Woohoo! Saturday I trucked down to LA (and back the same night…) for an event on the Disney Studio Lot! With the new DuckTales series/reboot just released, the D23 team held a Disney Afternoon reunion gathering to celebrate all things, well, Disney Afternoon. As a ginormous fan of the Rescue Rangers and, to a lesser extent, Tale Spin and DuckTales, there was no way I wasn’t going to attend. One does not pass up a chance to meet the daring chipmunk duo.
The main thrust of the day was an extended stint in the Disney Lot theatre for a great series of panels, interspersed with actual episodes from the Disney Afternoon (we got to see an episode of Gummi Bears, Tale Spin, and Darkwing Duck), reminiscence of memorabilia, extra trivia and interesting tidbits (concluding with the CooCoo Cola song!), and to cap it all off, a sing along! Ahhhh, a whole day steeping in early 90’s nostalgia.
The first panels was with some of the creators for a number of the series that were at one point or another part of the Disney Afternoon: writer Tad Stones (creator of the Rescue Rangers among others), producer/creator/editor Jymn Magon, and concept artist Mike Peraza. Great to hear the behind the scenes stories including the genesis of the series (all of which, just like the feature animations, often began quiiiite differently from their final form and/or had meandering paths to production), as well as seeing early concept and pitch art, learning about the CAD drawings that made the Tale Spin aerial sequences possible, and how the afternoon itself came to be and how it fit within the Disney canon.
The second was a panel of voice actors led by none other than Bret Iwan, the current voice of Mickey (!) (Who, seriously, I would have had NO idea was him had he not been introduced that way and had he not dropped into character at the beginning for a bit — his regular voice is indeed quite regular… but once in Mickey mode it is 110% perfect Mickey). The legendary Jim Cummings was there (he’s voiced a gazillion characters for Disney) as well as equally legendary Bill Farmer and Katie Leigh. It was fun to hear about how many of the shows were done ensemble recording style (all the actors in the room at the same time) and how the scripts would often get into their hands mere moments before the shoot. Could’ve fooled me. Apparently Jim was quick enough that often the scripts for Darkwing would come with his iconic entry line listed as “I am the terror that flaps in the night! (Whatever Jim wants to say here, because it will be better than I can write…)”
Lastly we were treated with behind the scenes info on the new DuckTales (woo-ooo!)* series, including a few sneak peaks and developments that we were sworn to secrecy… sorry. Can’t share. But I can share that the new series was inspired, both in tone, story style, and even art, not only by the Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge stories, but also by Tintin (with them showing on screen the iconic cover for “Objectif Lune“)! I devoured the Tintin books in my youth, so knowing it is an influence on the current series makes me even more excited for it.
After the presentations there were character greet opportunities and a chance to meet everyone from the panels. And so… behold! Kung Fu with the Rangers:
(If you look closely, you can see two smaller Chip and Dales riding along my collar — they tagged along with me from home…) (Also, hats off to the castmember for a nice and dynamic framing job on this pic!)
Meeting the voice actors/creators/writers/animators…
Chip and Dale with Micky Mouse (‘s voice actor)!
Watching the shows on TV again, like it’s 1990…
We also got a bit of swag, including these very 90’s-style placemats featuring new artwork (and a nice A113 hidden easter egg). 90’s music was being spun by a fun DJ, there were Mickey shaped snacks (including PB&Js), photo ops, and milling about. And some bonus playful fun by the characters as they came to and fro from their dressing room.
Needless to say, I had a blast. I’m still completely giddy. Great to meet up with so many other fans and geek out over shows that we loved and were crazy about. I haven’t been surrounded by this many fans since the mailing lists I joined and discussed the heck out of on back in 93+. Still lots of excitement and support for these old shows. My fingers (and ear tufts) are crossed that the new DuckTales does well enough that Disney considers rebooting more of the old series. (If you couldn’t tell, a new Rescue Ranger series would send me over the moon…)
Throughout the presentations, panelists would say “Oh, next time I can tell this story…” or “I’ll bring this to show you next time” and other “next times…” I’m down for it. If there’s another Disney Afternoon reunion, I’m so there.
* Right at the beginning they let us in on an in-joke that’s been going through the writing team for the new DuckTales which is that every time the title DuckTales is spoken, at least one person would go “woo-oo!” as per the theme song (of which the new opening sequence is killer!)… needless to say, this happened many, many times throughout the afternoon (with a whole theatre going woo-oo!).
(Speaking of theme songs… here’s the incredibly catchy intro for the Disney Afternoon block, in full VHS glory!)
(aaand this very 90s and fun promo…)