Episode 39: Weddings and Honeymoons, Star Wars and Theme Park Wars

Welcome back to Beyond the Berm for Episode 39!

We start off with Matt remembering the events of 15 years ago, which just happened to be when he and Kathy were getting married at Disneyland. He tells all about their Disney Fairytale Wedding, and he also looks at how some of the options for Disney weddings have changed over the years.

Steve follows that up with remembrances of his honeymoon at Walt Disney World, because his wedding anniversary with Laura is next week. As it turns out, Matt and Kathy spent their honeymoon at Walt Disney World as well. Several years ago, Walt Disney World took over the spot of Number One Honeymoon Destination from Niagara Falls. It would be interesting to know if it still holds that spot today.

Moving on to other things, Matt asks a question about how the Star Wars characters are treated these days. Among the things we discussed was the video of Darth Vader at Disneyland, as well as the Hyperspace Hoopla show that used to be a part of Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (that link was to just one video, but there are several videos of the different shows from different years out there). Is using these characters in comedic situations diluting their effectiveness? That’s a good question.

And then Steve talks a bit about the latest round of the theme park wars in Florida, as Universal Studios opens its new Harry Potter section, complete with a new ride, while Walt Disney World throws together a few Frozen offerings at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. These wars have been going on since the late 1980s, and it does appear that Universal has won this round, doesn’t it?

Join us for all of that and more in Beyond the Berm Episode 39!

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Episode 29: Movie Reviews and More!

We’re back! Did you miss us? Beyond the Berm returns for episode 29 after a long holiday break!

To start off, we spend a good bit of time discussing the recent Disney movie releases that we have seen, which include Frozen, Saving Mr. Banks, and Thor: The Dark World. We also discuss The Lone Ranger, which is now out on DVD and Blu-Ray. What did we think about all of these? Listen in to find out.

Matt then tells about the holiday-themed overlay of the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, known as the Jingle Cruise, since he was able to experience the West Coast version. Hear what he thought about it.

Up next, we discuss some of the rumors of possible additions to the parks, including a future Star Wars land, and we talk about the rumors that these rumored additions have been cancelled or delayed due to MyMagic+, among other things. Not that we really have any inside information at all, but that never has stopped us from talking about anything before, has it?

All this and more in Episode 29 of Beyond the Berm!

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Did Disney Trade Jerry for Indy?

Last Friday, there were a couple of interesting news stories that showed up. The first one really wasn’t a surprise: Film producer Bruckheimer in 3-year deal with Paramount. According to that story, Jerry Bruckheimer has signed a new deal, and his first planned projects are sequels to two of his classic films, “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Top Gun,” which he had made for Paramount before his deal with Disney. Disney had recently decided not to renew its deal with Jerry Bruckheimer, as we had discussed earlier in a post by Matt, More ‘Lone Ranger’ Fallout.

A few hours later, another interesting news: Disney secures rights for future ‘Indiana Jones’ films. As you probably know, when Disney bought LucasFilm, they got Indiana Jones in addition to Star Wars. However, Paramount still had some ownership in any future Indiana Jones movies before this new deal was made. So now, although they haven’t announced any plans for a specific movie, Disney can release a new one if they choose to do so. And one would think they wouldn’t have gone to the trouble to make that deal if they weren’t planning something.

But I got to wondering, were these two events related? Did Disney still have some say over Jerry Bruckheimer’s contract, even if they were deciding not to renew it? Did Disney make a trade with Paramount, trading Jerry Bruckheimer for Indiana Jones?

It wouldn’t be the first time Disney has done something like that. As you may remember, back in 2006 when Monday Night Football was moving from ABC to ESPN, sportscaster Al Michaels was wanting to move from ABC to NBC to host their Sunday Night Football games. So in exchange for letting Michaels out of his ABC contract, Bob Iger made a bargain with NBC Universal to get the rights back to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the cartoon character that Walt Disney created (and lost the rights to) before Mickey Mouse. So if this is true, it wouldn’t be the first time a real person was traded for a fictional character.

If there was a trade this time around, apparently both companies got what they wanted. As we have discussed, Disney does not see much value in future Bruckheimer films aside from the already-planned Pirates and National Treasure sequels in the works, while Paramount feels that Bruckheimer still has some good movies left in him. And I would agree with that. Not necessarily sequels based on 30-year-old movies with the original, aging stars. But I think he will come up with some other good stuff, as he has in the past.

And Paramount probably also didn’t see all that much value in another Indiana Jones movie. “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” was not the huge hit that the first three movies were, and Harrison Ford isn’t getting any younger. But for Disney, the advantage is having everything under one roof and not having to negotiate with Paramount over any future Indiana Jones movies. It really makes sense, because they already own the character. Could they be planning at least one more movie with Harrison Ford as Indy? Or could they be planning something new with a younger actor taking over the role? While you could make the strong argument that Ford created the character and is irreplaceable, remember that others have already played Indy in the television series “Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.” While it might take some getting used to, another actor could very well take on the part, and even do it successfully.

So was there actually a trade? Or was it just a big coincidence in timing? Unless someone who has some inside knowledge tells what all really happened, we might not know for certain.

But I usually don’t believe too much in coincidences.

More ‘Lone Ranger’ Fallout

We’ve been discussing on a few of the past podcasts whether there would be any fallout or collateral damage resulting from the poor box office performance of “The Lone Ranger” this past Fourth of July weekend and into the summer.  Disney is expected to take a $190 million loss on the film.

In Episode 24, we mention that the date of the next installment of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise has been postponed from its July 2015 slot to perhaps a Memorial Day 2016 release.

Now, the next shoe has dropped.  Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer have announced that they are not renewing a first-look deal that saw the studio release a wide slate of films over the past two decades.  According to this article, the partnership has resulted in 27 films accounting for more than $3.7 billion in box office receipts worldwide.

Bruckheimer will still work with Disney to release future projects that have been established at the studio, including any future “Pirates” or “National Treasure” films.  The agreement will allow the producer to work on more adult-oriented/action films outside of the confines of the more family-friendly fare Disney is known for.  Disney, for its part, will focus more of its film making on franchises such as Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, etc.

What do you think?  Surprised that Bruckheimer was set free based on the performance of “The Lone Ranger”?  A smart move by Disney to refocus efforts on in-house franchises?  A change in how big, tent pole movies are financed and distributed?  Let’s hear your thoughts.

~ Matt

Episode 20: Monsters and Mickey

Time once again for the Beyond the Berm podcast!

In Episode 20, we spend a good bit of time giving our thoughts on the latest Pixar movie, Monsters University. We also talk a good bit about the short that was with it, The Blue Umbrella. Come here how we think it compares to Cars 2!

Also, Matt talked a bit about the new show at Disneyland’s Fantasyland Theater, Mickey and the Magical Map. That brings up a discussion of some of the other live shows found at the parks.

After that, we have a potpourri of topics, among which are The Lone Ranger, Gargoyles, the Disney Movie Club, Zorro, and an attraction at Disneyland possibly named after the Mad Hatter.

All that, and maybe even some more, in Episode 13!

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Episode 11: Birthdays, Star Wars and Disney News, and a Contest

Beyond the Berm returns once again with another exciting, fun-filled episode. And there is another contest, too!

In this episode, someone has a birthday coming up. If you remember from a few episodes back, Matt had a birthday in December, so that must mean it is Steve’s turn this time around. Matt does a wonderful job of taking us back to that momentous day in history!

Also, we discuss some of the recent Star Wars news about spinoff movies, we discuss Tony Baxter’s retirement, we discuss more of the Limited Time Magic offerings, and more! Be sure to join us for all the merriment.

Once again, you have a chance to win! Our prize this time is a D23 23-month calendar, From Concept to Classic! To enter, listen to Episode 11 to find out our secret word or phrase that we mention sometime during the podcast. Once you have it, send an email with the secret word or phrase, your name, your mailing address, and your email address to [email protected] Entries must be received by Noon CST on Wednesday, February 20, 2013. See more information at the bottom of this post. And click the two photos below for a larger view:



Best of luck to you!

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Contest rules and information: One entry per person. Entries must be received by the date posted above. Your entry grants us the right to use your name on our website and podcast if you win. One winner will be chosen randomly from all of the entries. Disney and D23 are not a sponsor of this contest or this podcast. No sponsorship or endorsement is implied. For best results, you have to actually listen to the podcast. But why wouldn’t you?

Episode 10: Marathons, Magic, and More & a Contest!

Episode 10 of Beyond the Berm is now online, providing an audio feast for your ears and creating wonderful images that will dance in your mind!

Well, maybe not all of that, but we do cover lots of topics in this episode. Matt is participating in a half-marathon, Limited Time Magic continues on, Disney Infinity is coming, the next Star Wars movie has a director, and the NextGen initiative continues to make headlines. Wow, we covered a lot of ground!

And this time, we have a contest! Yes, that is right, we are giving something away to one of our lucky listeners. Our prize is an “On the Record” CD/DVD/Blu-Ray carrying case, as pictured below:


And how do you enter? Easy! Just listen to Episode 10 to hear the secret word or phrase that we mention somewhere during the podcast. Once you do that, send an email containing that secret word or phrase, your name, your mailing address, and your email address (just in case we can’t figure it out from the email that you send) to [email protected] One entry per person. All entries must be received by Noon CST on Monday, February 4. A winner will be drawn randomly from the entries we have received by that point. The winner will then be announced on our Twitter and Facebook feeds, as well as in our next episode. Good luck!

And hopefully, you won’t just skim through the podcast listening for the secret code. Because then you would be missing out on all our good stuff and great jokes.

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The Six Million Dollar Star Wars Man

In Matt’s excellent post Star Wars Pictures In and Out of the Parks, he had some photos from the “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” exhibit that he had seen at the California Science Center. That was the same exhibit that we had seen at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. I didn’t realize that we had seen the same thing.

Anyway, that exhibit was the one I was talking about when I mentioned seeing the Six Million Dollar Man in the Landspeeder model. Matt had a photo of the full-size Landspeeder, but at the version of the exhibit that we saw, next to the full-size Landspeeder was this smaller model that they used in some of the effect shots:

And here is a cropped view of the passengers. Note how Obi-Wan Kenobi appears to be missing an eye.

And just for reference, here is a photo of the Six Million Dollar Man action figure, from RetroThing.com:

So there you have it – the special guest appearance of the Six Million Dollar Man in Star Wars: A New Hope. The truth revealed!


Star Wars Pictures In and Out of the Parks

With Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, there are plenty of exciting opportunities to bring the saga of the Jedis vs. the Siths to the parks.  Disney began this even before the Lucasfilm purchase when it worked with George Lucas to bring Star Tours to the Disneyland, and later, the Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios).  The addition of the Jedi Training Academy at both parks continues this presence.

Below are a few of my favorite Star Wars-related photos that I’ve taken both inside the Disney theme parks and beyond the berm (click to see larger-sized images):

While I got my first — and only — fix of Star Tours at Disneyland, the full-sized AT-AT and Snowspeeder at Disney-MGM Studios is a much cooler entry point to the attraction than the simple spaceport terminal of Disneyland.

If the Jedi Training Academy had existed when I was young enough to participate in it, I think I would have been there at every performance hoping to get picked.  Can’t think of many things much cooler than taking on a Sith Lord and the opportunity for kids to wield a lightsaber and do a mock battle with Darth Vader or Darth Maul, pictured above, is a nice Star Wars-themed addition to the theme parks.

Steve mentioned going to see a Star Wars-related exhibit where he saw a model of the Landspeeder with a Six Million Dollar Man action figure.  Not sure if it was the same exhibit that I went to, partially because I don’t remember any Six Million Dollar Men on display, but at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to go to the “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” exhibit where this full-sized model of Luke’s transport was available for viewing.

One of my first Star Wars action figures was Luke Skywalker in his X-Wing Pilot outfit.  I’d also receive a Battle-Damaged X-Wing Fighter some time later.  Rather than my Kenner toy, this is a picture of Luke and R2D2 in an X-Wing on display at the aforementioned “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” exhibit.

We’re used to seeing C3P0 in his golden skin — or blasted apart in pieces in The Empire Strikes Back — but it was cool to be able to see him without his outer layer at the science exhibit.

One of the coolest displays at the science museum was one that featured Darth Vader’s mask.  By looking through the back of the glass case, you could literally see through the eyes of the Sith Lord himself.  All those spindles and circuitry doesn’t look that comfortable though.

And, finally, the United States Post Office had a promotion with Star Wars, which resulted in several mailboxes decorated like R2D2.  We were lucky enough to have one installed here in Burbank and I had to pull over to take a picture when I saw it.

With all the possibilities of more Star Wars stuff coming to the Disney theme parks, I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to get even more pictures of two of my favorite brands.


Star Wars Action Figures

In Episode 5 of Beyond the Berm we talked about most all things Star Wars and Lucasfilm after the announcement that Disney is acquiring Lucasfilm.

In passing as we talked about Star Wars stuff, we mentioned action figures. After seeing the original Star Wars at a young and impressionable age, I was excited to be able to have action figures so that I could create my own Star Wars adventures. Here are a few of them.

These three above were some of my favorites. R2-D2, at the left, was the first Star Wars action figure I ever got. And you can see by how is stickers are worn that he got lots of action. I always thought the Jawa in the center was cool, and then the later Jawas didn’t come with the same removable robe; I believe the later ones had a plastic robe/cape thing. And then Yoda, on the right, was hard to find after The Empire Strikes Back came out. I looked for a long time before I found him.

In the world of Star Wars, everyone was a star, no matter how big or small their parts were. Some of these pictured above only had very small parts. I can’t even remember the names of the two on the right. But hey, they were in the movies. At least in the background.

Here is the climactic lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader, recreated in action figure form. The figures of those days didn’t have many movable joints, especially when compared with the modern figures, so there were only so many poses that they could have. But at least you didn’t have to worry about losing their lightsabers – they kept them up their sleeves.

This one is a little different than the others, because he is much more recent. And he isn’t actually from a Star Wars movie, either. This is RX-24, also known as Rex, from the original version of Star Tours at the Disney parks. I like how they made some action figures from the ride, because it brought back great memories of the action figures I had as a kid. And that I still have as an adult.

So far, Episode 5 has been our most popular episode. Be sure to check it out if you haven’t already.