To celebrate parents and guardians who foster their child’s creativity and teach valuable life lessons through storytelling, Disney Consumer Products (DCP) has launched a nationwide search for the Winnie the Pooh ‘Storyteller of the Year.’ The ‘Storyteller of the Year’ user generated contest taps into parents’ love of Winnie the Pooh and invites them to share the loveable bear’s story in a creative way through video and the use of fun props including Pooh plush toys, puppets, blankets or any other Pooh item. To enter, all parents and families need to do is create a simple, one-minute video that’s sweet like ‘hunny,’ full of wonder or funny, as they read a select Winnie the Pooh story to their child and show their favorite Pooh items. From April 22 through May 15, 2013, videos can be submitted online at DisneyStore.com/PoohStoryteller or from any mobile device. Complete rules and a list of prizes can be found here.
‘We invite parents to join Disney in celebrating the art of storytelling and Winnie the Pooh, one of our most beloved characters of all time,’ said Stephen Teglas, vice president of classic franchises for Disney Consumer Products. ‘Pooh teaches us about friendship, adventure, and to appreciate the simple things in life. Through the “Storyteller of the Year” contest we hope to capture some of these sweet family moments and encourage parents to use their best storytelling abilities to spark their child’s imagination and create long-lasting memories.’
Parents and guardians can choose from three Pooh stories ‘A Blustery Day,’ ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ and ‘A Bouncy Babysitter’ to create their own video. Once their video is complete, they simply upload it at DisneyStore.com/PoohStoryteller to enter the contest. DCP will select the winning video that best showcases creativity, integrates Pooh items, and captures the essence of Winnie the Pooh. The grand prize winner will receive a trip to Los Angeles, CA for a family of four and an assortment of Winnie the Pooh products including toys, books, and other gifts. As an added bonus, the winning video will be added to an upcoming version of Disney’s Winnie the Pooh: Wonder and Wander App, and everyone who downloads the free app will see the ‘master storyteller’ in action.
Additionally, while in Los Angeles, the winning family will join DCP at the ‘Wonder and Wander with Winnie the Pooh’ experience held at ‘PLUSH: the posh little urbanites show’ on June 9, 2013, where the winner will be officially crowned ‘Storyteller of the Year,’ and will read a Winnie the Pooh story to kids and families and celebrities in attendance.
Fans can also vote at DisneyStore.com/PoohStoryteller to select a ‘fan favorite’ video. The ‘fan favorite’ will receive a great assortment of Winnie the Pooh products.
Walt Disney Studios has provided us with these ‘fun facts’ for Marvel’s Iron Man 3, arriving in theaters on May 3, 2013, which we present to you below. In addition, Disney Parks today announced that beginning April 13, its Innoventions attraction located in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland in Anaheim, California will be hosting a ‘Stark Expo’ of sorts, featuring actual set pieces from the film. The ‘Iron Man Tech Presented by Stark Industries’ exhibition will give Disneyland park guests the chance to see Tony Stark’s Hall of Armor, featuring Iron Man suits Mark I-VII -– the same suits featured in Iron Man 3. Guests will even be able to virtually ‘suit up’ via simulation technology, that will allow them to see what it’s like to operate the latest pieces of the Mark 42 Iron Man armor, even getting the chance to test out its infamous repulsor blasts. The exhibition is scheduled to run through September.
IRON MAN 3 FUN FACTS
- Marvel’s Iron Man 3 is based on the comic created by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby. Iron Man first appeared in ‘Tales of Suspense #39′ in March, 1963. The film brings the favorite Iron Man series cast together: Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Iron Patriot/Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle), Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), alongside franchise newcomers Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) and The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).
- Marvel’s Iron Man 3 blends two classic storylines from the ‘Iron Man’ comics, bringing Tony Stark’s archenemy the Mandarin into play and combining that element with the Extremis storyline, which deals with the biological enhancement of humans.
- Production on Marvel’s Iron Man 3 commenced on May 25, 2012, in Wilmington, North Carolina, where the production shot onstage at the Sony Screen Gems Studios and various locations in and around the city of Wilmington. Other filming locations included Raleigh, N.C. and Miami, Fla.
- Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Marvel’s Iron Man 3. This time around, Downey Jr. reteams with director Shane Black, who previously directed Downey Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
- Academy Award®–winning actor Ben Kingsley plays the Mandarin, a frightening, modern-day villain bent on destroying Tony Stark and everything he stands for. To define the Mandarin’s persona, Kingsley came up with the Mandarin’s enigmatic voice and costume designer Louise Frogley collaborated with Marvel’s Head of Visual Development, Ryan Meinerding, to pull off a highly original look to his wardrobe.
- For the first time ever in an Iron Man movie, Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, gets to don a suit in Marvel’s Iron Man 3. Paltrow did not mind wearing the suit, finding it to be light and comfortable — not to mention that her kids thought she was really cool.
- The filmmakers looked far and wide for a young actor to play the part of Harley, a boy Tony Stark encounters when he is stranded in Tennessee. The part went to Ty Simpkins, whose natural and honest interaction with Robert Downey Jr. was just what the filmmakers were looking for. Ty was very surprised and elated when Robert Downey Jr. himself called to tell him he had won the part.
- Jon Favreau appears again as Happy Hogan, Pepper and Tony’s trusted bodyguard, chauffeur and friend. For the first time in Marvel’s Iron Man franchise, Favreau stepped into the role of executive producer leaving the directing to Shane Black. Black was grateful to have Favreau’s input and experience so readily available, both on and off set.
- In the Marvel’s Iron Man 3 story, after the events in New York with The Avengers, the U.S. Government needed a weapon that it could rely upon to protect the country, so it turns to James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) to man the revamped War Machine armor, which has been reconfigured, painted red, white and blue and rebranded as The Iron Patriot.
- When last seen in Marvel’s The Avengers, Tony Stark was wearing the Mark 8 suit. When Marvel’s Iron Man 3 opens, we see him in the Mark 42, so Stark’s been spending a lot of time tinkering in his workshop. The Mark 42 is called a prehensile suit, which allows individual pieces of the suit to fly to Stark and latch onto him at his command; however, the suit is definitely still a prototype.
- For the first time in the “Iron Man” film franchise, the filmmakers go deeper into revealing more about Tony Stark’s Hall of Amor. The Hall of Armor houses all of the suits that Stark conceived, representing any and all of his ideas regarding suit technology.
- Marvel’s Iron Man 3 brings back the notable cliffside Stark Mansion. This set was built on a soundstage in Wilmington, N.C. and required 16 weeks of construction and set decoration in order to get it ready. The set was built on an impressive moving gimble, which allowed the entire structure to be tilted 45 degrees and reset at a moment’s notice, providing for the dramatic stunt work required to film the House Attack sequence.
- For the filmmakers, creating the small town where Iron Man crash lands after his home is destroyed was something that could not be done on stage, so the production headed to Rose Hill, North Carolina. Rose Hill has its own claim to fame for having the world’s largest frying pan, which is 15 feet in diameter, weighs two tons and can cook 365 chickens at a time.
- Filming in Rose Hill, North Carolina, was no easy task. As if five straight weeks of night shoots weren’t grueling enough, the short summer days made for a tight schedule. The very complicated and elaborate sequences meant that the crew was always racing to complete work before dawn broke.
- Some of the exterior shots in Rose Hill were winter scenes complete with snowfall. Since it was summer in North Carolina during filming, 90-degree temperatures were common, but the local background extras took it all in stride, despite the fact they were dressed in full winter clothing.
- Marvel’s Iron Man 3 showcases one of Marvel Studios’ most complicated action sequences to date. In the film, 13 people fall out of a plane and Iron Man attempts to save them all — even though he can only carry four. With the help of the Red Bull skydiving team, and with rigorous and meticulous planning by second-unit director Brian Smrz and stunt coordinator Jeff Habberstad, 630 jumps over 10 days went off without a hitch.
- The majority of scenes involving The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) were shot in Miami. Production designer Bill Brzeski created The Mandarin’s compound there by shooting the exteriors on the 10-acre grounds of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a National Historic Landmark built in 1916, and the interiors were shot at a private waterfront residence in South Beach.
- Prop master Russell Bobbit, who worked on Marvel’s Iron Man and Iron Man 2, returned to work with Marvel Studios on Iron Man 3. One of Russell’s favorite props was The Mandarin’s set of ten rings. Bobbit collaborated with jewelers through several concepts and manufactured specific stones for the rings, giving each ring a custom paint job. The process took a few months in order to get the rings right and ready for Ben Kingsley’s first day. Bobbit was able to use the same ‘ten rings’ images he designed for use in the first Iron Man film.
- Florida pop-art artist Bask was hired to create distinctive artwork for the office and bedroom of the Mandarin’s residence that would mesh with the villain’s persona. Although the basis of Bask’s work is pop art, it is infused with influences from comic books, graffiti and punk rock fliers.
- On Friday, July 6, 2012, the production moved to a local Wilmington hospital to shoot Tony Stark delivering an impromptu message to the world’s press. While the crew was only there for six hours, this happened to be the exact same time executive producer Stephen Broussard and his wife Claire were delivering their first child at that very same hospital. Once his wife and new baby boy, Rex Sebastian Broussard, were confirmed healthy and happy, Broussard was actually able to visit his friends on set for a few minutes. He describes the whole day as ‘even more surreal and wonderful than I would have thought. Work followed me to the birth of my son.’ Soon after, at the ‘half-way there’ party for the crew, Robert Downey Jr. raffled items to raise money for the hospital’s Women’s & Children’s ward.
- Iron Man 3 pairs Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Kingsley working together for the first time. Both actors also played memorable roles in films directed by Richard Attenborough (Downey Jr. in Attenborough’s Chaplin and Ben Kingsley in Attenborough’s Gandhi). The first day they met on set, Downey Jr. and Kingsley snapped a photo together to send to their mutual friend.
‘Iron Man 3′ Inventor and Innovator National Fair Competition for Students; Finalists to Win SoCal Trip
Calling all aspiring inventors! It’s time to channel your inner Iron Man/Tony Stark and let your inventing imagination go wild. Discovery Science Center, Broadcom Foundation and Marvel Studios, along with Visa Signature and the famous El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, are proud to team up to sponsor a nationwide Marvel’s Iron Man 3: Inventor and Innovator Fair in conjunction with the May 3rd release of Marvel’s Iron Man 3, starring Robert Downey Jr.
The 12 finalists of the Marvel’s Iron Man 3: Inventor and Innovator Fair will win a trip to Southern California, provided by Visa Signature. The trip includes a behind-the-scenes tour of Disney Studios, a meeting with Disney Imagineers, a trip to Disneyland, a visit to Discovery Science Center, and more! Inventor and Innovator Fair finalists will also have their projects on display at the famous El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California, from May 3rd – June 20th. The competition concludes at the El Capitan Theatre on May 3rd when four Grand Prize winners will accept their awards at a special ceremony, on stage prior to the showing of Marvel’s “Iron Man 3.”
Sixth through ninth-grade girls and boys across the nation are invited to participate, including those who have competed in Broadcom MASTERS®, a program of Society for Science & the Public (SSP). For more information, rules and how to apply, visit www.discoverycube.org/ironman3.
“Iron Man 3: Inventor and Innovator Fair participants are the next generation of forward thinkers and innovators that will lead us into the future with scientific breakthroughs, engineering feats and technological advances. They are the real-life Tony Starks of tomorrow!” said Mike Pasciullo, Marvel’s SVP, Brand Planning & Communications.
Participating students are being asked to produce innovative, inventive projects based on themes from Marvel’s Iron Man 3 —science, technology, engineering and math-related concepts and practices. Marvel’s Iron Man 3: Inventor and Innovator Fair competition is encouraging students to submit projects that align with the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) Grand Challenges for Engineering™.
Some of the themes of the NAE Grand Challenges related to Marvel’s Iron Man 3 are: (1) Develop Carbon Sequestration Methods, including projects involving themes of eco-friendly car development; (2) Engineer Better Medicines, with projects that focus on global disease prevention, limb regeneration and the study of body armor that protects injured body parts such as the heart; (3) Secure Cyberspace, inspiring projects that can lead to the development of new technologies that can redefine innovative security measures; and (4) Engineer the Tools of Scientific Discovery, in fields such as micro-technology, aeronautics or robotics.
In addition to the preview, Walt Disney Studios and SUBWAY restaurants launched the ‘Who Will You Ride With on Game Day’Sweepstakes. To enter, follow @LoneRanger on Twitter and answer trivia questions about the sneak peek, using #LONERANGER in the reply. All correct entries will be entered in a blind drawing for a chance to win a prize pack, such as Kawasaki helmets, SUBWAY® gift cards, and more. Each prize pack includes two prizes, one each for ‘You and Your Kemosabe.’ The sweepstakes will end February 4, 2013, at 3:00 p.m. PST. Entries will also be accepted via email to [email protected]
From producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski, the filmmaking team behind the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, comes Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ The Lone Ranger, a thrilling adventure infused with action and humor, in which the famed masked hero is brought to life through new eyes. Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice—taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption.
The Lone Ranger also stars Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Ruth Wilson and Helena Bonham Carter.
A Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer Films presentation, The Lone Ranger is directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski, with screen story by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and Justin Haythe and screenplay by Justin Haythe and Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio. The Lone Ranger releases in U.S. theaters on July 3, 2013.
Sneak peeks at Oz the Great and Powerful and Marvel’s Iron Man 3 are also expected during the game.
Watching the ball drop in New York’s Times Square won’t be the only reason to stay up late this New Year’s Eve. As promised in the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade special, Maria Menounos will be announcing a brand new sweepstakes called ‘Disney Time’ kicking off January 1, 2013. For the entire month of January, Disney Parks will be giving away one dream vacation a day.
The sweepstakes is open to those living in the United State and Canada (excluding Quebec). Entrants may enter daily by choosing one of their choice of the following vacations, at either the Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resorts:
Character Cuddles and Happy Happenings
If you believe in the magic of Disney, this is the vacation for you! You’ll be greeted with a welcoming in-room décor package, enjoy up-close cuddly encounters at a Disney Character dining experience and get special VIP viewing at a Disney Theme Park parade or show. This is a magical 5-day/4-night vacation for 4 that includes air transportation, hotel accommodations, Theme Park tickets, Disney’s PhotoPass® Service, $500 Disney Gift Card, a welcome basket, with extra special magical surprises and delights.
New Discoveries and Magic Makeovers
Get ready to be immersed in Disney magic from being a character to conquering evil villains! This vacation includes two Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Princess makeovers or two Pirates League experiences*, or one of each. Disney’s Family Magic Tour, a fun guided interactive quest to save the Magic Kingdom® Theme Park from a dastardly Disney Villain scheme, is also included. Plus you’ll share extra hugs and giggles at a Character Dining experience. This is a magical 5-day/4-night vacation for 4 that includes air transportation, hotel accommodations, Theme Park tickets, Disney’s PhotoPass® Service, $500 Disney Gift Card, a welcome basket, along with special surprises and delights for big and little believers who wish be part of the magic.
Wild Fun and Amazement
If you like your entertainment big, wild and colorful, this vacation is for you! At Walt Disney World® Resort, this vacation has you diving into some cool water park thrills, taking a Wild Africa Trek through the Pangani Forest for some close creature encounters at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Park and enjoying amazing dinner extravaganzas like Fantasmic! Dining at Walt Disney World® Resort. At Disneyland® Resort, it’s special World of Color dining and viewing*, a one-day Adventures By Disney® Lights! Camera! Magic! Tour of Hollywood and Fantasmic! V.I.P. seating with desserts included. This vacation is action packed with eye-popping shows and entertainment! It’s a delightful 5-day/4-night vacation for 4 that includes air transportation, hotel accommodations, Theme Park tickets, Disney’s PhotoPass® Service, $500 Disney Gift Card, a welcome basket, along with special adventures you’ll never forget!
Big Thrills Beyond the Theme Parks
Looking for fun and adventure beyond the Disney Theme Parks? This is your kind of vacation! At Walt Disney World® Resort, dive into some Water Parks thrills, enjoy a shopping spree, and choose from a world of recreational options from kayaking to miniature golf. At Disneyland® Resort, enjoy an Adventures By Disney® Lights! Camera! Magic! experience, plus a shopping spree and a special World of Color Dining and viewing* experience. It’s an all-out fun 5-day/4-night vacation for 4 that includes air transportation, hotel accommodations, Theme Park tickets, Disney’s PhotoPass® Service, $500 Disney Gift Card, a welcome basket, along with special thrills and options that are sure to keep you smiling.
Grownup Fun and Romance
Who says a Disney Parks vacation is just for kids? There’s nothing more magical that adult time in and around the Disney Parks, with unlimited kidlike playtime too if you wish. At Walt Disney World® Resort, enjoy some Water Park thrills, a fine dining experience for four, plus a round of golf or spa treatment. You have great choices. At Disneyland® Resort, take in some fine dining and a night on the town at Downtown Disney. The entertainment is plentiful, and you’ll get to do it up right! This vacation is a fun-filled 5-day/4-night vacation for 4 that includes air transportation, hotel accommodations, Theme Park tickets, Disney’s PhotoPass® Service, $500 Disney Gift Card, a welcome basket aet and special surprises and delights for grownups without kids.
And of course, 2013 is the year the Limited Time Magic campaign, with the initial schedule recently being announced.
For more information about the Disney Time Sweepstakes, full rules and to enter, visit the official site at DISNEYTIMESWEEPS.COM.
- 1 pair of Spider-Man X-celeRacers by Stride Rite shoes (winner’s choice of size Toddler 8.5 – 12)
- Full Spider-Man costume
- Super Hero Movie Poster
- $50 Stride Rite gift card
Loaded with X-treme features, the X-celeRacers Spider-Man is bound to send your little web crawler’s imagination soaring to new heights.
- X-Grip outsole for mega traction
- X-tra Flex construction for ultra flexibility
- X-tra Fast Strap for lightning quick closure and unparalleled fit
- Lightweight cushioning for added comfort
- Extra wide opening for easy on and off
- Leather and synthetic upper featuring Spider-man face and web graphic
- Shoe sizes available for boys ages 2 – 5
We are pleased to join forces with Disney D23, the official fan club for Disney fans, to offer one lucky Stitch Kingdom reader a pair of tickets to what is easily one of the most exciting events to date — Destination D: 75 Years of Disney Animated Features being held at the Disneyland Resort on August 11 & 12, 2012!
This very special two-day event honors more than seven decades of rich animation history, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs through Wreck-It Ralph and features many of the company’s luminaries from both the worlds of animation and Disney Parks. Speakers include the newly announced directing team of John Musker & Ron Clements (The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog), producer Don Hahn (Beauty and the Beast, Frankenweenie), Burny Mattinson (Sleeping Beauty, Winnie the Pooh), Eric Goldberg (Pocahontas, Fantasia 2000), Andreas Deja (The Lion King, Lilo & Stitch), Walt Disney Imagineering’s Tony Baxter and Eddie Sotto, Tinker Bell live action model Margaret Kerry, voice over actress Kathryn Beaumont, legendary composer Alan Menken, a performance by Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastix and many, many more with even more announcements to come!
Tickets to attend the event, being held at the Disneyland Hotel, are $225 each, but one lucky reader will win a pair of them for free (transportation not included, nor is theme park admission which is not required to attend the event) — that’s a $450 value for an experience that will truly be priceless. The awarded tickets are non-refundable, non-exchangeable and non-transferable so please ensure you will be able to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event.
For more information on the event including a full list of panelists and schedules (subject to change) and to purchase tickets (limited quantities remaining), visit the official event page. To enter for your chance to attend, fill out the form below:
Remember, entries can be made daily, so be sure to enter every day as the contest will run through July 25! Each entry will increase your chance to win tickets to Disney D23 presents Destination D: 75 Years of Disney Animated Features.
Sony Joins Disney Parks on ‘Share Magical Memories’ Campaign; Vacation Contest and Gift with Purchase Offer
Sony Electronics announced today it has teamed up with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts to promote its latest line of Handycam® camcorders in a new integrated marketing campaign that focuses on capturing and sharing family memories.
The “Share Magical Memories” co-branded campaign kicks off with a unique online contest and dedicated website hosted by Disney Interactive at www.disney.com/memories, where guests can submit a written entry about a special someone in their life, a family member, friend or educator, who has helped create a lasting memory. A panel of judges will review the stories about the special memory makers and select five grand prize winners. Each grand prize winner will receive a vacation for themselves and three guests, plus a vacation for their memory makers and three guests to Walt Disney World Resort. The winning families will also receive a Sony® HDR-PJ260V projector camcorder to document new memories before, during, and after their experience at Disney Parks.
There will also be a weekly sweepstakes on disney.com/memories where guests can enter daily on the site or text “SONY” to DISNEY (347639) on their mobile devices, for a chance to win prizes such as a $200 Disney gift card and a Sony HDR-PJ260V camcorder. One winner will be awarded per week.
“Sony is thrilled to be working with Disney Parks to promote its new line of Handycam camcorders,” said Hidenori Toyoda, director of the camcorder business at Sony Electronics. “It’s a perfect fit – they create magical memories for families and we make the products to capture and share those memories.”
To support the campaign, a series of custom videos showcasing the new camcorders will be produced and featured on disney.com/memories and in retail stores. Some videos will be more educational and showcase the benefits of Handycam camcorder features, including built-in projection, low-light capabilities, Optical SteadyShot(TM) image stabilization, a wide angle lens and high zoom functionality. Videos will also be recorded at the Disney Parks, using Handycam camcorders, that capture guest’s favorite Disney memories along with beloved Disney characters. In addition to the video series, the campaign will also be promoted through Sony and Disney’s various social media channels.
“We are equally delighted to be working with Sony on this program,” said Scott Cassidy, senior vice president, Disney Global Alliance Marketing. “Their newest line of Handycam camcorders clearly takes the idea of capturing and preserving great Disney Parks memories to a whole new level.”
The “Share Magical Memories” campaign will also have a strong presence at Sony Stores and select electronics retailers nationwide. As part of the campaign, Sony and Disney will offer a Gift with Purchase program where consumers can purchase Sony HD Handycam camcorders and receive an exclusive, limited-edition Disney item from May 14 through Sept. 30. Additionally, a specially designed experience for mobile phones will feature video and images, as well as allow consumers to enter the contest or sweepstakes.
Disney Consumer Products announced today that its Disney Baby Facebook page has reached and surpassed more than 1 million Likes in just fourteen months, making Disney Baby the fourth most popular baby brand on Facebook. To celebrate this social media landmark, Disney Baby will release a special tribute video to thank its Facebook community and after much demand is also launching a new Facebook sweepstakes series with coveted Disney Baby products as prizes. To further engage its loyal Facebook community, Disney Baby also announced the addition of its new Disney Momgineers tab, making the Disney Baby Facebook experience more interactive, conversational and informative.
“I am so excited to see our social media community thriving,” said Jeannine D’Addario, Vice President, Disney Moms and Babies for Disney Consumer Products. “As a mom, I know how important it is to be part of a community that celebrates life with baby at every stage.”
The new Disney Momgineers Facebook tab is designed to expand the Disney Baby experience by sharing practical advice and tips, and hosting a forum to discuss a variety of topics relevant to new and expectant parents. The Disney Momgineers are employees of The Walt Disney Company who are also proud parents with the special mission of helping create the best baby experience possible. Knowing how precious moments with baby are and how important it is to feel good about the choices a parent makes, the Disney Momgineers bring a valuable source of experience and insight to Disney Baby from sharing real-life advice to providing input on new products.
The Disney Baby social media community continues to grow not only on Facebook, but also on Twitter, YouTube, and DisneyBaby.com. At the heart of its social media experience is Disney Baby Magical Moments, an easy-to-use tool that helps parents easily upload their baby photos and videos, adding to a dynamic collection of shared family experiences from other parents. The photos appear on DisneyBaby.com and the Disney Baby Magical Moments tab on Disney Baby’s Facebook page. From silly smiles to Sunday afternoon strolls, Disney Baby Magical Moments add to the community and create a warm and inviting place that online moms are responding to.
The new tribute video will be a compilation of these magical moments posted by fans that emphasize the joys of parenthood. The new weekly Disney Baby Magical Moments Sweepstakes offers fans the opportunity to win unique, feel good products from Disney Baby’s growing collection organized around key moments of the day, including Getting Ready, Baby’s Firsts, In the Nursery, Dressing Baby, Mealtime and Bathtime.
For more about the weekly prizes and video, please visit http://www.facebook.com/DisneyBaby.
‘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.