June 29, 2013

Roger Rabbit Gets Framed on Netflix: A Review of a Classic

One of the best fantasy films of all time has just become incredibly easy to revisit.
Roger Rabbit Disney Netflix streaming added new list review
Many thanks to reader Josie Becker for a timely email alerting me to the awesome fact that Who Framed Roger Rabbit has arrived on Netflix for instant streaming!
Roger Rabbit Disney Netflix streaming added new list review
This is the fantastical murder mystery that made animation "cool" again in the eye of the general movie-going public. An incredible "what-if" alternate Hollywood history, it depicts a world where cartoon characters exist as a separate species hired for their ability to make humans laugh--while receiving no respect, gratitude or fair pay in return.
Roger Rabbit Disney Netflix streaming added new list review
How many of you saw Roger Rabbit for the first time in a theater on opening day? For the generation that grew up with The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show on Saturday mornings and Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color on Sunday nights, this film became a communal celebration of everything we loved about the classic animation that had given us so much laughter. Even in my average-sized town, the theater exploded with cheers, guffaws and applause like I hadn't heard since the debut of Star Wars.

June 26, 2013

Netflix adds Mulan and The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Netflix Mulan Hunchback Disney new streaming added movies
In a very solid, welcome little update to their increasingly-awesome library of streaming Disney films, Netflix has just added Mulan and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, both excellent productions well worth seeing.

And...oh, yeah...they also added the direct-to-video sequel Mulan II. We all remember Mulan II, right? Anyone?

Bit by bit, the Netflix digital Disney catalog is becoming very impressive. Check out our updated Disney on Netflix page for the full list of available classic animated films.

Underappreciated Disney Characters Part 1

At Mouse Troop, we love offbeat Disney Music, oddball park details, and--perhaps most of all--under-appreciated Disney characters! In part one of a threatened series, we're paying tribute to the best supporting players from two Disney classics. First up:

DIsney Col. Hathi Jungle Book elephant character

Likes: Marching
Dislikes: Man-cubs

Voiced by the amazing J. Pat O'Malley (who also applied his perfect Stuffy-Elder-British-Officer impersonation to Alice in Wonderland and 101 Dalmations), Col. Hathi turns a minor plot moment in The Jungle Book into one of the funniest sequences in Disney filmdom. There's a nice bit of depth to this potentially one-note characterization: Beneath his gruff, loud exterior, Hathi cares very much about his young son. We also get the impression that, deep down inside, Hathi is well aware that he'd be helpless without the common sense input from his wife, Winifred.

Disney Col. Hathi Twelve Days Christmas walk around costume
Col. Hathi once roamed the parks with Mowgli, long ago. He used to appear in occasional parades, and was last seen doing a soft-shoe (with his twin) in a Goofy dream sequence in Disney's Twelve Days of Christmas. Somewhat out of character, but that's show biz.

Disney Horn Ducks Alice Wonderland underappreciated Tulgey

Like: Quality Family Time
Dislike: Being Trodden On

The Horn Ducks of Alice in Wonderland look so perfectly natural that it's truly a shame they don't exist in the real world. One of the most endearing species of Tulgey Wood, they express themselves quite well--and raucously--without speaking a word.

Horn Ducks Alice Dark Ride Wonderland Disneyland Tulgey
The Horn Ducks can be briefly glimpsed on Disneyland's Alice in Wonderland dark ride (don't blink!) and at Alice's Curious Labyrinth in Disneyland Paris.

June 24, 2013

Life Falls From Tiki Room's Tangaroa

I'm a day late for The Enchanted Tiki Room's 50th birthday, but there's no time like the present for celebrating with a tribute to a Disneyland character you don't want to tick off.
Walt Disney Enchanted Tiki Room Tangaroa Preshow Disney's
Walt Disney's willingness to stretch the boundaries of what the public would accept as popular entertainment was a lot bolder than most people assume. Exhibit A: Tangaroa, Father of All Gods and Goddesses, standing guard at the Tiki Room.

He isn't just a talking tree. He isn't just a talking tree with a unique nose. Voiced by the incomparable Thurl Ravenscroft, he's a male tree who gives birth in front of the waiting crowd!
Walt Disney Enchanted Tiki Room Tangaroa Preshow Disney's
"Oh, Mystic Powers, hear my call! From my limbs, let new life fall!"
Walt Disney Enchanted Tiki Room Tangaroa Preshow Disney's

He doesn't actually say, "Boo-yah." But he has every right to. This happy blooming has been taking place many times a day, nearly every day for fifty years. That's a lot of offspring, and just one of the many ways in which Disneyland takes guests further off the beaten path of everyday expectations than most people would ever guess.

June 23, 2013

What's Behind Splash Mountain?

Splash Mountain Disneyland final drop rockslide mill front
I don't ride Splash Mountain as often as I used to; The log boat remodel a few years ago turned the once-moderate final splash into a super soak-a-thon, so I now only take a chance if we're headed back to the hotel (in case a change into dry clothes is necessary).

Even when I don't ride, however, I never tire of staring at this wonderful, magical work of imagination. If this were a real hill with a real rockslide, one would have to marvel at the strength of that old mill's roof!

My very first ride on Splash Mountain, way back in 1989, was extra-special, because my family and I got to descend via a staircase instead of a waterfall. The ride had been closed for repairs all morning, and we'd joined a very long line of eager guests waiting in the hot sun for its promised late opening. Finally, we boarded for our first trip. We got nearly as far as the first interior drop (the little one under the handcart), when we noticed the water level rapidly dropping. Moments later, we were beached in a dry flume, waiting for a cast member to escort us safely out of the mountain. When the assistance arrived, we were guided through one of those mysterious emergency exit doors. We stepped out into the sunlight and...

(SPOILER ALERT: Just in case you didn't know what the back of Splash Mountain looks like...)

June 22, 2013

The Gullywhumper Keelboat and Fink's Place

Mike Fink Keelboat Disneyland Gullywhumper river Davy Crockett
There she is, the best-named watercraft in the history of humankind, Mike Fink's notorious Gullywhumper from Davy Crockett and the River Pirates. The days of braving Disneyland's Rivers of America aboard spunky keelboats are long past, but it's great to see this tribute to the disreputable vessel that inspired the old ride.
Mike Fink Fink's cabin Disneyland fire burning Davy Crockett
She's moored, of course, at the "estate" of Mike Fink himself. Fink's your one-stop frontier markeplace for furs, gunpowder and antlers. And he won't try to cheat you, no sirree!

This was once the famous "burning settler's cabin" that startled many a youngster riding the Mark Twain Riverboat beyond the protection of Fort Wilderness. There are good and bad ways to remove a controversial and costly show element, and I can't think of a better solution than the one seen here: Replace it with a classic Disney scalawag and his trusty boat!

June 21, 2013

Review: The Mouse Goes Mobile in Where's My Mickey?

Where's My Mickey Review iphone game Android Disney
This could be a case where I enjoy a game more than the TV source it's based on. Aside from the fresh, fun art style, I'm not a big fan of what I've seen so far of the new Mickey Mouse cartoons coming to the Disney Channel. I'm hoping future installments are more charming and less mean-spirited, because I love the new visual approach.
 Where's My Mickey Review iphone game Android Disney
Those snappy character designs and art direction have been incorporated into the mostly-excellent mobile game Where's My Mickey? now available for iPhone and Android. Despite one very inappropriate, unfunny, nasty and out-of-character sight gag in one of the game's chapters (more on that later), this is a fun, clever upgrade of the popular Where's My Water? series--which was top-notch to begin with

June 19, 2013

Fillmore's Windmill Watchamacallit

Cars Land Filmore Windmill hippy van sculpture Carsland DCA
Welded together from cast-off oil barrels, this odd, quirky bit of Cars Land kinetic sculpture sits in a quiet corner of Fillmore's yard, just a few yards away from the hippy van's geodesic garage home.

The horizontal windmill might simply represent the aging VW's artistic leanings. I wouldn't be surprised, however, to find it playing a role in the manufacturing of Fillmore's organic, non-petroleum home-brewed fuel.

In the upper right, we can glimpse the top of Grizzly Peak, looking as if it's trying to take one tiny nibble of folk art.

June 17, 2013

Celebrating Buena Vista Street's First Year

DCA Disney California Adventure Buena Vista Street entrance
During the amazing June 2012 relaunch of Disney California Adventure, most media coverage focused on Cars Land (we wished it a Happy First Birthday this past Saturday). The other new land, Buena Vista Street, took a stalwart back seat while performing its vital role perfectly.

One year and two days ago, Disney California Adventure gained something it never had before: a heart. That's what Buena Vista Street brought to the park.

Looking back at the Street's terrific first year at the resort, we're listing our Top Ten favorite elements the new land has brought to the reborn park.

DCA Disney California Adventure Buena Vista Street Sign Park
When DCA opened in 2001, its entry area, Sunshine Plaza, greeted arriving guests with a hodgepodge of pop culture imagery, a miniature Golden Gate Bridge, and an odd-looking sun fountain. To many, it came across as sterile and cynical. Buena Vista Street took its cue from Disneyland's Main Street and transformed DCA's entry land into a welcoming trip back to an idealized Old Los Angeles. The relaxing, welcoming atmosphere, sparked with a theme of enterprise and enthusiasm, provides a perfect "home base" for a day at the revitalized DCA.

DCA Disney California Adventure Buena Vista Street Oswald's
As you enter the park, you see Oswald before you see Mickey. That's a terrific bit of subtle history right there. Everyone knows the line, "It all started with a mouse." The mouse started because Walt lost the rights to his rabbit. Now the rabbit has come home, and his shop begins your journey into DCA, where, a short distance away, you will next encounter Walt and Mickey. I love this. And speaking of Walt and Mickey....

Storytellers Statue DCA Walt Disney Mickey Mouse Buena Vista
The statue of young Walt and Friend greets guests at eye level. I've written a bit about this before, and I can't think of much else to say, except that it looks as if the two are ready to discover the park with us. The story begins...

June 15, 2013

Netflix Adds Brother Bear 2

Netflix Disney Brother Bear 2 Two direct video sequel streaming
Disney's direct-to-video sequel, Brother Bear 2 has arrived on Netflix.

After the recent flood of great classic Disney animation onto the digital streaming service, today's addition certainly seems anticlimactic all by its lonesome, but it's better than nothing. At least I hope it is...I haven't seen it yet. But--hey--It's gotta be better than Cinderella 2.

Happy Birthday, Cars Land! Our Radiator Springs Top Ten

Cars Land Carsland Birthday DCA Disney California Adventure
One year ago today, Cars Land opened to the public, rocketing Disneyland Resort into one of the most exciting and successful seasons in theme park history. Overnight, the once-ridiculed DCA became an outstanding full-day park and the entire resort began firing on all cylinders like never before.

In honor of the land that saved an entire park, Mouse Troop happily presents the top ten reasons we find it tough to leave DCA's amazing automotive universe.


Cars Land Carsland Birthday DCA Disney California Adventure
Pictures and videos don't do justice to this enormous, amazing fantasy landscape. Although it's all part of Radiator Springs Racers, the rock work of Cars Land is also an attraction in itself--one that can be enjoyed at leisure by all guests. It's certainly the main reason we find it hard to tear ourselves away from the place.

Cars Land Carsland Racers DCA Disney California Adventure
Currently our favorite ride on the planet, this masterpiece of humor, heart, thrills and joy isn't just a great ride--it completely succeeds at pulling you into the story and making you the main character in a quest to take part in Race Day at Radiator Springs. Absolutely amazing. The Single Rider queue provides a great way to avoid the often two-plus hour waits.

June 14, 2013

Disneyland Hotel's Adventure Tower

Disneyland Hotel Adventure Tower elephant blue sign entry
The Disneyland Hotel's towers are themed to three of the park's realms: Adventure, Fantasy and Frontier. Each tower contains models and concept art relating to its namesake's development.
Disneyland Hotel Adventure Tower lobby elephants mural entry
Here in the Adventure Tower's lobby, guests are greeted by a terrific mural and a series of Jungle Cruise maquettes...
Disneyland Hotel Adventure Tower lobby elephants maquettes
Including these charming elephants, made slightly less charming by my amazing ability to place a ceiling light reflection in the worst possible spot.

June 12, 2013

Classic Mickey in Both Parks

Mickey Mouse Main Street Cinema poster Disneyland art entry
Mickey's been drawn, sculpted and digitized in many different styles over the decades, but my favorite versions of Walt's superstar graced the studio's early years. Here's a shot of the terrific old-fashioned promo art beckoning guests into the Main Street Cinema at Disneyland.

Meanwhile, across the Esplanade...
Mickey Mouse poster Disney California Adventure DCA Swings
This cheerful poster enlivens the base of  DCA's Silly Symphony Swings. This may be my favorite bit of Mouse art ever. I know Mickey's not the tallest character on Earth, but--man, those are big seals.

June 10, 2013

Villainous Handouts at World of Disney

World Disney store villain hand witch Snow DIsneyland Resort
In Downtown Disney, the villain-themed room at the massive World of Disney store gets the most attention from true-blue Disney fans; Not only does it contain the best art collectibles, but it features some wildly inspired fixtures, including these creepy, wonderful...er...sconce-like things.
Disney villain hand Maleficent Raven World Disneyland store
Each villain's personality is brilliantly summed up with a single hand holding a signature film prop.
Disney villain store World hand Hook Disneyland lantern tinkerbell
These just might be the coolest retail wall fixtures on the planet.

June 9, 2013

Under the Sea: The Best Scene in a Controversial Ride

Little Mermaid Ariel's DCA Under Sea Disney California Adventure
Here's a burst of color for a June Sunday. In a previous post, we've mentioned a couple of things we like and dislike about The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure. Today, let's simply enjoy the very best scene on the ride: The Under the Sea room.
Little Mermaid Ariel's DCA Under Sea Disney California Adventure
In this chamber, the Imagineers had to create one big, active environment based on a movie scene that's mostly composed of many quick, individual shots. This ride may not have much in the way of thrills, but it can certainly boast one heck of a cheerful centerpiece.
Little Mermaid Ariel's DCA Under Sea Disney California Adventure
Plus, it no longer features Dole-Whip-Hair Ariel (a horror Florida fans never had to encounter).

June 8, 2013

California Screamin's Single Rider Shortcut

California Screamin' DCA Disney Adventure single rider line
DCA's California Screamin' is one of the park's most efficient crowd-movers. With the ability to run five trains on the track at once, the massive coaster's wait times remain reasonable even on the busiest days. If you're touring the park solo, however (or don't mind temporarily splitting your group), the Single Rider Entry can cut your wait to just a few minutes!
California Screamin' DCA Disney Adventure single rider station
The Single Rider Entrance is to the left of the Standby Line. A cast member will direct you through to this area, which is actually the ride's unloading side. A moment later, you'll be directed to the right, where you'll take an elevator up to the queue's over-the-tracks bridge.

June 7, 2013

Alice in Wonderland's Curious Signage

Alice Wonderland Disneyland dark ride sign signage leaves
There's nothing quite as Fantasyland-ish as an eyeful of Wonderland leaves. That's a nicely-designed sign, too. Although, sometimes these ride descriptions get a bit too literal...
Is it really necessary to point out that the ride vehicles are oversized caterpillars? I honestly don't think anyone in line is expecting to board a normal-sized three-inch-long caterpillar...at least, I certainly hope not. Ah, well, it's a fun bit of signage nevertheless.

Photo by Lana Whitham

June 5, 2013

Imagineering Awesome at Mouse on the Mind!

Sword Stone Mouse Mind Disney guest post Imagineering
No regular post today, as Mouse Troop's gone visitin'! Today I have the great honor of taking part in a challenge set forth by Melissa Sue Sorrells at Mouse on the Mind! If you had the funds and authority to design any ride you wanted at any Disney park (it has to be based on a Disney film), what would it be?

I know darn well what I'd build, and the above image is a hint. Head on over to Mouse on the Mind to check out the details of my dream ride. You should head over there anyway, because it's an incredibly creative, fantastic site full of great Walt Disney World travel tips, editorials, reviews and much more!

June 4, 2013

When I See An Elephant Photosynthesize

Dumbo topiary Disneyland Fantasyland plant garden Shining
"Kind of jumpy, aren't ya, Valiant? It's just Dumbo!"

With that line from Roger Rabbit, we're taking a look at the cutest little shrub in Fantasyland. This great topiary sits all by himself a few yards from a whole herd of airborne pachyderms. He dreams of freeing his mother from the greenhouse, where she was locked up as a "mad plant."

And he was the very last thing Jack Nicholson's character saw in The Shining. Okay, that's a lie--but you have to admit, it would have been a better ending.

June 2, 2013

Netflix Adds More Great Disney Animation

The Wind in the Willows, Paul Bunyan, Hercules, a lot of classic Mickey Mouse and rarely-seen gems like The Saga of Windwagon Smith are now available for digital streaming.

Today is a very good day to be a Disney fan with a Netflix account. The streaming service just added a boatload of fantastic animation, including films that haven't been widely available for ages!

Let's take a look at the lineup:

June 1, 2013

Treating Disneyland and DCA as One Big Park

Disneyland Resort Directory map sign Downtown Disney DCA
Since last June, when DCA re-launched as a spectacular and satisfying park (at long last), many guests, particularly frequent-visitor locals and Annual Passholders, began approaching the resort with a new outlook.

Many folks now treat Disneyland and DCA as one enormous mega-theme park. With the two halves facing each other, separated only by a one-minute walk across the central Esplanade, it's an easy mindset to embrace! In this way of looking at the parks, the security bag check becomes the actual main entrance. The turnstyles at DL and DCA seem like mere formalities.

Dark Ride Loading: Pinocchio's Daring Journey

Pinocchio's Daring Journey dark ride Disneyland Fantasyland
The five Fantasyland dark rides each have a unique style to their loading area, but all aim to provide a smooth transition from the (relatively) real world to the glowing black-light realms inside the building.
Pinocchio's Daring Journey dark ride Disneyland Fantasyland
At Pinocchio's Daring Journey, we feel as if we're entering a picture book that's springing to life, with three-dimensional set pieces emerging from background paintings.