Disney, Gift Cards, and Clemson Football

There have been a couple of stories over the past week that sit at the intersections of my interests and previous Disney writing.

First was the announcement that in January 2021, Disney will be replacing its existing Disney Gift Card website. As someone who has written articles about the ways to use the current website to you manage your gift cards, I have my fingers crossed that the new website will provide more functionality and be easier to use. In preparation for the transition, though, Disney emphasizes that you should keep your physical gift cards and make sure you have them available to re-add to the new Disney website when it launches. Similarly, I would probably avoid maxing out any of your gift card balances in January. If there is a technical glitch in Disney’s gift card system, it would be better if you had just a few dollars on the gift card than if you had multiple hundreds.

Second was the trailer for something I knew was in the works, but I did not realize was so close to release. IT IS A DISNEY MOVIE ABOUT CLEMSON FOOTBALL!. People who know me or follow my social media know that I have a strong allegiance to my alma mater and am an especially big fan of their football program. This movie tells the story of Ray Ray McElrathbey, a Clemson football player who had to face a near-impossible situation and what he did to try and make the best of it with the help of his teammates and the Clemson family:

I hope Disney does this story justice since it seems like a perfect, uplifting movie for a year that has been less than ideal.

The Mandalorian Returns this Friday, October 30

One of my favorite tv shows of the last year, The Mandalorian, returns to Disney+ this Friday. As a lead up to the show, I have re-watched Season 1 (it is at least my fourth re-watch, and it is still great), but I have not completed my rewatch of Star Wars Rebels. Why Rebels you ask? Because of the Darksaber. (See also, Wookiepedia.) I am really interested in seeing how they tie The Mandalorian in with Dave Filoni’s animated shows. There are already the strong (confirmed?) rumors that Rosario Dawson will be playing Ahsoka Tano and that Katee Sackhoff will be playing Bo-Katan (along with the reports that Timothy Olyphant will be “wearing Boba Fett’s armor” and Temuera Morrison will be playing Boba Fett), so how about we get an appearance from my favorite Rebels character, Sabine Wren. (And, no, I do not think Sasha Banks is Sabine.)

I guess we can all see what happens starting this Friday (October 30) and every Friday through December 18th.

Sabine with Darksaber
Sabine with Darksaber

NBA at Disney World – Proposed Hotel Room Trade

With the NBA officially restarting its season at Walt Disney World, there had been a lot of discussion about where the players would be staying. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported those answers yesterday:

  • Gran Destino: Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, Clippers, Celtics, Nuggets, Jazz, Heat
  • Grand Floridian: Thunder, 76ers, Rockets, Pacers, Mavericks, Nets, Grizzlies, Magic
  • Yacht Club: Blazers, Kings, Pelicans, Spurs, Suns, Wizards

This led to an amazing tweet from known Disney World fan, Robin Lopez:

(To be fair, I would rather stay at Yacht Club than in Gran Destino, too.)

Things then continued to spiral out from there, including discussions about the value of Stormalong Bay and whether or not people at Destino get full access to Blizzard Beach. You can see some of that fall out in this summary from Bleacher Report.

Relatedly: I am so ready to have some live sports back on tv.

UPDATE: Here’s a nice summary from Axios of all the procedures in place for the NBA at Disney World: [ LINK

Gran Destino Tower at Disney World
Gran Destino Tower at Disney World

Disney Releases Star Wars Narrative Timeline in Advance of Clone Wars Season 7

With Clone Wars Season 7 set to release this Friday (February 21, 2020), Disney has released the following timeline graphic to show where Clone Wars fits into the Star Wars storyline:

Star Wars Narrative Timeline - Copyright Disney

As you can see from the timeline (and what you would probably expect from the title), Clone Wars falls between Episode 2, Attack of the Clones and Episode 3, Revenge of the Sith.

I’m really excited to see what they do with Season 7, especially because Season 6 was kind of a monkey’s paw revival of the series that lacked my favorite character.

If, for some reason, you haven’t seen the trailer, here it is:

Lego to Release Main Street Train Station Set

I’m currently on a Lego buying “freeze” as Elyssa and I evaluate where we’re going to (eventually) buy our next house. That said, my self control is being severely tested with this amazing new set of the Main Street Train Station. It looks fantastic.

Front of the Main Street Train Station Set

Backside of the Main Street Train Station Set

You’ll be able to buy the set from the Lego website starting September 1, 2019. Blog Mickey also has more of the promotional images.

Thank you, Chris – A Decade of Captain America

Avengers: Endgame was released this weekend, and, like expected, it marks the end of an era in Marvel’s “Cinematic Universe.” It’s the end of a nearly 10 year run of movies, and it culminated with an epic battle and a series of codas that leave us saying goodbye to this particular iteration of some of our favorite characters. For me specifically, it’s me saying goodbye to Chris Evans’ Captain America.

It’s was about 9 years ago that Marvel announced that Chris Evans had been cast as Captain America. I was unsure of how to react at the time, given that I really only knew Chris Evans from the Fantastic Four movies and The Losers (don’t get me wrong, I really like The Losers), and—though I saw similarities in between those two characters—neither one seemed to be anything like the Steve Rogers that I knew and loved from years of reading Marvel comics.

I waited another year-and-a-half to see how Captain America would be portrayed on the big screen, and it only took about 25 minutes of that movie (when Steve Rogers jumps on a grenade) that I realized that I actually was going to see my Captain America brought to life, and that Chris Evans was the right person to do it.

Since that first movie, Steve Rogers, through Chris Evans, has grown as a character, while still continuing to embody the characteristics that I love about Captain America from the comic books. From his fight against corrupt power on Earth in Winter Solider, to him standing against against an otherworldly superpower in Endgame, he simply was the the Sentinel of Liberty that I had been reading stories about for all those years.

One of MCU Steve Roger’s iconic lines is “I can do this all day.” (which gets a nice shout-out in Endgame), but it is unrealistic to expect Chris Evans to play this role (or any role) forever. Not that he needs me (or anyone else) to give “approval” on how he portrayed a character, but, as he leaves his time as Captain America behind, I cannot thank him enough for how well he portrayed one of my favorite characters in any media. He didn’t sign on to be a steward of a chararacter with such a history when he signed on to be an actor in a movie, but, through this past decade, he has done this just that.

Thank you, Chris. Because of your hard work this past decade, I have a whole “universe” of movies that include one of my favorite comic book characters brought to life. Thank you (and go Red Sox.)

Captain America Shield with Fenway
Captain America Shield with Fenway

Plane’s Here, Go Ahead – A Discussion of Boarding Flights

Though not 100% on point for this site, the various discussions I’m seeing this morning related to flights, flight boarding, etc.. remind me of this CGP Grey video:

Part of me wonders what it would be like to have a much more “efficient” boarding process (though, after flying Southwest with their “groups”, I wonder how the “plane’s here, go ahead” method would really work for today’s travelers.)

If what you really want to watch ist just 20 minutes of the loading and unloading animations, though, then here’s that:

A Big Day for Star Wars and Disney Media

Yesterday was Disney’s quarterly earnings call. From a financials perspective, it wasn’t the greatest result. From a Disney media fan (especially a Star Wars fan) perspective, however, it was pretty interesting.

The biggest news out of the event is that director of The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson, will be writing and directing a whole new, Skywalker-less, Star Wars Trilogy. This is great on a number of levels. We’ll be getting more Star Wars (which, of course, is awesome), but, as friend of the site and Mighty Men of Mouse podcast host Dutch Lombrowski pointed out: Disney must think Last Jedi is good. In fact, Disney said as much in the press release:

As writer-director of The Last Jedi, Johnson conceived and realized a powerful film of which Lucasfilm and Disney are immensely proud. In shepherding this new trilogy, which is separate from the episodic Skywalker saga, Johnson will introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.

Disney’s “never before explored” comment seems to suggest this won’t be a “Knight of the Old Republic” based trilogy (though that would be awesome), so I guess we’ll have some time to speculate on what will be coming from Johnson and Disney in the future.

In other Disney media news, Disney announced that it’s new streaming service will be priced “significantly lower than Netflix. With Netflix running about $11 a month (depending on your plan), there’s not a lot of room to make things “signifantly” lower. ($7?). To add to buzz around the new streaming service, Disney also announced that a live action Star Wars show would be coming to the service as well as a new Marvel show. (The existing Marvel shows on Netflix will be staying put on Netflix for the time being.) A streaming service with a robust Disney catalogue, including Star Wars and Marvel shows that are only available on that service, but help drive people to add Disney’s streaming service to the ever growing mix of streaming options. (Let’s ignore “ESPN Plus” for now.)

Those are the highlights from a big day in Disney media. Now, let’s just continue the countdown to Last Jedi. (34 days as I write this…)

In case Rian is looking for any ideas for his new Star Wars Trilogy...

(NOTE: The above image was Elyssa’s and my wedding “save the date” card, done by fantastic Robert Wilson IV.)

Disney’s Announcement Furthers the Convergence of Content Creation and Content Delivery

NOTE: The following is a little outside of the normal realm of content here at *Rope Drop [dot] Net. Since every Disney site seems to be blindly reporting the news about Disney’s streaming service, however, I felt a little context was in order.

This week has been an interesting week for content models and content delivery. On Monday, Netflix purchased the intellectual portfolio of a comic creator Mark Millar.. In his usual, modest, humble approach to things, Millar likened the move to Disney’s purchase of Marvel back in 2009. Though I, obviously, don’t agree with that sentiment, the move is consistent with Netflix’s clear strategy of becoming a content creator and owner, not just a content delivery mechanism. See, e.g., Netflix’s commitment to spending $6 billion on original content in 2017. The same goes for, predominantly, tech companies Amazon and Apple, who have also made clear moves into the content ownership and content creation space.

With all of those moves by technology companies into the content creation and ownership space, is it any wonder that earlier today, Disney—a long term content creator and owner—announced that by 2019 it would stop distributing its movies via Netflix and start its own streaming service. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to see the clear trend of content creation and content delivery converging. Since Disney, unlike the tech companies discussed above, already has the content library (and the ability to produce new content), it needs to develop the technical side of things. That’s why the biggest news out of Disney’s announcement is probably its acquisition (for a cool $1.58 billion) of a majority interest in BAM Tech, one of the leading providers of video streaming on the web. Disney is now poised to use technology it owns to deliver its content (including ESPN content) directly to its consumers, without having to deal with some kind of technological middle man. After all, if Netflix, Apple, and Amazon are going to position themselves as silos of content delivered by their own respective technologies, shouldn’t Disney position itself to do the same thing?

Of course, the proliferation of streaming services with their own content silos might not be the best end game for consumers. Discussion has already started online as to how many streaming services we will need to subscribe to in order to watch the various content we’re interested in. With Disney throwing its hat in the ring today, my answer to that questions is: 1 more service than I thought I had to subscribe to yesterday.

Disney and Tech
Disney and Tech

Star Wars – Forces of Destiny Debuts on Disney’s YouTube Channel

One of the things that Elyssa and I were most look forward to from this year’s Celebration announcements was the upcoming animated series focusing on some of Star Wars’ female heroes. Well, that wait is finally over as the first episode, featuring Rey, debuted today:

If you enjoyed that, here’s a sneak peak on what else you can expect from the series:

It looks like it’s going to be awesome.

It’s Rogue One Day!

Today is a day that Elyssa and I have been eagerly anticipating since we saw that first trailer: Rogue One release day!.

Jyn FTW!
Jyn FTW!

In advance of the movie’s release, we were lucky enough to join the Mighty Men of Mouse and friend of the site Wes James for a special Rogue One preview segment on this week’s episode of Mighty Men of Mouse.

As you might expect, Disney has put its marketing muscle behind the film, including at Disney World. This includes a bunch of new Rogue One merchandise that is now available, updates to the Star Wars Launch Bay (Corey Disbrow has a bunch of pictures of the new exhibits and WDW News Today has video of the new Rogue One preview film being shown there), and a special event where they turned Spaceship Earth into the Death Star (which admittedly sounds cooler than it looked during the live stream.)

I’ll end this post with the best promotional item related to Rogue One. Enjoy:

Talking about Star Wars ON THE INTERNET!

Last night, Elyssa and I recorded a podcast with Dutch Lombrowski of the Mighty Men of Mouse podcast, and Wesley James of Save Tomorrowland about one of Elyssa’s and my favorite topics: Star Wars!

In this one-off episode, we talk about the staying power of the original trilogy, why the prequels were such colossal failures (I may have been the only one with that opinion), and a host of other Star Wars-related nerdery (that might not be an actual word.)

If this sounds interesting to you, you can either download the episode directly or add this RSS feed to your favorite podcast player. Enjoy!

Elyssa loves it when I don't agree with her opinions.
Elyssa loves it when I don’t agree with her opinions.