It’s as if Disney has been paying close attention to its recent acquisitions of Marvel and the Star Wars franchise and tentatively decided that live-action fantasy is something it can do, too. In this case it helps that rooting for the villain is de rigueur, and that the villain is box-office delight Angelina Jolie.
The change is striking. Just compare these posters to the lackluster marketing efforts for the 2012 flop John Carter. Not only did Disney change the source title from The Princess of Mars because they feared it would scare away dudes, but the posters made the film seem like a cross between Mad Max and The Last Samurai instead of an epic space fantasy from the author who brought us Tarzan:
But oh, how times have changed in a post-Avengers world. Now, not only does Maleficent get to wear horns…
…and be the title of her own story, but Disney is eagerly saying, “Hey, guys. Guys. You want pixies? We got pixies!”
No, really, they do.
Yet this day, the magic was different. It started when I looked up and saw the white armor of Imperial Stormtroopers guarding the gates, then every light post had a Star Wars banner hanging from it. The main stage below the Fantasia hat was home to a life-size Han in carbonite guarded by Boba Fett. We visited Darth Mall’s, the memorabilia shop set up for the weekends. As we walked around the park, we checked out the many Star Wars character photo ops and, of course, we rode Star Tours as well as other rides.
Then there were the shows. That’s where I got my first glimpse at the extraordinary vocal talent of the great James Arnold Taylor, through his stage show Obi-Wan and Beyond, the show Stars of the Saga where he interviews the stars of the movies in attendance, and Behind The Force, the show that previewed the up coming season of The Clone Wars while exploring the magic of voice-over. Hearing from the stars of the movies and TV show was mind-blowing. Hearing JAT’s love of the Wars come through each of the shows and interviews was incredible.
Then the main event: meeting Ashley Eckstein. You can tell when someone is a true fan of something by how they interact with other fans and it was obvious to me that Ashley was the fan’s fan.