The holiday season begins at Walt Disney World

While it is only the beginning of November, Walt Disney World is kicking off the holiday season with new shows and returning favorites across the resort!


At the Magic Kingdom, the Christmas Tree and wreaths are up as they prepare for the influx of holiday visitors.

Each night Cinderella Castle turns into a beautiful ice palace thanks to the help from Elsa, Anna, and some of their Frozen friends during ‘A Frozen Holiday Wish’ castle lighting.

‘Once Upon A Time’, debuting on November 4th, is new nightly projection show inspired by the Tokyo Disneyland Park uses projection mapping to transform Cinderella Castle with familiar scenes from Disney movies. During the show, Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast shares bedtime stories with young Chip, taking a journey through the most adventurous scenes from Cinderella, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and other favorites along the way.

Select nights from November 7th until December 22nd, the Magic Kingdom hosts Mickey‘s Very Merry Christmas Party. This after-hours party gives guests a chance to experience exclusive entertainment, character meet and greets, fireworks, and a parade full of holiday cheer and fun while sipping on hot cocoa and snacking on cookies under the gentle falling of Florida ‘snow’.

As Disney Springs continues to grow, so does their holiday offerings!

Beginning November 11th in the Disney Springs Marketplace, 15 Christmas Trees inspired by Disney characters and movies will create a winter wonderland walk-through experience complete with a gentle snow fall, toy soldiers, singers, and plenty of unique photo opportunities! I can’t wait to see the Disney Villains and Mary Poppins Christmas Trees!

The Disney Parks Blog also announced an upcoming holiday light show at Disney Springs that will utilize drones and new technology. Check out the sneak peek below:

Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, a new restaurant and nighttime holiday show join the park’s line-up of fun!

A new projection and fireworks show called ‘Jingle Bell Jingle Bam’ lights up, on, above, and around the Chinese Theater area of the park with state-of-the-art projections, special effects, fireworks and a rousing seasonal musical score starting November 4th.

Led by elves Wayne and Lanny, the duo from ABC/Walt Disney Animation Studios’ animated special Prep & Landing, the spirited yuletide adventure to the North Pole features memorable holiday moments from Disney films including Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Beauty and the Beast, Pluto’s Christmas Tree, Bambi, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, along with many other holiday favorites with a festive finale that’s “So tinsel”.


Fans of the The Muppets will get a chance to dine with Pizzerizzo set to open on November 18th! The quick service restaurant will offer a variety of personal-sized pizzas, salads, sandwiches, and desserts surrounded by décor inspired by Rizzo, as well as his extended family and friends who have visited PizzeRizzo over the years. Upstairs you will find Rizzo’s Deluxe Supreme Banquet Hall, where there’s a wedding reception already in progress complete with a disco ball dance party playing the world’s greatest party playlist!

And finally at Epcot, beginning November 25th you can celebrate the ‘Holidays Around the World’.

During the day, you can discover how the 11 countries making up the World Showcase celebrate the holiday season with costumed storytellers, decorations, music, and seasonal food favorites. Then in the evenings hear a celebrity guest narrator tell the biblical story of Christmas alongside of a 50 piece orchestra and variety of choirs. The story, the music, the twinkling trees and decor fills you with the spirit of this wonderful season. And you can catch the performances at 5:00, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m. at the American Gardens Theatre.

These are all just a part of the holiday offerings you will find this season at Walt Disney World, and I can’t to share more details and tips for making the most of your visits during this joyous season

Disney cartoons as live-action films

For its first 30 years or so, the Disney brand was synonymous with cartoons, first shorts and later animated features. It wasn’t until the 1950s that Walt Disney ventured into live-action moviemaking.

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And now it would seem that Disney has come full circle. In fact, it’s gone a little nuts, readying live-action versions — adaptations? remakes? reboots? — of its own library of classic animated features at such a furious pace that they are threatening to become the linchpins of the studio’s theatrical agenda.

They aren’t all really live-action, of course, since many carry enough computer-generated imagery to dilute the category. They are still, to some degree, animated features.

This was especially true of “The Jungle Book,” which has a live-action boy at its center but is otherwise very much a cartoon in modern, more realistic CGI terms.

In addition to “The Jungle Book,” this year also brought us “Pete’s Dragon,” another live-action/CGI combination, based on Disney’s 1977 live-action/animation film of the same title.

Other live-action remakes of cartoons have included “101 Dalmatians” (and its sequel, “102 Dalmatians”); “Alice in Wonderland” (and its sequel “Alice Through the Looking Glass”); “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (inspired by the Mickey Mouse short in “Fantasia”); “Maleficent” (adapted from Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty”), and “Cinderella.”

And Disney has announced plans to produce over a dozen more at such a rapid rate that this column may be out of date by the time you read it.

Coming up are “Beauty and the Beast” (to be released March 17, 2017), “Mulan” (November 2018), and “Mary Poppins Returns” (Christmas Day, 2018).

They will be followed by these live-action (or live-action/CGI) remakes with to-be-announced dates: “Dumbo,” “The Lion King,” “The Sword in the Stone,” “Pinocchio,” “Prince Charming” (from “Cinderella”), “Cruella” (an origin story of Cruella de Vil from “101 Dalmatians”), “Rose Red” (the sister of Snow White) and “Night on Bald Mountain” (a sequence from “Fantasia”).

Yet another “Peter Pan” remake is also on the list, along with “Tink,” an origin story of Peter Pan’s fairy friend Tinkerbell, who has also been the subject of several straight-to-video cartoons.

And a live-action version of “Aladdin” will have to wait for an animated prequel, “Genies,” which will come out first.

Disney is even planning live-action versions of “Winnie the Pooh” and the chipmunk characters Chip ’n’ Dale (from many a Donald Duck cartoon short). Not sure how that’s going to work out, though it’s a safe bet that CGI aplenty will be involved.

And, as you might expect, sequels are in development for “The Jungle Book” and “Maleficent.”

One wonders how Walt would feel about all this. After all, he was an innovator, not a copycat.


And you may recall that his attempt to create the first feature-length cartoon was scoffed at as “Disney’s folly.” That is, until “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” became a critical and box-office smash in 1937.

Many animated classics followed (including those listed above), and Disney didn’t enter live-action theatrical filmmaking until 1950, with the release of “Treasure Island.”

Many more followed and the Disney brand shifted from being strictly for cartoons to meaning clean family films, and it stayed that way throughout the 1970s.

The studio’s first film that wasn’t G-rated didn’t arrive until 1979, the sci-fi thriller “The Black Hole” — and getting a PG rating instead of a G made the studio nervous. But PG-rated movies quickly became part of the studio’s platform, along with its usual G-rated fare.

As movies became more “adult,” however, the studio felt it needed to keep up — without sullying the family friendly Disney name. So the studio came up with the Touchstone label in 1984 as a releasing arm for “Splash,” its first foray into mature material. And Touchstone also kept the studio’s first R-rated movie, “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” in 1986, from having to carry the Disney name.


One can argue that some of the PG-13 films that now roll out under the Disney banner push the envelope further than parents might like (the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, anyone?), but in general the Disney name over a picture still means it will likely be more family friendly than anything else out there. (Check out the current, PG-rated “Queen of Katwe.”)

So perhaps all of these remakes of animated classics can be taken as a logical 21st-century extension of that.

And if the market becomes oversaturated with cartoons done over as live-action films, maybe Disney will reverse course and do the opposite.

You know, it could do animated versions of “The Absent-Minded Professor” and “Darby O’Gill and the Little People.”

Who says there are no more original ideas in Hollywood?

New Winnie-the-Pooh story: In which Pooh and Piglet save the bees

Beekeepers have joined forces with Winnie-the-Pooh to encourage children to bake with local honey, visit nearby apiaries and throw seed-bombs


Winnie-the Pooh might be a ‘bear of very little brain’ but even he has become troubled to learn that his beloved treat of honey is under threat by the continuing decline of Britain’s bees.
New figures from the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) showed the colonies declined by 14.5 per cent last winter, 50 per cent more than the previous year, despite efforts to tackle to the problem by banning pesticides.
Now the BBKA has teamed up with Pooh illustrator Mark Burgess, who coloured E H Shepherd’s original black-and-white drawings, to produce a brand new story – Winnie-the-Pooh and the Missing Bees – as well as a guide to saving the honeybees.
In the new story, Pooh and Piglet decide to visit the honeybees after noticing a honey shortage in The Hundred Acre Wood.
Speaking to Piglet, Pooh says: “I have been very careful with it, Piglet, as there hasn’t been much honey lately. But you can only be careful for so long before you run out altogether.”
Beekeepers are also h oping to engage children by encouraging them to bake with local honey, become beekeepers, visit nearby apiaries and throw seed-bombs to help the spread of wildflowers.
New illustrations show AA Milne’s characters Christopher Robin, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore and Pooh making a vegetable patch in the Yorkshire Dales, building a bee box in the shadow of the Angel of the North in Gateshead, and planting a flowering tree in the shadow of Warwick Castle.

The friends are also pictured dropping bee-balls in Birmingham, painting in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire and visiting a honey show in Glastonbury.
Nicole Pearson, Associate Publisher from Egmont Publishing which publishes the Pooh books said: “Winnie-the-Pooh is famed for his love of honey, so who better to encourage families to get out and about and take part in fun activities that can help support our honey bees.
“We’re very excited to be working with the BBKA to support such a worthwhile cause.”

A survey by the BBKA found that 58 per cent of people wanted to help stop the decline of bees but do not know how to go about it.
“While many people are aware of the plight of the honey bee, there are many that don’t know what they can do to help,” said David Aston, President of the British Beekeepers Association.
“We hope that by supporting our ‘Friends of the Honey Bee’ initiative with the brand new guide inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh, families across the country can get involved, making a practical contribution and supporting bee health research.”

The BBKA annual study surveyed 900 British beekeepers selected at random, to establish the impact that last winter has had on honey bee colonies

Some regions have been more greatly affected by bee decline than others. The west has seen drops of 18 per cent, the North East 15.5 per cent and the East of England 14.7 per cent,
While the exact cause is unknown, scientists have speculated that pesticides, pathogens, mites, poor weather and changing beekeeping practices have all contributed to the decline.
Last month scientists in California suggested that a tiny parasite could be behind the rapid colony collapse while researchers at Keele and Sussex Universities claimed aluminium poisoning could be leaving bees with a kind of animal Alzheimer’s disease.
A survey of school children carried out by the BBKA found that most youngsters are aware of the threat to the environment from the decline of bees but do not know what steps to help. environment. However less than a quarter (22 per cent) of children are aware of any steps they could take in order to help.

Disney Developing Live-Action ‘Winnie the Pooh’ Movie

Disney is developing a live-action movie version of its animated “Winnie the Pooh” property, hiring “Listen Up Philip” writer-director Alex Ross Perry to write the adaptation.


The focus will be on an adult version of the book’s Christopher Robin. Perry was hired after pitching a take on the story to the studio.

The Winnie the Pooh bear character was created by A.A. Milne for a collection of stories in the books “Winnie-the-Pooh” (1926) and “The House at Pooh Corner” (1928). Disney licensed the rights to the character in 1961, leading to TV shows and four feature films: “The Tigger Movie,” “Piglet’s Big Movie,” “Pooh’s Heffalump Movie” and “Winnie the Pooh.”

Variety reported last year that Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment acquired rights to the book “Finding Winnie.” Written by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, that book tells the story of the bear that inspired the Pooh character.

Disney has seen a string of office successes in rebooting its animated library with live-action versions including “Alice in Wonderland,” “Maleficent” and “Cinderella.” It has similar plans for an upcoming “Jungle Book” and a live-action retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.”


Ted 2 Meets Winnie the Pooh

What if Christopher Robin had been born in Boston and, instead of playing in the hundred acre wood, he spent his childhood playing hooky? Well you just might end up with a story much like Seth McFarland’s Ted film franchise. A raunchy adult comedy about a boy and a his teddy bear….after they’ve both grown up. Very clearly inspired by children’s classics like Winnie the Pooh.

Don’t believe that? Then check out the latest video by master trailer mashup…(-ist? -er? -inator?) Bobby Burns, with his new channel CineMash. A very sleekly edited trailer that will have you laughing, crying….or at least thinking your childhood has been ruined.

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Five Foolproof Strategies for Lazy Parents at Disney World

For the first-time visitor to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., there is an avalanche of information to digest. Guidebooks, websites, friends and family contribute their well-meaning advice. Few things in life require this level of pre-planning. People have planned weddings with less work. Royal weddings. The pressure is enormous. You will do Disney right or you will have failed your family. Or worse, you’ll have to go back and try again. Just kidding, Disney-fans, don’t hurt me.

Walt Disney World

Much of the information you’ll find, though, is trying to help you maximize your time there, to fit everything in and meet your goal of seeing and doing it all. Be there before rope drop (at 6 a.m.!). Stay on property and take advantage of your hotel’s activities. Visit multiple parks in one day.

These are all tips aimed at the type of person who wakes up on a Sunday at 6 a.m. with a calendar full of activities for their children or who asks other parents for ideas on what to “do” with the kids during school break as if “let them play with all of their toys and watch as much TV as they want” isn’t a good enough option for their snowflake.

This is not me. Perhaps this is not you, too. Perhaps you love your children and want to take them to the happiest place on earth but not at the cost of your own happiness. Here are five tips for the lazy parent to actually have fun at Disney World.

1. Do all possible character breakfasts or lunches at the parks you visit. Eat with the Winnie the Pooh characters at Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom. Dine with the Disney Jr. cast at Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios. Have a meal with Mickey and the whole gang (except, oddly, Minnie Mouse) at Tusker House at Animal Kingdom. Hang with the Princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Epcot.


Let’s be real: food at Disney World is…not the draw. Everything you eat will already be overpriced so you may as well get an experience for your money. Plus, and this is where the lazy parent really gets their money’s worth, you won’t have to wait in a line to meet each of these characters later. Your kids will get a full-on, personal character experience which will beat out the six seconds they will spend with them at the front of a long line. At Hollywood & Vine, Princess Sofia commandeered my iPhone and took about 15 selfies with my 5-year-old while we also worked on hooking her up with Jake the Pirate. You just saved hours of time. Bravo, lazy parent.

2. Don’t have meals, character or otherwise, at hotels other than the one at which you are staying. This seems so obvious in retrospect, but Disney planning can make a person a little crazy. Lots of people suggest doing breakfast at Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. I’m sure it’s just terrific. But consider this: Breakfast at another hotel means waiting for 15-20 minutes for a bus at your hotel then taking a 20-minute bus ride—plus eating there, another wait afterwar and another bus ride to the park. It may not seem like much when you’re reading this from the comforts of your home. But when you’re wrangling your kids in transit for over an hour for the privilege of eating with characters you can see elsewhere, you’ll feel differently. This is an option for people who need to “do it all.” If you’re one of those people then you’re reading the wrong Disney piece.

3. Don’t give up. Laziness goes hand-in-hand with under-planning and Disney tends to punish the under-planner. But the secret is that Disney also tends to reward the last-minute, um, no-reservationer. I hoped to book the princess makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique inside Cinderella’s castle during our trip for my 5-year-old daughter. It was her birthday and she had seen pictures of her cousins with their hair piled high on their heads, in princess gowns, lounging on a chaise, and she asked to have that, too. I called and I called and all appointments were booked for our days there. The reservationist suggested I try the Downtown Disney location. Now, maybe an ambitious mother, the kind who has to make all of her child’s dreams come true would go to Downtown Disney. Me? I shrugged my shoulder and told her, “Sorry, no updo for you, kid.” But when we rolled into Magic Kingdom around 10 a.m. on a Saturday, I maneuvered us toward the castle to try for a walk-in appointment. They couldn’t take her right then but, amazingly, we booked a 2 p.m. appointment for later that same day due to a cancellation. When we got there at 1:45 p.m., there was a long line out the door of people trying to do the walk-in thing. A stern Fairy Godmother with a notepad was telling people it would be impossible to accommodate any additional princesses today. The moral of the story is you can be lazy, you can take your chances and walk-in to restaurants and experiences, but you have to do it on the earlier side before the truly lazy moms get the same idea.


4. Start walking to your bus when the fireworks start. I know, it’s all just so magical. You’re on Main Street USA. Cinderella’s castle is in the distance. The light show begins. Your kids start to ooh and aah. That’s your cue, lazy parents, start walking. Kids can see the show while they walk the same as they can standing still. So unless you want to double or triple your wait time for your bus back to the hotel, the smart move is to watch the show in transit.

5. Park-hopping is for lunatics. Why would you park-hop? Magic Kingdom is 107 acres. That sounds like a lot. That’s not enough for you? Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom are all even bigger than that! What are you, some kind of hero? Go for four days and do a park a day. Only have three days? Do three parks. If your kids are younger, visit Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. If they’re older, swap out Hollywood Studios for Epcot. Done and done. Only have one day? Magic Kingdom it is.

Disney World shouldn’t be a job and planning for it certainly shouldn’t be the second career some people turn it into. Follow these lazy principles and everyone will have a good, mellow time. If the goal is to actually vacation on this vacation, these tips will help make that happen.