Tyler's movie reviews

Tyler's movie reviews

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Disneyland's Pixar Fest: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.

Pixar Fest began yesterday at Disneyland and California Adventure and unlike most of the Disney blogs that are either blindly loving all of it or not being honest with their readers so they can keep being invited back to future media events, I'm going to give my honest opinions on everything from the signage to the entertainment. I'll skip talking about the food and merchandise offerings because those honestly are decent enough so for today we are focusing on the things that aren't able to be purchased. I want to start by mentioning that I love almost every Pixar movie and character so my criticism of the even are not about the characters or properties they are from.

Lets start with the first things you'd encounter upon arriving at the parks for the day. The signs above the turnstiles, the banners in the esplanade, bunting on Main Street and Buena Vista Street, and the monorails. The bunting looks good, it doesn't scream "Pixar" and is a nice set of colors for the spring and summer. The banners at least all have the same artistic style, but personally something doesn't feel quite right for being Pixar characters. The signs above the turnstiles are a mixed bag. I really like the Inside Out and Incredibles ones, but the Toy Story one leaves an awkward feeling due to not using any of the core characters from the trilogy. As for the monorails, so far only monorails Orange (Incredibles) and Blue (Finding Nemo) have been revealed. These feel tacky, but the visual style on the Nemo wrap is at least not an eyesore.






Next up is the Pizza Planet overlay of Redd Rocket's Pizza Port in Tomorrow Land. There was no concept art in the announcement but most of us expected a minimalist approach if it was going to be temporary. But nobody expected how hideous and pathetic the sign would actually be. As a refresher her is an image of the famous restaurant from Toy Story to compare to what they gave us in the park. There are no words to properly describe how I feel about this. We put more effort into signs for Prom and Homecoming when I was in High School, it is as if whoever gave the green light thinks the park attendees are stupid and won't care when things are hideous.

A nice surprise is that the Blue Sky Cellar has reopened for the first time in years now featuring a preview of Pixar Pier (not even kidding when I say this is the second time the pier has been featured in the Blue Sky Cellar due to the 2010-2012 retheme to the 20s Victorian pier). I am glad that it is back though it is kind of funny seeing different versions of the concept art that are more tasteful and less obnoxious than wat is actually being built (I'm looking at you Senor Buzz Churros).

Now lets take a look at Pixar Play Parade, which for some reason is now running in Disneyland park after a decade in California Adventure. Wen they announced this at D23 last summer they said it was because Paint the Night as moving to DCA, and these are now the only 2 parades running, there is no daytime parade in DCA right now. Now before I get into the changes to the parade I'm going to give you my ranking of the various parades from the past year at the resort:

1. Paint The Night
2. Frightfully Fun Parade (Halloween Parties)
3. Soundsational
4. A Christmas Fantasy
5. Main Street Electrical Parade
6. Pixar Play Parade

As you can see Pixar Play was already my least favorite parade at the resort and that was mostly because it is a DECADE old and is stale. Don't get me wrong, it is a fun parade with a great artistic design (thanks to Jody Daily) and great music. And usually I get excited when Disney adds something new to a parade so that it can be refreshed. But I do have an expectation that if the original people still work for the company that they be brought in to design the new units and come up with the new music... This clearly didn't happen this time as the new floats don't look anything like the original floats and the new music doesn't even come close to blending in as if original and therefore really takes you about of the moment wen you hear it. Here are the 3 new units that were added for Pixar Play Parade being in Disneyland.



And here are the original floats.




And here is the first version of an Inside Out float from when it was a pre-parade unit. compare the 2 and notice how the original float actually would have fit in with the rest of the parade instead of looking like it didn't belong. Also the new float is based on Bing Bong's death scene which is so tasteless "Hey kids, remember this scene from Inside Out were Bing Bong sacrifices himself to save Joy and Sadness?". I'm guessing the original float had already been scrapped for something else, because otherwise why not use it.

Paint The night has returned after a lengthy hiatus after the 60th anniversary celebration. I absolutely love this parade and am so glad it is back. The only changes I've noticed are: Frozen is out because the float was too tall to fit under the Trolley wires, and the Little Mermaid float as adjusted to fit under the wires. From what I can tell nothing else has changed. Also there will be a fun new Incredibles float joining the parade when Incredibles 2 comes out in June.

And now we get to Together Forever, the brand new Pixar fireworks show. I was skeptical but optimistic based on a few teases Disney gave like that Buzz Lightyear would be on Tinkerbell's wire and then later the Up house would also be on the wire. I also love the Coco portion of  the show. That said, I personally think they should have used "Remember Me", the most popular song from the movie, instead of "The World Es Mi Familia". As individual segments most of them work with one exception being the second Toy Story segment... the scene from Toy Story 3 when they are all about to be burned in the incinerator at the dump, such a tasteless choice and all to utilize the fireballs that were first installed for the Indiana Jones section of Remember Dreams Come True. The overall show feels like a clunky mess and not well planned out at all and is no better than the sum of its parts.




So how would I rank it compared to the fireworks shows from the past 12 months:

1. Remember Dreams Come True (nothing has topped this yet)
2. Halloween Screams
3. Believe.. In Holiday Magic
4. Together Forever
5. Celebrate America (4th of July)
6. New Years Eve

Final thoughts on the event as presented so far (pre Pixar Pier's opening) would be that its an ok event but still fails to hit the mark. It for some reason doesn't give Merida/Brave any attention, not in either parade, not in a fireworks segment, nor even bringing back the old meet and greet featuring her brothers. Disney is saying this is the first Pixar Fest which worries me that this might come back in the future without significant upgrades and retooling things to actually make sense as a cohesive event. I also think Luxo Jr and the Pixar ball are featured way too much considering how many characters/franchises were practically ignored (Brave, Ratatouille, and Good Dinosaur)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Marvel Cinematic Universe Connectivity

As many of you may have already seen thanks to Marvel's press release about production being underway on Captain Marvel, Lee Pace (Ronan the Accuser), Djimon Hounsou (Korath), and Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson) are all returning for this movie, as well as previously announced Samuel L Jackson (Nick Fury). I couldn't be more excited by the news that we will once again see Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson on the big screen. That said this could also be bad news for fans of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. because it could undermine Coulson's backstory that we've already learned about in the TV show. Lets take a deep dive into what I'd specifically like to see happen in this movie, as well as discuss previous opportunities to have SHIELD characters cameo in the movies and why I hope they turn the trend around starting with Captain Marvel. There will be many spoilers for Agents of SHIELD as well as just about every Marvel movie that has come out since Iron Man 3 so be prepared.


Starting with what I hope to see happen in Captain Marvel to be a subtle wink at the fans of Agents of SHIELD. The first and most obvious thing is that I want to see happen in Captain Marvel is for Fury and Coulson to claim the body of a Kree soldier killed in the Kree-Skrull war for SHIELD to experiment on leading to what would eventually be the TAHITI project (Terrestrialized Alien Host Integrative Tissue I.) which would later (immediately after the events of the first Avengers) be used to save Phil's life and bring him back from the dead although the tricky part is that according to the show, the TAHITI project wasn't started until 2009, with the idea being to revive a mortally wounded Avenger (Episode 120 Nothing Personal). Thankfully I don't remember the show ever stating how long SHIELD had been in possession of the body prior to the project starting, so it is very possible that they had been keeping the body on ice for over a decade (since we know that Captain Marvel takes place sometime in the 90s).


This however leads to a potentially new problem for connecting with the show, yet also a potential way to give massive fan service depending on how they approach it. As we learned in Episode 414 "The Man Behind The Shield", Agents Coulson and May (Ming-na Wen) went on one of their first missions together to recover a Russian 0-8-4 (item of unknown origin). May even gives us a hint that it is Coulson's first field mission. At the time he was a level 4 agent and she was level 3, however to the episode's benefit it actually only says that this mission was "some time ago" as opposed to giving a specific year.


In the season 2 episode "Melinda" (217) we see Agent May's final mission before choosing to leave field work in favor of a desk job position in SHIELD. We see that this took place roughly in April 2008, just before the events of the original Iron Man when Coulson mentions that Fury intended to start the Avengers initiative and tried to recruit May, as well as that they are hard at work on building the Triskellion. We also then see why she earned the nickname "Cavalry", she had been interested in helping Coulson, but once she experienced Bahrain she left the field until Fury recruited her to watch over Coulson after his resurrection.


Seasons 1 and 2 of the show worked much harder at interweaving with the movies as they came out. Right off the bad the Extremis group from Iron Man 3 were referenced, followed by being the clean-up crew after Thor: The Dark World. Then when Captain America: Winter Soldier came out they teed up the movie by sending Agent Sitwell to the Lemurian Star (where we first see him in the film) then deal with the fallout of the movie. In season 2 the show perfectly sets up Avengers: Age of Ultron by having Coulson's team searching for intel on Loki's staff which he then forwards to Agent Hill to forward to the Avengers. The episode even featured one of the villains from Age of Ultron escaping to Sokovia. In the episode that came out right after the movie we discover that Coulson had secretly been building the helicarrier that Fury brought to help save the Sokovian people.


This is actually also the first real opportunity that the movies had to give TV show characters a cameo. When we saw Fury on the helicarrier with May, IMO there still isn't a good reason that none of Coulson's team were on the bridge, easily Fitz and Simmons could have been present. Similarly someone could have been present at the beginning of the movie at the party where Hill was present, it could have been an excellent time to let the Avengers know that Coulson had been revived (yet to this day, to the audience's knowledge they don't know he is still alive). Over the years the show has had many actors from the movies guest star as their characters: Hayley Atwell (and the rest of the Howling Commandos), Samuel L Jackson, Jamie Alexander, Powers Booth, Cobie Smulders, Maximiliano Hernández, William Sadler, and Henry Goodman (there may be more that I'm forgetting). But they haven't had anyone yet this year, we haven't seen Fury since season 1, Hill since season 2, President Ellis since season 3, in fact I think he and Powers Booth were the most recent to guest star in season 3.


Agents of SHIELD at its basic premise has the opportunity to crossover with every part of the MCU. They easily could have had crossovers with the netflix characters, Runaways is new enough that I can understand not crossing over yet (especially since they are young and the SHIELD team has been very busy this season), but how come they have yet to even mention the names of the Defenders characters to acknowledge that they know who those heroes are? They even went so far as to have Quake and Daredevil come from the same orphanage, but neither has ever referenced the other's existence. The Netflix shows have 6 different shows and they have all had great connectivity with each other. Even Inhumans (as unpopular as it was) referenced events in Agents of SHIELD, it was unclear as to when the show took place, but it was definitely after season 2's SHIELD finale. I'll be curious to see if Cloak and Dagger references any other Marvel properties when it premiers in June.


Looking at the list of movies to have come out since Agents of SHIELD came out the following are the only ones I can understand not acknowledging the show: Guardians of the Galaxy 1&2, Spider-Man Homecoming since the team as in the future at that point, Thor Ragnorok, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and Thor the Dark World. Everything else was Earth based and if it came out while SHIELD was on (instead of during summer) should have at least acknowledged that SHIELD does currently exist.


While Jeph Loeb (head of Marvel TV) and Channing Dungey (head of ABC) have both said they are optimistic about SHIELD being renewed, many fans have felt that this season feels like it is ramping up for a series finale, I truly hope it continues but if it does end, maybe after it we could finally see Quake show up in one of the movies, or a netflix show for a few episodes. And to circle back to the what sparked this post, Do I want to see TAHITI origins and Agent May in Captain Marvel? Hell yes, but being honest, I think there is about a 2% chance that either of those happens, and 0.5% chance that both happen.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The problem with the Diseyland AP program and how to fix it!

Disneyland has raised ticket prices again, and this time was the largest increase since Cars Land opened in 2012. In today's post I'm going to dive into some of the reasons for why the prices go up by so much, what the problems are with the current program, and some out of the box "blue sky" ideas on how to improve the program going forward in anticipation of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opening in 2019.

Here is a table I compiled with all pricing data I could find going back to 1982 when Disney first changed the ticketing to an all inclusive admission as opposed to the old Ticket Book admission.

 
Year
1-Day
Park Hopper
SoCal Select
SoCal
Deluxe
Premium
Signature
Signature Plus
Premier
2018
$117
$167
$369
$549
$729
-
$999
$1149
$1579
2017
$110
$165
$339
$469
$619
-
$849
$1049
$1439
2015
$99
$155
$299
$409
$549
$779
$849
$1049
$1099
2014
$96
$150
$289
$379
$519
$699
-
-
$1029
2013
$92
$137
$279
$359
$499
$669
-
-
$979
2012
$87
$125
$269
$329
$469
$649
-
-
$849
2011
$80
$105
$199
$269
$379
$499
-
-
$700
2010
$76
$101
$169
$219
$299
$439
-
-
$700
2009
$72
$97
$144
$194
$289
$429
-
-
-
2008
$68
$94
$134
$174
$269
$389
-
-
-
2007
$66
$91
$129
$169
$259
$379
-
-
-
2006
$59
$79
$124
$154
$239
$359
-
-
-
2005
$56

$119
$149
$229
$349
-
-
-
2004
$49.75

$99
$129
$179
$279
-
-
-
2002


-
$105
$165
$225
-
-
-
2000

-
-
-
-
$199
-
-
-
1992
$28.50
-
-
-
-
$140
-
-
-
1987

-
-
-
-
$140
-
-
-
1986

-
-
-
-
$99
-
-
-
1985

-
-
-
-
$85
-
-
-
1984

-
-
-
-
$65
-
-
-
1982
$12
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-

As you can see it wasn't until after the 50th anniversary in 2005 that the price increases started being regular (based on the data I was able to collect). And the first intense price increase for a 1 Day 1 Park ticket wasn't until last year (2017). Prior to that increase it was at a steady $2-$4 per year, but the 2017 increase was $11 and this year was $7. As for Park Hopper passes, those prices were relatively low compared to a basic ticket ($25 more) until 2012 when Cars Land opened making the draw for park hopping grow exponentially, at that point the difference started going up by an extra few dollars each year until now the difference is doubled at $50.

As to the AP price increases those are a little more fascinating to look at. It wasn't until 2002 when DCA had been open for a year that we saw more than 1 tier for the AP program. Now the AP prices have gone up regularly just like regular admission however the big difference is that they go up by more per year. As you can see in the table, the first significant increase in price wasn't until 2005 for the 50th anniversary when the SoCal and SoCal Select prices went up by $20, Deluxe went up by $50, and Premium went up by $70. From 2006-2010 the Deluxe and AP went up by $10 per year, while the Premium went up by an average of $18 per year. In 2011 however SoCal Select went up by $30, SoCal by $50, Deluxe by $80, and premium by $60. The following year, as Cars Land opened the Deluxe jumped up by another $90 and Premium jumped by $150. For the next few years prices would still go up but at more reasonable rates (just still not as low as in the past).


2015 was the next intense price increases and drastic restructuring of the AP program when they got rid of the Premium level and replaced it by 2 sub tiers the main difference between them being that the Signature Select got you the same benefits as the Premium had, while to Signature only got you a little less. When they made this change it made it so that in order to keep all of your perks you used to have with a Premium, you would now be paying $350 more for you AP, though if you were ok with missing out on the last 2 weeks of the year, you could go with the basic Signature level which would only be a $150 increase.

The 2017 increase was very painful when the Deluxe AP went up by $70 while Signature and Signature Plus stay the same. But this year is the most intense increase since 2012 because Deluxe went up by $110, Signature went up by $150, and Signature Plus went up by another $100. Most likely the excuse this year is to prep for Star Wars Galaxy's Edge opening next year, but based on recent historical trends in pricing we can only expect that next year the prices will only go up again.


Lets now take a look at what the benefits offered for each AP level are as of 2018:

SoCal Select $369:
  • Southern California Residents Only
  • No Weekends & Many Block-out Days
  • 10% Dining Discount
  • 10% Merchandise Discount
  • 15% Tours Discount
SoCal $549 (Renewal Only):
  • Southern California Residents Only
  • No Saturdays and Many Block-out Days
  • 10% Dining Discount
  • 10% Merchandise Discount
  • 15% Tours Discount
Deluxe $729:
  • Blocks most Holidays and many weekend days during peak seasons
  • 10% Diing Discount
  • 10% Merchandise Discount
  • 15% Tours Discount
Signature $999:
  • Only Blocks the last 2 weeks of the year for Christmas and New Years
  • 15% Dining Discount
  • 20% Merchandise Discount
  • 15% Tours Discount
  • Free Parking 
Signature Plus $1149:
  • No Block-out Days
  • 15% Dining Discount
  • 20% Merchandise Discount
  • 15% Tours Discount
  • Free Parking
  • Free MaxPass w/Digital PhotoPass Downloads
Premier $1579:
  • Disneyland and Walt Disney World Admission (All Parks)
  • Oak Tree Golf (WDW)
  • No Block-out Days
  • 15% Dining Discount
  • 20% Merchandise Discount
  • 15% Tours Discount
  • Free Parking
  • Free MaxPass w/Digital PhotoPass Downloads
*Note that all SoCal, SoCal Select, and Deluxe APs have the option to add on MaxPass for an additional $75 with current pricing
**All APs have discount options for Mickey's Halloween Party tickets and special offers for Discounts at the Disneyland Resort Hotels

Monthly Payments were first introduced as a payment option for Annual Pass Holders living in California in December 2008 and many would count this as what has caused both the overcrowding at the parks seen today, as well as the intense price hikes. Let me break it down for you to show you exactly why the monthly payments are such a huge problem for Disneyland, but one that the executives aren't quite willing to give up on yet.

At first when the monthly payments were introduced the price increases each year were still within the realm of reasonable, however once more and more California residents started seeing the benefits of the program and as DCA was about to finish its massive undertaking and become popular Disney started raising the prices by higher amounts. Both the price increases in 2011 and 2012 would work out to a total monthly increase of about $14/month for a Deluxe AP and $17.50/month for the Premium AP. And when you look at it that way it really isn't that drastic of an increase considering how much Disneyland had just added to its offerings in recent years: World of Color, Cars Land, extended Buena Vista Street out further tan original entrance turnstiles, Red Car Trolley, completely re-skinned Paradise Pier, Star Tours 2.0, Soundsational Parade, and more.

In 2015, even with the drastic changes to the upper tiers of the AP program, it still isn't as bad when you look at the monthly amounts because the Deluxe went up by $2.5/month, for a Premium converting to Signature you would be looking at an increase of 12.50/month and to convert to Signature Plus would be an increase of $30/month. Which brings us to the latest increases for 2018 where the monthly increase for Deluxe is only $9/month, Signature is $12.50/month, and Signature Plus is $8.33/month.

Looking at it by the monthly increases, while they are a decent amount more to have to pay, the increase itself really isn't that bad for the quality of entertainment you get at Disneyland. But here lies the problem, the monthly payments make the prices affordable for California residents, but they make the prices more and more out of reach for anyone that lives out of state and would like an AP to visit multiple times per year.

For example, I live in the Seattle area, and when I first got an AP in 2014 I had gotten the Premium because I went on an 8 day trip to Disneyland for my birthday, and intended to make my first Disneyland Anniversary trip that summer. I got the 2013 price because of when I bought my AP so it was only $669, but I had to save up for the entire holiday season in order to afford it because I didn't have the option to pay monthly. Due to a combination of the price increase and my job situation going into 2015 I wasn't able to renew my pass and when they announced what the construction of Galaxy's Edge would entail I decided to go 1 last time for the 60th before taking a break to not be there and have to miss out on Fantasmic, the Disneyland Railroad, or the Rivers of America attractions.

It wasn't until September of 2017 that I got an AP again because things had been going well at work all summer and I was able to save up enough to make it happen. This time however I downgraded to the Deluxe level for $619 but to soften the blow I chose to purchase a 3-Day park hopper from a local Disney Store and upgrade it to AP when I got to Disneyland, that way I basically paid half the cost each time.


The huge problem Disney now faces regarding the AP program is that because they have increased the prices so much, if they were to cut the monthly payment option entirely it would actually do more harm than good if they don't think outside the box when it comes to the benefits that each AP tier receives. Even if Disney were to cancel the monthly payment option, they won't drop the base price which means not only will they lose a huge chunk of APs, but it would also look bad to have to pay all that at once for everyone used to the monthly/affordable option. I think that Disney ending the monthly payment is inevitable because they know they have an over crowding problem and they know that Star Wars Galaxy's Edge will be enough of a draw for average visitors and even lots of people who maybe go to Disney once every 5-10 years, as well as those who have never been.

Assuming that most current APs are using the monthly payment option, would you actually keep your AP if they got rid of that option and didn't add any extra benefits? I could see people sticking with the current benefits if the total increases were only $15-20 per year, but when your monthly increase is typically in the $10-15 range I don't think a lot of people will be able to pay the current prices up front. What would Disney have to add to your AP benefits to keep you interested if they cut the monthly payment option?


Here are a few ideas that were going through my head the last few days:

For all levels:
  • Way more AP exclusive merchandise, minimally 1 shirt and pin per seasonal product line (Lunar New Year, Halloween, Christmas, yearly design, and new movie promotional merchandise)
  • AP exclusive character meet & greet opportunities, similar to the Visa opportunities where the signs aren't huge so average tourists don't know they are missing out, offer characters that are rare and have them change each month/season for instance in DCA rotate different Marvel heroes, and in Disneyland rotate between Star Wars characters (when a new movie is released), a rare villain for Halloween, either Mickey or Goofy as Santa for Christmas, and the rest of the year have various rare characters like Hercules, Esmeralda, Roger Rabbit, Uncle Scrooge, etc
  • AP exclusive travel mug, similar to the popcorn bucket you pay once to get the cup, and then refills are free. New cup available every other month
Socal & SoCal Select:
  • Keep all current Block-out days
  • Keep 10% Dining and Merchandise Discount
  • Keep 15% Tours Discount
  • New set $15 Discount on special event tickets (Halloween Party, or other after ours event)
  • New $5 off Parking
  • Option to add MaxPass for $75
Deluxe:
  • Keep all current Block-out days
  • Keep 15% Tours Discount
  • Keep 10% Dining Discount
  • Increase Merchandise Discount to 15%
  • New MaxPass Included
  • New allowed 1 early entry per month, guest choice on which day park to use it, unused early entries don't rollover, Disney can choose to not allow for certain parks at certain times of year
  • New set $50 Discount for 1 special event ticket per year, additional tickets would be $20 off
  • New 50% off parking
  • New 10% Discounts available for Downtown Disney entertainment venues (Splitsville, The Void, AMC theaters)
  • New 20% Disneyland Resort Hotels Discount
Signature:
  • Keep all current Block-out days
  • Keep 15% Dining Discount
  • Keep 20% Merchandise Discount
  • Keep Free Parking
  • Increase Tours Discount to 20%
  • New MaxPass Included
  • New allowed 1 early entry per month and 1 additional, guest choice on which day park to use it, unused early entries don't rollover, Disney can choose to not allow for certain parks at certain times of year
  • New set $50 Discount for 1 special event ticket per year, additional tickets would be $25 off
  • New 15% Discounts available for Downtown Disney entertainment venues (Splitsville, The Void, AMC theaters)
  • New 25% Disneyland Resort Hotels Discount
Signature Plus:
  • No Block-out days
  • Keep Free Parking
  • Keep MaxPass
  • Increase Tours Discount to 25%
  • Increase Dining Discount to 20%
  • Increase Merchandise Discount to $25%
  • New allowed 1 early entry per month and 2 additional, guest choice on which day park to use it, unused early entries can rollover however no more than 3 uses allowed per month, Disney can choose to not allow for certain parks at certain times of year
  • New 1 free special event ticket per year, additional tickets would be $30 off
  • New 20% Discounts available for Downtown Disney entertainment venues (Splitsville, The Void, AMC theaters)
  • New 30% Disneyland Resort Hotels Discount