July 14, 2014

A Disney Park Classic Heading for Infinity

Disney Infinity 2.0 Main Street Electrical Parade float vehicle
When it's used in-game as a vehicle, it had better play the music we're expecting it to play. I have a feeling the game designers won't let us down.

I'm a huge fan of the original Disney Infinity, but I love the game for the classic Disney elements, not the upcoming 2.0 Marvel infusion. Besides the impressive improvements to 2.0's Toybox mode, this float is the first announced new game feature to really make me smile.

Well...this and Donald Duck as a playable character.

May 16, 2014

More Disney Park Music on iTunes, Along With Remastered McDuck

Two recent digital releases on iTunes and Amazon MP3 give Disney music collectors a reason to rejoice--even if the timing on our first recommendation seems a bit...out of season.
Disneyland Disney Park It's Small World Holiday iTunes

It's A Small World Holiday

The bright, jingly soundtrack to Disneyland's popular It's a Small World Christmas overlay is available for the first time since its original appearance on the now out-of-print A Musical History of Disneyland. Including the Clock Parade intro, it runs about fifteen minutes, thus giving you a nice virtual ride-through and leaving the Small World/Jingle Bells medley forever stuck in your mind. Bwa-ha-ha! Reasonably Priced at $3.99

Ducktales Remastered Soundtrack Disney Scrooge iTunes 

Ducktales Remastered - Official Game Soundtrack

First, a word about the game: If you're a fan of Scrooge McDuck, great games or both, Ducktales Remastered (available for download on just about every recent game console) is a wonderful, beautifully crafted adventure you shouldn't miss. Based on the popular 1989 Nintendo game (in turn based on the TV series), it's been reborn with stunning animation, the show's original voice cast and a fantastic reworking of its legendary score.

Now, on to the album: From the high-energy rendition of the opening theme to the haunting piano rendition of the game's Moon track, this album is a fantastic audio ride, and it includes the original 8-bit renditions of the score to boot! Forty-seven tracks for $9.99 -- Highly recommended.

Celebrate Christmas in May...in Duckberg! Happy listening!

April 27, 2014

Review: Disney Magical World is a Blast

Disney Magical World game review Nintendo 3ds
What a great surprise: Disney Magical World, against all reasonable expectations for a licensed handheld title, has turned out to be one of the most enjoyable games ever to carry the Disney name.
Disney Magical World game review Nintendo 3ds
In this deceptively simple-looking game, you create an avatar (you can also use any Mii character saved to your 3DS) and move into the Disney-character-filled town of Castleton, where Fantasia sorcerer Yen Sid takes you under his wing as apprentice magician. The King, meanwhile, entrusts you with ownership of the town Cafe. All seems rosy, except for one nagging problem: The lands outside your village are plagued by ghost attacks--and you're the only candidate for hero (apparently, Prince Charming and Beast are too busy planning banquets and balls to lend a hand).
Disney Magical World game review Nintendo 3ds Beauty Beast
I think Beast is getting ticked at me....
It’s a breezy, fast-paced fusion of Kingdom Hearts and Animal Crossing where you juggle ghost hunting (the quests become very challenging as the game progresses), card collecting, fishing, item crafting, farming, rhythm-game ballroom dancing and cafe management (which is a lot more fun than it sounds).
Disney Magical World game review Nintendo 3ds
The tasks are fun and, most importantly, it all works together perfectly. After a very linear prologue section, the game opens up and leaves you to spend your sessions however you please, whether it's just kicking back in Castleton, helping the gentle citizens of the 100 Acre Wood or battling ghosts in Agrabah, Wonderland and the dark woods around Cinderella's palace. Eventually, you'll also unlock the card-trading mini-game--by far the game's most addictive activity.
Disney Magical World game review Nintendo 3ds card trading
There are 300 cards to collect in the game. The celebrity citizens will offer you cards themed to their franchise, but most cards can only be won through trading with the Royal Chancellor. So, in the game's early stages, don't be dismayed by all the duplicate Fab Five and Huey/Dewey/Louie cards you'll accumulate; You'll need those extra cards for trading later on.
Disney Magical World game review Nintendo 3ds card trading
The cards cover just about every era in Disney animation and use a variety of art styles. “Vintage” cards appear to be damaged from years of handling, and many obscure characters made the cut, including Clarice (lower right).

The game also features online cafe-sharing and scan-able AR cards on the website that send Tinkerbell flying into your 3DS bearing gifts. A download feature gives you access to a small online shop where additional items can be bought (the shop also features free items). If you dislike the whole idea of paying for extra content, the feature can be easily ignored, though an additional world (rumored to be pirate-themed) might be offered in the near future.

Taken as a whole, Disney Magical World delivers an incredible amount of entertainment and content. It's packed with excellent character animation, fun music (though, surprisingly, not a single classic Disney tune) and an unexpectedly keen attention to detail and company history.

If you’re a 3DS-owning Disney fan, you can’t go wrong with this one.

April 8, 2014

Snow White on Ice on iTunes

Disney Snow White Ice Show Record Cast Album Tom Arnold
For the Disney music completist, here's a fun little recording that recently resurfaced on iTunes and Amazon MP3. The title's quite a mouthful:

Tom Arnold Presents an Adaptation on Ice of of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

No, it's not the American Tom Arnold, it's the British theatrical producer Tom Arnold. The four songs on this 1960 $3.99 souvenir record are pleasant covers--exactly what you might expect to hear at an ice show. Give it a sample listen: You might like what you hear.

I'd love to see more of these unusual "Disney By-Product" recordings appear on the digital marketplace. If only Disney would open up more of their own vault...

March 5, 2014

On the Horizon: Aulani Music Nearing Release

Disney Alulani Resort music soundtrack
Here's a nice surprise for Disney soundtrack collectors: An album of music from Disney's Aulani Resort in Hawaii arrives in about two weeks, according to Amazon.

Due March 18, Aulani: Music of the Maka'ala features tracks by singer/songwriter Keali'i Reichel and film composer Mark Mancina.

Can't wait to give this a listen. A Hawaii vacation is plum out of my budget considerations, but I'm always in the mood for a virtual getaway on my music player!

February 25, 2014

Disney Teams Up With iTunes for Early Frozen Release and Disney Movies Everywhere

Frozen is now available for purchase and download on iTunes, two weeks ahead of its release on DVD and Blu-ray. Disney chose this day to also announce the arrival of their new Disney App, Disney Movies Everywhere. The app allows movie fans to purchase Disney films on iTunes, plus register qualifying films for instant streaming across multiple devices.

The idea is for fans to be able to access their entire library of purchased Disney films at any time and stream them to the computer, iPhone or iPad of their choice -- Sort of like a personal Netflix service, but free and composed solely of purchased content. As an incentive, Disney is offering The Incredibles as a free gift for signing up.

One can only hope that this eventually leads to a true opening of the Disney vault. If those thousands of hours of classic Disney films and television episodes that haven't seen the light of day in decades can finally be purchased and accessed, this would be a fan's dream come true.

February 22, 2014

How MagicBands Unlock Disney Infinity's Hidden Dragon

Attention Walt Disney World vacationers: Don't throw away those MagicBands! You or a game-loving friend can use them to unlock a world of Dragons hidden within Disney's popular videogame universe.
Disney Infinity remains one of the most creative and joyful games my family and I have ever played. It's made Disney's accountants happy, too.

When the game debuted, featuring such park icons as Spaceship Earth, the Matterhorn, Parking Lot Trams and flying Dumbos, many fans wondered if the actual, physical parks would ever play a role in providing exclusive content. It didn't take long to find out: WDW's MagicBands unlock Infinity's hidden world--one based around the New Fantasyland Dragon that graced Orlando skies for a press event a while back.
With no Florida trip in my immediate future, this West-Coaster faced a Dragon-less Infinity until Melissa Sue at Mouse on the Mind came to my rescue by sending me a MagicBand! It can't be said enough: Disney fans are the nicest people on the planet. Thanks, Melissa!!!!

If you're still wondering what the heck Disney Infinity actually is, please check out our review. In a nutshell, however, it's amazing. It excels at three particular things: 1) Encouraging creativity 2) Pouring on the Disney charm 3) Emptying your wallet, but giving you your money's worth -- much like a Disney vacation.

So, if you have a MagicBand, the game and a figure ready to go (today's guest star: Sorcerer Mickey!) here's how you go about finding that elusive dragon:

February 17, 2014

Classic Epcot Takes Center Stage in Park Piano Collection

Ameen Disney Park Music Epcot Disneyland World Walt piano
Musician Tom Ameen is quietly becoming a bit of a hero to theme park fans. He has a knack for turning Disney attraction tunes into beautiful, relaxing piano performances. His album, Piano and Pixie Dust, is a must-own for any park music collector, and especially for Epcot fans.

Take a look at this track list:

Tapestry of Nations
One Little Spark
Main Street Electrical Parade
Magic Journeys
Epcot Medley: Beneath the Waterfall/The Land/Canada
It's a Small World
There's a Great, Big Beautiful Tomorrow
Universe of Energy
Tomorrow's Child

Now, combine that with his three earlier tracks from the EP Solo Piano Moments...

Golden Dream
The Wonderful World of Color

...and you've got an amazing collection of quality piano tunes to play while relaxing, reading, working, dreaming or dining. All tracks are available to purchase online from iTunes and Amazon MP3. Highly Recommended!

January 13, 2014

Steampunk Maleficent Dragon!

Today The Disney Parks Blog unveiled what may be the best parade float in human history.
Steampunk is cool. Maleficent in dragon form is cool. Steampunk Maleficent Dragon is a whole new reason to plan a vacation to Walt Disney World. I can't stop smiling when I look at these shots. This amazing float will be part of this Spring's Festival of Fantasy parade at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Now, if Disney's really smart, they'll make a clockwork toy out of this to sell in the parks...

Photos from Disney Parks Blog

January 8, 2014

Kill, Refurb, Marry: Disneyland Aerial Spinner Rides

Today, I'm very happy to be taking part in the Kill, Refurb, Marry series hosted by Mouse on the Mind and This Happy Place Blog. The topic for the day is Aerial Spinner Rides, and Mouse Troop (being a West Coast site) is focusing on Disneyland Resort's whirling flights of fantasy. Of the five qualifying rides at the resort, which one's a keeper, which one needs a reboot, and which one should disappear as soon as possible?
KILL: Silly Symphony Swings

Disney California Adventure has never needed two hang-from-chains-and-fly-in-a-circle rides. One of those chain-spinners, Golden Zephyr, succeeds in offering a rare old-time experience on a contraption that, I believe, only has one duplicate on the planet.

The other is about as unique as a box of Pop Tarts. Silly Symphony Swings certainly looks better than it did during its awful Orange Stinger years, but -- despite the cheerful facelift--it's still the exact same ho-hum swing ride found at every traveling carnival and county fair in the country (and most non-Disney theme parks).

On top of that, the name has always been annoying, because the cartoon it's based on (The Band Concert) isn't a Silly Symphony at all.

In all seriousness, I'll bet that if Disney somehow removed this ride overnight and replaced it with a bandstand, 95% of repeat park visitors wouldn't even realize it was gone.
REFURB: Astro Orbitor

In this case, "refurb" simply means "relocate." A fun ride in an unwelcome location -- That's Astro Orbitor. Once upon a time, this attraction's Rocket Jets soared high above the PeopleMover station, offering a breathtaking, high-altitude thrill. Now it actually boards below ground level and spins within the narrow, crowded confines of the Tomorrowland entryway, offering views of rotting Peoplemover tracks and the tops of heads crowding the queues for Star Tours and Buzz Lightyear.

The effect was better when it had the Rocket Rods zipping along in the background, but those days are long gone

Future park plans point toward a welcome change of venue for this out-of-place ride. It can't happen soon enough.
MARRY: Dumbo

Disneyland's Dumbo is the Granddaddy of all Disney spinners, and it remains the most charming. I honestly don't understand the Disney fans who poo-poo this masterpiece as "just another carnival ride." I don't care how old you are; If you don't feel something light up in your soul as you nudge the little control lever and begin to rise upward--with that wonderful music playing and the rooftops of Fantasyland whirling around you--how can that not make you smile? I mean, this ride is the heartbeat of Disneyland. If happiness could be converted to electricity, Dumbo could power the entire West Coast.

Is it worth a long wait in line in the hot California sun? No. Is it worth getting up early for to avoid the lines and enjoy a magical whirl through a still-waking park? You betcha!

As we leave the borders of Fantasyland, some of you might be wondering about the fifth aerial spinner of Disneyland Resort. It's Flik's Flyers in DCA's A Bug's Land. It's no Dumbo, but it is one of that area's highlights.

I hope you enjoyed our take on Kill, Refurb, Mary. Be sure to check out all the participants' entries listed below for more opinions on which Disney spinners should get the crown and which ones should get the axe!

January 1, 2014

Alice Drops Out of Netflix on January 4th

First of all, Happy New Year, everyone! I wish I had better Netflix news than this to start the year with, but if you subscribe to the service, you've only got a couple of days left to stream one of the most unusual Disney classics (and a particular favorite here at Mouse Troop).

After months and months of steadily building up an impressive library of Disney films, the service is dropping one confused little girl, a grinning cat, a stressed-out rabbit and a pack of armed playing cards; Alice In Wonderland will disappear from the Netflix streaming service on January 4th.

I'm sure I'm not the only Disney fan surprised that Alice is the first major drop; Of all the Disney animated classics, Alice in Wonderland has been more or less in steady video release ever since the dawn of VHS. Along with Dumbo, Alice has been one of the "always there" Disney classics, never locked away for hiatus in the infamous "Disney Vault." I'm sorry to see it leaving the streaming lineup.

So, if you subscribe to Netflix and don't already own Alice In Wonderland in some format, the White Rabbit's watch is ticking. Boil some tea, make some bread-and-butterfly sandwiches and take one last drop down the rabbit hole before this wildly imaginative film, one of the strangest productions ever to emerge from Walt Disney Studios, vanishes from Netflix like a grinning Cheshire Cat.