Disney Holiday Guide

Walt Disney Treasures: Zorro: The Complete First Season DVD
Walt Disney Treasures: Zorro: The Complete Second Season DVD

[ad#longpost]So if there’s one thing I tell you consistently on this site, it’s never fight a hydra in a direct frontal assault. It will hand you your ass every single time. If there’s two things I tell you, it’s that and buy the Walt Disney Treasures releases. It’s the Disney version of Criterion, and they’ve brought you the entirety of their Zorro series. Each of these sets is six discs and contain episodes about as good looking as you’re going to see them. Each set comes with thirty-nine episodes a piece, plus between the two of them they also have each of the one-hour specials that were aired on Walt Disney Presents. The first set has a retrospective on the Zorro character himself, plus a bit on the Mickey Mouse Club with Guy Williams in character. The second set has a look at Williams and also a visit to the Disney Archives to look at costumes and other related bits. The Zorro fan will want these and the Disney completist will want them as well. But seriously, the Walt Disney Treasures line should be supported. I admit it makes me nervous that we only got these two titles for this year’s wave of Treasures releases. Hopefully they’ll pick up again in 2010. Click here to buy Season 1 from Amazon; Click here to buy Season 2 from Amazon.

Toy Story: The Art and Making of the Animated Film book
South of the Border With Disney book
Imagineering Field Guide to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World book

As we hurtle towards the third Toy Story film, Disney Editions has re-released the Art and Making of the Animated Film that was initially put out years ago. As one might expect from such an oversized behind-the-scenes book, it’s got tons of concept art (a page which shows Buzz Lightyear concept art from multiple artists is particularly interesting) and stills from the film, not to mention information about the process that went into creating the world of the film, the characters and so on. And it’s great to go back to the first film, which paved the way for everything that came after at Pixar (and now Disney). This makes for a perfect companion book to the Ultimate Toy Box DVD set, which I won’t link to here because I’m sure an updated something along those lines will be coming out with the third film, no doubt on Blu-Ray. Click here to buy the book from Amazon.

When I was a kid, I just knew that there was a fun-as-hell animated short from Disney called “Three Caballeros.” I had no idea until much later in life that Disney wasn’t just making this (or Saludos Amigos) for his health or to entertain…it was all part of the “Good Neighbor Program” during World War II, which was in place to get the hearts and minds of South America on board with the Anti-Axis effort. And the Disney studio was brought on board this effort with not just the animated films mentioned above that you no doubt know, but a bunch of other short subjects as well. This book takes you through the entire thing, along with concept art, photos, posters and more. It will fill in the gap on a bit of Disney studio history for the big fan. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The sad fact is that not everybody can have Dana Snyder with them when they go to a Disney theme park. For those that can’t have the walking encyclopedia on hand, there’s The Imagineering Field Guide to the Magic Kindgom at Walt Disney World. Basically this is your pocket tour guide for all the easter eggs and making-of stuff that I go crazy for in parks. What are all the meanings behind the what’s inscribed on the windows of Main Street? What are the in-jokes on many of the park’s rides? How do you identify Cinderella’s horse on the carousel? You know, stuff like that. I wouldn’t recommend this for anybody who’s going for the first time or taking someone for the first time…you’re going to have enough wow factor on your plate, seriously. But for somebody who’s been around the park a few times and wants to delve, this is a no-brainer. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Lost: The Complete Fifth Season DVD
Disneynature Earth Blu-Ray

Lost is one of those shows that I honestly can’t point to anybody who’s watching it religiously and not pissed off about it. But they keep watching just like I kept on buying Green Lantern comic books even though the title was crap. But regardless, they’re determined to see it through to its conclusion, and that’s the sixth season. This DVD is good for reviewing the mysterious stuff and getting ready for the end. There’s five discs in the set with all sixteen episodes. You’ve also got featurettes, bloopers, deleted scenes and two audio commentaries, providing a little information about Just What The Hell Is Going On With The Show, but very little information. The DVD does not come with the entire interactive “Lost University” feature plus others that are exclusive to the Blu-Ray, so I figure if you’re snagging this either for or as a fan for posterity’s sake, you’d be better off either grabbing the Blu-Ray or waiting until you have the capacity. Because as you know, we’re all about the features. Click here to buy it from Amazon.

The Blu-Ray of Disneynature Earth is a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack that contains the American version of the British film that was actually a re-edited small feature length version of Planet Earth, the kickass mega nature-docu that if large electronics stores had the sense to have playing on Blu-Ray on their hi-def sets they would sell metric tons of the stuff. This is a nice primer or shorter version if you have kids that can’t sit through the entire Planet Earth megaseries–which makes a good gift for anybody. But this is nice in that you get pop-up factoids and a length making-of. What’s disappointing is that Patrick Stewart‘s original narration (James Earl Jones handled this version) is not available as a bonus feature. Still, if you’re going to snag this, you want it on Blu-Ray so you can take advantage of the souped up video and audio. Click here to buy it from Amazon.

Snow White Diamond Edition
Monsters, Inc. Blu-Ray

Snow White was the first of Disney’s stuff to get the Platinum DVD treatment back in 2001…and it was amazing. Sadly, as time has gone on the “Platinum” label has meant less and less, but with this new “Diamond” edition you get a lot of the good stuff that was on the DVD and then some. There’s a ridiculous amount here, like if you click through to my DVD review of the previous version you’ll see–so we’ll hit the high points. In addition to the two deleted sequences that we were introduced to previously, you get a featurette about the shelved sequel that would have used bits of them. The audio commentary hosted by John Canemaker with bits cobbled from archives to give you a Walt Disney commentary track is still here and still awesome. There’s a “DisneyView” feature which fills in the full-frame gaps with art, which is…odd, but okay. There’s an entire section called “Hyperion Studios” which takes you through the old studio, how it used to work, behind the scenes info, galleries, featurettes…it’s a lot of little bits but they add up to a huge meta-bonus. There’s a history of the company (slightly updated since its original 2001 inclusion) as well. Not everything that was on the Platinum DVD made it to this release, however, so if you own it, plan to hang onto it. If you don’t own it, you can still get it used from Amazon for a decent price. However, between the Hyperion features and the Blu-Ray treatment, this is worth it. Especially considering as I write this, it’s $19.99 on Amazon. Not too shabby.

Monsters, Inc. comes to Blu-Ray in a four-disc set that’s two Blu-Ray discs, one DVD and one holding the digital copy. And you get a lot of the good stuff from the original DVD release, starting off with the excellent audio commentary. There’s the original short “For the Birds,” the short that came on the DVD, “Mike’s New Car,” a new roundtable discussion, discarded ideas for the film, storyboards, design info, art galleries and more. There’s also a look at the upcoming Tokyo Disneyland ride based on the film. And as a quick aside, can I say that Disney is really pushing world travel, because between this and the new Haunted Mansion version that they’re planning for Hong Kong (Mystical Manor), I really, really want to go to these places? For a theme park, I know, it’s sad. Anyway. Also, one of my favorite bits is still here: “Put That Thing Back Where It Came From or So Help Me!” the musical. If you recall the film, then you know what that’s about. This is a nice set and again, the price is fantastic: $20.49 as I type this. So there’s really no reason not to snag it.

And as mentioned earlier in this parade of stuff: if you don’t own a Blu-Ray player now, Disney is one of those companies where you want to go ahead and snag these. They’ll disappear eventually and you’ll regret it if you don’t taken advantage. The only title we’ve talked about that you’re in danger of getting a better version anytime soon is Cars and that’s because the sequel is so close.

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