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15 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Wreck-It Ralph

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All images (c) 2012 Disney Enterprises, Inc

As a Disney geek and former Nintendo addict, I was fired up for Wreck-It Ralph when I heard about it at the D23 Convention last year. Here are 15 facts about the movie that will get you just as pumped as I am, whether you were the world’s best “Tapper” bartender or consider yourself more of a “Dance Dance Revolution” phenom.

1. There are more than 188 characters in the movie.

Most Disney movies have only 40-60. You probably won’t spot all of the videogame cameos on your first viewing, but here are a few to watch for: Dig Dug, Root Beer Tapper, Pooka, Fygar, Frogger, Peter Pepper, Dr. Eggman, Bowser, Neff, Zangief, Sonic, Q*bert, Clyde and Yuni.

2. If some of your old favorites sound spot on, that’s because Disney was able to get some of the original voice talent.

M. Bison, Ryu and Ken from “Street Fighter” and Sonic The Hedgehog are all voiced by their original actors.

3. The production team was encouraged to log lots of controller and joystick time to get the feel of various in-game environments.

They also visited videogame production houses to study how games are created.

4. The team also visited a bakery, candy factories and the World Confectionery Convention in Cologne, Germany.

The sweet tooth field trips helped ensure that the Sugar Rush candy-themed racing game was designed with realistic treats.

5. Another production-related outing: a trip to Detroit to see how trucks are made.

Filmmakers wanted to make sure they had the right process down for when Sugar Rush character Vanellope (voice of Sarah Silverman) built a car.

6. Professional football players served as models for the muscular guys in Hero's Duty.

Filmmakers needed to watch big dudes in action to serve as reference points for how the soldiers in the Hero’s Duty game should move, so they went to a game. Then, to get ideas on how to build the game battleground, the team visited Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California.

7. To make sure each of the three game worlds were distinctly styled, filmmakers assigned each one a shape.

Fix-It Felix Jr. is full of squares and rectangles, Hero’s Duty features triangles and sharp angles in general, and Sugar Rush is packed with circles.

8. Disney geeks, rejoice: there are plenty of sly Disney references sprinkled throughout the movie.

Here are a few to try to spot:

  • The teams in the “Hoop Jamz” game are Rutland and Medfield, the basketball teams from The Absent-Minded Professor.
  • There are at least two Hidden Mickeys. One appears as dials in a helmet in the Hero’s Duty game and another one can be spotted masquerading as a mint cactus in Sugar Rush.
  • Maximus, the horse from Tangled, makes an appearance in Game Central Station.
  • Tiny the Dinosaur from Meet the Robinsons shows up in both Game Central Station and the arcade game “Fatal Assault.”
  • 9. Video game geeks, rejoice: there are video game and arcade game references for you, too.

  • The code to unlock the vault in Sugar Rush is the famous Konami Code. Say it with me: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A.
  • During the Litwak montage, a gamer can be seen getting through the infamous Pac-Man kill screen. (This has never actually been done.)
  • 10. Ralph's principal actors regularly recorded together in the studio so they could improvise and ad-lib off of one another.

    In most animated movies, actors record their parts separately.

    11. A Disney first: filmmakers consulted architects for accuracy as they were building the Sugar Rush environment and the tower in Hero’s Duty.

    12. The look of Sugar Rush was partly inspired by the work of Antonio Gaudi and other modernist architects.

    Designers felt his whimsical details and unusual shapes went perfectly with candy architecture.

    13. One of the racers in Sugar Rush is named Minty Zaki in tribute to Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.

    Even anime non-enthusiasts will recognize Miyazaki's works Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.

    14. Filmmakers visited Grand Central in New York to soak up the atmosphere and watch traffic patterns.

    The bustling station served as the model for Ralph’s Game Central Station.

    15. You can actually play Fix-It Felix Jr., Sugar Rush and Hero’s Duty.

    I may or may not have lost a good chunk of an evening to trying to best Snowanna in the Sweet Ride Grand Prix. Have fun!

    Look for a big Wreck-It Ralph giveaway later today! Details soon.

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    10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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    Michael Campanella/Getty Images

    Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.


    "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
    —From Real Time with Bill Maher.


    "As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
    —From Space Chronicles


    "Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
    —From Death by Black Hole


    "Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
    —From Space Chronicles



    "I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
    —From The Sky Is Not the Limit


    "In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
    —From Death by Black Hole


    "On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
    —From Space Chronicles


    "[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
    —From The Sky Is Not the Limit


    Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
    Read more at:
    Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
    Read more at:

    "Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."


    A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
    Universal Studios
    "[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
    —From Death by Black Hole
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    40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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    Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

    Sesame Workshop

    1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

    2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

    3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

    4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

    5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

    6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

    7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

    8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

    9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

    10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

    11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

    12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

    13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

    14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

    15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

    16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

    17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

    18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

    19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

    20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

    21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

    22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

    23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

    24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

    25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

    26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

    27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

    28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

    29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

    30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

    31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

    32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

    33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

    34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

    35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

    36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

    37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

    38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

    39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

    40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

    Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

    An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.


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