‘We’re here to talk about “Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two,” clearly the best kept secret in video gaming,’ jokes Warren Spector, Creative Director and Vice President of Disney Interactive’s Junction Point Studio in Austin, TX at an after-hours media event held earlier this week at the Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History.
Before he takes the stage, however, he is introduced by Brenda Gunn, Associate Director at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas. Gunn speaks on Austin’s role in shaping the video game industry beginning in the 1970s and commends Spector who — along with Richard Garriott, George Sanger, and Bill Bottorff — inspired the University to create and maintain its massive collection of thousands of video games, consoles and development materials including concept art, design documents, game proposals and internal correspondence.
When it’s his turn to address the small crowd, Spector offers a refresher course on the first ‘Disney Epic Mickey’ via a trailer and stats. ‘Disney Epic Mickey was — and remains — the best selling single platform game in Disney Interactive’s history,’ he notes,’ So obviously we appealed to players.’
He continues on to explain that their objective with the first game was to create a game ‘that had the same broad appeal as a Pixar film or a classic film from Disney.’ Not intended to reach any specific demographic, he says, but to reach every one. Recapping the results of survey Disney administered to ‘Epic Mickey’ players, Spector says, ‘We really did make a game that appealed to everyone. Over half of our audience around the world was made up of adults. So I think on that score I’d have to say the game was pretty successful.’ So successful in fact, that according to the survey, Spector reports that over 90% of participants in every territory worldwide were interested in a sequel.
But tooting the company’s horn only goes so far as Spector owns up to what he felt could have potentially been handled better in the first game. He explains, ‘The first time out, creating a studio, creating a team, creating a tech base, creating a world, figuring out who these characters are, creating new game play patterns and new game systems, you never get everything right.’ He announces three things he seeked out to change in the sequel: camera, voice and persistence.
It’s of little surprise that the issue of the camera comes up as it is easily the feature from the first title that receives the most complaints. Seemingly defiant to the cause, Spector has famously defended the camera’s team and continues to do so, although he admits changes were needed. ‘The reality is we made a game that allowed players to determine whether the game felt like a platform game or an action-adventure game and those two genres require very different game camera systems… I think the team did an amazing job on the first game but we knew we could do better,’ he says. He then goes on to explain that in anticipation of the sequel, he dedicated the team from the beginning to work on improving the system. As a result, more than 1,000 specific changes were made to the automatic game camera system with the objective of the player never needing to touch the manual camera controls if sticking to the main story path.
When it comes characters speaking, Spector explains the reasoning behind choosing what they call ‘bark text’ in the original ‘Disney Epic Mickey.’ ‘We did that for two reasons,’ he says, ‘both of them really dumb and both of them my decisions.’ He explains that although the team was inspired by Disney for the original game, they also found inspiration in old Nintendo games and Japanese RPGs. His idea is then solidified when he decides that since Oswald was a silent film star and couldn’t talk, then nobody could: ‘I thought that was funny, that’s how dumb this is.’
To make up for it, Junction Point brought in comics writer Marv Wolfman (who already has a storied history with both Disney and Marvel in particular). Wolfman helped craft the game’s story and wrote the dialogue for all of the characters who are voiced by their respective Disney voice talent. Returning as the (actual) voice of Oswald is Frank Welker. We later have the opportunity to hear Oswald’s voice very briefly, which to me sounds a bit like a slightly higher pitched version of another of Welker’s famous characters, Fred Jones of ‘Scooby Doo’ (though I reserve the right to regret that description later on). Oswald’s significant other, Ortensia, ‘is a character from start to finish that you interact with a lot,’ though who providers her voice is currently a secret. Gremlins also take a more prominent role in the sequel and are fully voiced, but Spector tells us only that they are voiced by some ‘interesting names.’ It would later be confided in me that one of the mysterious voices is that of actor Cary Elwes (famously of The Princess Bride and recently featured in The Adventures of Tintin).
If speaking weren’t enough, Spector also pronounces ‘Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two’ as being the first musical comedy video game. He says, ‘much of the story is told through song, so I want all the Gleeks to turn out in force for it.’ While Jim Dooley returned to compose the music for the game (whose tone changes based on the mood of the game), the songs’ lyrics are penned by Mike Himselstein (who we’re told performs double duty as the voice of Yen Sid). How many songs are in the game is a secret (we will later hear one as part of the opening cinematic), but I was told ‘at least five,’ that you will have to play the game through different ways to hear them all and we can expect 1 or two additional songs to debut at E3.
The third obstacle Spector looked to tackle was persistence: ‘If your choices actually aren’t permanent — if they don’t matter — if when you leave a map, the changes you made revert when you come back, play style doesn’t matter as much as it should… every thing you do in “Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two” is forever until you decide to undo it… if you erase something, it stays erased. If someone doesn’t like you, they stay not liking you until you change your mind.’
While the game will include familiar places and settings such as Mean Streets, it offers ‘many all new places’ to visit as well as new takes on familiar ones. Whereas in the first game, Yen Sid’s workshop was only seen in the cinematic, it now serves as the training ground for Mickey to explore. OsTown becomes significantly more involved although Spector notes it has since been changed by ‘seemingly natural events’ since Mickey has seen it last. Spector also shows us a still from ‘let’s just say a version of Frontierland,’ noting it was ‘something we wanted to do in the first game… Frontierland has changed more than any other part of the Disney Parks, so there’s plenty of forgotten, rejected stuff to have fun with there.’
A new army has risen in the Wastelands too, a curious hybrid of Blotlings and Beetleworx known as Blotworx. How exactly this new species came about is all part of the mystery surrounding the sequel’s story.
Spector then treats us to the opening cinematic for the game which clocks in at around 4 1/2 minutes and helps to explain what’s been occurring between the two titles as well as introduces us to our first song and sets the initial mood for the game.
‘If “Disney Epic Mickey” was the story of Mickey as a hero, reminding people that he is a video game star,’ Spector says, ‘”Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two” is as much about Oswald and — now that we’ve reminded the world who he is — making him a big star.’
He then introduces Becky Cline, Director of the Walt Disney Archives, to dole out some history on Oswald, how he came to be, how Walt Disney lost control and how Robert Iger bartered for Oswald by offering up sportscaster Al Michaels. She talks about some of the Oswald items she has brought from the archives to share, some of which just recently discovered and never displayed publicly, but her biggest treat by far is being convinced by Spector to screen a copy of ‘Hungry Hoboes’ for the audience of media and Junction Point developers. The 1928 short was thought to be lost for good but was just recently discovered at the Huntley Film Archive of Herefordshire, UK. The only known print of the short went up for auction last December and sold to an anonymous buyer for $31,250 and is now in the hands of The Walt Disney Company.
It’s an incredible thrill to see the short by Walt Disney that only a handful outside of Disney have seen in more than eight decades. It’s an absolutely funny (and sadistic) film loaded with one sight gag after another — let’s just say I learned a whole new way to collect eggs from a chicken.
I will later have the opportunity to speak with Cline after the event and ask about plans to release it, but the film has yet to be fully soundtracked and restored, so it may be some time before that will happen. Cline will also explain how most of the films that are recovered tend to be from overseas because they generally didn’t require the films to be returned to the distributor. Also of interest is that while the title card of the film does actually read ‘Hungry Hobos,’ the official title and copyright is for ‘Hungry Hoboes,’ with the Disney Archives at a loss for why the discrepancy.
Spector then re-addresses the group to discuss the ‘couch co-op’ play aspect of the game. ‘The two characters have distinct and unique, complementary abilities,’ he says. Mickey has the ability to use his sketches, paint and thinner, while Oswald has a remote control that allows him to zap enemies and repair and even reprogram electronics and animatronics throughout the Wasteland. Oswald also has ‘helicopter ears,’ which while don’t really afford him the ability to fly, they allow him to glide slowly back to earth, allowing Mickey to hop on for a ride as needed (or for fun). Speaking of sketches, Spector doesn’t mention it, but Mickey has a new one in ‘Disney Epic Mickey 2,’ the fairy sketch, which allows Mickey to make objects light enough to levitate and move through space. Oswald himself has another unspoken talent, the ability to detach his leg and use it as a boomerang to battle enemies.
The split-screen, ‘couch co-op’ play is drop-in, drop-out and is supplemented by AI. Oswald is with Mickey every step of the way, whether there is a second player or not. If co-op play isn’t taking place, Oswald will assist brother Mickey the best he can.
Note no mention of rumored ‘Power of Illusion’ Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Android or Apple iOS devices is made during the presentation.
I now have the opportunity to actually play a demo of the game on all three consoles. Areas to explore include the training level in Yen Sid’s workshop and Mickey’s ‘house,’ OsTown and the 2D transition levels known as the Dahl Engineering Corridors (DECs), so named for noted children’s author Roald Dahl who created the Gremlins and worked with Walt Disney on related projects.
The first thing I notice is how remarkably similar the game play is between the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii. There are some differences of course, the most notable one being the lower resolution on the Wii, which is almost sad after experiencing it on the NextGen consoles. While PlayStation Move support is expected (but not available for the demo), the Wii does have another major advantage in the controls, those being the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controllers. In fact there is at least one sequence in which Oswald re-programs a device by slowly turning the Wii Remote. On that note, the Junction Point team also brought along working prototypes of an Oswald Remote Control Nunchuck which complements the ‘Epic Mickey’ paintbrush one. Surprisingly, I find the controls on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 to be really simple to use and get accustomed to, although I do not like how the crosshairs automatically snap back to the center of the screen when you let go of the analog control, making aiming particularly challenging at times.
The DEC transition level proves to be fun and entertaining enough and is full of Disneyana and tributes to Disney films and characters, featuring everything from a giant Chip head to the judge from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to a Dumbo comic book to Goofy pogs that were part of a one-time publicity event, but reside in the Disney Archives as a result. Here is also a not-so-hidden basketball hoop which is one of the elements that exists in every game by Warren Spector (in ‘Epic Mickey,’ it was in a hidden room).
The co-op play is pretty fun and direct although it appears that Oswald sometimes has an artificial mind of his own within the mode. It may simply be a matter of the game still being developed, but it can usually be easily remedied by dropping out and back in after he sets himself straight. When not in co-op mode, Oswald is on his own and usually does a pretty good job at supporting Mickey, although he sometimes seems a bit bored through the process and will either entertain himself by removing his foot and studying it. On occasion, he will do something that doesn’t quite make sense, although it turns out that he seems to be aware of elements of the game that haven’t quite made it into the demo too.
The automatic camera control seems way more refined for me when I play on the Xbox 360, so much so that it’s almost obvious to me how much better it is, but as time goes on, I start falling out of love with it, often finding myself having to switch to manual operations, either because the automatic system didn’t keep up with me, or I’ve managed to require some odd perspective to complete a task. Often times I also end up with the screen being obfuscated by large polygons I can only presume to be my head. That aside, I find the d-pad manual controls easy to use on the NextGen devices and have little problem managing the camera as I need to do to unlock a Hidden Mickey constellation in the training level.
One other discouraging element, ironically enough, is the voice. The demo environment is so noisy that it was impossible to hear most of the gameplay so I find myself wishing subtitles were at least an option. It is still in development, however, so hopefully they will be added in the future, not just for noisy environments, but for playing with the sound muted in quiet environments and, of course, out of courtesy for the deaf.
Below are some photos from the event as well the box art and some screenshots from the NextGen and Wii consoles provided to us by Disney Interactive as well as some raw gameplay footage and the game’s announcement trailer.
Lastly, in celebration of the announcement, I would like to offer the opportunity for one Stitch Kingdom reader to receive this limited edition ‘Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two’ t-shirt. Featuring Mickey and Oswald against the Texas star, this shirt was produced for the Junction Point development team as well as event invitees. It is sold orange aside from the design and features the ‘Epic Mickey 2′ logo in white on the back. Please note you must be 18+ and a US resident to win.
On March 28, 2012, Disney Store will celebrate its 25th anniversary. For a quarter of a century — since the day it first opened its doors at the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, California — Disney Store has been helping to bring the magic of Disney to neighborhoods around the world. In honor of the momentous occasion, Disney Store has been rolling out special merchandise to celebrate the anniversary and we are pleased they have offered to provide one lucky Stitch Kingdom reader with a gift pack of just some of the items featuring the commemorative artwork by Jim Valeri.
By entering via the widget below, one lucky winner will receive a Disney Store 25th Anniversary Gift Pack consisting of: a 16″ Mickey Mouse Plush Toy ($16.50), a Mickey & Minnie Mouse Photo Frame ($24.50), a World of Disney Journal ($10.50), a World of Disney Ballpoint Pen ($4.50) and a World of Disney Reusable Tote ($3.50). All of these items plus many more are available now at Disney Store and DisneyStore.com. Remember, you can enter daily via Twitter and each entry counts!
Before all that, however, let’s take a moment to relive the past twenty five years of Disney Store, highlighting just a few of its remarkable milestones:
- March 28, 1987 — Disney Store unveils its first store at the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, CA
- June 11, 1988 — Bridgewater, NJ becomes home to the first Disney Store outside California
- May 1990 — Disney Store hosts its first video pre-sale. Guests who pre-ordered The Little Mermaid received a film lithograph and a bubble watch
- November 1, 1990 — The first Disney Store in Europe opens in London, England
- August 21, 1992 — The first Disney Store Japan opens in Yokohama
- September 10, 1994 — Disney Store hosts its first VoluntEARS project to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Phoenix, AZ
- November 4, 1994 — Disney Store opens its first Walt Disney Gallery Store concept location in Santa Ana, California. The Walt Disney Gallery Store catered to the Disney collector, selling everything from classic Disney film artifacts, artwork, character figurines, collectible spoons, mugs and more.
- October 15, 1995 — Disney Store opens its doors at the Walt Disney Studios exclusively for Disney Cast Members and Studio guests
- May 22, 1996 — Disney Store opens on Fifth Avenue in New York City (the location would later become a World of Disney store operated by Disney Parks and Resorts before shutting its doors)
- September 16, 1997 — Disney Store opens an ESPN concept store at Glendale Galleria, in Glendale, California, catering to the ESPN sports fan.
- June, 2000 — Disney Store introduces a t-shirt featuring three Disney Princesses together, marking the creation of the Disney multi-Princess franchise.
- May 1, 2008 — Disney Store introduces a new vision statement aimed at providing ‘the best 30 minutes of a child’s day.’
- April, 2009 — DisneyShopping.com relaunches as DisneyStore.com and — for the first time — begins making theme park merchandise available online officially.
- October, 2009 — Jim Fielding, President of Disney Store, is appointed International Chairperson for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
- April 29, 2010 — Disney Store forms a corporate partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and participates in the first annual World Wish Day.
- June 22, 2010 — Disney Store debuts its first ‘Imagination Park’ concept store in Montebello, California.
- June, 2010 — Disney Store launches its official blog, The Buzz.
- July, 2010 — Disney Store opens its first new design store in Europe in Madrid, Spain.
- November 4, 2010 — Disney Store returns to New York City in the heart of Times Square, featuring a large digital billboard towering six stories above the streets.
- January 30, 2011 — Disney Store debuts its first exclusive Vinylmation collection, Villains.
- June 2, 2011 — Disney Store launches its first signature fragrance, Imagination.
- October 26, 2011 — Disney Store redesigns its store on the Walt Disney Studio lot, modeled after the original Kem Weber Studio Store design from 1940.
- March 28, 2012 — Disney Store will celebrate its 25th Anniversary. The first 250 guests to arrive at each location will receive a pair of free Mickey Ears. Games, trivia and dancing events will take place at various times throughout the day.
For more information about Disney Store’s past 25 years, be sure to visit its official blog, The Buzz, which is posting articles daily that celebrate its vibrant history.
ABC Family and Stitch Kingdom are proud to offer the opportunity for one of our readers to win a free copy of ‘Jane by Design: Volume One’ on DVD, available to own on March 20, 2012 (now available for pre-order).
‘Jane by Design’ is a light-hearted drama about Jane, a teenager who lands a job at Donovan Decker, a hip fashion house, when they mistake her for an adult. Jane soon finds herself juggling life both as a regular high school student and as an assistant to a high powered executive in the cutthroat world of fashion… all while trying to keep her true identity a secret.
‘Jane by Design’ stars Erica Dasher as Jane Quimby; Nick Roux as Billy Nutter, Rowly Dennis as Jeremy Jones, India de Beaufort as India Jourdain, Meagan Tandy as Lulu Pope, Matthew Atkinson as Nick Fadden and features Andie MacDowell who stars as Gray Chandler Murray — Jane’s steely boss whose constant demands keep her on her toes.
The entry period runs though March 19, 2012. See the entry form below to how to enter on Facebook and/or Twitter. Enter daily through Twitter (see below for details).
Beginning February 27 and through March 30, residents of the United States and Canada (minus Quebec) will be able to enter to win a National Parks vacation for six provided by the nationally-syndicated ‘LIVE! with Kelly’ hosted by Kelly Ripa and Air Wick. Participants will be able to enter the drawing once per day and can elect to earn a bonus entry for each day within the contest period as well.
From the entries, one person will be chosen to win a vacation for up to six people to one of four national parks, at the winner’s choosing. The potential vacations are:
a) Kailua-Kona, Hawaii National Park Vacation. The Kailua-Kona, Hawaii National Park Vacation includes: round-trip coach airfare for the winner and up to five (5) travel guests between the major airport that is near the winner’s residence and Kona International Airport, Hawaii; five (5) nights hotel accommodations for the winner and his/her guests (up to three (3) room(s), double occupancy) (actual hotel selected by Sponsor in its sole discretion); ground transportation for six (6) between the hotel and airport in Hawaii; a customized tour for six (6) of the Kailua-Kona village and surrounding national park(s) (actual tour selected in Sponsor’s sole discretion and will take place in one (1) day limited to 12 hours or less and cannot exceed $1500); a one thousand dollar ($1000) cash award for expenses awarded to the winner only in the form of check; and a one thousand five hundred dollar ($1500) cash stipend for additional ground transportation (e.g. rental car, etc.) awarded to the winner only, in the form of a check. The approximate retail value (“ARV”) of the Kailua-Kona, Hawaii National Park Vacation is $23,500. OR;
(b) Yellowstone National Park Vacation. The Yellowstone National Park Vacation includes: round-trip coach airfare for the winner and up to five (5) travel guests between the major airport that is near the winner’s residence to West Yellowstone, Montana; five (5) nights’ hotel accommodations for the winner and his/her guests (up to three (3) room(s), double occupancy) (actual hotel(s) selected by Sponsor in its sole discretion); a customized tour for six (6) of Yellowstone National Park (actual tour selected in Sponsor’s sole discretion and will take place on one (1) day limited to 12 hours or less and cannot exceed $1500); a one thousand dollar $1000 cash award for expenses awarded to the winner only in the form of check; and a one thousand five hundred ($1500) cash stipend for additional ground transportation (e.g. rental car, etc.) awarded to the winner only, in the form of a check. The ARV of the Yellowstone National Park Vacation is $23,950. OR;
(c) Glacier Bay, Alaska National Park Vacation. The Glacier Bay National Park Vacation includes: round-trip coach airfare for the winner and up to five (5) travel guests between the major airport that is near the winner’s residence to Juneau, AK; six (6) air transfers from Juneau to Gustavus, AK; five (5) nights hotel accommodations for the winner and his/her guests (up to three (3) room(s), double occupancy) (actual hotel(s) selected by Sponsor in its sole discretion); a customized tour for six (6) of Glacier Bay National Park and (actual tour selected in Sponsor’s sole discretion and may be an air tour not to exceed $1500); and a one thousand dollar ($1000) cash award for expenses awarded to the winner only, in the form of check. The ARV of the Glacier Bay – Serene Waters Vacation is $29,000. OR;
(d) Virgin Islands National Park Vacation. The Virgin Islands National Park Vacation includes: round-trip coach airfare for the winner and up to five (5) travel guests between the major airport that is near the winner’s residence to St. Thomas; five (5) nights hotel accommodations for the winner and his/her guests (up to three (3) room(s), double occupancy) (actual hotel(s) selected by Sponsor in its sole discretion); ground transportation for six (6) between the hotel and airport in St. Thomas; ferry boat transportation for six (6) to/from the Virgin Islands National Park; a customized tour for six (6) of Paradise Flowers National Park and (actual tour selected in Sponsor’s sole discretion and not exceed $1500); and a one thousand dollar ($1000) cash award for expenses awarded to the winner only in the form of check. The ARV of the Virgin Islands – Paradise Flowers Vacation is $24,000.
he Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels has partnered with Walt Disney World® to once again honor outstanding K-12 teachers with its 2012 A+ For Teachers at Downtown Disney essay contest.
The fourth annual contest, which kicks off today and runs through April 13, 2012, asks students in grades 1 through 12 to nominate their favorite teacher by writing a brief essay of no more than 300 words and submitting it via www.downtowndisneyhotels.com. The essay should explain how the teacher has made a difference in the student’s life and will be judged on its relevance to theme, creativity, originality, and the merit of the teacher’s accomplishments as outlined in the essay.
Seven winners will be chosen, and those students and their favorite teacher nominees each will win a vacation prize package that consists of:
Five-day / four-night accommodations (for up to four family members) at one of the Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels
Four free Walt Disney World® one-day, one-park passes
Four free tickets to the DisneyQuest® Indoor Interactive theme park
Complimentary breakfast at the hotel each day (for up to four family members)
One $100 gas card
“We’re excited to kick off our fourth annual contest to celebrate those teachers who truly make a difference in the lives of their students in spite of the many challenges their schools are facing,” said Kevin Renzi, chairperson of the organization’s marketing committee. “We’ve been amazed by the stories we’ve received in prior years, so we look forward to selecting even more gifted teachers for the recognition they deserve.”
Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels has awarded 60 vacation trips to deserving teachers and their students since starting the annual essay contest in 2009. Prior winners have been recognized for home schooling students struggling with challenging illnesses, persevering in their teaching careers despite life-threatening medical conditions, supporting the work of non-profit organizations, helping their students excel academically, inspiring learning in the classroom, and other professional and personal feats.
This year’s A+ For Teachers at Downtown Disney contest winners will be notified directly by May 1, 2012 and also announced on the hotels’ website and Facebook page.
‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ with Emmy Award-winning host Meredith Vieira is giving contestants, audience members and one lucky home viewer a chance to escape the winter blues with a trip on Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Disney Fantasy, which will launch in March, 2012. During ‘Millionaire’s’ ‘Cruise In and Win Week,’ airing January 9 – 13, the specialty prizes will be attached to a question and, if the contestant answers correctly, he/she will win the money attached to the question as well as a three-night preview cruise vacation for four aboard the Disney Fantasy cruise ship.
Also during ‘Cruise In and Win Week,’ audience members will be randomly selected from the in-studio audience and will also have the chance to win a Disney Fantasy cruise by playing just one ‘Millionaire’ question.
Plus one lucky home viewer will also win a trip for four aboard a Disney Fantasy preview cruise through a sweepstakes to be held on ‘Millionaire’s’ website. To enter, visit http://www.millionairetv.com beginning at 12:01 am ET on January 9 (ending 11:59 pm ET on January 13). One entry allowed per person. Must be at least 18 years of age and a U.S. resident to participate.
As the new season of ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” draws closer, fans are seeing evil doer, “A,” in the most unusual places: on their bus rides to school, in the clouds, on mountains, in their food and even on their pets!” Inspired by fan photos of these unexpected sightings, ABC Family is launching the “A is Everywhere” photo contest on ABCFamily.com/AisEverywhere and Facebook.com/prettylittleliars beginning Dec. 5, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. PST. The person who submits the photo that gets most votes wins a trip for two to Los Angeles to visit the set of “Pretty Little Liars.”
“Our fans are fascinated by ‘A,’ the mysterious, unidentified villain on the show who leaves messages for our main characters threatening to reveal their secrets unless they do what she—or he—says,” said Danielle Mullin, VP Marketing, ABC Family. “These messages are always signed with a big letter ‘A.’ On our Pretty Little Liars Facebook page, we noticed that fans were posting photographs of the letter ‘A’ as they came across it in their daily lives—emphasizing the fact that no one can escape A’s reach! We decided to capitalize on this organic trend by creating a campaign called ‘A is Everywhere’—a great example of how social media allows us to connect with our fans and build upon the aspects of the show that are truly resonating with them.”
To enter the contest, fans can upload their photo of “A” on the ABC Family website, ABCFamily.com/AisEverywhere or the official Facebook page, Facebook.com/prettylittleliars. The photo that gets the most votes wins. The person who submitted that photo will win a trip for two to the “Pretty Little Liars” set (includes airfare and hotel). The top 50 photos will be included in a special edition “Pretty Little Liars” poster. The contest ends January 23rd at 8pm PST.
All new episodes of “Pretty Little Liars” premiere on Monday, January 2, at 8:00 pm ET/PT. Based on the popular Sara Shepherd book series, the show follows four friends – Aria, Emily, Hanna and Spencer – who are being tormented by taunting texts by the mysterious “A” after their best friend Alison turns up dead after vanishing a year before. The texts reveal secrets only Alison would know. In the upcoming new episodes, the girls take matters into their own hands and try to finally put a stop to their tormentor. As relationships are put to the test, new and old secrets are revealed and the stakes are raised higher than ever before as the Liars come closer to the truth.
“Pretty Little Liars” won three Teen Choice Awards in 2010 and 2011 for Choice Summer TV Series, Choice Summer TV Actress – Lucy Hale and Choice Summer TV Actor – Ian Harding. The show also won the “TV You Betta Watch” Award for 2011’s NewNowNext Awards, the “Cast to Watch” for 2011’s The Young Hollywood Awards, and was just named the #1 Television Hot Topic on Twitter in 2011. The series was also nominated for a People’s Choice Award in the “Favorite Cable TV Drama” category.
The show is produced by Alloy Entertainment in association with Warner Horizon Television and is executive produced by I. Marlene King, Oliver Goldstick and Leslie Morgenstein. The series stars Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Holly Marie Combs, Lucy Hale, Ian Harding, Laura Leighton, Chad Lowe, Shay Mitchell and Sasha Pieterse.
During the Monday, November 28 episode of “The Chew,” ABC Daytime’s new lifestyle series announced the launch of “The Chew Holiday Cookie Swap,” a nationwide search for the most scrumptious and unique holiday cookie recipes. Hosted by “Iron Chef America” stars Mario Batali and Michael Symon, “Top Chef” alum Carla Hall, entertaining & style expert Clinton Kelly and health & wellness enthusiast Daphne Oz, “The Chew” brings viewers a daily dose of food, life and fun, along with information on how to live a more full and healthy life.
“The Chew Holiday Cookie Swap” gives bakers across the country the chance to ‘strut their stuff’ and put their sweet and savory culinary creations on national display by entering their favorite cookie recipes at “The Chew” Facebook page: Facebook.com/thechewonabc from Monday, November 28 to December 7, 2011. Star bakers in the making will have the opportunity to enter their recipe along with their photo and a photo of the cookies. As an added bonus, the cookie recipe entries will be visible and available to all viewers to share during this holiday season. From sweet pecan and shortbread creations to downright decadent, double-stuffed chocolate treats that you just can’t get enough of, all original cookie recipes are eligible for submission.
During the week of December 19, five finalists will participate in a nationally televised bake-off on “The Chew” when they’re flown to New York City and given the chance to share their cookie creations with television viewers around the country. Co-hosts Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly and Daphne Oz will judge the finalists’ cookie creations and choose one grand prize winner who will receive $5,000.
For official contest rules and further information about “The Chew” Holiday Cookie Swap,” visit “The Chew” official Facebook page: Facebook.com/thechewonabc.
Calling all expectant moms! Today the Million Moms Challenge, in collaboration with ABC News, the United Nations Foundation, Disney Baby and Anne Geddes, launched Imagine Me & You, a photo contest to win a trip for two adults, plus baby, to Australia for a photo shoot with world-renowned photographer Anne Geddes.
The contest, which was announced on “Good Morning America” today, Monday, November 28 is designed to celebrate the universal dream that mothers everywhere have for healthy, happy babies who will grow to reach their full potential. To enter the contest, expectant moms in their third trimester can upload a picture of their “baby bump” on www.Facebook.com/millionmomschallenge, along with an original, creative message written on their bellies capturing their wishes and dreams for life with their little one.
America will vote on the images from December 6 to December 15. The three finalists will be announced on December 16. Anne Geddes will personally select the grand-prize winner in January, and will shoot a rare private portrait of the winning mom and newborn in her Sydney, Australia studio.
“To illustrate the importance of love and family in the earliest stages of life is a message that I stand behind and feel privileged to experience every day,” said Geddes, who has made a commitment to the United Nations’ Every Woman Every Child effort to raise awareness about the need to improve the health of women and children in the developing world. “That is why I am proud to be a part of the Million Moms Challenge Imagine Me & You contest.”
Realizing that a healthier tomorrow for our world starts with healthy moms and babies today, the Million Moms Challenge engages millions of Americans with millions of moms in developing countries around issues that affect pregnancy, childbirth and children’s health.
“Mothers around the world look forward to sharing special moments with their babies,” noted Kathy Calvin, CEO of the United Nations Foundation. “But in developing countries, up to 1.5 million newborns die within the first 24 hours – and most of these lives could have been saved with better health care. This contest will highlight those precious milestones in life that partners like the United Nations and the Shot@Life campaign will help make a reality for mothers and children around the world.”
“There is so much we can do together – so many simple ways for us all to link arms to help every mother and child have a chance to lead a healthy life,” said Diane Sawyer, anchor of “ABC World News.” Sawyer will anchor a primetime special on maternal/newborn health that will air December 16 on “20/20.”
Disney Baby, a new brand from Disney Consumer Products, which provides parents with the essentials they need to bond with baby at every stage, is pledging to donate $50,000 to several of the largest NGOs helping moms and babies throughout the world. Each semi-finalist will receive a gift basket of Disney Baby merchandise valued at $500. Finalists will also win a year’s worth of Huggies brand diapers.
“Our goal with Disney Baby is to help moms create magical moments with their babies right from the start. We’re excited to join the Million Moms Challenge, to share those moments with America, and generate awareness for such a great cause,” said Jessi Dunne, executive vice president, Disney Moms and Babies for Disney Consumer Products.
Submissions for Imagine Me & You are open from now until 11:59 p.m., ET, December 4, 2011. Expectant moms in the United States can upload pictures on www.Facebook.com/millionmomschallenge.
This Holiday season, Disney.com invites kids and teens to channel their inner rock star in the U Rock the Holidays event at Disney.com/URock. The online video promotion lets guests create their own music videos from a selection of holiday tunes from Disney artists, then upload them on Disney.com/URock. One grand prize winner will receive a trip to Los Angeles for a rare opportunity to go behind-the-scenes of a Disney music video and meet the artists!
To participate in U Rock the Holidays, Disney.com guests download one of the available :30 song clips, then create and upload their own music videos to the site. The videos will be posted in a gallery on the Disney.com/URock page where guests can then view, comment and “like” the video submissions. For some creative inspiration, guests can check out U Rock the Holidays video submissions from some of their favorite characters including The Muppets, WALL-E, Agent P and Swampy.
This year’s U Rock the Holidays song selections include:
- “Dig Down Deeper” sung by Zendaya from Pixie Hollow Games
- “Winter Vacation” from Phineas and Ferb Holiday Favorites
- “Naughty Naughty Children (Better Start Actin’ Nice)” by Grace Potter from Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice on ABC
- “Forget You” from Disney’s The Muppets Soundtrack
Additional songs will be released throughout the promotion to keep Disney.com guests rockin’ throughout the holiday season.
Each person who uploads an eligible video will receive the hit Disney Mobile app, “Where’s My Water?” To kick it up a notch, there will be a daily sweepstakes and winners will be randomly selected to receive a Disney prize pack, which will include a Walt Disney Records CD. A final grand prize winner will be selected by Disney.com and receive a trip to Los Angeles to go behind-the-scenes of a Disney music video production and meet the artists. Videos will be accepted from now until 4:59 p.m. (Pacific Time) on December 13, 2011. The winners will be announced in January 2012.
For even more rock star treatment, Casey and Tyler from Disney.com’s Rule the Mix web series will feature a video medley each week on their show, from the best U Rock the Holidays submissions. Rule the Mix is a new weekly show on Disney.com that celebrates entertaining and hilarious videos made by Disney.com guests.