Category Archives: Disneyland

Bear Necessities

Is watching The Jungle Book and having elevenses 🙂 The original animated film turns fifty today!

The Jungle Book, based on the Mowgli stories by Rudyard Kipling, was the last cartoon feature personally overseen by Walt Disney, and its release one year after his death marked the start of a period of creative wandering for the company. Like a lot of the company’s 1960s and ’70s output, it was relaxed to a fault — a succession of beautifully rendered, mostly jokey set-pieces strung together by memorable songs, including The Bare Necessities, I Wanna Be Like You and the anaconda’s seduction song Trust in Me — but it still made a deep impression on the ’60s and ’70s kids.

Published in 1894, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book proved to be a hit with young and old alike. The Jungle Book‘s stories of a human boy named Mowgli raised by animals in the wild made for riveting reading. In these tales, the animals proved to be both Mowgli’s allies and adversaries. Baloo the bear, Bagheera the panther and Shere Khan the tiger have all become famous characters in children’s literature. They even appeared in Kipling’s sequel, The Second Jungle Book, which debuted in 1895.

Rudyard Kipling

Kipling wrote The Jungle Book while living in the United States. Kipling had been good friends with American writer and editor Wolcott Balestier, and he ended up marrying Wolcott’s sister Caroline “Carrie” Balestier, in January 1892. The couple bought land from one of her other brothers, Beatty Balestier, in Vermont where they built their dream home, called The Naulahka. Naulakha means “jewel beyond price” in Hindi, according to the home’s website. The name is also shared with a book Kipling worked on with Wolcott Balestier.

Becoming a father inspired Kipling to write for children. He had started The Jungle Book around the time he and his wife were expecting their first child together. Daughter Josephine was born in 1892. According to BBC News, he gave a special copy of The Jungle Book to his daughter, in which he wrote: “This book belongs to Josephine Kipling for whom it was written by her father, May 1894.” The Kipling family soon grew to include daughter Elsie, born in 1895, and later son John in 1897. Sadly, Josephine only lived to be six years old. Both she and her father came down with pneumonia in 1899, and she ended up succumbing to the illness. Her death left Kipling heartbroken, and he never fully recovered from this tremendous loss.

Kipling never visited the jungle mentioned in The Jungle Book. Despite spending years in India, he chose to set his stories in the Seonee jungle (now known as Seoni), an area he’d never visited. Kipling instead drew from the experiences of others. According to Angus Wilson’s The Strange Ride of Rudyard Kipling: His Life and Works, Kipling saw photographs of this jungle taken by his friends, Aleck and Edmonia “Ted” Hill, and listened to their experiences there. He also likely found inspiration from the works of Robert Armitage Sterndale, including Mammalia of India, according to Martin Seymour-Smith’s Rudyard Kipling: A Biography. Others point to Sterndale’s 1877 book Seonee: Or, Camp Life on the Satpura Range, as an important influence on Kipling’s tales.

An illustration from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

Another significant source was likely to be Kipling’s own father, John Lockwood Kipling. The elder Kipling was an illustrator, museum curator and art teacher. He produced Beast and Man in India: A Popular Sketch of Indian Animals in Their Relations with the People, which was published in 1891. John Lockwood Kipling also provided the images for some of his son’s works, including The Jungle Book and the 1901 novel Kim.

The Law of the Jungle
(From The Jungle Book)
by Rudyard Kipling

Now this is the Law of the Jungle —
as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
but the Wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk
the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,
and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip;
drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting,
and forget not the day is for sleep.

The Jackal may follow the Tiger,
but, Cub, when thy whiskers are grown,
Remember the Wolf is a Hunter —
go forth and get food of thine own.

Keep peace withe Lords of the Jungle —
the Tiger, the Panther, and Bear.
And trouble not Hathi the Silent,
and mock not the Boar in his lair.

When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle,
and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken —
it may be fair words shall prevail.

When ye fight with a Wolf of the Pack,
ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel,
and the Pack be diminished by war.

The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge,
and where he has made him his home,
Not even the Head Wolf may enter,
not even the Council may come.

The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge,
but where he has digged it too plain,
The Council shall send him a message,
and so he shall change it again.

If ye kill before midnight, be silent,
and wake not the woods with your bay,
Lest ye frighten the deer from the crop,
and your brothers go empty away.

Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates,
and your cubs as they need, and ye can;
But kill not for pleasure of killing,
and seven times never kill Man!

If ye plunder his Kill from a weaker,
devour not all in thy pride;
Pack-Right is the right of the meanest;
so leave him the head and the hide.

The Kill of the Pack is the meat of the Pack.
Ye must eat where it lies;
And no one may carry away of that meat to his lair,
or he dies.

The Kill of the Wolf is the meat of the Wolf.
He may do what he will;
But, till he has given permission,
the Pack may not eat of that Kill.

Cub-Right is the right of the Yearling.
From all of his Pack he may claim
Full-gorge when the killer has eaten;
and none may refuse him the same.

Lair-Right is the right of the Mother.
From all of her year she may claim
One haunch of each kill for her litter,
and none may deny her the same.

Cave-Right is the right of the Father —
to hunt by himself for his own:
He is freed of all calls to the Pack;
he is judged by the Council alone.

Because of his age and his cunning,
because of his gripe and his paw,
In all that the Law leaveth open,
the word of your Head Wolf is Law.

Now these are the Laws of the Jungle,
and many and mighty are they;
But the head and the hoof of the Law
and the haunch and the hump is — Obey!

Rudyard Kipling was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, “in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author”. Nobel prizes had been established in 1901 and Kipling was the first English-language recipient. Rudyard Kipling was 42 years old when he was awarded the prize, and he remains the youngest Literature Laureate to date.

The Jungle Book has inspired countless adaptations. The first live action film debuted in 1942, but the best-known movie version up until now was the 1967 animated Disney tale. Disney took a lot of license with the original story and transformed it into a feel-good family musical. One of its songs, The Bare Necessities, credited to Terry Gilkyson, was nominated for an Academy Award. An interesting mix of actors lent their voices to the project: Sebastian Cabot played Bagheera; Louis Prima played King Louie of the apes and Phil Harris played Baloo. The voice of Mowgli, however, came from a rookie performer. Bruce Reitherman, the son of the film’s director Wolfgang Reitherman, played the endearing “man cub” in the film. He told the Express newspaper that “The voice of Mowgli required something special, in the sense that he had to be absolutely ordinary. It had to feel like a really average kid.”

The 1967 animated adaptation was filmed at a declared cost of $4 million over a 42-month period. Full directorial credit is given to Wolfgang Reitherman, a 35-year Disney vet. Reitherman was one of several Jungle hands who worked on Disney’s first animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, released thirty years earlier!

Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman wrote five other songs, best of which is ‘Wanna Be Like You’, sung in free-wheeling fashion by Louis Prima, vocalizing King Louie.

Little Puffles and Honey met Baloo and Louie at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park in Orlando 🙂

The Beauty And The Cutie

Shhh, little Honey and Isabelle are finally watching the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast. For some unknown reason the release date in Australia was delayed a week.

The movie adaptation brings some of the biggest names in Hollywood together for a fresh take on the classic story.

Emma Watson as Belle
Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, the teapot
(Emma Thompson was the voice of Queen Elinor in Brave)
Ewan McGregor as Lumière, the candelabra
(Ewan McGregor was the voice of Valiant in the film of the same name)
Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord
Sir Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock
Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe, the wardrobe
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster
Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle
Josh Gad as LeFou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp
(Josh Gad was the voice of Olaf in Frozen)
Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father
(Kevin Kline was the voice of Phoebus in The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Dan Stevens as the Beast

The 1991 animated film was the Frozen of that generation. It was nominated for several awards, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (for the first time in an animated movie), with two other awards for its music. Famously, Beauty and the Beast was the first ever animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and was the only animated film to hold this honor until 2009. It received a total of six nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Sound, and three nominations for its song. It ended up winning two, for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for the song Beauty and the Beast.

So the live action remake was a film Disney couldn’t afford to have fail. To ensure a success, they deployed the full creative might of their empire and a very generous budget ($160 million, $10 million more than Frozen, plus another $140 million for marketing). The film honours everything that came before, without being slavish to it. There is even a tribute to Jean Cocteau’s 1946 film La Belle et le Bete, which is the original French version of Beauty and the Beast, through the lights on the terrace and staircase in the Beast’s castle and the rose colonnade on the castle grounds. There is excellence everywhere, from the superb cast, to sumptuous costumes and detailed design.

Emma Watson is faultless as the winsome, brave, loyal, kind and independent-minded Belle. And if you’re wondering if Emma can sing or not, wonder no more.

Emma worked hard to create a strong, individual, modern, emancipated kind of Belle. But she still had to wear the iconic yellow ball gown which can work against a modern Belle in a sense of being a pretty, princess-y kind of dress. The dress designer worked with Emma to try to find balance and design a yellow dress that would work for the new Belle.

The dress was made from about 55m of feather-light satin organza, accentuated with 2160 Swarovski crystals. The crystals were part of Madame Garderobe’s finishing touch to the yellow gown, when added to the dress’ golden print they provided the final magical flourish. (You’ll understand this if you see the movie.) It took more than 12,000 hours to make the dress and 914m of thread.

Swarovski also made the glass bell jar for the rose, based on Disney’s original design. And the film has inspired a new jewelry line by Atelier Swarovski.

The yellow ball gown is not the only gorgeous dress in the film, check out this celebration dress.

Little Honey and Isabelle want to know when exactly will the dress be available in their size?!?

While one of the messages of the film is that beauty comes from within, Disney spared no expense on the set and costumes. About 27 mammoth sets were built to bring the film to life, including the Beast’s castle, library and ballroom, the enchanted forest and the town of Villeneuve. About 1500 red roses and 8700 candles were used during the research and production stages of the film.

The 10 glass chandeliers in the ballroom are real and are based on chandeliers from Versailles and each measure 4.26m by 2.13m. The enchanted forest surrounding the castle features real trees, hedges, a frozen lake and 20,000 icicles. It took 15 weeks to create.

The massive sets and huge stages were connected. The actors could go from the dining room of the castle and walk all the way through to the entry way, to the front stairs, and into this massive ballroom. That aspect emerges clearly in the IMAX format. The film is being presented in an expanded aspect ratio which means you get to see 26 per cent more of the scenes. Which worked beautifully for the ballroom. The ballroom is framed by the chandeliers even though they are high in the air.

The turret fight between the Beast and Gaston looks great in the new ratio because of the sense of being high in the air and the sense of danger you feel as the Beast is forced to jump from turret to turret, twenty stories in the air.

While Beauty and the Beast is packed full of memorable tunes and stunning dance numbers, there was always one scene that was going to have the highest of expectations — when Lumière sings Be Our Guest. Just like in the original 1991 animated movie, Be Our Guest was the pivotal scene of the live action remake full of colourful dishes and sparkling cutlery dancing across tables.

The scene took over a year to put together — and six months before that to plan it. It was one of the most intricate and elaborate musical numbers ever shot.

The visual effects team approached it as though they were going to put on a stage number on a Broadway stage. And the animators had a challenge on their hands. They had to make a knife dance like a four-limbed dancer. After choreographing the extensive routine, the team then shot footage of real plates and silverware to understand the way the light would hit each object. The incredible planning (and generous budget) resulted in a four minute musical number that rarely relied on CGI and has set the precedent for live-action remakes.

Full poster showing all the cast – enchanted and human, though there is one person missing. Prince Adam.

Time for a treat and to plan a shopping trip to Swarovski 🙂

Princess Day

Little bears love to dress up in princess clothes, but they have little in common with the Disney princesses. Little bears are no damsels in distress!

Princess Day

Snow White started the whole “I’ll just rest my eyes until Prince Charming comes along” trend, which just prevents her, and the other damsels in distress, from living up to their full potential. Plus, lying around waiting for some dude to come rescue you? Lame! At least she taught us to never take food from strangers.

From her evil step sisters to her even more evil stepmother, Cinderella just can’t seem to catch a break. We sympathize with Cinders, but we wouldn’t have blamed her for teaching her evil step siblings a lesson or two! Cinderella was the first princess who was not from royal descent, yet she turned out to be one of the most glamorous! Some people who worked closely with Walt Disney say that Cinderella was his favourite princess. The magical moment when Cinderella’s dress transforms from her housemaid threads into a gorgeous ball gown was Walt Disney’s all-time favourite animation. Really, who can argue with him? And she is still the most popular Disney princess. Even with Frozen on the scene.

Isabelle loves Aurora’s (Sleeping Beauty) pink dress, but she finds the story a bit of a snooze, literally 🙂 The most interesting thing about Aurora is that she sleeps, for a really long time! That means she also has the least amount of dialogue of all the Disney princesses. Unlike little Isabelle who is a chatterbox 🙂

Princess Day

While we love Ariel’s adventurous side, does it not bother anyone else how much she was willing to give up for Prince Eric? Meanwhile, he was ready to marry the first girl who sang him a pretty tune. It’s time to re-evaluate your life when the crab makes better decisions than you do!

Belle is a small town geeky girl who loves nothing more than to curl up with a good book. While she doesn’t have magic powers or serious fighting skills like some of the other princesses, she manages to show the beast there’s beauty in kindness. And she rescues her prince from an evil spell.

At least Jasmine and Aladdin take turns rescuing each other. Still, the princess can be super judge-y. She isn’t “a prize to be won”, but she doesn’t give anyone a chance because she thinks all the princes are show-offs – that is until Aladdin shows up on a magic carpet, which sounds a little show-off-y …

When do you think it's going to be Prince Day?
When do you think it’s going to be Prince Day?

Pocahontas managed to create peace and understanding between two feuding groups. Plus, she can paint with all the colours of the wind! Pocahontas is the only princess based on a real person – the real Pocahontas was born in the late 1500s! Pocahonta’s outfit is the only princess outfit little bears are missing 😦

We love Mulan! Not only she is no one’s damsel in distress, but she is the most kickass princess of them all! She joins the army and no one finds her suspicious, because she’s just as good, if not better, than everyone else. She also saves her entire country! Mulan is not actually a real princess. All of the others are princesses by birth or married princes, but Mulan was just so kickass, she had to be the exception!

Princess Day

Tiana is the first and only princess who not only has a full-time job, but starts her own business, too! She proves that with hard work and determination, nothing, even turning into a frog 🙂 , can stand in your way.

Rapunzel spends the first 18 years of her life locked in a castle, and yet she still learned how to wield a weapon (a frying pan, but hey, it still counts!) like a trained professional.

Merida gets props for wanting to do things her own way, and her bow and arrow skills give us a total Katniss vibe. Okay, so she did turn her mom into a bear and all, but she realized she was wrong and changed her back. That counts for something, right?

Princess Day

Anna, Elsa and Moana are not yet officially part of the Disney Princess franchise.

There’s Magic In The Air Tonight

… and anything can happen, even frogs made of cake!

The Princess and The Frog

The Princess and The Frog

So the opening song from The Princess and the Frog says, minus the frog cakes!

Today we are celebrating the anniversary of The Princess and the Frog. The film is set in New Orleans where music plays such an integral part of the lifestyle that filmmakers felt it important to reflect that diversity in the film. Oscar-winning composer Randy Newman (Cars, Monsters, Inc., Toy Story) created an all-new score for the film in a range of styles, including jazz, blues, gospel and zydeco; and featuring seven new songs.

Miss Honey’s ball gown is modelled on Princess Tiana’s dress 🙂

The Princess and The Frog

The Princess and The Frog

Puffles and Honey met Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen at Magic Kingdom!

Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen
Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen

Have you noticed all the details about the film? What do you mean you’ve never watched the film?!?

It took three and a half years to make the film. (No frogs were kissed in the process, but no guarantee that frog princess cakes were not eaten 🙂 ) The film was hand-drawn and the style was inspired by Bambi and The Lady and the Tramp.

The Princess and The Frog

Directors Ron Clements and John Musker pitched the film to Oprah on a trip to Disneyland, just for fun. She loved the idea so much that she asked to be a part of it.

Tiana's Mum (voiced by Oprah)
Tiana’s Mum (voiced by Oprah)

The women who fawn over Prince Naveen are all caricatures of women who work at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Prince Naveen
Prince Naveen

Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Tiana, requested that Tiana be left-handed, just like her. (Tiana’s dimples are also borrowed from Anika.)

Anika Noni Rose
Anika Noni Rose

Tiana was animated by Mark Henn, who also animated Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas and Mulan.

Tiana turns into a frog when she kisses the prince frog!

Tiana and Naveen
Tiana and Naveen

Oh yeah, spoiler alert!

Ray was animated by Mike Surrey who also animated Timon in The Lion King. He’s voiced by Jim Cummings, the voice of Winnie the Pooh!

The Princess and The Frog

Louis the alligator was named after Louis Armstrong and was animated Eric Goldberg by who also animated Genie from Aladdin. Louis realizes his dream of playing with a jazz band and the band is called the Firefly Five Plus Lou after a Disney Animation ragtime band from the 1940s-50s known as the Firehouse Five Plus Two (the film’s piano player is even modeled after Disney Legend Frank Thomas was the piano player for the Firehouse Five Plus Two). Terrence Blanchard, who is a native New Orleans jazz legend and trumpet player, played all of alligator Louis’ trumpet parts in the film.

Louis the alligator
Louis the alligator

During Down in New Orleans early in the film, the carpet from Aladdin is being shaken up on a wrought-iron balcony. Mama Odie comes across the lamp from Aladdin during Dig a Little Deeper.

The Princess and the Frog

A Mardi Gras parade float is modeled after King Triton from The Little Mermaid — on it are caricatured versions of directors John Musker and Ron Clements (who also directed The Little Mermaid).

The Princess and the Frog

This interlude is an homage to Dick Van Dyke’s dance with the penguins in Mary Poppins.

Dr Facilier
Dr Facilier
Dr Facilier
Dr Facilier

Time to watch the film!

The Princess and The Frog

Lego Disney Castle

Little bears are fascinated with the Lego replica of the iconic Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Cinderella Castle.

Lego Disney Castle

Lego Disney Castle

Lego Disney Castle

WDW Magic Kingdom
WDW Magic Kingdom
With Cinderella in her castle at the Magic Kingdom WDW
With Cinderella in her castle at the Magic Kingdom WDW

The set includes Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Tinker Bell. Mickey Mouse is in a tuxedo, Minnie Mouse has a red dress, Donald Duck is in his classic outfit, Daisy Duck has a pink skirt, lavender coloured shoes and a bow, and Tinker Bell comes with wings and a magic wand. Check out the two frogs from the Princess and the Frog on the right hand side!

Lego Disney Castle

The attention to detail inside the castle is amazing: stone bridges, clocks, a wide arched entrance, ornate balconies, spired towers that lead to the four-story main building. The first floor features the main hall with a large arched doorway, mosaic floor tiling, ornate chandelier, suits of armour, shield-decorated walls, grandfather clock and a floor-standing vase with buildable flower elements.

Lego Disney Castle

This being Cinderella’a Castle there is of course a pumpkin ready to turn into a carriage along with a fireplace and broom for cinders to clean each day.

Lego Disney Castle

There is even the glass slipper and fairy-tale book!

Lego Disney Castle

There is plenty in the other rooms too.

Beauty and the Beast’s wilting rose under a glass dome and Lumière.

Lego Disney Castle

Snow White’s magic mirror and poisoned apple and Tangled’s scissors and brush.

Lego Disney Castle

Sleeping Beauty’s spinning wheel.

Lego Disney Castle

Aladdin’s magic carpet and lamp.

Lego Disney Castle

Brave’s bow, arrows and target.

Lego Disney Castle

Sorcerer’s Mickey hat, broom and book of spells.

Lego Disney Castle

Launch the fireworks and let the magic begin!

A Royal Day at Magic Kingdom

A Royal Day at Magic Kingdom

A Royal Day at Magic Kingdom

For the Billionth Time in Forever… Frozen

Forever Frozen

By now we’ve all seen Frozen for the billionth time and it feels like it’s been around forever. Hard to believe it was released only 3 years ago, today. The film was a massive commercial success, it ranks as the highest-grossing animated film of all time and the third-highest-grossing original film of all time. The film won the Academy Award, the Golden Globe, the BAFTA Award, the Annie Award and the Critics Choice Movie Award for Best Animated Feature. Let it go won the Academy Award and the Critics Choice Movie Award for Best Original Song. Of course, we love it more and more each time we hear Let It Go 🙂

There are many details in every snowflake of this movie that you may not have noticed, despite the billionth time viewing. Some fun facts about the film.

Elsa’s hair was originally going to be black. And she has much more hair than the average human. About four times more! The animators did a lot of research into the hair designs of the lead characters, especially Elsa. In Norway, there are lots of braids, but they wanted to do something a little different. So they brought in a New York-based hairstylist named Danilo who came up with some sophisticated designs for Elsa. The average human head has about 100,000 hairs. Anna has about 140,000 hairs, but Elsa has 400,000 hairs on her head. It takes a lot of hair to perfect Elsa’s look!

Forever Frozen

Disney Animation held a “Sister Summit” where they gathered all of the women on the team that had sisters and asked them questions in order to better understand the sister relationship.

Forever Frozen

John Ripa sketched Elsa while Idina Menzel sang in the studio to capture Menzel’s passion while singing.

Forever Frozen

A group of artists went on a research trip to Norway to gain inspiration for Arendelle’s design. Arendelle was inspired by Nærøyfjord, a branch of Norway’s longest fjord Sognefjorden, which has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; while a castle in Oslo with beautiful hand-painted patterns on all four walls served as the inspiration for the kingdom’s royal castle interior. Several landmarks in Norway appear in the film, including the Akershus Fortress in Oslo, the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim and Bryggen in Bergen.

Forever Frozen

The rock crystals the trolls wear are inspired by the Northern Lights.

Forever Frozen

Our next destination is Norway, for the Northern Lights! Check this out! I guess I know what dresses Miss Honey will take along 🙂

The official crest of Arendelle is a crocus, a symbol of rebirth and spring.

Forever Frozen

The idea of Kristoff as an ice harvester came late in production.

Forever Frozen

During Olaf’s song In Summer, the backgrounds and shapes were changed to look more like Olaf 🙂

Forever Frozen

Elsa’s ice castle is based on the science of snowflakes. If you look closely at her cape, you’ll see snowflake detailing. The floor of the ice palace Elsa builds is in the shape of a snowflake. The columns of her palace – the ones that rise up from the floor – are actually arms of a snowflake. She’s surrounded by snowflakes in her new icy home.

Forever Frozen

Sven, the Frozen reindeer, is modelled on Frankie, the Labrador! It turns out reindeer don’t do anything, they just stand there! As Disney Animation discovered when they brought a reindeer into Disney for research. That’s when they thought about approaching Sven as an excited dog. He’s like an inquisitive pooch that sniffs around the place. John Lasseter liked the idea and said ‘My Labrador, Frankie, is always in your face and licking you. It’s perfect.’

Forever Frozen

Rapunzel and Flynn attended Elsa’s coronation.

Forever Frozen

And today, little bears found out that Hong Kong Disneyland is getting a Frozen land. And a Marvel Superheroes zone. Hong Kong Disneyland said in a statement there would be new attractions launching almost every year, from 2018 through 2023. Guess which Disneyland we are visiting again?!?

Kingdom of Arendelle, Disney concept art
Kingdom of Arendelle, Disney concept art
Kingdom of Arendelle, Disney concept art
Kingdom of Arendelle, Disney concept art

We have time to plan the visit. The Kingdom of Arendelle is scheduled to open in 2020. Hong Kong is the smallest Disneyland, but the bears have a soft spot for it. It was the first Disneyland they visited! And previous home of diamond in the cute, little Jay 🙂 And it’s only an 8 hour flight away.

Forever Frozen

Little bears got 31/31 on the Frozen quiz, I only got 15/31 😦 So clearly I have to pay closer attention when watching it for the billionth and one time!

Forever Frozen

Magical Aladdin

Ah, Salaam and good day to you, beary reader. You find little bears very, very busy watching Aladdin to uncover the many secrets buried beneath the sands of Agrabah.

Magical Aladdin

Little Puffles and Honey went to see the musical on Broadway…


And came home with the lamp 🙂

Magical Aladdin

While Aladdin was meant to do for Disney princes what Ariel and Belle had done for Disney princesses, the film is all about Genie and Robin Williams.

Magical Aladdin

To land Robin Williams, the animators created test sequences of the genie performing the comedian’s stand-up routines. They picked a couple of sections from his comedy albums and animated a genie to them. Robin Williams could see the potential of what the character could be and signed the dotted line.

Williams was only available for a handful of recording sessions, so he gave a rapid-fire delivery of each line as written — in as many different styles as he could create. The animators took all the audio tracks back to the studio and selected the ones that were best suited to the lines.

Robin Williams agreeing to portray Genie changed the entire genre of voice acting. Prior to Aladdin, “real” actors seldom stooped so low to do voice work unless they were on the desperate end of their careers. Even Bea Arthur reportedly refused the role of Ursula in The Little Mermaid. The work was left to professional voice actors. Disney even kept a stable of regulars throughout the decades. (Think of Winnie the Pooh’s voice. And the Cheshire Cat, the snake from The Jungle Book, the Stork in Dumbo … These are just some of the characters voiced by the sweet quavery voice of Sterling Holloway.)

Williams’ work on Aladdin, combined with the rising quality of Disney films, gave a new respectability to voiceover work. Soon, celebrities were happy to lend their voices to talking toys and singing monkeys. Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Billy Crystal, Tom Hanks … the A-listers who have voiced characters in animated films reads like the seating chart at the Oscars. And it’s all because of the Genie.

Magical Aladdin

The Genie was a perfect container for Williams’s manic energy and allusive impersonation skills. His first appearance onscreen couldn’t have been less subtle or more exciting: he shoots out of a magic lamp, accompanied by pink smoke and fireworks. “Oy,” he exclaims. “Ten thousand years will give you such a crick in the neck.” Then he takes his head off and spins it around. In the span of just a few minutes, Williams runs through a dizzying routine of character-based comedy, leaving the audience rushing to keep up. He does Borscht Belt patter, mixes in a ventriloquist performance, and then does French and Scottish caricatures. He plays men and women, and finds places in between. He speaks in Yiddish (“You little punim, there”) and gibberish (“Esalalumbo, shimin dumbo!”). One moment he is Arnold Schwarzenegger; the next he’s Ed Sullivan. And the audience is enthralled and giddy and laughs even as it knows that there are jokes it doesn’t get. This was when Disney figured out that a great way to get parents to take their kids to an animated movie, or at least to improve their experience while in the theatre, was to fill the movie with just enough adult humor to keep things interesting.

Puffles and Honey met Genie on Broadway 🙂

Aladdin on Broadway

Disney in the ’90s knew that their traditional princes, though charming, were much too bland for modern audiences. According to Glen Keane, lead animator for the character of Aladdin, “I could never understand why Snow White and Sleeping Beauty fell for those princes. Those guys were cardboard symbols, and the love relationship was assumed. We wanted there to be a how to the princess falling in love.” So they set about doing something Disney hadn’t really done before: Making a prince who was cunning, bold, funny and lovable, not just handsome.

Magical Aladdin

At first, animators sort of modeled Aladdin after Michael J. Fox, but found the end result too cutesy. So they upped his age to late teens, took off his shirt, and watched Tom Cruise movies. “There’s a confidence with all of his attitudes and his poses,” Keane said of Tom Cruise. Once Aladdin could reflect that sort of sexy cockiness, it was more believable that he’d be the sort of boy Jasmine might risk everything for.

Magical Aladdin

The illustrators tried to make the characters look unrealistic on purpose.

Magical Aladdin

In Aladdin’s predecessor, Beauty and the Beast, immense effort was devoted to making the characters’ faces, bodies, and movements as realistic as possible. Supervising animator Andreas Deja, who drew Gaston in Beauty and the Beast and Jafar in Aladdin, refers to the approach in Beauty and the Beast as ‘chiseled realism’. In Aladdin the animators used simple two-dimensional shapes as references for all the characters. Aladdin is composed of two interlocking triangles formed by his chest and his pants. Jasmine is sort of pear-shaped. Jafar is basically a T — a very skinny body with broad shoulders.

Puffles and Honey met a not so pear-shaped Princess Jasmine at the Magic Kingdom 🙂

Princess Jasmine
Princess Jasmine at Magic Kingdom WDW

Beast from Beauty in the Beast is hanging out in the menagerie of figures the Sultan is seen stacking.

Magical Aladdin

Talking about Ariel and The Little Mermaid, Sebastian makes an appearance in Aladdin. The 1991 movie was also directed by the filmmakers of Aladdin, Ron Clements and John Musker.

Magical Aladdin

And speaking of the filmmakers, the two were drawn into the movie. You can spot them as the two characters to the left and right of Aladdin when Jasmine’s suitors arrive at the palace.

Magical Aladdin

The fashion in the film was inspired by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. You know his work, even if you don’t think you do; he famously created exaggerated line drawings of everyone from Charlie Chaplin to the The Rolling Stones. Aladdin supervising animator Eric Goldberg wanted to recreate Hirschfeld’s use of clean flow lines.

Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin, by Al Hirschfeld
Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe, by Al Hirschfeld
Star Trek, The Original Crew
Star Trek, The Original Crew, by Al Hirschfeld

Hirschfeld was alive to see the honor bestowed, but he took no credit.

I’m very flattered that the animators say they were influenced by my use of line. But art isn’t a 50-yard dash — it’s more like a relay: You keep handing it on to somebody else, and there’s no beginning or end to it. I didn’t invent the line: That simplification that communicates to a viewer goes back to the cave drawings at Altamira. Al Hirschfeld

Eric Goldberg
Eric Goldberg, by Al Hirschfeld

Aladdin marked the end of voice actors in Disney musicals needing to be magnificent singers. Linda Larkin was the voice of Princess Jasmine. However, she never sang a single note attributed to the princess; that was done by singer Lea Salonga. Larkin says that this was the result of the film being built around Robin Williams, who was such a powerful force that Disney’s priority was finding strong actors who could keep pace with him. Instead they went looking for singers to match the actors’ voices.

Lea Salonga. the singing voice of Princess Jasmine
Lea Salonga. the singing voice of Princess Jasmine
Linda Larkin, the voice of Princess Jasmine
Linda Larkin, the voice of Princess Jasmine

Aladdin also had two voices, Scott Weinger and Brad Kane as the singing voice. Both were teenagers at the time.

Scott Weinger, the voice of Aladdin
Scott Weinger, the voice of Aladdin
Brad Kane, the singing voice of Aladdin
Brad Kane, the singing voice of Aladdin

Pay attention to when Jafar’s curse breaks at the end of the film. As Jasmine’s tiger Rajah transforms back from a kitten into a full-blown tiger there’s one ever so brief moment where he has two heads, one of which takes on Mickey’s form.

Magical Aladdin

Arabian Coast
With Rajah at Tokyo Disney Sea

Next is The Return of Jafar and then Aladdin and the King of Thieves, the sequels to Aladdin

Magical Aladdin