Saturday, April 30, 2011

This is My 99th Post!

9 is my lucky number. As of today I am 9 days away from Disney World, I was born on May 9th, and this is my 99th blog post. How cool is that? It makes me really happy to have made it this far and hopefully one day I will have written 999 blog posts. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. I also want to use this post to thank all of you. You inspire me. I know I should write for myself but it is much more fun when someone else us reading. We've had a lot of fun over the course of these 99 posts. We've had great interviews, made new friends, went on a cruise and more! I am so excited to see what the future holds!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jonathan Warner Cars 2 the Video Game Producer: An Interview


Hey Guys and Dolls! I am so excited to share one of my latest interviews with all of you! I have been keeping this a secret for weeks just in case...
April 5 2011 I had the opportunity to go to the Disney Interactive Media Press Event. (I'm a member of the press!) In any case while I was there I had the opportunity to meet Mr Jonathan Warner who is the producer of the upcoming (June, 2011) Cars 2 the Video Game. I immediately asked him for an interview and he was generous enough to say yes. 

What follows are some great insights into the high anticipated game. Thank you Jonathan Warner it was great speaking with you. 


DragynAlly: Tell me about yourself and what you do at Avalanche.  

Jonathan Warner: I’m a Senior Producer at Avalanche Software.  I’ve worked here for almost 8 years and have worked on titles like Toy Story 3: The Video Game, Meet the Robinsons and Chicken Little.

DA: Were you a Disney fan before you started working on Cars 2: The Video Game

JW: I’ve been a Disney fan ever since my parents first took me to Disneyland when I was just a kid.  So it has been a dream come true to work for Disney Interactive Studios.

DA: What does it mean to be a video game producer?  

JW: Well, besides being the best job in the world, it means I’m responsible for making sure the game is true to its’ source material (in this case the  “Cars 2” film), is of high quality and ships out to stores on time.  That’s the short answer!  To accomplish all of the above, I work with teams of programmers, animators, artists, sound designers and game play designers to develop and produce all of the pieces that make a great game.

DA: Are you a gamer yourself or is your main focus story?  

JW: Yes, I’m definitely a gamer!  It is my passion for games that helps me do my job well.  But that’s not so say that I don’t love storytelling, because I do.  I think games can be a great medium for telling a story.

DA: What was the process of creating Cars 2: The Video Game like?

JW: It was a fantastic experience.  Jay Ward, Pixar’s Cars Franchise Guardian, and the entire Pixar staff are always so gracious to work with.  They collaborated with us on all aspects of the game, helped our animators to understand the characters, reviewed our scripts and dialogue…. Basically, they supported us every step of the way.

DA: What were the challenges with creating the game? Anything you would change if you could start over? 

JW: Our biggest challenge was to pack as much content into the game as we could in the time allotted.  We actually have to be done before the movie, so we have to move fast!  As for changes, you know, I don’t think I would change anything major about the game.  I just always wish for more time to make it even more  better.

DA: Who is your favorite “Cars 2” character?  

JW: Finn McMissile!

DA: What was it like working with Pixar? 
 
JW: It was really wonderful.  They are a very creative group, and they know how to foster and grow creative ideas.  I can’t imagine having a better partner to work with on a video game.

DA: Did you get to see “Cars 2” the film? What was the best part of the film? 

JW: Yes, I’ve actually seen it several times as the movie developed.  The best part of the film? I can’t tell you!  But I will say it is a great movie and I can’t wait to see it again.

DA: “Cars 2” is a highly anticipated movie. Did that put pressure on you when creating the game?

JW:  Absolutely.  The entire “Cars” franchise is beloved by so many people that you want to make sure you get every last detail right.  Fortunately, it was a labor of love.

DA: How is the video game similar or different from “Cars 2” the film?  

JW: The game starts after the movie, so we’re using the events of the film as a springboard for the game.  So you’ll see all of your favorite characters, and settings from the film in a new adventure.

DA: Did the voices of the film appear in the game?  Yes, we got most of the film talent to do voice work for the game. 
 
JW: We’ll be announcing exactly who really soon! 
 
DA: What makes Cars 2: The Video Game similar or different from other racing games?  

JW: First and foremost, this is a “Cars” universe experience, which really gives it a flavor all its’ own.  But I think mechanically speaking, the biggest difference is our cars are characters.  They jump, they’re agile and alive, and it really makes for a great gameplay experience.  Aside from that, we wanted to take a great kart racing experience, bring it into the “Cars” universe, and then give the players a lot of different modes to play.  We have a TON of different single and multiplayer modes.

DA: What makes Cars 2: The Video Game similar or different from other spy games?  

JW: I think the Cars characters are what makes it unique… I’ve never seen another game where the Car can become a secret agent!

DA: What will the game play experience be like for the player?  

JW: The multiplayer experience really shines in Cars 2: The Video Game.  We wanted to create a game that you can sit down and play together.  Players will experience a high-octane, action-packed racing game from start to finish.

DA: What level of game player is this game for? Can a kid and an avid gamer enjoy the game?

JW: We’ve worked very hard to ensure the game is accessible to audiences of all ages and skill levels.  If this is your first racing game, you’re going to be able to have a great time.  At the same time, we’ve layered complexity into our controls and strategies so that more experienced gamers will be able to have a challenging and fulfilling experience too.

DA: Will the game play experience change depending on the experience level of the player? 

JW: A little bit.  We have a dynamic difficulty system that will help struggling players keep up with the pack and have a competitive experience.

DA: How many different Cars can a gamer play as? 

JW: 20+ cars.

DA: Does each character come with its own weapons and skill set? Will playing as Mater for example be different than playing as Lightning? 

JW: Yes, there are differences.  We classify the characters in three ways:  Heavy, Medium and Light.  Heavy cars are powerful and have a great top speed, but they don’t accelerate very fast off of the line.  Light cars are just the opposite, and Medium cars are a balance between power and speed.

DA: Will any character give a player an advantage at the game?  If so which character is the best to play?

JW: You will want to pick different cars for different missions.  For example, a small car like Guido is hard to target when you’re playing a spy mission like Disruptor, but a powerful heavy car like Mater is great when you’re playing in big, open spaces.  So you’ll have to figure out who is best to use with your playstyle and which mission you’re trying.

DA: Will there be online game play with Cars 2: The Video Game?

JW: No.  All of our multiplayer is split screen, up to 4 players.

DA: Cars 2 will be available in 3D for the Playstation gaming platform. How did you create a 3D game?

JW: We actually developed some new technology and methods so we could display a 4-player split-screen game in full 3D.  It’s really work-intensive for our 3D renderer, but otherwise, the game development was very similar to our non-3D versions.

DA: How will the 3D affect the game play?  

JW: 3D gaming really immerses you in the experience.  You’ll get a much more intense feeling from jumps and crashing through barriers.

DA: Are there any hidden surprises in the game? Can you share them?

 JW: I think the “hidden” surprises are all in the game play and a matter of discovery!  There are no “easter egg” style surprises, but plenty to discover in the main line of play.

DA: What are you most excited about when it comes to the release of Cars 2: The Video Game to the public? 

JW: I’m very excited for people to play the game and enjoy it together.  I think the multiplayer aspect of the game is going to surprise a lot of people and they’re hopefully going to love it like we do here at Avalanche.

video


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wedding Wednesday- Bring on the Sparkle!

So you're going to a big Royal Wedding viewing party this Friday? What do you wear? Fear not! This Dragyn has some cool accessory ideas that you can use to feel like royalty. Not just for a party but in your everyday life.

I believe in sparkle. And I do not believe being sparkly should be reserved for special occasions. Or more accurately I think EVERYDAY is a special occasion.  But how do you bring some sparkle in to your casual wardrobe in a subtle but really fun way? Well that's what I am here for!

So let's start with the head and work our way down... (FYI these are pieces from my own wardrobe!) What's great is that these pieces are versatile. Everything in this post can be worn with the nicest dress or just jeans and a t-shirt.

Since I consider myself a princess I have to resist the urge to break out a tiara every time I leave the house. I make up for societies tiara taboo but wearing sparkly headbands! I love headbands to begin with because they complete an outfit or hold your hair back. The two shown below are sparkly off to the side which is nice. But even a fully jewel encrusted headband still looks nice.




Me next favorite piece of everyday sparkle are bracelets. I love that even if I wear no other jewelry a nice bracelet can make an outfit feel completely pulled together. Bracelets are also the ninjas of sparkle. That means that most people don't notice them at first but when they do you always get compliments.

Below are 2 of my favorites. The first is reflective and metallic. It's simple design makes it so it goes with any outfit.

My favorite bracelet (so much so that this is the second one a bought after the first broke and I might buy more) is the sparkly cuff. I love this because it is completely jewel encrusted and shines and makes all my outfits special. But even with all the sparkles the cuff design makes it really casual and fun to wear with everything!


Last and not least is don't forget your shoes. My favorite way to get your feet to sparkle especially with summer around the corner are sparkly sandals! The look really cute and can be added to a swim set or a nice sundress to dress it up.


But just to show that you can wear sparkles all year round let me show you one of my favorite pairs of shoes.


Yes those are silver sequined sparkle Doc Martin boots... Perfect for the snowy Northeast winters and a show stopper every time I wear them. Now because they are boots they are versatile in the winter but I have yet to try them with a fancy dress.

To recap: Sparkle good. A lot of sparkle in a little accessory can make any outfit happy. And EVERYDAY is a special occasion!

Note: Go HERE for more Wedding Wednesday info and Royal Wedding Viewing Party info.




Wedding Wednesday by @jordielouwho

Hi! I’m Jordan, aka jordielouwho on Twitter.  I’m blogless at the moment, but I’m another one of those Disney freaks lovers that spends the majority of their free time plotting and planning for the next trip. In addition to my full-time job and grad school, I also moonlight as a Pixie Vacations agent – plotting and planning for other people’s trips! Shameless self-promotion…but email me at Jordan@pixievacations.com for a free, no obligation quote. 

Though I’m pretty darn lucky in my current employment, my dream job (second only to working for Disney, duh) is working as an event planner. I’ve been able to attend some swanky events for work, and I usually spend the whole time admiring the room layout and catering selections instead of imbibing and mingling.
 I won’t be throwing a viewing party in my home for the royal wedding for a couple reasons: a) I live with two boys who don’t give a hoot about the wedding. b) I have to work at 8 am. Vacation days are reserved for more important things…like Disney. However, I wanted to pull together a few ideas for d├ęcor if YOU have to be planning a viewing party. 

The Royal Wedding Tea Party (link http://family.go.com/disney/royal-wedding-tea-gallery-pg/) on Family.com was a great place to start for inspiration. From the Princess Kate paper dolls to the themed cupcakes, I was smitten with the idea of a tea party. What little (and big) girl wouldn’t love to have a tea party?

From Family.com, I ventured over to one of my favorite sites for party ideas – Hostess with the Mostess. (link http://www.hostessblog.com). For what was originally intended as a Royal Wedding themed bridal shower, she has included a color scheme, place settings, centerpieces and (free!) printables for signs, invitations, food labels and so much more. I was oohing and aahing as I scrolled down the page and looked at each picture again and again. This party is gorgeous and uber sophisticated. (Part 1 http://www.hostessblog.com/2011/04/royal-wedding-theme-printables-part-1/ and Part 2 http://www.hostessblog.com/2011/04/royal-wedding-theme-printables-part-2/)





Over at Design Editor (designeditor.typepad.com), you can find another set of printables (link http://designeditor.typepad.com/design_editor/2011/04/free-royal-wedding-party-printables.html) for the big day. With an emphasis on the crown, Union Jack and having a Jolly Good (do they really say that?) time, this party is sure to be a hit with the whole crowd. It’s a little less girly and leaves the door wide open for your own personal touch. 







Welcome to Wedding Wednesday

Hello guys and dolls! Remember last week when I said I thought it might be a good idea to host a Royal Wedding viewing party? Yeah well this crazy Dragyn is making it happen!


With the help of some great blogger friends of mine we are going to make today Wedding Wednesday and then this Friday you can join us for a Royal Wedding viewing party.

Now honestly I don't completely get all the hype surrounding the Royal wedding but I would never miss an opportunity to get together with friends and discuss it!

Each blogger has written about weddings, party ideas, and more! Use Wedding Wednesday as a way to get ideas and get hyped for the Royal Wedding viewing party this Friday.

To join in on the fun RSVP here. Or Friday around 4am join us here. We will be there all night/day chatting about the Royal Wedding.

What's really cool is my friends and I will be hosting a HUGE giveaway during the viewing party. Right now the prizes that I am aware of include: 2 Kate Middleton paper doll sets, a $5 Starbucks gift card, a reusable Disney earth day bag, a Disney autograph book provided by pixievacations.com, 2 Cars 2 window clings, 2 Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides t-shirts, 3 copies of the Tron soundtrack, a blu-ray/DVD of Tangled.

And winning is super simple. Read the blog posts, be the first to correctly answer trivia, and win a prize!

To enjoy Wedding Wednesday start here and make you way to everyone's blog. Some bloggers didn't do a Wedding Wednesday post but all were involved and helped in some way. They are all amazing!

My Disney Dreams: http://saundradisneydream.blogspot.com/2011/04/wedding-wednesday.html
@jordilouwho on Twitter: http://www.dragynally.com/2011/04/wedding-wednesday-by-jordielouwho.html
Destination Vinylmation: http://destinationvinylmation.com/2011/04/wedding-wednesday/
Disney on Wheels: http://www.disneyonwheelsblog.com/2011/04/wedding-wednesday-once-upon-dream.html
Manda's Disney Blog: http://mandasdisneyblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/royal-wedding-party-food-princess.html
Making My Fairytale: http://makingmyfairytale.blogspot.com/2011/04/wedding-wednesday.html
In Disney Style: http://indisneystyle.blogspot.com/2011/04/royal-wedding-disney-channel-style.html
T-Town Tiffany: http://ttowntiffany.blogspot.com 

The Many Adventures of a Disney-Lovin' Spectrum Mom: http://wdwadventuresinautism.blogspot.com
The Attic Mouse: http://www.theatticmouseblog.blogspot.com/
The Dragyn's Lair: http://www.dragynally.com/2011/04/wedding-wednesday-bring-on-sparkle.html

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The "Hollywood" Brown Derby



Hey guys and dolls! Let's talk about what is now my favorite lunch spot in all of WDW!


The Hollywood Brown Derby is located in scenic Disney's Hollywood Studios. In almost a corner of the park. In fact if my friends hadn't walked me to it I might have just walked past it.

Now thanks to Disney Food Blog I had wanted to the Brown Derby for a while but figured when would I get the time. When I go to Hollywood Studios I am there to ride!

But this trip seemed different. I was making new friends and we were just relaxing and enjoying each other's company. We stepped out of the hustle and the bustle of the park and sat down for what turned out to be a really great lunch.

When you step into the Brown Derby it's like you stepped in to a classic Hollywood movie. There are amazing caricatures on the walls of famous people. Some of them (only a few that I could tell) are originals. There are also pics of what the original Brown Derby looked like. I think Disney did a great job recreating it!

The atmosphere of the Brown Derby is dark and cool. It is also very quiet or at least it was when I went. You feel like you are in a 5 star restaurant in a big city circa the 1950's. The seating was plush and me and my friends all got settled in a lovely corner booth. On of my friends even made sure I got the best view! My favorite decorative detail about the Brown Derby are the brown derby lamps... How cool are they?!







Lunch was really simple but REALLY good! I had the Brown Derby's two signature dishes the Cobb salad and the grapefruit cake. I loved them both!

The Cobb salad is an original recipe of the Brown Derby and has a great story behind it. One of Cobb's friends was having trouble chewing so Cobb made this salad and cut up everything really small.

This salad is SO different from any salad I've had that dare call itself a Cobb. The texture is fabulous (well I loved it). Every ingredient is cut up as small as it can be while still maintaining it's integrity. Meaning even though the shreds of lettuce were ridiculously tiny you still knew you were eating lettuce and could distinguish it from the rest of the salad.

The flavors were amazing. The dressing was a bright vinaigrette, there was the salty crunch of bacon and the smoothness of avocado. I loved the turkey which was cooked to perfection. And even though I am not a blue cheese fan it fit in perfectly in this salad. Everything just tasted really good together.

And what is nice about the salad is it is an appetizer for 2 but a great filling lunch for this Dragyn! I think I ate about 3/4 of it and had to give up. My taste buds said yes but my stomach wasn't having it.


Salted Butter always good!


But even with a full tummy I had to try the infamous grapefruit cake. But this I split with my friends. This was so different. I loved how it was rich and refreshing all at the same time! The cream cheese icing is already my fave so that mixed with the moist yellow cake and the bright (I use that word a lot) flavors of grapefruit was delicious. I warn that this dessert is for the adventurous and so worth a try!


Remember me if you are ever at the Studios around lunch and save me a bite! ;-)


Enter @voyageofariel's @tiaratalkshow Contest!


A short intro: I love spreading the word about other Disney sites! Especially when it's a friend of mine. Tammy is a wonderful person with big dreams and a big contest to share with all of you! So without further ado...


Hey there Disney friends! Voyage of Ariel aka Tammy from the Tiara Talk Show Podcast here!

I am here on Dana's Blog to let you know about an awesome contest that we are holding over on our website, www.tiaratalkshowpodcast.com.

Recently, for our podcast (which is up on iTunes; Episode #3), we had the pleasure of interviewing Susan Egan, voice of Meg from Hercules and originated the role of Belle in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. She graciously donated three of her amazing CDs and a Hercules DVD, that are all signed, to our show so we could hold a Giveaway Contest for these amazing prizes and more!

The rules are VERY simple.

Step 1: Follow Susan Egan at @IAmSusanEgan on Twitter. If you don't have a Twitter account, head to www.twitter.com to sign up for a free account.

Step 2: Head to our website at www.tiaratalkshowpodcast.com and comment on the Blogposts (total of 10) that are marked as "Contest Blogpost". The last Blogpost (10th one) will get you 5 extra entries into the contest plus the regular one you would get by commenting on the post, receiving a total of 15 entries (IF you comment on ALL Contest Blog Posts). Make sure they are more than one sentence and legitimate comments. We LOVE hearing your thoughts! 


If you would like to check out photos of the prizes head to www.tiaratalkshowpodcast.com.

Good luck my Disney friends!



Sunday, April 24, 2011

ESPN The Weekend!

I went to ESPN The Weekend. I was cool listening to sport stars talk and see all the fans cheering on their favorite athletes. But my problem is even though I love the excitement of watching a good football or basketball game I don't follow sports very closely.

So I decided that instead of doing a write up I would just post pics of what I saw... So here it is! :-) 














NYC Store Pics...

Can't sleep... Have some pictures! :-)