Disney Partners with “Portal Quest” Developer PerBlue and Others to Make New Mobile App Games

When it comes to branded videogames, Disney tends to be hit or miss. Fans can probably still remember early in 2017 when the House of Mouse shut down their in-house game development team Avalanche. They were of course the makers of Disney Infinity, which was very popular with gamers everywhere.

With the House of Mouse having shut down in-house game development for a time, they’re instead making partnerships with third-party developers to bring out new titles for the Disney gamer-base. They’re also going to make new inroads into the mobile gaming market, and are thus collaborating with mobile-app development outfits.

One of these new game-development partners with the house of mouse is PerBlue, a company that has produced some casual game apps. This collaboration was announced Tuesday by Disney gaming division executive Kyle Laughlin, while he was making a keynote speech at the Casual Connect game-con held in Disneyland, Anaheim.

On the side of PerBlue, based in Madison, Wisconsin, the company’s chief operations officer Forrest Woolworth sent an email publicizing the Disney partnership, but begged off on revealing what sort of game app they were developing for the House of Mouse. Woolworth wrote that PerBlue is excited about the project.

A look at PerBlue’s 10-year game portfolio would have it that their forte is making RPG-style fantasy titles that involve leveling up a party of heroes in a series of battles. Prominent games include Portal Quest on Android, and DragonSoul which they sold to a Japanese firm back in 2016.

PerBlue joins other mobile-app developers in the new Disney game development initiative such as GameLoft, Glu and Ludia. In terms of major brand collaborators, there’s Electronic Arts which has an exclusive deal for making Star Wars videogames, and Japanese giant Square-Enix which develops the Kingdom Hearts series featuring Disney characters.

Anonymous Former Disney World Staffer Shares Facts of Working Life as “Cast Member”

One of the frequently-used taglines for a Disney theme park is that it – wherever “it” may happen to be in the US, Asia, or Europe – is without a doubt the “Happiest Place on Earth.” And this is helped greatly by their loads and loads of staff and “cast members” present.

The terminology “cast member” is significant because in the world of Disney, a theme park is a stage entirely, and everybody inside who isn’t a guest have roles with an accompanying script. This and many such facts were shared anonymously on PopSugar.com by a former cast member from Disney World.

Said former cast member listed up about 32 things about his epic work environment, about some of the fun stuff and benefits, along with duties and responsibilities that fall to a Disney theme park cast member. We can’t exactly go over them all, but we’ll list up the interesting ones.

Now obviously, priority one is making sure the guests are happy, which cast members do by actively addressing them by name (learned by checking one’s room key, credit card or worn nametag). Celebrity guests are never acknowledged or fawned over (kiss the job goodbye if you asked for a selfie).

All cast members must be able to answer questions and never say “I don’t know”; and if a question is plainly “silly” then they must also give a silly reply. When showing directions to guests, cast members point with two fingers, never just the pointer finger because it’s considered rude.

For work conditions, Disney cast members find that costume/clothing sizes are two times smaller than contemporary clothes sizing standards. While their core salary is par for mundane retail/food service work, the fringe perks are massive: cast-exclusive merchandise sales, in-park purchase delivery, and appearing on TV shows like “Good Morning America.”

Some not-so-vital park “secrets” were also shared by the anonymous writer, such as the Hollywood Studios Mickey Mouse doubling as a lightning rod, and the usage of bicycles backstage to help cast members travel unseen. Oh, and Walt Disney used assumed names to buy land to build Disney World on.

It’s perhaps understandable that this former cast member gave no names when he wrote up his little sneak-peek into life within Disney World’s walls for PopSugar, what possible non-disclosure and sticky regulations like that. Other news services that featured this article have asked Disney for comment. They’ve yet to reply.

New Additions and Events for Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 2018

A New Year means new things, new places and new experiences. It may sound a tad poetic and idealistic cliché, but that statement holds true for even the Disney chain of theme parks. There’s a score of upcoming new attractions opening this 2018 that visitors would most certainly enjoy seeing.

These upcoming attractions run the gamut from being seasonal events to brand-new permanent additions to the parks where they’re opening in. Disneyland in Anaheim for example has a new “Pixar Fest” event beginning April, with a Nighttime Spectacular featuring Buzz Lightyear flying around Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and a Play Parade.

And the Pixar fever doesn’t stop there. Disney California Adventure sees its former Paradise Pier area returning to the public as Pixar Pier, with attractions from films Toys Story, The Incredibles and Inside Out taking prominence. Pixar Shorts will have a film festival in Hollywood Land, a Pixar musical group will star performances in Paradise gardens, and even more Pixar characters will be appearing in the Paint the Night event.

Downtown Disney meanwhile gets two major attractions. Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire takes guests on a VR experience to meet their favorite characters from the franchise, while a staple from Walt Disney World, Splitsville Luxury Lanes, makes its debut in the Disney West Coast.

Disneyland and its surrounding resorts and parks don’t have a monopoly on new stuff for 2018. Over in Walt Disney World, Florida, Disney’s Hollywood Studios can finally celebrate the opening of its expansion theme area Toy Story Land, featuring a Slinky Dog roller coaster and the Woody’s Lunch Box restaurant.

Animal Kingdom also celebrates two decades of operation as the latest park addition to Disney World, with a Caravan Theater show featuring the characters of Pixar’s Up seeing all the bird species in the park. Next, Epcot is looking make their second year holding a Festival of the Arts to be even bigger than its first year in 2017, expanding its duration this year from January 12 to February 19.

To wrap things up in Disney World, Disney Springs will be seeing no less than seven brand-new dining places of various cuisines and styles opening all through 2018. And finally, the ESPN Wide World of Sports will be proud to inaugurate their 8,000-capacity multipurpose sports and entertainment venue, with six courts that can be alternately configured for basketball, volleyball, or concert performances. It’s a great year to be a Disney theme parks guest, of that there can be no doubt.

Door of Monorail at Disney World Dangerously Opens Up While in Transit

When it comes to monorail electrically-driven train systems, perhaps one of the most familiar-looking of these stateside-wise would be the Monorail system that operates in Walt Disney World. Said system is a long-runner, first opened back in the 1950s, and is arguably the third most-heavily used monorail in the world.

Then again, highly-frequent passenger use means the monorail trains used on the Disney system get subjected to rather fast wear and tear. And it can result in some potentially dangerous situations like one captured by a passenger a few days ago, which showed an automated door that failed to shut.

Instagram user abbieprimeknits got an uncomfortably close look – and videos – of the wide-open automatic door on Disney Monorail Red, at that moment travelling from the Transportation and Ticketing Center (TTC) to Epcot. Also caught in the shot is a fellow passenger in Mickey-Mouse headband sitting close to the open doorway.

From the look of that passenger inside the monorail at that moment, travelling at a goodly speed with an open door, it was definitely not safe. A second Instagram vid by abbieprimeknits shows Monorail Red, defective door and all finally pull into Epcot station, passengers chuckling at the safety message.

Whatever went wrong with the Disney monorail that fateful day, it must’ve gone beyond an automatic door that failed to close. Said doors according to Disney Blog are supposed to have sensors that would signal the driver when they don’t shut, and prevent the monorail from departing until it’s fixed.

In the comments section of her Instagram posts, abbieprimeknits mentioned that maintenance was alerted to the door before Monorail Red left the TTC. The technicians forced it to lock, but shortly after departure the door unlocked and opened on its own, remaining that way until the end of the trip.

In a postscript comment, it was stated that maintenance at Epcot went to work on the faulty door upon the monorail’s arrival. In addition, the WDW News Today blog noted that by January 8 all Disney Monorail doors have had a sign reminding passengers “Do Not Lean” towards the doorways.

Disney Defends Accusations of “Brown-Facing” White Background Extras for 2019’s “Aladdin”

The early part of this week has been abuzz with an air of controversy with regards to upcoming film projects by Disney, in particular future live-action adaptations of its canon of animated films. The next movie – rather, movies – in this vein are set to premiere in 2019, one after another.

Aside from The Lion King, there’s also Aladdin, based on the original 1992 film featuring the late Robin Williams as the iconic Disney character the Genie. This live-action remake is flowing with the predominant wave of ethnic accuracy and political correctness as much as possible, but some complaints still emerge.

Disney’s original animation set the story of Aladdin in the fictional Middle Eastern kingdom of Agrabah, with an implied Arab population. Casting has done well to pick Egyptian-Canadian Mena Massoud for the lead role, but critics point out African-American Will Smith as the Genie and Indian-British Naomi Scott as Jasmine.

Even worse, a production crew-member revealed how Disney has been employing white extras and stunt actors made up with brown skin tones, implying that the studio wasn’t going out of its way to take on people of the right ethnicity. This exposé has riled up detractors due to “cultural insensitivity.”

While Aladdin’s director Guy Ritchie has declined to respond to the latest round of criticism over the production, Disney itself issued an official statement explaining that the “brown-facing” was only being done to “help crew members with specific skills” blend into the background when filming scenes with large crowds involved.

The Disney statement adds, “Great care was taken to put together one of the largest, most diverse casts ever seen on screen.” Some quarters however aren’t mollified, like Indian-American actor-producer Kal “Kumar” Penn who opined that the studio simply didn’t want to spend too much money getting ethnically-correct background specialists.

But Aladdin cast members have also joined the defense of the film. Iranian-American actor Navid Negahban, who plays the Sultan, doesn’t see the making up of white background people into Middle-Eastern as an “insult to the industry” like detractors claim it is. “You will definitely love the film,” he insists.

The live-action Aladdin will premiere in March of 2019, with The Lion King following months later, in July. In addition to Massoud, Scott, Smith and Negahban, Caucasian actor Billy Magnussen also has an unspecified role, an addition absent from the 1992 original movie.

Disney-Pixar’s “Coco” Leads to Economic Boom in Mexican Guitar-Making Town

It’s been well over a month since our last significant article on Disney-Pixar’s latest film Coco, which premiered late the past year. We already know that it’s been a big hit in Mexico where the story takes place, but here’s a new positive development in that country thanks to Coco.

As those who have watched the film may recall, one prominent musical instrument used during the musical numbers in Coco is the ubiquitous classical guitar. To the credit of Disney and Pixar doing their research, their animation teams based the movie’s guitars on actual instruments from a small Mexican town.

Said town, Paracho in Michoacán state, felt a great deal of pride in having 3D CGI representations of guitars made by their local craftsmen being featured prominently in Coco. Even better, once fans learned of Paracho, town visitors have been buying their guitars even faster than they could be made.

Poster for the movie "Coco"
© 2017 Walt Disney Pictures − All right reserved.

In response to this upsurge of popular demand, guitar-makers in Paracho, which has its own National Guitar Festival, have begun churning out guitars evoking designs from Coco. Most prominent of all is the white guitar with the Dia los Muertos skull motif that is a central prop in the film.

Buyers of Maracho’s guitars not only come from within Mexico but overseas, with preorders from some surprising corners of the world spurring the town’s industry to ramp up production to meet the demand. Their instrument-makers have already been shipping their guitars to an international market thanks to the Disney-Pixar movie.

Coco, which hit Mexico in October 2017, became the highest-grossing film in the country by the time it premiered in the US a month later. Even China’s movie market was highly impressed by it, leading to a global box office earning of $589 million, plus Annie and Golden Globe nominations.

Bosses of Disney’s Fox Acquisitions Don’t See Their Content Being Made “Disney-Compliant” After Deal

When Disney announced its intention to acquire media assets from 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion, some producers and higher-up within these Fox subsidiaries changing hands who felt they had a right to be concerned. After all, some Fox outfits like FX specialize in “edgy,” mature and boundary-pushing television content.

Things got to a head when Disney CEO Bob Iger made a call to Fox Television producer Ryan Myrphy, where the latter made his case regarding the potential Disney-Fox tie up by asking if he has to “put Mickey Mouse in American Horror Story” sometime. Iger’s answer was thankfully reassuring.

Fox programs at a glance could never be farther in tone and audience than the “family-friendly” House of Mouse. Gary Newman and Dana Walden, co-chairs of the Fox TV Group, declared during the company’s TCA session that the question of content will not be decided until the deal is finalized.

Considering that the Disney-Fox acquisition deal must first be scrutinized and set in stone, usually taking over a year, maybe two, then for the moment the Fox subsidiaries part of the transaction will be conducting “business as usual.” And that means continuing to produce their popular boundary-pushing shows without fail.

Newman also show perceptiveness in pointing out how even Disney has subsidiaries dealing in “adult-oriented” content. Television-wise, ABC has been home to more mature fare under the Disney umbrella, from Agents of SHIELD to the Shondaland productions of Shonda Rhimes, who recently left the network to produce shows for Netflix.

“Bob Iger was pretty clear…that he loves our brand,” noted Newman. “He’s excited about FX and the FX brand… I think there is room for many different types of programs once the company moves to Disney.” He notes that FX content widely ranges from mainstream-fit, to cable, to digital streaming.

Even Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is pretty chill about how he thinks Disney is going to deal with the craziness that goes on in his animated shows. Thus far he doesn’t think the House of Mouse will insist he do any “toning-down” of the outrageous nature of Family Guy.

MacFarlane also got a call from Bob Iger, which he described as a great positive where his show is concerned. While he might be shocked if Disney did take down Family Guy for being incongruous with its own content, in his opinion such a course of action is not likely.