Monday, March 31, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

More Pirate Fairy Fun - My Interview With Iridessa!

As a special treat to go with my coverage of The Pirate Fairy, I was given the opportunity to talk to voiceover actor Raven-Symonè, who voices light fairy Iridessa. Our schedules didn't meet up like we'd hoped, so she emailed me her responses instead. Check out my full interview over at the Kids' Cartoons page! And don't forget to enter to win a copy of the movie!

Iridessa - Image © DisneyToon Studios.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

REVIEW: The Pirate Fairy - with GIVEAWAY!

I FINALLY get to talk about this movie! Seriously, I have been sitting on this for over a month now and it has been killing me! But it's here, it's finally here, and I can spill the beans!

Me at DisneyToon Studios for The Pirate Fairy premiere!

The Pirate Fairy releases on Blu-ray combo pack next week. I received my review copy in the nick of time to post this review for my deadline today--I got it yesterday. Convincing TV Boy to watch it with me took some doing, thanks to the glittery fairy wings on the box, but once the sword fighting happened, he gave in and watched it with me. He also noticed Crocky and made sure he had a front row seat for the show!

I personally loved this movie. I didn't think I would. I've never seen a fairy movie before (insert your gasping here!) and I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it. But walking out of that theatre, I was in love. And I seriously want to cosplay as Zarina sometime. She's rad! Besides, I already have the hair color down... now if only I had her figure! Think I can wish on a star for it?

Image © DisneyToon Studios.

Since this was a straight-to-DVD film, it fell into my writing realm, so my full review is up over at the Kids' Cartoons page. More fun stuff coming soon over there too... wink wink! Watch for that later this week!

Image © DisneyToon Studios.

And of course, what would a video review be without a GIVEAWAY! That's right, my lovely friends at Disney are offering up a copy of the film for one of my fabulous readers. You can win it before you can buy it! Check out the Rafflecopter widget below to enter! The giveaway will run until April 1st, when the film releases (no foolin' here!). Be sure to enter and share with your friends! UPDATE: Also be sure to check out the linky at the bottom for even MORE chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a trip to Los Angeles and a review copy to cover the release of the film. Please see my Disclosure tab for more information.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Visiting the Disney Animation Research Library

Continuing my story of my February Los Angeles trip, today is my visit to the TOP SECRET Disney Animation Research Library. I say "top secret" in all caps like that because it really is some serious, Area-51 level secrecy going on with this place. The address is not listed anywhere on the building. It is plain on the outside and surrounded by a huge fence. We were not allowed to take any photos (so all the ones in this post are thanks to the Disney photographer who followed us around in an official manner) and we were not permitted to tweet or do anything on our phones with geolocation services active. In fact, we were not allowed to take anything but our notepads (or in my case, my iPad, wifi off, note taking app only) back on the tour with us. Not even pens, you guys. NO PENS ALLOWED.

The entrance to the ARL. Image © Disney.

We were taken on a lovely tour of the facility with literally every piece of Disney animation art in existence housed within. It was incredible. The first part of our tour included some original Peter Pan artwork laid out on tables for us, which was used in research for The Pirate Fairy characters, specifically young Captain James. The animators for Pirate Fairy were allowed access to the art so that their work would be in line with previous Peter Pan stories, which was their intent.

Some of my blogger friends checking out the art. I didn't make it into any
of these shots unfortunately. Images © Disney.

The original art is obviously very old and delicate at this point. Those tasked with handling and cataloging the pieces are required to do so with museum precision, wearing gloves and using spatulas to move the artwork. Many of the people who work here have degrees in art history or have worked in museums.

Image © Disney.

Then we were taken into the vaults. These places are massive and have huge rolling cabinets that house the gigantic background artwork all the way to individual cells. It's climate controlled and even has a special fire suppression system that won't damage the art.

Visiting the vaults. I'm not in these pictures either.
Images © Disney.

We were also shown the way the art is digitally photographed for online cataloging, so that animators can access it from their desks and without having to handle the art. These cameras are also, like many things in the ARL, huge.

Digitally photographing and scanning the art. Images © Disney.

Another stop on the tour was to see where and how some of the realistic props are made for promotional and display use. For instance, there was a special bottle in the Pirate Fairy movie that the filmmakers wanted to have made in real life. The prop makers used a light bulb and LED lighting to make the bottle the right shape and size, and to give it a blue glow.

The prop masters and their offices. Images © Disney.

Being the good little geek I am, I managed to record audio of my entire tour. It's almost an hour worth of listening, but it's broken up into individual tracks. The first track is the introduction to the ARL in the front foyer. Track 2 is the presentation of the Peter Pan artwork and a little more in-depth about the ARL and its history. Track 3 is the prop masters. Track 4 is the vault presentation. My audio from the camera room somehow did not record properly (boo hiss!).

Finally, here is just a sample of some of the original Peter Pan art we were treated to! They didn't get a shot of my favorite piece, which was concept art of Never Land floating as an island in space, but the few they did give us access to are really cool. Some original concept art for Captain Hook, an idea for Never Land, and Skull Rock. I love how the color bleeds out of the little box in the Never Land picture. Just incredible!

Images © Disney.

Be sure to stay tuned for more Pirate Fairy coverage, as it hits store shelves on April 1st! No foolin'!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Flintstone Kids: Rockin' in Bedrock on DVD

Remember the days of the mid-1980's when you'd get up, get your bowl of Pac Man cereal, and lay down on your belly on the floor in front of your television that still had knobs on it to catch your favorite Saturday morning cartoon? (Did I just make you feel REALLY old if you do?)

Image © Warner Home Entertainment.

Now you can relive those days with your kids with The Flintstone Kids: Rockin' in Bedrock on DVD. Check out more about the DVD over at my page! Then pop back here and tell me in the comments what your favorite '80s cartoon was. And did you see the post on The TV Mom facebook page that they are making a real life Jem and the Holograms movie??? Who is excited about that?

Friday, March 21, 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES: Saving Mr. Banks Exhibit at Disney Studios and Archives

One of the many neat things I got to do while I was on my fabulous L.A. trip last month was tour the exhibit the Disney Studios had set up for Saving Mr. Banks. It featured behind the scenes photographs from the making of Mary Poppins, as well as artifacts from the film including set pieces and set dressing, along with several of the actual items from Walt Disney's office that are now housed safely in the archives. Seeing reproductions of Disney's awards, degrees, and items in his office, I felt the need to take it all in photographically, and I went a little snap-happy. Here are a few of my favorites:

The actual chair and globe from Walt's office.

A photo of "Walt" with the Mickey Mouse Club cast. Hanks' head was
photoshopped onto Disney's body in this iconic image for the film.

The Sherman Brothers with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke on set.

Rather than load this post down with all 89 photos (yes, you read that right. And those were just the ones that were mostly in focus... I took more than that), I whipped you up another nifty slideshow. Take a stroll with me through all the neat things from Saving Mr. Banks, including photos that had Tom Hanks' head photoshopped in where Walt Disney's was to make the backgrounds in the film authentic.

Saving Mr. Banks Exhibit and Archives by Slidely Slideshow

There are also photos towards the end of our visit to the Walt Disney Archives, where we were treated to the actual recordings of P.L. Travers' meetings with the Sherman Brothers and filmmakers of Mary Poppins, as well as pictures of the actual awards on which the set dressing was based and costumes from the Saving Mr. Banks film. I recorded audio of the presentation, however we were not permitted to record the actual recordings (for obvious reasons), so I had to do it in three separate increments. You can listen to the presentation and the questions we asked of the archivist who gave it in the nifty little player below.

Now, for those of you who don't already know, I was a History teacher before I had TV Boy, so I was fascinated by all of this history. The fact that I was exhausted and my feet hurt (do NOT wear heels to walk around Hollywood, people!) didn't even register as I soaked up all of this information and the tour like a little geeky sponge. Did you know that Walt Disney had TWO offices, one for formal meetings and one for actually working? (Shout-out to my friend David at with that little factoid, wink wink! He'll know what I mean.) I'm so happy I finally get to share it with everyone!
Disclosure: I received a trip to Los Angeles in exchange for coverage of Saving Mr. Banks being released on Blu-ray. Please see my Disclosure tab for more information. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: Muppets Most Wanted

Wow, wow, wow.

That is my impression of this movie.

Image © Disney.

My first review screener here locally, and even though it was 10am and we were sitting in front of the world's most obnoxious moviegoers ever (more on them in a second), this movie is just as amazing as the 2011 "The Muppets". Just as hilarious, just as many guest stars, and just as incredible a storyline.

"Let's Do A Sequel!" Image © Disney.

The story begins just as the director calls cut on the final dance number in the previous movie, and our beloved Muppets are left standing around, bored. They decide to do a sequel, and after a fabulous musical number in an ode to sequels, they choose the plot (suggested by Ricky Gervais' character... or just Ricky Gervais, I honestly couldn't tell which he was at that point) of a world tour.

"Badguy" or "Gervais"? Image © Disney.

Gervais plays Dominic Badguy--pronounced "Badge-y"--who infiltrates the Muppets posing as a talent agent. Meanwhile, his boss, the infamous "Most Dangerous Frog in the world" Constantine, breaks out of a Russian gulag. Constantine bears a striking resemblance to Kermit, save for one key feature: a mole on his cheek. He is the most wanted criminal in the world, and needs someone to take the fall for his escape in Russia, so he manages to glue a fake mole to Kermit's face and sends him off in his place. Meanwhile, Constantine steps in as Kermit-surrogate, which the other Muppets don't seem to notice (except one!) and uses the show as his alibi while he performs his evil deeds.

Major LOL at "Evilen Froggen"! Image © Disney.

While the Muppets tour the world, their stops happen to fall in line with massive criminal heists... coincidence? Ty Burrell (of Modern Family fame) as Jean Pierre Napoleon of Interpol and Sam the Eagle of the CIA don't think so. They put their differences (and giant badges) aside to crack the case of the supposed "Lemur" burglaries that are seemingly following the Muppets' tour.

"Mine is bigger." Image © Disney.

Meanwhile, Kermit rots in the Russian gulag with warden Nadia (played by the illustrious Tina Fey). Nadia might have a teeny, tiny secret about why she knows that Kermit is not Constantine but still won't let him leave...

Does Tina Fey look good in EVERYTHING? Image © Disney.

Will Kermit's friends notice his absence in time to rescue him and thwart Constantine's evil plot, which includes Kermit's worst nightmare: marrying Miss Piggy! (Okay, side note here: I totally thought they had been married forEVER. I mean, that scene in the end of Muppets Take Manhattan, where Piggy has the real priest? Yeah. Alas, I guess I was wrong about that. Sigh.)

Piggy's best wedding dress of all, I think. Image © Disney.

All in all, the movie has plenty of call-backs to classic Muppet antics... Gonzo pulling stupid stunts on stage, Statler and Waldorf providing peanut gallery commentary, guest stars out the yin-yang, over-the-top musical numbers... you name it. The writing is still snappy, yet it still manages to provide the necessary tugs at the heartstrings in the right places. Fans of the franchise won't be disappointed for sure. Gervais, Fey, and Burrell all manage to steal the show from our favorite puppet pals. Definitely a win for family movie night!

Image © Disney.

Be sure you arrive early as well to see the new Monsters University short, Party Central, in which Mike and Sully "steal" the best party of the year for their Oozema Kappa brothers. Pure comedy gold!

Who doesn't have a plastic cooler like that? Image © Disney.

Now, for my story about the people behind us! While the showing we went to was provided for review purposes exclusively, these people must not have ever set foot in a movie theatre in their entire lives. I swear it. And no, sadly it wasn't the small children in tow who were the problem, save for one Sprite shower I received via a straw and the kid blowing in it through the seat cracks. Nope, it was the parents who had no sense of proper movie-going decorum. Kicking seats, bringing something wrapped in a giant sheet of cellophane (not just a small plastic bag... oh no! This was, like, the sheets of cellophane you wrap giant fruit baskets in!) and constantly feeling the need to adjust said cellophane during the movie, talking at volume levels acceptable only in one's living room, using the back of my seat as a handle to stand up and lower themselves into their seat (at one point, said handle included my braided hair!)... every awful thing you can possibly imagine from a movie attendee, save for taking a cell call in the middle. If it wasn't a free showing, I would have attracted the attention of an usher and had them removed. Plain and simple. So, moral of this long digression: Don't be a jerk when you go see a movie! 

Image © Disney.

Muppets Most Wanted  is rated PG and opens in theatres everywhere TOMORROW, March 21st.

Disclosure: I was provided a free screening of this film for review purposes. Please see my Disclosure tab for more information.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

#HubClubBloggers - Parent and Kid Review of Spooksville!

Image © Hub Network.

As part of my membership in the Hub Club Bloggers, I was given the chance to preview this weekend's episode of their popular new series, Spooksville, before it airs on Saturday March 22nd at 5pm Eastern/2pm Pacific. This review is special because it's the first video that TV Boy gets to appear in! (This kid LOVES reviewing stuff. In fact, after we finished making this video, he wanted to do a review of one of his LEGO sets.)

Image © Hub Network.

This weekend's episode is entitled "Phone Fear". Several students from the Lizzie Borden High School are taken on a "field trip" that is really a week-long survival exercise. When they get trapped in the rain, they seek shelter in an abandoned logging camp that has a scary past involving one of the earliest cellular phones in the 80's. The camp is engulfed in a mysterious fog when anyone tries to make a call. Can Adam figure out the secret of the fog and save his friends from disappearing?

Check out what TV Boy had to say about the episode in the video below, and be sure to tune in to Spooksville this weekend on Hub Network!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post with the Hub Club. Please see my Disclosure tab for more information.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

REVIEW: Frozen on Blu-Ray Combo Pack

If you haven't figured it out by now in the game here at, Frozen has quickly become my favorite Disney movie. Sorry Emperor's New Groove, scootch over! I think this is due in part to the new connection I have with the movie, having had all the neat experiences at Disney Animation Studios in February. It's my first major blogger junket, so it'll definitely have a special place in my heart always.

Some of my pictures from Disney Animation Studios!

It's funny thinking back to last December when I pretty literally dragged TV Boy to the movie theatre to see it with me. About fifteen seconds into the actual movie itself, he looked at me with his big brown eyes and said "They're singing. I don't like it." He proceeded to pick THE MOST inconvenient time in the movie to use the bathroom, which at four and a half he can't quite do alone, and I missed the "Let It Go"sequence entirely. That's right... as the mountain came up on the screen and by the first notes of the song, we were running down the aisle to the bathroom. We walked back in only to see Anna on her horse trudging through the snow. Yeah. Thanks, kiddo. (I have made up for it and then some thanks to an inexplicable need to belt out "Let It Go" at the top of my lungs, Broadway style, at least once a day since I got back from L.A. That'll teach the kid to have to pee!) But I digress.

"Hey mommy, I have to go potty!" (Image ©Disney Animation)

Indeed, even TV Boy has warmed up to Frozen (irony!) having the Blu-ray around in the house. Plus, seeing Olaf with Mommy's voice has made him love that adorable snowman even more than hearing him say "watch out for my butt!", a line that has earned high honors by my discernable little critic.

Image © Disney Animation Studios.

The Blu-ray doesn't have nearly as many special features as I was hoping it would. A handful of deleted scenes (which were definitely deleted for a reason), four versions of the "Let It Go" music video (in several languages), a quick featurette with Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck as they talk about the long lead up to making Frozen (Walt Disney wanted to make the Snow Queen version during his lifetime and there are several concepts in the archives from his exploration of the possibility), and the adorable musical number featuring Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff along with much of the production company about "The Making of Frozen" (preview below).

Also included is the the theatrical short "Get A Horse!", which I wish I had gotten to see in 3D!

Cool movie poster we got as swag!

The Blu-ray Combo Pack includes the movie and features on a Blu-ray disc, a DVD, and a code to download a digital copy of the film, as well as add it to your Disney Movies Anywhere© app on your mobile device of choice. The film is rated PG (which I find odd for an animated film) and is available to purchase TODAY, March 18th.

Image ©Disney Home Entertainment

You can register to win a copy of Frozen on Blu-ray combo pack! Click here to enter

Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of the Blu-ray for review purposes as well as a trip to L.A. to cover the release of the Blu-ray. Please see my Disclosure tab for more information. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

REVIEW: Saving Mr. Banks on Blu-ray plus GIVEAWAY!

For all of you who are fans of Mary Poppins or anyone who is a "Dizgeek" or history buff, Saving Mr. Banks is a must-see film. For those who haven't yet seen it, travel back in time to Walt Disney Studios, where Walt (played by Tom Hanks) is determined to get the production rights to P.L. Travers' (played by Emma Thompson) story of Mary Poppins.

Hanks and Thompson as Disney and Travers. Image © Disney

Mrs. Travers is none too persuaded to let go of her precious characters so easily, and the addition of songs written by the Sherman Brothers (played by BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman) and animation has her ready to board a plane back to England.

Novak and Schwartzman as the Sherman Brothers. Image © Disney

Throughout the film, we are treated to an inside look at the life of P.L. Travers, and her attachment to her father, Travers Goff (played by Colin Farrell), who has a tragic alcohol addiction that is gradually killing him, and on whom her character of Mr. Banks is based.

Annie Rose Buckley as Ginty and Colin Farrell as Travers Goff. Image © Disney.

Mrs. Travers (who, after her father's death, drops her moniker "Ginty" and takes his first name as her surname) isn't keen on their portrayal of Mr. Banks as well as Mary Poppins herself being so lighthearted and charming. She insists on having all discussions about the film recorded--which, interestingly enough, I had the chance to listen to some of her original recordings while on my trip to L.A. back in February! More on that later this week!

Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. Image © Disney.

Tom Hanks' portrayal of Walt Disney was flawless. Watching him, you really feel the weight of Disney's commitment to his films as well as his jovial personality. The attention to detail with the film is outstanding.

Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers. Image © Disney.

I also loved Emma Thompson as Pamela Travers. If anyone could play a haughty British woman, it's Emma Thompson! She manages to strike the perfect balance between pointed disgust with Disney's antics and nostalgic sadness as she remembers her childhood. Speaking of sadness, ladies make sure you have tissues at the ready! Many of my blogger friends and I discussed it as being one of those "ugly cry" movies. It's heartbreaking, and to get the audience to feel so deeply for someone as cold as P.L. Travers is portrayed is a triumph.

Behind the scenes on set. Image © Disney.

The special features included on the Blu-ray, while minimal, are also a little tear-jerking, but that could just be because I got to tour the very same studio lot that on which the film was made. That, and I'm a huge sap. The featurette "The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins To The Present" takes viewers on a bit of the same tour, showing off the animator offices Disney designed himself to make sure they had the proper light, as well as several points of interest on the lot. It is led by Director John Lee Hancock and features a special appearance by Richard Sherman himself. There is also a fun short video of Mr. Sherman leading the cast and crew in a rousing rendition of "Let's Go Fly A Kite" on their final day of filming. The film is rated PG-13 and is available for purchase tomorrow on March 18th.

Image © Disney Home Entertainment

As a special treat, I've put together a little slideshow of my photos from the awesome D23 tour of the studios, featuring some of the places used in Saving Mr. Banks, as well as many of the locations discussed in the bonus featurette on the Blu-ray, led by our awesome tour guide and D23 Marketing Manager Jeffrey Epstein, seen in the second pic (thanks Jeffrey!). And, of course, I set it to "Let's Go Fly A Kite"!

Disney Studios Tour Feb 2014 by Slidely Slideshow

Finally, to close out my post, my friends at Disney Home Entertainment are providing a copy of Saving Mr. Banks on Blu-ray to give away to one of my lucky readers! Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter and be sure to check out the linky at the bottom for more chances to win from other bloggers on the trip! The contest will run until this Friday, March 21, at midnight. Please see the Giveaway T&C tab for more information.

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UPDATE: My friends at Disney just sent over these fun Saving Mr. Banks-inspired recipes! Enjoy!

Download Walt Disney’s Inspiring Recipes

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the Blu-ray for review purposes, as well as a trip to L.A. to cover the release and relevant displays. Please see my Disclosure tab for more information.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

#FrozenBluray - "Do you want to BE a snowman?" with GIVEAWAY!

I'm elated! I finally got the video of Olaf with my voice! Like I said before in the post about my experience in the voiceover studio, this was one of my favorite things on this trip (aside from the lovely L.A. weather, of course). I'm so glad I finally get to share it with everyone!

Hey, we've got about the same build:
short and round! LOL!

So, without any further ado, here is ME, Tori The TV Mom as Olaf the snowman in Frozen!

And, for fun, here's what it looked like while I actually did the voice:

Finally, I received confirmation that I get to do a GIVEAWAY of a Frozen Blu-ray Combo Pack, thanks to my friends at Disney Home Entertainment! Check out the Rafflecopter widget below to enter and don't forget to share! The giveaway will run until Midnight Eastern on the 28th! Lots of ways to enter too! (And check out the linky tool at the bottom for even MORE chances to win!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway