What’s Next For Cirque Du Soleil At Disney Springs

After the final bow of Cirque Du Soleil’s La Nouba, everybody expected that a new show was in the works. Even though La Nouba kept bringing audiences to the big top, it was a 19-year round with a rough ending. In the past years, acts were added as a way to bring back more audiences from Orlando. Live shows don’t have the rewatchability that parks do, so the show struggled in the past few years.

On December 20th, 2017, they announced that a Disney themed Cirque Du Soleil show was in development as a replacement. This would go in tandem with the circus’ recent strategy, blending IP’s into their shows like Love (based on The Beatles), Toruk (based on James Cameron’s Avatar), and One (based on Michael Jackson). Many months after, we haven’t seen any pictures or promotional material about the show. Taking into account the huge building Cirque has in Disney Springs, I thought the new show will open much faster, probably within this year. If it doesn’t occur like this, then it is because they are working on changing the layout of the multi layered theater. I would also think that the show could open before or after the open of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, handling the huge crowds expected at this moment. With a Disney related theme, more families will be interested in the show. In my case, I didn’t go to La Nouba until I was around 10 years old because my family thought that I wouldn’t appreciate the show as a kid. Cirque Du Soleil has always been a more mature, adult oriented show, so the Disney theme helps bringing children to the show and eliminate that barrier.

Even though the press release refers that the show will use Disney movies as inspiration, I don’t know how they will use them. I believe they’ll just use the movies from Walt Disney Animation Studios, recreating some scenes as part of acts. Also, the shows from Cirque Du Soleil don’t usually have a storyline. Even though they try to make a story, it is abstract enough so that everybody can have its own interpretation about it.

The most complicated issue about Cirque Du Soleil’s next show is less on the production and more on the pricing. With the recent pricing inflation in the theme parks, people will be less attracted for extra events that cost more money. These shows usually are expensive by themselves. As the theme parks tickets rise their prices and different offerings, a live show could be more of an afterthought. This wouldn’t be good for Cirque and Disney, as this could mean that less families could enjoy these vacation add ons.

We don’t know much details about Cirque’s next show, but it will sure give a different offering for many people that already saw La Nouba and that want a more Disney experience.

Book Review: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn

One of my favorite characters in Star Wars Rebels is Thrawn, so this book was on my reading list for quite a while. I preferred reading it after watching all the series to see how much it would inform the series. This character centric story is everything you might expect and more for a compelling villain that has reappeared after being one of the main characters of the trilogy that kicked of the Expanded Universe books (now Legends).

Thrawn by Timothy Zahn tells the story of the blue skinned Chiss as he slowly ranks up in the Imperial Academy and beyond. Every chapter builds up the character and moves the plot forward, giving intricate details of the character that are relevant in the book. Thrawn is the most empathetic villain I’ve ever read in the Star Wars books, giving more context to its decisions. Timothy Zahn takes his time to develop how Thrawn obsesses over small details to set up the tactical plans that made him Grand Admiral. The descriptions of how he interprets body language and art give a glimpse of the character in Rebels. I was always curious if Thrawn in the series collected art just because he was powerful enough to acquire it. When the novel explains how he can analyze the culture of a planet just by the art, you understand why he is so passionate about art.

While Thrawn slowly goes up the ranks of the Empire, we see a young Ahrinda Pryce trying to find her place in the galaxy after the political attack that took over her family’s mining facilities of Lothal. This story is as intriguing as Thrawn’s, sometimes even more interesting. Her struggles and feelings are developed to make us care about her. Pryce is trying to gain power as much as Thrawn’s but in the political world. It balances both characters really well and it explains why they have a mutual business relationship during Star Wars Rebels. Thrawn’s lack of knowledge about politics balances out with Pryce’s need of military power.

Other surprising character to appear was Colonel Yularen, which took me a while to remember his importance in The Clone Wars series. This is a light connection to other canon stories that doesn’t intrude nor it makes the world seem smaller. It makes sense that, as Thrawn ranks up, he meets a veteran of the Clone Wars.

Even though the novel is character centric, it has enough action in between. We see how Thrawn handles different missions, sometimes not understanding his decisions until the very end. That keeps you engaged in such a way that you just want to keep reading. There’s a moment when you think the story plateaus because of the several missions that happen one after the other, but the payoff at the end makes you understand why these missions are relevant to the story. Thrawn’s obsessions with Nightswan, an unknown bounty hunter, leads him slowly to find out who this character really is.

Overall, I can’t explain how good this book is. If you’ve enjoyed Thrawn in Rebels, this book will develop the character in such a way you’ll want to watch the series again. I haven’t read the classic Thrawn trilogy, but it will sure be in my reading list after enjoying this one so much. Take this book as soon as you can. A sequel, Thrawn Alliances, will be released soon. So if you’ve only read action packed Star Wars novels, take this book to deepen your toes in more character based stories.

DisOutsider Briefly #1

Hi!

This is DisOutsider Briefly, a new section for readers to catch up on some relevant news and interesting links.

In the past months, I’ve focused more in op ed articles rather than following the news cycle. Even though this change will be definite, I always have some thoughts about news but they are not enough to write a whole article. Here are some interesting news and links of the past week:

  1. Want something to get you out of the toxic Star Wars fandom? Watch this fan edit of Empire Strikes Back mixed with Pulp Fiction.
  2. Rob Plays explains why there are no mosquitoes at Disney World.
  3. New Incredibles Tsum Tsums to make sure the superheroes take care of your room.
  4. George Lucas’ Sequel Trilogy? If you don’t like midi chlorians, you’d be disappointed.
  5. Tell me you saw that Kingdom Hearts III trailer.
  6. Comcast is also bidding for 21st Century Fox.
  7. John Boyega has some thoughts about toxic Star Wars fandom on Twitter.Star Wars also had some subtle thoughts.
  8. New Cast Member uniforms for Toy Story Land look great.
  9. Want to learn more about Darth Maul? This podcast episode should make the trick.
  10. Oh, and the Dumbo remake just released a teaser trailer. I was on the fence about this remake, but it looks like Tim Burton is translating the movie really well.

‘The Incredibles 2’ Review: A Deserved Sequel That Is Just Popcorn Fun

It is hard to release a sequel 14 years after the original film and still live up to its predecessor.

It is hard to release a sequel 14 years after that feels completely different from its predecessor.

It is hard to release a sequel 14 after that is able to compete will all the superhero films that have been released in the past years.

Brad Bird did all of these with ‘The Incredibles 2’.

Believe me when I said this. Some critics will say that this movie isn’t better than the first one, and they have the right to say so. But they can’t say that the film brings many elements that lives up to its predecessor.

It is difficult to pinpoint how ‘The Incredibles 2’ manages to achieve so much in the movie, so let’s begin with some specific aspects.

It Isn’t a Superhero Film

Yes, The Incredibles are superheroes, but the plot doesn’t necessarily revolve around this. More than that, this is a film about family and trying to live up to expectations (kinda meta for a sequel).

Helen Parr tries to have a superhero life so politicians can approve the work of supers, while Bob tries to be a good father with all his children who are in different stages of life. Violet deals with the mood swings of a teenager, while Dash tries to balance school life with having fun. And Jack-Jack tries to handle its superpower but he can’t.

Every single member of the family is dealing with its own problems, which makes the film much more complex than the first film. The fact that Brad Bird decided to make the sequel without time jumps, barely a few months after the first film, allows for these conflicts to work. They are all relatable, making it the ultimate family movie for this year’s summer season.

This isn’t your Marvel origin story. In fact, the film makes the superheroes feel like they are just doing their job. This is a welcome idea because of how many superhero films we have consumed over the years that is just about the superhero struggling to use its powers, having an all-evil villain, and later saving the day even though he barely knows how to use his powers.

The Action Sequences Should That Kevin Feige Envies

From the very first action sequence, there’s a style and a pacing that feels fresh, original, and impressive. Every single frame explains the actions in a clear, directed manner that even ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ struggles to do in its big action set pieces. This shows the ability that Brad Bird has to strip down every single detail that confuses the audience, using the camera from different angles to establish the movement.

The action sequences that ‘The Incredibles 2’ delivers has a clear through line and art direction that make them unique and different. The fight scene between Screenslaver and Elastigirl is one of the most impressive animation I’ve scene in a while, with and art direction that makes it unique.

Which is exactly what many action sequences miss in other superhero films. It isn’t only about the action sequence, but about how you can deliver insightful information and make it visually interesting besides the camera movement.

In this area, ‘The Incredibles 2’ gets an A+.

Pure Pixar Comedy

This film has so much comedy without feeling like the kind of comedy you could be used to from a Marvel film. Jack-Jack steals the show when we talk about comedy, but there are many subtle details and gags in the movie. What makes them original is that the comedy relates to the story and the gags are true to the situations of each character.

The interactions between Edna Mode and Jack-Jack are one of the highlights, creating a unique relationship to both characters. This is a clear example of how situations could be created in such a way to create funny moments that have more legs beyond the simple laughter.

It Is A Genre Film, Not An Animated Film

Brad Bird has created an action packed genre movie while using animation as a medium. This is something that gives ‘The Incredibles 2’ its own identity. It still feels like a Pixar film, but it deviates in many ways.

A Compelling Villain

In a world were superhero films are filled with disposable enemies, ‘The Incredibles 2’ has a villain that has a clear intention that relates to the conflict suggested throughout the film of legalizing supers. Evelyn Deavor fights against it with smart plans that really cornered the main characters in compelling ways.

Popcorn Fun

In the end, this is a fun film for everyone to enjoy. Even though the plot leads to some deep themes, it all works in favor of the story development. Many people will consider it is a superior film than its predecessor, others will think it lives up to the first film. It doesn’t matter what you think, this is a well written and spectacularly directed film from Brad Bird, whose taste for action movies has been translated from live action to the animated medium.

The Battle For A Diverse Menu In Disney Parks

The ABC Commissary is the usual place were I eat for lunch every time we go to Disney Hollywood Studios. It isn’t as crowded, the food is good, and it in the middle of the park, so I can go straight to some attractions. The theming is quite neutral, something my family enjoys, and there are some costume exhibitions from the ABC shows. During the past three or four years, every time we visit, there’s a new menu in place.

In this place, I would love to get spicy shrimp with fish, a great option from the menu. It tasted really good, being a different style of food for a quick service restaurant. My mom enjoyed a great salad during her meals. The next year, this would all be replaced with the usual meals: cheeseburgers, nuggets, and a less-than-desirable salad.

Why would they change it if the plates were so good? Menu changes have been pretty standard for many restaurants within the park, moving to the usual food options after trying a superior, more varied menu. The American food could be good for US-based visitors, but international visitors (like me) want a break from the hamburger, nuggets, french fries, and turkey legs. Yes, I like all of those, but I don’t want to eat them for four days straight.

When Skipper Canteen opened its door in Adventureland, people were surprised about the varied a menu it had. It looks like the chefs were doing their best at improving the variety of options. It even included arepas, a typical food in Venezuela which I was happy to give it a try. Months later, the menu would change once more, with a more reserved menu. Even though it tries to keep the variety and uniqueness, it still tries to give a safer taste. At least they replaced arepas with cachapas, another typical food common in Venezuela and Colombia.

Management at the parks are missing a great opportunity to give guests some unique meals at quick service and table served restaurants, giving priority to more exclusive offerings. And even though this could make sense from a business standpoint, the truth is that most guests aren’t heading to those exclusive offerings. The parks are the forefront of The Walt Disney Company as a whole and it should be treated as such. Even though it is important to make money, they should at least take some risk in food offerings to see how a restaurant can slowly have a great following.

I miss those spicy shrimps from ABC Commissary at Disney Hollywood Studios. I miss the menu from Pecos Bill, which, in my opinion, had the best hamburgers in the resort (even though tacos and nachos are good from the newest menu). We can get variety from quick service restaurants to table restaurants so all guests could enjoy a great meal around the parks.

What We Can Expect From John Lasseter: The Next 6 Months

After 6 months of uncertainty about John Lasseter’s future, Disney has announced that the creative leader will exit the company at the end of 2018. Lasseter will work as a creative consultant during this time for Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Some weeks ago I released an article talking about what we can expect after Lasseter’s leave of absence.With many options for the creative leader, a possible retirement after some clean up time was one of the most expected due to his importance in the company. Disney has decided a nuke and pave, letting him tie some loose ends and groom the next leaders for Pixar and Walt Disney Animation.

What undone projects does Lasseter have? Why does he need so much time to leave the company? After the Roseanne Barr incident leading to the cancellation of her show on ABC, looks like John Lasseter is being given much more time (and compensation) for matters just as worse as that of Roseanne’s. The difference between these two are the roles they have in the company; ABC is fine with the cancellation of a show, but Pixar and Walt Disney Animation can’t run too far without a solid creative leader that keeps the development of future projects. John Lasseter might have a more forgiving exit, but it is for reasons beyond his missteps.

No, I’m not saying his sexual misconduct should be forgiven. The fact that he is taking a year to retire from the company doesn’t hide the fact that he destroyed his entire career and gave uncomfortable situations to several women under his leadership at the animation studio. In fact, it is impressive how this conduct was tolerated for decades from personalities like Steve Jobs, Michael Eisner, Ed Catmull, Alvy Ray Smith, and Bob Iger. This doesn’t include other colleagues such as Pete Docter, Brad Bird, and Andrew Stanton. The details on Lasseter’s misconduct haven’t been fully disclosed besides some unknown sources, but it should be prominent enough for him to leave the company. Was this a problem from the past decade? Or was it just his attitude that was perceived as predatory? Again, I’m not defending Lasseter, but many of the details have been closely guarded by Disney PR, shutting up sources from Hollywood.

With Lasseter leaving his position as Chief Creative Officer, many news sites suggested Pete Docter as a possible successor. This information has been stated again recently, but with a minor change; Pete Docter could be the leader for Pixar, but Jennifer Lee (Frozen, Zootopia, Wreck It Ralph) would become the leader for Walt Disney Animation. Separating the leadership from both studios should help in keeping their identities. John Lasseter and Ed Catmull took over the Walt Disney Animation Studios way back when the future for the company’s main asset was uncertain. With a solidified revival era for Walt Disney Animation, the studio already has enough in-house talent to take care of their own projects. While Ed Catmull will keep both studios under his guidance, Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter should be able to handle the creative interests from each studio.

The Pixarization of Walt Disney Animation has been criticized, first burying to the ground the possibilities of future 2D animation because of the box office disappointment of ‘Princess and the Frog’ (because they had enough information to predict that Avatar would dominate the box office for the next 2 months, right? 🤣) Even though Pixar has an usual focus on more mature stories, this has been less than true in the past years. Movies like The Good Dino, Brave, and the Cars show that Pixar also is catering to younger audiences while Zootopia and Wreck It Ralph have a much broader appeal than the usual Walt Disney Animation film. A creative leader for each studio should help in making a clearer line between what makes a Pixar film and what makes a Walt Disney Animation film.

Pete Docter has been a relevant artist for Pixar since the early days of the studio, with a knack for original stories like Monsters Inc., Up, and Inside Out. In the case of Jennifer Lee, she doesn’t have the experience, but she has been able to help develop stories like Frozen, Wreck It Ralph, and Zootopia, all of them relevant projects of this current revival era. Let’s not forget that a female leader is a welcome addition to the male dominant world of animation.

John Lasseter will stay for the next 6 months as a creative consultant because there is a project close to his heart that appears to be in trouble: Toy Story 4. Lasseter was the person that announced on November 2014 that a Toy Story sequel was in the works for 2018, later rescheduled for 2019. Insiders have said that the movie isn’t in a good ground, without a clear story. Rashida Jones, one of the screenwriters signed for early development, left the project because of creative differences. In the past weeks, it has been rumored that the story has been scrapped completely, leaving the story development group to start all over.

If Lasseter saved Toy Story and Toy Story 2, can he be able to do it again with Toy Story 4? Maybe that is what he hopes for. It is known that full animation on these films begins a year ahead of release, with the tests and pre production already in place. With the TV specials like ‘Toy Story Of Terror!’ And ‘Toy Story That Time Forgot’, Pixar has shown that there’s enough space of ideas for the Toy Story franchise and they are still able to pull off these great projects without repeating themselves. They might be worried because the expectations of every sequel to Toy Story are so high. Each sequel has built upon the original in a way that few franchises achieve to do.

If all of these areas of development are on track and Lasseter focuses solely on fixing the story, he might be able to help the screenwriters, giving him even more time to expand on future films. Early development for projects in Disney and Pixar should create a road map for the new leadership to have something to work with.

Pixar might be on the right path, but the Walt Disney Animation Studio might start to lose its momentum. With a grim horizon after the cancellation of Gigantic, it isn’t clear what is the path for the studio besides Frozen 2. Similar to Pixar, Disney has relied on some sequels that have given them enough time to develop more stories, but there is no clear path for them. It is time that the studio shifts on more interesting storylines that include the Disney touch of fantasy, beloved characters, and a timeless quality. (Because we all know that Ralph Breaks The Internet is going to age really fast.) After all, John Lasseter coming back for a while doesn’t sound as crazy as you might think. It is just one more step to get rid of his toxic behavior while patching up some work so that new leaders can take over Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Your Fandom Has A Price: The Art Of The Ticketed Event

Some weeks ago, Disney announced a $300 price tag to watch the magic of Pixar Pier a few days before normal guests. It includes meet & greets, riding the attractions, enjoying the scenery and some exclusive meals. This isn’t the first time that Disney does a ticketed event, but it is the first time in a while to make a prominent event out of a park expansion.

In the past years, ticketed events around the parks have started to pick up more steam. From villains, to Star Wars, to an event that is just about visiting the Magic Kingdom at night, the experimentation keeps on going. After all, these are easily justified by management when you already have the resources to pull out these kind of activities without much of an investment.

For Pixar Pier, the $300 price tag on your eagerness to be the first to enjoy the reimagined space is a bit too far. The land only has one new-ish attraction with few things to enjoy. But as always, these kind of events are only beta testing future options for management.

With the rising costs of park expansions, Disney needs to think about which options do they have to make that return of investment in less time. Ticketed events might be the answer. Imagine a $300 event next year on Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, much like Galactic Nights, but for the first three months of the land’s opening. It would give an option to the many Star Wars fans that will be attracted to the park, giving different experiences from normal guests, enjoying the attractions with shorter wait times, delivering exquisite Alderaanian food and unique meet & greets from more obscure characters that the normal theme park goer wouldn’t appreciate. Now that is an irresistible event for many fans that want to enjoy this land during its first year.

Doing the math with 2000 guests per night, this hypothetical Star Wars event would bring $600.000 per night, $18 million per month, $54 million for 90 days. These numbers look good even if the event lasts one month prior and during the opening of Galaxy’s Edge.

This is the reason that more ticketed events are part of the Disney experience. It is just a way to bring more income without doing that much of a complicated planning process. Once Galaxy’s Edge winds down, they could keep doing Galactic Nights at select days during special events, like film releases or TV series launches. The Pixar Pier event is just a proof of concept: if people are willing to pay that much for such a small expansion, they will quickly open their wallets once Galaxy’s Edge opens.

The ticketed events is a balancing act, were parks management sees something the hardcore fans want out of their park experience and they give it to you with a hefty price tag. And that’s ok as they deliver good experiences for those people who pay for that. What worries me about this event driven strategy is the boundaries between the benefits of the full day park goer vs. the hardcore time paying twice as much for a 3 hour or 6 hour ticketed event.