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While at The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco (on Walt Disney’s birthday!) I was lucky enough to see an advance screening of the first two episodes of Mickey and the Roadster Racers. I knew instantly that this was a show my daughters were going to love. There was so much of the classic Mickey in it, with a great mix of newer stuff – like you get in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. This show is going to be an immediate hit – I am already eager to start collecting the toys and watching more episodes with my girls. I am super excited to be able to share it with them when it premiers on January 15th! I also got to chat with Mark Seidenberg and Rob Laduca (the executive producers) about the show after watching it. They are such great guys – and I could tell that they love the Mouse and his pals as much as I do! Our conversation with Mark and Rob was amazing. I felt like they really took us in to their world. They explained to us about how they started doing what they do, how they met, and about how much Mickey Mouse and Disney mean to them.
Talking with Mark Seidenberg & Rob Laduca
Rob Laduca opened by saying “I was just one of those kids my parents didn’t know what to do with, because I was always doodling and drawing. We owned a restaurant, so my father would bring home butcher paper, put it in on the wall, and I would just go crazy – drawing constantly – and it developed into this! So let your kids doodle, that’s all I want to say.” and that really hit home with me. My 5 year old draws constantly. In fact, she gets in trouble at school for doodling in the blank spaces on her papers. So after hearing what Rob had to say, I don’t think I will be as hard on her about that. Mark also added, “I always was drawing when I was a little kid, and, of course, Mickey was one of the first characters that I drew beause he’s all circles, and he was really easy to draw. Later on, when it was college time, I was really interested in being a cartoonist. I went to art school, and I went to film school, and I was totally bit by the animation bug. It was really great. Years later, then Rob and I are working at Disney, which was the place that I always wanted to work at. So for us, this is a real honor to be here on Walt’s birthday, to show what we’ve been working on for the past two years.”
Rob and Mark let us know that they met when working on Gummi Bears, which was one of my favorite shows when I was a little girl. Fast forward to 2005 and Rob started working on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – and Mark had just come back to Disney to do the Lilo and Stitch TV show. They joined forces on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and were excited to be able to bring back classic Disney characters. “Mickey was one of those characters I grew up loving. The company was very reticent to use Mickey because he was such a figurehead of the studio. But he was a loved character that really should’ve been used to entertain more generations of children. So it was a real opportunity to develop that show (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse).” Mark explained. “What we tried to do on that show was bringing life back to the characters – Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Minnie and Daisy – and making them lots of fun. The show dealt with curriculum – Clubhouse dealt with mathematics. We wanted to make it more than just Mickey talking to the kids like a teacher. We started creating musical numbers – and we made sure that Goofy was Goofy! So the kids were being entertained, but they were also being educated at the same time.” I must say, they did a great job with it. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is a hit in our home. My girls are 4 and 5 and they still love it. A day doesn’t go by without us watching at least one episode. I love it, and I swear my girls have learned a lot from it. I credit some of their smarts to Mickey and the gang!
When Rob and Mark were asked to develop a new show together, they asked what the most popular Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was to get some ideas. The answer? Clubhouse Road Rally. “That involved every character who had their own little car that fit their personality. So we expanded on that and we gave Mickey a classic hotrod – it’s his normal car from Clubhouse, and then it turns into this classic American Roadster. Goofy’s personality, being so goofy, if his car could transform, what would it transform into? A bathtub. And Minnie being elegant, and into fashion, we went with kind of a bow car, but basically the design comes from a French car called a Delahaye that had very smooth curves, and looked kinda like a bow. Donald is a sailor, so we created the Cabin Cruise – and his is the only roadster, at this point, that can go on land and in the water.” Mark explained.
We learned that there are a lot of celebrity voices in Mickey and the Roadster Racers, including Jay Leno! Mark told us that Rob, himself, and a lot of the artists actually went to check out Jay’s car collection to get some sketch ideas. Apparently Jay gave them the tour himself and at the end Mark asked him if he would be interested in voicing the race announcer, Billy Beagle. Jay started doing the voice right then and there! I guess he is a huge Disney fan, I mean, who isn’t, right? One little fun fact the guys let us in on is that whenever Jay comes to do a recording, he is always in a different car.
“This whole journey for this show has been an absolute thrill, and especially now on Walt’s birthday. This was a character that he held so close to his heart. This was his beginning. So it’s a real honor to expand Mickey into the future. Walt was a total innovator. Walt was always the first to experiment with sound, and color, and all kinds of things – I like to think of this as an extension. If Walt was alive today, he would have been the first one to use computer animation. There was a lot of studio people who didn’t want to experiment with computer animation way back when, but I know Walt would’ve charged right into it. He brought us animatronics, and all the parks. He was such a thinker – I love that we can expand on his vision.”
I found it really interesting when they explained how animation has changed since they started working on Gummi Bears. “We do everything on computers now – everything from color to designing the cars, to the backgrounds. That’s really broadened our opportunities. It used to take so long to do a painting [with]water colors or acrylics – and to paint the cells – you have to do each one. 24 frames per second is a lot of drawings that were involved. So it broadened our world which is so dimensional.” They explained that as a director and having the computer as a tool now, you can move the camera in that space and create a lot more fun and adventure. The world becomes more dimensional, and I find that so fascinating. I guess I never really thought of it that way. When we asked them who their favorite character was, they let us know it was like choosing a favorite child – basically impossible. they said they have a soft spot for each of them. Mickey is a favorite because he is “everybody’s best friend” and Goofy because “all of us feel a little goofy“.
Don’t worry parents, Mickey Mouse and the Roadster Racers toys are already available – and they look awesome! I know that I will be stocking up on the toys for my girls because this is sure to be a new favorite show in our home. One of the coolest things about my day and learning about this new show is that we got to see Mickey Mouse in his brand new racing outfit (and it was Mark and Rob’s first time seeing him in it too!). I absolutely love Mickey and always enjoy my encounters with him. We even got to take our photos with Mickey, Mark, and Rob. Later in the day, my friend and I ran into Mark and Rob in the gift shop. We chatted a bit and had another great conversation – this was truly a day that I will always remember.
About Mickey and the Roadster Racers
The series takes Mickey and the gang, along with their unique transforming vehicles, on humorous high-spirited races around the globe, as well as hometown capers in Hot Dog Hills. Off the racetrack, Minnie and Daisy also run their own successful business as Happy Helpers, solving problems for anyone in need of a helping hand. Geared towards kids 2-7, the stories are designed to impart social and emotional lessons about friendship, teamwork, optimism and good sportsmanship.
NASCAR stars Jimmie Johnson, Danica Patrick and Jeff Gordon recur as race car drivers Jiminy Johnson, Danni Sue and Gordon Gear, respectively. Additional guest stars include television personality Jay Leno as announcer Billy Beagle; Tim Gunn (“Project Runway”) as Robbie Roberts; Gordon Ramsay (“MasterChef”) as Chef Oxley; Hoda Kotb (“The Today Show”) as Mrs. Sweetums; Peter Serafinowicz (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) as Dr. Crutchley; Jane Leeves (“Frasier”) as the Queen of England; Fred Willard (“Best in Show”) as Mr. Doozy; Hector Elizondo (“Last Man Standing”) as Grandpa Beagle; Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”) as Luigi; Kate Micucci (“Garfunkel and Oates”) as Emmy Lou; Tia Carrere (“Wayne’s World”) as Antie Olina; and comedian Patton Oswalt as Mr. McSnorter.
Mickey and the Roadster Racers will make its television debut in a simulcast SUNDAY, JANUARY 15 (9:00 and 9:25 a.m. EST), on Disney Channel and Disney Junior. Two more episodes will premiere MONDAY, JANUARY 16 (9:00 and 9:25 a.m. EST), on Disney Channel. Episodes will also be available on the Disney Junior app and Disney Junior VOD beginning Sunday, January 15, and on iTunes beginning Monday, January 16.
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