Inspired by the Internet: Disney GPS
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Life with Dan is … interesting. Sometimes you can be sitting around talking about lease agreements and bank accounts when, without warning, he’s off on a tangent about “The Real Key West,” which is what he calls Old Key West Resort. Because problems focusing. I guess?

Ariel on a cell phone The point is, it’s impossible to have a boring conversation with him, and recently he’s been experimenting with the idea of Disney characters voicing his GPS. Because while Siri is cool and all, we’re both sort of tired of listening to her daft ass call my street “Booool.” Because that’s simply NOT the name of my street.

Because he is basically the world’s biggest troll, Dan said he’d like Stitch to voice his GPS. That’s when I decided I’m never going anywhere with him again.

And because we’re pretty much incapable of doing anything without alerting Disney Twitter (that’s REALLY not true), we asked YOU who you’d like to lend voice to your directions. Here’s what you said (in absolutely no particular order):

James Mason doing Captain Nemo (@drzarron)
Kronk (@DisneyObsessed1)
Edna Mode (@AlexFarnworth)
Olaf (@H_Victoria)
Gaston (@pookisama)
Merida (@ChrisQueen)
Sebastian (@H_Victoria)
Goofy (@OzGoofyPrincess and @floridareese)
Maelstrom narrator (@neff2032)
Jessica Rabbit (@ProfessorDave)
Jon Prime (@DisneyDweller)
Scar (@JoeyB586 )
Stitch (@disney_frump)
Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood (@KCan_7)
Ray from Princess and the Frog (@PersianNerd and @j_nelsn)
Minnie (@wookieecopilot)
John from Carousel of Progress (@DisneyProject)
Yoda (@nickilasi)
Zazu (@H_Victoria)
Hades (@JoeyB586)

So … who would voice your GPS?

Me? I’m thinking Mary Poppins. Or maybe Winnie the Pooh! How cute would that be?!?!

Join in by adding your ideas to the comments below! 

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What a View: American Adventure
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During a recent trip to WDW, I found myself alone in the World Showcase with a couple of hours to spare. So I walked around, found something in each country that filled me with delight and snapped a photo. And I’ve been sharing them with you, one each week. This week, we’re going “home,” so to speak: The American Adventure!

American Adventure (Mouse on the Mind)I love my country. Seriously. I do. But the American Adventure? I can do without it. While I love the Fife and Drum Corps and the Voices of Liberty, I can do without the attraction itself, and as I revealed yesterday, I hate the pavilion’s counter service spot. To be honest, unless it’s Flower and Garden or Food and Wine time, I rarely even venture into the pavilion at all. That said, I almost always, always make time to stop and visit this telescope with an awesome view. It makes me think of adventure, exploration and good-old can-do spirit–the things this country was founded on. As far as I’m concerned, THIS is the American Adventure. So let’s celebrate it!

What’s your favorite detail in the France Pavilion? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Kill Refurb Marry Blog Hop: World Showcase Counter Service
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Kill Refurb Marry Blog HopYou are probably familiar with the popular parlor game, Kill Boff Marry, where given the choice between three people, you must decide which you’d murder, sleep with or spend the rest of your life with.

A few months ago, Estelle from This Happy Place Blog and I decided to transform the popular game into a WDW-themed game of Kill Refurb Marry. Our little game has been growing in popularity, and eventually we decided to add a little Blog Hop action to the game so we can all link up!

Below, you’ll find an ever-growing list of bloggers who’ve decided to lend their own take on this month’s topic (World Showcase Counter Service Spots). Want to play along? There are simple instructions for adding your own link to the list as well as include the list on your own blog!

Thanks so much for being part of our SIXTH Kill Marry Refurb Blog Hop! Our next Hop will take place on March 12, and the topic will be The Muppets.   To add the Blog Hop participants to your own post, click here for instructions

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Kill Refurb Marry: World Showcase Counter Service
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Kill Refurb Marry Blog HopYou are probably familiar with the popular parlor game, Kill Boff Marry, where given the choice between three people, you must decide which you’d murder, sleep with and spend the rest of your life with.

Estelle from This Happy Place Blog and I decided to transform the  game into a WDW-themed version called Kill Refurb Marry. Our little game grew in popularity, and a few months ago, we decided to add a little Blog Hop action to the game so we can all link up!

This is the sixth Kill Refurb Marry Blog Hop! I hope lots of Disney bloggers will join in the fun. You can check out their links on the Kill Refurb Marry homepage.

This month, we’re ranking World Showcase Counter Service Spots.

Kill: Katsura Grill

Katsura Grill (kingdommagictravel.com)

Okay … I know just a couple of weeks ago, I was talking about how much I love the outdoor seating at Katsura … but … uuuuuugh. The food is so bad, and the menu is so terrible. And this isn’t me being opposed to “other” types of food. I totally love Japanese food! REALLY! Just not this version. Even the green tea ice cream tastes off. What the hell, EPCOT?

Refurb: Liberty Inn

Liberty Inn (from guide2wdw.com)

I’m not going to lie and pretend like I eat here a lot. Because I don’t. Rarely ever. At all. But that’s because the menu needs a seriously serious revamp. I mean, look: it’s the same angus burger I can get anywhere else on property! And the same chicken caesar salad. And blah blah blah … BORING! We have such interesting regional and fusion cuisines in this great nation: corn dogs! Cheesesteaks! Buffalo wings! Tater tots! Jambalaya! Biscuits and gravy! Crabcakes! BBQ! And for dessert? Skip the British-invented apple pie. Instead, serve up truly American inventions like key lime pie, cinnamon rolls and root beer floats. And mini banana splits. Kthanx.

Marry: Tangierine Cafe

Tangierine Cafe (Mouse on the Mind)From the beautifully-crafted tables to the yummy, no-frills foodstuffs, Tangierine is one of my all-time favorite places in all of Disney World. It’s good for a quick meal. Or a long hang out with friends. I think I’ve rarely ever visited Epcot without at least stopping in for an iced mint tea or a baklava. If I could only visit one World Showcase counter service spot for the rest of my Disney days, it would be this one.

 

Thanks so much for reading! Don’t forget to click here to check out Kill Refurb Marry posts by other Disney bloggers!  And make sure you come back next Wednesday for a very special Kill Refurb Marry with The Muppets!! 

If you want to play along, write your own post and add it to the list! (If you don’t have a blog, zap me an e-mail (melissa@mouseonthemind.com). I’d be happy to host your guest post for the next round of KRM!)

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Weekly Round Up: March 11
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Festival of Fantasy Parade (At Disney Again)So. How about that Festival of Fantasy Parade, huh?

Extra huge thanks to my love, At Disney Again, for suggesting that we host some of the photos and the video here on MotM! The parade is incredibly and beautiful, and I can not WAIT to see it live and in person at the end of the month.

Until then, I have a LOT going on!

This past weekend, I shared a lovely Animal Kingdom-themed dinner with Jamie and Keith from the Disney Hipster Podcast, Mike and Brooke from Jambo Everyone, Guy from Drunk On Disney, and Lauren and Jarrett! Thank you so much to Adam and Andrew of Disney Hipster Blog for inviting us all to come together and for preparing such an amazing, authentic evening.

Tomorrow, it’s the return of Kill Refurb Marry with This Happy Place Blog. This month, our topic is World Showcase Counter Service Spots.

Then, next Wednesday, we’re hosting a second, extra-ultra special, Estelle-inspired Kill Refurb Marry: Muppets Edition in honor of Muppets Most Wanted. That’ll be on March 19, and the details about both blog hops are on the KRM Homepage.

We’ll fill in the rest of this week with a look at The American Adventure, a look at New Fantasyland and a fun thought experiment that you’re going to want to join in on!

So … stick around. Or browse away and come back. Or, better yet, subscribe to MotM so you get new content delivered via your RSS feed or zapped straight to your inbox.

See ya real soon!

One Little Spark of Inspiration
Katherine, the lovely proprietress of Food Fitness Fantasy, giggles at some super silly Disney merch.

Nick and Nora munch on yummies from Cookes of Dublin on Extra WDW Magic.

The guys of Disney Hipster Blog share the murals of the Maharajah Jungle Trek.

Sarah gobbles up French Toast Bread Pudding (for breakfast!) on Eating WDW.

Estelle, the leading lady from This Happy Place Blog, has a bone to pick with whoever took a certain terrible photo of Miss Piggy.

What are you reading this week?? Let us know in the comments!

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Festival of Fantasy
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Festival of Fantasy Parade (At Disney Again)Happy Monday … and Happy Parade Day! Errr … sort of.

Yesterday, Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade stepped off for the first time, and Dan was there to capture it all. Thousands of photos and a freshman attempt at videography later, and even though I was a thousand miles away, I feel as if I were there. And so will you!

The parade, which Disney says is “a tribute to New Fantasyland,” is a brightly colored plasticine pop of pure delight that whirls and swirls energetically along with a medley of our favorite Disney songs. Below, you’ll find many photos of the parade along with descriptions, explanations and comments from my own viewing of the photos and video as well as Dan’s opinions on the parade.

Below that? A full video of the parade, so you can experience it in all of its kinetic glory. Then, on At Disney Again, you’ll find more than 100 photos—everything from close-ups of the floats and performers to wide shots that offer perspective on the size and scope of this ambitious parade.

The moving show starts with members of “The Swan Court,” and I can’t decide if they look more like swans, with gravity-defying feather cuffs around the neck, or show ponies, with high, feathered hats. Regardless, they’re beautiful, and really set the tone for the whole parade: modern, colorful and fun with nods to the heavy, traditional costumes of the past.

Following these beautiful dancers is the new Princess float. The dreadful crystal castle of the past several years is gone (hopefully forever), and this replacement is amazing. With Belle and Beast riding on front, the float features two more platforms for Princess-y pairs—and each of them rotates, giving the audience on both sides of the street a chance to see the whole, beautiful float in its entirety. Cinderella and the Frozen sisters (along with Olaf) are our Princesses du jour for the time being, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t easy to switch these sets out.

Dan and I both love this float. Not only is it lovely, but it’s our first glimpse of the kinetic energy of this parade—everything moves. Everything. Sure, all parades are forward moving. But all of these floats are left and right, up and down, side to side moving. They very much exist in the three dimensional space, and they take full advantage of that fact.

Everywhere you look, something is twisting, turning or pumping, giving you a new perspective. As we were looking through the photos, Dan kept noticing little details he didn’t see while he was on the sidelines, and I experienced something new every time I watched the video. This is a parade that will stand up to repeat viewings for sure.

Next up is Rapunzel and The Snuggly Duckling. Leading the charge are some colorful barmaids and Ulf, the ruffian-turned-mime from the pub.  This float is sort of amazing but also sort of a big mess. Rapunzel’s hair is woven throughout the galleon ship … which is also the bar itself. It’s very odd—shaped like a ship, with ship details, but the sign on the door says Snuggly Duckling and there are casks everywhere.

Riding atop huge swinging axes and other weaponry, Flynn, Maximus and the Pub Thugs, are constantly in motion, mostly unable to interact with the guests. Though this part of the float is incredibly cool to see (the performers move the platforms with their own body weight), it also seems oddly out-of-place. And there’s so much going on—from her hair to some lanterns to the ship and bar details and myriad other Tangled Easter eggs—it’s just very confusing for the eye.

Next up: Ariel’s Undersea Music Box! I love the brightly colored sea creatures–they look simultaneously bold and feather light, with rippling iridescence shinning as the performers greet guests on either side of the parade route. In addition to the seashell woman, the undersea flora woman and the seahorses we see here, there was also a really beautiful coral reef woman, who never made it over to Dan’s side of the street.

That’s actually one thing I don’t like about the parade: in some places (like The Swan Court and the dancers in front of Merida’s float, which we’ll get to), there are moooooore than enough dancers preceding the float. But here, there are just three. And their costumes are to. Die. For. There should be two of each costume so everyone gets a chance to see them more closely. Because they are fabulous!

And so is the music box, which looks like it comes right out of the Mermaid attraction in New Fantasyland. It’s perfect—everything spins, just as you’d expect. And if Disney doesn’t make two music-box-sized versions of this thing (a high-end version and a lower-end version for kids), then they’re clearly just not interested in printing their own money.

That’s another thing about this parade that I, personally, really love: it’s so godamn marketable! A couple of the costumes are so stinking incredible that Disney’s practically going to have to create salable versions of them, along with miniaturized versions of some of the floats, as well.

But I digress. Back to the show!

The Peter Pan unit is one of my favorites from the whole parade. I’ll admit: I didn’t like the sketches I saw ahead of the parade. But seeing it for real … it’s really kind of amazing that they were able to make this float happen. It’s so interesting and beautiful and really unlike anything we’ve seen before.

But before we meet Peter, Wendy and the gang, we interact with The Lost Boys. Their Newsies-inspired costumes are very tough and rugged but have a soft boyishness to them that’s appropriately vulnerable. The choreography and design are perfectly balanced in a way that’s truly greater than the sum of its (already exceptional) parts.

The rest of the float, as I’ve said, is beautiful. I especially love the Tinkerbell area–it nods to her float in the Main Street Electrical Parade with a bright, lively scene that moves and spins and would seem right at home in Alice’s Wonderland. And, of course, Tick Tock the Crocodile brings up the rear of this section, comically threatening … I really just want to pinch his cheeks!

The Brave set is my least favorite of the show. And I still sort of squealed with delight when I saw it.

I mean, it is really cute. Merida is just darling, and her three little bear brothers? Totally adorable. But I guess I just don’t ‘get’ it. Why is it a giant bagpipe? It’s huge and clunky. And though the bear medallion spins, I feel like it doesn’t have the same vibrancy and life as the other floats.

Also? Too many dancers. And their costumes are just terrible. Get those women out of that ill-fitting crushed velvet and into some cute, funky plaids. And the hairnets. Oh, boy, the hairnets! It just feels so … old.

Of course, what is a story without an enemy?

And amid all of the cotton-candy spun, carnival-inspired, pop art-styled patchwork of ruffles and lace, there are nods to the Victorian-flourished iron and inner clock-workings of steam punk that make this whole parade even more spectacular.

The darkness is woven throughout in small ways (like Ariel’s music box and the wind-up-toy-ish nature of Tick Tock), but we really see it for the first time in a series of men with pointy metal masks (Disney’s calling them The Ravens).

Their costumes are a mix of riveted leather, filigreed metal and dark, layered fabric wings. Along with them is a selection of very dark stilt-walking tree-men inspired by the upcoming Maleficent film. Not gonna lie: they’re kind of scary. But in the best way—they stalk Flora, Fauna and Merryweather (not pictured) and spar with Phillip along the route.

But the pièce de résistance is the  53-foot long Maleficent Dragon. She. Is. Spectacular.

She breathes fire, for goodness sake! And she’s so breathtakingly beautiful. I mean, I just literally can’t even handle the details of this float. She is a work of art and a work of war. And while some people might think it’s “too scary,” I don’t think kids are going to be scared of her at all. I think they’re going to be fascinated.

As Dan said to me earlier, the parade is, overall, balanced well between whimsy and villains. Yes, Maleficent and her minions are a little frightening, but she is defeated by Prince Phillip. And immediately followed by whimsy.

It doesn’t get more whimsical than a wind-up Monstro! The water from his blowhole pumps up and down, bouncing poor Cleo along the parade route. She’s accompanied along the way by Pinocchio and Dumbo. It’s a spinning, tilting mash-up of Pleasure Island fun and Fantasia styling that nods at the world’s best circus: Storybook Circus!

The float is led off by the Seven Dwarfs, Snow White, Jiminy Cricket, The White Rabbit, Alice and the Mad Hatter. I’m glad to see all of these characters making an appearance, but it does feel like a pretty random melange. They’re accompanied by several dancers who’ve become  bubbling, brightly-colored living pieces of the ocean.

Bringing up the rear are the Fab Five, Daisy, Chip and Dale … and the coolest costumes I’ve ever seen. They look like circus tents, but the way they bounce and shake along with the movements of the dancers is truly something spectacular. It’s such a fun, energetic way to end the show.

The whole parade, really, is wonderful. The touches are just perfect! From Mickey, looking very Wizard of Oz in a top hat, and Minnie aboard a hot air balloon to the way that most of the costumes have been made light and ethereal with feather-like touches … it’s perfect in a way that I really can’t compare to anything else Disney has ever done. Gone are the old, heavy taffeta, velvet and tasseled costumes (mostly). These feel completely modern but still completely Fantasyland-esque.

Festival of Fantasy Parade (At Disney Again)

Want more? You’re in luck! Dan’s got more than 100 shots–with awesome movement and great details–on his blog, and you can watch the full parade below! Hint: scroll to 3 minutes, 30 seconds to get right to the parade. There are a lot of announcements beforehand:

Which float is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below! And if anyone knows how to recreate those amazing Storybook Circus skirts from the finale, please let me know. 

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Saturday Something: Let It Go
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By now, you’ve probably seen Idina Menzel’s sort-of not-too-fabulous Oscar’s performance. Maybe she was nervous to perform in front of an audience of stars. Maybe she was distracted by Adele Dazeem. Maybe she wasn’t feeling at 100% due to a cold. Or maybe she simply couldn’t hear the godamned orchestra or see the conductor, who was moving the song along much too quickly, if you ask me. Whatever the case … it doesn’t really matter. In fact, I’m not even going to link it here.

Because Idina is still amazing. And two days later, in a much-less talked about performance, she teamed up with The Roots and Jimmy Fallon to completely blow me away:

But maybe you’ve already seen that. And you STILL can’t “let go” of the song. I’m right there with you. It’s stuck in my head almost as surely of the ear worm from The Lego Movie.

So I did what any normal (?) person does, and I looked for some fun covers on the Internet. I’ve watched a lot of them. A lot. But these 3 stood out.

First, is the “Tribalized” version, performed by Alex Boye, Lexi Walker and the One Voice Children’s Choir. Lexi  is 11 years old. And here she performs as beautifully, if not more so, that Idina! The performance is a jaw-dropper. (And her local paper did a fun look at how the video came together with behind-the-scenes footage of Lexi warming up.)

 

This next one is my favorite entry in the “Most Hilarious Cover” category: a local weatherman from Cincinnati performed the tune with new roads about the treacherous weather conditions in his city. I die every time.

 

And, finally, the obligatory mash up performed by a male voice. Because why not? This one’s actually quite good and unexpected!

Which is your favorite Let It Go cover or mashup? Share a link in the comments! Or tweet it @MouseontheMind!

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Disney on TV: They’re All Robots!
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Disney on TV Sitcom stars in WDW

The year was 1996, and Roseanne was, really, on its final legs. A look at the ratings made it very clear: After sky-high viewership in the early seasons, interest in the show had slowly declined, but there was a dramatic drop during the show’s eighth season. But that didn’t stop the show’s titular character from making insane demands …

roseanne logo

In response to seeing the Full House gang enjoying their free trip to WDW just a couple of years earlier, Roseanne made the network provide  a free trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth for HER television family, too. Of couse, she knew nothing about Disney, and apparently neither did her writers. But that didn’t stop them!

So the Connors are going to Disney World, and I just love this arc: With Dan’s severance check, the family decides to go on vacation … and when they can’t decide on a single international destination, they decide to go to Disney World. Because, duh, you can visit all sorts of countries at Epcot’s World Showcase. Another reason I love it: Sarah Chalke temporarily rejoins the cast for this arc. Not only do I love Sarah Chalke, but they also saucily wrote her return into the script.

Actually, if we’re being technical, this is two episodes, the first titled We’re Going to Disney World and the second Disney World War II. The first half hour doesn’t show any of Disney World, but it follows the family as they plan their escape, from booking the plane fare to packing to bickering about whether they have to spend the entire trip together … an argument that is VERY familiar to me! While we don’t get to see any Park icons, we do get a couple of misnomers. For example, did you know that Florida used to be orange groves before Walt found it? (Me either … )

Roseanne in Disney World Once they arrive on property, the Conner Grand Gathering hits the Parks hard. Dan goes in search of beer in Epcot, while the rest of the family explores the Magic Kingdom. I think my favorite bit is how Roseanne refers to everything as animatronic. Because, duh, everything in the Park is animatronic. Even the tourists. And when she faces off with the janitorial staff? Really, though. This may be my favorite visit to Disney ever. Second place for awesome moment goes to that time Sarah Chalke takes a selfie with Goofy in Frontierland (and her husband gets jealous). (Did the Roseanne show invent the selfie?!?!)

It’s really good, solid fun.

And there’s a bonus: After their free Disney trip, the staff of the Roseanne show was so appalled and weirded out by the WDW experience that they did a third Disney-inspired episode … this one satirizing the Parks. It’s called Springtime for David, and he gets a job at a German-themed amusement park. It’s founder had himself frozen, you know? And all of the other employees (and David, too, in time) are creepy, overly happy automatons until Roseanne saves her future son-in-law with these immortal words:

Listen, David: We don’t whistle while we work. We grumble and complain and encourage others to do likewise.

Well said.

What’s your favorite moment from Roseanne’s visit to Disney World? Let us know in the comments below! 

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What a View: Japan
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During a recent trip to WDW, I found myself alone in the World Showcase, and I decided to circle the Lagoon and spend at least 10 minutes in each country, looking for one thing that makes me super happy.

So I did.

I found something in each country that filled me with delight, and I snapped a photo. And I’ve been sharing them with you, one each week. This is week five. Japan.

I have a love/hate relationship with Japan. I LOVE spending hours in the department store. But I HATE that there’s not really much to do there other than shop (or gawk at products I have no intention of buying).

Japan Pavilion (Mouse on the Mind)With nothing to do and not much to see (beyond Hello Kitty and teapots), the only thing I really love about Japan is the little koi pond and waterfall on the Pavilion’s upper terrace. It can get busy during the meal rush, but most of the time, this little slice of heaven is fairly quiet.

Except for the ducks. Oh, I can’t tell you the number of run-ins I’ve had with brazen Epcot ducks sitting here, silently cursing myself for bothering to order food from Katsura Grill again, when … there they are! Quacking and begging more aggressively than my own spoiled mutt.

There’s something really comforting … and really terrifying … about it.

 

What’s your favorite detail in the Morocco Pavilion? Let us know in the comments!

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Diamond Edition Review: The Jungle Book
Jonathan P. Hempfling, Esq.

The Jungle BookThe Jungle Book
Disney Diamond Edition
Blu-Ray / DVD / Digital Combo Pack
78 min, Rated G

The Jungle Book was the 19th animated film out of the Walt Disney Animation Studio, and was released in 1967. Famously known as the final animated feature in which Walt Disney was personally involved, it is the 9th release in Disney’s “Diamond Edition” collection.

The films in the Diamond Collection represent the best the studio has to offer. They are released bi-annually, are in circulation for a short period of time and then are put into moratorium or “back into the Disney Vault.” Last released in 2007 on DVD, the Blu-Ray version of The Jungle Book receives upgraded video and audio, as well as a couple new special features. Is it worth the upgrade? Let’s find out.

THE FILM
Following the huge company-wide financial loss in 1960 (largely as a result of the expensive production costs of Sleeping Beauty), the studio had difficult decisions to make.

By this time, the studio had branched out and been successful in live-action films and had opened Disneyland several years prior. The internal focus now was not solely on animation, and after the debatable “failure” of Sleeping Beauty, cuts were made to the animation department. The subsequent films were made with less manpower, and even Walt himself had taken a back seat to focus on other company projects.

Bill Peet had been a story writer in the Disney studio since 1937, having worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and most pictures forward. Following Sleeping Beauty, he was given sole control of the story department on subsequent projects. Walt loved Peet’s treatment for 101 Dalmatians, and the film was a success critically and financially.

Peet’s next project, the Sword in the Stone, while a technical success financially, failed to measure up critically. After The Sword in the Stone, Disney and Peet agreed that Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book would be the studio’s next film, and Peet was instructed to work on a treatment. Peet’s treatment was in line with the original novels, which carried a dark and serious tone.

Early sketches of The Jungle Book

Because of The Sword in the Stone’s critical failure, Walt decided to take a significantly larger role in the production for The Jungle Book than he had in the years prior. Immediately, Walt felt the tone of the film as written in the treatment was not appropriate for family entertainment. Disney and Peet had serious disagreements on where the film should go, and not surprisingly, Disney won the argument and ultimately Peet was dismissed from the studio.

Larry Clemmons was then hired to write the film and Walt’s first advice to him while giving him a copy of the novel was “don’t read it.” Disney attended story meetings and assisted the writers in ensuring the film would focus on the characters. Out of these meetings, timeless characters such as Baloo, King Louie, Bagheera and Shere Khan were born.

The story of The Jungle Book is extremely straightforward. Mowgli, a human child who has been raised by wolves in the jungle is in danger. Shere Khan, the man hating tiger, has returned to the jungle and wants to dispose of Mowgli before he grows up to become an adult. Mowgli’s wolf family decides he is to be returned to the man village, and solicit Bagheera, the panther to assist in getting him there safely.

That’s it. The rest of the movie is the journey to the man village, with fun and memorable interruptions from some of the best characters to come out of the studio, including Phil Harris’ Baloo and Louis Prima’s King Louie. I have always immensely enjoyed The Jungle Book.

When I was much younger, before DVDs, I had missed the opportunity to purchase The Jungle Book on VHS and found out that it was in moratorium. One of the local video stores had a copy for sale, but since it was difficult to come by, it cost $50.00. This was quite a bit of money for an 11 year old. I remember working ridiculous odd jobs for family members to cobble up enough money to buy it. When I finally was able to, I played that movie to death.

The Jungle Book reminds me of Dumbo in a lot of ways. They both follow complicated movies that were less successful, and they both are extremely simple in their structure and animation. The Jungle Book is a crisp 78 minutes long, but feels much shorter when viewing.

Many films that are revered when you are a child seem to lose their shine as you grow older, but I find The Jungle Book to be the exact opposite. The playful, comedic simplicity of the characters serves as a reminder not to over think everything, and sometimes we need to just have fun.

Bare Necessities

This movie has been on non-stop in my home since its release, and it rapidly became my two-year-old daughter’s favorite thing to watch. Watching her watch it with a smile on her face for every frame shows just how well the movie works. Nobody cares about plot or story structure when singing along to “the Bare Necessities.”

While not as sophisticated or technically proficient as many in the Diamond Collection, the Jungle Book clearly demonstrates Disney’s personal involvement and shows why it belongs among the very best the studio has to offer.

This was the final film to have Walt Disney’s personal touches, as he died 10 months before its release, and sadly it is no coincidence that the studio wouldn’t have another masterpiece for over twenty years following his death.

THE VIDEO
The Jungle Book comes to Blu-Ray in a combo pack featuring a DVD copy of the film and a digital copy for download. Quite annoyingly, they did not offer a version that omits the digital copy, like on prior Diamond Editions. This isn’t a huge deal but absolutely destroys my compulsive need to have my Blu-Rays match aesthetically. Prior Diamond Editions featured a blue colored slipcover for the non-digital download version, and a gold slipcover for the versions that contain the digital download. Now we just get gold, and it sticks out on the shelf. (rant over)

The video is presented in a 1:75:1 ratio, which means on a widescreen TV there will be very small vertical black slivers on the sides of your television. The Jungle Book was created with both theatrical and home video aspect ratios in mind, so it can also be presented in 1:33:1, which would fill an old square television screen. In order to get the image to fit appropriately for widescreen TVs, a matte is placed on the top and bottom of the picture. These portions of the image are slightly cropped, but you will get more information on the sides than the 1:33:1 version. This will likely not be noticeable to most unless you make a direct comparison with your VHS or your “Limited Issue” copy of the Jungle Book.

When Disney restores the films in their Diamond line, they make the image appear as if it was just created. This has proven to be quite controversial. The image is scrubbed clean of all grain, and any dirt is cleaned and removed. Many film purists feel that this is a disservice, and the film should be presented with all the grain intact to give it an accurate film look. I think there are good arguments for either preference, but personally, I love how most Diamond Editions and other Special Editions have turned out using this method.

Trust in Kaa

As far as Jungle Book is concerned, it was the third feature film animated with a new animation method designed for cutting costs. A system was developed after Sleeping Beauty that allowed a camera to transfer the animators’ drawings directly onto the animation cels.

The method essentially cut out the inking stage and results in animation with a lot of the pencil lines in the finished art. This is why most post Sleeping Beauty films appear to be rougher, dirtier, and “sketchier” than previous ones. The look is prominent in 101 Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book and Robin Hood.

The problem with the restoration method employed by the studio today is that, in scrubbing the grain away, there is a potential to lose some of the fine pencil lines in the image. If you want to see a horrid example of this technology, look no further than the 40th Anniversary Edition of The Sword In The Stone. The picture is often smeary, with very little detail and loss of pencil lines. This is unacceptable because it ruins the animator’s intent and the quality of the film.

The good news is the Jungle Book does not suffer from the same heinous digital noise reduction as its predecessor. While it often times looks uncharacteristically glossy, the overall quality of the image is very good. Colors are accurate and bright, the contrast is extremely good, and blacks are deep and inky.

However, if you look closely, some of the finer pencil lines around whiskers and similar features seem to fade in and out and during some of the frantic motion scenes, and there is some minor blurring. Without the original elements, it’s difficult to determine exactly how much of the pencil detail has been lost

The hand-painted backgrounds are absolutely flawless, and look gorgeous. Overall, I believe almost everyone will be very pleased with the video quality of the Blu-Ray. Certainly the best The Jungle Book has ever looked.

THE AUDIO
The Jungle Book comes with DTS HD-MA 7.1 mix, as well as a 1.0 original mono option. The audio is perfect. The dialogue is crisp with no loss of detail. The music and lyrics are as pitch perfect as ever. The 7.1 mix is obviously front heavy, but features some nice ambiance in the rears for musical numbers and jungle sounds. The Sherman Brothers songs have never sounded better. Overall, an extremely good presentation.

SPECIAL FEATURES
The special features on The Jungle Book keep all the previous features from the DVD Platinum Edition as well as a few new extras. New extras include “Music, Memories, and Mowgli,” which is a filmed conversation between Richard M. Sherman, Flloyd Norman, and Diane Disney Miller. Topics discussed include The Jungle Book’s songs, how it was made and the death of Walt Disney. A nice little feature of some real legends discussing the art.

Other new extras:

  • “Alternate Ending: Mowgli and the Hunter” is a storyboarded alternate ending, which is kind of lengthy, but narrated by Raymond Percy.
  • “I Wan’na Be Like You”is more or less a promo for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as the video follows two actors around the theme park and to learn about the animals and attractions.
  • “Disney Animation Sparking Creativity” details a studio project that is in place to foster new ideas through a “Spark Showcase.”
  • The “Bear-E-Oke Singalong” is just what it sounds like, a sing-along compilation of the songs from the film.

Overall, The Jungle Book Diamond Edition is an extremely strong release from Disney. With minor video issues aside, it’s certainly the strongest presentation of this classic by far. While the film lacks the weight and story of some of the other classics, the characters and songs alone elevate this film to the upper echelon. I would certainly give this disc my highest recommendation as it truly is a must own.

Have you bought your copy yet? You’d better hurry before it goes back into The Vault! 

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