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Hello Dear Readers! For this week’s Pressing Matters it’s getting close to Christmas so I thought a couple of shopping suggestions would be in order. Then, get ready to tap your toes, strut your stuff, and dance your heart out, because I’m gonna take you down the bayou when we explore The Princess And The Frog; should you see it? Read on and I’ll fill you in.

Last September when D23 held its Expo, I mentioned there would be a display of a new Nautilus soon to be available for collectors. Did you get the chance to check out the Nautilus at the Expo? A bunch of you wrote me to say you were interested in adding this new version of Captain Nemo’s ship to your collections, but at the time I didn’t have a definitive answer as to when you could place your order. Well, I do now.

Starting today eFX, the company manufacturing the Nautilus, is taking pre-orders. At $1799.00, it’s pricey (orders placed before December 31st pay a reduced price of $1699.00), but it’s highly detailed and pretty large (four-feet long). Here's what you need to know from the press release:

Disney fans will soon be able to add an element of epic adventure to their collections: On Thursday, December 10, eFX Inc. begins accepting orders for its four-foot replica of Capt. Nemo’s Nautilus, inspired by Disney’s 1954 live-action version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Shipping is anticipated to take place in spring 2010 for the Nautilus, the first of three incredible replicas offered in eFX’s new Disney line. The Nautilus is priced at $1,799, and payments can be made in four installments. All orders for the Nautilus placed prior to December 31, 2009, will receive a special early pre-order price of $1,699. Moreover, orders placed before that date will also receive a special certificate, suitable for framing, on a reproduction of the Disney Studios stationery used during the film’s production in 1954. This special certificate can be fully customized for gift purchases, and can be sent directly to gift recipients for the holidays. (Holiday certificate delivery will be available based on order date and cannot be guaranteed for orders placed after December 17.)

This four-foot replica of the Nautilus offers features not incorporated in any previous model of the iconic submarine. Produced at approximately 1/45th scale, the replica features finely detailed interior views of the wheelhouse and Capt. Nemo’s salon, as well as LED lights to illuminate those rooms and the circular salon observation window. In addition to a removable skiff, the Nautilus incorporates a freely rotating propeller and pivoting rudder, and includes a custom display stand. Each Nautilus will have a numbered plaque and certificate of authenticity, and production will be strictly limited to 500 pieces worldwide.

Full ordering and shipping details are available at www.efxcollectibles.com. Orders can be placed beginning at 9 a.m. PST Thursday, December 10.

Next up – anyone take part in the Annual Passholder Appreciation Day shopping madness at the World Of Disney in Anaheim this past weekend? You wouldn’t catch me up that early to shop for anything, but I hear loads of folks had a grand, if somewhat chaotic, time.

If you’re ready to do it all over again, or if you missed out and thought to yourself, “Dang! I should have dragged myself out of bed at 4 AM for that, it sounded like fun,” here’s your chance for shopping craziness part 2 when the World of Disney opens its doors early once again to APs and Disney Vacation Club members with bargains galore - the next two Saturdays - December 12th & 19th.

From the press release:

Additional Appreciation Days! Annual Passholder and Disney Vacation Club

Get going early on December 12 and 19 — and save!

From 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on these two Saturdays only, take advantage of unbelievable savings, special door busters and more, at participating locations, including: Disney Pin Traders, Disney Vault 28, Marceline’s Confectionery, Studio Disney 365, World of Disney Store … and D Street (new store opening December 15)

And if you’re one of the first 1,000 Guests on each of these Saturdays at World of Disney Store, you’ll receive a complimentary gift. (One (1) per Guest, available while supplies last).

Passholder and Disney Vacation Club Appreciation Days offers are only available on December 12 and December 19, 2009 (unless otherwise noted above) at the listed locations. Complimentary gift available to the first 1000 shoppers at the World of Disney Store at the Disneyland Resort, while supplies last. A valid Annual Passport and/or Disney Vacation Club Membership must be presented to enter World of Disney Store for the early shopping opportunity. Merchandise and offers valid while supplies last. Offers not valid on any previous purchases nor for phone, e-mail or mail orders. Valid Annual Passport or Disney Vacation Club Membership must be presented at time of purchase to receive offer. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Offer is provided and fulfilled solely by the locations listed above (unless otherwise noted). The Walt Disney Company is not responsible for offer. Separate admission required to enter Disneyland Resort theme parks. Other restrictions may apply. Information subject to change without notice.

For more information visit: www.ArtofDisneyParks.com and www.Disneyland.com/AP.

Okay, shopping done, gifts wrapped, now on to the fun stuff. Let’s talk about Disney’s newest animated feature, The Princess And The Frog.

I spent last Saturday celebrating the 108th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth at his studio in Burbank, and what great place it was to be on his birthday. And how wonderful is it to once again have a hand-drawn animated feature? Pretty fabulous, I must say.

Before I tell you about the film let me throw this thought out for you folks in the Los Angeles area, if you have the time and the means, I’d highly suggest getting tickets ASAP to see The Princess And The Frog at the Disney Studios. It’s a great experience and to me, well worth the $32 I spent. Why should you spend the big bucks for a film you can see at the local multiplex? Simple, Studio tour (and a bunch of other cool activities).

Here’s the rundown on what there is to do in addition to seeing the film:

When you arrive at the Studio you’re directed to park in the Zorro parking structure (Yeah, Zorro. Somehow it tickled me to park in Zorro’s parking structure). Then you follow the froggy footprints to a big soundstage that serves as The Princess And The Frog Welcome Center. There you pick up your tickets (and souvenir necklace if you bought the expensive tickets – which I did not), purchase whatever concessions you please (souvenir Princess And The Frog popcorn bucket, anyone? $5), and browse amongst assorted props while you wait to head to the theatre to see the film.

There’s plenty to look at, while you wait - props from The Pirates of the Caribbean, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, a replica of the Up house, and on, and on.

When your scheduled film time gets near, you once again follow the froggy footprints to the movie theatre (where they ask you to check all cameras, except the cell phone variety which they let you keep but request you turn off). Head on in to the theatre and take a seat where the wait for the film to start isn’t too long, plus you get a bonus. The terrific Rob Richards (house organist at the El Capitan Theatre) plays a medley of Disney songs to entertain you before the film begins.

Once the film is over you follow those froggy footprints again, around the corner to Soundstage 3 where the Disney folks have set up a bunch of stuff just to amuse you. There are games for the kiddies (hopping around a bayou-themed obstacle course, flinging froggy-shaped bean bags onto lily pads, a huge craft area in which to color & make crowns, and a Dr. Facilier game).

A bevy of Princesses await the chance to have their photo taken with you (when I was there, I was mighty impressed with the Princesses. They were so great with each person, talking to them, personalizing the experience. It wasn’t at all “Hurry up and take the picture. Next!” Jasmine even took special pains to give posing lessons so each guest (big and small) would have a super terrific photo. All the little kiddies were eating this up like you wouldn’t believe.

So … crafts, Princesses, what else? A nifty display from the archives, vintage Mickey Mouse items, Donald Duck stuff, a check signed by Walt Disney, costumes, props (The Dead Man’s Chest), and other assorted cool stuff. If you were bored with all that, then you could sit down and have an animator teach you to draw characters from The Princess And The Frog (Louis the alligator was the character when I was there).

There was also a shopping opportunity (naturally) but it was rather limited in selection, mostly Princess Tiana dresses, a few Tiana and Naveen plush frogs, a couple of books, the film’s soundtrack and a necklace for the folks (like me) who bought the cheap seats that didn’t include the souvenir necklace. Nothing I wanted - where were the plush versions of Louis and Ray (the lovable Cajun firefly)? At the Disney Store, that’s where (and they are currently on sale too)! If they’d had Louis and Ray, I probably would have shelled out a few bucks.

There was also a photo-opportunity thingie, but since I hate having my picture taken, I headed in the opposite direction so I have let you down, dear readers, I can’t tell you what that was all about. But plenty of folks were queuing up for it, so it must have been fun.

Now, I don’t care about posing with Princesses, I’m too old to be hopping around a play bayou, I have an art background so I can probably draw Louis without instruction … truly, all that was fun but really, what sealed the deal for me and made it all worth every penny of that $32 I spent, was the aforementioned Studio Tour.

To the right as you entered Soundstage 3, if you could ignore all the Princesses and look elsewhere, was an unassuming little booth offering tours of the Disney Studio. The groups were kept small, which was nice, and all you had to do to go on the tour was to sign up and meet back at the tour booth at the appointed time.

The tour, led by a plaid-clad Disneyland Tour Guide lasted about 25 minutes and took you back over by the movie theatre (all the while educating us in tons of great details about the history of all the buildings we were passing), through the halls of a building where the walls were filled with tons and tons of fabulous animation art, out into the Legends Plaza (where all the handprints of every Disney Legend resides).

From there we also got a good look at the iconic Team Disney building with the Seven Dwarfs serving as columns (and Dopey was sporting a Santa hat), and then we headed over to the Frank G. Wells Building, home of the Disney archives where we got a glimpse of some terrific Disney memorabilia - A display case filled with hats including Mary Poppins’ hat, one of the 3 existing multiplane cameras (of the other 2, one is at the Walt Disney Family Museum and the 3rd, in Florida), more of the Archives’ Mickey Mouse collection, and assorted costumes used in various films.

We then headed back to Soundstage 3 with our lovely guide pointing out loads more historical facts along the way (we also stopped to look up at the windows that Walt Disney once looked out of from his office), and we stopped to say hi to Mickey Mouse who was waiting outside the movie theatre to pose with all his fans.

All in all, it was a really fun experience. If it sounds like something you’d like to do, hurry. As of this writing, there are a few tickets left for Friday and Sunday (Saturday is completely sold out), so you better be fast before they are all snapped up. For more information about seeing The Princess And The Frog at the Disney Studios call 1-800-DISNEY6

A few more words about The Princess And The Frog and then I’ll let you go … It officially opens Friday, December 11th, and chances are, you’ve already read a review or two (so I’m not going to write a formal review). Or maybe … maybe, you saw the panel discussion at the D23 Expo. That was my first exposure to the film. I came away from the panel discussion thinking it was exciting to be getting a hand-drawn animated feature again. And so it is.

The Princess And The Frog is such a wonderful film, a film filled with marvelous spirit, a terrific heroine who isn’t sitting around waiting to be saved, but who goes out and works hard to make her dream come true. And the music … oh, the music … so wonderful, you cannot help but get up and dance. I walked out of that theatre wanting the soundtrack, bought it, and have been wearing it out ever since.

Yep, The Princess And The Frog is filled with a terrific joie de vivre making it pretty much irresistible to anyone of any age.

I loved it and pretty much think it’s the best Disney Animation film to come along in ages. Go see it.

And that should do it for this week's...

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© 2009 Sue Kruse