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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pirate, Mermaid and Wonderland Princesses

So, I'm guessing you've all seen the teaser for the next Pirates of the Caribbean film, right? The one from Comic Con? Where Captain Jack Sparrow preps you for what is to come (in one take, at that)?

I didn't attend Comic Con, but you can bet that I watched the clip on Youtube.

And I'm really excited, actually.

I'll admit that I got fed up with Pirates, and just pirates, for a while. Disney accidentally struck gold with Curse of the Black Pearl (nobody involved with that production thought it would become such a huge hit), and when Disney sees a money-making opportunity, as we have seen in recent years, they tend to kinda overdo it. I became so sick of seeing all the merchandise around that it actually hurt my love for the trilogy. Call me strange, but I tend to like more unique things…suddenly Pirates was more of a brand than a cool, unique experience. Something that heightened my nostalgia and appreciation for the original attraction at Disneyland.

And yes, I enjoyed parts 2 and 3. It had a different feel than the original, and the original is superior, but I did not feel that the other two were bad…just different. They went in a different direction and feel from the original.

I will admit that I did come out of the theater hating Jack after seeing Dead Man's Chest…I felt that Jack's characterization had changed from the first film (in that he no longer seemed to care about anyone other than himself). In the first film, it would seem as though Jack had double-crossed Will and Elizabeth…and then a little while later, you discovered that he has actually had their back the whole time, thinking 3-5 steps ahead of everyone else. We finally saw a return of the old Jack in At World's End towards the end of the film, but I wish he had been there a lot earlier.

I could analyze these films forever, but that's for another time.

In any case, watching that Youtube clip of Jack Sparrow addressing the audience has gotten me very excited for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Johnny's back, along with Geoffrey and Kevin. There are also some new characters we've yet to meet…you can bet that this blog will be interested in Cruz's new character, Angelica.

Speaking of pirates…

My Fair Wedding with David Tutera recently aired an episode that was all about fancy pirate style. David Tutera took on a sweet bride who, along with her fiancé, had planned a pirate theme for the wedding. Naturally, some of the things that Brooke (the bride) had picked out were a little too theme-y. Leave it to David to pull it out of any sort of tacky territory. I have to admit that my favorite part of this wedding was the pirate princess bride's jewels by Erica Courtney Inc. Now there was some ultimate pirate bling!

The only thing I would have done different, if it had been my way, was to have the wedding and reception on an actual ship. But since it was established that both David and the bride did not have sea legs, I can understand the route that was taken, which was still fabulous (and, truthfully, gave him more control over décor).

Speaking of princess brides and water…

Princesses are, I am happy to say, nicely featured in World of Color over at Disney California Adventure. The Little Mermaid actually opens (after the World of Color theme song, of course) and closes the show. There's a whole segment of classic Disney romantic kisses. We get to watch Aladdin and Jasmine take a magic carpet ride. Even Pocahontas gets a whole segment dedicated to her (yes, by her tribe's standards she is a princess).

Of course, not everything in World of Color is perfect. There were a lot of changes made at the last minute, like what tied all of the segments together (a little paintbrush character that echoed the nostalgia factor that the park so desperately needs). Alice seriously got the boot when it came to crunch time before the show opened, as the big boys felt that World of Color was appealing too heavily to baby boomers – and perhaps they did not like the flow that Alice created. Some fantastic paper stop-motion animation was cut that heavily involved Alice, and was featured heavily in the Blue Sky Cellar. Even the merchandise reflects her original strong presence. In fact, a lot of the World of Color merchandise seems to give a bit of false advertising…a fantastic image that is on display is only shown for a brief second. A lot of things seemed to change at the last minute. I can't help but be curious as to how the show was originally supposed to play out. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy it (I've seen it 3 times since it opened this summer), but I can't help being the geek that I am…I like hearing what happened behind the scenes, what was planned but fell through. Maybe we'll get to see some deleted segments if rumors become fruition…word on the street is that Disney is looking to make holiday-specific World of Color shows.

In general, Alice seems to be going through a rough time at the Disneyland Resort. Besides the World of Color debacle, the classic attraction at Disneyland has recently been shut down by OSHA, the people that have the final say whether a ride is safe to be open or not (though Disney would like us to think that they chose to blatantly close a popular attraction in the middle of the summer season). For those that don't know, there is a section of track that is outside in the open air, traveling down from a second to a first story. Besides it being a kind of cool feature, it is artistically-appropriate with its leaf design. The trouble is that there is no type of railing along this section whatsoever. This is not so much an issue for guests riding the attraction as it is for the cast members that work it. They have to walk the track to inspect and clean things…and could possibly slip and fall. OSHA has reportedly been working on this issue with Disney for some time, and the Imagineers have looked at the issue in the past to try and come up with a solution – but could never agree on a change as they felt it would harm the integrity of the attraction's unique design. But OSHA finally had it, and shut the attraction down, which now forces Disney to come up with a solution. My suggestion? Tear out the current leaf track and create a new one that curves up to form an artsy railing, like the leaf itself is cupping you. I think then it could still easily be artistically-appropriate. I guess the only issue is getting the suits to shell out the money for it, as I imagine it would be cheaper to just stick some potentially ugly railing on what's already there. If that's the option they go for, it will be a real shame.

On top of all this, there's a heck of a lot of Alice in Wonderland merchandise at Disneyland, but for the recent animated film as opposed to the classic animated one. Oh sure, classic Alice has merchandise too, but alongside her is an over-merchandised franchise that reminds me of what Disney has done with The Nightmare Before Christmas, and, getting back to the first issue of this blog, Pirates of the Caribbean. In fact, this over-indulgence of merchandise is what made me decide to not see the film. I wanted to originally, but I got so fed up with seeing all of the shirts and miscellaneous garbage that it killed the movie for me before I even saw it.

Here is an open statement to all corporations (not just Disney): don't kill a good product by over-merchandising it! Thank you.