Star Wars: The Bad Batch Coming to Disney+ in 2021

By Zach Johnson

We’ve got a good feeling about this! Today Disney+ ordered its next animated series from Lucasfilm, Star Wars: The Bad Batch. Fresh off of the critically acclaimed series finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the original series will debut on the streaming service in 2021.

The series follows the elite and experimental clones of the Bad Batch (first introduced in The Clone Wars) as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War. Members of Bad Batch—a unique squad of clones who vary genetically from their brothers in the Clone Army—each possess a singular exceptional skill that makes them extraordinarily effective soldiers and a formidable crew. In the post-Clone War era, they will take on daring mercenary missions as they struggle to stay afloat and find new purpose.

“Giving new and existing fans the final chapter of Star Wars: The Clone Wars has been our honor at Disney+, and we are overjoyed by the global response to this landmark series,” said Agnes Chu, senior vice president, Content, Disney+.  “While The Clone Wars may have come to its conclusion, our partnership with the groundbreaking storytellers and artists at Lucasfilm Animation is only beginning. We are thrilled to bring Dave Filoni’s vision to life through the next adventures of the Bad Batch.”

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is executive produced by Dave Filoni, Athena Portillo, Brad Rau, and Jennifer Corbett; co-produced by Carrie Beck; and co-executive produced by Josh Rimes as producer. Rau is also serving as supervising director with Corbett as head writer.

EXCLUSIVE: First Look at the Adorable Art from the New Book, Bruni’s Big Adventure

By the D23 Team

Bruni, the adorable salamander who melted our hearts (literally—he does have fire powers, after all!) in Frozen 2 has returned in an adorable new book written by Suzanne Francis & Griselda Sastrawinata-Lemay and illustrated by Griselda Sastrawinata-Lemay.
bruni's big adventure
Set after the events of Frozen 2, the book follows Bruni and Olaf as they explore their home in the Enchanted Forest. Sometimes, they have Queen Elsa around to keep them out of trouble— but left to their own devices, who knows what kind of mischief they can get into?
bruni's big adventure
If that sounds adorable, wait until you see the illustrations! Check out an exclusive first look at some of the super-cute art from Bruni’s Big Adventure, available for preorder now and coming to shelves on July 28.

5 Fantastic Things to Watch This Week

By Zach Johnson

Whether you’re a country music fan or a comic book lover, this is your week! ABC is bringing us a can’t-miss concert special, CMA Best of Fest, as well as the series premiere of the family sitcom United We Fall. Later in the week, Freeform will say farewell to yet another gripping season of The Bold Type. To cap things off, Disney+ will release the season finale of It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer and add X-Men: Apocalypse to its library.

CMAs

CMA Best of Fest—Monday, July 13, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC
This three-hour concert experience features a retrospective of more than 25 unforgettable performances from the past 16 years of CMA Fest in Nashville. Hosted by American Idol judge and superstar Luke Bryan—and featuring a brand-new performance from Bryan and Darius Rucker—the special will feature performances by Trace Adkins, Lauren Alaina, Jason Aldean, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, Brothers Osborne, Kane Brown, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Billy Ray Cyrus, Dan+Shay, Lzzy Hale, Sam Hunt, Joan Jett, Lady A, Miranda Lambert, Lil Nas X, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Maren Morris, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Thomas Rhett, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Dwight Yoakam and Zac Brown Band, with special appearances by Bobby Bones, Jim Gaffigan, Kirk Herbstreit, Peyton Manning, Lionel Richie, Rob Riggle, Gwen Stefani, Michael Strahan, and Rita Wilson.

united we fall

United We Fall—Wednesday, July 15, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC
The back-to-back series premiere will show parents Bill Ryan (Will Sasso) and Jo Rodriguez (Christina Vidal Mitchell) trying to make it day to day as a functioning family of four. The pilot will begin with a parent-teacher conference and end with a trip to the ER. After defending their parenting style—or lack thereof—they will find comfort in the fact that their kids are healthy and happy. In the second episode, Jo’s brother, Chuy (Guillermo Diaz), convinces Bill and Jo finally to enroll their younger daughter in preschool… only to discover she is a biter! While they navigate incident reports and overprotective parents, Bill’s mom, Sandy (Jane Curtin), will explore their family history with an ancestry DNA kit.

the bold type

The Bold Type—Thursday, July 16, at 10 p.m. ET on Freeform
In the season finale, “Not Far from the Tree,” Sutton (Meghann Fahy) will visit her hometown, where she’ll fall into a familiar pattern. Meanwhile, Jane (Katie Stevens) will discover a big story… but it could have serious consequences for Jacqueline (Melora Hardin). All the while, Kat (Aisha Dee) will be afraid to share a new romance with her BFFs.

it's a dogs life

It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer—Friday, July 17, on Disney+
It’s time for the season finale: “Snake Search Dogs & Hawaiian Conservation Dogs.” While visiting the Aloha State, Disney Legend Bill Farmer will meet two dogs protecting birds. Then, he’ll visit three snake-sniffing dogs… but, thankfully, the experience won’t rattle him!

x-men

X-Men: Apocalypse—Friday, July 17, on Disney+
The 2016 film is making its streaming debut on Disney+! Worshiped as a god since the dawn of civilization, the immortal Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) becomes the first and most powerful mutant. Awakening after thousands of years, he recruits Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), and other mutants to create a new world order. With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Professor X (James McAvoy) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) lead a team of young X-Men—including Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Havok (Lucas Till), and Jubilee (Lana Candor)— in an epic showdown that will determine the fate of humanity.

First Look at Disney+’s The One and Only Ivan—Plus More in News Briefs

By Courtney Potter

The One and Only Ivan: Coming to Disney+ Next Month

Mark those calendars—there’s another sure-to-be-delightful, brand-new film coming to Disney+ in just a few weeks’ time! Based on the award-winning book by Katherine Applegate, The One and Only Ivan is an unforgettable tale about the beauty of friendship, the power of visualization, and the importance of the place one calls home. Check out the film’s trailer, above!

Told through an incredible hybrid of live-action and CGI, the film follows Ivan (voice of Sam Rockwell)—a 400-pound silverback gorilla who shares a habitat in a suburban shopping mall with Stella the elephant (voice of Angelina Jolie), Bob the dog (voice of Danny DeVito), and several other animals. He has few memories of the jungle where he was captured, but when a baby elephant named Ruby (voice of Brooklynn Prince) arrives, it touches something deep within him. Ruby is recently separated from her family in the wild, which causes Ivan to question his life, where he comes from and where he ultimately wants to be.

Also starring Helen Mirren as the voice of Snickers the poodle; Chaka Khan as the voice of Henrietta the chicken; and Bryan Cranston as Mack, the mall’s owner, The One and Only Ivan begins streaming on Disney+ this August 14.

5 Fantastic Things to Watch This Weekend

Well, we’re now firmly ensconced in the month of July—and this weekend, there’s a lot of great TV/streaming-device viewing to look forward to. Two such examples: Season two of Amphibia kicks off on Saturday, July 11, on Disney Channel, and a brand-new episode of the hi-larious, Alec Baldwin-hosted Match Game comes to ABC on Sunday, July 12. Read up on what else you can expect by clicking here.

marvel

Marvel Announces Comic-Con@Home Panel Schedule

The first-ever Comic-Con@Home is almost here! Beginning Wednesday, July 22, and running through Sunday, July 26, Comic-Con will be livestreamed to fans all around the globe via the official Comic-Con YouTube page… and Marvel just this week announced its über-cool panels, which join previously announced fun from Disney+, Hulu, and Walt Disney Television.

Marvel fans (hey, that’s us) can expect a look into Marvel’s 616, the new documentary series that explores how Marvel’s rich legacy of stories, characters, and creators exist within the “world outside your window” on Thursday, July 23, at 1 p.m. PT; a peak into MARVEL HQ, the destination for all young Marvel fans (and their families), on Thursday, July 23, at 4 p.m. PT (make sure to have some paper and crayons at the ready, because this panel includes activities!); and Marvel Comics: Next Big Thing, where Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski will break down all the latest and greatest coming from the House of Ideas with a slew of Marvel’s most epic creators, on Friday, July 24, at 11 a.m. PT. Don’t miss out!

hamilton

Hamilton: History Has Its Eyes on You—Exclusively on Disney+

Well, the world certainly knows his name… after the huge debut of Hamilton on Disney+ this past July 3, the streaming service has just this week premiered a brand-new special about the Broadway mega-hit.

Hosted and executive produced by ABC News’ Good Morning America co-anchor and Disney Legend Robin Roberts, the special is an intimate, thought-provoking discussion about the groundbreaking film that has become a global phenomenon—and features Hamilton’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda; its director, Thomas Kail; and several cast members of the original Broadway production, including Leslie Odom Jr., Daveed Diggs, and Phillipa Soo. Additionally, Harvard historian and Professor Annette Gordon-Reed shares insight on the historical relevance and accuracy of the production.

Look for Hamilton: History Has Its Eyes on You, now streaming on Disney+.

Disney+ Debuts Sneak Peek at National Geographic’s Rogue Trip

More Disney+ news, and another cool series to add to your queue: The streaming service just this week debuted the first-look trailer for the upcoming original series Rogue Trip. Take a gander at some of the adventures you can expect in the clip, above.

Led by ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff and his 28-year-old son, Mack Woodruff, Rogue Trip will take viewers along on their father-son journey to some of the world’s most unexpected places: roguish nations and territories mostly known for conflict, but each with their own power to surprise, amaze, and inspire.

Exposing all the grit and glamour of travel—with inside jokes, dirty laundry, and a ton of cramped hotel rooms to boot—the six-episode series finds Bob teaching his son about the hidden places he loves most. Along the way, they’ll visit Colombia, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Lebanon, and Ukraine; expect the unexpected in this guide to the breathtaking and often hopeful experiences found on the edge of chaos. “Going rogue” together will change their perspectives… not just on their own relationship, but on other people and places, too.

All six episodes of Rogue Trip will premiere exclusively on Disney+ on Friday, July 24. Check ‘em out!

Incredible Footwork Behind the Scenes Made The Last Dance an Unqualified Success

By Beth Deitchman

There are so many key moments chronicled in ESPN’s acclaimed documentary The Last Dance: The time when 6-year-old Michael Jordan lost a backyard basketball game to his brother Larry and became determined to excel at the game… The game-winning shot Jordan scored for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels—as a freshman—a play that only hinted at the legendary professional career that was to come… The indignation felt by Jordan upon realizing the Chicago Bulls’ plan to break up the champion team, making the 1997–98 season the end of an era and the “last dance” of the series’ title. But for the documentary itself, there may be no more important date than June 26, 2018. That marked the first time Jordan sat down for an on-camera interview with The Last Dance’s director, Jason Hehir, who knew that if the encounter didn’t go well, the documentary would have ended then and there.

The Last Dance
(photo by Jon Roche)

“I’ll be honest—that’s the most nervous I’ve ever been, certainly in this business and maybe ever,” Hehir said during a recent digital conversation presented by the International Documentary Association. And Hehir stressed that his apprehension had nothing to do with being star-struck. “It was so crucial that that first interview go really, really well,” he noted. “It wasn’t enough to have [the interview] be a B+. It has to go really, really well because we desperately need that content from him for our editors to work and to do what they need to do.”

Of course, the interview was overwhelmingly successful and would be the first of three Hehir would have with Jordan. These candid discussions are but one of the reasons why The Last Dance resonated so intensely with viewers—both basketball fans and non-fans alike—upon its April 19 premiere on ESPN. In addition to speaking with 106 different subjects over the course of creating the 10-part documentary series, Hehir and his team also had at their disposal a wealth of footage shot during the 1997–98 season. Knowing it would be the dynasty’s last season together, Jordan and the Bulls agreed to let a film crew follow them throughout the season to document their quest for one more title. There was just one catch: No one would be able to use that footage unless and until gaining permission from Jordan himself.

The Last Dance
NBA Commissioner David Stern presents Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls the championship trophy after the Bulls defeated the Phoenix Suns in Game Six of the 1993 NBA Finals (photo by Andrew D. Bernstein)

Over the years, many had explored the possibility of doing something with the approximately 10,000 hours of footage that was captured over the 1997–98 season, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the stars aligned. Executive producer Mike Tollin explained that the documentary landscape had changed at that point and there was an increased appetite for long-form documentary content. He also had a compelling case for telling Jordan’s story nearly 20 years after this memorable season, and he shared his passion for the project with the basketball legend himself. “My pitch was basically there are all these people who come into my office every day and have never seen you play—and it’s time,” Tollin said, and Jordan was intrigued. “I think he saw that this would be a multipart documentary event—that we would have a chance to really understand his motivation.” The documentary would take a deep dive into the way Jordan treated his fellow players, which Tollin believes the athlete may have previously been somewhat reluctant to reveal, but that could now demonstrate his unwavering commitment to elevating their play, increasing their intensity and getting them up to the same level of play that he reached for every day.

The Last Dance
Charles Oakley (#34), Michael Jordan (#23) and Rory Sparrow (#2) of the Chicago Bulls pose for a photo after winning an award, circa 1987 (photo by Andrew D. Bernstein)

Before a single interview was filmed, producer Nina Krstic had to tackle the challenge that came with having so much material to work with. She noted, “It’s not my job to get everything possible out there. It’s my job to curate enough so that the editors are not overwhelmed with footage.” Krstic and her associate producers created a huge database in which they logged everything, every important soundbite or play, and spent the first nine months of their time with The Last Dance making sure that everything they already had was searchable. “Obviously, once the edit starts it becomes its own beast and you need to start pulling new things in as stories develop; but being able to take that time up front and make sure that things are searchable was invaluable,” she said.

The Last Dance
(photo by Jon Roche)

As he posed questions to Jordan, Hehir looked for new ways to engage the athlete, who remains among the most interviewed people on the planet. He would frequently hand Jordan an iPad on which Hehir would call up classic games, classic confrontations and accounts from Jordan’s relatives and former teammates. Krstic believes this tactic drew responses from Jordan that felt both honest and fresh: “You can’t control your reactions, and when memories come flooding back it’s very natural and very real.”

Over the course of its primetime run, The Last Dance transcended the genre of sports documentaries to deliver a cultural impact. Krstic noted that the producers worked very hard to engage diehard basketball fans who believed they knew the events of the 1997–98 season, as well as viewers with little knowledge of Michael Jordan beyond his iconic shoes. “Part of it came through a lot of team discussions and part of it came through who we decided to hire,” she said.

The Last Dance
Scottie Pippen (#33) and Michael Jordan (#23) of the Chicago Bulls sit on the bench during the game against the Vancouver Grizzlies at General Motors Place on January 27, 1998 (photo by Andy Hayt)

Hehir concurred. “We wanted to hire people who had fresh takes and fresh ideas and may know who Scottie Pippen is, but they don’t know what the triangle offense is,” he said. “They couldn’t tell you a zone from a man-to-man, but they know who Michael Jordan is, how famous he is and why they may be interested in certain aspects in his life and of this story.”

The Last Dance
(photo by Jason Hehir)

The Last Dance follows Jordan and the Bulls over a seminal season, but its themes are relatable to anyone, whether or not they have ever picked up a basketball—and that may be the secret to the documentary’s success. “The common denominator with all of these guys is that at one point or another they were underdogs,” Hehir shared. “What came across to me is that it’s difficult for anyone—and that goes for LeBron [James], that goes for Bill Russell, that goes for Jerry West, that goes for Michael—that this is not just handed to you, that you’re the best basketball player on the planet at the time and you just happen to win titles. [Jordan] was struggling to be the best from the time that he was not 21 years old, not 15 years old, but from the time that he wanted to beat his brother Larry in the backyard so bad that he was crying when he went inside when he was 6 years old. That, to me, is what I learned about [Jordan], that he is human just like the rest of us, but he had the perseverance to make himself as great as he is.”

In case you missed The Last Dance in its premiere broadcast on ESPN—or to watch it again—visit ESPN.com now.

How ESPN’s LANCE Invites Viewers to Draw Their Own Conclusions About its Polarizing Subject

By Beth Deitchman

LANCE, ESPN Films’ incredibly compelling look at Lance Armstrong, opens with a first-person story from the cyclist, who—using frank, no-holds-barred language—describes the public derision he’s encountered since being exposed in one of history’s largest doping scandals. Despite his massive fall, Armstrong is surprisingly honest and even more surprisingly unapologetic. LANCE director Marina Zenovich recalls first hearing the story from Armstrong on a podcast, and remembered thinking, “That story is amazing and I need him to tell me that story on camera.” During a recent digital conversation presented by the International Documentary Association, Zenovich discussed why the anecdote was so well-suited to begin the documentary: “The story is, in essence, just him. It is in your face. ‘This is me.’”

Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich riding up mountain (photo by Elizabeth Kreutz)

The two-part documentary LANCE, which premiered on ESPN on May 24, can now be viewed on ESPN+ as part of the streaming service’s amazing 30 for 30 library. LANCE tells the story of Armstrong’s early days as a young superstar cyclist in Texas; looks at his battle with cancer and subsequent activism to help others; and follows his rise to glory, with seven consecutive Tour de France titles, and his equally dramatic fall from grace. Zenovich spoke with Armstrong’s former teammates, friends and family members, as well as sports journalists, but it is Armstrong’s own voice that rings out the loudest.

In an interview from LANCE, ESPN senior writer Bonnie Ford shares her belief that Armstrong evokes a strong response—both positive and negative—and is a person who “gets into people’s heads.” Zenovich, however, was never concerned that he would try to corral the documentary for his own agenda. “It’s a dance,” she acknowledged. “It’s a subtle kind of fencing match between him and me, and we had fun doing it. I always knew he was always trying to maneuver, but so was I. That’s what’s intriguing about the film, I think.”

Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong talking to media (photo by Elizabeth Kreutz)

Armstrong’s story has been told before, but never quite like this, said Libby Geist, vice president and executive producer, ESPN Films and Original Content, and that’s in keeping with the philosophy behind the 30 for 30 series, which often looks at topics that have been covered in past, but always with a new spin. “You think you know the story, but we’re going to sort of throw you for a loop a little bit,” Geist described, stressing the element of timing that comes into play with every documentary. “It’s critical for us to catch athletes in a period of their life where they’re willing to be introspective, where they’re sort of looking back,” she shared. “They’re going to be open and honest. There’s not a lot of strings attached. They’re ready to kind of tell all.”

Lance Armstrong

Geist credited Zenovich for building a relationship with Armstrong that had enough trust at its foundation that the cyclist would let down his guard. “Whether she’s in the film or you can just hear her question, you can see the way that he’s talking to her and know they have a dynamic and that she’s really pushing him. I love that,” Geist said. “I think from a filmmaking standpoint, I’m not sure I’d seen anything that well done and that tricky. There was sort of a wink and a nod throughout the whole film that I couldn’t take my eyes off of.”

“I think he was intrigued by the opportunity to tell the fullness of the story and to really tell the entire scope of it—and that was what we pitched [him],” executive producer Mike Hughes noted. ESPN Films made no promises of a sympathetic point of view, and acknowledged that the final product could potentially include revelations that would portray Armstrong in a negative light. “We can’t necessarily control that,” Hughes told Armstrong, but he assured that the documentary would tell “the whole story.” That’s what Hughes came to believe ultimately interested Armstrong and inspired him to be so accessible to the filmmakers.

Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong riding past Livestrong van (photo by Elizabeth Kreutz)

Zenovich thinks there’s a very simple reason why she was able to draw so much out of Armstrong. “I always tell up-and-coming documentary filmmakers the best thing you can do is listen. A lot of people don’t listen, so when people feel like you are actually, literally, in the active sense of listening, they open up,” she shared.

Throughout the production, the team made it a priority to allow the audience to reach their own conclusions about LANCE’s polarizing subject. “At the end of the day, whether you hated [Armstrong] back in the day or liked him back in the day, you were going to get all the information. You were going to see him take you through it, and then ultimately you get to decide,” Hughes said. “Any of the complex issues that are at the heart of his story, we wanted to give everybody the opportunity to ultimately make up their own mind.” Hughes believes that viewers have responded to LANCE because the documentary offers no clear-cut answer as to how they should feel about Armstrong, and the conversation is a provocative one.

Lance Armstrong
(photo by Elizabeth Kreutz)

“To me, [LANCE] was really an exploration of a man, a very complicated man, and really trying to understand how he became so hated, so loved, so inspiring to people,” Zenovich shared. The director emphasized that she always sets out to go “super, super deep” with the stories that she tells, and she appreciated that Armstrong was willing to do so, as well. Whether she personally likes Armstrong, or not… whether he’s a great athlete, or a great villain, Zenovich emphasized, “I love exploring all of that, and I’m thrilled that I was the lucky one who was able to do it.”

Descendants’ Sarah Jeffery Previews Disney Channel’s Incredible Night of Music

By Beth Deitchman

Disney fans are strongly encouraged to tune their TVs to Disney Channel on Friday, July 10, beginning at 8 p.m. ET/PT… but forget about sitting down on the couch, because an unbelievable night of music awaits that’s guaranteed to have everyone singing and dancing along. Two specials, Disney Channel Summer Sing-Along and Radio Disney Presents ARDYs Summer Playlist, will bring a stellar lineup of favorite stars, classic songs, and unforgettable musical memories right to your living room. The music continues to play after the two specials, however, as Descendants star Sarah Jeffery’s new music video, “Even the Stars,” makes its Disney Channel debut.

Jeffery is as much of a Disney Channel fan as we are—and she’s thrilled to be joining host Laura Marano (of Austin & Ally) and many of today’s brightest stars in music for Radio Disney Presents ARDYs Summer Playlist. The special celebrates the Radio Disney Music Awards and looks back at seven incredible years of the “ARDYs,” with scheduled appearances from Sia; R&B group Thriii, comprised of Jeffery’s fellow Descendants star China Anne McClain and her sisters, Sierra and Lauryn McClain; Sabrina Carpenter; and Echosmith, among others.

“I think the ARDYs are special because people of all ages can see their favorite musicians in one place on one night,” Jeffery says. “I remember watching them [while I was] growing up when they were still the RDMAs, and its surreal to be a part of it now. I’m so excited to be a part of this unique version of the ARDYs.”

Radio Disney Presents ARDYs Summer Playlist will allow fans to relive favorite performances from the likes of Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, Selena Gomez, Shawn Mendes, and more. Does Jeffery have a favorite ARDY memory? “I remember Nick Jonas performing and being stoked about that,” she shares. “I was a big Jonas Brothers fan in the day. I went two nights in a row to one of their tours in Vancouver!”

Of course, the night begins with the Disney Channel Summer Sing-Along. Simply follow the bouncing beach ball and prepare to belt out favorite songs from iconic Disney Channel Original Movies, such as High School Musical 2, Camp Rock 2, Descendants 3, and ZOMBIES along with stars such as Demi Lovato; Olivia Rodrigo of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series; ZOMBIES 2 stars Milo Manheim, Meg Donnelly, Ariel Martin, Trevor Tordjman, Chandler Kinney, and Pearce Joza; and Issac Ryan Brown, Navia Robinson, Sky Katz, and Jason Maybaum of Raven’s Home. Jeffery says she’s partial to songs from the High School Musical films, and she gives a special shout-out to “Stick to the Status Quo” and “Bet On It.” “You cannot go wrong with a good HSM jam,” she emphasizes (and honestly, we couldn’t agree more).

And for those who want to brush up on their lyrics, here’s the lineup of songs we’ll be singing along to:

“What Time Is It?” (High School Musical 2)
“It’s On” (Camp Rock 2)
“Fired Up” (ZOMBIES)
“All I Want” (High School Musical: The Musical: The Series)
“Best Summer Ever” (Teen Beach 2)
“Guardian Angel” (Let It Shine)
“Break This Down” (Descendants 3)
“All for One” (High School Musical 2)
“We Own the Summer” (Milo Manheim and Disney Channel stars music video)

The “Even the Stars” video debuts as part of the Disney Channel Voices program, which connects fans with new music from emerging artists. Jeffery is excited to follow in the footsteps of the versatile artists she’s grown up watching on Disney Channel who have had accomplished acting careers and also found success with their music. “I think Selena Gomez’ journey has been cool to watch because she’s really developed her sound over the years and is an artist who has always remained true to herself. That’s what I really strive to do as an artist myself,” Jeffery says.

Jeffery can’t wait for fans to see the “Even the Stars” video, which she says was “such a unique and singular experience in more ways than one.” The video marks Jeffery’s first solo endeavor in the music industry, as well as the first music video in which she hasn’t played a character from a movie. Safety protocols were a priority during the shoot, and director Millicent Hailes guided Jeffery via Zoom. “What stood out the most to me was how beautiful the location was, and how exciting it was to be shooting the video in my own hometown, Vancouver B.C. That, and having to put a mask back on every time they yelled cut,” Jeffery says, emphasizing, “Safety first!”

On this week’s episode of the D23 Inside Disney podcast, Trevor Tordjman revealed how he shot his Disney Channel Summer Sing-Along video. Get the scoop here. And you’ll want to keep the hairbrush microphone close at hand throughout the evening on Friday night. It’s shaping up to be the biggest night of music, and you won’t want to miss a single beat.

Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Downtown Disney

By the D23 Team

The one-of-a-kind Disney experience, the Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort, has begun immersing guests in an exciting mix of family-friendly dining and shopping in a vibrant setting during the phased reopening that began July 9. If you plan on visiting this magical shopping destination, we’ve rounded up what you need to know while planning your trip:

New Guidelines

downtown disney reopen

With the health and safety of guests, operating participant employees, and Disney cast members at the forefront of planning, several operational changes have been implemented based on guidance from health authorities to promote physical distancing and enhanced cleanliness throughout the Downtown Disney District.

There are 6 key things to expect when visiting the Downtown Disney District:

  • Parking at the Simba Lot only and clearly defined entrances to the Downtown Disney District
  • Temperature screenings prior to entry
  • Face coverings are required for guests ages 2 and older
  • Physical distancing measures, including physically distanced queues and seating, and physical barriers at select locations
  • Temporary operations modifications, including reduced hours at select locations and the suspension of entertainment offerings and high-touch interactive areas
  • An increased focus on cleaning and sanitation, including the addition of hand-washing stations and hand sanitizers in key areas

downtown disney reopen

To help guide you through these new measures, cast members from Disneyland Resort’s Guest Experience Team are walking throughout the Downtown Disney District to help explain our new health and safety measures and answer any questions you may have. They, along with other Downtown Disney cast members, are on hand to encourage everyone to follow these measures for the health and safety of us all.

What’s Open at the Downtown Disney District?

downtown disney reopen

The following shopping and dining locations are open at the Downtown Disney District. Additional locations may reopen, but are not currently listed. Please contact the shop or restaurant you’d like to visit for more information—including hours of operation.

downtown disney reopen

downtown disney reopen

Downtown Disney District hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily. Individual location hours may vary.

For complete and current information on visiting the Downtown Disney District, please visit Disneyland.com/DTD.

Here’s Every Guest Star Hopping Into the Second Season of Amphibia

By Beth Deitchman

The animated series Amphibia leaps into its second season on Disney Channel this Saturday, July 11 (8:20 p.m. EDT/PDT), kicking off new adventures for its independent and fearless protagonist, Anne Boonchuy, and her found family, the Plantars—Sprig, Polly, and Hop Pop. Our heroes are hitting the road this season, bound for parts of the series’ fantastical frog world that we have not yet seen, and along the way, we’ll hear voices that we have not yet heard on Amphibia—but we’ve been fans of all of these actors for quite some time. In fact, Amphibia’s roster of guest talent for season two is packed to the gills with some of our favorite stars, who will be joining series regulars Brenda Song (Anne), Justin Felbinger (Sprig), Amanda Leighton (Polly), and Disney Legend Bill Farmer.

“I’m just globally impressed with how professional everybody is, how game to play everybody is,” creator and executive producer Matt Braly recently told D23, and he credits Amphibia voice director Eden Riegel for “leading the charge” when it comes to the record sessions. “So many voice actors, when they come in, are just excited to be in the booth and try stuff. I think there’s a lot of collaboration there that I wasn’t expecting,” Braly says.

We’re more than a tad excited to see what’s to come on Amphibia this season, as we go deeper into the mystery of how Anne came to find herself in Amphibia and how she’ll find her way home. Here are the stars we’ll be hearing, though according to Braly, exactly who they play will just have to remain part of the mystery.

kermit

Kermit the Frog
It’s a big summer for the world’s most famous frog, who will be seen in The Muppets Studio’s first unscripted series and first original series for Disney+, Muppets Now, beginning July 31. “I won’t say who Kermit is playing because it’s kind of delightful when you see it,” Braly teased.

jenifer lewis

Jenifer Lewis
Lewis is no stranger to frogs, having voiced Mama Odie in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 2009 classic The Princess and the Frog. The actress has also voiced Flo in Disney and Pixar’s Cars franchise on the big screen, and on the small screen, Lewis has voiced Professor Granville in Big Hero 6 The Series. Fans get to see Lewis in hilarious action on ABC’s Emmy®- and Golden Globe®-nominated comedy series black-ish, where she plays Ruby Johnson. On Amphibia this season, Braly teases, “Jenifer Lewis voices this kind of rough-and-tumble frog, kind of like matriarch who is a leader of bandits out in the desert.”

george takai

George Takei
Braly raved about working with Takei, who is most famous for his iconic role of Sulu on Star Trek, but whose Disney credits include roles on Elena of Avalor, Fresh Off the Boat, Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero, The 7-D, and the voice of Sensei in Kim Possible. “He’s amazing, a huge Asian-American role model,” says Braly, who draws inspiration for Amphibia from his heritage, family, and childhood trips to Bangkok, Thailand. “Recording him, I just remember he started reciting Shakespeare in the booth and was utterly charming. His takes were hilarious. I can’t say who he plays but it’s a very, very juicy role for him, and he does a great job.”

Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery
The pair of actors are leaving the aristocratic confines of Downton Abbey for the magical world of Amphibia.

Tress MacNeille
For years, we’ve known MacNeille as the voice of Daisy Duck on series such as DuckTales, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and the Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts; MacNeille’s incredible list of Disney credits also includes Star vs. The Forces of Evil, Sofia the First, and Lilo & Stitch: The Series, to name just a few.

single parents

Marlow Barkley, Mia Allan, and Ella Allan
Disney fans will recognize this trio of young performers from their unforgettable roles on ABC’s Single Parents. Barkley played Sophie Cooper, while twin sisters Mia and Ella Allan played Emma and Amy Fogerty, respectively.

Haley Tju

Haley Tju
Tju goes from San Fransokyo to Amphibia this season. The actress is best known to Disney fans for her work on Big Hero 6 The Series, where she brought to life Karmi, Hiro’s precocious classmate at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology.

Flula Borg
Think you’ve heard Borg before in a Disney title? Definitely maybe! The actor lent his voice to “Maybe,” the personal assistant to Yesss in Ralph Breaks the Internet, and he voiced Alfons in Tangled: The Series. It’s highly likely that you’ve also seen the German-born Borg in Pitch Perfect 2 as the male lead of a German a cappella group.

Susan Egan

Susan Egan
“I’m a huge fan of Meg. She’s one of my favorite Disney characters,” Braly says of Herc’s sarcastic love interest, voiced by Egan in the 1997 animated classic Hercules. Egan also originated the role of Belle in the Broadway adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. “And [in Amphibia] Susan Egan will be playing a theater director,” Braly reveals. “I know she’s an amazing Broadway actress herself so the role is kind of perfect for her.”

Keith David
David also knows a thing or two about frogs, having voiced the wonderfully wicked Dr. Facilier in The Princess and the Frog. Braly described it as “an honor” to work with the actor who also played Goliath, leader of the Manhattan Clan in the popular 1990s Disney animated series Gargoyles. “He actually voices the king of Amphibia, the monarch, and we meet him kind of in the first third of the season,” Braly shares. “He’s a real standout character. I love the guy and he does an amazing job.”

alex hirsch

Alex Hirsch
Gravity Falls is close to Braly’s heart; he worked as a storyboard artist on the popular animated series. This season, Amphibia will pay homage to Gravity Falls in a special episode that will feature its creator/executive producer, Alex Hirsch. Hirsch will voice not one, but two characters in the upcoming installment: The Curator, owner of the Oddities Museum called the “Curiosity Hut,” and Frog Soos, a frog custodian:

amphibia

To hear more about the incredible hoppenings on Amphibia this season, check out our interview with Matt Braly right here on D23.com. The season gets off to a ribbit-ing start this weekend. Catch the season premiere this Saturday, on Disney Channel (8:20 p.m. EDT/PDT) or on DisneyNOW.

Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks Prepare for Phased Reopening

By the D23 Team

Ready for some magic? Walt Disney World Resort theme parks are preparing for a phased reopening of Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom this Saturday, July 11, followed by a phased reopening of EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios next Wednesday, July 15.

After being closed for nearly four months, Walt Disney World theme parks will be reopening with a thoughtful, responsible approach drawing on experience from Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Disney Springs. New health and safety policies, following guidance from health experts and government agencies, will be integrated into the Disney theme park experience. In addition to limits on attendance and controlled guest density, procedures will be in place for park entry, attractions, dining, retail, transportation, and more, as the well-being of guests and cast members remains Disney Parks’ top priority.

“Our deliberate and phased approach at Walt Disney World Resort emphasizes multiple layers of health and safety measures,” says Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products. “We’re taking a multi-pronged approach to our reopening, after considering the guidance of various governmental authorities and health agencies, and recommendations from our team of health and safety experts. We’re also actively working with industry groups and research universities to discuss best practices.”

Cast members have gone through extensive new training to prepare for the theme parks’ reopening in this new environment. Cast members in the Incredi-Crew will wear brightly colored, easily identifiable attire and walk through the parks to explain the procedures, answer questions, and encourage everyone to follow the new health and safety measures.

Here’s everything guests need to know before they go:

Disney Park Pass Reservation System
To promote physical distancing, capacity will be limited as guests return to Walt Disney World theme parks. At reopening, guests with a ticket or Annual Pass must use the new Disney Park Pass system to make a reservation in advance for each park entry. Once guests log in to their My Disney Experience accounts on Disneyworld.com and link their tickets, they will have access to a calendar of available reservation dates for each theme park; multi-day tickets require a park reservation for each day of their tickets. Families and friends can link tickets together and look to arrange theme park entries at the same time.

wdw reopening

Health and Safety Procedures
As guests and cast members work together to promote the health and safety of everyone, the theme parks will feature new protocols during the phased reopening. They will include:

  • Appropriate Face Coverings
    • Guests ages 2 and older, along with cast members, will be required to wear an appropriate face covering in the theme parks. It must be worn over the nose and mouth at all times, except when eating and drinking while dining.
  • Transportation
    • Capacity and guest density will be limited for complimentary Walt Disney World guest transportation; guests will be required to wear appropriate face coverings at all times. Buses and Monorails will implement a combination of physical distancing and physical barriers to separate guest parties. Party groups will be required to maintain physical distancing while aboard Disney watercraft. Disney Skyliner will load one party per gondola when it resumes operation on July 15. For those arriving in their own vehicles, auto plazas will offer cashless payment; parking lot trams will not be available at this time.
  • Temperature Screenings
    • All guests will be required to undergo temperature screenings prior to entering a theme park. Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will be directed to an additional location for rescreening and assistance. Those who again measure 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will not be allowed entry, nor will those in their party.

wdw reopening

wdw reopening

  • Physical Distancing and Capacity Measures
    • To maintain appropriate physical distancing, a limited number of guests will be able to visit each theme park each day; limits will also be in place for indoor locations within the parks, such as retail shops and dining locations. Ground markings will promote proper physical distancing throughout the parks, including attraction queues. Physical barriers will be in place in select locations where maintaining a proper physical distance may be more difficult.
  • Cleanliness
    • High-traffic areas will receive increased cleaning. Guests will be encouraged to use hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer available in the theme parks.
  • Cashless Transactions
    • Guests will be encouraged to use cashless options whenever possible, including MagicBands, debit cards, credit cards, Disney gift cards, and mobile payment methods.

wdw reopening

wdw reopening

Dining Procedures
New measures will include enhanced cleaning procedures in seating, dining, and common areas, as well as changes to self-serve options. Mobile technology via the My Disney Experience app will be used in easy ways to minimize contact, such as Mobile Order at select quick-service theme park locations and Mobile Dine Check-in at select theme park table-service locations, as well as reduced-contact menus at select theme park restaurants. Additionally, a confirmed dining reservation will be required for Disney Resort day guests; reservations are highly recommended for guests staying overnight at a Disney Resort hotel.

wdw reopening

Beloved Attractions Return
Most attractions will be available when the parks reopen. On July 11, guests can visit the Valley of Mo’ara in Pandora — The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and enjoy attractions such as The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom. On July 15, guests can enter a cartoon world when they experience the new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios… the same day Soarin’ Around the World will resume flight at EPCOT.

wdw reopening

Character Experiences and Returning Entertainment
With traditional character greetings and parades on hiatus during the phased reopening, Disney characters will appear in new and different ways throughout all four theme parks.

  • In Magic Kingdom, characters will cavalcade along the traditional parade route. Others will pop up in new locations, such as Captain Jack Sparrow in Adventureland. Several times daily, favorite Disney princesses will travel through the streets of the Magic Kingdom in the Royal Princess Processional. Merida will lead the way on her steed Angus, followed by a gazebo float and crystal castle carrying Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Snow White, Rapunzel, Tiana, and more. From time to time in Fantasyland, stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella will be perched on a balcony of Cinderella Castle.
  • In Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney characters will be setting sail down Discovery River on special boats, including Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Pocahontas, and more. Throughout the day, Launchpad McQuack and more will wave to guests from their party boat as Donald’s Dino Bash! travels from DinoLand U.S.A. to Discovery River.
  • In EPCOT, Queen Anna and Elsa will venture “into the unknown” on a journey around World Showcase, while Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, and Goofy will venture out for their own world tour.
  • In Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Pixar Animation Studios characters will appear on Hollywood Boulevard, waving to their adoring fans. Throughout the day, Disney Junior characters including Fancy Nancy, Doc McStuffins, and Vampirina will cruise down Hollywood Boulevard waving to fans from custom convertibles. In Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, guests should “move along” if they meet First Order Stormtroopers! First Order Stormtroopers will also join Kylo Ren in patrolling the landing platform at Docking Bay 9. The heroes of the Resistance—including Rey, Chewbacca, and Vi Moradi—will appear periodically above the garage in Black Spire Station or surveying activity around the spaceport where the Millennium Falcon has landed.

Select atmosphere entertainment groups will return, including Main Street Philharmonic at Magic Kingdom; Discovery Island Drummers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom; and Mariachi Cobre and the JAMMitors at EPCOT. Entertainment experiences that draw large group gatherings, such as nighttime spectaculars, will be on hiatus.

wdw reopening

New Blended Festival Debuts at EPCOT
A new version of the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival will debut July 15 and continue into the fall. The Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival will be the longest festival in Walt Disney World history, blending floral fun from the annual flower and garden festival with the global goodies of the food and wine festival. It will offer more than 20 signature global marketplaces, including Hawaii, Hops & Barley, and Islands of the Caribbean. Additional tables will be in place throughout the park where guests will be able to remove their face coverings to enjoy festival dishes while observing physical distancing. Guests can take photos in front of the park’s newest Remy topiary in the France pavilion and purchase merchandise from the 2020 International EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival.

For more information on Disney Parks’ commitment to health and safety measures, please visit the Disney Parks Blog. For all updated experiences, please visit WaltDisneyWorld.com.