It is one of those experiences you tell your grand kids about. The time when you were in the same room as the legends who made the magic happen. I’ve had the fortune to attend a few panels over the years that included Imagineers who worked along side Walt Disney himself, to create the magic of the Disney Parks. The final day of the 2013 D23 Expo had a full slate of Imagineering panels, and it was all kicked off by a panel titled “Working with Walt.” No further explanation was needed to get me and thousands of other fans to wake up early and line up for this one.
The panel was hosted by Marty Sklar and he was joined on stage by X Atencio, Alice Davis and Bob Gurr. Throughout the panel, they were asked various questions about becoming an Imagineer, their first meeting with Walt and other personal encounters with the man. Very quickly, a few things became evident. Just the process of remembering their times with WED (WDI) and Walt Disney make them light up like Spectromagic. You can tell they had such joy creating everything that brings the guests joy. There is no need to tell you what age these legends must be today, but as they sat up there on stage, their memories of Walt were as fresh as what they ate for breakfast that day. The other thing that was apparent, is they love to share these memories with all of us. So here are a few that stood out to me.
Bob Gurr (whose credits include more than 100 designs for attractions ranging from Autopia and Matterhorn Bobsleds to the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Monorails. As he’s often quipped, “If it moves on wheels at Disneyland, I probably designed it.”) told of his first encounter with Walt Disney. In October of 1964, as he was working on sketches for the new Autopia attraction, he was invited over to the back lot to take a look at the chassis of a car. As he was there, he recalled “this guy walks up. Unshaven. Looked a little on the ratty side. Had on a Roy Rogers belt with little silver bullets painted in it. And a funny little short tie with a funny little symbol on it. And he was just talking away, and then walked off. And as he walked off everybody said okay, see ya Walt. And I thought, oh my God, that’s Walt Disney. Saturday morning, unshaven… I thought that was the father of one of the night guards!”
Alice Davis (whose credits include designing and dressing animated figures for It’s a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean) recounted her first encounter with Walt when she was called in to contribute to the 1964 World’s Fair. After the story, Marty was about to move onto the next panelist, but Alice interrupted with a touching follow up to the story. “I was born during the depression. And I didn’t have dolls like all the other little girls. I was lucky to have a roof over my head and clothes. My friends wouldn’t let me hold their dolls. So I was always sorry that I didn’t have the dolls. So when I lined up all those (Small World) dolls, and I got to do all of the costumes, I thought I’ve got more dolls than them.”
X Atencio (whose credits include dialogue and music for Adventure Thru Inner Space, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean) recalled the days when Walt asked him to write the script for Pirates of the Caribbean. After the script was done, he went to Walt and suggested that a song be written for the show. He then, spontaneously sung out towards the audience “Yo, ho, yo, ho, a pirates life for me.” the audience erupted with applause. But with such pride in his work and knowing the joy he has brought millions, he had to finish the verse. “We pillage plunder, we rifle and loot. Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho. We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot. Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.”
They all shared other general memories of Walt including the way he would lead a team of people, the fact that he always remembered a conversation and the way he cleared his throat before entering a room. That was his signal that he was coming, a trait they pointed out, that the upcoming Saving Mr. Banks movie caught onto.
The panel ended with an audience Q&A where the question was posed to Mary Sklar about EPCOT and if he ever thinks about what would have been if Walt hadn’t passed so soon. “I certainly do,” Marty replied, “Because I wrote the script for the film about EPCOT. Spending two long meetings in (Walt’s) office, just the two of us talking about what he wanted to say in that. I still have the notes. You know what, he would have made that happen. He definitely would have made that community happen. No question in my mind.”
I, and I’m sure everybody reading this, would love just a peek at those notes. And while we don’t have that, we do still have these living legends who are bursting with stories to share with all of us and we thank them so very much for letting us in.
We have a complete, uncut video of the “Working with Walt” panel to share with you today, so please enjoy:
Since opening earlier this year, Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland has garnered rave reviews from guests and has been deemed an “instant classic” Disney attraction. At the 2013 D23 Expo, Imagineers Joe Lanzisero and Mark Schirmer pulled back the curtain on this amazing new Disney attraction with a presentation. Discussing the innovative ride system, the mysterious music box, and a mischievous monkey named Albert, this panel goes in-depth on every aspect of the ride from start to finish.
Here, in full, is the “Mayhem, Mischief, and Monkeys: The Magic of Mystic Manor” presentation from the D23 Expo recorded August 9, 2013:
During the 2013 D23 Expo, Disney hosted the first ever Disney Interactive presentation to showcase what games they’re working on. Included in this presentation was Fantasia: Music Evolved and the announcement of new characters coming to Disney Infinity.
At D23, Disney publicly showcased for one of the first times how the game will actually work and how it will use Kinect to make the experience unbelievable and surreal. During D23, Harmonix and Disney showed us a look at how the game was developed and Harmonix released the latest trailer for their upcoming motion game Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved. “The Evolution of Disney Fantasia,” gives us a glimpse at the history behind the animated classic, as well as a fresh look at the new game in action.
In addition, it’s been announced that award-winning composer Inon Zur will be contributing original music for the game. Zur, of course, has worked on numerous franchises including Dragon Age, Price of Persia, and many more. The game will also feature over 30 tracks from popular artists such as Bruno Mars, and Queen. Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved is currently scheduled for release in 2014, exclusively on Xbox One and Xbox 360 with Kinect.
Following Fantasia, Disney showcased more about Disney Infinity and announced a huge lineup of new characters coming to the Infinity Universe in the next year. New characters coming to Disney Infinity include:
- Jessie (Toy Story)
- Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story)
- Sheriff Woody (Toy Story)
- Jack Skellington (The Nightmare Before Christmas)
- Wreck-It Ralph (Wreck-It Ralph)
- Vanellope Von Schweetz (Wreck-It Ralph)
- Phineas Flynn (Phineas and Ferb)
- Perry the Platypus (Phineas and Ferb)
- Rapunzel (Tangled)
- Anna (Frozen)
- Elsa (Frozen)
- Sorcerer Mickey (Fantasia)
Jessie, Buzz, and Woody will be included in a “Toy Story Playset” while Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope will be in a “Wreck-It Ralph Playset” while Anna and Elsa will be in a “Frozen Playset”. The rest of the characters will be sold separately.
Fantasia: Music Evolved will be available in 2014 while Disney Infinity is available now.
Source: A Wild Podcast Appears
Inside the Parks and Resorts Pavilion at the D23 Expo, there was a rather large model of Disney Springs that was shared with attendees. The model clearly shows a lot of the development that will take place over the coming months and years at what is now Downtown Disney. We decided it might be cool to take a closer look at the model and at Disney Springs:
I find it hard to believe this will still be Planet Hollywood
You can clearly see the new buildings that will stand on the now clear plot that was Comedy Warehouse
A new pedestrian bridge connects the Town Center to The Landing
The Town Center buildings in the back are large and will hold many stores with interior walkways for guests
This is the area that will greet guests when they arrive via bus
Here we can see the other side of the parking structure near T-Rex and Pollo Campero
The building that houses Pollo Campero and Babycakes is clearly not there
There is however a new small building near T-Rex that might be their new home
The red roofs mark the expanded World of Disney store
An overall look shows off the new bridge in the Marketplace
It is a large project
Here we can see more of The Landing and the new buildings that will be erected on what is now Pleasure Island
Now looking towards the West Side
We can see the other parking structure
This model was built last year, so it is possible some of this will change
So, what do you think of Disney Springs? Does seeing it in this form change your opinion on the project?
WDW News Today on-site reporter Erik Johnson attended “Dave Bossert Remembers Roy E. Disney, with special guest Roy P. Disney” presentation at the D23 Expo. Below are just a few candid photos of Roy that Bossert shared with the audience:
Stay with WDWNT.com all week as we continue to share the fun of the 2013 D23 Expo with you!
By Daniel McBride
One of the final special moments of the 2013 D23 Expo consisted of a special screening of ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” At the Anaheim Convention Center, Marvel’s Head of Television and executive producer of this series, Jeph Loeb, provided an introduction to the guests in attendance. The weekly television series, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” will premiere at 8 p.m. ET/PT Tuesday, September 24 on ABC. WDWNT is happy to share photo’s from the introduction to the screening.
Here is some video of Jeph Loeb introducing the show at the D23 Expo:
So, what do you think? Will you be watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
The WDWNT team was on hand for the media preview of the Parks and Resorts pavilion. Here is the video from the introduction to the pavilion:
Attendees of the Walt Disney Studios Live-Action Presentation at the D23 Expo were treated with more details about some of Disney’s most anticipated films of the next two years. Here were some of the highlights:
Stars Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Hopkins were on hand to talk about their film, Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” (a follow-up to 2011’s “Thor”).
In the new film, releasing November 8, 2013, Thor will battle to save Earth and all the Nine Realms on “his most perilous and personal journey yet.”
Another film (another sequel, in fact) from the Marvel universe, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” also saw some its stars grace the stage. The film’s lead, Chris Evans, along with Anthony Mackie (who plays Sam Wilson, “The Falcon”), excited the audience with a few exclusive clips from the movie.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” will take place after the events in Marvel’s “The Avengers” and will release on April 4, 2014.
D23 attendees were treated to a clip from the upcoming epic space adventure Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which began production this summer and will be released around August of 2014. The film, starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, Benicio del Toro, John C. Reilly, and Glenn Close, is based on a Marvel comic that first released in 1969,
Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted” was promoted by its leading man Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”). The actor, who portrays French Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon in the film, made a grand entrance in Le Maxium, a tiny European car.
The film is set to release March 21, 2014, and will follow the Muppets overseas as they get entangled in an international crime caper headed by Constantine, who is the spitting image of Kermit the Frog. D23 attendees were shown a clip in which Kermit is placed in jail and his imposter takes over “The Muppet Show.”
Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie was at the event to talk about her upcoming film “Maleficent,” based on the villain in Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.” The movie opens July 2, 2014, and, along with Jolie, stars Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Miranda Richardson, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville.
“Maleficent” will tell the classic tale through the title character’s eyes, revealing why she became evil after the king betrayed her. Jolie said about the movie’s production, “My character was so scary that children on set would scream when I approached them.”
The 2014 film Disney’s “Tomorrowland” has been the subject of much discussion and theorizing over the last few months, and producers Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof were present to talk about their inspiration behind the film, though they remained coy regarding specifics. The film will star George Clooney.
Jason Schwartzman and B. J. Novak came onstage to talk about the highly anticipated film Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” which tells the backstory of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen. In the film, Schwartzman and Novak play the Sherman brothers, who wrote the music for “Mary Poppins.”
As part of the presentation, the two actors engaged the crowd in a rousing, confetti-filled, grand finale sing-along performance of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” during which Richard Sherman himself appeared onstage to join them in song.
“Saving Mr. Banks” opens in theaters December 2013 and stars Emma Thompson as author P. L. Travers and Tom Hanks as the man behind the magic Walt Disney.
Other announcements included the following:
- Disney will take on the Tony-winning musical “Into the Woods” in December 2014. The film will star Johnny Depp, Chris Pine, and Meryl Streep.
- Disneynature’s next big screen adventure is titled “Bears” and will hit theaters April 8, 2014, in recognition of Earth Day. For those who see the movie opening week, Disneynature will make a contribution to the National Park Foundation.
- Sir Kenneth Branagh is directing the 2015 film Disney’s “Cinderella,” starring Lily James as the Disney princess and Cate Blanchett as her evil stepmother.
- Although nothing specific was said about Disney’s first “Star Wars” film, “Star Wars: Episode VII,” Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, said the people involved in the film are very excited about its 2015 release.
So, which of Disney’s upcoming live-action films are you most excited about seeing?
Our D23 Expo coverage team attended the media preview of the Parks and Resorts pavilion on Thursday evening. While there, they experienced a virtual ride-thru of the Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train attraction for New Fantasyland. Here is the video from the experience:
At the D23 Expo, Disney and Mattel released a first look at the “Frozen” dolls.
Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, voice talent of Anna and Elsa in the highly-anticipated film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Frozen, attended The D23 Expo – The Ultimate Disney Fan Event – where they were presented with new dolls from Mattel and Disney Store inspired by their characters in the film.
Releasing November 27, 2013, Frozen is an epic tale of adventure and comedy that features the vocal talents of film/TV/stage star Kristen Bell as Anna, a young dreamer about to take the adventure of a lifetime, and Tony Award ®-winning actress Idina Menzel as Elsa the Snow Queen.