Milford Hutsell

Milford Hutsell

Some Star Wars characters go through quite a dramatic transformation from concept to the big screen. Go back to the original drawing board, and you’ll find Yoda looking like a garden gnome, Ewoks with flamingo legs, and prequel battle droids resembling Vader’s finest. We take a look at five of our favorite unused versions of beloved Star Wars characters.

1. Chewbacca

Our favorite Wookiee didn’t start off looking like the big walking carpet we know and love. According to famed designer Ralph McQuarrie, George Lucas’ original vision of Chewie resembled a ginormous lemur. After McQuarrie gave it a shot, those designs, including one featuring a bug-eyed alien ape with goggles, were tossed out in favor of another look. Taking a cue from the second draft of the A New Hope script, McQuarrie gave Chewbacca a bush-baby face with pointy ears and fangs. That design got thrown in the trash compactor, too. Yet, more than 35 years later, it inspired the look of Zeb on Star Wars Rebels. 

2. Yoda

The Empire Strikes Back Sketchbook, originally published in 1980, showcases concept art created by Joe Johnston and his assistant at the time, Nilo Rodis-Jamero. Flipping through the pages, some of the more striking illustrations highlight the evolution of Yoda. While a majority of the images remain close to Stuart Freeborn’s self-portrait sculpt, one in particular hardly comes close to the final version of the pointy-eared master Jedi. An early concept shows a bearded dwarf with a hipster handlebar mustache. His pointy hat and ornate staff puts him more at home in Tolkein’s Shire than Lucas’ Dagobah.

3. Ewoks

When time came to create the inhabitants of Return of the Jedi, McQuarrie’s take on Ewoks proved fuzzy, but not so squatty. Early Ewok sketches by McQuarrie depicted the creatures with long, skinny legs and knobby knees. The faces look much less bear-like.

4. Battle droids

When artist Doug Chiang tried his hand at whipping up battle droid concept art for The Phantom Menace in the mid-1990s, one of his earliest designs harkened back to the original trilogy. Although clearly robotic, the droids’ facial features serve as a nod to the helmets worn by Imperial stormtroopers.

5. Kylo Ren

The dark side of Ben Solo in The Force Awakens nearly looked completely different, yet not unfamiliar. Costume designer Michael Kaplan envisioned Ren’s duds as sparkling silver armor, a sort of “Lord of the Stormtroopers,” he said. Concept artist Dermot Power brought the look to life. However, director J.J. Abrams slashed the idea with the swiftness of a lightsaber. Still, the drawing stayed on the design room wall, eventually catching the eye of Lucasfilm honcho, Kathleen Kennedy. She loved the look, which inspired Abrams to add the character of Captain Phasma to the mix.

Jon Waterhouse is an award-winning journalist, radio show host, and performer whose byline has appeared in a variety of print and online publications including Esquire, BlackBook, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and on MTV.com. He helms the geek travel blog NerdsOnHoliday.com.

Thousands of Orlando-area athletes, are a part of the more than 30,000 girls’ volleyball players competing in the 44th annual AAU Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championships at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort and the Orange County Convention Center.

The event also brings 80,000 spectators, 9,000 club coaches and 500 college coaches to Central Florida, making it the largest volleyball event in the world. The competition has held this title since 2012, when the 16U Club division set the current Guinness Book of World Records, during a competition at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

For storylines from the event, see below:

Less than a year after major flooding destroyed their homes and high schools in St. Amant, La., the Ignite Volleyball 17U club team is competing in the 44th AAU Girls’ Jr. National Volleyball Championships at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.

Athletes on the club team from St. Amant High School and Dutchtown High School saw their lives upended in August 2016, when Ascension Parish was impacted by severe rainstorms that left close to one-third of all homes in the area – and both schools – devastated by historic flooding.

One athlete, Chloe Anderson, was particularly effected, as she and her family only had time to grab a few clothes and personal items before her home was overtaken by rushing water. Her community was so submerged that her family had to return home in a boat. The Anderson family was forced to move in with their grandmother, where Anderson slept on an air mattress on the floor for months.

Despite starting her high school volleyball season losing six of seven games while they grappled with the aftermath of the flood, Anderson and team staged a remarkable comeback, winning 27 of 28 games and finished the season 33-10.

Ignite Volleyball’s opening pool schedule is below:

Game Time Location
Monday, 06/19

3 P.M. vs. Xcel 17X Premier

HP Fieldhouse, Court 8
Monday, 06/19

5 P.M. vs. OVC Ambush

HP Fieldhouse, Court 8
Monday, 06/19

8 P.M., WPVC 17 Elite Black

HP Fieldhouse, Court 8

For a full schedule of all games from June 15-26, click here.

 

 

 

 

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Radiator Springs Comes to Life at Disney California Adventure Park with Three Attractions, Plus Characters and Familiar Places from the ‘Cars’ Movies

ANAHEIM, Calif. (June 15, 2017) – The Happiest Place on Earth became even happier with the opening of Cars Land, the largest piece of a five-year expansion that was completed in 2012 at Disney California Adventure Park. Cars Land features 12 acres of immersive excitement, offering freewheeling fun for everyone as it brings the town of Radiator Springs to life, just as guests remember it from the Disney●Pixar movie “Cars.”

The thrilling additions of Cars Land, Buena Vista Street and the Carthay Circle Theatre, home of the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge at Disney California Adventure have added to the storytelling magic of the Disneyland Resort, a world-class, family  vacation destination in Southern California with two theme parks, three hotels and the Downtown Disney shopping and dining district.

At the time Cars Land opened, Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, called Cars Land the “crown jewel” of the Disney California Adventure expansion.

“Cars Land is the extraordinary result of a close collaboration between the gifted filmmakers at Pixar Animation Studios and our talented Imagineers and cast members,” Iger said. “It’s also a spectacular example of our ability to take our characters and stories and bring them to life in new and unexpected ways.”

Cars Land invites guests to take the off ramp right into Radiator Springs, “the cutest little town in Carburetor County,” where they enjoy three family attractions showcasing places and characters from the movie: Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters, and Radiator Springs Racers, one of the largest and most elaborate attractions created for a Disney theme park.

Lightning McQueen and Mater make appearances and pose for photos near the Cozy Cone Motel along with their new friend Cruz Ramirez from the Disney●Pixar movie “Cars 3.”

Each attraction and facility has its own personality, allowing guests to get to know more about the characters who live in Radiator Springs. Themed shops and restaurants also look familiar to fans of the movies, including Flo’s V8 Café, Cozy Cone Motel and Ramone’s House of Body Art.

“A lot of the places you will find only inside Cars Land, so we took the theming and storytelling all the way through, in a way that guests will really feel as if the shops, restaurants and attractions are being operated by  that character,” said Kathy Mangum, executive producer of Cars Land. “Everywhere you look there is a funny little car nod. After all, it is a land built by cars.” Many of the automotive winks were inspired by a research trip Imagineers took along Route 66. Others were inspired by working with the animators from Pixar.

“While I love all of the movies we’ve made at Pixar, the ‘Cars’ films are particularly close to my heart, so seeing Radiator Springs come to life at Disney California Adventure is a dream come true,” said John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, at the grand opening. “The artistry and attention to detail throughout Cars Land is absolutely incredible, and I couldn’t be more proud of the teams at Pixar and Walt Disney Imagineering who worked side by side to make this project a reality.”

The “Cars” gang gathers to prepare visitors for the big race in Radiator Springs Racers, the high-octane, indoor/outdoor adventure that revs through the beautiful mountains of Ornament Valley. Guests board cars, each with their own personality, for a scenic road trip that takes them through Radiator Springs, with a stop at either Luigi’s Casa Della Tires or Ramone’s House of Body Art. After getting some final racing tips from Doc Hudson, the cars zoom over the roadways in a nose-to-nose, high-speed race, never knowing which car may win.

Elsewhere in Cars Land, Luigi invites guests to ride along with his cousins as they perform the traditional dances of their hometown village in Italy. Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters at Casa Della Tires is the newest addition to in Cars Land and features miniature Italian roadsters moving to upbeat music as they glide and spin. Each dancing car has its own high-spirited personality and signature dance moves so guests enjoy a different ride experience depending on which car they board.

Mater provides his own unique siren song, courtesy of a Junkyard Jukebox that has lured baby tractors into Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. There, the tractors dance to Mater’s hoedown tune, swinging guests around in trailers they are pulling behind them. It’s a “tow-si-do” square dance to a playlist of seven songs sung by Mater himself.

The streets of Radiator Springs are humming with entertainment, too. DJ, the ultimate party car -– a big road-trippin’ mobile boom box with giant speakers and built-in disc changer – invites his crew to “DJ’s Dance ‘n Drive,” a spontaneous, interactive dance party. And Red the Fire –

Truck recruits guests of all ages to join “Red to the Rescue!”–helping water the flowers and clean up the town of Radiator Springs. (Prepare to get wet!)

The road leading into Cars Land is dotted with large animated neon signs reminiscent of the ‘50s era of cross-country travel along Route 66. As with other aspects of the land, the neon signs are three-dimensional representations of recognizable landmarks from the movie “Cars,” and they come to life each night at sundown when it’s cruisin’ time along the boulevard.

“Cars” fans and other interested shoppers find a great selection of Cars Land and other Disney and Disney●Pixar gifts and souvenirs at the “local” retail shops in Radiator Springs.  Although the interiors of most of these locales weren’t seen in the movie, they were created for Cars Land by Walt Disney Imagineers with their characteristic attention to detail, drawing on inspiration from vintage stops along historic Route 66.

Sarge’s Surplus Hut offers a broad selection of merchandise–kids clothing, costumes, hats, toys and plush–featuring Lightning McQueen, Mater and other “Cars” characters. Radiator Springs Curios is a country-style mercantile with special appeal for collectors of pins themed to all things “Cars.” The shop also stocks magnets, antenna toppers and license plate frames. Ramone’s House of Body Art features the signature items of the Low ‘n Slow Car Club and Champions Custom Speed Shop collections in t-shirts, work shirts, hats and accessories.

Dining options in Cars Land include Flo’s V8 Café, modeled on the quirky roadside eateries along old Route 66. The café serves full meals from a quick-service counter. A windowed “showroom” dining area and adjoining outdoor patio offer a breathtaking view of Cadillac Mountain Range and the vehicles zooming by in Radiator Springs Racers. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at Flo’s, and specialties include chicken tamale with scrambled eggs, brioche French toast with salted caramel and bananas, home-style classics such as pork loin or New York strip loin, plus the house-made Pie-O-Rama for dessert.

The distinctive, orange “cone” architecture of Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel offers quick service cone-themed snacks from five different cones, including ice cream cones, chile “cone” queso, pop “cone” and other “cone”-coctions. Fillmore’s Taste-in celebrates the Cars Land “new age” hippie-van-in-residence. His food and beverage kiosk offers the “high-octane” natural health benefits of fresh fruits, bottled water and juices.

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About the Disneyland Resort
The Disneyland Resort features two spectacular theme parks – Disneyland (the original Disney theme park) and Disney California Adventure Park – plus three hotels and the Downtown Disney District, comprising unique dining, entertainment and shopping experiences. The Resort’s hotels are the luxurious, 948-room Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which also features 50 two-bedroom equivalent Disney Vacation Club units; the magical, 973-room Disneyland Hotel – both AAA Four Diamond properties – and the 481-room Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel with its “day-at-the-beach” theme. For information on attractions and vacations at the Disneyland Resort, visit Disneyland.com, call (866) 43-DISNEY or contact local travel agents. Located in Anaheim, Calif., the Disneyland Resort opened July 17, 1955. Open daily, year-round.

Media Contact:
Disneyland Resort Public Relations
714/781-4500
www.disneylandnews.com
www.disneyparksblog.com
www.twitter.com/disneyland

There are quite a few dads in Star Wars, and while we wish we could give them all a “Best Dad in the Galaxy” T-shirt, the reality is they aren’t all perfect. But there are some good ones, too. That’s why we made a quiz to help you figure out which father/son or father/daughter duo is most like you and your dad — whether smuggler or Sith, senator, or freedom fighter. Let us know your result in the comments below and whether you think we got it right!

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

Comic Book Galaxy explores Marvel‘s Star Wars comic book releases and provides a discussion point on the culture and climate of the Star Wars comic book universe.

If you have been reading Star Wars comics in the past month, you’ve experienced some great storytelling. In Poe Dameron #14, General Leia and the guy who can fly anything discuss the future of the Resistance, and in Screaming Citadel #1, the unlikely team of Luke Skywalker and Dr. Aphra encounter a new kind of scum and villainy in the galaxy. The story of their team up continues in Star Wars #31, and Darth Vader makes his return to monthly comics in the pages of an all new, self-titled book, with the energy and power we have come to expect from the Dark Lord of the Sith. There is also much to learn in the new title, which will be explored in Word Balloon. Here is a look at some of the Star Wars comics released over the course of the past month.

The Month That Was

Poe Dameron #14

  • The issue starts with the funeral of L’lulo, the pilot who sacrificed himself in order to save escape pods in issue #13. He was a lifelong family friend to the Damerons, and the Resistance pilot feels his loss.
  • Poe and General Leia have a conversation in which it is revealed that Leia sees something in Poe that he may be unaware of. She challenges Poe to search within himself, as she believes he is more than a great pilot. He is also a natural leader, and encourages him to foster that burgeoning talent.
  • Agent Terex finds himself in the clutches of Captain Phasma. She and the First Order have grown weary of Terex’s renegade mindset, and Phasma dishes out her version of justice. Terex will never be the same.

Screaming Citadel #1

  • The latest crossover event in Star Wars comics begins here! The one-shot brings the surprising tandem of Luke Skywalker and rogue archaeologist, Dr. Aphra. Their chemistry is much richer than expected, and provides some great moments of irony and humor.
  • Aphra wants to bring Luke to the Screaming Citadel, where the Queen of Ktath’atn resides. The Queen hosts an annual gathering of some of the most unique denizens of the Star Wars; Aphra hopes the farm boy from Tatooine will impress the Queen enough that she will activate an ancient Jedi artifact for them. Both hope to benefit, but the Queen has some sinister plans of her own.
  • The issue features many elements of gothic literature that add a unique element to Star Wars. Seems appropriate, too, since Triple-Zero and Beetee are involved.

Star Wars #31

  • The Screaming Citadel arc continues with the Queen testing Luke’s increasing Jedi abilities. She wants to make sure Skywalker is the real deal. Her methods are unconventional, to say the least.
  • It was revealed in Screaming Citadel #1 that the Queen and her cronies suck the life force out of the residents of the town near the citadel. As this issue goes on, her motivation becomes more and more apparent, as well as frightening for Luke and Aphra. Talk about a deal getting worse all the time!
  • Han, Leia, and Sana put together a rescue mission to save the Rebel hero. They believe Aphra kidnapped Luke, but have no idea what they are actually in for. 

Word Balloon: Highlights from Darth Vader (2017) #1

Darth Vader is the newest monthly Star Wars title, and takes place immediately after Anakin Skywalker is encased in Vader’s iconic black armor in Revenge of the Sith. The first issue, written by Charles Soule and penciled by Giuseppe Camuncoli, provides new information on Vader and Emperor Palpatine’s relationship, shows us his first solo mission in his new costume, and begins to reveal how Darth Vader gets his Sith lightsaber. Here are some highlights!

Rebirth and trauma

In Revenge of the Sith, audiences witness Darth Sidious telling Darth Vader that he killed Padmé out of rage. However, what we didn’t see is the aftermath of this conversation. The first panel showcases just how powerful Darth Vader is, much to Palpatine’s surprise and chagrin. Palpatine is slammed (via the Force) into a wall, courtesy of Vader’s intense anger. The psychology of their relationship is manifest in Sidious’ response to this shocking turn of events, and gives more context to the master/apprentice dynamic. There’s a significant threat involved that cements their relationship for the next 19 years, too.

Mas Amedda’s influence

In Chuck Wendig’s novel, Empire’s End, it is reinforced that Mas Amedda is nothing more than a figurehead for the Empire. In Darth Vader #1, however, we see the public personae he has crafted for himself, and the charisma he exudes. His venom is palpable, and he also continues Palpatine’s mission to eradicate the existence of the Jedi from the general public. This sequence also shows us what happened to many of the lightsabers of the Jedi. The symbolism of this destruction is shocking, permanent, and powerful.

The origin of the red lightsaber blade

A standout moment of Darth Vader #1 is undoubtedly the moment when Darth Sidious tells his new apprentice why Sith blades are red. Sidious reveals that Vader must “… pour your [Darth Vader’s] pain into the [kyber] crystal and when, at last, the agony becomes more than it can stand … a beautiful crimson. The color of your rage.” This is another shocking example of how the Sith subvert the nature of the Force in all living things, and warp what was once good into something twisted and unnatural. In essence, Vader’s lightsaber blade could be considered as tragic as the former Jedi Knight himself.

How Darth Vader will become in possession of his Sith hilt has yet to be revealed, but this moment will unquestionably add to the legacy of the fallen Jedi.

What did you think of Darth Vader #1? Let us know in the comments below!

Dan Zehr is a high school English teacher with an MS in Teaching and Learning, and is the Host and Co-creator of Coffee With Kenobi, a Star Wars podcast that analyzes the saga through critical thinking, analysis, interviews, and discussion. He is also the rebel teacher in the Target Rogue One commercial, and is an avid comic book consumer and longtime reader of the medium.

Thursday, 15 June 2017 12:02

Fantasmic!

‘FANTASMIC!’ RETURNS TO DISNEYLAND PARK – “Fantasmic!,” Disney’s longest-running and most popular nighttime spectacular, returns to the Rivers of America in Disneyland Park in July with enhanced effects, innovative state-of-the-art projection technology, and new storytelling elements. Guests will journey into Mickey Mouse’s imagination as they are immersed in this magical classic, a fan favorite for 25 years. The return of “Fantasmic!” coincides with the reopening of The Disneyland Railroad, Pirates’ Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, and the water crafts – Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia, Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes – that sail around the Rivers of America in Frontierland. (Artist Rendering/Disneyland Resort) “FANTASMIC!” (ANAHEIM, Calif.) – Mickey proves just how powerful his imagination can be as he defends his dreams against evil Disney villains in the nighttime spectacular, “Fantasmic!” at Disneyland park. Along the Rivers of America, guests can watch high-definition digital animation projected onto water screens, wave to familiar Disney characters, and witness Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty” transform into a 40-foot-tall fire-breathing dragon. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort) “FANTASMIC!” (ANAHEIM, Calif.) – Mickey proves just how powerful his imagination can be as he defends his dreams against evil Disney villains in the nighttime spectacular, “Fantasmic!” at Disneyland park. Along the Rivers of America, guests can watch high-definition digital animation projected onto water screens, wave to familiar Disney characters, and witness Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty” transform into a 40-foot-tall fire-breathing dragon. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort) MORE ‘FANTASMIC!’ THAN EVER — Guests will enjoy magical thrills in the popular “Fantasmic!” spectacular on the Rivers of America in Frontierland. Recent enhancements include the climactic transformation of the evil Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty” into a fully animated 40-foot-tall dragon. The show has also added cutting-edge digital video technology and an appearance by Flotsam and Jetsam, the slithering eels who serve Ursula the Sea Witch in “The Little Mermaid.” (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)

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Thursday, 15 June 2017 12:04

Return of the Classics

SAILING SHIP COLUMBIA (ANAHEIM, Calif.) – The Sailing Ship Columbia explores the Rivers of America at Disneyland park. The 110-foot-long, fully rigged ship recreates the grand pioneering adventures of the famous vessel that discovered the Columbia River and became the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe. Guests enjoy marveling at the towering 84-foot mainmast and inspecting the merchant ship’s 10 cannons and two deck-mounted swivel guns, used to thwart the attacks of pirates. (Paul Hiffmeyer/ Disneyland Resort ) FRONTIERLAND – The Mark Twain Riverboat and Big Thunder Mountain are reflected in the Rivers of America in Frontierland at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Calif. Frontierland brings to life the natural beauty, excitement and promise of the American West in the 1800s. For editorial news use only. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland) While visiting Frontierland, Disneyland park guests can cruise back in time on a 14-minute sightseeing voyage aboard a recreation of the glorious 19th-century steam-powered paddlewheel riverboats that carried people and cargo up and down the mighty Mississippi. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland) One of Disneyland’s original attractions from opening day and arguably Walt Disney’s personal favorite, the trains of the Disneyland Railroad have “covered enough track” in 50 years to circle the earth more than 200 times. The trains provide guests an overall view of the park as well as the Grand Canyon and Primeval World dioramas. With its turn-of-the-century architecture and lush gardens, the Main Street station offers the first point of entry for those who wish to soak up the scenery on a grand circuit tour of Disneyland park aboard one of the trains of the Disneyland Railroad which run on bio-diesel fuel created from recycled cooking oil used throughout the Resort. (Scott Brinegar/Disneyland) ‘FANTASMIC!’ RETURNS TO DISNEYLAND PARK – “Fantasmic!,” Disney’s longest-running and most popular nighttime spectacular, returns to the Rivers of America in Disneyland Park in July with enhanced effects, innovative state-of-the-art projection technology, and new storytelling elements. Guests will journey into Mickey Mouse’s imagination as they are immersed in this magical classic, a fan favorite for 25 years. The return of “Fantasmic!” coincides with the reopening of The Disneyland Railroad, Pirates’ Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, and the water crafts – Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia, Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes – that sail around the Rivers of America in Frontierland. (Artist Rendering/Disneyland Resort) “FANTASMIC!” (ANAHEIM, Calif.) – Mickey proves just how powerful his imagination can be as he defends his dreams against evil Disney villains in the nighttime spectacular, “Fantasmic!” at Disneyland park. Along the Rivers of America, guests can watch high-definition digital animation projected onto water screens, wave to familiar Disney characters, and witness Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty” transform into a 40-foot-tall fire-breathing dragon. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort) “FANTASMIC!” (ANAHEIM, Calif.) – Mickey proves just how powerful his imagination can be as he defends his dreams against evil Disney villains in the nighttime spectacular, “Fantasmic!” at Disneyland park. Along the Rivers of America, guests can watch high-definition digital animation projected onto water screens, wave to familiar Disney characters, and witness Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty” transform into a 40-foot-tall fire-breathing dragon. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort) MORE ‘FANTASMIC!’ THAN EVER — Guests will enjoy magical thrills in the popular “Fantasmic!” spectacular on the Rivers of America in Frontierland. Recent enhancements include the climactic transformation of the evil Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty” into a fully animated 40-foot-tall dragon. The show has also added cutting-edge digital video technology and an appearance by Flotsam and Jetsam, the slithering eels who serve Ursula the Sea Witch in “The Little Mermaid.” (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)

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 ‘Fantasmic!’ Nighttime Spectacular Opens with New Magic on July 17,  the 62nd Anniversary of the Disneyland Resort

Breathtaking New Views Await Guests on the Disneyland Railroad and Rivers of America Attractions, Reopening July 29

ANAHEIM (June 15, 2017)– Guests visiting the Disneyland Resort this summer will experience new magic at both theme parks as classic attractions reopen at Disneyland Park in July and the Summer of Heroes festivities continue through Sept. 10 at Disney California Adventure Park, home of the thrilling and hilarious new attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

Monday, July 17, marks both the anniversary of the 1955 grand opening of Disneyland and the premiere of a newly enhanced “Fantasmic!,” the popular nighttime spectacular.

Beginning July 29, the Disneyland Railroad will once again take guests on a Grand Circle Tour of Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom. Classic Rivers of America attractions – the Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia and Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes –  will relaunch July 29 as well, bringing new adventures and breathtaking new views. Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island reopens Friday, June 16.

“Fantasmic!,” which tells the story of Mickey Mouse and his vivid imagination, returns to the Rivers of America in Frontierland with its classic theme song and engaging storyline guests have treasured for 25 years. Mickey’s exploration now features new scenes with characters from “Aladdin,” “Tangled,” “The Lion King” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” One dazzling sequence finds Aladdin and Jasmine discovering “A Whole New World” as they float on their flying carpet over a bed of fog on the Rivers of America.

Those sensational “Fantasmic!” adventures come alive with new mist screens and innovative, state-of-the-art projection technology to create visuals that are brighter and more vibrant than ever before.

The Disneyland Railroad, one of the park’s original attractions, returns with its iconic steam-powered locomotives for new adventures. The Disneyland Railroad will now travel across the rocks on a trestle that extends out into the Rivers of America, and for the first time ever it will make a left-hand turn on its tour of the park. Along the way, guests will enjoy a view of Walt Disney’s legendary Dioramas of the Grand Canyon and Primeval World, which have been carefully restored to their original splendor with a bit of new magic added to both.

Guests on board the Disneyland Railroad also will discover a breathtaking new view along the north bank of Rivers of America. A gorgeous new Columbia Gorge section highlighted by five new picturesque waterfalls can be seen from the trains as well as from the Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia and Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes. This new adventure complements the scenes guests have come to know and cherish through the years. Landscapes inspired by four of America’s majestic rivers–the Mississippi, the Columbia, the Missouri and the Rio Grande–are carefully recreated, complete with indigenous rock formations, natural forests and wildlife, and the waterfalls.

In addition to the returning classics in Frontierland and New Orleans Square, the beloved Main Street Electrical Parade continues nightly performances in Disneyland through Aug. 20, featuring such favorite scenes as Cinderella’s ball, the appearance (and disappearance) of Elliot, the smoke-breathing, tail-wagging “Pete’s Dragon,” and the glittering “To Honor America” finale.

At Disney California Adventure, guests experience an epic new adventure and high-energy thrills on Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! It’s the only Disney attraction in the universe where guests step into a Guardians of the Galaxy story, as they help Rocket rescue this cosmic gang of misfits. With multiple ride profiles, guests never know which adventure they’ll encounter.

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About the Disneyland Resort
The Disneyland Resort features two spectacular theme parks – Disneyland (the original Disney theme park) and Disney California Adventure Park – plus three hotels and the Downtown Disney District, comprising unique dining, entertainment and shopping experiences. The Resort’s hotels are the luxurious, 948-room Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which also features 50 two-bedroom equivalent Disney Vacation Club units; the magical, 973-room Disneyland Hotel – both AAA Four Diamond properties – and the 481-room Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel with its “day-at-the-beach” theme. For information on attractions and vacations at the Disneyland Resort, visit Disneyland.com, call (866) 43-DISNEY or contact local travel agents. Located in Anaheim, Calif., the Disneyland Resort opened July 17, 1955. Open daily, year-round.

Media Contacts:
Disneyland Resort Public Relations
714-781-4500
DisneylandNews.com
DisneyParksBlog.com
Twitter.com/Disneyland

Imagine your high school reunion, except you all made Star Wars together.

On May 27, 2017, a unique gathering took place at a small production studio just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Known today as 32Ten Studios, it had been the home of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) for nearly three decades, from the creation of The Empire Strikes Back to Revenge of the Sith.

Veterans of the original trilogy of Star Wars films, including model makers, cameramen, optical technicians, grips, and production coordinators, even a few actors and puppeteers — the magicians and dreamers that championed a revolution in moviemaking — came together for a reunion celebrating the 40th anniversary of their debut effort, Star Wars: A New Hope, or as it was simply known at the time, Star Wars.

The gathering was chiefly organized by Rose Duignan, a veteran producer and early trailblazer at ILM. Rose began as a production staffer on the original Star Wars, working at George Lucas’ side during his visits to ILM’s studio, then located in Van Nuys, California. “Who knew that we would show up here 40 years later to share this amazing event?” Duignan would proclaim to the adoring crowd of attendees. “I am just so grateful.”

With hugs and smiles abound, reminiscence filled the main stage at the 32Ten facility. This night was for reflection and enjoyment, to pick up where their last meetings had left off. Filmmaking is often so arduous that the chance of a reunion hardly enters the mind once a project has eked its way to completion. But the laughter that swirled through the crowd was testament to the unique bond shared by this group.

A commemorative board featuring the classic ILM insignia signed by the attendees.

“It’s almost like a piece of magic just happened,” Michael Quinn told StarWars.com. A puppeteer and actor who played Nien Nunb among other characters in Return of the Jedi, Quinn later worked at ILM himself. “Everybody in here did something that hadn’t been done before. In theory it’s not possible. How could you do that? But they did it, and they’re all here.”

Towards the evening’s conclusion — after the attendees had posed for an awe-inspiring group photo — a handful of veterans came forward to share their reflections with the crowd of friends and loved ones.

“All of us changed the direction of filmmaking,” declared Robert Blalack, who first established the Optical Department at ILM and had traveled from Paris in order to attend the reunion. “Because of you, visions that were once completely impossible are now within reach. And you know it wasn’t always like that.” Remembering those early days on Star Wars, Blalack would jokingly add, “We discovered that building ILM from scratch during production was like jumping out of a plane and stitching up the parachute during free fall.”

Veterans of the original Star Wars, including (L-R): Miki Herman, Joe Johnston, Alvan Miller, John Dykstra, David Scott, Rose Duignan, and others.

John Dykstra, the pioneering visual effects supervisor who spearheaded the ILM efforts on the original film, was making his first visit to the facility that evening, and he brought his Academy Award for Star Wars along with him. “If there was one component of the group we had on the first Star Wars, it was that we worked together,” he said. “The people in each department knew what was going on in other departments and made an effort to improve their work in order to improve what everyone was doing. There was great enthusiasm and joy.

“It was a truly life-changing experience and in my entire career that is what I most treasure,” Dykstra would conclude, perhaps defining for all in the room the meaning of their accomplishments. Together they had created something the world had never seen, and together they celebrated 40 years later. In both inspiration and practice, their legacy has made its way into nearly every imaginable kind of film and media production happening today.

Photos by 32Ten Studios, Rose Duignan, and Don Bies.

Lucas O. Seastrom is a writer, historian, and filmmaker living in Marin County, CA. He grew up on a farm in California’s Central Valley, is a lifelong Star Wars fan, and volunteers at Rancho Obi-Wan. Follow him on Twitter @losnorcal.

Initially introduced as a Twi’lek freedom fighter on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Cham Syndulla has become more and more a vital character in the Star Wars canon. His daughter, Hera, was the General Syndulla mentioned in Rogue One, and she’s one of the stars of Star Wars Rebels. Cham’s story is an interesting one, stemming from one war to another, with affecting him on deeply personal levels.

1. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (“Supply Lines” – Season 3, Episode 24) — In Cham’s first appearance on the timeline, the fate of the people of Ryloth hangs in the balance while Senator Organa and Representative Binks negotiate with the Toydarians for their relief.

2. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (“Liberty on Ryloth” – Season 1, Episode 21) — The war on Ryloth waged for a long time and it offered a difficult path for Cham, the freedom of his people, and the fate of his family.

3. Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp — The next time we see Cham, he’s no longer fighting the Separatists, but the Empire. This book documents his daring plot to assassinate the evil Emperor and his dark enforcer, Darth Vader, for the good of the galaxy. It’s apparent he doesn’t succeed, but seeing how Cham can survive is thrilling.

4. Star Wars Rebels (“Homecoming” – Season 2, Episode 16) — Years after the events of Lords of the Sith, Cham is still fighting for the freedom of Ryloth, but now he needs the help of his estranged daughter Hera — and the Rebel Alliance.

5. Star Wars Rebels (“Hera’s Heroes” – Season 3, Episode 5) — In Cham’s most recent appearance in the timeline, he’s enlisted the help of his daughter and Phoenix Squadron once more, but this time Grand Admiral Thrawn is involved.

Like Saw Gerrera before him, Cham’s story shows us the difficult strain on relationships that fighting against the Empire for so long can have. It’s a wonder any relationships, familial or otherwise, survived the battle against Palpatine’s tyranny.

Check out the playlist for another freedom fighter, Saw Gerrera!

Bryan Young is an author, a filmmakerjournalist, and the editor in chief of BigShinyRobot.com! He’s also the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, Full of Sith. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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