MickeyBlog News New Year’s Eve Edition
Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone! Today is the holiday where you loosen your inhibitions, drown a few adult beverages, and (hopefully) kiss someone at midnight. Then, another year begins and your guilt drives you to diet for at least the next two weeks, three weeks if you’re an overachiever. Good luck losing those few extra holiday pounds! While you’re jogging on the treadmill, here’s a MickeyBlog News update to help you pass the time.
“Star Wars Land Is Almost Operational”
Did reading those words just give you a tingle? That’s a headline from Esquire earlier this week. It references the recent behind-the-scenes commercial that The Walt Disney Company published on Christmas Day. Disney capitalized on the announcement as the anchor part of their annual Christmas parade on ABC, and they advertised it relentlessly during the first 100 minutes of the show. Finally, they unveiled the clip that hints at what’s to come in 2019.
The star of the video is a woman named Carrie Beck. She holds the title of VP, Lucasfilm Story Group. Her pride is palpable as she discusses the project. Scott Trowbridge, a Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, provides the narration for much of the clip. He is the supervisor in charge of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. His personal request is that guests “play with us in the Star Wars universe,” a mantra that I’m confident we can all support to our fullest.
The visuals in the commercial are breathtaking. Beck’s commentary reinforces a somewhat recent change in the description of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. During the early days of the project, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run stood apart as the E-ticket attraction that everyone coveted. The narrative has changed now that Disney has released more details about Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Trowbridge describes Rise of the Resistance as “the most epic attraction that we’ve ever built”…and he would know. The storyline is that you become a recruit in the Resistance. Your mission is to battle against the First Order and ultimately survive an encounter with the most fearsome villain in the galaxy, Kylo Ren.
You can watch the footage from this attraction at the 1:10 mark of the commercial. Pay particular attention at the 1:40 mark. You’ll see the ride cart plus a helpful pilot droid. Then, you’ll watch key elements from the battle and get a too-close view of Kylo Ren. It’s a thrilling commercial that should heighten your excitement even more for the upcoming Star Wars Land. The bad news is that Galaxy’s Edge won’t arrive until 2019. The good news is that 2019 starts tomorrow!!!
So Long, Sphero!
A few years ago, Disney introduced Star Wars Day, a special shopping event that emphasized the company’s new ownership of the Star Wars franchise. Disney wanted to flex its merchandising muscle by highlighting all of the new products that weren’t available prior to the acquisition. Some of the most attention-grabbing items weren’t manufactured by Disney, though.
Sphero created the most memorable of all toys for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. They built a robotic version of BB-8 that had full mobility. Guests could put it on the floor and watch it zip around the room like a non-sucking Roomba. We once spent a Christmas trying to get our nephews and nieces to appreciate the genius of the toy that Disney fans nicknamed the “adoraball.” Here’s a Bloomberg video that encapsulates the BB-8 robot craze.
Yes, BB-8 alone increased Sphero’s sales by a factor of 143! Over the next few years, the manufacturer released more Disney products including a Lightning McQueen realistic car robot. Alas, Sphero’s business model didn’t allow for the mercurial nature of toy sales. Products did extremely well when a movie was in theaters but then demand dried up afterward, even with Star Wars products. For this reason, Sphero is apparently getting out of the licensed toy business altogether.
To you, a Disney fan, the end of their manufacturing means that you should get a Disney robot while you can. They’re about to become serious collector’s items. Once these products sell out online, they’re gone forever! You don’t want to get caught without an adoraball of your very own, do you?
Truth in advertising: we got bored of our BB-8 after about three days and probably haven’t used since Christmas Day of 2015. It sits on a shelf, where it is admittedly quite cute. Still, that’s a lot of money for something that will remain lifeless on your shelf.
CSI: Walt Disney World took another strange twist this past week. As previously mentioned in December’s Best Disney Links article, Buzzy the Audio-Animatronic recently came up missing. The AA was once a staple of Cranium Command, an attraction at the currently closed Wonders of Life pavilion. Recently, a few wagging tongues suggested that Buzzy had been kidnapped or botnapped or whatever term applies here.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office is on the case! They have arrested a man that they believe has stolen and sold Buzzy’s clothes. I could try making a joke here, but there’s nothing that I can say that would be funnier than the idea of someone ripping the clothes off of a Disney Audio-Animatronic (AA) and selling them on the black market.
The theft apparently occurred during the first week of August. The accused allegedly sent text messages claiming $8,000 in sales for the stolen merchandise, which is odd since the police list the value of the merchandise at $500. It’s possible that multiple transactions are involved, one for selling Buzzy’s clothes and another for selling the Buzzy AA.
So, should you see someone with a “red jacket, cap, and rubber molded hands”, you should notify the Orlando police department. You’re not looking at a puppet or a clown. You’re staring at the odd accoutrements of Buzzy. Do what you can to help the police find Buzzy!
PS: This story is so strange that I’m not ruling out a strange viral marketing strategy by Disney to heighten demand for the triumphant return of Buzzy.
Have a wonderful New Year, everybody!