Magical MickeyBlog News for March 18
A director returns to his pet project, a Pixar favorite lends his voice to a Disney attraction, and Indiana Jones survives yet again. Marvel fans, in particular, will want to read the latest edition of MickeyBlog News.
James Gunn Will Guard another Galaxy
Last summer, the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise lost its director. James Gunn is the person responsible for the odd sense of humor that’s defined the two Guardians films to date. A Troma alum, Gunn is someone who sees the world from a different perspective. Whereas most directors would have a climactic battle between good and evil, Gunn’s willing to have dance moves save the universe.
I don’t believe that I’m exaggerating when I say that without James Gunn, the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise wouldn’t have earned $1.6 billion thus far. Unfortunately, some regrettable tweets from a decade ago came to light last summer. Disney officials decided that they must terminate their relationship with the auteur.
In the interim, Gunn went to work for the competition. The former Marvel director joined the DC Comics universe. He signed on to helm the upcoming sequel/reboot of Suicide Squad. Before that project could ever film, however, Disney officials reconsidered their position. Impressed by Gunn’s ownership of past mistakes and his refusal to badmouth others for the situation, they chose to build a bridge.
James Gunn is once again the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Movie lovers everywhere are all the better for this announcement.
Elsewhere in the MCU…
Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t the only Marvel superhero group in the news this week. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has three other things that have happened, each of which is important to Disney fans.
The big story right now is the release of Captain Marvel. After grossing $455 million last weekend, the Brie Larson film earned another $305 million during its second week in theaters. With a running total of $760 million, it has already passed MCU blockbusters like Doctor Strange ($677 million) and Captain America: Winter Soldier ($714 million).
Captain Marvel appears poised to become the first billion-dollar movie of 2019. This historic result will be the first of several for Disney. As MickeyBlog has mentioned, your favorite business is poised to have a record-setting 2019 at the Cineplex. Speaking of which…
Disney released the full trailer for Avengers: Endgame. And then the internet exploded. A new tracking statistic I’ve mentioned a few times recently is “YouTube views in the first 24 hours.” Disney tends to do exceptionally well in this category, often breaking its own records.
Well, Avengers: Endgame has set a standard that will be hard to top. After earning 288 million views for its first teaser, the latest one garnered another 268 million. Yes, Avengers: Endgame now holds the top two places ever in the category of Day One YouTube Views. I think you can safely bank on it becoming one of the top three box office openings ever.
Disney’s not slowing down any, either. According to SlashFilm, the company is prepping a Disney+ television series. Called What If?, it’s an animated show that will explore some of the most famous hypotheticals in the history of Marvel comics. However, Disney will employ a few of the concepts from the MCU as well. They even intend to hire some of the actors from the movies to voice their characters in the television series.
What If? will keep the MCU alive and well even after some of the actors have moved on to other roles.
You Can’t Stop Indiana Jones!
A few years ago, I complained to my wife that we were running out of time to visit the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. I’d heard rumors suggesting that we were in a now or never situation. The famed show attraction allegedly wouldn’t survive the year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Those rumors seem silly now.
Even as everything else at Hollywood Studios undergoes sweeping changes, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular hangs on. Now, WDW News Today is reporting that Disney will keep the stunt show open through the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World. It’s a stunning reversal of fortune for an attraction that’s been through more peril than Indiana Jones himself.
According to the article, park operators will close the show at some point in 2020. During this downtime, Imagineers will update it to adjust some of the theming. Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular currently ties back to the original concept of Hollywood Studios, one that’s no longer applicable. Expect some new sets and a modern style when it returns.
Indiana Jones is invulnerable, my friends.
Speaking of Park Changes at Hollywood Studios…
While the world anxiously awaits the debut of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the biggest news at Hollywood Studios right now is an upcoming attraction. No, I don’t mean Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. A different presentation will arrive soon, a few months ahead of that one.
Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy will debut in less than two weeks on March 31, 2019. Based on Pixar’s wildly popular Cars franchise, this live show will teach young kids how to drive faster. Or something like that. Mainly, they’ll get to interact with Lightning McQueen and Mater and other favorites from Cars.
As a Pixar film, Cars employs the company’s lucky star, John Ratzenberger. The former co-star of Cheers has lent his voice to every Pixar release to date. The company loves him and wouldn’t feel right about creating an immersive attraction without him. As such, Ratzenberger recently confirmed that he will voice his character, Mack, in Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. He sounds pretty excited about it, too.
Let’s Talk Disney Parks
We will end this week’s update with a few miscellaneous park-related news items.
The first is that Jaleo is finally open at Disney Springs! For many months now, foodies have anxiously anticipated the arrival of this Jose Andres franchise at Walt Disney World. It’s the fifth location of Jaleo, but everyone involved understands that it’s the most important.
For those of you who don’t know, Jaleo is basically tapas paradise. Andres, the celebrity chef who is currently up for a Nobel Peace Prize, is a master of the format. Disney officials recruited him to bring his Spanish cuisine and beloved sangrias to Disney Springs. This place should quickly become one of your absolute favorites. Plus, you’ll eat food crafted by a legitimate international hero.
Inside the parks, there’s good news and bad news this week. Let’s start negative and finish positive. The unpleasant update is that Disney raised admission and parking fees at Walt Disney World this past week. The move was long expected, as Disney wants to charge more on specific dates to prevent sellouts. As such, the most expensive raises are during Christmas week. Otherwise, the most significant change involves parking, which is now broken into tiers.
The good news for fans of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is that you can learn more about Rivers of Light. Disney has introduced a new Backstage Magic tour. It’s a daytime tour that includes lunch at Tiffins, the Signature Restaurant near Rivers of Light. During the VIP experience, you’ll get to watch Imagineers prepare the barges and sets for the evening’s performance. It’s an unprecedented look into the inner workings of a Disney nighttime presentation.
Finally, MickeyBlog has mentioned the Guest Experience Teams whom Disney has recently stationed throughout Magic Kingdom. The purpose of these employees is to assist guests who are struggling with their FastPasses and other park issues. The cast members turn frustrations into magical park days.
Unsurprisingly, guests have appreciated the Guest Experience Teams so much that Disney has made the positions permanent. In fact, the current plan is to expand the service to the other three parks, too. From now on, whenever you need help at the Most Magical Place on Earth, you’ll know where to look.