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.

“Solo” May 25 Premiere Remains Firm Despite Lack of Trailers or Teasers Hinting at Later Release

It’s been said that as of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise finally falling under Disney, one can expect that a new film in the series would premiere in December, during the Holiday Season. It held true for The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and even the Rogue One spinoff.

That’s three straight years of a Star Wars movie for Christmas, but 2018 looks to be changing things up. Coming up next from Lucasfilm is another Star Wars Story spinoff in the vein of Rogue One. This is Solo, a prequel detailing the early adventures of a young Han Solo.

Rather than yet another December premiere, Solo is set to arrive in cinemas this coming May. Interestingly, May was the original Star Wars release date back when Lucasfilm was working with 20th Century Fox. That studio has two non-MCU Marvel films premiering before and after Solo, but have changed schedule.

First, The New Mutants that was supposed to release a month before Solo is now a February 2019 premiere, while the other, Deadpool 2, is shifting to open a week before the latest Star Wars installment after being originally scheduled for a week after. Solo however, remains in its place.

This could be a matter of concern, seeing as it’s less than five months away before premiere and we’ve had yet no teaser, much less trailer, of Solo that’s supposed to come out in May. The film has had some directorial trouble, with its original tandem at the helm fired.

Chris Miller and Phil Lord were let go from the project when they were only 85% finished filming. Their replacement, Ron Howard, appears to have lengthened the photography period, fueling concerns that the May release date be moved for later. But even without tangible previews, the premiere schedule remains firm.

While many fans may be worrying over the lack of any new stuff to hype up the coming of Solo, its stubborn May 25 premiere date may be at the insistence of Disney to avoid movie collisions. After all, their sequel film Mary Poppins Returns is set for December itself.

This surprise continuation from the 1964 musical classic starring Julie Andrews – whose role is being taken up by Emily Blunt – does come across as a better film to celebrate the Holidays with, than following the exploits of a galactic smuggler and future Rebel hero. Seen that way, it makes sense.

And while it’s frustrating not to see anything to give us an idea of what Solo will be like, for now we should trust Disney to carry the day. Someday before May, we hope to see Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover as Han and Lando Calrissian on the first trailers.

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.

Suspenseful Visuals Abound in Latest TV Spot for “A Wrinkle in Time”

When talk about Disney movies in 2018 comes to mind, most casual fans would name either the upcoming Star Wars spinoff Solo, or any of the three installments of the MCU like Black Panther this February. But Walt Disney Pictures itself has a movie this year: A Wrinkle in Time.

Based on the 1962 science fantasy book by Madeleine L’Engle, this film is the second live-action treatment by Disney on the novel, following a TV movie aired on ABC in 2003. It follows the adventures of an intelligent girl and her family as they search the universe for their father.

A Wrinkle in Time film is set to premiere in March. To build up hype, considering that the story’s based on an old (if award-winning) book, Disney has released a new 30-second TV spot for the movie online. It takes choice scenes from the first trailer and really ratchets the suspense.

The film stars Storm Reid as Meg Murry, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Deric McCabe, Michael Peña and Zach Galifianakis among others. Ava DuVernay directs the movie based on a screenplay by Tobias A. Schliessler. Catch A Wrinkle in Time on cinemas this March 9.

New Year’s Teaser for “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2” Released by Disney

When Disney released Wreck-It Ralph back in 2012, nobody was sure how well a film involving the secret lives of videogame characters in an arcade would pan out. Thanks however to the impressive animation, great voice cast and licensed game franchises, it became the fourth highest-grossing animated film of the year.

As early as 2016, Disney has been making noise about doing a sequel to Wreck-It Ralph. By the time of the D23 Expo in July last year, the sequel had a name: Ralph Breaks the Internet. They even showed a brief teaser of the film during the event itself.

In what has got to be the most synergetic welcome to the New Year of 2018, Disney released a new teaser for Ralph Breaks the Internet. While the teaser shown in D23 2017 included supposedly actual footage for the in-development movie, this new teaser is all-original animation for the occasion.

All it involves is Ralph, the building-wrecking nice-guy “bad guy” of an 80s arcade game played by John C. Reilly, simply tearing through a white background with “2017” printed on, revealing a fireworks-laden new background with “2018” behind him. The premiere date for the film was also revealed: this Thanksgiving.

Though plot details are still scarce, what is known is that Ralph Breaks the Internet involves Ralph and his fellow game characters will find a way out of their arcade home and into the Net. Only time will tell what wacky adventures and which licensed characters they’ll end up meeting.

The sequel brings together original Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore with the core cast of Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch and Jack McBrayer. It’s also known that some of the Disney Princesses will also appear, reprised by their original voice actresses. Here’re the second (and first) teasers courtesy of Comicbook.com.

Disney Wants Rob Marshall as Director of Live-Action “The Little Mermaid”

We all know about how Disney is putting together a live-action adaptation of their 1994 animated masterpiece The Lion King in time for a 2019 release. That doesn’t mean it’s the only future animation-to-live-action movie they’ve got in the works. A live-action Aladdin is due in that same year too.

And those are only for films that are already in some form of production or other. Take the live-action take on 1989’s The Little Mermaid. It’s labeled as in “early development” but the latest word is that Disney has already made their first directorial approach with veteran filmmaker Rob Marshall.

It makes sense that the studio would start with somebody they worked with before. Marshall has helmed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), Into the Woods (2014), and is currently working on Mary Poppins Returns (2018). He’s also an Oscar nominee courtesy of the Miramax movie Chicago (2002).

 

Disney made no comment on their offer to Marshall regarding directorial duties for The Little Mermaid, but it would make his fourth picture for the House of Mouse if he accepts. Original film composer Alan Menken has also been tapped with Lin-Manuel Miranda to write songs for the live-action remake.