What were you doing in 1994? I was a junior in college and Disney’s The Lion King was released for the first time. I’m a fan of Disney’s movies, Aladdin being my ultimate favorite, but they became more a part of our lives 4-5 years later when my first child was born and they began playing repeatedly on VHS! Last week, I was invited with a group of bloggers to go to L.A. and experience The Lion King Hollywood premiere all over again as the classic is being released 9/16 in the theaters in 3D!
The trip was a thrill, we started off by staying at the historic Beverly Wilhshire hotel in Beverly Hills, near Rodeo Drive. I’ve never walked the area before, although I’m a California girl, it’s gorgeous and you really keep your eyes out for celebrities, I did have David Beckham and family walk right by me!
First on our agenda was screening one of the bonus features “Memoirs of a Producer” that will be on the DVD/Blu-ray set, soon after we enjoyed lunch WITH Don Hahn the producer of the original and new Lion King with the beautiful Niketa Calame, voice of young Nala.
Our day continued to get better as Robert Newman, stereoscopic supervisor, walked us through the 3D conversion of the hand drawn animated classic. Newman spoke of mapping out the depth of the 3D effects and how they enhance the emotion of storytelling. After reviewing 1200 individual scenes, he and 60 3D artists took 4 months from start to finish to create the new Lion King movie. Later, we experienced the iPad and laptop application, Disney Second Screen: Lion King Diamond Edition. this groundbeaking app allow users to interact with their Blu-ray player by simply starting the movie and syncing Second Screen to the film. Once connected they can explore interactive galleries, play games, and lean facts about the scenes they’re watching! Note to self, must get an iPad! Second Screen will be available following the movie release to Blu-ray 3D & Blu-ray Hi-Def Combo Packs October 4th.
After an amazing African Dance class, my body is still recovering, we were introduced to Lion King animators Mark Henn and Tony Bancroft. Henn, who animated Young Simba, and Bancroft, Pumbaa’s animator, sat and talked about how inspirational their mothers were in the future of their careers. Of course all us “mommy” bloggers beamed. Encouraged to follow their dreams, their passion for animation brought them both Walt Disney Animation Studios, and their talent was demonstrated before our eyes. At the end of the short time each had drawn 18 Simbas and Pumbaas for each of us to take one as an amazing souvenir!
The press trip just kept getting more amazing as we joined Moira Kelly (voice of adult Nala in the film) for dinner at Villa Blanca Restaurant. Also staying at the Beverly Wilshire with her family we ran into Kelly again and of course saw her at the premiere.
Let me say the excitement to walk the red carpet was building and when we arrived to the El Capitan Theater the next day, we were tickled to see that the red carpet was actually green grass! (A friend went to the Justin Beiber movie premiere were the walk was purple!)
Inside the theater we began feeling the Hollywood experience as actors and actresses arrived with their families. I was starstruck seeing Julie Bowen (Claire, Modern Family) and Gilles Marini (Luc, Brothers and Sisters, Sex and the City) acting like normal parents with their kids in tow. With a variety of teen/tween stars also around, I texted my oldest daughter who filled me in on the details of who they were and what show they were on. The movie began and let me tell you I had chills from the first scene with the tribal cry. The 3D was amazing and was completely done in order to enhance the movie and it was believable rather than flashy!
To top off our amazing adventure, we attended the after party at the Hollywood and Highland Grand Ballroom! Here we could eat, play, mingle, and interact with actors, producers, fans, and overall experience a once-in-a-lifetime event. Here I met some of Disney’s great young talent, who by the way are so kind, gracious, and extremely polite and well-mannered (Nolan Gould-Luke, Modern Family and Ryan Ochoa-A Pair of Kings, iCarly)!
The experience plus the wonderful ladies I got to spend precious time with was amazing. Thank you for the great talks and loads of fun Stefani (Mommy Enterprises), Eileen (@MomCentralChat), and Lori (The Well Connected Mom) amongst many others!
My trip was all expenses paid, my opinions my own.