We continue IAAPA week by checking out all of the food options at IAAPA, of which there are definitely not way less than we thought, and everything doesn’t go completely wrong.
D23 has just sent over some great news! Next year, 2020 will be a year to celebrate the Walt Disney Archives and its 50th anniversary. As you may know from my previous post “D23 and You (and Me!)” and our first Up the Waterfall podcast episode, the Walt Disney Archives are my favorite part of anything D23 related. This is the true reason we are Disney fans, and any and all info and treasures from the Archives are why we keep going back to D23 events and remaining members.
Along with some news about a traveling Archives exhibit, we also get some Destination D news, which will take place at Walt Disney World in the Fall of 2020. UPDATE: We now have an official date for Destination D – Fantastic Worlds in Walt Disney World – November 20-22, 2020! Destination D will honor Disney’s many magical places, from the extraordinary to the fantastical.The exhibit will include 50 iconic treasures, each representing a year that the Archives has been in existence. And Walt Disney Imagineering’s store, Mickey’s of Glendale, will once again open a pop-up shop featuring exclusive items, just for the weekend. Additional details, including special hotel rates and ticketing information, will be announced in late spring. I can’t wait to attend and peruse all of these bits of history. Keep reading below for the official press release from D23:
The Walt Disney Archives celebrates its 50th anniversary next year, and to kick off the festivities, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif., will host Inside the Walt Disney Archives: 50 Years of Preserving the Magic, offering a rare look at some of the treasures from the Archives. The 10,000-square-foot traveling exhibit opens to the public on March 7, 2020.
- Plus, on June 22, the actual anniversary of the founding of the Archives, D23 will hold a special “birthday party” at the Bowers Museum. And next year, D23 will offer two exclusive D23 Behind-the-Scenes Experiences: A Day at the Studio Lot, for an exciting look behind the incredible work that goes on every day at the Walt Disney Archives.
Guests are invited to step into the Walt Disney Archives as they walk through a dazzling display of more than 400 objects, including original artwork, costumes, and props that tell the story of the Archives, The Walt Disney Company, and Walt Disney himself. Artifacts include never-before-displayed production art from Fantasia, Walt Disney’s office set from Saving Mr. Banks, the original pitch portfolio used to secure investors for Disneyland, maquettes from animated films such as Peter Pan and Frozen, and much more.
Gold Members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club will be invited to enjoy an exclusive look at the exhibit before it opens to the general public during a special preview night where they can chat with Disney archivists while exploring the exhibit, which runs through August 30, 2020, before heading to other locations around the country (to be revealed in 2020). D23 Gold Members will also receive a discount on tickets to the exhibit, as well as a discount on merchandise in the museum store. Bowers Museum is one of Southern California’s finest museums, showcasing exquisite examples of art and culture from around the world since 1936.
In addition to the exhibit, Disney fans will be able to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Archives throughout 2020:
- The Archives will partner with the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood for special El Cap Throwback screenings during the year.
- WALT’S MARCELINE: Walt frequently cited this charming Missouri town, where he spent his early childhood, as one of his greatest influences. In fact, its lovely main thoroughfare was an inspiration for Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A. D23 Members will have a chance to explore the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, enjoy local treats, and mingle with special guests during this full-day event.
- D23’s Behind the Scenes Experience: A Day at the Studio Lot events in 2020, held exclusively for Gold Members of D23, will offer a rare glimpse into how the Archives preserves the magic of The Walt Disney Company.
- All Official Walt Disney Studios Tours in 2020, presented by D23, will include a special gift for guests themed to the 50th anniversary.
For nearly five decades, the Walt Disney Archives has carefully safeguarded the most treasured items from The Walt Disney Company’s history, including original scripts, movie props and costumes, Walt Disney’s correspondence and script notes, theme park artifacts, merchandise, millions of archival photographs, and many of Walt’s personal effects. Founded by Disney Legend Dave Smith in 1970, the Walt Disney Archives is a vital resource for every part of Disney, as well as an important research center for Disney scholars, researchers, and writers. The Archives also shares its countless pieces with Disney fans everywhere through its exhibitions and close association with D23: The Official Disney Fan Club.
While our roving movie reviewer Christian may not have felt The Lion King2019 edition was worth spending your money on, Disney IS putting their money to good use with several initiatives sending money to where real-life lions need it the most and Protect the Pride. And while I will be the first to admit, Disney tends to go overboard with the merchandise and promotion of all of their films, in this case, it is actually doing good along with the usual profits.
Disney recently invited us out to see some of the in-park celebrations and programs they have coordinated with the July 19th release of The Lion King. They hosted us for a day in the park and treated us to lunch as we experienced some of these offerings. As always, my opinions and views are my own, and I am posting about these initiatives because animal conservation is something near and dear to my heart, as is Animal Kingdom in general (and I get a bit defensive when people don’t enjoy the park on its own!).
It’s hard to believe, but in the 25 years since The Lion King first came out, half the lion population has been lost, and only 20,000 remain. To counter these facts, Disney launched The Lion King “Protect the Pride” campaign in conjunction with the Wildlife Conservation Network’s Lion Recovery Fund in an effort to double the lion population by 2050.
But this isn’t a new effort for Disney – since 1995, the Disney Conservation Fund has directed up to $75 million ($13M to projects across Africa) to save wildlife and protect the planet. Disney has already donated more than $1.5 million to the Wildlife Conservation Network’s Lion Recovery Fund and its partners. Now to celebrate the newest release of The Lion King, Disney is asking fans to help by taking part in The Lion King Celebration happening at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Lion King Protect the Pride campaign.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom – For every guest who rides the Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park in Florida during opening week of The Lion King film (July 19 – 25, 2019), Disney Conservation Fund will donate $2 (up to $350,000) to the Wildlife Conservation Network in support of the Lion Recovery Fund’s efforts to help double the number of lions across Africa by 2050. (Theme park admission is required.)
Disney Stores & U.S Parks – 40,000 Special Edition The Lion King 2019 Simba and Nala plush lions are available for purchase at Disney stores across the globe. Each of the 40,000 plush represents one of the lions for which Disney and the Lion Recovery Fund are working to ensure a future. For each Special Edition lion sold, Disney will donate US $5 to the Wildlife Conservation Network in support of the Lion Recovery Fund and its local partners. Visit Disney.com/LionKingProtectThePride to learn more.
The Lion King fun doesn’t end there. In addition to Protect the Pride, there are a lot of new offerings at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to help celebrate and really commemorate the spirit of The Lion King. The Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party (which is REALLY fun and I’m not usually a dance party kind of girl), photo opportunities featuring dimensional backgrounds (some you can see in this post), and “Rivers of Light: We Are One,” which is now reimagined with familiar animals from Disneynature films and classic moments from Disney animation. I have not personally seen the new show yet, but did love the original Rivers of Light when it first debuted.
A new Dooney & Bourke collection will be available at Mombasa Marketplace and Discovery Trading Company. The collection includes a satchel, crossbody and tote with a pattern featuring beloved characters such as Simba, Nala, Timon and Pumbaa. These handbags are available now while supplies last.
And of course, those adorable Simba and Nala collectible plush where $5 goes toward saving lions:
With the great success over in Epcot, there is a new hunt themed to, you guessed it, The Lion King. Characters from The Lion King are hidden around Harambe Village. We saw some on our visit and they are really cool but I won’t spoil their locations! Each time you spot one, add the corresponding sticker to your map. The map is available at the Outpost Shop, Discovery Trading Company, Island Mercantile, and Mombasa Marketplace for $6.99. Return your map to Mombasa Marketplace or The Outpost Shop by 9/28/19 or while supplies last for a “savanna surprise”. (which is actually a really cool hand-painted collectible!). If you just want to get the prize at the end, you can purchase the three for $6.99 a piece.
There are some snack and drink options that will really make you roar. These special drinks and snacks will be available through the end of the summer. All of the images below are ©Disney (except the first one, obviously not up to Disney quality haha). Most all of these snacks are extremely sweet, so go prepared to experience an extreme sugar rush. Not pictured are Simba and Nala waffles from Tusker House for breakfast, and the SImba Cupcake from Pizzafari.
Also recently added to Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the return of Animation Academy, which we all miss from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The “new” Disney’s Animation Experience is over in Rafiki’s Planet Watch, accessible by train from Harambe and a short walk from the station. This is now the only thing in the building, so you must wait for the next session to start before being let in to choose a seat and a clipboard with paper and pencil. The seating is very tight and cramped but if you’re lucky, they’ll let you spread out so you have a little elbow room.
During our session, we drew Simba and it was much “easier” (if that’s possible for a total non-drawer like myself) with some lines and the main face circle already printed on the paper. If you love to draw, and love to pet animals like goats and pigs and llamas, definitely head over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch and stop by the petting zoo while you’re there.
All in all, I think this is a great example of Disney synergy used for good. Yes, there are new purses and snacks and even an extra ticketed event. [Circle of Flavors: Harambe at Night – an after-hours progressive dining event where each course is themed to a different African animal, with amazing desserts, and the opportunity to enjoy a Virtual Reality experience with the resident lions from Kilamanjaro Safaris – for $125 per adult on select nights]. Despite all of that, Disney is also highlighting the importance of conservation of lions and all endangered animals. What these new offerings did was allow me to experience Animal Kingdom in a whole new way. This is always great for a jaded local who was there on opening day. If it helps Protect the Pride, all the better.
What about you? Will you experience any of these Lion King Celebration activities? If you can’t make it down for the summer, what’s a favorite memory you have from Animal Kingdom? I’d love to hear it!
Disclosure: As mentioned above, Disney invited us to this event. They provided admission to the park, lunch, and gift cards to purchase snacks. Again, my opinions are my own. I think it’s important to note that I have an annual pass. I have also paid on my own to dine at Tiffins many times. If I didn’t like something, you’d know. But I also have to assume, if you are reading this, you are probably a Disney parks fan too. Thanks for reading!
The newest offering in the hard-ticketed after-hours events at Disney Parks is the Villains After Hours event at the Magic Kingdom. This is sort of a combination of the existing After Hours events, the various villains events that have happened in the past such as “Club Villain” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy is currently housed, the villains parties that took place a few years back also at the Studios, and even a little Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party thrown in for fun. But what makes this new event different, and is it worth it?
Let’s start with that last question – is it worth it? At $144 per person for day-of tickets, it’s one of the more pricier after hours events, with 3 hours in the park, that comes out to a little under $50 an hour to experience. But, tickets are $133 if purchased in advance, and available even more discounted for annual passholders and DVC members at $109. All those prices do not include tax. And what exactly is included in that ticket?
Well first off, you can enter the park with your Villains After Hours ticket as early as 7pm, giving you essentially 3 EXTRA hours to your 3 hour party. However those extra hours are with regular park guests, so you can enjoy all the rides and dining etc, but you won’t have the park pretty much to yourself, as you will after 10pm.
Once 10pm hits, you can now enjoy complimentary popcorn, ice cream novelties (Mickey Bars!) and select bottled beverages throughout the night. (You always think you can eat 5lbs of popcorn or 27 Mickey bars until they are free, then suddenly that’s really hard to do! 😉 ) There are specialty food and drink items sold at the event too, if you want to get that perfect insta-food photo, this is a great place to do that.
Also included in Villains After Hours is an all-new villains stage show, hosted by the king of the underworld himself, Hades. This is a new spin on the villains stage shows we’ve seen in the past, this time focusing on what each villain has to offer to take over the world. So less singing, more fire and ax spinning and that sort of thing. But it’s a fun show, which runs three times during the party. You can watch the full Villains Unite the Night show here:
Also unique to this event is “Maleficent at Night” which happens twice throughout the night. This gives you a chance to see the fire-breathing dragon at night, which looks amazing against the night sky and with Cinderella Castle as a backdrop. The first time, Maleficent departs from Frontierland and circles the hub in front of the castle, and on the second visit, she goes all the way down Main Street, U.S.A. A definite must-see and really makes me miss a night-time parade in the Magic Kingdom!
Lastly, there are special photo-op backdrops happening throughout the park, but no character meet and greets. (They are all practicing their moves for the show!). There is also limited release merchandise exclusive to the event, along with more villainy fun items available to purchase at the event.
So is it worth it? I’ll say what I’ve said before regarding the After Hours parties. If you are able to afford it and use one less regular ticket on a day you’re doing this hard ticketed event, it totally is, for the ride times alone, along with all the specially themed fun going on around you. It’s a good time, but it does come at a price, so if it works for your next visit, great. If not, that’s what YouTube is for!
Disclosure: Disney invited us out to this event so it was complimentary to us but our opinions, thoughts, and reviews are, as always, our own.
Over the course of 10 years, we have all slowly been indoctrinated into the cult of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We have simply come to accept that seeing a Marvel movie is part of the yearly routine – or as of late, part of the seasonal routine. I accept it willingly, myself. Even at their worst, the MCU has been able to produce 21 movies that are quite entertaining. Some are great, some are Thor: The Dark World. Regardless, Groot, Thanos, and Doctor Strange have all become household names thanks to the MCU.
The beauty of these films is that they can be very rewarding for the fans of the original comics, who gasp at the sight of a character they never thought they’d see on a movie screen, who they recognize immediately from their childhood. And they’re able to do this without it being a turn-off for the general audience who don’t make those immediate connections, and who may have never heard of the characters.
Having watched all of these movies upon release, and then multiple times after, I have become inundated with the knowledge of things I didn’t think I would care about. But ever since Avengers: Age of Ultron, something has been lurking in my mind that I like to call ‘Marvel Fatigue’ (noun): Extreme tiredness caused by an excessive amount of Marvel movies, over, and over, and over.
So let’s discuss Captain Marvel.
For those who manage to not stay into the know of every happening within the making of all of these movies, Captain Marvel takes place in the 90s. And if you didn’t know this before going into the movie, you’ll definitely know it by the end.
Don’t get me wrong, stylistically/culturally, the 90s is one of my favorite eras, so I’m ready for all the Nirvana and frosted tips you can give me. But I legitimately lost count of how many times the audience laughed at this movie for simply saying “Hey remember the 90’s? That was weird, huh!” It’s a minor gripe, sure, because it doesn’t really have much to do with the story, but it happened so many times it started to drive me crazy. I’m talking Blockbuster, Nine Inch Nails, Radio Shack, Payphones, Pagers, etc. all within the first act. To be fair, one could point out that the Guardians of the Galaxy films center on very late 70s and 80s culture. The difference is that Guardians is funny.
This feeling of being overcome with the same joke over and over again is how I feel with the MCU as whole. As of Marvel, I have seen 21 movies that all tie together with all of these very different characters. But the feeling of seeing new characters tie into a universe we already know things about can only last so long. The routine grows old eventually. Captain Marvel, to me, never seemed to find its place amongst these self-love reveals and the groan-worthy amount of 90s references.
Sure, I already mentioned people laughed, so obviously people managed to find it entertaining. That’s the point of all of the references. But it makes for lazy writing. Yeah, you can have a movie that just feeds off of audience members reacting positively to things they recognize, but if it needs all those references to survive, what will the lasting impact of the movie itself be? This was truly the Emoji Movie (or the Ralph Breaks the Internet) of the MCU: story aside, it thrived solely off of people recognizing the pieces of pop culture which it seemed to toss together into a collage of empty nostalgia.
Another glaring issue I had with Captain Marvel, was that it looks like it tried to be a ‘female empowerment’ movie. Whether or not this is what it actually was going for is something I may never know, but it’s certainly the impression I got from the trailers. Some parts of the movie still tried to be like this too, with random throwaway lines about how women can do anything. Which they can. But it definitely felt very very forced in this movie.
The Captain Marvel comics were not about female empowerment at all, at least from what the little research I have done after seeing the movie seems to indicate. Originally Mar-Vell is a man, and when, in 2012, the character of Carol Danvers (who we follow in the Marvel movie) takes over the role of Captain Marvel, it still is not about female empowerment. She simply takes over the mantle when Mar-Vell dies, because Captain America believes it’s what he would want.
My problem with this is that when 2016’s Wonder Woman came out, there was a sort of rallying cry around the empowerment aspects of it, because it was truly well done. While I still had other problems with Wonder Woman, I thought that arc they tried to convey really payed off. I think it’s pretty common knowledge that in the original comics, Wonder Woman is rubber-banded between being almost laughably stereotypical and being far superior to the men who hold her down. When the movie completely shatters all of those previous tropes, it comes across a lot stronger because it has a meaning behind it, and the story is almost directly linked to this point specifically.
When Captain Marvel attempts this, it feels as if executives saw the success of Wonder Woman, remembered they had a movie with a female lead in the works, and decided to try to replicate it when there wasn’t really anything there.
The last thing I’ll say about this issue was that in the end, shoe-horned in or not, the empowerment they tried to achieve wasn’t good at all. While I could easily say “Hey get yer darn feminist views out of my cool superhero movies!!”, the arc that was in the movie wasn’t even ‘feminist’ in any sense of the word. If Captain Marvel was played by a guy in this movie, the story could actually be exactly the same, because Danvers never battles any overpowering male force holding her back. In a way, it’s a human empowering story. She realizes that as a human, she can still be great, even if she thought she was something more.
I think it’s very okay to just have an ‘empowering’ movie. Not specifically female empowering, not specifically minority empowering. Both of those are obviously great, and super important. But I also think that a movie can just be empowering, and give anyone hope or a purpose or a voice or a way to see themselves on screen when they feel like they’re alone. Captain Marvel does a great job at this. But it does so after selling itself as something it is definitely not.
So where do we stand? From what I’ve already written, it’s clear I didn’t like some major aspects of the story the way it was told – but did I like the movie or not? The answer is I really don’t know.
I think I appreciate what the movie tried to do; it tried to rewrite the book on how origin stories are told, by telling it How I Met Your Mother style. (She already has her powers, but where did they come from?) It tried to fill in what tiny gaps are left in the Avengers story we already know. It tried to serve as a lasting memorial to it’s infamous creator Stan Lee. But while I think it certainly did do some of those things, I also think that they alone did not justify it being a successful movie.
In a word, Captain Marvel was unmemorable – perhaps the worst fate for a movie that carries such importance. The 21st in a saga; the final film before a climactic ending 11 years in the making. And it was just forgettable. Captain Marvel was certainly an entertaining way to spend 2 hours. What $150+ million movie wouldn’t be? Visually it rivaled Guardians at some points. The performances were good, and Samuel L Jackson in particular was great as always. There were definitely some moments where I thought it was funny, or cool, or interesting, but not the whole thing. I could name any scene in Infinity War, or Ragnarok, or Doctor Strange, but walking out of Marvel – and still while writing this – I didn’t remember every character’s name.
So why? Why are those movies good and this one bad? Other than the issues with the story that I already pointed out – which already left a bad taste in my mouth, this one just felt bland. In a world where we already have an Infinity War, and even a Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, it’s hard for a Captain Marvel to truly leave a mark. If this was released before either of those, I think I would’ve let it slide as much as I let Ant-Man slide. But the release date of this turned it into the film-equivalent to eating dessert before dinner.
It should be noted that Marvel is not the first film in the MCU to leave this poor of a taste in my mouth. I think both Ant Man’s are boring, and I already joked about Thor earlier. It’s easy for a movie to just not be interesting at all when its sole purpose is to fit as a tiny piece into a much larger puzzle. Marvel Studios or Disney doesn’t need this movie to even be good because they know everyone is going to see it anyway. We have to do our homework and sit through the Marvels of the world so we get to enjoy the Avengers’. A film like Captain Marvel can often worsen the effects of Marvel Fatigue. The doctor recommendation is instead a healthy dose of Infinity War or Spiderverse.
Rivers of Light was originally announced back in 2013 as a nighttime show on Discovery River, and later in 2014, given a name and more of a description. In 2015, Disney Parks released a video with Imagineer and Animal Kingdom paterfamilias, Joe Rohde. Joe described how the new nighttime offerings at Animal Kingdom would all be connected; the night safaris on Kilimanjaro Safari, the Tree of Life coming to life by the animals depicted on it, all culminating with Rivers of Light. I recently experienced Rivers of Light on its second day of soft opening, after months of technical delays. I’ll share my thoughts in a moment, but first, a little background on my views of Animal Kingdom.
So many guests have always viewed Animal Kingdom as a “half day park” (while I have spent a full day there and only seen half the park), but with the nighttime additions, we are able to see the animal world in a whole new light as it were. Animal Kingdom, to me, has always been a very personal park. It is the only park I have ever been to on opening day; witnessing those opening day festivities, and meeting Joe Rohde himself wandering the park and taking it all in. Less subjective than just my memories, the personal part comes with our relationship to it, as humans, to both the animal kingdom and nature in general. I have always felt that, to have a place like this, a sanctuary, in the midst of thrills and fantasy and water parks and dining and shopping, is such an important and necessary haven. Perhaps because so much of the educational component of my beloved EPCOT Center has been lost over the years, I turned to Animal Kingdom as the next natural spot for my love of and hope for the world around us. Sure, Animal Kingdom has its own blemishes (I’m looking at you, Dinoland), but as a mother of 3, I understand the need for keeping all guests entertained and happy, not just those with an interest or appreciation in the incredible worlds which exist in reality, all around us. And truthfully, Restaurantosaurus has some pretty stellar theming, I could spend hours in there. In addition, I do not take for granted that I am a local, and can come and go and spend as much or as little time in this or any park as my schedule permits, vs. being on a strict vacation timeline. In short, I may not agree with the moniker of a half day park, but I get it.
All of that said, I welcomed and was very excited by the announcements of the nighttime entertainment additions. We saw the Tree of Life little mini-shows – “Nighttime Awakenings” one night after watching Jungle Book: Alive with Magic (the summer replacement for Rivers of Light while it was still being worked on) and loved them all. Such a simple, yet beautiful addition that doesn’t cheapen or lessen the message of the park, in fact, it enhances it and highlights the many animal connections within the Disney world. Over the weekend, I happened to check the My Disney Experience app to see if I could get a FastPass+ for Rivers of Light. I had previously checked for an entire week of dates but couldn’t find any. I wasn’t sure how the Annual Passholder preview was working because I never seem to get those emails or notifications. Anyway, I lucked out and when I logged in at 9am, found 2 FastPasses for the show that night. TIP: If you are trying to get FastPasses, keep checking throughout the day if you can’t find them first thing in the morning.
I never posted a formal review of Jungle Book: Alive with Magic, because I waited until its last weekend to see it. Boy was I mad at myself. I loved the show. We ended up seeing it both nights that weekend, including its last show ever and it was amazing. The live performances by the dancers and musicians were incredible. The music was so moving, and fit in perfectly with projections from the live action Jungle Book film. We were very much hoping to see similar parts of live performance utilized within Rivers of Light when it opened, however, that was not the case. Still, I loved Rivers of Light.
[I’m about to give a synopsis of the show, so if you’d like to not be spoiled, feel free to skip the next paragraph and the photo gallery. However, in my opinion, there aren’t really any elements to be spoiled. Joe Rohde said himself when describing the show, that it would take “light and heat – fire, and water, and combine them.” But proceed at your own risk if you want to be completely surprised.]
We sat in the front row of the second set of seats from the right, and had a perfect view of all the action. There are two boats which come out from opposite sides of the river, so no matter where you sit, you can see that part of the experience. The other floats are huge glowing lotus flowers which spray dancing water. The water then has images projected on it from across the lake, and other lighting effects from smaller sprays of water closer in. We are told of the connection all life has to water, a connection as far back as time itself. We are invited to celebrate the spirit of the animals in the night and how we are all one. The music swells and the lighted animal floats come out. They are so beautiful and change colors to the mood of the surroundings in the show. The tone then changes and slows down as various animals are featured projected on the water and the lights and colors change. It’s as if the projections of the animals vaporize into light and water itself. “We Are One,” a lovely song saying just that, begins to play and more animals prance and prowl on the projections. Mother and baby animals are featured as well, which almost made me tear up, being a mom, very little doesn’t make me cry in that regard. We are then told how the animal spirits will join the stars: “Within each of us is a light. A light that shines in all living things. Here, where fire and water, bridge the earth and sky, our light rises on the wind, to join the stars…As we join on this great earth, may you remember the light we share. May we celebrate our bond with the mutual world, and the wonders flow, on Rivers of Light” ( I hope I got that transcription right!) It was truly magical, and as I watched the video again while writing this, I actually did tear up a bit. The music and the message grow on you.
Raise your heart to the sun…We Are One.
Such an important truth, now more than ever.
So, as is usual when something new debuts at a Disney park, many are criticizing Rivers of Light for lacking a “story,” for being too short, or for not really “going anywhere.” While I at first thought there would be more in the story line department (I seem to have remembered us being told specific things about it at the D23 Expo in 2015, but upon reviewing the video with Joe Rohde about the inspiration and the hope behind Rivers of Light, I realized it does exactly what it’s supposed to do). It is not a super explosive nighttime spectacular, it is a gentle, peaceful hug goodnight. A kiss on the forehead from the universe to you. Much as Animal Kingdom as a park is one of discovery and exploration and tiny details around each bend, Rivers of Light is discovering and re-centering our place within our world and indeed our own animal kingdom, before sending us off into the world with a full heart and a clear mind to see the world through new eyes. Too new-age-hippie for you? Well, that emotion is why I love Animal Kingdom so much. It truly is an escape from the every day, from the ordinary, even though it is the closest to the real world of any park we have. As a lover of National Parks and all that dwell within them, the message of Animal Kingdom resonates strongly with me, and Rivers of Light highlights and embellishes that message with beauty and music.
It is not Fantasmic. It is not World of Color. Nor does it need to be. It’s a wonderful ending to a day at a park where the lessons you learn can affect the earth and all in it. If anything, what Rivers of Light has done is make me excited for all of the ‘what ifs’ that exist with the opening of Pandora: World of Avatar. I admit that aside from the bioluminescence promises and the boat ride attraction, there isn’t much I’m looking forward to with Pandora. Ok maybe those weird-looking stuffed animals they showed us at Destination D…But seeing the special effects and the message that comes across through Rivers of Light, I’m excited for the similar messages that Avatar as a movie held. I think it will be able to strike a balance of fantasy (despite Pandora being a “real planet” we are traveling to) and reality of life on earth and preserving that life. Kudos to all of the teams involved, from music, to effects, to the cast running and performing in it, and all the the technical components that brought it all together. I can’t wait to see it again and again.
Here is the Facebook Live video I shared Saturday night for those that want to see the show before they visit the park.
Thank you for reading and watching, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on Rivers of Light, or any of the new Animal Kingdom offerings below.
Don’t be late to catch the latest Alice Through the Looking Glass trailer, released just in time to spring forward as we changed the clocks last night. See it below:
Alice Kingsleigh (Wasikowska) has spent the past few years following in her father’s footsteps and sailing the high seas. Upon her return to London, she comes across a magical looking glass and returns to the fantastical realm of Underland and her friends the White Rabbit (Sheen), Absolem (Rickman), the Cheshire Cat (Fry) and the Mad Hatter (Depp), who is not himself. The Hatter has lost his Muchness, so Mirana (Hathaway) sends Alice on a quest to borrow the Chronosphere, a metallic globe inside the chamber of the Grand Clock which powers all time. Returning to the past, she comes across friends – and enemies – at different points in their lives, and embarks on a perilous race to save the Hatter before time runs out. Presented in Digital 3D™, Real D 3D and IMAX® 3D, Disney’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass” opens in U.S. theaters on May 27, 2016.
While we only have an artists rendering and not much more for these 2021 and 2023 Disney Cruise Line ships, the news is no less thrilling! Read more about this exciting update from this morning’s shareholders meeting below:
The Walt Disney Company announced plans today to build two additional cruise ships, each of them showcasing the immersive family entertainment, enchanting storytelling and unparalleled service that only Disney can deliver.
The company has entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany. The schedule calls for the new ships to be completed in 2021 and 2023.
“We pride ourselves on the unforgettable vacation experiences we deliver to our guests each and every day, and the expansion of our Disney fleet will allow us to create even more magical memories for families at sea and in incredible cruise destinations around the world,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company.
Each new ship will be approximately 135,000 gross tons – slightly larger than the newest Disney Cruise Line ships, the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy – and each is currently planned to include about 1,250 guest staterooms. While design plans, ship names and itineraries are still in development, the Walt Disney Imagineering team is already dreaming up exciting new ways to create the world’s most magical oceangoing adventures.
Since first setting sail in 1998, Disney Cruise Line has provided a quintessential family cruise vacation experience that combines the magic of Disney with the thrill of exploring different parts of the world. Guests step aboard majestic and beautiful ocean liners to enjoy legendary Disney entertainment, exquisite dining, spacious and well-appointed staterooms and magnificent public spaces.
The company also has been an industry leader in innovation and game-changing creativity. With the launch of the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy in 2011 and 2012, the company introduced several firsts for the industry, including a water coaster at sea (AquaDuck) and virtual portholes in interior staterooms (Magical Portholes) that provide real-time views of the sea as well as sightings of animated Disney characters.
Plans for the expansion of Disney Cruise Line come during a period of momentous growth and innovation for Disney properties around the globe.
“The expansion of Disney Cruise Line only adds to our excitement for the unprecedented growth taking place across our vacation destinations, from new Star Wars experiences coming to the Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts to the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris and the grand opening of our newest park, Shanghai Disney Resort,” said Bob Chapek, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
More details about the Disney Cruise Line fleet expansion and onboard offerings will be announced at a later date.
My theory on names: I think because they will be twins like Dream and Fantasy, which kinda-sorta mean the same thing, that they’ll need to be similarly-meaning names too. So far, Imagination and Vision, or Imagination and Inspiration…Innovation…well, I have 5 years to think of many more! [Edit: I’m now going with “Disney Adventure” for at least one. I think that sounds like a winner. I still think Imagination would be good, despite the Carnival ship of the same name. There will be no confusion. Totally different class of ship!] We’ll update here and on social media as we hear any news.
Exciting news today, as the Disney Parks Blog treated us to an opening date for the greatly anticipated “Rivers of Light” nighttime spectacular at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as well as a preview video with more info! Being a fan of any light-related night-time shows-combined-with-water, I’ve been looking forward to this since it was announced, and now I’m even more excited. It looks to be a truly organic, natural-fit for the park, and it sounds like Imagineers are doing what they do best, creating amazing original experiences, founded in real-life backstory mixed with myth and fantasy.
According the the Parks blog, “…the show, set on Discovery River in the Asia section of the park, will depict an ancient lantern festival guided by two storytellers who call forth four animal Spirit Guides: an Asian Tiger, Tropical Turtle, African Elephant and Great Horned Owl. These Spirit Guides return at different points during the show to lead the audience through their journey through the Rivers of Light.”
See more in the video below:
It’s also wonderful that the opening night is Earth Day, Animal Kingdom’s birthday. Animal Kingdom opened on Earth Day back in 1998, I can’t think of a better 18th birthday present, than Rivers of Light, the park’s first-ever night-time show. Will you be there for the premier of the show?