The Mouse Knows Best Podcast

Monday, January 15, 2018

Tuesday Movie Review: A Bug's Life

Welcome to a new blog series titled Tuesday Movie Review! In this series, we will take a look at a different Disney movie every week and examine some aspects of it including storyline, soundtrack/score, and acting! We'll also take a look at how each movie is brought to life at the Walt Disney World theme parks! I hope you enjoy this series as much as I enjoy writing it for you!

This week's feature film is Disney Pixar's A Bug's Life!

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Released November 14th, 1998, A Bug's Life is the second Pixar movie made (behind Toy Story) and was also directed by Toy Story director, John Lasseter. The film itself is a story following our friend, Flik, a regular ant living in a huge ant colony that is terrorized by the local grasshopper bullies. Flik is also looking to impress the incoming queen ant, Princess Atta. Along the way, Flik runs into a group of rag tag bug's from the circus who he recruits to help him "fight off" the incoming grasshoppers. The only thing is that Flik is a perpetual mess up waiting to happen, and as the story progresses, we see Flik have to lie to cover up his mistakes, resulting in his banishment. Flik, and the circus bug's, leave the colony before the grasshoppers arrive, but thanks to the upcoming princess, Dot, Flik and the crew return to confront Hopper and the other grasshoppers. It's here that we get the moral of the story: no matter how small you are, you can make a difference.

Randy Newman, Pixar's residential composer, composed the score for A Bug's Life and it became an instant hit. Newman also conducted the score, along with writing, singing, and producing a single for the film's soundtrack "The Time of Your Life". Personally, I really like the soundtrack for A Bug's Life, I think it is similar to the Toy Story soundtrack, but it has some originality as well. One of my favorite scores from the film is the "Grasshopper's Return" score because of how dark it is and it instantly brings you back to an eventful part of the movie, something I think all good scores should do. I also love Newman's "The Time of Your Life" because it really does tell the story of the whole movie in one song and Newman delivers with some great work on the microphone. Newman received an Oscar nomination for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score, and received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score-Motion Picture. He also won the 2000 Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture. 

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Randy Newman,
The cast of A Bug's Life is a prominent one today, but at the time, wasn't very well known. Dave Foley played Flik in what was his first prominent acting job. Kevin Spacey voiced the villain Hopper and he brought some film experience to the group. Other notables are Hayden Panettiere as Dot, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Princess Atta, Joe Ranft as Heimlich, Dennis Leary as Francis, and Phyllis Diller as the Queen. See what I mean when I said not a very well known cast? However, they came together and delivered a spectacular performance that is often overlooked in the animated films category.

The film itself, outside of Newman's nominations for score, was nominated for 15 different awards including the BAFTA for Best Achievement in Special Effects, the Critic's Choice Award for Best Family Film and Best Animated Film (both of which it won), and the Kid's Choice Award for Favorite Movie. Personally, I loved A Bug's Life and still do to this day. It's funny, has a great message, and is actually very entertaining. Lasseter made Flik's character very relatable to a 5 year watching this movie for the first time and also to a 22 year old watching this movie for the 20th time by giving him real life failures that we could all go through and then having him team up with his friends to take the villain when all hope seemed gone. I also think John Lasseter did an exceptional job with Hopper's character, and to be honest, Hopper is the reason I am terrified of grasshoppers and crickets (who are basically the night version of grasshoppers).

A Bug's Life actually has a very interesting story regarding it's representation in the Walt Disney World theme parks. In mid 1998, Disney CEO Michael Eisner found himself with a predicament regarding an attraction inside the new Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Imagineers wanted to have a show involving all the different animals on the iconic tree, however Eisner thought it would be a better idea to incorporate a movie into the show. He knew that later that year, A Bug's Life would be released in theaters around the world and thought it would be another hit by Pixar. So, in an unprecedented move, Eisner and the Imagineers opened It's Tough to Be A Bug before the movie it was based on even hit theaters. The show itself was a hit introducing the characters Flik and Hopper in amazing Audio-Animatronics while utilizing some eye-popping 3-D visuals and a catchy song thrown in there as well! Shortly after the film released, the characters Flik, Princess Atta, and Princess Dot could be spotted doing special meet and greets around Disney's Animal Kingdom. Today, Princess Atta and Princess Dot are only brought out for special occasions, while Flik can be seen pretty much everyday doing his regular meet and greet!

“It’s Tough to be a Bug!” attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park
It's Tough To Be A Bug, disneyparksblog

All things taken into consideration, I give A Bug's Life 3.5 of 5 stars. Why 3.5 if it was so good? Well, because Disney movies are extraordinarily hard to judge against each other and whenever I thought of giving it 4 or 5, I thought of other movies that are more deserving of those stars. A Bug's Life is a great movie, actually it's good enough to be my 2nd favorite Pixar movie, but there are some that are just a bit better. Nonetheless, I strongly encourage you to visit your local Target or Wal-Mart and pick up a copy of this if you haven't seen it yet, as it is a great movie.

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Kevin Scott is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. He is self proclaimed Disney addict and oftentimes annoys his family with how much he talks Disney. He enjoys walking around all Disney Parks and taking as many pictures as he can in one day. When he isn't at Walt Disney World, he is working to get back or re-watching Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars movie. His spirit animal is a mix between Simba and Kylo Ren with a dash of Tony Stark. You can find him on Twitter @doubleoh_kevin and on Instagram @waltdisneyduo.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Showcasing the World: Norway

WDW Magic
Next door to the Mexico Pavilion is the Norway Pavilion.  The Norwegian village features a Stave church, wooden trolls, and, of course...Frozen.  This pavilion was the most recent addition to World Showcase as it opened in June of 1988.  During the opening of the pavilion, the then Crown Prince of Norway dedicated the pavilion in a ceremony that was broadcast live in Norway.

Walt Disney World


Until it's untimely demise in 2014, Maelstrom was the main attraction in the Norway Pavilion.  Guests boarded a viking boat that lead them on a journey through the Norwegian history.  Trolls, polar bears, and oil rigs helped tell the rich history of Norway.  At the end of the ride, guests were dropped off at a small Norwegian village where a theater was located that played a 5-minute tourism film titled "The Spirit of Norway."

WDW Magazine
Currently, the main attraction at the Norway Pavilion - and arguably in all of Epcot - is Frozen Ever After.  The new attraction honors the day that Anna saved Elsa through an act of true love in what Elsa has called the Official Summer Snow Day.  In the queue, guests see posters for the upcoming event as they wander through Wandering Oaken's Trading Post and Sauna.  As guests board their boat, they are transported into the world of Arendelle.  The popular songs from the hit movie are also featured in this family friendly attraction.

Disney Parks Blog


Arendelle's favorite residents are always ready for a meet-and-greet at their Royal Sommerhus.

WDW Magic


The Stave Church Gallery features an exhibit on Norwegian culture that inspired Frozen.

WDW Magic


The Kringla Bakeri og Kafe features savory traditional Norwegian items such as sweet pretzels, cream-filled pastries, flatbread, open-faced sandwiches, and Viking coffee.

Disney Parks Wiki
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is a buffet-style feast that is held to honor Storybook Princesses.  Guests dine in a medieval castle as Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, and Ariel mingle about them.

WDW Theme Parks


The Puffiin's Roost is home to a giant troll as well as Norwegian imports such as fragrances, foods, and fleece jackets.

WDW Magic
Located just outside the Royal Sommerhus, The Wandering Reindeer is a countryside log shop that features a wide variety of Frozen themed merchandise.

WDW Daily News
Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Showcasing the World: Mexico

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Welcome to a new blog series titled Showcasing the World! In this series, we will be exploring the attractions, entertainment, dining experiences, and shopping opportunities at the eleven countries in Epcot's World Showcase.

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Upon entering World Showcase at Showcase Plaza, the first pavilion on the left will be the Mexico Pavilion.  The Mexico Pavilion is a Mesoamerican pyramid with steps leading up to the main entrance doors.  Inside, guests step into a twilight Mexican village and marketplace called Plaza de los Amigos.  The edge of the plaza overlooks an indoor lagoon with more pyramids and a smoking volcano in the background.

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Walt Disney World


When the Mexico Pavilion opened in 1982, the El Rio del Tiempo was the main attraction in the pavilion.  It was updated in 2007 to the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros.  Both attractions feature a dark ride boat journey through Mexico that showcased the various scenes of the country.  The Three Caballeros - Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, and Panchito Pistoles - were added to the scenes during the update.  

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In 2015, the The Three Caballeros audio-animatroics were added to the finale scene of the attraction.  They used to be a part of the Mickey Mouse Revue at the Magic Kingdom from 1971-1980 until they were move to Tokyo Disneyland.  They came back to the US for D23's Destination D event in 2011 before making their way to World Showcase. 

Donald Duck, wearing a sombrero, performs a Mexican dance at Meet Donald Duck in Mexico at Epcot
Walt Disney World


While exploring the base of the Mexico Pavilion pyramid, guests can say hola to Donald Duck, dressed in a colorful sombrero.

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Walt Disney World


A long-standing Mexico Pavilion tradition is the Mariachi Cobre, a mariachi band that performs traditional folk music from Jalisco, Mexico, around the pavilion. 

WDW Magic


The Mexico Pavilion is home to many different flavorful dining locations.  The San Angel Inn Restaurante is an indoor table-service restaurant located in the main pavilion, which is inspired by a restaurant in Mexico City of the same name that dates back to 1692.  It features authentic Mexican food as well as premium margaritas and tequila. 

La Hacienda de San Ángel is an indoor restaurant on the World Showcase Lagoon.  Similar to The San Angel Inn Restaurante.  La Hacienda de San Ángel features regional Mexican cuisine and premium margaritas and tequilas. 

WDW Magic
Cantina de San Ángel is a quick service dining option that features nachos, tacos, empanadas, and margaritas.  Its open air dining area overlooks the World Showcase Lagoon.

La Cava del Tequila
La Cava del Tequila is located inside the main pavilion and features a vast collection of tequilas, specialty margaritas, and light Mexican appetizers. 

Choza de Margarita sign
The newest addition to the Mexico Pavilion is Choza de Margarita.  This new outdoor margarita bar features a wide variety of frozen margaritas, on-the-rocks margaritas, and Mexican-inspired snacks.

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Walt Disney World


The main shopping area in the Mexico Pavilion is inside the Plaza de Los Amigos.  Here, guests can find authentic Mexican merchandise at the Art of Mexico, Artesanias La Familia Fashions, El Ranchito del Norte, and various vendor carts.  The souvenirs include clothes, jewelry, home decor, pottery, piñatas, and dolls.  There is also a store located outside the pavilion that features a smaller selection of Mexican-inspired merchandise. 

Aztec temple-like building in the Mexico Pavilion bathed in magenta light at night
Walt Disney World
Robyn Fleenor is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. She is an avid Disney fanatic and would rather be at Walt Disney World eating glazed almonds than anything else.  When she isn't working to pay for her next Disney vacation, she likes to binge watch TV shows and fall in love with fictional characters. She can be found tweeting at @rahrah6263.