September 29, 2008

Dancing with the Stars: Captain Perspective, The Lift Police, and One Crazy Italian

Geez, is it Monday already? Let's get straight to it. Captain Perspective Len Goodman kicked things off by saying he was fearing the worst but hoping for the best. And with that vote of confidence, off to the dances!

Toni and Alec: Wow, I'm no singer, but let's all please pray that Alec never sings again. Yiiiikes. It was a pretty good rhumba - and YAY Carrie Ann got to take off points for lifts (booo that it wasn't one of Tony's routines). Captain Perspective was surprised it was so good, I was surprised they got through their whole segment without mentioning heart disease once! Hooray!

Brooke and Derek:
Brooke and Derek did a surprisingly classy and elegant paso doble, which I kind of loved. And Brooke is probably the only person who didn't look completely ridiculous in that kind of costume (see Cloris Leachman). I thought at least one of the judges would have pulled out the 9, but no dice.

Rocco and Karina: Go Team Dispirnoff! Could they be any cuter? Love love love them. I don't care what the crazy judges said - I was booing those critiques along with the audience. They're still among my favs. And I didn't think their routine was THAT bad - I actually thought the choreography was really sweet and interesting.

Lance and Lacey: Len hated it, shocking. I thought it was a pretty cool routine, very well danced, and no one was expecting them to suck face at the end. Also, hilarious that they make the gay contestant dance to a song about going gay (or going straight, if you're Lance). DWTS, your subtlety continues to amaze.

Kim and Mark: Wow, awkward. Mark started pep talking her halfway through their routine and she still wouldn't dance. I love how when Kim is getting her critiques she stares blankly and nods at the judges - the lights are on, but there is definitely no one home. I don't buy her whole "I'm not sexy" schtick either, I think she just thinks she's too cool for school. I love you Mark, but y'all need to go home.

Misty-May and Maks: Yay, Maks is being difficult. Misty wants to cry - but she doesn't! A true champ. And their dance was really tough. I thought she did an awesome job, given the circumstances. I think she's going to keep getting better - Maks just needs to finesse her a little.

Maurice and Cheryl: Maurice kind of bores me. The dance was boring. I really agreed with the judges on this one - the whole thing was kind of clunky. I would write more, but I'm falling asleep just thinking about them.

Cloris and Corky: Here comes the oldest contestant in the crazy costume - think Wayne Newton, Jerry Springer, etc. Didn't work for them, doesn't work for Cloris. They're actually getting painful to behold. Although Corky really knows how to work a cape. Arriba!

Susan and Tony: Tony, you are not Maks, ripping your shirt open does not impress me. Captain Perspective is also not impressed. That rhumba was so slow and so sad and didn't match the music at all. Not sure where all the love from the judges was coming from - maybe the producers are trying to keep her on.

Warren and Kym:
So much pleather. Poor Kym - a 300 pound man wearing guyliner fell on top of her! It was a really good dance with lots of cool choreography. Warren is something of a twinkletoes, but word on the street is that the other contestants don't like him. I wonder how long before America catches on.

Cody and Julianne: Cody and Julianne's rehearsal footage is hilarious - love them. And they were AWESOME! I agreed with Carrie-Ann that the dance was totally age-appropriate and innocent. I expect great things from them in the coming weeks.

So who's going home? I'm thinking Kim or Cloris. Can't wait for tomorrow!

September 28, 2008

Disney's Upcoming Slate: The Color of Money

Finally, a post that isn't about Dancing with the Stars. The Mouse House put out some big news this week, which has had the Disney blogosphere all a-twitter. Why am I so late on discussing it, you ask? Let's blame ABC for creating a timesuck of awesome TV - 5 hours of Dancing with the Stars, Ugly Betty premiere, and a 2 hour Grey's Anatomy - and that's on top of all the other shows I watch. So I apologize for being so behind - a girl gets busy, you know?

The biggest news is that onetime Counterculture Poster Boy Johnny Depp has sold the next 5 years of his career to Disney. He's signed on to reprise his role in Pirates of the Caribbean 4, take on the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, as well as a turn as Tonto in Jerry Bruckheimer's The Lone Ranger. Whew! Remember when he only made indies and Oscar fodder?

The Pirates franchise has made over $2.6 billion at the box office thus far, so it's not surprising Disney wants to squeeze some more milk out of this obvious cash cow. I'm curious to see how they're going to do this without making a mess. POTC: At World's End was basically one big special effects-laden plot hole, and what little narrative threads there were got tied up by the end. What would the plot of a fourth installment be? Does it even matter? You, me, and everyone else will be lining up anyway. Sigh.

I really really reeeeeeeally want to be excited about Alice in Wonderland, but I can't stand motion-capture films. If you're going to animate something, fine. If you're going to do live action, fine. Motion capture films are like watching a bad video game. And does it really need to be 3D? When will the studios realize 3D is not going to catch on? We had this conversation back in the 1950s - let's not rehash the past. And it pains me, because Tim Burton + Alice in Wonderland = match in oddball heaven, but whyyyy ruin it with these dumb effects?

And as if Jerry Bruckheimer does not have enough money, here comes The Lone Ranger (cue William Tell Overture). I heard that George Clooney is being shopped around as a possibility for the masked man. George Clooney + Johnny Depp + Bruckheimer? I can hear the cash registers ringing already. Oh, and Bruckheimer is also making National Treasure 3, because one can never have too many #1 hits.

On the animation front, Oprah is joining the cast of The Princess and the Frog (perhaps to deflect some of the obvious racism?), the release date for Cars 2 has been pushed up to 2011 to coincide with the opening of "Cars Land" at Disneyland, and a series of "Cars" short films will start appearing everywhere from the Disney Channel to the movie theatre.

Cars is a huge moneymaker for the studio, so as long as the sequel is done well, I'm a fan. Although with the recent passing of Paul Newman, I have to wonder who will take his place as the Hudson Hornet. I've been hearing really good things about Bolt, which I'm super excited to see, and because I am obsessed with Pixar, I can't wait for Up.

So as you can see, there's lots to look forward to in the next few years. For right now, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's Dancing with the Stars - I'll have the full recap up tomorrow night, so stay tuned!

September 24, 2008

Dancing with the Stars: "One of You is in the Bottom One"

Thank you Tom Bergeron, for that brilliant analysis of the elimination process. The intelligent dialogue - always been one of my favorite things about this show. I must revise my earlier complaining - tonight's results show was only one hour, not two as originally mentioned. But really, would you have put it past them to stretch a results show into a 2 hour extravaganza? DWTS, how you vex me.

So Ted McGinley went home, which was kind of surprising, given that there are way worse people on the show. I guess the "guys sitting watching at home with their beers" are not the voting kind. I think he had potential, if not for improvement, then certainly for Guttenberg-esque moments of dance-inspired giddiness. Mambo McGinley, it was nice while it lasted.

Other news: The Mouse House was in full swing, with appearances by The Disney Channel's Cody Linley (on the show), The Jonas Brothers (performing on the show), and Selena Gomez (in the audience of the show). Joe Jonas gets points for doing some strange line dancing with Derek and Mark, but the Jo Bros lose points overall for performing while tangled in cheap dorm room tube lighting.

And shocking - a decent filler video! Adam Corrolla's "man on the street" bit was actually really funny. News flash: Girls vote for the hot guys! Young'uns don't know who Cloris Leachman is! The average person doesn't know who Adam Corrolla is! Judge Judy is still the best judge of them all!

Up next week: Warren Sapp wants sequins! Maurice Greene wants to dance sexy! (disco shudder) and Cloris Leachman wants a new partner! (let's be honest - Corky is thinking the same thing).

September 23, 2008

Dancing with the Stars: You're Only Allowed One "Free Willy" Per Season

It's night 2 of Dancing with the Stars 6 HOUR premiere (painful), and I'm hoping that order with which the couples were called is an indication of who got the most votes last night, because my two favorite couples were called first:

Lance and Lacey: Seriously, they're so wonderful. And it's only week 1. I have a feeling nothing they do is going to be Len's "cup of tea," but I definitely agree with Bruno that they bring something new to the competition and are thus awesome. They have a really cute chemistry that I think will get them really far.

Misty-May and Maks: I give Misty-May a lot of credit for shaking and shimmying despite not being comfortable with either. Or as Maks said in rehearsal, "You have the most awkward sexy dance I have ever seen." Um, did he ever watch Harry Hamlin's routines? She still has a lot of work to do, but I still think they have a lot of potential. Side note: how many times have we heard "Black Mamba" on this show? Seriously, I think a couple does it every season.

Maurice and Cheryl: Maurice is still obsessed with disco for some reason, and even did the worm (or as Len called it, "the free willy") at one point. He still has these random Carlton moments when he dances, but he's still really likeable, so I'm sure they'll be sticking around.

Brooke and Derek: Whoa, Brooke and Derek improved MILES over last night. If she keeps up, she's going to be a serious contender. And the first 9's so far! Bonus: we got our first ridiculous Bruno cheer of the season - SEN-SA-TION-AL!

Cloris and Corky: Ugh, please. She didn't even dance that last time. This time was even more horrifying. To recap: Cloris shook her boobs at Corky, Corky shook his crotch at Cloris, and they spanked each other. Enough said. And Cloris, please, SHUT UP when the judges are talking.

Toni and Alec: Wow, Alec's partner didn't get voted off first this season. Hooray for improvement. Heart disease, blah blah blah. It wouldn't be DWTS if they didnt have someone whining about some ailment or missing limb. But Toni did a really good job.

Warren and Kym: Warren looked like he was going to murder someone when he started dancing, but eventually loosened up. He's obviously really fun and will be around for awhile - again, good for Kym.

Ted and Inna: To be honest, I sort of forgot they were in the competition. But "Mambo McGinley" is pretty awesome. It's funny how the eager beavers in DWTS, especially the men - think Guttenberg, Hamlin, and Ziering - always end up being stiff and a little awkward.

Cody and Julianne: Haha, Julianne thinks Cody is immature. He probably is, but can she do anything wrong? (No.) Julianne is going to whip him into shape and I think they are one of the more talented couples. Their biggest weakness is that Cody is one of the least famous people on this show, so he doesn't have any built-in fan base to carry the voting. Still, I think they'll eventually win over America.

Rocco and Karina: Rocco's rehearsal footage was so damn cute ("can't I just do something where I'm chopping?"), and he was AWESOME! That was one spicy mambo. I'm so glad they turned it around - love them.

Susan and Tony: Susan still dances all fragile and bird-like, and to be honest, I stopped paying attention halfway through. Awkward how Carrie-Ann and Tony are still having some weird tension over that whole Jane Seymour-lift thing.

Kim and Mark: "Everyone's going to expect this sexy thing, and I'm just not," says the girl who is famous for making a sex tape. And they dance to "I Like Big Butts and I Cannot Lie" - we probably should have seen that coming. It was a whole mess of unfortunate, made more awkward by Bruno's whole asses/assets Freudian slip-accent confusion. Poor Mark - he deserves better.

Which, of course, means Jeffrey Ross and Edyta are out. I feel so bad for Edyta, because she's awesome and deserves to stick around. And why do the producers bother booking comedians on this show? They never last long.

What do you think? Who's going home during tomorrow's 2 hour (so unnecessary) results show?

September 22, 2008

Dancing with the Stars: The One Where Cloris Leachman's Boobs Got More Attention Than Kim Kardashian's.

Ah, the early moments of a Dancing with the Stars season. Rhinestones! Tanning! Celebrations over 8's! New things: Carrie-Ann has a more natural hair color and looked lovely, Bruno wore a sparkly suit and looked like the Mirrorball Trophy. It's good to be home.

Everyone danced for maybe 30 seconds, so this is hardly an accurate gauge of how the season could play out. Still, on with the recaps!

Cody Linley and Julianne Hough: It's tough being the first couple out, and I think they were scored kind of low. They definitely have potential, and they win the Barbie and Ken award for being blonde and cute. I think Cody could do really well in the Latin round.

Rocco DiSpirito and Karina Smirnoff: Well, if nothing else, they're the tannest couple on the show. Karina gets bonus points for dancing on a sprained ankle, but then loses those points for wearing glued-on feathery pants. And as Tom expertly pointed out, I can't remember the last time we saw a 4. But it wasn't the only one of the night!

Toni Braxton and Alec Mazo: Lots of Botox, lots of flailing. Heart disease blah blah blah. Yawn. (Also, did anyone else notice that when the camera panned to Shannon Elizabeth in the audience, she STILL appeared to be on the verge of tears?)

Maurice Greene and Cheryl Burke: Hmm - a foxtrot to "Funky Good Time"? Opening it with awkward disco moves? He does have a certain "Carlton" charm, but I don't know how far that will take him.

Brooke Burke and Derek Hough: Brooke is probably the best looking mother of four, um, ever, but she looks a little awkward. But that's probably also because Derek is so over-flamboyant, so she has a reason to be scared. I bet Shannon Elizabeth burst into tears during this ... tears of jealousy.

Ted McGinley and Inna Brayer: Are Ted and Wayne Newton sharing the same self-tanner? That is one orange man. But he is kind of charming. Not sure how I feel about Inna yet - she reminds me of a poor man's Anya from SYTYCD.

Lance Bass and Lacey Schwimmer: Remember when I said these guys were the ones to beat? Yeah.

Cloris Leachman and Corky Ballas: Cloris shook her boobs at the camera prior to a commercial break. Corky introduced himself by looking creepily at the camera and saying "Who's your daddy?"MAKE IT STOP. I mean, when Len tells an 82 year old to mind her cleavage, you know we've entered the twilight zone. And it's weird. And not funny. Cloris also called Len a bastard and Bruno a shit, both of which are DWTS firsts and were bleeped by ABC. Oh, and in between all this, she stumbled/was dragged around the floor. Call me old-fashioned (pun intended), but I thought this was a DANCING show, not Crazy Granny's Happy Hour.

Jeffrey Ross and Edyta Sliwinska: Poor poor Edyta. Again. She's the Susan Lucci of this show. Oh wait, there already is a Susan Lucci on this show? And haha, Bruno said "tits" (once again, in reference to Cloris - shocking) and ABC was late on the bleeping. Ha.

Kim Kardashian and Mark Balas: In her intro package, Kim threw shopping bags and popped champagne - clearly, we're using the term "Stars" really loosely this season. Kim claims to have terrible balance, perhaps because of that booty? It's amazing she can stand without falling backwards. Kim looked confused through most of this routine, but much less so when Bruno proclaimed her "a treasure trove that needs to be made more available." Riiiight, because THAT's her problem.

Susan Lucci and Tony Dovolani: Ah Tony, how I missed your freakishly white teeth. This number was actually kind of painful - she's so tiny and seemed so nervous and lost. I have a feeling Susan Lucci will be the Susan Lucci of this season.

Misty-May Treanor and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: MAKS IS BACK WOOO! For a girl who goes to work in bare feet and no makeup, Misty-May cleans up goooood. The routine wasn't bad, and she does dance kind of mannish - but I really want to see her succeed, and I hope Maks can bring out her softer side.

Warren Sapp and Kym Johnson: Warren is kind of awesome, even though Kym almost ate the floor because he threw her so hard. It's about time the producers gave Ms Johnson a fighting chance at this thing. Expect good things from them.

So - who's going home? I'm thinking Jeffrey Ross or, if America has any sense, Cloris. What do you guys think?

September 20, 2008

Our Next Disney Vacation - Let the Planning Begin!

I met up with the Disney Chicklette and the Disney Hen today for some family bonding - unfortunately for the Disney Hen's wallet, we chose to bond in a mall. During an afternoon snack at The Rainforest Cafe, we began chatting about our next WDW vacation. We choose to brave the heat and visit the parks in the summertime - I swear, the sun hasn't melted our brains, summer is the best time to go - I'll tell you why in an upcoming post.

But just chatting about the trip made me sooo excited! Here's what I'm already looking forward to, even though the trip is 10 months away:

1. Dinner at Jiko - For all you haters who think there can't be great food at a place like WDW, you are so very, very wrong. Jiko is hands down one of the top 5 best restaurants I've ever eaten at. And I live in New York City, so that's saying something.

2. The Tomorrowland Transit Authority - Seriously, the TTA is my favorite ride in WDW. I know, I'm a huge geek. Must ... restore ... coolness ...

3. Rock 'n' Roller Coaster - ...there we go. Phew.

4. Wilderness Back Trail Adventure Segway Tour - The family and I did the Around the World at EPCOT tour a few trips ago, and it was a BLAST. We still laugh about it to this day. So the idea of segways and offroading is too amazing to resist.

5. Those Mickey Mouse chocolate-dipped rice krispie treats - We snag them on our way back to the room at night for a quick before-bed snack. (I know, I know - sugar before bed? Trust me, after walking around for 12 hours in the heat, a caffeine IV wouldn't keep us awake. After one particularly long day, The Disney Chicklette fell asleep on the shuttle bus while standing up. When the parks close down, so do we.)

These are only a very modest start to the things I'm looking forward to. But our trip is almost a year away, so I need to pace myself. And if you have any must-sees, please let us know!

September 18, 2008

Disney Invites You to Celebrate Today!

The blogosphere is buzzing about Celebrate Today!, Disney's new initiative to get people into the parks to start, uh, celebrating! The idea is that visiting the Disney parks is more about creating lifelong memories for your family, which speaking as a publicist, is a pretty good hook. Times are tough, gas prices suck, and for most families, vacations don't come cheap. And a Disney vacation certainly isn't cheap. So why not make it a momentous occasion?

The intro video to the site tells you "Life's special moments are worth celebrating." That may be true, but let's be honest, not every special moment is worth celebrating with a trip to DisneyWorld. I just recently learned how to make decent pasta but that doesn't really warrant a celebratory vacation. On the plus side, you do get free admission on your birthday, which is awesome and apparently designed to attract Florida residents or parents with triplets. Personally, if these Disney Chicks are going to spend our cold hard cash on plane tickets, hotels, and a rental car, we'll need more than a one-day admission ticket to entice us. After we've spent several hundred dollars, is one measly $80 freebie really enough? Throw in a free dinner at Jiko and I'll think about it.

I think it's about time Disney moved on from the Year of a Million Dreams schtick (seriously - it had been what? 7 years?), but I wish it was something ... more relevant to me? Not that the Year of a Million Dreams ever affected me - The Disney Chicklette and I bent over backwards trying to get a Magical Moment bestowed upon us, to no avail. I blame our family's lack of a cute little kid.

And to borrow some logic from The Incredibles, if every day is a special celebration, then is any celebration actually special? Do I want to celebrate my birthday at the Magic Kingdom if 10% of the park is doing the same thing?

I don't mean to naysay - I'm sure Celebrate Today! will do very well with local visitors, and the program is a really cute idea, but I think Disney needs to work harder to attract visitors for whom the parks are an actual vacation. Increasing tourism in a floundering economy? Now THAT would be worth celebrating.

September 17, 2008

Disney Vacation Club: A Family Glamping Trip? No Thanks.

The Disney Vacation Club made some interesting announcements today:

1. The 15-story Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort will join the Disney Vacation Club properties in fall 2009.
2. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa is adding a new type of room category in summer 2009 - Treehouse Villas!

I can't really speak much to the changes at the Contemporary Resort because I've never stayed there and have only been inside a few times (not counting the view from the monorail, of course), but the Saratoga Springs Resort is our DVC "home" property, so let me just say ... huh? Please, Imagineers, explain this!

“I was lucky enough to have a treehouse as a kid, but it was certainly nothing like this,” said Imagineer Todd Thomasson. “In developing this resort, we’ve all learned a new word, ‘glamping,’ which apparently means glamorous camping. The Treehouse Villas will be glamping at its absolute best.”

GLAMPING? WTF IS GLAMPING? Have they seen the Saratoga Springs Resort? It's all tropical colored and not camping themed. It's not even all that "glam," so I have no idea where this concept of "glamping" is coming from. Not to mention that Saratoga Springs itself is best known for mineral water, horse racing, and Revolutionary War battles. Wouldn't this treehouse idea be better off at, I dunno, the Wilderness Lodge?

Now, lest you think I'm such a princess that I can't sleep in a treehouse - I once planned a family trip that centered completely around being able to stay in a treehouse. In BELIZE. You know, where you would see monkeys and parrots in the treetops. And also:

THAT IS NOT A TREEHOUSE. Treehouse = house in trees. That is a house on stilts. And not even stilts close to the treetops. And you are way more likely to see geckos and cranes than blue jays and cardinals. The resort is still in Florida, right?

Each villa sleeps 9 people, has cathedral ceilings, flat-screen TVs, and presumably indoor plumbing. Just like the treehouse you had as a kid - but GLAM.

What do you think? Has anyone seen these things yet? Send details and pics!

September 15, 2008

How Green is My Disney?

The Disney Chicklette and I visited the US Open a few weeks ago, and I was amazed to see that they were charging $4.75 for a bottle of water. Ridiculous by anyone's standards. But the silver lining was that the grounds were packed with bins for you to recycle those water bottles. Great idea, right? So why hasn't Disney jumped on this bandwagon?

It's estimated that 17 million people visited the Magic Kingdom last year. That's roughly 46,575 people per day. And let's say that the average person drinks 2 bottles of water on a full, 10 hour day in the park. That's 93,150 bottles of water that are being wasted PER DAY. 34 million bottles the Magic Kingdom sends to the landfill each year. That's over 2 metric tons of waste just from water bottle purchases in ONE park. And keep in mind it takes 450 years for a plastic bottle to decompose. With numbers like those, Disney should be bending over backwards to provide bins for recycling.

Disney does a decent job of keeping things environmentally friendly where they can. They recently partnered with the Department of Energy to create a series of Tinkerbell ads teaching kids about conserving energy. And since its inception in 1995, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has supported 650 projects devoted to the study and protection of our planet's ecosystems. But then why remove the glassware from the DVC studio homes and replace it with paper plates and plastic flatware? Seems a bit backwards to me - I think the DVC needs to sign up for Crunchy Domestic Goddess's Ditch the Disposables Challenge.

I think the thing to keep in mind here is that being green doesn't just fall under Disney's umbrella of corporate responsibility, but it's a challenge that should be issued to all park visitors. I doubt that many visitors will complain about having to throw away their plastics into a seperate trash can. I personally wouldn't be offended if there was a sign in the hotel bathroom encouraging me to take a shorter shower to conserve water. And really, I don't care if I have to wash out my dishes in our DVC suite. Isn't that the whole point? DVC is your home away from home? Guess what - I have real glasses at home and I wash those too.

What do you guys think? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments below!

September 14, 2008

Disney and Racism

I've heard plenty of debate over the years about the presence of racist stereotypes in Disney animation. And I always kind of brushed it off as an overreaction, because come on - I watched all those films over and over as a kid - if there was any racist content, surely I would remember it? And it's DISNEY, for pete's sake, they wouldn't put any offending content in their films, right?

Then I saw this - and my mind was blown. It's a list of the 9 most racist Disney characters, and it was definitely an eye-opener for me. Most of the characters on this list were created in the 1940s, so I suppose the argument could be made that they were released well before political correctness and the civil rights movement, but then don't make an e-ticket ride featuring the characters from Song of the South! Am I the only one who gets a little uncomfortable when those animatronic animals start talking? Was there no better movie to base a flume ride around? The other Magic Kingdom "mountains" aren't branded, so why even invite the criticism? Plantation stories and waterfalls are a match made in zip-e-dee-do-dah heaven, no?

So I was more than a little dismayed to see the trailer for 2009's The Princess and the Frog. I think it's safe to say there's going to be a #10 on that list:


September 10, 2008

Moving Forward, Sometimes Too Much

The Disney Blog has a great post up about the opening of Horizons at EPCOT 25 years ago, complete with this amazing tribute video:

Horizons and I are the same age - yikes. I do remember the ride from many WDW visits during my childhood, and it's amazing to me how much of this has come to pass. Video conferencing? Check. Underwater buildings? Check. Environmental manipulation? Check. If the song had a line saying "People will tweet on computers," I think my head would have just exploded.

Even though Walt wasn't around for the opening of Horizons, I think this ride more than any other at EPCOT served as a tribute to his visionary thinking. More than anything, Walt wanted to build a better tomorrow, and although EPCOT became a heavily scaled-down version of that dream, Horizons always seemed to serve as EPCOT's statement of purpose. I was kind of sad to see it go. Just hearing the goofy song again makes me nostalgic.

But Horizons was a symbol of EPCOT's past, and as progress demands, was shut down to make way for Mission: SPACE, which - don't get me wrong, it's a fun ride - but is all too symbolic of the flash-in-the-pan whizz-bang attractions that now populate the park. Granted, these newer attractions like Test Track and Mission: SPACE were installed to get rid of EPCOT's stigma of being "the boring park." And while Mission: SPACE and Soarin' fit into the park's overall mission pretty well**, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief when Disney finally took the Mickey glove off Spaceship Earth. Because you don't mess with a classic. I still die a little bit inside when I ride the "new and improved" version of Journey Into Imagination. So I dug this up:

Sigh. It's just not the same anymore.

I wonder what changes are ahead for The Life pavillion, which was stocked with some of my favorite classic EPCOT attractions (Cranium Command, anyone?). It'll probably get turned into some upside-down roller coaster that takes riders through the human circulatory system. Which would be awesome, for sure, and definitely not "boring." Personally, I always loved the 80's hokey charm of the park. But who am I to stand in the way of progress?

**I've always had reservations about the message behind Test Track. Is it weird to go into The Land and learn all about the importance of respecting the Earth and the value of organic products and then ride a GM-sponsored tribute to cars, gas, and motors? And not even futuristic cars! Would Test Track be less fun if you rode in hybrids? Experimental Prototype Community of Conflicting Messaging.

September 9, 2008

The Best Show You Can't Watch

Back in 2000, The Disney Channel released Even Stevens, a family sitcom that was smart, funny, and subversive way beyond other kids' programming. The show centered around siblings Ren and Louis Stevens and their exploits in junior high. It featured some of the strangest named characters on television (Tawny, Twitty, and the unfortunately monikered Coach Tugnut are just a few), and was a constant staple during awards season, even winning the 2002 BAFTA Children's Award for Best International Programming.

Even Stevens was truly a show the whole family could enjoy - kids could easily relate to the plotlines, and adults could appreciate the ever-present pop culture references (one episode was a spoof of This is Spinal Tap). It was on after the Disney Channel's other major hit show, Lizzie McGuire, and the two programs back-to-back were must see DC TV.

Here's the problem: Lizzie McGuire is available on DVD. Even Stevens is not.

Surely, there is money to be made off of Even Stevens DVD sales. Shia LaBeouf has since become a huge star, and Disney has released far less popular things on DVD before. And with the rate at which they are cranking out DVDs of Hannah Montana and The Suite Life of Zach and Cody that only have a few episodes on them yet retail for $14.99, I don't think one measly Even Stevens series box set is too much to ask. They don't even play reruns in the wee hours of the mornings anymore. Disney should be celebrating this series that launched Shia's career and gave the station the kind of street cred it needed to launch even more successful shows like Hannah Montana.

So please, Disney, make the holiday season a little brighter and release Even Stevens on DVD. Until then, I leave you with this:

September 6, 2008

Dust Off Your Dancing Shoes ...

Dancing with the Stars is back! Well, almost. But that doesn't stop me from getting all excited. In 2 weeks, another crop of celebrities will take to the ballroom to battle it out for the most useless prize of all time, The Mirrorball Trophy. Along the way, careers will be resuscitated, pounds will be shed, someone will likely fall/wardrobe malfunction/faint, and Drew Lachey will probably make an appearence.

Despite it's over-the-top cheesiness, Dancing with the Stars is one of my favorite shows, and I'll be recapping the seventh season performances here each week. But the show doesn't start until September 22 (16 days eeee!), and I can't contain myself, so here's my take on this year's lineup:

Lance Bass and Lacey Schimmer: Lance's profile on lists his profession as "pop star, astronaut." Does declaring your intent to go into space make you an astronaut? Does that mean that saying I want to become a professional ice skater means they should save me a spot on the podium in Vancouver?

In all seriousness, these guys have a shot. Lance is pretty much a dorkier version of fellow N'Syncer Joey Fatone, so we can expect the much of the same train of hamminess that Joey rode all the way to second place. Lance is also the first openly gay contestant, so hopefully that won't be an issue with the voters, but I'm sure he's going to be under extra scrutiny during those sexy Latin numbers. And Bruno will probably say something ridiculous about it at some point
("Eeet ees about acting! Zee illusion you must create!"). BUT: Lance has a huge advantage with partner Lacey Schwimmer, a first-time Dancing with the Stars professional but a 4th place finisher on the third season of So You Think You Can Dance. Lacey's going to bring her own fan base to the show, plus she's young, fun, and has a great dancing style.

Check her out in action:

Toni Braxton and Alec Mazo: Toni could potentially be good in the Latin numbers, not sure how she'll handle the traditional dances, but Kelly Monaco notwithstanding, Alec's partners have a track record of going home early. I wouldn't put money on them.

Brooke Burke and Derek Hough: Like past contender Jennie Garth, Brooke Burke is pretty! And a mom! And is on TV! And has Derek Hough as her partner! And will look hot in those costumes and inspire Bruno to yell silly things! (Although, is anything going to be better than the "SEXY! 10!" that Jennie got?). Derek's a good choreographer who can make her look good, and at least Brooke won't be as weepy as Shannon Elizabeth.

Rocco DiSpirito and Karina Smirnoff: I met Rocco recently, and he's one charming guy. Cute, too. Expect Carrie Ann to fall all over herself before telling him to keep his shoulders down. Karina is one tough cookie, and Rocco has a history of temper-flaring, so at the very least, these two will generate some amazing rehearsal footage. But if Karina can whip him into shape, they'll be a couple to watch.

Maurice Greene and Cheryl Burke: Maurice is an Olympic champion sprinter, but Cheryl's star has definitely faded. Athletes always have the advantage on DWTS, and while I'm not sure how great of a dancer he'll make, but you can count on lots of backless dresses and hair flips from Cheryl. I think the 2 other athletes in this season can knock them out early.

Kim Kardashian and Mark Ballas: I feel bad for Mark here, because i love love LOVE him, but there is no way in hell I'm voting for these guys. And my guess is no one else will either, (unless legions of straight men start watching) because Kim is so completely and utterly unlikeable. She'll probably make a decent dancer, but she's most famous for making a sex tape and teaching her little sister how to use a stripper pole. It's going to be Sabrina-gate all over again. At least Mark has last year's Mirrorball trophy to console him.

Cloris Leachman and Corky Ballas: Is this a joke? I'm all for not letting age get the better of you, but come on. The woman is 82! Is it really fair to put her in a competition against a 19 year old? Against Olympic athletes? And since the judges will have to judge her as they would everyone else, how is she expected to do the same jumps, leaps, and spins across the floor? What happens on samba night? On the plus side, I'm curious to see what Mark's dad is like.

Cody Linley and Julianne Hough: Julianne has an amazing track record on this show, as well as the ability to always outshine her partner. I don't know if there's a more likeable person on television (except maybe Cat Deeley), so they're bound to go far. Cody's one of the least famous people in this year's bunch, but here's what you need to know: he's 19, cute, and will undoubtedly be head over heels in love with Julianne. Can't wait to see them do the Latin round!

Susan Lucci and Tony Dovolani: "Can a woman who's made her career on losing become our biggest winner yet?" Expect this and more bad lines throughout the season. I think she and Tony will do well and probably make it halfway through. The judges always love a classy lady - Kim Kardashian, I'm talking to YOU.

Misty-May Treanor and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: You've just won back to back Olympic gold medals, so what is your life missing? Why, the Mirrorball trophy of course! I'm sooo glad Maks is back this season, and I'm hoping Misty-May is more Laila Ali than Monica Seles. Maks is a really great teacher and choreographer, so I think their success will come down to how naturally graceful Misty-May is.

Ted McGinley and Inna Brayer: I'll be honest, I don't know much about either of these guys except Ted is an actor and Inna is new to the show. Pass.

Jeff Ross and Edyta Sliwinska: Apparently, DWTS didn't have enough of Adam Corrolla, so here comes crass comedian Jeff Ross. It's safe to say Edyta's not going to be in the finals this year.

Warren Sapp and Kym Johnson: Every football player on DWTS has either come in first or second place. That's a pretty tall order for Warren, but I wouldn't count him out. Kym is very good at hiding her partner's weaknesses, and the producers owe her one after saddling her with Penn Jillette last season. I'd keep an eye on them.

Overall, I'd say the early edge goes to Lance/Lacey and Cody/Julianne. But DWTS is always anyone's game, thanks to live TV and unpredictable voting. Who do you think will be this year's champion? Hit me with your predictions in the comments below!

Greetings and Salutations!

Welcome to the first post of The Disney Chick - thanks for visiting. I've wanted to start a blog for some time now, but the question was always what it's focus would be - and then I realized I can only write about that which I know best. And that's Disney.

I guess you could say I was raised on the Mouse. I grew up watching all the classic Disney animated films, begged for an upgraded cable package when The Disney Channel was introduced in the 80's (to no avail, I might add), then became glued to the TV set when it became part of the basic cable package in 1996. I've been to Walt Disney World countless times with my sister, The Disney Chicklette, and our lovely mother (let's just call her The Disney Hen).

Fast forward to present day: The Disney Chicks are now proud DVC members who still visit WDW every other year or so, this Chick still watches The Disney Channel, along with most of ABC's primetime programming, and I'm still first in line whenever Disney releases a new movie (is it too early to buy tickets to High School Musical 3?).

Thus, this blog will be filled with news and general musings on all things Disney-related. Call me a nerd - you definitely wouldn't be wrong - but I'd prefer to be called The Disney Chick :)