Disney’s Top 10 Villainous Voices!

Disney’s Top 10 Villainous Voices!

A Special Behind-the-Scenes Look at Disney’s Top Villain Vocalists: Part 2

Were just getting started with Disney Magic Fanatic’s fall festivities! “Spooky Season” is in full swing with our strange dive into the world of voice acting villainy. Last time we took a fascinating look into the iconic performers that brought some of your favorite fiendish felons to life. And this time around we’ve got so much more to cover! With more stars, more memories, and more behind-the-scenes mysteries to uncover, the treasure trove of Disney’s vocal performances runs deep. So, come take a dive with me into the animated aristocracy as we discover the greatest villainous voices in Disney History! PART 2!

(You can visit part 1 here if you haven’t read it already!)

9. Dr. Facilier

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Three-time Pimetime Emmy-Winner Keith David provides the voice for this nefarious flim-flam voodoo man. In fitting with The Princess and the Frog’s re-imagining of the classic fairy tale in the setting of a 1920’s New Orleans, Dr. Facilier’s voice is smooth as jazz.

It’s Keith David’s history on Broadway, and as a narrator for film and television, that breathes life into the character. There’s charisma and wit in the performance of this twisted magician’s heart, and it comes through in every piece of his devious deeds. And nothing drives this home more than the highly underrated film’s villainous musical number “Friends on the Other Side”. It’s a true showstopper and a showcase for the silver-tongued character’s talent.

8. King Candy

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King candy is a very special villain for Disney fans because he’s a living Easter Egg!

Just like PIXAR has a “good luck charm” in the many cameo voices of John Ratzenberger, Disney animation has their own! Alan Tudyk, known for his work in the cult-classic television show Firefly, has had multiple cameos in the “New Golden Age” of Disney Animation, and King Candy was the first where he was cast in a major role! There’s also a rumor going around that Alan based King Candy’s voice on the legendary comedian Ed Wynn, the actor who portrayed the Mad Hatter in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland 60 years earlier.

Tudyk is a phenomenal, classically trained actor known for the control he has over his voice. You might recognize him as The Duke of Weselton from Frozen, or even HeiHei the rooster from Moana! All-in-all Alan Tudyk is a Disney icon.

7. Maleficent

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Eleanor Audley was an icon of a bygone era. Unfortunately, most radio royalty has been forgotten by modern audiences. However, their contributions to the realm of voice, particularly Disney voices, cannot be understated.

Known for her sophisticated, commanding, and often chilling tones, Eleanor provided a vocal presence that few could imitate. Eleanor is also known for portraying Madame Leota in The Haunted Mansion, and Lady Tremaine, the evil stepmother in Cinderella. The latter performance is also phenomenal, but only one villain could make this list. Cold and calculating, while still graceful and educated, Maleficent is one of the most memorable villains in Disney History, and Eleanor’s brilliant performance is a major player in that fact!

6. Captain Hook

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Another Radio icon from a bygone era, Hans Conried had a voice like none other. A major player on live stage, and a member of Orson Well’s Mercury Theatre Company, Hans distinguished himself from his peers by his unmatched energy and bold manner. Hans brought a wild exuberance to Peter Pan’s Captain Hook, while simultaneously playing the loud-mouthed George Darling (a strange tradition from the stage play where the same actor would play both characters). His vocal control was simply astounding, switching from high-pitched pirate squeaks, to a rolling British baritone during the same sentence!

5. Judge Frollo

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Distinguished stage/voice actor Tony Jay provided the thunderous gravity for Judge Claude Frollo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Recognized by his memorable baritone, Jay had the perfect voice for this wicked authority figure. Known by Disney fans the world over for his cameos in Beauty and the Beast and Treasure Planet, as well as being the successor to George Sanders as the voice for Shere Khan, Tony Jay has quite the impressive repertoire. But it’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame that brings out Tony Jay’s true commanding presence as an actor. Judge Frollo is despicable, but his distinctive vocal tone is unforgettable. In fact, many fans considered this casting choice to be so perfect, that it became known as the defining performance of Jay’s lengthy career.

4. Jafar

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This vile vizier is a fan-favorite due to a skin-crawling performance by Jonathan Freeman. Freeman, known for his performances on stage (which landed him a nomination for a Tony Award), lends and air of wily wickedness to Jafar, making it a voice that all 90’s kids consider quintessential. However, Freeman’s vocal performance is particularly special for Disney fans because it led to his casting in several Disney Broadway productions. In fact, among the roles of Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast, Grimsby from the Little Mermaid, and Admiral Boom/The Bank Chairman from Mary Poppins, Jonathan is the only cast member from a Disney animated film to reprise his role on Broadway! Now Freeman has both the film and stage versions of Jafar under his belt!

3. Hades

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While not exactly the most family-friendly actor, James Woods performance as Hades is a peculiar exception. Often called the most “relatable” Disney villain by fans, Hades is known for his wisecracking sarcasm and wit. It’s the character’s quirky sense of humor, average joe mentality, and short temper that make him memorable to fans around the globe. It’s hard to imagine Hades being voiced by anyone else, which is just fine with Woods because he doesn’t want anyone else to do it! He enjoyed playing the character so much that he apparently told Disney that, if they asked him, he’d play the character again no matter the salary!

Making good on his promise, Woods has pretty much portrayed the character in every single appearance you can possibly imagine. theme parks, videogames, television, sequels…you name it, he’s probably done it! That is some dedication right there!

2. Ursula

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When it comes to a career, Pat Carroll makes most stars look cheap. Since as far back as the 40’s, Carroll has been wowing audiences on the stage, in television, and at the movies. She’s known particularly for her roles on Broadway, and for a successful tenure during the Golden Age of TV. As of this writing, Pat is still working as an actress…and that means she has over 70 years of experience!

After her turn as Ursula in The Little Mermaid, Pat’s career was never quite the same again. She famously reprises the role over and over, which seems to be a trend for a lot of Disney voice actors during the Renaissance of animation. Many people remember her fondly for her signature deep voice and famous song “Poor Unfortunate Souls”. In fact, Ursula is often quoted as one of the best Disney Villains for these very reasons! There are few Disney vocal performances as iconic as Ursula!

1. Scar

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Maybe I’m a little bit biased, but there is no other Disney Villain that has quite the same vocal gravitas as Scar. The Lion King was the quintessential movie for many Disney fans, and although it isn’t my personal favorite, I cannot deny the effect that it had on kids in the 90’s. If we’re being completely honest, he’s going to be at the top of almost every list no matter what aspect of the character we’re ranking. Animation, vocal performance, and even the way the character is written make Scar legendary.

What else is there to say other than that Jeremy Irons is an icon? And in terms of the voices, Jeremy Irons is just as iconic for Scar as James Earl Jones is for Mufasa. Nobody else can play Scar quite the same way, and many have tried. There is no greater example of this than the live-action remake of The Lion King. James Earl Jones reprised his role as Mufasa but, much to the chagrin of Disney fans everywhere, Jeremy did not return as Scar. Disney was surprised to find that their cast was highly criticized, and that the lack of Irons’ vocal presence was one of the reasons for it (along with the presence of certain pop-star). If that isn’t an example of how iconic scar’s voice is to fans, I don’t know what is!

Don’t see your favorite here? Let us know in the comments down below!

Disney’s Villainous Voices

FeaturedDisney’s Villainous Voices

A Special Behind-the-Scenes Look at Disney’s Top Villain Vocalists

It’s that time of year again when the leaves start falling from the trees and the aroma of Pumpkin Spice is everywhere, to the joy (or chagrin) of many. It’s also what I like to call ‘spooky season’, and that means that it’s time to get the ball rolling on costumed candy-corn content for those of you who enjoy alliterations with your hot cocoa. During this season, Disney fans everywhere are delving into their own unique brand of October fun. These Disney fall festivities include movies like The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Coco. They also consist of Disney Park offerings like The Haunted Mansion, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. However, there is one Disney Halloween tradition that is wholly unique; the Disney Villains.

I’ve noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve visited this specific Disney brand. And since I’m not really that good at “traditional” Halloween fare because of my strange aversion to the macabre and my dedication to being obnoxiously cheerful, I’ve decided it’s the perfect time to delve into some fascinating topics relating to the Disney fiendish foes…Do I really need an excuse?

For our first “Villains Month” offering, I’m diving deep into some of the greatest vocal performances in Disney history! This is a countdown of The 15 Most Iconic Disney Villainous Voices!

(Note: This list only includes the 57 films of “Disney’s Animated Canon”, and due to the sheer number of Disney Villains, not every iconic voice could be included)
  1. Queen of Hearts

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Her royal red highness from Alice in Wonderland (1951), is a bit more obscure when it comes to vocals. However, she’s earned a place on this list due to a voice that was highly iconic for the time. Radio veteran and accomplished voice-actor Verna Felton, known for her iconic work as Dennis Day’s mother in the Jack Benny program, lent her talents to this short-tempered villainess. The constant cries of “off with their heads” should sound familiar too, because Verna ended up voicing characters in 6 different Disney features: the cruel Elephant Matriarch in Dumbo, The iconic Fairy Godmother from Cinderella, The Queen of Hearts, the antagonistic Aunt Sarah from Lady and the Tramp, the fussy Good Fairy Flora from Sleeping Beauty, and finally another elephant in the Jungle Book! That’s an impressive track record!

  1. Man in the Bowler Hat

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Meet the Robinsons is definitely one of the more obscure Disney movies, and although it has become a cult classic with legions of fans all around the world, it’s not exactly the first place you’d look for something like this. However, Meet the Robinsons is actually a treasure trove for amazing vocal performances! The Man in the Bowler Hat (yes, that’s his actual title), better known as Goob, is on this list because of his hilarious portrayal by Director Stephen J Anderson. Stephen is known for his work as a story artist and writer on films like Tarzan, Zootopia, Frozen, Moana, Winnie the Pooh, Wreck-it Ralph…and the list goes on and on! His ridiculous, over-the-top, and irreverent portrayal of the charismatic, and yet incredibly pathetic, Michael Yagoobian is one of the many reasons why Meet the Robinsons is so fun to watch!

  1. Ratigan

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Ratigan is somewhat of an icon for fans of Disney’s “Dark Age” of animation. People who grew up on films like Robin Hood or Aristocats, remember The Great Mouse Detective fondly for it’s unique reimagining of Sherlock Holmes as a mouse called Basil. And of course, every Sherlock Holmes needs his own Moriarity! Ratigan, a criminal genius of a rat, fills this role perfectly and is portrayed wonderfully by one of the most refined and iconic actors of classic cinema: The King of Macabre himself, Vincent Price. The sophistication, menace, and dark humour of Ratigan come through in every line of this unique performance thanks to Vincent’s phenomenal vocal range.

Don’t know who Vincent Price is? There’s actually a big chance that you’ve heard of Vincent Price’s work, even if you don’t recognize his name! Seriously, just take a look at his filmography!

  1. Clayton

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This villain from Tarzan often gets passed over in the grand scheme of things, and that’s a real shame. He’s a well-crafted antagonist, but Disney’s precarious licensing deal with the Edgar Rice Burroughs Estate ensures that he stays out of most movie-related products, and thus out of the public eye. Such is the world of copyrighted trademarks, unfortunately. But even if he isn’t an incredibly popular villain, he still deserves a place on this list for his highly entertaining vocal performance.

British actor Brian Blessed, known for his long and illustrious career in film and television, and roles in cult-classic franchises like Flash Gordon, lends his booming sophistication to this heinous hunter. The pleasant bass tones of Brian’s educated vocals lend themselves perfectly to Clayton’s persona of the refined and menacing Englishman.

  1. Shere Kahn

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The Jungle Book was the last animated feature that Walt Disney himself worked on before passing away in 1966. As such, it has earned a place of reverence not just with Disney fans, but also with artists inside the Disney company itself. The movie focused on character above anything else and presented the culmination of Disney’s refinement after 30 years of animating animals. Each character is full of life, authenticity, and fluidity, and each has a distinctive voice that matches their personality perfectly. And the villain is no exception!

Academy Award Winner George Sanders was tasked with bringing the powerful Shere Kahn to life and he did not disappoint! Sanders’ filmography is incredibly extensive, with his most iconic role being The Falcon, and he has played characters ranging from heartless villains, to charming royalty. His resonant vocals gave an air of confident control to Shere Kahn and the performance, along with the sophisticated animation that was paired with it, were quoted as direct inspirations for one of the greatest villains in Disney history; Scar from The Lion King.

  1. Yzma

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There is plenty of irreverent self-aware humor in the The Emporer’s New Groove, so it’s no surprise that the casting wouldn’t be any different. Eartha Kitt was an incredibly accomplished singer and actress who is revered around the world as an icon of civil rights in show business. She used her talents to rise from poverty and oppression into worldwide fame. In her later years, she remained humble and was often known for her ability to find the humor in serious situations. She is also remembered for her willingness to poke fun at her own life.

Known for her beauty and alluring voice, Eartha’s work includes iconic songs like her original holiday hit Santa Baby (yes, that Santa Baby!) and roles like Catwoman in 1966’s Batman television series. So, it’s no surprise that her self-aware role in the Emperor’s New Groove would reference her career. Eartha, who was in her 70’s by the time of the film’s debut, was delighted to learn that Yzma would encapsulate her unique sense of humor. In the film, Yzma is an old woman trying to appear young and beautiful to creepy affect, poking fun at Eartha’s own history as a showbusiness icon.

Most stars wouldn’t be comfortable making fun of themselves, but apparently Eartha loved this self-referential humor so much that she signed on to play the character again for the sequel and the subsequent TV show!

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There are more villains to get through on this list, but unfortunately, we’ve run out of time here. But don’t fret! October is a long month, and we have many more fiendish foes to follow! Check out Part 2 here!

 

Which Villainous voice is your favorite? Let us know in the comments down below!

5 Obscure Disney Park Characters that Fans Can’t Get Enough Of

5 Obscure Disney Park Characters that Fans Can’t Get Enough Of

We all love Disney characters, but did you know that there are some obscure ones that Disney Park fans go particularly crazy for? Ever wondered who that Michael Jackson character is? Or that man with the purple suit at EPCOT? This is the place to be!

If you’re interested in more details about these characters’ history, beyond why they’re so popular among fans of the parks, we will be making separate posts for them in the future! However, today we are simply giving a quick background for each so that you get a basis of why fans love them!

So, without further ado…

Orange Bird:

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This cute little guy was created in a sponsorship deal with the Florida Citrus Commission (FCC). The FCC required that Disney, a company known for its recognizable cartoon characters, would create a mascot to use in the marketing of Florida’s citrus products in return for funding WDW’s version of the Tiki Room (Tropical Serenade). Not wanting to lose a sponsorship from a large and wealthy coalition of Florida citrus growers, Disney jumped on the task. Thus, the Orange Bird was born.

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The character was featured heavily in not only the marketing for the 1971 attraction, but also in several ad campaigns for the FCC up until the late 70’s. The Orange Bird continued to be featured in educational films made for the FCC and in the parks until 1987, when Disney finally stopped working with the FCC. As a result, the character virtually vanished from the parks. However, something about the character resonated in Japan when it showed up in Tokyo Disneyland. In fact, the Japanese were absolutely obsessed with the Orange Bird aesthetic and he experienced a bit of a revival in popularity as a result, which quickly spread to the United States. In 2012, the Orange Bird finally returned to the Magic Kingdom with force and the character became an icon for ‘in-the-know’ nostalgia fans.

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Captain EO:

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In the 80’s Disney commissioned some of Hollywood’s biggest names to make attractions; in hopes of widening Disney’s audience. To this end, they commissioned George Lucas, at the height of his popularity after Star Wars, to make several attractions for Disney. One of these attractions, and the most expensive film ever produced at the time would be directed by the legendary Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather) and star the one and only Michael Jackson in the title role! This ‘masterpiece’ became the wild musical space-opera known as Captain EO.

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Sadly, reviews for the show were mixed, and the attraction was eventually removed after ten years due to the dwindling crowds. However, 80’s kids never forgot the wild musical space opera that was Captain EO, and when the King of Pop passed away in 2009, the film saw a massive resurgence in popularity; causing Disney to revisit the film as a tribute to Michael. Ever since then, Captain EO has become a Michael Jackson icon…even outside the parks!

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Hatbox Ghost:

The Hatbox Ghost was another resident created for the Haunted Mansion in 1969, but unlike other tenants of the mansion, the Hatbox Ghost had a gimmick that made him special; his ghostly head disappeared from his shoulders and reappeared in the Hatbox that he was holding! The gimmick was a big deal at the time, and so the Hatbox Ghost was featured prominently all over promotional materials for the ride. When the ride opened, fans clambered to see the Hatbox Ghost and others like him. But after just a few short weeks, the Hatbox Ghost mysteriously disappeared! Rumors spread like wildfire about why it was removed, with some people even reporting that he had never been there in the first place!

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But, the character (who really was there for a few weeks, despite what some would say) was simply removed early on because his gimmick did not work as intended. However, the myths and speculation about ‘Hatty’ became so popular and outrageous, that Disney could not pass up such a good PR opportunity. With much fanfare, the Hatbox Ghost was updated with new technology and inserted back into the Disneyland mansion, where he has been resting to this day.

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Oswald:

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Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is a very special character to Disney fans. In fact, his importance in Disney is unparalleled by any other Disney character besides Mickey Mouse himself…and most people don’t even know it!

Believe it or not, Oswald predates Mickey Mouse as Walt Disney’s first fully-fleshed cartoon character! So why haven’t more people heard of him? Well, unfortunately, Walt Disney was swindled out of the rights to the character by his distributor in 1928; along with almost all his staff! Broke, and with no character to his name, Walt desperately searched for a new character that would save him; the result of this despair-ridden brainstorming was none other than Mickey Mouse himself! So, you could say that Oswald was directly responsible for the creation of Mickey Mouse. The lessons Walt learned from that betrayal helped shape the entire company from that day forward.

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In 2006, nearly 80 years later, the rights to Oswald were finally bought back by Disney; proudly placing ‘Mickey’s Older Brother’ back in the family where he belonged, much to the joy of longtime Disney fans everywhere!

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Figment And Dreamfinder:

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Arguably the most popular characters on this list, Dreamfinder and Figment may be two separate characters, but true fans know that you cannot really have one without the other! As evidenced by the lackluster response to Figment’s recent solo career, the lovable dragon from our imaginations just isn’t the same without his red-bearded best friend. These guys are the unofficial mascots of EPCOT and are beloved by fans worldwide.

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They were originally introduced as EPCOT’s first walkaround characters, appearing to promote their upcoming ride; Journey into Imagination. When the ride opened in 1983, it was a massive hit, and the imaginative duo became the most popular feature at EPCOT. However, in 1999, Disney made what some fans consider to be the company’s biggest mistake ever. Announcing that Journey into Imagination would close for a simple refurbishment, fans were shocked and appalled to find that Disney would reopen the ride as the completely different, vastly inferior, Journey into Your Imagination instead! They even removed the iconic Dreamfinder and figment from the entire attraction!

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Due to the huge outcry from fans, Disney soon closed the attraction and once again changed it to the now current Journey Into Imagination with Figment; bringing back Figment, but not Dreamfinder. It lessened the outcry a bit, but diehard fans still yearn for the original attraction to return!

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What’s Your Favorite Obscure Character at the Parks?

 

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Disney’s Alice in Wonderland

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Disney’s Alice in Wonderland

 

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Alice in Wonderland (1951)

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#1: It Was the Origins of the Disney Studio

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Walt Disney started his career in animation at a rather young age by working at the Laugh-O-Grams Studio in 1921.  But that job was doomed to fail, because the Kansas City based studio went bankrupt in 1223, leaving Walt Disney without a job. The last film he made for that company, Alice’s Wonderland, never saw a release. The film, loosely based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, followed a live-action girl that ventured into a cartoon world. Walt was very fond of his film, as he had always dreamed of making a full-length film based on Alice and he believed this short to be the first step towards that goal. He used it as a pilot to engage potential distributors into signing him on for a contract and a steady job. Eventually one did; Margaret J. Winkler (distributor of Felix the Cat), contracted Walt for an entire series based on the film. Through this deal, Walt founded his own studio in late 1923 titled Disney Bros. Studios (the ‘Bros.’ part referring to Walt’s lifelong partner and brother, Roy Disney), and today we know this company under its more familiar title…Walt Disney Productions! The studio was literally founded on Alice! And it would have been the subject of Disney’s first Feature-length film, if it hadn’t run into a bit of a problem!

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#2: One of the Longest Projects in Disney Animation

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As we mentioned above, Alice in Wonderland was considered as the primary candidate for Walt’s first feature-length film. In fact, Walt went so far as to purchase the rights to Sir John Tenniel’s iconic illustrations of Alice. However, the concept was dropped in favor of Snow White for several reasons. The main reason was Walt’s discouragement when Paramount Pictures beat him to the punch in 1933 with their live-action version of Alice. However, Walt never forgot his dream of making his own version of Alice. He revisited the idea in 1938 after Snow White proved to be an enormous success. He even registered the title with the Motion Picture Association of America. But due to creative issues and story problems, especially with adapting the unorthodox ‘nonsense’ of the books into a script, the project slowed down significantly. Then the devastation of WW2 hit, putting both of Disney’s biggest projects at the time (Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan) on hold. Even after the war, Disney had so much trouble adapting the books into a workable plot structure, that production became a virtual nightmare. This led the film to be delayed for another 6 years, until it finally made its big screen debut in 1951.

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#3: It Went Through A Lot of Crazy Changes

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Mary Blair’s cute artwork

As you can imagine, 15 years in production caused a lot of changes to the Alice in Wonderland story. An early version, with concepts and story treatments by David Hall and Al Perkins respectively, explored a more surreal approach. However, Walt, despite praising Hall’s brilliant artwork, deemed these concepts as too close to Tenniel’s drawings and called them ‘difficult to animate’. He also thought the tone of Perkins’ treatment was too ‘grotesque and dark’. The next iteration of the story, for which Disney hired the British writer Aldous Huxley, was also a bit off the mark. This version was reportedly very academic in its approach. Apparently, it was too academic, and risked alienating the children who watched. However, a background artist by the name of Mary Blair finally arrived at the tone and look that Walt was searching for; a world full of vibrant colors and unforgettable characters!

(Below are side-by-side comparisons of David Hall’s concepts and Tenniel’s original illustrations for the novels)

#4: The Characters were Just as Fascinating Behind the Scenes

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Speaking of characters, Alice has some of the most memorable characters in any Disney film. This was largely due to the voice talent, which was considered the first real all-star cast for a Disney film. In fact, it was the first ever Disney film to include the names of it’s actors as a major part of its marketing, something that wouldn’t happen again until The Jungle Book. The cast included huge stars like comedian Jerry Colonna as the March Hare, British actor Richard Haydn as the Caterpillar, radio veteran Sterling Holloway as the Cheshire Cat, and the famous vaudevillian actor Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter.

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Jerry Colonna, Ed Wynn, and Kathryn Beaumont recording for  theMad Tea Party

 

Ed Wynn, a stage master, did most of his best work improvising during the live-action reference filming; so much so, that Walt decided to use the primitive audio of those shoots instead of his pre-recorded work. The result was a brilliant impromptu performance, but with slightly odd-sounding audio. You can even hear a sound technician’s voice during one scene at the 45:50 mark! These voice talents, coupled with genius and unorthodox animation by Disney’s legendary Nine Old Men (with Ward Kimball’s madcap animation being of note in the most famous scenes), created iconic versions of the characters that have become as famous, if not more so, than John Tenniel’s designs.

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Ed Wynn’s performance directly inspired the animation, as seen here with the spoon gag that appears in the finished film.

#5: Its Music Broke Records

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Last, but not least, was the fact that Alice in Wonderland still holds the record for the most songs in any Disney film EVER! Not only that, but the film’s memorable songs won the Academy Award for best original score. Due to Walt’s desire to including Carroll’s famous poems and rhymes in the film, without interrupting the story, he opted to turn most of them into songs. Originally, around 30 songs were created for the film, but due to run-time, it was cut to a total of 14 songs in the 75 minutes of the film; that means there was a song almost every 5 minutes!

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What’s your favorite Alice fact?

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?

Thor Related to Hercules?!?

Thor Related to Hercules?!?

Thor Related to Hercules?!?

A short, silly post about the Mighty Avenger

As you probably already know, the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War dropped last week and, as a result, we lost our minds in excitement. To prepare for the film’s May release date, we decided to go back over some of our favorite Marvel crossover events and refresh our memories on some of our favorite character’s backstories. This is when we rediscovered something in Marvel canon that we had almost forgotten. Thor is a relative of Hercules! No joke!

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the general reaction we get when we say this!

How do we know this? We recently read the Thor entry to the 80’s version of the Essential Handbook of the Marvel Universe; an encyclopedic series breaking down every Marvel character’s powers, story, and appearance in meticulous detail. In this series, they list the known relatives of every hero in the Marvel universe, and under Thor, it lists his mother as…Gaea?

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a scan to prove it; the info is circled! a more up-to-date version is below!

 

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For those of you who don’t know, Gaea (also spelled as Gaia, Giah, etc.) is a primordial Greek Goddess (a powerful alien being that originates from an alternate dimension in Marvel canon), and is the mother of the Greek Titan Kronos, as well as the grandmother of Zeus! And we are pretty sure that everyone knows who Zeus’s son was… Hercules! Thor has this unique relationship with the extremely powerful Gaea for a specific reason; Marvel wanted Thor to have a reasonable reason for being the most powerful Asgardian besides Odin, and they wanted to connect the Asgardian and Olympian mythologies more closely since they were extra-dimensional beings that existed in the same universe.

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Obviously, in the original myth of Thor, Frigga is Thor’s real mother, and this seems to be the route they’re taking in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (but who knows, maybe Frigga will be revealed to be Thor’s step-mother later). However, Marvel’s version of the Thor story presents us with a fascinating family tree which the original myth does not! We did some checking to make sure that this familial relationship is still canon (after all we were looking at the outdated 80’s version of this encyclopedia for nostalgic reasons) and we confirmed that it remains in the Marvel timeline; at least for now. So, what does this mean for Thor?

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It means that, as of now, Thor is the brother of the Titan Kronos, and the Uncle of Zeus…making him the Great Uncle of Hercules! Now, before you pop-culture fans get too excited, we must specify that the Hercules which Thor’s related to is not the one from Disney’s animated film, but rather a Marvel character that we will show below…

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Marvel’s Hercules

Unfortunately for Disney nuts, this dashes the hopes of there being a definitive Disney/Marvel Universe crossover…unless you count Big Hero 6, or say that Disney’s animated film is just a different interpretation (or point of view) of the same mythology shown in Marvel; perhaps Disney’s Hercules is the human’s legend of Hercules, and not what really happened? After all, humans did accidentally mistake the Asgardians and Olympians for Gods, so it’s possible that they could have exaggerated the myths a little from what really happened. You can take that theory as far as you like, but we just find it fascinating that Thor is related to both the Asgardians and Olympians in Marvel continuity; a Son of Odin and an Uncle of Zeus!

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our reaction to this glimmer of false nerd hope.

There’s even a theory floating around that connects Ariel’s family to Hercules’ through Ariel’s father Triton! It’s not our theory, but we do think it makes perfect sense and has a lot of evidence, so maybe we’ll cover the theory someday if you really want to know about it. But for now, just be satisfied to know that Thor could be a distant relation of Ariel! It’s all such an interconnected family tree that it makes our heads hurt to think about it! Who knows; maybe Disney Animation and Marvel might be connected by more ways than just business/ownership. What do you think Disney should do about this?

If you’re still scrolling, and you haven’t clicked away yet (we love you random viewer!), we wanted to let you know that this post which you’re reading was chosen by YOU! Thank you so much to all of you who cast your votes on Social Media and remember that there will be NEW polls weekly on our Twitter and Facebook pages; always bookmarked at the top of our page! Please take a quick minute to tap on one of the poll’s options and let us know your favorite subjects from the choices shown. Also, have request or idea that you want us to cover that isn’t in the polls? Leave comments with your requests and thoughts (keep it family friendly please; we have parents who read these posts with their kids!) on our Social Media and here on WordPress. We may even feature your comment on one of our blog posts! Regardless of whether your comment gets used or not, we want to let you know that your opinion matters a lot to us and we LOVE hearing from you!

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our viewers are our heroes!

 

Top 10 Disneyland Attractions Part 1

Top 10 Disneyland Attractions Part 1

Top 10 Disneyland Attractions Part 1

To honor Walt Disney’s original ‘Magic Kingdom’, we’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Disneyland Attractions in HISTORICAL ORDER.  You can find Part 2 HERE! With so many attractions, some favorites are bound to be left out, but please be aware that EVERY EFFORT was made to be as inclusive as possible!

[Note: Keep in mind that this is Part 1 of 2! The Top 10 Disney California Adventure attractions have their own lists (HERE and HERE ) and they will not be included here! Be sure to check out our lists of the top UNDERRATED Attractions at the entire resort (HEREHERE, and HERE)]

 

So, without further ado…

 

Peter Pan’s Flight (Opening Day, 1955)

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The classic attraction poster

Peter Pan’s Flight is on every guest’s list of must-see attractions at Disneyland. With a sense of childlike wonder Peter Pan takes us into the timeless journey of Neverland and all its wonders. It may not be as sophisticated as Pirates of the Caribbean, but just like Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Peter Pan’s flight enchants with its simplicity and fun.  Take a ride in an enchanted flying ship from a nursery in London to the land of your dreams; where Captain Hook schemes and mermaids swim beneath the sparkling seas! This ride is quintessential Fantasyland fare; especially if you have small children who have never been to Disneyland before. Just be aware that the line is always notoriously long!

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it can be enchanting!

Pirates of the Caribbean (1967)

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Vintage attraction poster

Have you ever dreamed of setting sail on a pirate ship with the promise of adventure on the seven seas? What child hasn’t imagined facing the cannons and cutlasses of the open waters, or braving the dangers of a storm; becoming a living legend of the wind and tides? Make your dreams come true with what many Disneyland fans consider to be the best attraction of the entire park…maybe the best attraction at any Disney Park! Today, Pirates of the Caribbean has enchanted the hearts of millions and inspired them towards adventure and bravery for over fifty years. With its stunning and memorable cast of Audio-Animatronic scoundrels, brilliant set designs, and a theme song which is beloved by millions, it’s no wonder why this ride has its own film franchise! Just remember the warning of the eerie caverns when you are tempted towards greed; Dead men tell no tales!

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Full of memorable moments!

The Haunted Mansion (1969)

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Vintage poster showing off the infamous ‘Hitchhiking Ghosts’.

The Haunted Mansion has gone down in history as one of the best attractions at any Disney Park ever, and there’s no wonder as to why! The mansion provides an extremely immersive environment for all its guests to enjoy…or fear! These happy haunts have invited you to join in on the fun!  With the legendary Ghost Host leading foolish mortals through the ghostly manor, you might find that the ride is not really that scary after all. The ride also offers, in our opinion, the best and most diverse display of special effects in any Disneyland ride. While too frightful for some guests, the Haunted Mansion offers an entertaining reward of visual fun and fantasy. 999 happy haunts have retired here, but there’s always room for a 1,000…ANY VOLUNTEERS?

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An iconic and stately landmark.

 

 

Space Mountain (1977)

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Space never looked so good!

This ride always seems to be on the top of every guest’s list of favorite attractions. Space Mountain is a heart-pumping adventure through the blackness of space and an excellent addition to the park’s thrill rides. Not content to just build an ordinary rollercoaster in the dark, the Imagineers really outdid themselves on this one. Completely immersing the guests into the story of an intergalactic space station, the rollercoaster takes you on a lightspeed ride through the stars. It propels you past the sparkling vistas and alien worlds of your dreams; all while adrenaline-pumping music blasts in your ears!  Ironically built at Disneyland in the same year that the original Star Wars film was released, Space Mountain is the premiere attraction of Tomorrowland; the pinnacle of its vision of the future that never was… but could be if we continue to follow our dreams. 3…2…1…WE HAVE IGNITION!

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A truly powerful icon.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (1979)

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Intricate detail!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, like Space Mountain, was another attempt to make something more than an average rollercoaster. Even in their thrill rides, the Imagineers never make anything ordinary! They always infuse every detail with a memorable story. This time the story is that you’re an unsuspecting tourist visiting Big Thunder Mountain; home to an abandoned mine that’s rumored to be haunted. Of course, the rumors turn out to be true! With a mind of its own, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad speeds off out of control; a run-away train flying headlong into danger. With twists and turns through canyon caverns plagued by bats, dinosaur bones, bubbling hot-springs, and desert critters, you’ll be begging for more! Just make sure to look at the dynamite-chewing goat as you pass his ridge…cause this here’s the WILDEST RIDE IN THE WILDERNESS!

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You never know what you might find in the wilderness!

Enjoy This list? Like and share! Also, stay tuned for more Disney Magic every week!

Top Disney California Adventure Attractions Pt. 2

Top Disney California Adventure Attractions Pt. 2

Top 10 Disney California Adventure Attractions Part 2

To honor Disneyland’s newer sibling, Disney California Adventure (DCA), we put together a list of our picks for the Top 10 DCA Attractions! This is Part 2, so make sure to read Part 1 first! Also, with so many attractions, some favorites are bound be left out. If your favorite attraction isn’t here, you might find it on our list for the Top Underrated Disney California Adventure Attractions instead! Please understand; Every effort was made to be as inclusive as possible!

[NOTE: Want to see some more Disney Parks fun? Check out our 2 lists for the Top 10 Underrated Disneyland Attractions; HERE and HERE. Also, please check out our ‘Underrated Disney’ series which inspired this post; including Underrated Sidekicks Part 1 and Part 2, and Underrated Animation!]

So, without further ado…

 

Toy Story Midway Mania

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the vintage-looking boardwalk poster is great!

 

Toy Story Midway Mania is an absolute blast! There’s interactive Toy Story fun for everyone! Now you can enter the world of your favorite toys as they invite you to come play some classic Midway games that Andy owns! Become a toy and play along with Woody, Buzz, and all their pals as you try to beat your ride buddy in head-to-head competitive gameplay. Grandparents don’t have to worry about being good at video games, the Imagineers somehow designed the ride to level the playing field for everyone! It’s cute, it’s funny, it’s creative…and as the theme song says; it’s insania!

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It truly is a blast!

Guardians of the Galaxy-Mission Breakout

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It will never live up to Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, but it’s not a bad ride either!

First things first; we at Disney Magic Fanatic really, really miss the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. There will never be any ride that can truly replace it! However, we think the new ride isn’t that bad! Guardians of the Galaxy-Mission Breakout provides a fun and irreverent journey into the heart of the Marvel Universe with a wild ride jam-packed with classic tunes, zany characters, Marvel Easter-eggs, and even new performances from the original cast! While some longtime Disneyland fans are upset about the change, and rightfully so, we understand Disney’s decision on the issue; better to change it to a Disney property now, then wait for the CBS/Disney contract to expire (CBS owns the Twilight Zone). All in all, it’s no Tower of Terror, but it’s still pretty good! Who knows, maybe DCA’s plans for a Marvel Land will be worth the change!

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WE MISS YOU TOWER OF TERROR! A TRIBUTE POST IS COMING SOON!

 

 

Radiator Springs Racers

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This cute poster purposefully mimics Disneyland’s Autopia poster.

Get your kicks on Route 66! The 2012 12-acre expansion was the largest expansion at the Disneyland Resort Ever (Star Wars-Galaxy’s Edge will only beat it by two acres), and Cars Land’s Radiator Springs Racers was set to be the cherry on top of it all. Disney promised us a very special ‘E-ticket’ Pixar thrill. We can say that it certainly delivered on its promise!  The Imagineers spared no expense to create one of the most elaborate, technically advanced, and expensive attractions at any Disney Park. Now you can ride along with all your favorite Cars characters and then race your friends and family across a gorgeously rendered desert landscape! The Cars Animatronics are truly amazing and lifelike, the scenes are completely immersive, and the attention to detail is breathtaking! Trust us, it’s worth the 60-minute waits! JUST WATCH OUT FOR FRANK!

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Radiator Springs Racers may be the best ride in the area, but all of Cars Land is great!

Soarin’ Around the World

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it was originally called Soarin’ Over California.

 

There is no experience in the world quite like Soarin’! This ride was one of the very few things about DCA’s opening day that was truly amazing. Surprisingly, Soarin’ is a DCA original; it was created at DCA first, and then transplanted to WDW and other Disney Parks later. The reason for this becomes quite clear when a guest feels themselves launch into the sky and into the adventure of a lifetime. It’s very hard to explain why Soarin’ is so amazing unless you have experienced it; it’s indescribable. Perhaps it’s the gorgeous score, the stunning vistas, the revolutionary ride vehicles, or maybe it’s the fact that you can smell the landscapes you pass? Whatever causes Soarin’ to be such an awe-inspiring journey, it truly defines the term ‘Disney Magic’. It is EPIC!

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we do miss the old California version, but the updated film is truly breathtaking!

World of Color

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Concept art for the beloved classic.

There is no question about it; the World of Color is the quintessential show at DCA. Disneyland has Fantasmic, and DCA has this equally-amazing spectacle of lights and imagination. This DCA original show is full of gorgeous scenes from dozens of Disney films projected onto walls of water that tower over your heads. The special effects are amazing, the colors are astounding, and the soundtrack will melt your heart! Loosely based on the TV-show Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, this experience is not to be missed. In fact, it has been known to bring many longtime Disney fans to tears! Get a seat right at the front if you can; from there, the show looms above you and takes on an epic scale that will make you feel like you’re inside the show! Trust us, you must see this award-winning show!

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The world is a carousel of color!

 

Enjoy our list? Like and subscribe! new posts coming weekly! Until next time, we hope you have a magical week!

 

Top 10 Disney California Adventure Attractions Pt. 1

Top 10 Disney California Adventure Attractions Pt. 1

Top 10 Disney California Adventure Attractions Part 1

Disney California Adventure (DCA) may have received some bad-press in the past, but the 2012 re-dedication has really turned that around! Now it truly feels like a Disney Park. To honor Disneyland’s newer sibling, we’ve put together a list for the Top 10 DCA Attractions! Please note that, with so many attractions, some favorites might be left out. If your favorite isn’t here, you might find it on our list for the Top 5 Underrated DCA Attractions! Please understand; Every effort was made to be as inclusive as possible!

[Note: Don’t forget, this is part 1of 2! Part 2 comes next week! want to see our list for the Top 5 Underrated Disney California Adventure Attractions? Or maybe our lists for the Top 10 Underrated Disneyland Attractions Part 1 and Part 2]

So, without further ado…

 

Red Car Trolleys

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Cute vintage poster!

The Red Car Trolleys are the cherry on top of DCA’s relatively recent updates. The Imagineers really outdid themselves trying to fix DCA’s problems and bring it the signature Disney Magic it so rightly deserved. Now a scenic ride on the famous Red Car Trolleys provides that extra detail that fully immerses guests into the world of imagination. Just like the Disneyland Railroad, the Red Car Trolleys have become DCA’s signature mode of transportation! Welcome to the Hollywood of the Golden Age; not exactly presented how it really was, but rather how we remember it in our hearts! Just like Main Street at Disneyland, DCA’s Buena Vista Street takes us on a nostalgic journey to something quintessentially American; torn straight out of our romantic dreams of old Hollywood. With these beautifully crafted replicas of the famous vehicles, we finally feel as if the illusion is completed. Now we know that DCA is a Disney park; with the magic that we have come to expect from one!

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The Red Car Trolley Newsboy Show is a real treat!

California Screamin’

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Seriously…the vintage poster theme was a GREAT IDEA!

A rip-roaring ride over Paradise Pier, California Screamin’ truly is a great experience. While not as completely immersive as other coasters at the resort like Big Thunder Mountain or Space Mountain, California Screamin’ is still one of the best attractions at DCA. Have any adrenaline junkies in your party? Then this ride is a must-see! Themed to the old beautiful wooden coasters of seaside boardwalks, Californa Screamin’ takes guests on a ride that they won’t forget. Don’t worry, the coaster only looks like one of those rickety wooden coasters. It’s really made of super-safe steel and won’t break your back with its bumps and jolts! It may simulate the clickety-clack of one of those ancient rides, but it’s much more advanced than that. Are you scared someone down on the boardwalk will hear you scream? Not to worry; the revolutionary technology of the ride has scream buffers to muffle the sound! Just trust us, it’s worth the screamin’!

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It certainly adds a lot of beauty to the pier landscape!

It’s Tough to Be a Bug

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Original Advertisement at WDW.

Ever wanted to see what the world looked like from the perspective of a bug? Ever wanted to talk to a grasshopper? Anything is possible at Disneyland Resort! In It’s Tough to Be a Bug, the Imagineers shrink you down to the size of an insect and plop you into the whimsical world of Pixar’s A Bug’s Life! Join inventor Flik for an educational show about how bugs aren’t that bad after all. The show is completely immersive and, via interactive technology hidden throughout the theater and the seats, really pulls you in! Originally created as Animal Kingdom’s premiere attraction (receiving the honor of playing inside the iconic Tree of Life), this show really is spectacular! The show includes a 3D film, live Audio-Animatronics (including a very advanced Hopper figure), water jets, real-time scents, live-action props, and even bugs that crawl under you right where you sit! Trust us, you won’t understand until you experience this attraction for yourself!

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The Hopper Animatronic is super complex!

Frozen-Live at the Hyperion

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The show is quite beautiful and elaborate.

We cannot stress enough about how good this show is! Yes, we are very sad that the phenomenal show ‘Aladdin-Live at the Hyperion’ had to go away, but the show that replaced it is just as beautiful! A little-known fact; the Aladdin show that was originally created for this theater was the main inspiration for the super-popular Broadway performance! To make way for Prince Ali to move onto Broadway, the show was replaced with one based on the ever-popular Frozen film. Now you can relive the movie again in a live performance full of high-quality sets, costumes, music, and production design. The high-caliber show will have you singing ‘Let It Go’ all day long again! With puppetry, pageantry, lights, music, and imagination, Frozen-Live at the Hyperion is a truly breathtaking show! Thaw your frozen heart with the true love and sisterhood of this Disney classic! And now that Frozen is getting its turn on Broadway, who knows might be coming next to DCA’s famous Hyperion Theater!

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The actor/singers are some of the best the resort has to offer.

Grizzly River Run

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Grizzly Peak, DCA’s original icon, adds a breathtaking vista to the park’s landscape!

An Opening Day attraction, Grizzly River Run was one of the few original things about DCA that seemed to avoid scrutiny. The ride was good enough that it avoided much of the backlash and disappointment of fans who had come to the park in the early days of its operation. We fully understand why it survived! This ride is a rollicking adventure on a careening river of mayhem and fun. Take a trip into the California wilderness and brave the rapids of DCA’s original icon, Grizzly Peak! Face the temperamental geysers, brave the plummeting falls, smell the fresh pines, and see if you can endure the growling winds of Grizzly Peak’s cave! Just remember, you will get wet! WE ARE NOT KIDDING!

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What a splash!

Enjoy our list? Like and subscribe! new posts coming weekly! Until next time, we hope you have a magical week!