Shanghai vs Hong Kong: An Incredibly Detailed Breakdown and Comparison of China’s Disney Parks

Buckle up, nerds! This post is gonna be a doozy.

If you’re a Disney nerd, odds are that you’ve at least thought about visiting the international parks at some point. As of this writing, there are 12 Disney parks worldwide, and only half of them are located in the United States.

Each provides a unique experience with a wealth of rides, attractions, shows, and cultural influences packed in. The internet is filled with information and opinions about all of them, and there’s certainly no shortage of Disney sites willing to overwhelm you with the minutiae of every Disney park.

The purpose of THIS post, though, is to give a detailed comparison between the two Chinese parks – Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disney Resort. How do they compare? How are they different? If you can only visit one, which should it be?

Continue reading

Disney on Ice: Follow Your Heart

fyh0

At this point, I think it’s fair to say we’re seasoned vets when it comes to Disney on Ice. Yeah, we’ve been to our share of shows.

If you’ve never been or are curious about specific touring shows, be sure to check out our reviews of Treasure TroveWorld of Fantasy, and 100 Years of Magic. They should give you a good idea of what to expect.

But we’re here today to talk about the brand-new show, Follow Your Heart, which actually breaks the Disney on Ice mold in a few key respects. Although I didn’t learn this until after the fact, it still explains quite a bit: this show was written by Shea Fontana, who is a veteran of several Disney animated series and is currently head writer for the DC Super Hero Girls franchise.

In other words, it comes with a fair bit of impressive star talent behind the scenes, which should be getting more publicity than it is.

Continue reading

Ticket Giveaway: Disney On Ice Presents Follow Your Heart

15928_d30b_3rd_party_images_logo_400x249

It’s that time again. Disney on Ice is returning to the Baltimore/Washington area, and they’re bringing a new show. This time around, it’s called Follow Your Heart, and it’s got some familiar faces and fresh acts.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Disney On Ice shows, check out our reviews of World of Fantasy100 Years of Magic, and Treasure Trove. They should give you a good idea of what to expect: Mickey and the gang act as hosts, a variety of characters perform routines to well-known songs, and there’s a big finale at the end with everyone.

Follow Your Heart breaks the mold a little bit and focuses mostly on Pixar films. The show promises acts from Finding Dory, Inside Out, Toy Story, and Frozen (of course). Not gonna lie, we’re really looking forward to the Inside Out segment.

Continue reading

Disney’s The Jungle Book

The-Jungle-Book-Movie-Cast-2016

Full disclosure: the original 1967 animated version of The Jungle Book is one of my favorite Disney films. So when I first heard that it was added to the crop of “live-action remakes,” I was apprehensive but cautiously optimistic. I wasn’t quite sure how they’d be able to pull off the whole talking animals thing and still make it feel realistic.

The more I saw about the movie, the more intrigued I became. And then when I heard mostly positive reviews flowing in, I was fully on board. But I have to admit that I never actually saw the film in the theaters. Life got in the way (as happens with young kids), and we just never found the time.

So I jumped on the opportunity to finally watch the film now that it’s out on blu-ray and available to stream. And the reviews, hype, and hooplah that surrounded the film didn’t set it up for failure. When we finally popped in the blu-ray for family movie night, it was a resounding success. The kids were amazed and tried to figure out how the movie was made, and I was thrilled to see a new take on these characters (and songs).

Continue reading

Finding Dory: Three Little Words

Dory

  • Three Little Words
  • written by Amy Novesky
  • illustrated by Grace Lee
  • published by Disney Hyperion (2016)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

Timed to coincide with this month’s theatrical release of Finding Dory, Three Little Words is a gorgeous picture book that really drives home the simple message that lies at the heart of Dory’s character: Just Keep Swimming.

This isn’t an adaptation of the film, per se, but it visually follows all of the major plot developments (including, apparently, the ending), so if you’re looking to remain spoiler-free until you’ve seen Finding Dory, then you may want to hold off on this for a few more weeks.

Continue reading

Bug Zoo

Bug-Zoo-Cover-e1455068011647

  • Bug Zoo
  • written and illustrated by Andy Harkness
  • published by Disney Hyperion (2016)
  • Roar Score: 5/5

The Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase books are a new discovery for me, and I wonder how I missed them until now. They’re conceived as a series of original picture books that put the spotlight on individual artists working for Walt Disney Animation Studios, and there’s apparently also at least one title in the Pixar Animation Studios Artist Showcase series. (Which went immediately onto my wishlist.)

Bug Zoo features artist Andy Harkness, who worked as an in-betweener and layout artist on Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lilo & Stitch, and Brother Bear. Andy currently works as an art director for Walt Disney Animation, and this is his first children’s book.

I think it’s safe to say he’s set a high bar for himself, straight out of the gate. This book is eye-poppingly gorgeous.
Continue reading

Disney on Ice: Treasure Trove

treasure

(Disney on Ice Presents Treasure Trove is currently playing at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, through Monday, February 15. Buy tickets here. The show is currently touring around North America, and there are lots of dates in lots of different cities, so check the full calendar to see if it’s playing near you.)

We’ve been to our share of Disney on Ice shows, so by this point, we pretty much know what to expect. Still, it’s always a nice surprise when we see something new, and a show isn’t just the same old routines with a new name.

If you’re curious about the other shows, be sure to check out our reviews of World of Fantasy and 100 Years of Magic. They should give you a good idea of what to expect, too.

Treasure Trove is one of the newer shows currently touring around the country. As usual, they’ve tried to divide the show up so the acts target stereotypical “boys” and “girls” properties equally. However, we found this show to be particularly light on the princesses, much to both of my kids’ delight. (My daughter is not a fan of the overly “girly” princesses.)

Continue reading

Ticket Giveaway: Disney On Ice Presents Treasure Trove

treasure

It’s that time again. Disney on Ice is returning to the Baltimore/Washington area, and they’re bringing a new show. This time around, it’s called Treasure Trove, and it’s got some familiar faces and fresh acts.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Disney On Ice shows, check out our reviews of World of Fantasy and 100 Years of Magic. They should give you a good idea of what to expect: Mickey and the gang act as hosts, a variety of characters perform routines to well-known songs, and there’s a big finale at the end with everyone.

Treasure Trove promises acts from many of the princesses, Peter Pan, The Lion King, Alice in Wonderland, and Toy Story. As usual, they’ve tried to divide the show up so the acts target stereotypical “boys” and “girls” properties equally.

Continue reading

Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic

D20-1200x628-Key (1)

(Disney on Ice:100 Years of Magic is currently playing at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, MD, through Sunday, November 1. Buy tickets here. The show is currently touring around North America, and there are lots of dates in lots of different cities, so check the full calendar to see if it’s playing near you.)

There are currently five different touring Disney on Ice shows, and if you live in a major city, then you’re likely to see one of them come your way with some regularity. Earlier this year, we here in the Baltimore/DC region got World of Fantasy, and now 100 Years of Magic is coming through town.

The shows do have some distinct differences, but in all honesty, they’re remarkably similar. Even though we were prepared for this show to be cobbled together from recycled bits we’ve seen in other Disney on Ice performances, we were still pleasantly surprised to see some new characters and musical numbers.

Continue reading

Disney In Concert

Photo Aug 21, 8 00 25 PM

Another stellar performance at Wolf Trap. Did I show my hand too early? Come on now, we’re huge fans of Wolf Trap, Disney, and films projected with live orchestral accompaniment. So what’s not to love here?

After last summer’s Pixar In Concert, we knew what to expect from Disney In Concert, and it didn’t disappoint. And the sold-out crowd filling every seat and covering every square inch of grass seemed to agree.

In short, there was a full orchestra on stage, playing music timed to video clips projected on a big screen over the stage and outside the amphitheater for everyone sitting on the lawn. For this show, we were also treated to four vocalists who sang several of the most popular Disney songs.

Please, Wolf Trap, do more of these. (psst….Star Wars, just sayin’)

Continue reading

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2015: The Recap

dsmmc

In May of this year, I attended the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration (DSMMC) at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. All told, it was a fantastic event and a wonderful opportunity.

If you haven’t already listened to my podcast or read my FAQ about my experience at DSMMC, you might want to go ahead and do that for some background.

This post is all about the recap — an image-heavy and pixie-dust-free recap. It’s the details of what happened and what attendees got to do and see during the event. It’s long, so buckle down and get scroll happy.

Continue reading

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2015: The FAQ

Photo May 07, 9 12 15 AM

In May of this year, I attended the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration (DSMMC) at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. All told, it was a fantastic event and a wonderful opportunity. I’ve heard many fellow attendees refer to it as a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. However, I’ve had more than my fair share of legitimate once-in-a-lifetime experiences, so I’m fairly judicious when using that term.

Still, it was incredibly memorable and — as you’ll see — I have quite a bit to say and share about it. This is the story of my DSMMC adventure. As with many things Disney, there’s a heavy fog of mystery surrounding the event. I’m here today to try to dispel some of that mystery, pull back the curtain a little, and let you know what it’s all about.

Search Twitter for the #DisneySMMC hashtag or read other event recaps, and you’ll probably notice a heavy coating of pixie dust over everything.

That’s all fine and good if that’s what you’re looking for. But I’m much more interested in being honest, transparent, and helpful for those on the outside looking in. With that in mind, I’ll try to be as straightforward and honest as I can. I’m not going to hide anything.

I’ve already discussed some of my thoughts about the event on my podcast here. It caused a few ripples, which is good in my opinion.

But now I want to present a more detailed FAQ for those who are curious and want to learn more about it or for those who are interested in attending in the future. (I posted a detailed recap of the events separately here.)

Continue reading

Questions From a Kid: Jim Cummings

IMG_8708

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of Questions From a Kid. Today, Zoey chats with legendary voice actor Jim Cummings. Jim has given life to hundreds of characters, but he’s best known as the voice of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Darkwing Duck, and Pete.

He’s also the voice behind Hondo Ohnaka on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Tasmanian Devil, Tantor the Elephant on the Tarzan TV series, various characters on Sofia the First, Curious George, and on and on and on. The list is seemingly endless.

It’s no understatement to say that Jim Cummings is the voice of many childhoods. Scroll through his filmography on IMDb and you’ll undoubtedly find a show or movie you know and love. Many of the roles for which he is most well known are not original to him. He took over Winnie the Pooh in 1988, Tigger in 1990, and the Tasmanian Devil in 1991 (after Sterling Holloway, Paul WInchell, and Mel Blanc created those distinctive voices).

Continue reading

Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba

lanouba-show-tickets-1

(Check out some of our previous adventures with Cirque du Soleil: Dralion, Varekai, and our tour of International Headquarters in Montreal.)

La Nouba was the first Cirque du Soleil show I ever saw. Since I’ve now seen more than 10 different Cirque shows, I guess you could say this is the one that made me a fan. I recently had the chance to see the show again, and it didn’t disappoint.

La Nouba premiered in Orlando in 1998 and was the third resident show created (Mystère and O in Las Vegas were the first two). The theater it calls home (on Downtown Disney’s West Side at the Walt Disney World Resort) was the first freestanding, permanent structure built for Cirque du Soleil, and Walt Disney Imagineering was involved in its design and construction.

Despite what many think, though, La Nouba is not owned or operated by Disney. Downtown Disney is its home, and it’s certainly a major draw to the area, but it’s not part of the larger Walt Disney World Resort. In other words, don’t expect Mickey and Goofy to be part of the highwire act.

Continue reading

Disney on Ice: Worlds of Fantasy

Disney_on_Ice_Worlds_of_Fantasy_2015_DC

(Disney on Ice Presents Worlds of Fantasy is currently playing at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, through Monday, February 16. Buy tickets here. The show is currently touring around North America, and there are lots of dates in lots of different cities, so check the full calendar to see if it’s playing near you.)

Disney on Ice seems to be in the area every few months, and it seems like it’s a different show each time. Indeed, there are currently six different touring shows, and each is a bit different.

Worlds of Fantasy does its best to appeal to the entire family by splitting the show up into four segments—apparently two for girls and two for boys. Your mileage may vary. My daughter loved the “boy segments,” and my son enjoyed those ostensibly meant for girls.

Continue reading

Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show

IMG_4400

A trip to Walt Disney World is fairly expensive if you do nothing but visit the parks. But then there’s meals, special events, tours, and merch, merch, merch! If you’re not careful, your trip can easily break the bank and spill over into excess. Even if you ignore the rest of Central Florida, there’s just a ton to do on Disney property.

We don’t visit all that often, but when we do, we like to try new things. And I usually budget for one splurge event. On our most recent trip, that splurge was the luau at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

Officially, it’s called Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, but that’s a mouthful. I’m just going to call it the luau.

Continue reading

5 Questions with Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde

IMG_5397

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Joe Rohde, Senior Vice President of Walt Disney Imagineering.

Disney imagineers are like LEGO master builders. Almost everyone has heard the term but relatively few know what it really means. Who are they? They’re the designers behind Disney theme parks, attractions, shows, resorts, and cruise ships, and they’re self-described “dreamers and doers.”

What do they do? Surprisingly, Walt Disney Imagineering is composed of more than 140 unique disciplines. They’re not all artists and designers. Imagineers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and include architects, illustrators, graphic designers, writers, engineers, interior designers, multimedia gurus, project managers….even corporate and administrative support positions are considered imagineers.

Joe Rohde is currently one of the top guys at Walt Disney Imagineering. But he’s been around for a long time and has had a hand in a whole slew of Disney Parks projects dating all the way back to the development of Epcot in the early 1980s.

Continue reading

Ticket Giveaway: Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy

5855019_origDisney on Ice is still putting costumed characters on ice skates. Seems dangerous to me, but the performers at these shows are actually pretty impressive.

The Worlds of Fantasy show includes four separate storylines: Tinker Bell, The Little Mermaid, Cars, and Toy Story. Ostensibly, that’s two “for the girls” and two “for the boys.”

McQueen and Mater should be interesting—I’m not exactly sure how that’ll work or if there will actually be people inside on ice skates.

One thing that’s for sure, though, is that there will be plenty of familiar songs for the kids to groove along to. With these four storylines, we’re sure to at least get Under the Sea, Part of Your World, and You’ve Got a Friend in Me.

I’ve even got a nice little surprise for this one. Click here to download a coloring sheet with these characters. Enjoy!

If you’re in the Washington, DC area, Disney on Ice is returning to the area in the Verizon Center from February 11–16. Here’s the full schedule:

  • Wednesday, February 11: 7:30
  • Thursday, February 12: 10:30, 7:30
  • Friday, February 13: 7:30
  • Saturday, February 14: 10:30, 2:30, 6:30
  • Sunday, February 15: 12:30, 4:30
  • Monday, February 16: 12:30

Tickets are available at the Verizon Center box office, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000. Seats start at $20, but Roarbots readers can save $5 off tickets by using the codeword PRINT.

However! I have a family 4-pack of tickets to giveaway to a lucky reader. The tickets are for the 7:30 pm show on Wednesday, February 11, 2015. Just enter with the widget below, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DisneyKids Preschool Playdate

IMG_2045

We were recently invited by Disney Parks and MomSelect to host a DisneyKids preschool playdate for our little guy—a Jake and the Neverland Pirates playdate, no less. Arr, matey!

Sam (like most younger siblings) seems to forever live in his older sister’s shadow. Even though we made a concerted effort to set up playdates and help Zoey (his sister) make new friends when she was very young, we unfortunately haven’t had the same energy for Sam. Sound familiar?

Well, when the package of party goodies arrived from Disney, Sam immediately knew it was all about him. And he was thrilled.

Continue reading

Disney’s The Little Mermaid

LittleMermaid

Disney’s The Little Mermaid

  • playing at Olney Theatre Centre (Olney, MD)
  • dates: now through December 28, 2014
  • directed by Mark Waldrop
  • Roar Score: 4/5

Can you believe Disney’s The Little Mermaid is having its 25th anniversary this year? Hard to believe, I know. Ariel is all grown up.

Timed to coincide with this anniversary and capitalize on the perennial appeal of that red-headed mermaid, Olney Theatre Center in Olney, MD (about 45 minutes from both DC and Baltimore) recently launched its performance of the stage version.

Is it ok to use the word splashtastic? Probably not, but I will anyway. This production is very, very good.

Continue reading