Classic Disney Toons to Big Screen?

In an interview with Daily Variety, Pixar principal John Lasseter said that the studio is dedicated to creating more original short films, but would also like to release classic Disney cartoons as preludes to animated features shown in theaters. Lasseter hasn’t said which titles he’d like to see back up on the big screen, but the sentiment is in keeping with his reported desire to bring Disney back to it roots and thrust 2D back into the spotlight.

Disney has kept the hand-drawn fires burning to some degree with animated shorts. The most recent of these is Roger Allers’ The Little MatchGirl. Adapoted from a Hans Christian Andersen tale, the film is one of five nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Best Animated Short. Also up for the award is Pixar’s Lifted, director Gary Rydstrom’s 3D look at how an alien learns the art of abducting a human.

Lasseter told the trade that while there’s no real market for animated shorts, the medium serves as a great training ground for new talent and gives audiences more bang for their buck. “With every Pixar film, we want a short in front of it,” he says. “We want to overdeliver."

With every new movie, Pixar builds on techniques it first developed with the 1986 short film Luxo Jr. Like the Oscar-winning 1997 short Geri’s Game, which pushed the envelope with skin textures and cloth simulation, Pixar’s mini films continue to offer a venue for experimentation and advancement of techniques. Considering rumors about Lasseter’s intentions with Walt Disney Feature Animation, we could likewise see 2D shorts ushering in a new era of hand-drawn features at the Mouse House.


Disney reveals date for Cars and Pirates on Blu-ray

As long as Disney has been supporting Blu-ray, fans everywhere have wondered; where is Cars and Pirates of the Caribbean? Many have even doubted Disney's commitment to the format as a result. There were rumors that Disney was only waiting for the whole BDJ mess to get worked out, either way the wait is over. Well it's almost over and at least we have dates for both Pirates movies and Cars. The Curse of the Black Pearl and Dead Man's chest will both be timed with the theatrical release of the 3rd Pirates movie on May 22nd, Cars will follow shortly after on June 5th. This is good news for fans, but unfortunately no other details are available.


Il Mulino New York Opens At Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

Il Mulino New York is pleased to announce its newest restaurant at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida, set to open early 2007. The acclaimed Il Mulino New York will offer its signature, superior dining experience in a more relaxed and vibrant setting at the Walt Disney World® Resort. Features such as Piatti per il Tavolo (family-style dining) and wood-fired pizzas complement Il Mulino New York’s family-friendly Orlando locale in a setting reminiscent of old-world bistro charm.

The menu at will consist of fish, chicken, fresh pastas and meats, characterized by rustic and hearty blends of seasonal ingredients drawn from the Abruzzi region of Italy. Signature items will include Gamberi al Mulino (jumbo shrimp with Il Mulino spicy cocktail sauce); Gnocchi Bolognese (potato dumplings with meat sauce); Pollo Fra Diavolo (boneless chicken in a spicy red sauce) and Branzino (seared sea bass, cooked with cherry tomatoes, garlic, pancetta, and white wine). The Abruzzese-inspired menu will change seasonally and be enhanced with daily specials and a selection of desserts.

All meals, which are presented by the apron-clad wait staff, begin with a complimentary antipasti tasting of sliced Cacciatorini sausage, sautéed marinated eggplant, garlic bread and a selection of foccacia and white and whole grain Italian loaves. A wine list including over 250 selections of Italian varietals that compliment the cuisine will also be offered. For a pre- or post-dinner cocktail, Il Mulino New York will feature a lounge with vibrant music and light fare.

Il Mulino New York brings full circle the world-class dining options available at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. The Orlando location offers a large kitchen and wine display upon entry. A softly illuminated wine bar with private outside terrace looks out onto an enclosed landscaped courtyard and fountain, and plush seating below a cloud of sparkling lights invites guests to sit and linger while sampling fine wines before or after dinner. The design juxtaposes fresh contemporary furnishings, materials and sleek glass partitions and custom lighting against the rustic textures of exposed brick, raw concrete, and wood floors to create a sophisticated Italian setting that one might discover on the outskirts of Rome.

Il Mulino New York boasts over 220 seats, and is available to be taken over for large private functions. Numerous intimate dining rooms will be offered for special occasions or smaller group events. Open seven days a week, dinner will be served from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., with the lounge serving up cocktails from 3:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. All major credit cards will be accepted.

For information and reservations, visit or call 407-934-1199.

In the heart of the Walt Disney World® Resort, the award-winning Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is the gateway to Central Florida's greatest theme parks and attractions. Guests will discover magical surroundings, superior service, luxurious facilities and guest rooms featuring the Heavenly Bed®. Enjoy 17 incredible restaurants and lounges, the new Mandara Spa, five pools, two health clubs, tennis, nearby golf and many Disney benefits, including transportation to all Walt Disney World Theme Parks and Attractions. Guests also enjoy the Extra Magic Hours benefit, where each day, one of the four Disney Theme Parks opens an hour early or stays open up to three extra hours later so guests can enjoy select attractions. Valid Theme Park ticket and Resort I.D. required. The resort can be reached at 800-227-1500 or

Il Mulino New York first opened in New York’s Greenwich Village 25 years ago. They have expanded their efforts and have opened outposts of this original concept in Long Island New York, Tokyo, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami, and Puerto Rico. The location in Washington D.C. is coming in early -2007.


Toy Story could be the next big ride at Disney-MGM Studios

Toy Story Mania, Midway Mania, Toy Story's Midway Mania — whatever the name of Disney-MGM Studios' next big ride, Walt Disney World may be having trouble containing details long enough to hold a big announcement scheduled for next week.

Even Disney World's parent company, the Walt Disney Co., may be leaking details. Wednesday night the corporation posted the glossy version of its annual report on the Internet, and it included an unidentified artist's rendering of a ride called "Toy Story Mania."

At Disney-MGM Studios, a new ride is under construction that unofficial Disney sources have described as having a similar name and look to the one in the picture. The sources told the Sentinel a ride called "Midway Mania" is going into the building that housed the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire — Play It!" game. It is supposed to be similar in concept to Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin at Magic Kingdom and Men in Black at Universal Studios.

Those rides take people in tracked cars through a maze of indoor scenes with robotic characters and special effects, and let them interact with weapons and other features. For months, independent, Disney-oriented Internet blogs and message boards have weighed in, saying the ride would be based on the Toy Story movies.

The ride's actual name may be "Toy Story's Midway Mania," one Disney source told the Sentinel.

The annual report's "Toy Story Mania" picture shows cars with pairs of seats facing in opposite directions, moving through a Toy Story scene, while riders wearing what appear to be 3-D glasses drive and shoot.

But the Disney-MGM Studios ride under construction has been a secret venture that Disney officials have never publicly acknowledged, and on Thursday no one at Disney was willing to confirm or deny the picture's relevance.

They pointed to Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger's letter to shareholders in the annual report. He wrote, "What you are about to see is conceptual artwork of projects we are building, developing or still just dreaming about. Some will be open soon, some may never be built."

Other pictures in the report included renderings of a possible theme park and possible rides in other parks.

"And if any of the blue-sky concepts that are shown in the annual report do become reality," said California-based spokesman Donn Walker, "we will let you know at the appropriate time."


Disney’s Little Mermaid Getting Ready For Broadway

Disney Theatrical announced that this will be the final year for "Beauty and the Beast". The show will be closing on July 29, 2007, making way for Disney's "The Little Mermaid" to take its place. "Beauty and the Beast" will have run for 5,464 shows since 1994, making it the sixth longest running show in Broadway history. "The Little Mermaid" will begin previews on November 3.

While Disney currently has "Tarzan", "Mary Poppins", and "Lion King" on Broadway, it was felt that "The Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and the Beast" were too similar in "princess" theme to keep both running at the same time. "The shows right now don't really cannibalize each other," Thomas Schumacher, the president of Disney Theatrical, said. "But two fairy tales in the kind princess-y realm, that's a lot. I think it's reasonable to think one thing comes to its natural conclusion."


"The Little Mermaid" will play in Denver from July 26 – September 9. The book for this play will be written by Doug Wright, and 9 new songs will be composed by Glenn Slater and Alan Menken. The Director for "Mermaid" will be Francesca Zambello, the choreographer will be Stephen Mere, and the scenic designer will be George Tsypin.

Sales will likely boost due to the early closing announcement. Thomas Schumacher jokingly added that if people miss the performance, not to worry, shows can return before you know it. "Les Miserables" made a comeback less than four years after it was closed.


Dali’s Disney film to screen at Tate Modern

Sixty years after its creation, a short animated film featuring the art of Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali will get its British debut.

Destino, a six-minute animated cartoon, will be screened at the Tate Modern gallery in London from June 1 to Sept. 9 as part of the exhibition Dali & Film.

The film was supposed to be a collaboration with Disney, but the project was abandoned when funding dried up, and it dropped out of sight.

Walt Disney's nephew Roy and a team of 25 animators resurrected the project in 2003 and their efforts earned them an Academy Award nomination for the completed version.

The film has previously screened in the U.S., France and Australia.

The film features images of a woman dancing through surreal scenes inspired by some of Dali's most iconic images. It was reconstructed from more than 100 story boards and paintings made by the artist.

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Having made Fantasia in 1940, Disney sought out Dali in an effort to raise animation to the status of high art.

Dali worked on the film for nine months in 1945 and 1946 before funding ran out as Disney turned his attention elsewhere.

Dali's love of cinema led him to make two short films with fellow Spaniard Luis Bunuel, Un Chien Andalou and L'Age d'Or.

Both will be screened at the exhibition, alongside the surreal dream sequence Dali created for Alfred Hitchcock's 1945 thriller Spellbound.

Dali is best-known for his hand-painted dream art. The images of melting clocks, elephants on stilts and human chests of drawers have become iconic.


Walt Disney Hits New 52-Week High

Media conglomerate Walt Disney Co., which operates television networks, theme parks, and a film studio, hit a new 52-week high on Friday.

Shares added 7 cents to $35.06 in afternoon trading after earlier in the day hitting a new 52-week high of $35.16 on the New York Stock Exchange. Previously, the stock traded in a 52-week range between $24.90 to $35.03, and is up 36 percent in the same period.

Credit Suisse analyst William B. Drewry in a client note dated Thursday reiterated an "Outperform" rating on the stock.

The analyst noted that Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger earlier this week gave a keynote address at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and emphasized the company's focus on technology, including online partnerships and online content distribution.

Disney has guided for $700 million in revenue from advertising and digital downloads in 2007, the analyst noted.

"We believe there could be potential upside given Disney's slate of high quality content and increased adoption of new technologies in consumer electronics," wrote Drewry.


Disney Paid Iger $22 Million in 2006

CES-Disney to launch more massively multiplayer games

Walt Disney Co. (DIS.N: QuoteProfile , Research) sees launching more online so-called massively multiplayer games as part of a strategy to entertain kids wherever they go, Chief Executive Bob Iger said on Monday.

Disney, whose Mickey Mouse brand is a household name around the world, aims to reach a new generation of kids and young adults who are as likely to be clutching digital music players and watching online videos as sitting in front of the television.

"We plan to build more virtual worlds like "Pirates" based on a broad range of our properties," Iger told attendees of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, referring to a Web game based on its "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.


"You can imagine living in Buzz and Woody's toy universe," he added, recalling Disney Pixar's computer animated hit feature film "Toy Story".

Thousands of people can play on the Web at once in massively multiplayer online games, or MMOs, which essentially never end. Popularized by games such as "Ultima Online", many are based on medieval or science-fiction themes that attract male players.

But in recent years, virtual worlds such as Second Life, where big corporations including Dell Inc. (DELL.O: QuoteProfile , Research) and Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD.O: QuoteProfile , Research) have built virtual businesses, have attracted a broader and older audience.


General Motors Opens Interactive “Fuel For Thought” Exhibit at Walt Disney World Resort’s Epcot®

General Motors will bring the wonder of fuel cell technology, hybrid vehicles and ethanol-powered cars and trucks to life with the newly opened “Fuel For Thought” display at Walt Disney World Resort’s Epcot® theme park near Orlando, Florida. The exhibit features unique, interactive components to provide edutainment for visitors of all ages about advanced automotive technology and the road to a greener future.


“Epcot® is an amazing imaginative theme park,” said Betsy Lazar, executive director of advertising and media operations for General Motors. “With the addition of ‘Fuel For Thought,’ visitors will now have an opportunity to explore innovative aspects and applications of automotive technology through a fun-filled experience.”


“Fuel For Thought” is comprised of interactive kiosks and games, a special floor projection, plasma wall elements, bright graphics and messaging, vehicle displays with information conveyed through lighting and video, and live narrated presentations.


The walk through “Fuel For Thought” begins down a pathway designed with brilliant graphics and a plasma wall with an expansive photo of a cornfield. As visitors pass by, they will see the cornstalks parting in a wavelike fashion. The opposite wall is dotted with porthole-like windows that provide an introduction to different GM environmental activities throughout the world.


The yellow pathway leads up to the exhibit’s open bi-level space filled with a variety of activities to enjoy.


Five touch-screen games are stationed in the backside of the porthole-like windows, including a trivia game about hybrid technology, a Stalk Car racing game, and a memory game where one matches the photos from a fuel cell marathon.


Three free-standing kiosks have numerous buttons, dials, video screens, lighting effects, factoids and more for interactive learning about fuel cells, hybrids and E85. The kiosks provide learnings such as how a hydrogen atom is used ultimately in a fuel cell stack to create energy and eventually exhaust made of water.


The main exhibit space floor is highlighted by a giant projected circular graphic controlled by motion sensors. At one point the circle appears to hold corn kernels and as someone walks across it, the kernels pop into popcorn while E85 messages traverse the area. The themed graphic also presents an electricity show while emphasizing hybrid technology and a pool of water is at the forefront when fuel cell messages are shared.


An actual FlexFuel E85 compatible vehicle is housed on the main floor for visitors to climb in and out of, while one wall houses a Chevy Tahoe chassis that demonstrates through vibrant lighting effects how a two-mode hybrid works.


Upon exiting “Fuel For Thought,” the future of the automotive industry is expanded upon with a display featuring the AUTOnomy. The AUTOnomy, first introduced at the North American International Auto Show in January 2002, marked a bold push from GM to reinvent the automobile. The world’s first vehicle designed from the ground up around a fuel cell propulsion system is viewable in a display surrounded by extensive graphics and looping video to watch, and features a live presentation narrator four times per hour.


“Epcot® is a place of endless possibilities for adults and children, and ‘Fuel For Thought’ provides a fun, interactive experience that shows the endless creativity of the General Motors team,” said Brad Rex, vice president of Epcot®. “We share GM’s passion for preserving our environment and are thrilled with this wonderful addition to Epcot®.”


The “Fuel For Thought” exhibit is easily accessed upon exiting the thrill ride “Test Track presented by General Motors” in the park’s “Future World” section. Theme park admission is required to experience “Fuel For Thought.”


General Motors has been an active partner at Epcot® (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) since the theme park opened its doors October 1, 1982. Epcot® was the second theme park built at the Walt Disney World Resort.


The first thrill attraction at Epcot® – “Test Track presented by General Motors” – was added on March 17, 1999. Test Track takes riders through the hair-raising world of auto testing on one of the longest, fastest attractions in Disney history. The ride races up a bumpy terrain, roars around hair-pin turns, travels through freezing cold chambers, and rushes onto 50-degree banked curves at 60 miles an hour. “Fuel For Thought” is the most extensive interactive exhibit attached to “Test Track presented by General Motors” to date.


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