Category Archives: Disneyland

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…

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

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

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

Honey, Honey, we have now visited all the Disney parks! This is very exciting!

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

Tired little bears 🙂

A Magical Day at Disneyland

Mickey’s Fun Wheel! Let’s go!

A Magical Day at Disneyland

Welcome Puffles and Honey!

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

Time to go to Hundred Acre Woods to catch up with beary friends. Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore were very excited to see Puffles and Honey again and wanted photos 🙂

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

All this play made little bears hungry… And the place to go to is the Hungry Bear Restaurant!

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

Have a beary great day!

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A red train!

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

The engineer’s seat is comfy!

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

The train took us to Woody!

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

Jessie too!

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A wishing well! We wish to see Minnie and Mickey!

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

Minnie!

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

What a day!

A Magical Day at Disneyland

Read all about it! Puffles and Honey have visited all the Disney Parks!

A Magical Day at Disneyland

A Magical Day at Disneyland

Mmmm, shiny pins!

A Magical Day at Disneyland

Mummy, Shanghai Disneyland opens next week!

A Magical Day at Disneyland

Puffles and Honey’s perfect record of having visited 5 Disney locations and 11 Disney parks will last all of one week until Shanghai Disneyland will open on June 16. We’ll take a break from Disney first. I’m starting to sound like them!

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Disney on Broadway

A week full of activities from morning to night wasn’t enough adventure in New York City, so on the last morning in Manhattan, Puffles and Honey went on a Disney on Broadway tour.

While Broadway is known widely as the heart of the American theatre industry, it is also a 53km long road in the US state of New York, through the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx, before exiting the city. It is the oldest north–south main thoroughfare in New York City, dating to the first New Amsterdam settlement, although most of it did not bear its current name until the late 19th century.

In the beginning of the nineteenth century, the area that now comprises the Theater District was owned by a handful of families and contained little more than a few farms. In 1836 Mayor Cornelius Van Wyck Lawrence opened 42nd Street and invited Manhattanites to “move up town and enjoy the pure, clean air”.

The first theatre was the Empire Theatre, on the Southeast corner of 40th Street and Broadway. The Olympia was the second theatre to open in the Theater District. It was the first multiplex, with five theaters. The theatre closed down 3 years after, the performances were really bad! Historic sources are unclear as to whether some or all buildings in the complex were demolished and rebuilt in 1935, or the shells gutted and remodeled to build a nightclub/dancehall, the International Casino, and the Criterion movie theatre. In 1988, followed the Criterion Center Stage Right, and in 1991, the space was leased to Roundabout Theatre Company, a prominent non-profit theatre company. In 2000, Toys R Us announced plans to spend approximately $35 million on a flagship store on the site of the old Olympia that featured an 18m in-store Ferris Wheel. The store closed down in January this year.

Toys 'R Us Ferris Wheel
Toys ‘R Us Ferris Wheel

Lit by gas and poorly ventilated, theaters in 19th century New York were vexed by fire. At the beginning of the 20th century, architects realized that the safer electric light bulb had enormous advertising potential. As early as 1910, Broadway signage dazzled visitors and the street soon became known throughout the world as the Great White Way. In 1927, the journalist Will Irwin vividly captured the district’s look and energy: “Mildly insane by day, the square goes divinely mad by night. For then on every wall, above every cornice, in every nook and cranny, blossom and dance the electric advertising signs… All other American cities imitate them, but none gets this massed effect of tremendous jazz interpreted in light.”

For more than a century, Broadway productions have not only made young, unknown actors household names but also produced stars associated with performances, songs, and dances that have entered mainstream American culture. These individuals, and the costumes and make-up schemes that have enhanced their work, are the source of endless fascination to adoring fans. Beneath the surface of these star turns, however, lie more gritty stories of passion and dedication. Broadway ambition was immortalized by the composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim in the song “Broadway Baby” from the elegiac musical Follies, which chronicles the New York theater world’s legendary past: ”I’m just a Broadway Baby / Walking off my tired feet / Pounding 42nd Street / To be in a show.”

I Can Get It For You Wholesale opened on March 22, 1962 at the Shubert Theatre. Barbra Streisand played the put-upon secretary Miss Marmelstein. In the second act of the show she rolled onto the stage in an office chair and sang, “Oh, why is it always Miss Marmelstein?” Barbra stopped the show with the song and she hasn’t looked back since.

Shubert Theatre
Shubert Theatre

Designed by architect Henry Beaumont Herts, the theatre was named after Sam S. Shubert, the second oldest of the three brothers of the theatrical producing family. It shares a Venetian Renaissance facade with the adjoining Booth Theatre, which was constructed at the same time, although the two have distinctly different interiors. The two theatres are connected by a private sidewalk, Shubert Alley. Each summer right around Tony time, the Broadway League puts on a free outdoor concert in Shubert Alley to promote various shows running on Broadway, many of them vying for a Tony Award.

Stars in the Alley, Shubert Alley, Broadway
Stars in the Alley, Shubert Alley, Broadway

Shubert Theatre opened on 21 October 1913 with the George Bernard Shaw play, Caesar and Cleopatra, staged by the Forbes-Robertson Repertory Company.

The theatre’s longest tenant was A Chorus Line, which ran for 6,137 performances from 1975 to 1990 and set the record for longest running show in Broadway history. Later long runs have included Crazy for You, Chicago, Spamalot and Memphis. The theatre has also been a returning venue for the Tony Awards.

During the Golden Age of the theatre district, there were 91 operating theatres, today the theater district sits between the 41st and 53rd Street and between the Sixth and Ninth Avenues, with the highest concentrations of theatres along 45th Street.

Among the theaters most known is the Majestic Theater, considered by many as the home of the musical. It is one of the largest Broadway theatres with 1,645 seats, and traditionally has been used as a venue for major musical theatre productions. The theatre has housed The Phantom of the Opera since it opened on January 26, 1988. With a record-breaking 11,335 performances to date, it is currently the longest-running production in Broadway history.

Majestic Theatre
Majestic Theatre

Nestled in between the giants are numerous small theaters, each vying for one of the 1,500 performances on the strip each year. The musicals or play pieces are divided into three categories: Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway.

Helen Hayes Theatre, initially known as the Little Theatre, is the smallest theatre on Broadway; it gave birth to what became known as the Little Theatre Movement in the early 20th century. The term Broadway theatre refers to a professional theatre with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway. An Off-Broadway theatre is a professional venue in New York City with a seating capacity between 100 and 499. Off-Off-Broadway theatres are usually theatres that have fewer than 100 seats, though the term can be used for any show in the New York City area that employs union actors but is not under an Off-Broadway, Broadway, or League of Resident Theatres contract.

The Minskoff Theatre is currently home to the musical The Lion King, based on the Disney animated film of the same name.

Disney on Broadway

Disney on Broadway

Puffles and Honey went to see The Lion King, of course!

Disney on Broadway

Disney on Broadway

Lion King
The Lion King
Lion King, Scar
The Lion King, Scar
The Lion King, Nala and Simba
The Lion King, Nala and Simba
The Lion King
The Lion King

That was an amazing show!

Disney on Broadway

The other Disney show on Broadway is Aladdin. At the risk of stating the obvious, Puffles and Honey saw that too!

Disney on Broadway

In the 1992 movie of the same name, the Genie, whose voice was provided by Robin Williams, steals the show. In the Broadway musical, a similar feat is performed by James Monroe Iglehart, who has wanted to play Genie since hearing Robin Williams in the 1992 movie. In 2014, he won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for playing the Genie in Aladdin.

Aladdin
Aladdin
Aladdin
Aladdin
Aladdin
Aladdin
Aladdin
Aladdin

The musical is shown at the New Amsterdam, a beautiful Art Nouveau theatre, leased by Disney Theatrical Productions. Disney paid for the restoration of the building in the 1990s.

The New Amsterdam Theatre was built in 1903 by the partnership of impresarios A.L. Erlanger and Marcus Klaw and designed in the Art Nouveau style by architects Herts and Tallant. At the time of construction, it was the largest theatre in New York with a seating capacity of 1,702. Along with the Lyceum Theatre, also built in 1903, it is the oldest surviving Broadway venue.

New Amsterdam Theatre
New Amsterdam Theatre

The New Amsterdam opened in November 1903 with a (dreadful) production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For many years, it hosted the Ziegfeld Follies, showcasing such talents as Olive Thomas, Fanny Brice and the Eaton siblings. A racier sister show of the Follies, the Midnight Frolics, played in the New Amsterdam’s roof garden theatre. The Midnight Frolics were such a success, that within a very short period of time, the tickets went up from 5 cents to 5 dollars!

The Great Depression took its toll on the theatre business, and in 1936 the New Amsterdam closed. It reopened on a limited basis in 1937 but soon was converted to a movie theatre. The Nederlander Organization purchased the landmark property in 1982, but it would not be on the road to rehabilitation for another eight years. In 1990, after a court battle, the State and City of New York assumed ownership of the New Amsterdam and many other theatres on 42nd Street. Disney Theatrical Productions signed a 99 year lease for the property in 1993. The theatre, which had recently been used as a filming location for the movie Vanya on 42nd Street, was in shambles; it would take several years and millions of dollars, to restore it to its original usage and grandeur. The roof garden remained closed when it was discovered that it could not be brought up to modern building codes.

The New Amsterdam was officially reopened on April 2, 1997. In November 1997, after the premiere of the film Hercules and a limited engagement of a concert version of King David, Disney’s stage version of The Lion King opened. On June 4, 2006, The Lion King closed in The New Amsterdam Theatre, moving to the Minskoff Theatre ten days later. Mary Poppins began previews at the New Amsterdam Theatre on October 16, 2006 and opened on November 16, 2006, where it continued to run until March 3, 2013. The theatre was renovated to accommodate Disney’s Aladdin, which was mounted in the theatre in 2014.

Disney on Broadway

As part of the tour, Puffles and Honey got to wonder around the theatre and look at the beautiful Art Nouveau decorations…

New Amsterdam Theatre
New Amsterdam Theatre
New Amsterdam Theatre
New Amsterdam Theatre
New Amsterdam Theatre
New Amsterdam Theatre

…before going upstairs to check out some of the props.

New Amsterdam Theatre
New Amsterdam Theatre
The Lion King, masks
The Lion King, masks
The Lion King, masks ($7000 each!)
The Lion King, masks ($7000 each!)
The Lion King, costumes
The Lion King, costumes
The Little Mermaid, King Triton's chair and trident
The Little Mermaid, King Triton’s chair and trident
The Little Mermaid, Ariel's shell
The Little Mermaid, Ariel’s shell
The Little Mermaid, Sebastian's hat and somebody's funny glasses :smile:
The Little Mermaid, Sebastian’s hat and somebody’s funny glasses 🙂

The next Disney musical on Broadway will be… Frozen! It will open at the St James Theatre sometime in 2018.