Walt Disney World to Reduce Park Hours Beginning September 8th

August 7, 2020 – If you were hoping to capture the magical lights and ambiance of Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge after dark, you will have to wait a bit longer. Even as summer’s days grow shorter and sunset occurs earlier (currently 8:10 PM in Orlando), Disney will be closing its parks’ gates one hour earlier.

Effective 8 September 2020, opening hours for Walt Disney World’s four theme parks will be:

  • Magic Kingdom: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (now 9:00 am to 7:00 pm)
  • EPCOT: 11:00 am to 7:00 pm (now 11:00 am to 9:00 pm)
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 10:00 am to 7:00 pm (now 10:00 am to 8:00 pm)
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (now 8:00 am to 6:00 pm)

Hours for Disney Springs, the dining-shopping-entertainment complex, remain unchanged – 10:00 am to 10:00 pm daily.

The hours are posted on Disney’s online calendar up until 1 October 2020. Whether park hours will be modified again for October is unknown.

With international visitors all but gone, and with sagging U.S. domestic travel, Walt Disney World and most all theme parks nationwide have taken a huge financial loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Walt Disney Company posted a net loss of $4.72 billion for the three months that ended in June.

Despite theme park losses, Disney has witnessed growth in its TV and streaming businesses. However, total revenue for Disney was only $11.78 billion, down 42% from a year earlier. Disney said that its parks, experiences and products segment alone suffered a $3.5-billion hit.

Disneyland in Anaheim, California, remains closed indefinitely as the pandemic continues to grip the United States’ most populated state.  Meanwhile in Orlando, Walt Disney World has been operating under strict health protocols since its reopening in July. While the company will not disclose its numbers, some analysts believe that Disney is capping attendance at each of its Orlando parks between 15-25% of maximum capacity, further hobbling its income stream.

Why Every Star Wars Film Has the Wrong Title

August 3, 2020 – It’s ironic or nonsensical that the last film in the Star Wars saga – after showing the death of every member of the Skywalker family – is called The Rise of Skywalker. The writers of the Sequel Trilogy kill off the entire bloodline, and a Palpatine (Rey) is the last Jedi standing.

And so it’s a welcome relief to watch the following video, “Why Every Star Wars Film Has the Wrong Title”. The narrator makes some great arguments why the titles ought to be switched around to better capture the essence of each film.

The renamed episodes, and the rationales for their titles, are listed below:

Episode I: The Rise of Skywalker (because we meet Anakin Skywalker)

Episode II: Revenge of the Sith (Palpatine, leader of the Sith, has ordered an army to destroy the Jedi… thus Revenge of the Sith)

Episode III: Attack of the Clones (Order 66 is executed and the clones attack)

Episode IV: Return of the Jedi (Obi-wan teaches Luke that it is time for the Jedi to return)

Episode V: The Force Awakens (because Yoda teaches Luke how to use the Force)

Episode VI: The Last Jedi (both Yoda and Anakin die, which makes Luke … the last Jedi)

Episode VII: The Empire Strikes Back (After the Empire is destroyed, a new empire arises)

Episode VIII: A New Hope (Luke trains Rey and then sacrifices himself to give the Resistance … a new hope)

Episode IX: The Phantom Menace (Palpatine returns from the dead, making him … The Phantom Menace)

 

Wilford Brimley, Noa from “Ewoks: The Battle for Endor”, Dead at 85

August 2, 2020 – Wilford Brimley, a portly actor recognizable for his walrus mustache, died yesterday at the age of 85. He was often cast as a cantankerous or gruff old man in films such as The Natural, Absence of Malice and Cocoon.

Brimley played the role of Noa in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985). His character was the first in Star Wars‘ history to wear glasses on film – a concession for the vision-challenged American actor.

He had a recurring role on the TV series, The Waltons (1972-1981) as Walton Mountain resident Horace Brimley, making seven appearances between 1974 and 1977. From 1986 to 1988, he starred as Gus Witherspoon, the opinionated but lovable grandfather in the NBC series Our House.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Wilford Brimley was a frequent TV commercial spokesman for Quaker Oats, gruffly telling viewers to eat the cereal because “it’s the right thing to do,” and for Liberty Medical, which sells diabetes-testing supplies. He was diagnosed with diabetes in the late 1970s and, for the last two months, had been sick with a kidney ailment.

A Mormon, he was born in Salt Lake City and passed away in Utah.

In a newspaper interview in Wyoming in 2014, Brimley said: “I can’t talk about acting. I don’t know anything about it. I was just lucky enough to get hired.”

Disney’s “The Mandalorian” Receives 15 Emmy Nominations

July 28, 2020 – The Mandalorian, Lucasfilm’s first live-action Star Wars series, has received a most impressive 15 Emmy nominations.

While lead actor Pedro Pascal was snubbed, guest star Giancarlo Esposito nabbed a guest-starring acting nomination.

The 15 nominations include:

Outstanding Drama Series
Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance
Production Design for Narrative Program
Cinematography for Single Camera
Fantasy/Sci-fi Costumes
Prosthetic Make-up
Music Composition
Outstanding Special VFX
Sound-Editing in a Comedy/Drama Series (2 nominations)
Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series (3 nominations)
Stunt Coordination
Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Created by Jon Favreau, The Mandalorian has been a breakout hit on Disney’s streaming service, Disney+.  Season 2 will be released sometime in October (Disney has not yet confirmed a date), and Season 3 is now in pre-production.

The 72nd Emmy Awards will be held September 20th, broadcast on ABC and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.  The Emmys honor the best in U.S. prime time television programming which were broadcast from June 1, 2019, until May 31, 2020, as chosen by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Who Is DJ R-3X?

July 25, 2020 – One of the newest droids in The Black Series 6-inch line, DJ R-3X, went up online for preorders just four days ago. The Target-exclusive droid ($24.99) sold out within a few minutes, but will no doubt be available again upon its 30 August 2020, release date.

But who exactly is DJ R-3X? More popularly known as “DJ Rex” or just “Rex“, the audio-animatronic spins tunes at Oga’s Cantina within Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland (Anaheim, California) and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Orlando, Florida).

Rex, a former pilot of a Starspeeder 3000 for Star Tours, was recently reprogrammed to be a DJ in Oga’s Cantina. (Photo Credit: Disney)

According to Wookiepedia, R-3X or Rex was “formerly known as RX-24 who flew a Star Commuter 2000 from Lothal to Garel five years before the Battle of Yavi.  The shuttle was used by the rebels from Lothal in their mission to steal arms from the Galactic Empire. The droid later went on to work for Star Tours, where he piloted a StarSpeeder 3000.”

The following video from 2009 shows RX-24 piloting the StarSpeeder 3000 in the older version of Star Tours, which itself was replaced in 2011 by Star Tours II The Adventure Continues:

Rex and his background are considered canon. Wookiepedia adds that “[a]t some point, Rex crash landed on Batuu, where he was reprogrammed into a DJ by Mubo at the Droid Depot, and his appearance was slightly altered. Thereafter, Mubo gave the droid to Oga Garra to pay off a debt, and ‘DJ Rex’ started providing the musical entertainment inside Oga’s Cantina.”

For fans of the animated Star Wars Rebels, you may remember RX-24 in Season 1, Episode 1, “Droids in Distress” (Oct. 13, 2014):

Comedian-actor Paul Reubens (b. 1952), who previously portrayed Pee-wee Herman, provides the voice of Rex.

Next Star Wars Trilogy Postponed to 2023

July 23, 2020 – Variety magazine reports that the next trio of Star Wars movies will be pushed back a year due to the ongoing havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Rise of Skywalker” was released Dec. 20, 2019 (USA). The next Star Wars movie is scheduled for Dec. 2023 – a four-year break likely welcomed by many.

The next Star Wars movie should debut December 22, 2023. Two follow-ups will hit theaters on alternating years or, more specifically, Dec. 19, 2025 and Dec. 17, 2027.

Disney/Lucasfilm have remained mum on even the tiniest detail of what to expect in the new batch of movies.

With cinemas worldwide either closed or sparsely attended because of the pandemic, Disney has been shuffling the release dates of almost all its movies. For example, James Cameron’s long-delayed sequels to Avatar will now roll out every other December beginning in 2022 (Avatar 2); then 2024 (Avatar 3); 2026 (Avatar 4); and 2028 (Avatar 5).

The original Avatar premiered in Dec. 2009 – nearly 11 years ago.

Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel (starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) has been bumped from its Christmas 2020 slot to a U.S. opening on Oct. 15, 2021.

For now, Marvel’s Black Widow is set for Nov. 6, 2020; Pixar’s animated Soul is Nov. 20, 2020; Ryan Reynold’s action-adventure Free Guy is Dec. 11, 2020; and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story premieres Dec. 18, 2020. Needless to say, the release dates could be changed yet again if cinemas remain shuttered.

 

Target Posts Landing Page for Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run

July 21, 2020 – Target has created a landing page on its website for the 3.75-inch scale Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run, which is patterned after the life-sized Falcon at Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge in Anaheim and Orlando.

If you missed acquiring 2008’s Big Millennium Falcon ($150), here is your second chance: Target will be selling the Galaxy’s Edge Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run for $399.

Listed as “coming soon”, the ginormous ship will sell for $399.00 and should be available 30 August 2020 both online and at Target stores.

As part of Hasbro’s The Vintage Collection, the box art and Kenner-inspired retro packaging are gorgeous.

The Falcon retains its original look from Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), including its original round antenna. But because Disney’s ride attraction, also called “Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run”, occurs during the Sequel Trilogy era, a rectangular antenna – as depicted in Episodes VII through IX – is included as well.

Two 3.75-inch scale action figures – Hondo Ohnaka and Chewbacca – come with the Millennium Falcon as well as an armful (that would be six) of Porgs.

Lots of play features will keep children (or your inner child) occupied for hours:

Save 5% (about $20) when you use your Target RedCard. Save 100% ($399) if you resist temptation and sit this one out. Tough choices ahead….

Heroes of Endor 4-Pack Coming in The Black Series Line

July 20, 2020 – It’s a bit curious to be honoring Return of the Jedi (1983) now, which hit cinemas 37 years ago. But, oh well, beggars can’t be choosers.

Hasbro celebrates Return of the Jedi with its all-new six-inch line of figures coming in September, 2020. The boxed “Heroes of Endor” set includes four figures:

Luke Skywalker wears a camouflaged poncho, and he comes with a helmet and his green lightsaber

Han Solo comes with his trusty blaster, which easily fits into his holster

Leia Organa also comes with her skinny blaster and helmet. Oddly, however, none of the press-release photos indicate whether she has her camouflaged poncho.

Paploo – he’s the mischievous Ewok who stole one of the stormtrooper’s speeder bikes in the extended Endor chase scene

In addition, the boxed set also includes one speeder bike. Retail price is $109.99 U.S.

Paploo, from the Bright Tree tribe, gets to go joy-riding on the included speeder bike. (Image Credit: Hasbro/Lucasfilm)

Yahoo! was the first to announce the “Heroes of Endor” boxed set, which will be available from Hasbro Pulse in September, 2020.