While we were there we screened the first two episodes of Mickey and the Roadster Racers, which airs on Disney Junior on Sunday January 15th at 9 & 9:25 a.m. EST, and got to interview the master minds behind Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Mickey Mouse Club House and now Mickey and the Roadster Racers – Producers Rob LaDuca & Mark Seidenberg.
Rob and Mark met when they worked together on Gummi Bears, many years ago. Hearing this really brought a lot full circle, I remember watching Gummi Bears when I was growing up, now my daughter is watching another amazing show worked on by these very talented men – Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
In the past roughly 10 years Rob and Mark have worked on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Never Land Pirates and now Mickey and the Roadster racers. As Mark said; “In the past 10 years, Rob and I have had quite a run with, with Clubhouse, then Jake and the Never Land pirates, and now Mickey and the Roadster Racers. We need to catch our breath.”
It’s great working with all of these characters that I grew up loving! You know, Jake and Peter Pan. In Peter Pan, one of my favorite movies, you only went to certain locations in Never Land, so we expanded that, and that was a lot of fun. To have the privilege to do. It also gave us a chance to look at the original artwork from Peter Pan. We went to Archives. And all the writers, we spent a lot of time researching what Walt had originally done with the property. He was pretty faithful to the book. You know, following along the book. But he brought so much character into each character, backgrounds, and development. It’s beautiful to look at the real paintings in the Archives. Just spectacular and we wanted it to be as true to the original heritage as we could. And I think we did a pretty good job.
But now with Mickey and the Roadster Racers, we had the opportunity to age it up a bit and have some new fun. When Disney Junior asked us to develop a new show, we asked what was the most popular Mickey Mouse Clubhouse? What were the most popular DVDs or shows? [We were told it was] Clubhouse Road Rally.”
We were, like, oh! That involved every character who had their own little car that kind of 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. A Hotrod easily made from a model T.
Goofy’s personality, being so goofy, if his car could transform, what would it transform into? A bathtub. You know. 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.”
Daisy – well, Daisy loves flowers, so we wanted to turn her car into a smoking dragster – a Snap dragon. Donald, well, he’s a sailor, so we created the cabin cruiser and his is the only roadster at this point that can go on land, and in the water. Minnie’s car is called the Pink Thunder. Mickey’s is the Hot Dog and Hot Rod. And Goofy’s is the Turbo Tubster.”
In order to research cars Mark and Rob drew inspiration from many different sources, including Jay Leno. One of the guys on their production team got them in touch with Leno’s office. Jay Leno then gave them a tour of his huge car collection, while there they brought a lot of the artists to sketch ideas. At the conclusion of their tour they said;
We have this race announcer, Billy Beagle announcer, and we haven’t cast him yet. Would you be interested? And he was, like, of course! So he started doing the voice right then and there. And we said you’re hired. He is a huge Disney fan. He loves Disney. And he’s worked with the Pixar guys before.”
Rob and Mark shared that whenever Jay comes to their recordings, he always arrives in a different car. And it could range anywhere from a World War II Jeep, to a Model T to a ’67 Mustang – he has over 300 cars.
So it’s been a real thrill 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 beginnings. So it’s a real honor to expand Mickey into the future. Walt was a total innovator. Whenever there was a chance to use a new technology, Walt was always the first to experiment with sound and color, and, you know, 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, all the parks. He was such a thinker that and we love that we can expand on his vision.”
Throughout the years, there have been huge changes in animation. So what are some of your favorites? Some of your favorite things that have changed?
Well the advent of computers, we do everything on computers now. It’s everything from color to designing the cars, to the backgrounds, everything is done. That’s really kind of broadened our opportunities. It used to take so long to do a painting like 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.
That’s what makes it fun for me being a director is that you can move that camera in that space, and create a lot more fun. Moving the camera around, the world becomes much more three dimensional, you really feel like you’re there, especially in the racing episode we’re racing along with them.”
After working Mickey Mouse [Clubhouse] for a while. Do you guys have a favorite of the gang?
Mark: That’s like asking which child do we love most and I always say I have a soft spot for all of them I really do. I love Mickey because he’s everybody’s best friend. I would say I’m closer probably to Goofy. I mean, all of us feel a little goofy, but I definitely really respond to him.
Rob: No, I love Mickey. I mean, he’s just such a great character. You know, like Mark said, he’s everybody’s friend, and just a good guy, always willing to help. Once in a while, Donald comes out occasionally in me – I’m Italian. I can’t help it.
Within the series [racers], all our characters are are gonna be featured well. You’ll be seeing of course, a lot of Minnie and Daisy. But also start to see a little bit more of Chip and Dale. And Clara Belle and characters like Hilda the Hippo and we’re bringing back some favorites like Horace Horsecollar in episodes.
Pete will be taking on different guises. Sometimes we go to other countries, and we’ll see the foreign version of Pete. Sometimes he’s a villain, a lot of times he’s the villain. You need a villain! But we’re also bringing back Mortimer Mouse. You know, Walt originally wanted to call Mickey, Mortimer. And his wife convinced him not to so he called him Mickey. We’re bringing back Mortimer Mouse.”
It really is amazing hearing about all that goes into creating series like this. For us at home, with our toddlers and preschoolers, all we care about is the end result, the show that entertains our little ones. However, very few of us understand that creating an episode can take up to a hear if not a little longer. From writing it to designing to color, animating, building the CG world and then post-production; sound effects and music.
Asked how far ahead Mark and Rob are in the creation of Mickey and the Roadster Racers, they said they had already written all 52 episodes and they’re in production in multiple ways. To get to this point has taken them roughly 2 years
We were overlapped with Jake. We were still doing post-production on Jake And starting this show, it was a real kind of a mind bender. There was one episode of Jake where they were testing the waters, giving all the little pirates cars, and Captain Hook. We had a race. But they were made of bamboo, and things you’d find on [an island]. We were researching racing.”
With it being cars, which are traditionally considered boys’ toys, how are you making sure that the girls are incorporated?
We treat them equally. They’re members of Mickey’s garage crew. You’ll see that Daisy is a mechanic and Minnie paints and pinstripes the cars, so they’re all very involved in the garage, and in the races they’re very competitive. They all want to win.
Danica Patrick is big in the racing world she’s got a huge fan base. There’s a lot of girls that are probably into racing and cars, because they have fathers who are gear heads, and mothers, too.
We asked Danica Patrick if she would do a voice, and we created a character called Danni Sue. We’ll see her in a race, in a few episodes. She’s definitely Minnie and Daisy’s hero. She’s been great.”
Mickey and the Roadster Racers is going to be a huge hit. From the passion put into the creation of the show from Mark and Rob and I am sure their entire cast and crew, to the in-depth research performed, to the star studded cast, including; Gordon Ramsey as the chef of the hot dog diner, Hoda Kotb who plays Mrs Sweetums, and Jane Leeves who plays Queen Elizabeth on their trip to England, to name just a few.
PLUS they have brought in NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson, Danica Patrick and Jeff Gordon will voice recurring characters Jiminy Johnson, Danni Sue and Gordon Gear, respectively.
Take a minute to watch this behind the scenes featurette, just in case you’re not already excited to watch on SUNDAY!!
Disney Junior’s animated “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.