Upcoming ‘Epic Mickey’ for Nintendo Wii Paints a Grizzly, Dark Future for Walt Disney World

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Concept Art from 'Epic Mickey' shows a dark future for the Walt Disney World theme parksMaking the rounds on the ‘net is a concept art-laden update from an original report by Gamsutra which speculated on an upcoming project known as ‘Epic Mickey’ from Warren Spector’s Junction Point Studios. ‘Strangely’ enough, the news comes hot on the heels of an article Gamasutra published only a couple of days ago in which Disney Interactive’s Graham Hopper hints about the project, even foreshadowing that we’d find out more about it ‘one of these days’ — perhaps a bit sooner than he meant.

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‘Wizards of Waverly Place’ Kids Head to The View on August 5

Stars of ‘Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie,’ Selena Gomez, David Henrie and Jake Austin will be appearing on The View on Wednesday, August 5. Also appearing on the show will be actor James Brolin and a musical performance from the Broadway cast of ‘Hair.’

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Disney XD Begins on Production of New Live-Action Comedy, ‘I’m in the Band’

Production has begun in Hollywood on “I’m In The Band,” a music-filled, live-action comedy series for kids and families about a teenager who realizes his wildest dream when he joins his favorite “vintage” rock band, Iron Weasel, and sets out to help the band he idolizes make an epic comeback. The series, formerly known as “Viper Slap,” is scheduled to premiere in 2010 on Disney XD.

In “I’m In The Band,” Tripp Campbell joins his favorite “vintage” rock band, Iron Weasel, and becomes determined to help the band he idolizes make an epic comeback.  He’s certainly got his work cut out for him with the trio of rock star misfits whose stars have fallen so far that they can’t even afford their own housing and are forced to share bunk beds in a guest room at Tripp’s house. Nonetheless, in their own off the wall way, the three stooges will do their best to help Tripp steer through his teenage years with the goal of turning him into a bona fide rock star and giving him the chance to live out his dream.

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First Look: New One-of-a-kind Medal for Walt Disney World Fall Race Challenge Runners

Fall Race Challenge MedalDisney Sports is creating a one-of-a-kind bonus medal for runners who complete the Fall Race Challenge, competing in two of Disney’s three fall endurance events at Walt Disney World Resort.  Runners that record an official time for Disney’s Race for the Taste 10K and either the Expedition Everest Challenge presented by Champion or The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K will receive the bonus medal in addition to individual race medals – a total of three race medals for running two races.  Registration for all three fall events is now open.

“Disney is dedicated to providing guests with new, interactive features to make their race experience more fun, more exciting and more memorable,” says Disney Endurance Series Director Kathleen Duran. “We are always looking for new ways to differentiate our Disney events by creating unique, immersive experiences.”

Disney’s fall lineup includes expanded race options.  The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13k event will feature a 5k and an exclusive post-race party.  Disney’s Race for the Taste 10k event will include a new 3k race designed for casual runners and those looking to compete in their first endurance event.

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WDW Cast Members’ Encore! Raises Record $35,000 for United Arts

The Encore! Cast Choir and Orchestra, a volunteer ensemble of nearly 300 Disney Cast Members, recently raised a record $35,000 for United Arts of Central Florida.ORLANDO, Fla., July 29, 2009 – Making music for charity’s sake, the Encore! Cast Choir and Orchestra, a volunteer ensemble of nearly 300 Disney Cast Members, struck a high note by raising a record $35,000 for United Arts of Central Florida.

“On behalf of Encore!, we are grateful to everyone who came out to support our concerts and help us raise a record level of funds for United Arts,” said Encore! producer and co-founder Ray Fournier. “We are thrilled to be giving them a $35,000 donation and know it will go to good use in support of many arts organizations in Central Florida who are struggling in these economic times.”

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Anika Noni Rose (Princess Tiana) Takes Her Turn at Narrating Epcot’s Candlelight Processional December 6-8

Disney has just announced that The Princess and the Frog star Anika Noni Rose will be the narrator for Epcot’s 2009 Candlelight Processional from December 6 – 8. The list previously published here has been updated.

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UPDATE: Epcot’s 2009 Candlelight Processional Features New Narrators and Returning Favorites

Via its twitter, Disney Parks has announced that Isabella Rossellini, Vanessa Williams and Whoopi Goldberg will join returning celebrity narrators Andy Garcia, John O’Hurley, Abigail Breslin, Brian Dennehy, Angela Bassett, Edward James Olmos and  Steven Curtis Chapman.

The schedule is as follows:

November 27 – 29, Isabella Rossellini
November 30 – Dec 2, John O’ Hurley
December 3 – 5,  Steven Curtis Chapman
December 6 – 8, Anika Noni Rose
December 9 – 11, Andy Garcia
December 12 – 13, Chita Rivera
December 14 – 17, Abigail Breslin
December 18 – 20, Whoopi Goldberg
December 21 – 23, Brian Dennehy
December 24 – 26, Edward James Olmos
December 27 – 30, Angela Bassett & Courtney B. Vance

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How I Went Backstage at the American Idol Experience (and How You Can Too!)

The American Idol ExperienceSince its debut in February, the American Idol Experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been wowing guests with its faithful re-creation of one of television’s most popular shows. On-stage, audience members get to sit in on several shows a day where other park guests perform live on the set patterned after the American Idol season seven finale stage. The show’s daily finale always fills to capacity as hundreds who couldn’t get in grab a nearby seat outside and watch the performances on the giant Diamond Vision screen.

For guests who opt to perform, the grueling audition process begins ‘backstage,’ in Studio 2B (essentially the on-stage and ‘backstage’ portions are treated as separate attractions, 2A and 2B on the park’s map respectively). At stake is a ‘golden ticket’ which grants the holder the ability to ‘FASTPASS’ their way through real-live auditions for the actual show (for those ineligible to use the ticket, it can be transferred once).

So one way to go ‘backstage’ at the American Idol Experience is to audition — and to make it all the way through. And as you’re about to find out, it’s easier said than done. Fortunately, there’s another way to see everything the performer gets to see and more and it’s called The Ultimate Backstage Experience.

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The Walt Disney Family Museum Website is Live; Tickets Available for Dates Starting October 1

WDFM_our_book_07The Walt Disney Family Museum site has gone live. Visit it online at waltdisney.org to learn more about the museum, obtain timed tickets, watch videos and the chance to pre-order the museum’s book,  The Walt Disney Family Museum: The Man, the Magic, the Memories written by noted Disney historian J.B. Kaufman and Diane Disney Miller with preface by Richard Benefield and introduction by Diane Disney Miller. At 96 pages and containing 124 illustrations, the book tells the story of Walt Disney in ten chapters that coincide with the museum’s galleries. The book will be available exclusively from the museum beginning October 15, 2009, but is currently available for pre-order for $19.95

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Millionaire Celebrates 10th Anniversary Return to Primetime with New Ask the Expert Lifeline and Celebrity Contestants

Regis and “Millionaire” are back in ABC primetime! Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the smash hit “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” comes back to ABC this summer for a special two-week event. “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” premieres SUNDAY, AUGUST 9 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) and will air for 11 nights, Sunday-Thursday at 8:00 p.m., with the finale on SUNDAY, AUGUST 23 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET).

ABC’s 10th Anniversary edition of “Millionaire” will celebrate everything that viewers loved about the original, combined with the major improvements to the gameplay after seven successful years in syndication. In addition, as a brand new feature of the return of primetime “Millionaire,” every episode will culminate with a celebrity playing one question for $50,000 to benefit their charity of choice. The lineup of celebrity players will be announced at a later date.

From Daytime “Millionaire’s” Emmy nominations on the eve of its eighth season launch to the Oscar-winning phenomenon “Slumdog Millionaire,” it has been a banner year for the “Millionaire” pop culture juggernaut. To date, there have been 1,285 episodes of the syndicated version, and before it went off the air in 2002, the primetime edition saw 363 episodes, including “Super Millionaire” in 2004. Over $132 million has been won by contestants over the decade ($79 million in primetime; $53 million in syndication). In primetime, celebrity players won $13.5 million for their favorite charities.

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