Beginning May 28, Disney Cruise Line hopefuls will have the opportunity to win a seven day voyage aboard the Disney Fantasy with the ‘Catch Stitch Sweepstakes’ available at CatchStitchSweepstakes.com. At stake is a single grand prize of either a western- or eastern-Caribbean vacation aboard Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Disney Fantasy.
Although the sweepstakes’ temporary homepage is advertising a vacation at Disney Cruise Line’s private island, Castaway Cay, the official rules clearly define the prize as being a regular vacation which will, of course, include day stops at Castaway Cay. The vacation will be for up to four guests and includes roundtrip airfare.
What’s most promising about the sweepstakes, however, isn’t necessarily the prize, but the fact that it’s being developed and operated by Prizelogic, the same company that did the amazing ‘board game’ sweepstakes for Disney Cruise Line. According to the Catch Stitch Sweepstakes, ‘experiment 626 is loose onboard Disney Fantasy. The alien is blue, fluffy, and considered 4-armed and dangerous. Join the investigation and help track down Stitch for a chance to win your own Disney Cruise Line Vacation to Castaway Cay – Disney’s private island!’
While entrants will each receive one entry for registering before the entry period ends on August 31, they also have the opportunity to earn up to six bonus entries by using clues to virtually search the Disney Fantasy to locate where Stitch is currently hiding.
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
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.
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.
This past Sunday, the Japan Society in New York City held a one-day animated short film festival titled ‘Films for Hope’ in order to benefit those affected by the devastating earthquake on March 11. The centerpiece of the festival was a joint presentation of Dai Soto’s Five Numbers and Disney/Pixar’s La Luna, which is the short that will open alongside Brave on June 22, 2012. A presentation and brief Q&A session with La Luna writer and director Enrico Casarosa was also offered following the screening.
According to the official synopsis, La Luna is the timeless fable of a young boy who is coming of age in the most peculiar of circumstances. Tonight is the very first time his Papa and Grandpa are taking him to work. In an old wooden boat they row far out to sea, and with no land in sight, they stop and wait. A big surprise awaits the little boy as he discovers his family’s most unusual line of work. Should he follow the example of his Papa, or his Grandpa? Will he be able to find his own way in the midst of their conflicting opinions and timeworn traditions?
Even though the film was screened at a panel during the 2011 Disney D23 Expo, I was unable to attend it and so this was my first time seeing the short and the only thing preventing me from saying it was worth the wait is the constant nagging, desire to see it again and wishing I had seen it again before and can see it again now — I can only assume those of you that have already seen it know what I’m talking about. It’s a visually stunning, enchanting piece that delivers its message quickly, clearly and quite sweetly, in a way that will make you want to watch it over and over.
Casarosa, who grew up in Italy but lived in New York City for many years, has a strong connection to Japan, who he says inspired the film along with Italy, where it takes place (although it quite literally could take place anywhere). As a child in Genoa, he was able to watch much of the animated shows being produced in Japan on local television. Although it took many years to realize it, he credits Japanese animation and Hayao Miyazaki in particular amongst his influences in the medium. There is even an homage, or ‘love letter,’ to Miyazaki in the short, where gravity temporarily loses its old on protagonist Bambino.
Via a presentation laden with hilarious sketches, photos, footage, concept art and more, Casarosa took the audience through the process of directing his first film at Pixar, from conception to completion. With his directorial debut being a short, he said the go-to analogy for most is to say to him ‘so they’ve handed you the keys to the little car,’ to which Casarosa counteracts with ‘it’s still your first car,’ although he noted he much rather prefers sea planes, so he switched the analogy to that and took us through the sea plane construction process as it applied to a Pixar Animation Studios short.
For Casarosa, who set out to create a modern fable, the story began with heart — a personal and emotional story, that’s ‘fantastic.’ For Enrico, it was memories of growing up in Italy with generations in his family being in disagreement with each other (demonstrated in sketch form through the use of perennial visual aid, minestrone soup). For the fantastic element, Casarosa found inspiration Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince and the books of Italo Calvino in addition to Miyazaki. The goal for his story was to create a ‘Moon myth, rooting it in something personal and familiar.’
Once the idea is formed, the first step is to pitch it to Mary, Kiel and Karen, the development team at Pixar Animation. Then the idea progresses as ‘you tell it on your way to work, then on break, then at home — too much.’
From there, it progresses to the storyboarding process which starts with image boards in watercolor. ‘I don’t write on the computer,’ he later explained, ‘I write with images.’ A sketch showed Enrico frenetically pitching the story to a completely calm and relaxed Lasseter (in truth, traditional storyboarding has been replaced with a proprietary package known as ‘Pitch Docter’ — a nod, to Monsters Inc. director Pete Docter). Lasseter had but a couple of notes, the primary one insisting that this would be the boy’s (Bambino) first time with his father and grandfather at work, so that the audience experiences it with him, a plot point that Casarosa had not originally considered. Lasseter also influenced the character design, but I will address that later on.
Casarosa talked about how scratch (temporary) voices are generally used alongside the story reels, but quickly moved on to the actual casting process and the struggles they had with the use of gibberish in lieu of dialogue, even though the film would arguably have worked just as well without any vocals at all. They first called on John Gilkey of Cirque du Soleil fame; Gilkey had worked with Pixar before on Ratatouille to work out some of the pantomime. Showing footage of Gilkey performing opposite Pixar’s Bob Peterson, Enrico explains that it wasn’t living up to his expectations, but after considering passing on the idea on gibberish altogether, they found animator Tony Fucile to ‘voice’ Papa and actor/storyteller Phil Sheridan to voice Nonno. Casarosa recalls Sheridan’s initial offer: ‘with teeth or without?’ They went without.
Casarosa then moved on to the character design and showed several pieces of concept art from fellow artists such as Robert Kondo, Katy Wu and Daisuke ‘Dice’ Tsutsumi. Dice, who had worked with Enrico at Blue Sky on films such as Robots, was ‘such a friend,’ that he began creating illustrations for the short before it had received the green light.
Seeking a 1920s-1930s feel of Mediterranean peasants/fisherman, Casarosa explained his intent for Bambino to have a large head with large eyes, so that he is open to the world, ‘looking around’ with child-like wonder. Papa, however, is physically opposite, set in his ways. Italian actor Massimo Troisi was used as reference for big, over-the-top gestures while actress Giulietta Masina served as the real-life inspiration for Bambino.
Not wanting to place an emphasis on facial features, Casarosa felt using facial hair would be a simpler, less expensive way to animate the film — something he learned quickly wasn’t the case. ‘We had Toy Story 3 technology, we wanted Brave technology,’ he half-joked, referring to the technological advances made since the short was animated. He showed test footage of grandfather/Nonno from when they were ‘about 70% there’ speaking with his eyebrows and beard moving rather dynamically. With the idea of facial hair, Casarosa saw the opportunity to make a successful visual gag involving the older generations’ tools. It was Lasseter’s experience as a sweeper at Disneyland that influenced the specific look of broom-bearded Nonno whose broom (and beard) have a distinct look as a result from constant use.
For the look of the film, Casarosa looked for ‘stylized reflections, naturally simple and naturally beautiful,’ using texture as the key word (Casarosa later explained that ‘a glow is never just a glow — I want it to have texture). Support came in the form of watercolors by Greg Couch and a pastel by Bill Cone that operated as the film’s backdrop (Cone also provided the color script for the short). They went to shoot reference video for the moon’s reflection upon the water on a lake at John Lasseter’s home. The moon was full, but was not visible from where they were, so they walked away with no footage, but ‘it was great team building.’
For the boat, the team went to Genoa in Italy to visit a boat building company called Cantiere Navale Topazio, where Casarosa recalled hearing an older, traditional builder complain about how newer boats made of fiberglass lacked soul. Casarosa wanted the boat to feel as it had been handed down through generations, so he decided that it had received at least three coats of paint through the year and they mimicked the real world process they had seen by painting each plank individually before mapping it to the boat, a process that worked so well, they applied it to other elements in the film. For the stars in the film, Casarosa envisioned they were frosted candle lights, each dimming with age, and the overall sensation that they were effectively tiles as they moved around, producing noise.
Another crucial element in the production is, of course, the crew. Casarosa gushed over the group of animators and filmmakers he worked with on production of the short, using a company pasta sauce competition, inspired by the film, as an example of the camaraderie, though he fell short attempting to explain how a Spaniard had won. Casarosa offered a special note of thanks to film composer Michael Giacchino, who was ‘very patient’ and ‘bombarded with strange, Neapolitan music.’
Casarosa closed his presentation with the film’s message, which he hopes will deliver a positive influence on children: ‘Trust your inspiration. You can stand on the shoulders of tradition and still find your own way;’ for adults, he hopes that it helps remind them of what it was like to view the world with the eyes of a child; and as for his own family, he just wants to let his father and grandfather he doesn’t want to pick sides and loves them both.
One interesting note to close on is just how personal the film truly is for Enrico Casarosa. With the hopes to inspire to find one’s own way in the world, it wasn’t until his early 20s that Casarosa decided to enter the field of animation; until then, he was an engineering student.
To enter the giveaway, please visit our sweepstakes page on Facebook. The contest will run through September 30, 2011, after which one person will be chosen at random to receive the poster. The contest is open to residents in the United States, aged 13 and up.
And if you look hard enough, you just may also catch a glimpse (or two) of the moon in it as well.
In addition to the amazing ‘How Will You Train?’ contest in which the grand prize winner will receive an ultimate viewing party featuring a Blu-ray player, flat screen TV and much more, our friends at Disney Online, PixieHollow.com and the Never Council are offering Stitch Kingdom readers the opportunity to win an adorable Pixie Hollow prize pack (pictured).
So while the fairies work hard this Labor Day, Mainlanders have the chance to take home this prize pack simply by tweeting about it. To enter, just follow these simple instructions:
1) Make sure you are following @stitchkingdom on Twitter Follow @stitchkingdom
2) Tweet the following line at some point during September 5, 2011 only:
RT and follow @stitchkingdom for your chance to win a Pixie Hollow prize pack! http://626.sk/tinkprize #pixiehollowprize
Alternatively, you can just click here to enter it into Twitter for you (but don’t forget to click the Tweet button!)
3) You may tweet no more than once every two hours up to a maximum of 5 chances. If you choose to enter more than once, be sure to number them at the end of your tweet.
That’s it! Just a few simple rules apply. This opportunity will end at 11:59 pm PT on September 5, 2011. You must be age 13 or above and reside within the United States.
In Pixie Hollow Games, all of the fairies and sparrow men in Pixie Hollow gather for the legendary three-day Olympic-style competition event, which culminates with one fairy guild being named champion of the Games. Determined not to let the garden fairies’ unfortunate history of not performing well at the Games get to her, newcomer Chloe (voiced by Brenda Song) works to convince all of the other garden fairies, which includes her teammate Rosetta (voiced by Megan Hilty) and the pragmatic Fern (voiced by Zendaya), that they must work together and dig down deep to break their well-known losing streak. Along the way, the reigning champion storm fairies, including Rumble (voiced by Jason Dolley) and Glimmer (voiced by Tiffany Thornton), continue to intimidate and outperform their competitors, but with Chloe’s spirited determination, they are forced to work harder than ever before.
The virtual world of Pixie Hollow will host and celebrate the Games with the “How Will You Train?” art contest. The contest, which runs from August 16 – September 6, invites Disney Fairies fans to draw and share how they will train for the Pixie Hollow Games, with the grand prize winner receiving the ultimate viewing party kit. The kit includes everything needed to enjoy the “Pixie Hollow Games” premiere on Disney Channel, including a TV, Blu-ray/DVD player, a Tinker Bell DVD collection, party supplies, and more. To enter the “How Will You Train?” art contest, fans can submit their art either by U.S. Mail or by Internet via http://pixiehollow.go.com/contests_home.html.
Courtesy of our friends at Walt Disney Studios, we have copies of the newest Disney Channel Original Movie, Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, based on the popular High School Musical franchise, on Disney Blu-ray/DVD to give to two randomly selected Stitch Kingdom readers.
Just how fabulous do you have to be to make it big in the Big Apple? One aspiring diva is about to find out…the hard way! Ashley Tisdale shines in this totally captivating comedy. After a talent scout spots her performing with her dog Boi at a charity gala, Sharpay Evans (Tisdale) sets off for the bright lights of NYC, convinced instant fame and fortune are in the bag (designer, that is). But the theatre is a dog-eat-dog world, as she and Boi discover when they encounter the devious owner of a pampered Pooch named “Countess” and a scheming Broadway starlet who will do anything to crush the competition. Fortunately, Sharpay also meets Peyton (Austin Butler), a handsome student filmmaker who finds Sharpay nearly as fascinating as she finds herself.
Hilarious bonus features include bloopers of Ashley Tisdale and cast, special footage shot on-set by actor Austin Butler, and, exlcusive to the Blu-ray disc, ”The Evolution of the Sharpay,” a fun look back at the famous High School Musical character, Sharpay Evans.