to honor this classic’s 65th Anniversary, and Walt’s love of the story, here’s a list of 5 things you may not know about Peter Pan!

#1: It Was Almost Abandoned

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early concept

It was no surprise that Walt had always wanted to make a Peter Pan film. In fact, after making Snow White, Walt had originally intended for Peter Pan to be one of his earliest features. He procured the rights as soon as he could afford them and made plans to move into pre-production not long after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was first released.

But fate was not so kind. The rights of Peter Pan were very difficult to obtain because J.M. Barrie had donated them to The Great Ormond Street Hospital in Britain; an act of astounding charity that unknowingly made the rights difficult to license. Eventually, Walt did gain the rights, but it was too late. The U.S. had already been drawn into WW2. The U.S. Government took control of various studios, including Disney, to produce propaganda for the war effort. This brought Peter Pan to a screeching halt. In fact, the project seemed abandoned for good, until Walt managed to get the studio back on track after the war with Cinderella (1950). With the returns from Cinderella, Walt managed to fuel dream projects like Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Sleeping Beauty (1959), and Peter Pan finally made it to the screen after a hectic 15 years in production!

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Darling family concept

#2: Peter Pan Changed Everything

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Peter Pan RKO logo

Peter Pan marked the end of two eras at the Disney Studio. The first was that Peter Pan was the last Disney film in which all of the ‘Nine Old Men’ worked together. The “Nine Old Men’ were the most influential, skilled, and loyal animators at the studio. All of the Nine stayed with the company after Peter Pan, but split up into different projects such as developing Disneyland, or working on live-action films. The second era that Peter Pan ended was that of the ‘third-party distributor’. Peter Pan was the last Disney film to be distributed by a third-party distribution company. In fact, Walt has been working most of his career to accomplish this. He was proud to unveil a brand-new company, Buena Vista Distribution, to the public later that same year! Now he would distribute his own films. This meant that he could finally have 100% control over his product from start to finish. In the past, companies like RKO Radio Productions (the distributor of Peter Pan) would control Disney’s product after it was finished. With Buena Vista, Disney finally had the ability to do what he wanted with his films whether he was finished with them or not.

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the nine!

#3: The Story Was Almost Completely Different

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Over the 15 years of its production, the story of the film changed drastically. In one early version of the film, Peter Pan thought that John was too grown-up for Neverland and abandoned him. This would have made one of the main characters of the original Peter Pan story nonexistent in early drafts! In addition to possibly dropping certain characters, there were also dramatic changes to the overall tone of the film. There was an especially dark and more serious version of the film that was storyboarded, targeted more towards teenagers, that Walt promptly shut down for being too scary. And in a final possibility, Nana, the nursemaid dog, was going to accompany the children to Neverland. In fact, the narrative of the story was going to be told from her point of view!

Of course, any one of these possibilities would have made the story completely different from the beloved tale we know! But it’s fascinating to see what direction the Disney artists went before they settled on the right course. It’s always interesting to see what could have been.

#4: A Popular Tinker Bell Rumor is Actually Wrong

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There is an popular rumor going about Tinker Bell which has gained quite a bit of notoriety. Legend has it that Tinker Bell was modeled after the famous film star Marilyn Monroe. While this is a very interesting, and naturally compelling theory, it is unfortunately NOT TRUE! The idea of Marilyn being popular enough to influence the design of a Disney character has become so popular that Marc Davis himself (Tinker Bell’s designer and animator) went on record to say that he actually directly based Tinker Bell’s design on model Margaret Kerry. Margaret provided live-action reference for the character and the influence of her distinctive features can be clearly seen in Tinker Bell. Tinker Bell may bear a passing resemblance to Marilyn, but it’s impossible for her to be based on the starlet, since Marilyn didn’t really become famous until AFTER Peter Pan!

#5: Extraordinary Casting

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Peter Pan has one of the most fascinating voice casts in all of Disney’s history. A star-studded cast, including a few familiar Disney veterans, filled out the ranks. The title role was filled by Bobby Driscoll, a veteran of five Disney films, and a popular teen heartthrob. Surprisingly, he was the first male to play Peter Pan on film ever! In addition to Driscoll, another Disney child star, Kathryn Beaumont, played Wendy Darling a mere two years after appearing as Alice in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. Finally, to everyone’s excitement, long-time character actor Bill Thompson (White Rabbit, The Dodo, Scrooge McDuck, etc.) played the lovable Mr. Smee.

But it wasn’t only Disney Luminaries who made up the cast. The great Golden Age starlet Heather Angel (Bulldog Drummond) provided the voice of Mrs. Darling, Television superstar Tom Conway (The Falcon) voiced the narrator, and last but not least, unparalleled Radio King and stage veteran Hans Conried (Orson Welle’s Mercury Theatre Company) turned in the distinctive performance of the hilarious Captain Hook; a fan favorite villain. In fact, Hans’s voice is so comparatively unique, that it’s hard not to notice that he also plays Mr. Darling; continuing a peculiar tradition of the stage performance where the same actor always played both characters!

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Conried also played Hook in live-action reference footage so that Hook even looks and moves like him!

Above are rare photos of Conried in costume!

Enjoy these facts? Let us know in the comments! We want to know; what’s your favorite thing about Peter Pan?

The Lost Land of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The Lost Land of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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The Lost Land of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort has always been one of the most fascinating theme parks in the world. However, Animal Kingdom was originally supposed to be even more fascinating than it already is. It was supposed have three separate types of animals featured in the parks; The animals of today, the animals of days gone by, and the animals of fantasy. Obviously, two of these can be found readily enough across the park, with the acres of live-animal habitats and a whole land devoted to Dinosaurs. But what about the animals of fantasy? It turns out that Imagineers had planned plenty of fantasy in the park, but most of it never came to be. However, one of these scrapped concepts was particularly intriguing; the legendary plans for a realm called Beastly Kingdom.

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Unsurprisingly, Disney had originally planned for mythical creatures to be a larger presence in the park; intending them to be the centerpiece of Animal Kingdom’s first major expansion in the years following its opening. It certainly made sense for Disney, a company associated with myth and fantasy, to play to their strengths. So naturally, a massive amount of concept art and development was directed to the creation of a large and intricately themed land based on humanity’s greatest legends.

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Divided into two opposing sections, the concept for the land called Beastly kingdom was intended to be an immersive world surrounding the creatures of mythology. The ‘Dark Side’, located to the left of the entrance, would showcase more heart-thumping thrills, while the ‘Light Side’ on the right would focus more on family attractions.

The Dark Side opened with a twisted path leading through a dark and brooding forest that exited into a large Stonehenge-styled courtyard. There, guests would enter a medieval village that sat under the looming shadow of a crumbling castle tower. Inside the tower, the first of Beastly Kingdom’s E-Ticket attractions would reside; The Dragon’s Tower!

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Guests entered the decrepit fortress to find a roller-coaster/Dark Ride hybrid that would bring them face to face with a fire-breathing animatronic dragon. The guests would board ‘bats’ that flew on a coaster track in a mission to steal back the gold that had been hoarded by a mighty dragon deep within the bowels of the ancient castle; witnessing a supposedly immersive interior filled with grand halls, battered armor, old swords, and piles of endless gold. It was intended to end in a very close and personal encounter with the dragon itself before guests narrowly escaped certain doom. Located in a sub-section of this land, there was going to be shops and eateries surrounding the lagoon of a giant sea-serpent.

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To the right of the entrance, an entirely different path awaited the young at heart; a land of goodness and light. The ‘Light Side’ of Beastly Kingdom would stand in stark contrast to its darker neighbor, supposedly beginning with a path through peaceful woods that opened onto Olympian architecture and Greek statues of an area called ‘Fantasia Gardens’. Here, a tranquil boat ride for the whole family would take you into the mythical world of Disney’s Fantasia (1940) letting you drift past musical scenes from the film, in a visually fantasy of the Disneyland ‘Small World’ variety.

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But Fantasia Gardens, however cute, was simply meant as secondary experience to compliment Beastly Kingdom’s second E-Ticket attraction; Quest for the Unicorn. This walk-through attraction would allow the guests to go on a journey into their most beautiful dreams. Designed as a maze/interactive adventure attraction, Quest for the Unicorn would allow guests to travel through a hedge labyrinth, and past breathtaking sets designed to transport you into a child’s storybook. While there, guests would attempt to locate hidden statues which gave them clues to make it to the center of the maze. Once guests successfully navigated the steps to the center, they would be rewarded with a beautiful chamber of bubbling pools and glittering caves. And there in the center of it all, would be a beautiful animatronic unicorn.

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All in all, Beastly Kingdom was to be a feat of Imagineering that would require all of their vast skills. So, what happened to this enchanted realm of Unicorns and Dragons?

Sadly, at the time Beastly Kingdom was in development, Disney was not ready to commit to the large sum needed for its construction. Due to unforeseen complications at Disney’s overseas parks, the company was not yet willing to risk so much money on an expansion to a park that was already successful, and thus Beastly Kingdom was put on hold. However, Disney would keep delaying the project due to bad luck, and it never really had the time to take off. However, Joe Rohde, the Imagineer in charge of Beastly Kingdom, would continue to hold onto those concepts even through the tough times; eventually spinning them off into new projects like Expedition Everest.

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But finally, with Director James Cameron’s support, and the acquisition of the rights for a popular movie called Avatar, an elaborate new land would finally have the financial backing that it needed. Joe Rohde took the old ride concepts for Beastly Kingdom, and reworked them into the amazing new land called Pandora: The World of Avatar and subsequently built Avatar Flight of Passage (using concepts from Dragon’s Tower) and Na’vi River Journey (using both Fantasia Gardens and Quest of the Unicorn).

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Sadly, the legendary Beastly Kingdom will probably never be built the way it was originally intended. However, there is now a new world full of mythical creatures and immersive environments that you can visit. Even though it’s not the same as Beastly Kingdom, the spirit of adventure and escapism remains through the talented designs of Imagineers that worked on the original Beastly Kingdom. As for us, we are more than happy to have an alien world filled with floating mountains and otherworldly creatures! Believe us; The World of Avatar is worth it!

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Anakin’s Not the Chosen One?

Anakin’s Not the Chosen One?

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Anakin’s Not the Chosen One?

[Want more theories? Check This out!]

Recently there’s been some argument among Star Wars fans about one of the central themes in the Star Wars Universe; the concept of the Chosen One. Specifically, there has been some confusion about who the Chosen One really is because of a line in the TV show ‘Star Wars Rebels’. Some say that the Chosen One may be somebody else besides Anakin Skywalker… It might be Luke Skywalker instead! What in the world, crazy… right?!

Fortunately, a definitive answer to this conundrum has been given to us by Disney. They have confirmed that Anakin is still the Chosen One. However, why would fans think that Luke is the Chosen One instead? Is there enough evidence to support that conclusion? That’s what we want to talk about today! Even though the Chosen One is confirmed to be Anakin, we want to analyze this theory and see if it even makes sense!

ANAKIN:

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The prophecy of the Chosen One is very ambiguous. We know that the Chosen One was supposed to destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force. There are three separate theories as to what the prophecy means by ‘bringing balance to the Force’. Some people believe that bringing balance to the Force refers to the Sith and Jedi being balanced (I.E. equal in number). Others speculate that ‘balance’ is referring to more of a ‘peace’ in the galaxy through the Force. Then there’s a third group that says that ‘balance’ refers to something in-between the Light and the Dark Side of the Force (Gray Jedi).wallup.net

Regardless of which is the ‘real’ interpretation of ‘balance’, Anakin fulfilled all of them anyways. Anakin accomplished the first interpretation in a roundabout way by turning to the Dark Side. He brought ‘balance’ to the Force by destroying the Jedi until there were only two remaining Jedi to match the two Sith, he accomplished ‘peace’ by ushering in a new era through the defeat of the Empire, and he also accomplished the ‘Gray Jedi’ status by converting between both the Dark and the Light Side. Finally, Anakin completes the first half of the prophecy (destroying the Sith) when he turns back to the Light Side and kills his master to save Luke.

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However, this begs the question; regardless of which ‘balance’ theory is correct, aren’t they all undone? If ‘balance’ is created by making the Sith and Jedi equal in number (two of each), then wouldn’t it be undone when Anakin kills Sidious? Wouldn’t that leave one Jedi and no Sith?

What about the second theory, the one about ‘peace’ in the universe? Wouldn’t the continued conflict with the First Order in ‘The Force Awakens’ make that null and void? If there’s ‘balance’ in the galaxy, why is there still so much conflict? Even the ‘Gray Jedi’ interpretation has the problem of Anakin coming back to the Light Side with his subsequent death. He has no chance to forge a new path between the Light and Dark sides!

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Some people may argue that, once the prophecy is fulfilled, it doesn’t necessarily have to stay fulfilled for long. While this could be true, we also see that Luke may fix these apparent problems permanently. Making him a possible candidate for ‘The Chosen One’ if Disney decides to go that route!

LUKE:

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Most of the confusion over who the Chosen One is stems from a line in the show ‘Star Wars Rebels’ when Obi-Wan himself literally calls Luke the Chosen One. The show’s writers clarified that this is simply Obi-Wan’s perspective. However, if Disney had chosen to make this statement literal, there is a surprising amount of evidence to support this idea.

First of all, one could argue that Luke was the very reason his father destroyed Emperor Sidious in the first place. Making Luke, in a roundabout way, also responsible for destroying the Sith.

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consider Luke’s role in the new films. Luke tries to start a new Jedi Order and fails when Ben Solo falls to the Dark Side under Snoke and becomes Kylo Ren. However, there’s a new hope when Rey comes to Luke in order to learn the ways of the Jedi. This could all potentially combine to fix the first interpretation of the prophecy; the balance between two Dark Side users (Snoke and Kylo), and two Light Side Users (Luke and Rey). Then the ‘destroy the Sith’ part would still be valid because Disney confirmed that Snoke and Kylo aren’t Sith, but something new!

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The second interpretation of galactic ‘peace’ could be fixed if Luke has a major hand in the downfall of the First Order. It looks like he might, if only by training Rey and inspiring her to do it for him, but only time will tell. Finally, the ‘Gray Jedi’ idea might be fixed by Luke as well! In the first trailer for ‘The Last Jedi’ Luke says, “it’s time for the Jedi to end”, it hints that he might be going down the path of a Gray Jedi and forging a new order between the Light and Dark Sides. This line is probably just marketing to spark debate and make fans anxious to see the truth for themselves. It’s most likely pure misdirection to gain publicity, however There’s no denying it’s still a possible explanation that might fix the holes in the third interpretation of the Chosen One prophecy.

In the end, we understand why some fans may be confused about who the Chosen One is. There’s obviously quite a bit of evidence supporting Luke Skywalker as a candidate. Anakin remains the canonical Chosen One for now, but Disney could plausibly change it to Luke if they wanted to do so. With new Star Wars lore becoming canon every day, who knows what the future holds for things like this? To quote Yoda “hard to see, the future is.”

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X Marks the Spot; A Tribute to X Atencio

X Marks the Spot; A Tribute to X Atencio

In loving memory of Francis Xavier Atencio (1919-2017); today, we honor one of the greatest Disney Imagineers of all time.

This week, we were saddened by the news that X Atencio passed away on September 10, 2017; he was 98 years old.

Francis Xavier Atencio, fondly referred to as ‘X‘ by his friends, was a beloved animator and Imagineer at Disney. He served the company for 65 years ( he started at 19 years old) and knew Walt Disney personally. In fact, Atencio was favored by Walt as a show-writer at Imagineering (the Disney branch that oversees the creation of the Disney Parks). His credits in the company include, but are not limited to, animation in films as early as Fantasia, the script for Adventure Thru Inner Space, The Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland , and as a voice-actor in many of those same attractions. He is probably most well known to fans as the voice of the talking skull at Pirates of the Caribbean, and for penning the extremely catchy lyrics of ‘Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirates Life For Me’ and ‘Grim Grinning Ghosts’. X Atencio rightfully became a ‘Disney Legend’ in 1996 (the award is the highest honor the company can bestow).

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Walt Disney with a young X Atencio. Walt knew talent when he saw it!

There is no doubt that we will miss this Master Imagineer greatly , and his works will live on in the hearts of millions for years to come!  Because of you, we sail with theiving pirates on the Seven Seas, dance with grinning ghosts beneath the lonely trees, and sing the songs of all your symphonies! May you Rest In Peace our Pirate Captain, our Maestro of Music, and our Great Storyteller! We miss you dearly X Atencio!

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X Atencio drawing what looks to be Winnie the Pooh. We will miss you, and your creative genius, dearly!

 

Top 10 Underrated Disney Sidekicks Part 1

Top 10 Underrated Disney Sidekicks Part 1

Top 10 Underrated Disney Sidekicks Part 1

Disney always creates the most memorable characters in animation, and with every memorable main character, there comes the lovable Disney sidekick! Whether they’re carrying out their partner’s plans, or offering moral support, the sidekick often steals the show.

Even then, there are a few of these overlooked Disney buddies that just don’t get the attention that they deserve. To honor these stupendous sidekicks, here’s Part 1 of our picks for the Top 10 Underrated Disney Sidekicks! Now that Part 2 is up, you can find it HERE!

[Note: For this list, we’re sticking with sidekicks from the 56 current films in ‘Disney’s Animated Canon’. Also, if you want to see more underrated Disney stuff, you can check out our lists for Animation, Disneyland Part 1 and Part 2 , and Disney California Adventure!]

So, without further ado…

Timothy Mouse

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Timothy Q Mouse is a true friend!

Poor little Dumbo didn’t have a friend in the world, until this wonderful mouse came along. Dumbo’s best friend, biggest supporter, and faithful protector, Timothy Q. Mouse has a heart of gold. While not as popular as other sidekicks, Timothy was one of the first to touch the hearts of millions. With a brave heart, unwavering faith, and good old-fashioned determination, Timothy Mouse stuck with Dumbo until the end; finally realizing their collective dream of Dumbo becoming a star and astonishing the world with unbelievable story of the amazing elephant who could fly like a bird!

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Such great enthusiasm!

LeFou

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He may be the simple-minded goon, but he’s also a hilarious!

With a name that literally translates to ‘The Fool’, Lefou could certainly use a little more common sense. Gaston’s number one thug and yes-man, Lefou feeds off Gaston’s popularity; getting whatever praise is left over from the huntsman’s adoring fans. Not much brighter than his boss, Lefou is still quite memorable for his impromptu singing skills and motivational pep-talks. Also, who can forget his awesome impression of a snowman? Who cares if he can’t even spell his best friend’s name! With the strongest and most handsome man in town as your buddy, what could possibly go wrong?

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When Gaston was a lad he ate four dozen eggs…but we think LeFou might want to stick to cereal.

Koda

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Youthful energy and fun!

This little firecracker of a cub seems to have boundless energy and enthusiasm. He may talk too much for Kenai’s taste, but for us, he just comes off as lovable. It certainly breaks our hearts when Koda is rejected by Kenai at first, because we wouldn’t even think twice about staying in the body of bear for this little buddy (okay, maybe not forever, but you get the point). He’s the little brother you’ve always wanted, and even though he can be a bit of a handful, he’s got it where it counts! Thank goodness this little brother finally got what he so desperately wanted; a family that’s always there for him, no matter what!

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He certainly loves to talk…kind of like us if you think about it.

Iago

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This sidekick to the Sultan’s Vizier may get a bit too outrageous sometimes…

Okay, we know we probably shouldn’t like villain sidekicks, but Iago is someone who always seems to make us laugh; even when we know that it might not be a good thing we’re laughing at! He’s just so gosh darn outrageous that it’s hard not to let out a giggle every once and while. But then again, what did we expect from the hilariously comic vocals of Gilbert Gottfried. Seriously, after learning Gottfried was the talent behind this sarcastic parrot, we’re ‘so worked up that we’re molting!‘ With Iago’s spot-on voice impressions (seriously, how does he do that Jasmine voice?), and tough guy attitude, Iago makes the perfect backdrop for Jafar’s more subdued villainy; even if they are both just as crazy in the end!

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Patience Iago!

Kronk

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He may have gotten mixed up in the wrong crowd, but Kronk truly is a good guy at heart!

In our opinion, Kronk is literally the best thing about Emperor’s New Groove and that’s saying a lot! In a movie full of comedic irreverence, Kronk takes the cake (or in this case, spinach puff!), and makes us laugh out loud every time. While not the sharpest tool in the shed, Kronk is a lovable goofball, and we can’t blame Pacha’s family for wanting to ‘adopt’ Kronk as their uncle; even after Yzma tried to burn their house to the ground! It’s a good thing that both Kronk’s Shoulder Angel and Shoulder Devil could agree on fighting back against Yzma, or Kronk wouldn’t have accidentally saved the day! With a superhero jaw, and the perfect physique, it’s hard to believe that he also happens to be such a great cook! Talk about having it all. Voiced to perfection by Disney luminary and television personality, Patrick Warburton,  Kronk will always charm us with his impromptu theme music. Just remember, junior chipmunks must be versed in all the woodland creatures…*nods head in understanding* Riiiiiiight!

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Redundancy? “Got you covered!”

Enjoy our list? Like and Share! Let us know your favorite sidekicks in the comments and stay tuned for more Disney fun every week! Until next time, have a magical week!