Dark Arts at Hogwarts

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Disneyland’s guide to Halloween food is available.
  • Details of the Disneyland Paris version of Tower of Terror have been revealed.
  • A new Harry Potter show is coming to Universal.
  • And more!

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Hercules Revisited

(Revisiting the Renaissance is a bi-weekly series in which Josh Spiegel looks back at the history and making of the 13 films of the Disney Renaissance, released between 1986 and 1999. In today’s column, he discusses the 1997 film Hercules.)

One of the best qualities of Disney feature animation is that it can be timeless. Some of the studio’s most charming masterpieces don’t feel like cinematic time capsules; they can be experienced at any age without the audience feeling lost. But one of the biggest successes of the Disney Renaissance was a film that somehow managed to be both timeless and very much of its time: the 1992 animated comedy Aladdin. For its directors, the two men who had played a major part in ushering in the era of the Renaissance, they could follow up this success with a new film that either tried to once again blend the timeless with a modern sensibility. Or they could avoid modernity all together with their next film.

Hercules, the 1997 film directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, takes little time in emphasizing that it would be following the same route Aladdin did, to slightly diminishing returns.

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It Chapter Two Ending

“You said you liked the ending!” bemoans the writer Bill Denbrough to a snazzy Hollywood director working on an adaptation of one of his novels. “Yes, that was a lie,” the director says matter-of-factly, berating Denbrough for not having come up with a new ending that would greatly improve upon the old one. Denbrough, like the writer he represents, struggles with endings in a very meta way in the highly anticipated sequel It Chapter Two

Chapter Two is like a lot of sequels – even more of the same, with its blend of 80s-style adventure and horror that made the 2017 film such a big hit. But every time that Chapter Two dredges up the running gag about how Bill – and really, Stephen King himself, the author of the book inspiring the films – can’t figure out a good ending worth a damn, it serves as an unnecessary reminder that this whole film feels like an extended climax.

The rest of this article contains spoilers.

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Olga's cantina in galaxy's edge

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Mickey’s PhilHarMagic at DCA has a new marquee.
  • Six Flags has announced its new rides for 2020.
  • Droid policies have changed at Galaxy’s Edge.
  • And more!

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Disneyland land purchase

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Disney Cruise Line cast members weathered Hurricane Dorian.
  • Downtown Disney has some new food on the way.
  • Say goodbye to some Disneyland entertainment.
  • And more!

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Moana parade

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Tickets are available for a new Cirque Du Soleil show at Walt Disney World.
  • More details on Disney Cruise Line’s new offering.
  • Learn about the Disney Genie program.
  • And more!

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When the D23 Expo unveiled a series of theme-park announcements in late August, one of them was unsurprisingly focused on the upcoming Epcot attraction centered on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. This new roller-coaster, subtitled “Cosmic Rewind”, is meant to be a 360-degree immersive ride; among its many elements, as noted in the press release, Cosmic Rewind will feature the first reverse-launch in a Disney coaster ever. That’s worth noting because, while the Walt Disney Company has pioneered theme-park attractions, designs, and atmosphere for more than six decades, its attractions are not particularly intense. 

And yet, 40 years ago today, Disneyland unveiled a new E-Ticket attraction, presumed to be the “wildest ride in the wilderness”. That, of course, would be Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, a not-terribly-wild ride through a facsimile of the Old West in a mine cart. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad remains one of the most charming theme-park attractions in Disney history, not because it’s truly intense or dedicated to throwing its guests through the ringers, but because of its distinctive, entirely unique theme.

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Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Video

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • The arrival of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is upon us.
  • The TSA might crack down on one of the Galaxy’s edge souvenirs.
  • Get special PhotoPass shots in the new land.
  • And more!

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(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: the future of Walt Disney World’s Epcot is big and bold, but is it true to the spirit of the park?)

Nostalgia is the currency of the Walt Disney Company, and it was on full display during the D23 Expo last weekend. This year’s Expo was, despite being just three days long, the biggest yet. The first day highlighted the upcoming streaming service Disney+, the second day talked about all of the various studio arms of the company and their upcoming releases, and the final day was all about the theme parks and their upcoming updates. Those updates ranged from the unsurprising — confirming a lot of rumors about what the Marvel-focused Avengers Campus would be — to the unexpected, like the announcement of a Mary Poppins attraction in Epcot inspired…by the sequel, not the iconic original film. 

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Men in Black International

The summer-movie season of 2019 has ended with something akin to a whimper, in spite of some of the biggest possible successes amidst the dross. This year, more than most, has overwhelmed audiences with intellectual property. “Intellectual property”, of course, is the phrase that you use because saying “sequels, prequels, adaptations, sidequels, remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, and revivals” just takes too long. IP has been unavoidable at the box office, both in the summer and throughout the rest of the calendar year. It’s gotten to the point where a weekend without a new-release film driven by IP feels rare indeed. 

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