“Disney on Ice” New Zealand Tour will have “Moana” Segment Performed in Maori Language

The Disney on Ice shows by Feld Entertainment (via Ice Follies and Holidays on Ice, Inc.) and Disney have been entertaining audiences around the world for close to 40 years now. What’s great about the productions is that they’re renewed annually, so repeat attendees are sure to see something new when they get to see it regularly, year to year.

This year’s Disney on Ice presentation, “Dare to Dream,” features new ice-choreographed interpretations particularly of 2016’s animated film “Moana.” What’s more amazing perhaps is, as the tour goes worldwide and performs in New Zealand, they’re planning to do the “Moana” segment in the Maori language.

New Zealand is the primary home of the Maori, a Polynesian people who also contribute in the islander depiction seen in Disney’s “Moana.” In fact, the film even got an official version dubbed in te reo Maori, with Maori New Zealander actress Rachel House reprising her role as Moana’s Gramma Tala from the original English.

Nicole Field, producer of Disney on Ice “Dare to Dream,” said the decision to use the Maori language for the “Moana” segment in the country is a salute to the movie’s cultural significance in the Pacific island nations, and to the people of New Zealand who flocked to watch “Moana” during its premiere in 2016.

The show will be held in three cities during its New Zealand stop. The “Moana” in te reo Maori will be done in one performance of the whole “Dare to Dream” production for every city it’s in. Tickets for the show will go for as low as NZ$33 starting April 1, not an April Fools.

Anyway, here are the stops of the Disney on Ice 2019 tour in that country.

  1. Auckland – August 2-4, Spark Arena
  2. Hamilton – August 8-11, Claudelands Arena
  3. Christchurch – August 17-18, Horncastle Arena
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Hong Kong Disneyland Launches Latest Marvel Ride: “Ant-Man and The Wasp – Nano Battle!”

One of Disney’s current theme park-related projects is to increasingly integrate the Marvel brand with all its high-flying superhero flair. We’ve seen these first steps in Disneyland Park (at Disney’s California Adventure) and Hong Kong. The former has “Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!” while the latter has the “Iron Man Experience,” the first Marvel attraction in a Disney park.

While Iron man Experience has been the lone Marvel attraction in Hong Kong Disneyland since 2017, it changes this Sunday. A new Marvel-themed ride is coming this March 31: “Ant-Man & the Wasp: Nano Battle!”

But before the new indoor interactive dark ride opens to HKD guests, there was a formal launch ceremony held Thursday, March 28. What’s especially awesome about this was, in addition to officials from HKD and Hong Kong SAR welcoming the attraction, “Ant-Man” star Paul Rudd himself was as special guest along with director Peyton Reed.

Drawing on his comedy background, Rudd was able to engage the launch event audience with his great wit and appreciation, not just for the ride but for Hong Kong. Following the ceremonial start-button-press, Rudd and select passengers went on the first full ride for “Ant-Man & the Wasp: Nano Battle!”

The attraction has its passengers assisting Scott /Ant-Man and Hope/Wasp in a mission to disable a HYDRA doomsday machine. On the ride-train, guests use blasters to hit hostile targets on the videogame screen surroundings to rack up high scores. “Nano Battle!” was repurposed from HKD’s original Buzz Lightyear ride, but is now an exciting interactive indoor adventure. Hong Kong Disneyland guests can check it out for themselves this March 31.

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Ahead of “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” Area Openings, Disneyland & WDW to Restrict Smoking, Big Strollers

Pretty soon there will be only two months left before Disneyland Park can take its guests to a Galaxy Far, Far Away. The promise of “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” is so overwhelming to Disney theme park-goers that they’ll certainly crowd Disneyland on the Opening Day for Galaxy’s Edge, May 31.

That’s probably why, according to CNN, California’s Disneyland as well as Florida’s Walt Disney World will be issuing a ban on smoking and large strollers within theme park premises. This prohibition also extends to WDW’s waterparks or Anaheim’s Downtown Disney.

A Disney spokesperson notes that with the expansion of their resort offerings – Galaxy’s Edge for one – they must take measures to make the guest experience universally enjoyable. Banning smoking will cut down on pollution while keeping strollers under mandated sizes would reduce guest foot traffic.

Of course, smokers will still be given some consideration, as they’re still free to light up in Florida’s Disney Springs. Designated smoking areas within Disney resort hotels will remain, and similar areas will be set up near theme park entryways. And strollers to be allowed in the theme parks must now no longer exceed 39 inches/79 cm in width, and 52 inches/132 cm in length.

These are but the latest new changes that Disney is implementing in both Disneyland and Disney World with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge coming. Way back in January they have already introduced a wide variation of ticket price hikes for guests.

Disney Theatrical Now Gaining Steam at Making “Princess Bride” Musical

In 1987 20th Century Fox produced a film adaptation of William Goldman’s fantasy romance novel “The Princess Bride,” with the author himself turning book to screenplay. Among the producers was Alan Horn, now chairman of Walt Disney Studios. He eventually bought stage adaptation rights to “The Princess Bride” well before the while Disney-Fox merger thing.

But it seems only after the acquisition of the relevant Fox media assets did earlier failed attempts at a “Princess Bride” musical finally gain some wind under their sails. That’s reassuring following Goldman’s passing in November 2017. Disney Theatrical has finally begun putting together a creative team for the adaptation.

For original music and lyrics, Disney is engaging the services of 2018 Tony Award winner David Yazbek (“The Band’s Visit”). In the meantime, book duties will fall to “The Drowsy Chaperone” Tony nominee Bob Martin, along with Rick Elise who already has prior experience writing a stage play for Disney.

Then again, there probably won’t be further developments following the production announcement. All three of them have Broadway musical productions either previewing or starting this season. Nevertheless, they’re prime choices by Disney to finally realize the long-stalled development of “Princess Bride” as a Broadway musical.

Disney Theatrical has good reason to be intense in its development and production efforts for 2019. This is after all the 25th anniversary of their first musical, an adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast.” Their current Broadway musicals include “Aladdin,” “The Lion King” and the heavily anticipated recent arrival “Frozen.”

List of Major Production Locations for Disney’s “Frozen” Musical

There’s no doubt that Disney hit a massive jackpot with their 2013 animated film “Frozen.” From its awesome casting, endearing characters and unforgettable (borderline annoying) soundtrack, this adaptation of the “Snow Queen” story just hit all the right notes. No wonder that Disney developed two animated shorts, included the leads in a “crossover” with another animated movie, and produced a sequel coming out this November.

And let’s not forget that “Frozen” got adapted into a musical as well. With the main creative minds of the film (Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, plus Jennifer Lee) working on music, lyrics and book, the theatrical version has begun crossing the US and started appearing in overseas productions as well.

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What we have here is a list of major productions that have either staged or will be staging the “Frozen” musical since its 2017 debut:

  1. Pre-Broadway (2017) – Buell Theatre in Denver, Colorado
  2. Broadway (2018) – St. James Theatre
  3. US National Tour: first stop (November 2019) – Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady, New York
  4. Australian Production (July 2020) – Capitol Theatre in Sydney, New South Wales
  5. UK West End Production (late 2020) – Theatre Royale, Drury Lane

“Toy Story 4” Trailer: Points to Discuss

When Disney and Pixar released “Toy Story 3” in 2010, critics and audiences felt it concluded an awesome animated trilogy. The departure of a key character after entrusting the rest of the cast to another seemed a definitive end to the story. Nobody expected a “Toy Story 4,” but here it is coming this year.

Any doubts regarding a fourth “Toy Story” disappeared November last year with the first teaser. A follow-up preview showcased two new toy characters. But it was a full trailer released this week that finally shed light to the cast and the plot. Here’s a quick rundown of what we learned:

  1. Woody (Tom Hanks) true to form has become a leadership figure among his friends and the toys of their new person, Bonnie. He specializes himself in helping toys be the best children’s companions they can be.
  2. Bonnie turns a spork into a doll she calls Forky (Tony Hale) for a class project. Bringing her home, she becomes her favorite toy. But the act of turning a non-toy into a toy is traumatizing for Forky, who doesn’t like his new “alive” state and wants nothing to do with being a toy despite Woody’s encouragement.
  3. In his obsession to escape his toy-hood, Forky escapes from the Anderson Family’s camper while Bonnie and her parents are on a road trip. Woody follows him without hesitation to bring him back.
  4. Forced to go on foot, Woody and Forky arrive at the town of Grand Basin, where in an antique shop they run afoul of an old talking doll named Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) and her army of non-talking “Benson” ventriloquist dummies.
  5. Woody and Forky are rescued by a figure from Woody’s past: Bo Peep (Annie Potts), former “toy” of Andy’s sister Molly that was sold in a yard sale before “Toy Story 3.” Having spent years passing hands without real owners has made her an independent spirit who thinks toys can exist outside of being children’s playthings, a notion that Woody is conflicted with.
  6. Bo tries to sway Woody from returning to Bonnie with Forky by showing him her current hangout: the Grand Basin fairgrounds. Woody seems affected, to Forky’s concern.
  7. With Jessie (Joan Cusack) and the rest of the toys wondering what to do about the missing Woody and Bonnie, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) decides to copy his old buddy and jump from the camper, finding his way to the fair (where he gets picked up as a stall prize)
  8. Bonnie wasn’t going to not notice her toys disappearing. Her emotional hurt is something everybody with a favored toy – past and present – feels.
  9. Bo Peep introduces Woody to the fairground toys (including a cameo from Pixar’s “Tin Toy” from 1988). She tries to argue that children frequently lose toys anyway, to further dissuade Woody from going back “home.”
  10. During his time as a carnival prize, Buzz antagonizes fellow prizes Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele).
  11. On the road of life, there are old friends, new friends and stories that change you.”
  12. Woody starts feeling an existential crisis towards the end when he muses, amid memories of Andy and Bonnie, “I was made to help a child. I don’t remember it being this hard.”

Disney-Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” premieres on June 21.

It’s Done: Disney-Fox Asset Acquisition in Effect Today

As Tony Stark mentioned in the first teaser released for “Avengers: Endgame” next month, “Part of the journey is the end.” An epic journey began in December of 2017 when Disney announced its bid to buy the major media assets of 21st Century Fox. On Wednesday midnight, said journey ended.

Effective 12:02 AM (ET) of March 20, entities such as 20th Century Fox, Fox TV Group, National Geographic, Fox Networks, stakes in Endemol and Hulu and more, are now merged with the larger umbrella of Disney. That not bad for an acquisition value of $71.3 billion, even as the remnants of 21st Century Fox is now reorganizing into Fox Corp.

Analysts from Wall Street agree that the megadeal goes a long way in providing Disney with more media content, especially as it primes to launch its exclusive digital streaming platform Disney+. Marvel fans might be gladdened to know that the film rights for “X-Men” can potentially be transferred by Disney from Fox to Marvel Studios, reuniting the two major labels of the superhero publishing brand.

In a press release, Disney CEO Bob Iger named the newly-finalized Fox acquisition as an “extraordinary and historic” moment, adding, “Combining Disney’s and 21st Century Fox’s wealth of creative content and proven talent creates the preeminent global entertainment company, well positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era.”

And as seen above, the header image for the official Walt Disney Company website now includes Fox franchises in the image montage: “Simpsons,” James Cameron’s “Avatar” and “Deadpool” among others. Speaking of Deadpool, despite the R-rating of its Fox films starring Ryan Reynolds, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige is sure that the Merc with a Mouth still has a place for himself in the MCU.

While many are celebrating the conclusion of the asset merging, none perhaps can approach the hilarity level of actor Reynolds himself, posting his impression of how great it is to have his character under Disney.

The first few months following the megadeal going through will be spent integrating the new Disney subsidiaries in the greater organization, as well as addressing the inevitable layoffs that will take place in its wake.

Disney World to Create Commemorative Bricks for to-be-Dismantled “Walk Around the World” Attraction, for Original Sponsors and Collectors

Sometimes there are ways to gain from a loss. Walt Disney World seems to think so with their plans for the personalized hexagonal decorative bricks at the Disney’s “Walk Around the World” attraction in Magic Kingdom theme park. These bricks were sponsored by guests when they were installed years ago, and while they’e being removed those sponsors will be able to claim commemorative replicas.

Disney World is thus opening Commemorative Brick Kiosks at Magic Kingdom as well as Disney Springs, to both facilitate old sponsors in redeeming commemorative versions of the Walk Around the World bricks, as well as to print blank bricks with customizable text for interested buyers.

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Verified sponsors of Disney’s Walk Around the World bricks from years ago will be given a one-time-use voucher (or code if done online at shopDisney.com) with which to purchase a commemorative 6-inch hexagonal brick for $10 plus tax this spring.

Non-sponsors on the other hand can proceed to the Commemorative Brick Kiosks in Magic Kingdom’s Tommorowland Light & Power Co., or Disney Springs’ Marketplace Co-Op. There they’ll find a special digital printing service that’ll print blank commemorative bricks with their choice of logos, personalized names or special occasion and date.

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It should be noted that collectors will have limited customization options compared to the Walk Around the World sponsors. Non-sponsor commemorative bricks can range from 6 inches at $29.99, 8 inches at $49.99, and the coming-soon ornament ($24.99), all with tax to be added. This opportunity for keeping a remembrance of “Walk Around the World” lasts only until August 31.

Resort Hotels in Disney World Soon to Offer Mermaid Swimming Lessons for Age 4 and Up

“Mermaiding” in this day and age can mean either portraying artistically as a mermaid with costume tail, or swimming underwater like a mermaid with said tail. The performance aspect started in the early 20th Century, with the hobby and activity aspect starting up in the 1980s, even before Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” arrived in cinemas.

Still, the Disney animated classic was a big contributor to the eventual mermaiding subculture. And Walt Disney World looks to be harnessing some of that “Little Mermaid” magic for their summer 2019 special offer at four of their resort hotels.

“Mermaid School” will soon be available to participate in for Disney World guests who are staying at the Art of Animation Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort, Yacht Club Resort, and Beach Club Resort. Booking for this special swimming activity class starts mid-March, and will accept students four years old and above.

These resort hotels’ Mermaid School classes will be held twice a week on specific days: Art of Animation Resort will have theirs on Sundays and Thursdays; the Caribbean Beach Resort on Wednesdays and Fridays; both Beach Club and Yacht Club resorts will share their Mermaid classes on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Disney World’s Mermaid school starts at 8 AM and lasts for an hour. Participants will be taught how to swim like Ariel and other mermaids. In addition, all will be fitted with their own swimming-tail suits in their size as part of the package, which is worth $50 per head.

The Mermaid School classes are brought to Disney World in cooperation with the Florida-based Mermaid Academy, which offers mermaiding lessons and also manufactures swimming tails. These tails will also be offered for sale during Mermaid School sessions at Disney World.

For more information on this, should you be staying at the hotels mentioned above during your Disney World trip, you can visit their official blog to enroll, or call 407-WDW-PLAY.

Disney Acquisition of Fox Assets to Happen March 20

Okay, let’s go over this one more time. In December 2017, Disney shocked the world by announcing its bid to acquire key media assets from Fox for $71 billion. The following year they beat off a competing offer from Comcast, and began work gaining approval from the world’s antitrust regulators.

By the time 2019 rolled around, both Disney and Fox would say to the public that the deal could be finalized in a matter of time. CNN reports that the time has been nailed down to an exact date. Brace yourselves: the Fox asset acquisition’s happening a week from now.

Effective March 20, certain media organs from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox – the 20th Century Fox film studio, FX, Nat Geo, a portion of controlling stake in Hulu, et cetera – will all belong to Disney in an entertainment media masterstroke spearheaded by CEO Bob Iger.

In terms of pros, for instance Disney might finally reclaim the film rights to Marvel’s other big franchise aside from the Avengers: the X-Men. In terms of cons, well, the consolidation of the Fox assets into the Disney umbrella will certainly see some organizational restructuring, and layoffs. Around 5,000 people from both sides could lose their jobs according to analysts.

Meanwhile, the remnants of 21st Century Fox will be reorganized into simply “Fox,” centered on the Fox Network, Fox News and Fox Sports. A few more global regulatory approvals are pending before the big day comes one week from now.

In addition, Disney must also sell off its acquired 22 Fox-related regional sports networks to satisfy antitrust conditions, considering the media giant already owns ESPN.