Episode 48: Best and Worst of 2014

Welcome to the Beyond the Berm Christmas Extravaganza! Also known as Episode 48.

Christmas is almost here, and the year is winding down to a close, in case you haven’t noticed. So for this episode, we discuss some of the Best and Worst of 2014 in several different categories, some of them Disney related, and others of them more general. Listen in to see if you agree! And share some better ideas if you have them!

Matt also gives an update on his two upcoming runs, the Walt Disney World Marathon and the Disneyland Half Marathon, which are just a week apart from each other. Be sure to send him some encouragement, too!

Steve also mentions the first block of Disney programming on TCM, which is this Sunday, December 21. Be sure to set your DVR!

All this and more in Episode 48 of Beyond the Berm!

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Episode 47: This, That, and Some More

Welcome back to Beyond the Berm for Episode 47!

What did we talk about in this episode? Perhaps the better question would be what did we not talk about in this episode! We covered lots of ground, moving from topic to topic with some pretty interesting transitions. The new Star Wars trailer, Big Hero 6, the live-action Cinderella movie, Into the Woods, Frozen and its amazing year, Frozen stuff at the Disney parks, new life for The Great Movie Ride, Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. updates, Marvel  and Moana movie casting news, and so much more!


And we even threw in some history bits about Memphis Wrestling, too. Who is this Flex Kavana guy, and what does he have to do with Disney?


Find out in this episode! And that rumor about the Matterhorn replacing Harold the Abominable Snowman with a Wampa and the bobsled vehicles being changed to gutted out Tauntauns? Pretty safe bet that you won’t hear that anywhere else!

All that and even more is in Episode 47 of Beyond the Berm!

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New Life for the Great Movie Ride

In recent episodes of Beyond the Berm, we have discussed what the future might hold for Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. We have talked about rumors of Cars Land and a Star Wars area, we mentioned the closing of the Backlot Tour and the great amount of land that the closure made available, and we recently talked about the confirmation that the Sorcerer Hat would be coming down in 2015.

Last week, we got another piece of the puzzle, as it was announced that Turner Classic Movies will sponsor the Great Movie Ride, one of the signature attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and that the attraction would even receive some minor upgrades. Those upgrades mainly include a new pre-show movie hosted by TCM personality Robert Osborne  to replace the trailers that had been showing for over 25 years, and also a new film montage at the end of the ride featuring lots of new movie clips that hadn’t been included before. Wouldn’t it be nice if they also wrote a new script for the “drivers” in the attraction? Yes, it would. Maybe they will.

Personally, I am excited about this. And I think one of the things that I am most excited about is that they aren’t talking about major changes to the ride, but instead they will largely leave it as it is, which is nice because it is still a good ride. I am glad they aren’t pulling out some of the classic movies from MGM and other studios to replace them with more contemporary Disney movies. I like that films from other studios are represented, so that it isn’t just the Great Disney Movie Ride.

Chinese Theater

Before the Disney-MGM Studios opened, the attraction that interested me the most from all of the pre-opening publicity was the Great Movie Ride, mainly because it sounded like it would include lots of Audio-Animatronics, a ride, and perhaps some surprises along the way. In short, everything that makes for a good Disney attraction. And when I finally got to ride it just a couple of months after the park opened, I was not disappointed. The Wicked Witch animatronic from The Wizard of Oz was spectacular, as were several of the other figures, although some featured relatively limited animation. The sets and sound effects transported you into the movies that they were meant to represent, instead of just making you feel like you were looking in on something from the outside. And the next generation of the ride system originally used in Epcot’s Universe of Energy was cool, too. Add in to that the fact that there were two different versions of the ride, depending on if you ended up in the western scene or the bank robbery scene, and that made it even better. And real fire, too!

I know the Great Movie Ride may not supply the same thrills found in high speed or high altitude attractions such as the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror that were added later elsewhere in the park, but I still thought it was a vital part of the attraction mix. Except for some of the corny script versions that have been used, I have thought it has held up well over time.

great movie ride poster

Perhaps now with some sprucing up and more visibility, the attraction will once again be one of the centerpieces of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Now we know why the Sorcerer Hat is coming down – so that the Chinese Theater will be visible again. And some of the news outlets have confirmed that the Chinese Theater facade is in fact staying, since we and others have speculated that it might be changed out for something else. That is all good news.

And even better news is that as part of this partnership between TCM and Disney, classic Disney programming will be shown on TCM as well, in a presentation called Treasures from the Disney Vault. Already mentioned are classic movies such as Darby O’Gill and the Little People, Pollyanna, The Three Caballeros, Davy Crockett, and more, including shorts and episodes from the old Disney television show. For those of us who used to enjoy this type of programming when it was on the Disney Channel and lament on what the Disney Channel has now become, this is quite welcome news. Look for the first Treasures from the Disney Vault on December 21, 2014.

To read more about this news, check out the stories from Disney23, the Orlando Sentinel, and the New York Times, which first reported the deal.

Episode 46: More Marvel, Influences, and Disney Or Not?

Welcome back to Beyond the Berm! Won’t you join us for Episode 46 of our podcast?

To start with this time around, we talk about some of the latest developments on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is one of the few scripted shows that we both watch. This season is striving to be even more exciting than the first, although we both enjoyed the first season as well. Have you watched it? What do you think? Also, Matt tells about catching up on movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that he hadn’t previously seen, and gives his thoughts on those.


Next, Matt asks and Steve answers about how he first became interested in Disney, and we talk about some of our earlier influences before Disney, including and especially Star Wars. How did you start to get interested in Disney? We would love to know!

After that, Steve tells of the dilemma he sometimes has for his website posts. He wants to post a wide range of things, but the Disney-related posts consistently get more views. Should he post what he likes, or post what guarantees visitors? What are your thoughts?

All this and lots more! And if you listen closely, at some points there is even some background music courtesy of Jaylin and his piano practice for the night.

Be sure to join us for Beyond the Berm Episode 46!

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Imagine My Surprise …

As mentioned in Episode 45, I saw one of my photographs of Sleeping Beauty Castle being used on a digital display inside the Grand Californian lobby. This came as a bit of shock to me as I’d never been asked for approval or had it licensed but there it was anyway.

The board with my image …

And my photo on its own …

Although I have this image posted on my Flickr account, I’m fairly confident that whoever posted this at the Grand Californian did not get it from there. This is the same image that a second-grade student had used in their project on Walt Disney at my daughter’s elementary school the year before. Doing a Google image search for “Disneyland” retrieves this image as one of the top returns but the link to the image doesn’t go to Flickr but to some travel website instead.

Short of watermarking my images — or keeping them to myself — trying to retain the right to my copy is probably a bit of losing battle. While I own the copyright to my images, my writings and even the recording of my voice for this podcast, in this day and age of “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission,” I’m sure I’ll see my work around from time to time. So rather than be upset that my Sleeping Beauty Castle image was usurped, I’ll feel proud instead that whoever was collecting images for the Grand Californian thought that this was one of the best representative images of Disneyland that they could find. But if the hotel wants to contact me and offer me the Presidential Suite for the weekend anyway, I won’t complain. ;)


Episode 45: It’s Marvel-ous!

Happy Halloween from Beyond the Berm! Not that our new episode really has anything to do with Halloween, except that it is being posted on October 31. Scary!

Anyway, Episode 45 starts off with lots of talk about the upcoming movies from Marvel Studios. First up is Avengers: Age of Ultron. Have you seen the trailer yet? If not, or if you want to see it again, here it is:

We talk about the trailer, and then we talk about all the Marvel movies that were announced this past week, revealing what is coming up all the way to 2019! Some familiar names like Captain America, Thor, and Guardians of the Galaxy, along with some new names like Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and the Inhumans. It all sounds pretty cool!

Next up, Matt talks about having some of his photos used in various places, including the surprise of seeing one of his photos at the Grand Californian Hotel at the Disneyland Resort. Hear all the story in the podcast!

After that, Steve reports on the recently confirmed news of the removal of the Sorcerer Hat from Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2015. Are they just removing the hat, or are there other changes coming to the area, too? Stay tuned!

Matt then brings up Big Hero 6, because his family is attending an advance showing of the movie this weekend. Are you looking forward to that one? That leads to a discussion of a long rumored but recently officially announced animated movie, Moana, from directors John Musker and Ron Clements. Aside from a piece of concept art and a rough outline, not much is known about this one yet. But Ron and John have a pretty good track record, so we are hopeful for another great movie from them.


See, no ghosts or ghouls this time around, just some good clean fun! Be sure to join us for Episode 45!

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Episode 44: Movie Marketing, FastPass+ Tests, Seasons, and More!

Beyond the Berm returns with Episode 44!

To start off our podcast, we discuss movie marketing, looking at three new or upcoming Disney movies: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; Big Hero 6; and Tomorrowland. In particular, we talk about whether the trailers make us want to see these movies. Which of these are you looking forward to seeing the most?


Next, we talk about the recent test at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, where you had to have a FastPass+ to ride Toy Story Mania. No standby lines or any other options were available. Is this a sign of the times? Do you think it is a good thing?

We also talked about our favorite seasons to visit the Disney parks. It is hard to pick just one favorite, however, because each one has its good points. Do you have a favorite?

Also, we take a quick look the recently announced extension of Bob Iger’s time at Disney and what that may mean for the company.

All that, plus all of our usual zaniness and such, in Beyond the Berm Episode 44!

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Episode 43: iPhones, Walt Disney World Changes, and Trip Planning

Welcome back to Beyond the Berm for Episode 43!

For starters, we talk about the new iPhones, since both of us are iPhone guys. Have you gotten a new, bigger phone? Or even an even bigger phone? Hear our thoughts about them, and let us know yours.

Next up, we learned that Cast Members at Disney’s Hollywood Studios were informed that the final day for the Backlot Tour is this Saturday, September 27. Nothing has been announced to take its place, but that doesn’t stop everyone from talking about what it might be, including us. We also talk about some other changes around the resort, including the addition of Frozen in Epcot. Listen in to see what we think about all of this.

Matt is making a solo trip to Walt Disney World to take part in the Marathon in January, and he needs some help in planning what to do during the three days that he is there. Sort of a game, sort of asking for advice. What would you do? Matt would love to hear some suggestions! We talk about some starter ideas, but he would appreciate your feedback.

All this and more in this episode of Beyond the Berm!

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Episode 42: It’s a Hullabaloo!

Beyond the Berm is back with Episode 42! And in this episode, we go through several topics fast and furious. And hey, in our new graphic above, we kind of look like the guys from the Fast and Furious movies, don’t we? No? Well then, moving on…

To start off, Steve gives some background about the new header graphic, including a bit about the tools that he used to make it happen and how he might have done things differently.

Next up, Matt brings up two hand-drawn animation projects. The first is a short film called Duet, which was created by renowned former Disney animator Glen Keane. The second is Hullabaloo, an effort to make a 2D hand-drawn short in the hopes of expanding it to a full-length feature. It is nice to see that some people out there still like hand-drawn animation when so many of the big studios have gone to computer animation.

Steve then tells about the new series of Figment comic books from Marvel comics. These comic books tell something of a back story about Dreamfinder and Figment, and they have been pretty popular, selling out the first printing of the first issue completely. Have you read them? What do you think?

Matt then gives a brief recap of his family’s recent participation in the runDisney event at Disneyland. They had participants in the kids’ race, the 10K, and the half marathon. Come hear about their experiences.

And yes, even though it isn’t necessarily the primary focus of this episode, “Hullabaloo” was chosen as the title here just because it is fun to say. Be sure to join the Hullabaloo with us!

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Episode 41: I Am Groot

Beyond the Berm zooms into space with Episode 41!

Join us as we discuss the recent Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy. We give our reviews and thoughts about it, in case you are wondering if we liked it or not. WARNING: There are spoilers here! We don’t try to dance around any plot points or anything. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet and don’t want to know what happens, beware. If you want to skip all of that, you can jump ahead to just after the 35 minute mark.

After all of that, we change gears for a bit to talk about the upcoming D23 Expo in 2015. Ticket prices were recently released, and we discuss those. Matt also talks about his visits to some of the past Expos and his feelings about all that was offered. Do you plan to go next year? We would love to hear about it!

Be sure to join us for Beyond the Berm Episode 41! Spoiler: we had a great time!

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