Showing posts with label star wars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label star wars. Show all posts

Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian

Image from Disney+

When The Mandalorian came to Disney+, Star Wars fans were immediately mesmerized by this new storyline brought to life by the mind of Jon Favreau.  Once the last episode of season one of The Mandalorian aired, fans were immediately asking when they could have more.  Soon after, it was announced that season 2 of the popular series would be returning to Disney+ in the Fall of 2020.  But, if you're a fan of the The Mandalorian and can't wait for more Star Wars in your life, Disney+ is bringing you a new series in May 2020 that takes a behind-the-scenes look at making this series.  After watching the first episode of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, I'm hooked and look forward to learning more.

About Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian (from Disney+)




Disney GALLERY: THE MANDALORIAN is an eight-episode documentary series that pulls back the curtain on The Mandalorian. Each chapter explores a different facet of the first live-action Star Wars television show through interviews, behind the scenes footage, and roundtable conversations hosted by Jon Favreau.

Review of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian

I dove right into the first episode, excited to learn more about what happened behind-the-scenes of this show.  The first episode focused on the story of the directors and, by the titles of upcoming episodes, it appears that each will look at a different facet of creating the story.  Jon Favreau leads roundtable discussions with the directors as they each share stories of how they came to the Star Wars universe.  It was fascinating to see how many talented minds and notable directors played a role in creating the first season.  Favreau chose to bring on several different directors to lend differing perspectives to the same vision.  

And that vision very clearly included the responsibility to the Star Wars fans.  Several of the directors including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard spoke to the responsibility to do justice to the first Star Wars live action television show and working with characters that are so meaningful to so many people.  But the directors as brought their own personalities to the show as well.  Favreau, speaking of Taika Waititi said "Taika knows how to find the humor in the action," when looking at some memorable moments from the series like the "do the magic hand thing" line towards The Child.


If you're a fan of The Mandalorian and enjoy a look at what happens behind the camera in producing a show, this will definitely be something for you to enjoy on Disney+ and fill that gap until the next season airs this fall.  I was definitely intrigued by the first episode and will check out the remaining episodes as they release.  New episodes of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian will release each Friday!

Looking for More?


More New on Disney+ in May - Prop Culture


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Movie Review

Best Bets at the Movies This Holiday Break

The holidays are officially here and with many kids home from school and adults taking time or having time off from work, it's a perfect opportunity to head to the movies!  Here's a round-up of movies I've seen that are still out in most (if not all theaters) to help you make your viewing choices.  Click the titles of each for a more detailed look.

Frozen 2


We still can't let this film go!  This movie has been out since before Thanksgiving and has already surpassed $1B globally.  If you are one of probably only a handful of people who haven't seen this film, what are you waiting for?  Grab the kids and head "into the unknown" to uncover the source of Elsa's powers and watch the next chapter of the story unfold for our friends in Arendelle.  I still can't believe I had the chance to see this at the Hollywood World Premiere back in November with The Geekly Retreat - walking the red carpet and taking celebrity selfies!  ALL of my Frozen 2 coverage is linked here including my experience at the premiere, a review, a closer look at Olaf, and my favorite musical moments!

Spies in Disguise


This is another movie that I had the chance to see in it's entirety at The Geekly Retreat out in California, weeks before the fancy world premiere.  We had the chance to watch this with some of the creative minds behind the film and then dish on the secrets of making it.  Your kids will really enjoy this action-packed look at an unlikely friendship and championing the fact that it's good to be weird.  With the voices of Will Smith and Tom Holland behind the main characters, you know you're getting quality.  I've again linked all of my coverage to Spies in Disguise here because there is also a mobile game available when the movie releases that I had the chance to preview at The Geekly Retreat and then received a free download of in advance of the release for my kids to enjoy.  Check it out!

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker


What will most likely be the undisputed winner of every box office stat this Christmas season, Star Wars has raced back into theaters for the final chapter in the Skywalker saga.  If you're a hard core Star Wars fan, you're going to be feeling LOTS of feels with this one.  My review linked here is spoiler-free so you are totally fine to read it ahead of time.  In fact, you may want to if you're debating taking your kids as I have a whole section devoted to whether or not that's a good idea.  May the Force with you!

Richard Jewell


I didn't write an official review for this one, but I did record an initial reaction after I saw the movie for my YouTube channel.  This is definitely one to leave the kids home for as the content and language is not appropriate for them.  I really enjoyed this movie for a few reasons.  I remember the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing and the name Richard Jewell, but I didn't really remember the details into what happened.  It's a fascinating look at the concept of "innocent until proven guilty."  Is that really the case anymore with media coverage scrutinizing every detail of an investigation?  And this was 1996 people. . .imagine if this happened in 2019 how this would have played out with not only traditional media, but the advent of social media.  It's a heavier film to watch, but their our some comedic one liners and the actors all do an incredible job.  There has been some criticism of Clint Eastwood with the way he directed this film and portrayed Kathy Scruggs, the Atlanta journalist who broke the story on Richard Jewell.  Scruggs has passed and her family is strongly denouncing the the way that she is portrayed here, and Eastwood even acknowledges that we may never know what REALLY happened.  See it with that in mind.  There may be some liberties that were taken with characterization of the people who were there covering events.

Knives Out


This is another movie that has been around since mid-November, but has picked up speed after opening weekend.  Again, I didn't write a full review on this one, but I LOVED this movie.  It's certainly a grown-up night out - not appropriate at all for your littles.  It's a fun, witty whodunit story with an all-star cast including Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Chris Evans. . .in cable knit sweaters.  I mean, that right there is reason to go see it, right???  It's like a giant game of Clue as the patriarch of the family dies on the night of his 85th birthday party.  The twists and turns will keep you guessing and you may or may not see the ending coming!  This movie may be getting pushed out of your local theater depending on it's size, but it's still at a few local ones for me so I included it here.  See it if you can!

And of course, there are some other big movies that have just recently released for the holiday that I haven't seen yet to comment on including Black Christmas, Bombshell, Jumangi: The Next Level, and CATS (why would you want to see this one though??).  What are you planning to see this holiday season?

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker - Is the Force strong in this final chapter?

It's the finale that was 42 years in the making.  Fans have been waiting to see how the Skywalker arc ends in the Star Wars universe and now they finally have their answers.  Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is quickly taking the world by storm, but should it be?  I waited 24 hours to post my review so I could process what I saw and what I wanted to say.  In an effort to keep this post spoiler-free, I'm going to discuss my thoughts on the film by breaking down some questions you may have before you see it.

Do you have to be a serious Star Wars fan to enjoy this film?


Yes and no.  I'm gauging this answer the same way I look at Avengers: Endgame.  If the only experience you have with Star Wars are more recent films (like my husband - Episodes VII and VIII, Solo, and Rogue One are it for him), you can certainly see the movie and mostly follow along, but you want appreciate the entirety of the story.  I'm not spoiling anything by telling you that Palpatine factors into this film as his presence was felt in the trailers.  My husband, a Star Wars novice at best, would have no idea who he is and his importance in the Skywalker saga.

JJ Abrams definitely made this film for the fans - even including several fabulous cameos and easter eggs.  Knowing your Star Wars history will maximize your enjoyment of the film.  I'm not a diehard fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I've seen the entire Skywalker saga and was armed with all the knowledge I needed to see this movie.  I'll openly admit though that I probably missed some other nods to the Star Wars universe because I have not watched all of the other shows / stories so those of you that have a PhD in a galaxy far, far away will have a field day watching this!

Is this movie appropriate for my kids?


The film carries a PG-13 rating like some other Star Wars films.  Judge my parenting you may, but I have allowed my 7 year old to watch Episodes I - VIII in their entirety and there is nothing in this film that is more or less appropriate than any of the others.  Star Wars films mainly carry that rating due to the violence that is portrayed.  Most of this fighting in this film is again lightsaber battles, air fighting, and large explosions.

But just because I feel like my son COULD see this movie, I don't know that it means he SHOULD be seeing it in theaters.  I'm still torn on whether or not I'll take him to the movies over the winter break from school to see it.  This movie is very dark.  Read that as you will.  Dark scenes both from a lighting standpoint and a "heaviness" to them.  It's an emotional end to a powerful saga - keep that in mind.  Knowing my son too, he'd ask A LOT of questions during the movie because, while he's seen all of the Skywalker movies, he doesn't necessarily have the details memorized.  Seeing this in your home might be a better option for little ones. . .if you can keep them waiting that long!

Was the end everything it should be?


This is going to be a very personal question for Star Wars fans.  It's an end.  You will walk out of the movie feeling like the Skywalker story is complete.  But will it be what you wanted?  That depends on you.  Again, I think Abrams worked hard to create a movie that fans will appreciate.  I did feel like some of the pithy one-lines from characters were a bit forced.  Don't get me wrong, I like Rey, Finn, and Poe as much as the next fan. . .but they don't have the same chemistry that Luke, Leia, and Han had and at times it feels like filmmakers are trying to force that chemistry on screen.

You will walk away with strong feelings about Ren and Rey.  Both of these actors delivered powerful performances and I think this is Adam Driver's best Star Wars performance yet.  CGI Leia was a little weird for me in all honesty - just felt a little weird, but she needed to be there to end her story as well.   Notably absent was Rose who featured so prominently in Episode VIII.  She's there, but simply as a background character.  I really thought we'd see more of her.  And we also meet a few new faces as the final chapter comes to a close.

What happens with the Star Wars universe from here?


While the Skywalker story has come to a definitive end, there were several openings I noted during the movie where I can see more to develop.  I don't want to ruin any of the plot points for you so I'm not going to say much here, but keep an eye on Finn.  I don't think we've seen the last of him!

Overall, I think Episode IX will satisfy fans.  Will it astound you?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  As a fan of Star Wars, I walked away emotionally drained and very content with how the story ends.  I have a lot more I WANT to say about this film, but I'll write a spoiler post in a few days to unpack more of my thoughts after hopefully more of you have had the chance to see it.  Enjoy the final chapter and. . .may the Force be with you!



Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Movie Clip Reaction

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set to hit theaters on December 20, 2019 and excited fans are counting down the days until we once again can travel into galaxy far, far away.  I've been enjoying rewatching the whole saga on Disney+ these past few weeks with my oldest son as we count down the days until the final chapter in the Skywalker saga is revealed.  I was so excited to hear a new movie clip was released and couldn't wait to get home from work and watch it with Brody.  Check out our reaction!



When we combine this with the trailers we have already seen and the special look from D23 Expo this summer, it's easy to see that we are in for an epic finale.  In this latest clip I'm less confused then in the footage from D23 where Dark Rey threw all of us for a loop.  So what do you think?  Who else is excited by this clip?

In the meantime, make sure you are following all things Star Wars on social media for the latest news and updates!

Facebook - www.facebook.com/starwars

Instagram - www.instagram.com/starwars

Twitter - http://twitter.com/starwars

#TheRiseofSkywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

At the D23 Expo a few weeks ago, the newest Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker footage was released to excited crowds.  I was one of the many anxiously awaiting the next look at this upcoming film releasing in December 2019, but little could prepare me for some of my own big reactions and unanswered questions.  Take a look at the trailer here and then let's look at 3 questions I'm waiting to have answered on this next journey to a galaxy far, far away.



Why is this film called "The Rise of Skywalker"? - OK.  So I guess this question didn't come EXACTLY from this footage as it's been on my mind for a while, but I find myself still speculating about all the things "The Rise of Skywalker" could mean.  Do we finally find out more about Rey's parents?  Is Kylo Ren as Anakin's grandson rising to power and creating an even larger Dark Side Empire?  Are we looking back to look forward?  This special look does incorporate footage from past films, as well as throwbacks to the Empire and Darth Vader and JJ Abrams has commented on seeing this as not only the final film in this trilogy, but a conclusion to all nine.  I'm not sure what it all means yet, but I'm sure that Star Wars fans everywhere will flock to theaters to find out!

Movie images from Walt Disney Studios
What will Leia's role be in this film? - With the passing of Carrie Fisher before the filming of Episode IX was completed, the production team had to get creative with how to use previously recorded footage of Leia to work into the film.  Leia has been a strong figure in both Episode VII and VIII, so we'll have to see how she factors into this newest chapter.  The footage here shows here in an area where it also looks like Rey is training in another clip.  Is Leia training Rey?  Preparing her for the rise of girl power on the Light Side?  Maybe to take over as a new general for the resistance?  I have to admit, I get a little teary eyed each time I watch this special look, but we know that her impact is strongly felt.

What's up with Dark Side Rey? - There is just that fleeting moment, but it's intense, where we see Rey donning the black robe and that switchblade red lightsaber.  I don't know about you, but I immediately had flashbacks to Darth Maul.  With the Emperor's voice, Darth Vader's breath, and clear channeling of the Dark Side, there is so much speculation.  Did Rey actually fall to the Dark Side? Is this a clone? A vision?  I can't wait to find out!  And, confession, I don't know what I actually WANT it to mean.  Could we really go through nine episodes of good vs. evil to find out evil wins the day?  Wouldn't that be a plot twist?!?

I'm not sure what the answers to any of these questions are, but I do know that I am anxiously awaiting the release of this film to complete the Skywalker saga.  Make sure you are following Star Wars on all of the social media channels to keep up with the latest news and releases!

#TheRiseofSkywalker
@StarWars

Great Deals for Star Wars Fans at Disneyland Resort

The whole Star Wars fan universe has been waiting (with every ounce of patience we have!) for the exciting opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts this year.  While those of us on the East Coast still have a few more months to wait before experiencing the out-of-this-world excitement at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Southern California gets to enjoy what Black Spire Outpost has to offer beginning May 31.  Here's what you need to know in order to travel to a galaxy far, far away! Fuel up your Millennium Falcon, grab a Wookie, and let's go!

This post contains affiliate links. You save money and I earn a small commission - everyone wins!

From May 31 to June 23, guests wishing to enjoy Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at the Disneyland Resort will need a reservation at one of Disney's hotels to gain access.  My travel partner, Get Away Today, has a few reservations they can hook you up with if you're looking for a last minute opportunity to travel for the opening weeks:
If you can hold on to your lightsabers until June 24, more opportunities will open for locals and guests both on and off Disneyland Resort property to enter Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.  Disney is trying something out that is a great timesaver for guests, by allowing visitors to log into a virtual "queue" to wait to gain entrance for this popular land.  Once you enter Disneyland Park, you will be able to "get in line" while still enjoying all of the other great attractions at the park.  Get Away Today also has great deals going on throughout the summer months which you can learn more about by following the links below:
The Force is so strong with these deals, even the Dark Side can't resist joining in the fun! So what are you most excited about in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge?  Whether it's the rides, the food, the theming, or the character interactions, there will certainly be a lot to love!  I love the way that Disney immerses you in a story the moment you set foot in their parks and I'm sure Galaxy's Edge will not disappoint.  Don't miss out on your chance to experience it all!! Don't forget to use promo code PIXIEDUST when you visit Get Away Today to save even more money on your vacation package!


I love you. I know.

And I love Han Solo.  This summer, Star Wars fans will be sure to fall in love all over again with Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story.  We finally got a long awaited look at the film during the Super Bowl on Sunday.  On Monday morning, another teaser trailer was released during Good Morning America.  In case you missed it, here is our first look at the film.


From Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm, here's what you can expect:

Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo befriends his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and meets the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes.

The film stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Paul Bettany.

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY opens in theaters everywhere on May 25th!

I know that I can't wait to see the latest Star Wars adventure and I hope you're just as excited to join me Memorial Day weekend in a galaxy far, far away!

5 Must-Do Star Wars Experiences at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Star Wars fever is raging all across the galaxy these days as people across all generations of enjoyed the power of the Force for decades.  While Disney and Star Wars fans anxiously await the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, which will be coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2019, there is still plenty of ways to interact with the Light and the Dark Side during your Walt Disney World Resort visit.  My young padawans are near obsessed with everything Star Wars so Hollywood Studios is always a Force-filled, full day for us.  Below are my top 5 Star Wars Experiences for your family!

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple - My oldest has now participated in this incredible experience twice and he can't get enough of it!  Aspiring Jedi between the ages of 4 and 12 sign up early in the day to participate in one of the multiple shows throughout the day.  During the show, they receive training in the ways of the Force and using their lightsabers, all as they prepare to do battle with foes like Darth Vader and Kylo Ren.  For more details on this experience, check out my full blog post on it, here.  The key is getting to sign-ups early, meaning you'll want to rope drop this to get an assigned time for the day and then get excited!

Star Wars Launch Bay - Next to Disney Junior! Live on Stage, you'll find the entrance to Star Wars Launch Bay.  This has something for everyone in the family to enjoy!  Throughout the indoor exhibit, you'll find memorabilia from the movies and lots of cool trivia.  There's even a short film you can view.  But the highlight of Launch Bay are the character meet and greets!  Currently, you can meet Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, and BB-8.  We came to Launch Bay around 10AM and saw relatively no crowds - we visited both Chewbacca and Kylo Ren in under 15 minutes total and then waited about 15 minutes to meet BB-8.  These characters don't sign autographs, but the interaction is memorable!

March of the First Order and Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away - Both of these events you can see throughout the day down Hollywood Boulevard and on center stage.  Captain Phasma leads her troops down Hollywood Boulevard several times each day, followed by a stage show where iconic characters bring to light some of the most loved scenes from Star Wars movies over the years.  We don't typically "plan" to catch one of the shows, but each time we pass by and one is occurring we always stop to watch!

Star Tours - The Adventure Continues - The one ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios that is Stars Wars themed is AWESOME!  During the ride, you enter your space craft and are given your mission. Piloted by C3-PO, your group is strapped into movie theater type seats and then launched into space. The seats and screen move to create the sensation that you are flying, dodging debris, and engaged in battle with the Dark Side.  Each flight also identifies a rebel spy from the participants and my oldest was selected this time - he was so excited to see his face on the big screen!  This is a Tier 2 FastPass+ attraction in Hollywood Studios and is a good choice in my opinion as wait times often exceed 30 minutes.

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular - The perfect way to end your Star Wars filled day at Hollywood Studios is with this nighttime spectacular.  Combining fireworks, lasers, music, and movie images, fans and non-fans of Star Wars alike will be awed by this performance.  We were actually disappointed that we missed it during our most recent trip as it was replaced with Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! during the holiday season.  I think John Williams' score was made for a show like this!

I hear a lot people saying that they plan to skip Hollywood Studios because of the recent closures and current construction, but all of the Star Wars magic coupled with other favorite attractions means that we still dedicate at least one whole day (and sometimes even more!) to this action-packed park!


Disney News Update!

This week featured many big announcements in the world of Disney!  Here are some of the highlights in one place.

Image from Disney Parks Blog
Animal Kingdom Openings - Opening dates were released for the long awaited Rivers of Light Nighttime Show and Pandora: The World of Avatar.  Rivers of Light will open officially on February 17 - just in time for President's Day weekend.  You can book FastPass+ reservations for seating at the show and there are also dining packages with Tiffins and Tusker House that are available for booking at this time.  Pandora: The World of Avatar of Avatar will open on May 27, 2017 - Memorial Day Weekend.  First looks at this new land are amazing with lighted walkways, floating mountains, and so much more.  The movie featured breathtaking scenery and Disney imagineers have worked hard to replicate that in the park.

Star Wars Land Update - Disney also announced that Star Wars Land will be set to open in both Disneyland Resort and at Disney's Hollywood Studios in the Walt Disney World Resort in 2019.  Reports have shared that the out-of-this-galaxy experience will feature character interactions, a new Star Tours, and the chance to be Han Solo and take control of the Millennium Falcon.  My two little padawans are going to love this!

Image from Disney Parks Blog
Goodbye Wishes - For the past 14 years, guests at Walt Disney World Resort's Magic Kingdom have ended their magical day with the Wishes fireworks show.  This park classic will bid farewell on May 11th and an all new show, Happily Ever After, will begin on May 12th.  The new show promises to bring even more shows topping magic to the Magic Kingdom with projections, lasers, fireworks, and of course classic Disney music!

Beauty and the Beast meets Disney Cruise Line - Disney will unveil a Beauty and the Beast stage show on board the Disney Dream beginning in November.  No doubt capitalizing on what is sure to be a wonderful live action film this year, the stage show is sure to bring this "tale as old as time" to life in the grandest of fashions.

Ticket Price Increase - As I was prepping this blog post, more information hit today about ticket price increases for Walt Disney World.  It looks like some of the most notable changes will be increases for single day and annual passholders, no more water park and fun option, expiration dates on all tickets, and an increase to premium parking rates.  More information on all of this can be found in numerous posts online today, including this article from the Orlando Sentinel.

What a whirlwind few days! Hope everyone has been able to keep up and I can't wait to see what new fun awaits in the wonderful world of Disney!

Coming in 2017!

Walt Disney Studios had a phenomenal year in 2016.  Zootopia, Finding Dory, Moana, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story all were big successes for Walt Disney Studios - just to name a few.  And 2017 seems to be setting up for another exciting year! Below are some quick previews from Walt Disney Studios.  I highlighted the ones that are on the "don't miss" list for my family this year!

March 17, 2017 - Beauty and the Beast

#BeautyandtheBeast
#BeOurGuest




The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic “Beauty and the Beast,” a stunning, cinematic event celebrating one of the most beloved tales ever told. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a Beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart of the true Prince within.

May 26, 2017 - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

#PiratesoftheCaribbean
#APiratesDeathForMe 




Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as the iconic, swashbuckling anti-hero Jack Sparrow in the all-new “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” The rip-roaring adventure finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil's Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea—notably Jack. Jack's only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry (Brenton Thwaites), a headstrong young sailor in the Royal Navy. At the helm of the Dying Gull, his pitifully small and shabby ship, Captain Jack seeks not only to reverse his recent spate of ill fortune, but to save his very life from the most formidable and malicious foe he has ever faced.

June 16, 2017 - Cars 3

#Cars3 


Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!

November 22, 2017 - Coco

#Coco




Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history. Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017.


December 15, 2017 - Star Wars: Episode VIII

#StarWarsVIII





Jedi Master You Will Be

Have you ever watched a movie and imagined how amazing it would be to be a part of the magic?  Any Star Wars fans ever dream battling the Dark Side?  Well, young visitors to Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World get the chance to do just that.  Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple allows children between the ages of 4 and 12 the chance to train with a Jedi Master, become an expert in the ways of the Force, and then do battle with Dark Side foes like Darth Vader.  This experience is entirely free (yes, you read that right. . .FREE!) with your admission to Hollywood Studios, but space is limited.  In order to make the most of your experience, here is everything you need to know.

Getting Registered - You cannot pre-register for the Jedi Training Academy.  Registration takes place each day at Hollywood Studios and you want to get there early in order to secure your spot.  We arrived at Hollywood Studios around 8:15 for a 9:00 opening that day.  Around 8:30, cast members began welcoming guests into the park.  Guests who were looking to head towards Sunset Boulevard, Pixar Place, and other parts of the park were held back by ropes once inside, but signs directed those signing up for Jedi Training to head over to begin the process.  The registration takes place back by Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.  Even though we entered at rope drop and were in line before 8:40, the line was still incredibly long.  After about a 20 minute wait, we were able to sign up.  Don't forget that your little Jedi needs to be with you to sign up.  They show runs multiple times throughout the day and you get to select your time based on availability when you arrive.  The earliest show we could get that day was 11:40 AM so we scooped it up.  Along with our confirmation ticket for the training, we also received three FastPasses good for the entire family.  I don't know if this happens all the time, but my guess is that these FastPasses might be a way for Disney to let guests be flexible in selecting their time for the performance - if you have to schedule during a FastPass+ reservation time, no worries.



Checking In - The check-in for the Jedi Training Academy is directly in front of the 50's Prime Time Cafe.  You'll notice some blue circles on the sidewalk and that's how you'll know you are in the right spot.  They ask you to arrive 30 minutes before your show time.  This allows the cast members to check guests in, get them cloaked up, go over PhotoPass information with the family, and give directions to the young Jedi.  I stayed here with Brody while my husband headed over towards the stage to grab a good viewing spot.  It doesn't matter what circle your kid stands on; everyone will get a chance to battle the Dark Side.  While cast members were getting the kids ready, a PhotoPass photographer came over and shared with us information on accessing the pictures they take during the performance.  Remember, all of these images are yours for free if you've purchased Memory Maker.  About 5 minutes before showtime, cast members will lead the future Jedi and their parents over to the stage to begin.















The Show - The stage is located next to Star Tours: The Adventure Continues.  When the kids arrive, they take a spot on stage based on the line they are in.  Again, no worries about which line they are in - both get the chance to train and do battle against the Dark Side.  The Jedi Masters teach the kids the ways of the Force and some lightsaber battle techniques.  After some practice, smoke fills the stage and villains from the Dark Side emerge.  The villains may vary from show to show, but we had Darth Vader and the Seventh Sister.  Brody was so excited and volunteered to be first to do battle with Darth Vader.  The show is extremely organized with the Jedi-in-Training lined up and ready to fight as soon as one is done.  Once everyone completed their battles, those two disappeared, but it wasn't long before Kylo Ren emerged.  The kids did not do battle with Kylo Ren, but they used the power of the Force that now flowed through them to cause him to retreat.





















From check-in to the finale of the show, the whole experience lasted about an hour and was one of the most memorable from our trip.  The pictures from the Disney PhotoPass photographer were priceless and Brody couldn't stop talking about his encounter with Darth Vader.  I would highly recommend this free experience to anyone with a young Star Wars fan - just be sure to arrive to the park early to secure your spot as all shows do fill each day and they typically reach capacity very early on in the morning.  

Experiencing a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Visitors to Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort have a number of opportunities to be immersed into the world of Star Wars fanfare.  For my little Jedi, we made Star Wars Launch Bay one of our first stops during the day.  My son was dressed as a Jedi for our Halloween visit to Hollywood Studios and was heavily questioned at the entrance to Star Wars Launch Bay by the Stormtroopers guarding the entrance.  Once inside, we opted to move past the Launch Bay Theater where a short film plays giving behind-the-scenes information about the Star Wars saga and linking together some memorable clips.  At 4 years old, Brody was focused on meeting the characters so away we went!

At Star Wars Launch Bay, you are able to meet Chewbacca and Kylo Ren.  The characters are separated into two queue lines with pieces of Star Wars memorabilia for you to look at while you wait.  We first visited Kylo Ren, which made Brody a little nervous the closer we got.  He was worried that Kylo Ren wouldn't like him because he fights for the Dark Side while Brody is a Jedi and clearly on the Light Side.  I will say, that when the doors opened and we had our chance to meet Kylo Ren, he was a little intimidating.  He paces in front of the group, presumptively trying to use the Force to read our minds.  There really is nothing "scary" about the encounter - but it's definitely a change for the "warm, fuzzy" character meets you might be used to around the parks.  Then he poses for a quick picture before you are ushered out.  We waited about another 20 minutes in the next queue line to meet Chewbacca.  Chewie could not have been more friendly!  He had lots of hugs for the whole family.

After about 50 minutes inside meeting characters, we were anxious to move onto the next adventure in our day.  We quickly moved through the remainder of Launch Bay where there were computer games, more memorabilia from the Star Wars saga, and even a chance to visit with some Jawas.  Launch Bay is a great stop in Hollywood Studios for Star Wars fans young and old alike.  It's also a great place to escape the heat during your day in the park.  And Launch Bay continues to receive updates!  On Monday night, Walt Disney World announced that new pieces - both authentic and replicas - from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be added to the Launch Bay experience, which means that even the seasoned Walt Disney World traveler will have something new to check out on their next visit!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

As someone new to the whole world of Star Wars, I've been waiting for another movie to give me a chance to dive back into a galaxy far, far away.  My personal Star Wars journey began with my oldest son starting to watch Star Wars Rebels on Disney XD.  Then I watched my first Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, this past year and was instantly hooked.


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a standalone film which will chronicle the journey of a group of unlikely heroes as they try to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire's ultimate weapon of destruction.  The trailer promises the action and adventure that Star Wars fans have come to love and expect from the franchise.



Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens December 16th in theaters everywhere, but tickets are already on sale.  Follow along with the hashtag #RogueOne on social media and the official social media channels for the movie below.  Also, check back here on the blog over the next few weeks as I highlight Star Wars fun from our most recent trip to Walt Disney World that can bring the magic to life for you and your family on your next vacation!

Like STAR WARS on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/StarWarsMovies  

Follow STAR WARS on Twitter: https://twitter.com/starwars

Follow STAR WARS on Instagram: http://instagram.com/StarWarsMovies 

Follow STAR WARS on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/starwars

Visit the official ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY website: http://www.starwars.com/films/rogue-one


Nighttime Spectaculars at Disney's Hollywood Studios

For years, each trip to Walt Disney World had included a visit to Fantasmic! at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  We broke tradition on this trip and opted to skip Fantasmic! to get up close and personal with the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show.  As much as I love all of the nighttime shows throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, I was blown away by this extravaganza and would say it is a "not-to-be-missed" show.  Lasers, projections, fireworks, and music combine to make you feel like you are actually in a galaxy far, far away.  The projections highlighted movie clips from the older Star Wars movies all the way up through the latest installment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I'm terrible at fireworks pictures, but hopefully you get the idea!
Now that I told you that you have to check this out, I'm also going to tell you that the show is going away. . .whomp, whomp.  Hopefully, it's just for the holiday season though and in it's absence you get to enjoy Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!  This new holiday nighttime spectacular will be shown nightly from November 14 - December 31.  It will be similar in it's presentation to the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show, but instead of droids and Jedi will feature some familiar holiday friends.  I'm sure the show will be amazing based on this sneak peek posted by The DIS on YouTube:



Whether you get to enjoy the holiday fun of Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! or you are hoping for the return of Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular after the holiday season, these newest nighttime shows at Disney's Hollywood Studios are amazing fun for the whole family!

Quick Trip Recap

We're fresh off our latest trip to the Walt Disney World Resort and I have so much to share about our vacation!  We traveled with my parents and stayed at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek.  This was the first time we've stayed off property with kids and I have to say that the Hilton was a perfect choice.  I'm going to update my review of the property with everything that we enjoyed with the kids, but in short, the pool, breakfast, and transportation made it easy to enjoy all the parks had to offer as well as relax around the resort during our "down time."

Daddy and Caleb enjoying the pool at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Our week long trip included a 6 day Magic Your Way base ticket where we visited one park per day.  We opted to spend 2 days each at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom with 1 day each at Epcot and Hollywood Studios.  Inside the parks, we tried a few new experiences including The Pirates League at Magic Kingdom and the Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple at Hollywood Studios.  Brody, our 4 year old, loved all of the Star Wars activities at Hollywood Studios in particular.  While Hollywood Studios is getting a bad rap lately due to so much of the park being closed for the addition of Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land, I think this might have been one of Brody's favorite days.

My handsome Captain Hook!


Brody was an extremely brave Jedi as he battled Darth Vader and Kylo Ren!
We also tried a few new dining and evening experiences.  The Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage was a memorable evening and one that I would highly recommend to anyone with young kids.  We also enjoyed a fabulous date night out at Jiko with it's delicious South African cuisine and tried out the breakfast at Akershus inside of Epcot.  I was also thrilled to run in the inaugural runDisney Wine and Dine 10K my last day in Walt Disney World.

Meeting my doppelgänger, Snow White, at breakfast!
Just a few quick pictures from the inaugural runDisney Wine and Dine 10K
I'll admit that the week long vacation with a 1 year old and 4 year old had its trying moments, I still think that the boys enjoyed their time in the most magical place on Earth.  I can't wait to share all of the experiences with you from my trip over the next few weeks.  Stay tuned for some new and exciting posts!