Just a quick update this morning, but some interesting news nonetheless!

It seems that Pixar’s John Lasseter is using the clout of The Lamp to pick the current crop of Disney’s theme-park rides for the upcoming season. Disney yesterday announced the new line-up of attractions that are set to open this year, and most of them are Pixar-themed. Of course, could this have anything to do with Lasseter’s position of being both head of the company’s animation and Imagineering arms? In fairness, it seems there’s a fine line to walk between the two: he’ll be wanting to base rides on the Studio’s biggest hits, of course, but those just happen to be Pixar productions! Even so, I remember his arrival at the Imagineering unit when he commented, “I never understood why you wouldn’t start designing a ride when you start making a film, so two months after a film comes out you have a ride”. So why are this year’s crop based on movies from two/three years ago?

Do part visitors really need Finding Nemo – the Musical? The popular clown fish pops up again in The Seas With Nemo & Friends, both headed for Walt Disney World, while over in Anaheim, the original Submarine Voyage is finally getting the long-rumored Nemo overhaul. At Disneyland Paris, Crush’s Coaster has guests surfing the Australian Current atop a spinning turtle shell.

Pixar also features in Walt Disney World’s Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor Comedy Club, while Cars is the most recent of the bunch, getting a ride-based attraction set to open at Disneyland Paris. Which leaves the classic stable of Walt’s original characters relegated to hotel room accessory status: the Cinderella Castle Suite at Disney World and Disneyland’s Mickey Mouse Penthouse being themed rooms randomly chosen to accommodate guests.

All fine and good, but where’s the variety?

In home entertainment news, Warner Brothers are set to stun everyone next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with the introduction of Total HD, a new type of disc out to help settle the high-definition format war that will contain an HD-DVD layer on one side, and Sony’s Blu-Ray format on the other. The move apparently comes after retailers complained about having to stock the two competing formats, forgetting of course, that at the moment it’s us consumers who are stuck having to choose between which one to jump for ourselves!

Perhaps a better solution – and the one I’ve been waiting for personally – is what LG Electronics will be announcing: the first commercial dual-format player that will play both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs, set to debut in stores “early 2007”. Apart from the usual early adopters, of which I am usually one, the introduction of the new formats has been met with a collective shrug from many general DVD users, who see nothing wrong with the format they have already been collecting for almost ten years now. The continued “double-dipping” of popular titles in special, collectors and ultimate hasn’t helped the feeling that we’re being taken for a ride when asked to start collecting our favorites all over again. LG’s inevitable conclusion of its combi-player initiative will at least mean us consumers can buy one machine for the home and be able to enjoy the content we want – the Looney Tunes from HD-DVD’s Warners, the eventual Disney movie releases on Blu-Ray – without the confusion and inconvenience of two players.

Finally today, we have a great little review of a fun little title: BCI’s Dungeons & Dragons: The Complete Animated Series, a lavish five-disc set that packs in all 27 episodes, including a unique version of the final, unaired show. Rodney’s review took me right back to enjoying this show when it was on during the 1980s, and BCI have yet again shown that it is willing and able to reward fans with a decent set of extras over the vanilla bare-bones boxes we get from Disney for their bigger television properties.

Have a great weekend! – Ben.