Friday, April 18, 2014

Disney sued again for disability access

Dis News has this article about a new lawsuit claiming Disney is violating the ADA with its new Disability Access Program at DLR and WDW.  The new program was implemented as a result of complaints that certain individuals were "hiring" disabled people to help them get through the lines faster.  The suit complains that the new program discriminates against people with "cognitive impairments" by not guaranteeing immediate access to attractions.

However, as the article points out, the ADA requires equal opportunity on a reasonable basis.  The suit states that cognitively impaired guests require "near immediate" access to attractions, even while everyone else waits in line.  The recent judgement in the Segway lawsuit stated that Disney is not required to provide full and equal access to disabled persons, only that reasonable accommodations be made. So this will no doubt grind through the court system and more news about it might appear in a few months.
The plaintiffs’  primary complaint is that, while GAC delivered immediate access, DAS assigns a return time for each attraction but that returning at this time will not guarantee immediate access.  Even so, the complaint incongruously states that the plaintiffs are not looking for “priority” access but, in the same sentence, says the plaintiffs “have a special need for near-immediate access.” - See more at:
The plaintiffs’  primary complaint is that, while GAC delivered immediate access, DAS assigns a return time for each attraction but that returning at this time will not guarantee immediate access.  Even so, the complaint incongruously states that the plaintiffs are not looking for “priority” access but, in the same sentence, says the plaintiffs “have a special need for near-immediate access.” - See more at:
The plaintiffs’  primary complaint is that, while GAC delivered immediate access, DAS assigns a return time for each attraction but that returning at this time will not guarantee immediate access.  Even so, the complaint incongruously states that the plaintiffs are not looking for “priority” access but, in the same sentence, says the plaintiffs “have a special need for near-immediate access.” - See more at:
The plaintiffs’  primary complaint is that, while GAC delivered immediate access, DAS assigns a return time for each attraction but that returning at this time will not guarantee immediate access.  Even so, the complaint incongruously states that the plaintiffs are not looking for “priority” access but, in the same sentence, says the plaintiffs “have a special need for near-immediate access.” - See more at:

Disneyland restaurant awards

Dis News reports that food critics in Southern California have given various awards to several DLR restaurants, in the parks and hotels. Some of the restaurants on the list include Steakhouse 55, Napa Rose and Blue Bayou.  Even Goofy's Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel was given 3 stars.  Many people feel that DLR has better food than WDW and these awards help support that opinion.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hallmark's 2014 Dream Book Catalog

If you collect Hallmark's Disney ornaments, then their Dream Book catalog is something you look forward to every year. The 2014 catalog is about to be released, but you can find it already online.

The regular Disney ornaments are listed on Pg. 38, 39 (how quickly do you think the Olaf ornament will be sold out?), 55, 56, 57, 58, and 59. But look further. On Pg. 86 is a separate set of ornaments that will be released gradually, starting in July 2014 and goes into July 2015! So the entire set will be released for a period of about a year!

What they are not showing in the catalog is an ornament stand the shape of Mickey's head that was made to hang all of this ornaments set. The list price for the ornament stand is $49.95. However, upon my conversation with the owner of a Hallmark store near us, I was told that during the initial release of the set, this stand will be on sale for 50% off!

So if you collect Hallmark Disney ornaments, consider yourself warned!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Epcot's "After Hours Wind Down"

Read this on the Disney Food Blog. It seems that they are introducing some late night munchies at Epcot after the end of Illuminations!

After you enjoy Illuminations over World Showcase Lagoon (yep — AFTER the park closes!), purchase a ticket and choose from four of World Showcase’s hottest spots for drinks and small plates! (We’ve got a sample menu for you at the bottom of this post, so keep reading!)
This is a hard ticketed event. The price for admission to Epcot After Hours Wind Down is $35 per guest, and entitles the guest to one beverage and a selection of light snacks. Tax and gratuity are not included in the cost.

After guests enjoy their included tasting, they’re free to stick around and enjoy the venue until 11 p.m.

You know what? This actually sound rather enticing! I'm going to look into this and see if we will have time to do this on our upcoming trip.


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

My Magic comments

A long article by Tim Grassey at talks about the strategy behind the MyMagic+ system and how it represents a change in thinking by Disney executives compared to several years ago. Tim goes into great detail with major developments and WDW and year to year attendance figures.  The premise of the article is that Disney is on a long road to failure with the new system which, like many other developments, is intended to keep people at the parks and spend more money.  Rather than invest in new attractions as Universal is doing, Disney is reportedly spending over $1.5 billion on this technology to keep people from going off property.   
For 35 years, Disney World had steady organic growth generated largely by continued reinvestment into the parks themselves. However since Expedition Everest debuted in 2006, Disney has failed to innovate in Central Florida. Financiers have taken over the company from the creative minds that made it great.
Led by Iger and now CFO Jay Rasulo, the company has sacrificed guest satisfaction in favor of getting the most money out of a guest on their current trip. This shortsightedness sacrifices future profits for current cash flow. In Disney’s eyes there will always be a new crop of guests to replace those they lose. Repeat visitors aren’t as profitable as the first timer. Every corporate decision is made with the next quarter’s balance sheet in mind while five, ten and twenty year plans are seemingly non-existent.
Strip mining Walt Disney World is not a long term plan, and it’s one that will eventually catch up with those doing the mining. There are no diamonds left to uncover, no matter how many Dwarfs are sent to look for them.
The article is obviously highly critical of Disney's current strategy.  According to the article, Disney is trying to avoid getting into an attraction war with other theme parks and get people to spend more money instead.  But this may be a losing strategy as the novelty wears off and the supply of first time guests starts to decline. The problems will be more obvious if the MyMagic+ system fails to generate enough revenue to compensate for the replacement and upgrade of the technological components.  Then Disney will have sunk over $1.5 billion (pun intended) into technology without having new attractions to attract people. 

Friday, April 04, 2014

Polynesian Resort DVC water bungalows

This article at shows many photos of the construction of the new DVC water bungalows at the Polynesian Resort. These are somewhat similar to the Treehouse Villas, except for being on stilts over the water.  Disney is apparently trying to capture the popular conception of life in Polynesia. 

The Bob Iger Legacy

Back in 2011, Disney announced that Iger intends to step down as the CEO of the Walt Disney Company in 2015, which is a year away. I mentioned in a blog on this news that I consider his tenure as the CEO of the company to be an extremely successful one. I admire him greatly in what he had accomplished, especially during some of the toughest years financially during the economic crash of 2008/2009.

I was reading some articles online on the company when I started to think of what his legacy will be when he leaves his CEO post. Even though it is a year away, and he might still pull another big announcement out of his hat, I decided to list what I, as a Disney fan, consider to be Iger's lasting legacy to the Walt Disney Company.

1. Diffusing the tension with Roy Disney.

This was one of his first major accomplishment. Regardless of whether Roy Disney was still in the company or not (he was ousted as a board member by Eisner), Roy Disney still has a great influence, especially as a "spiritual leader" of the Disney philosophy. Along with Stanley Gold, the movement to "Save Disney" via the website was gaining traction, and was a black mark against the company. Iger was able to diffuse the bad blood that was boiling around the company and was able to bring Roy Disney back. To me, this was the first and necessary step to repair the Disney company image and morale.

2. Bringing back the Walt Disney Animation Studios

This was the biggest surprise and disappointment out of the Eisner administration. Even if this part of the company was not doing well at that time in terms of box office performance, there is such an emotional and historical attachment to this part of the company that, in essence, started it all that it practically sealed Eisner doomed future with the company. Iger's decision to bring it back, and to nurse it to life under the leadership of Ed Catmull and John Lasseter was soundly applauded, and now, with the success of "Frozen", that division of the company has arrived and well-worth the effort!

3. Getting back Oswald

The company "traded Al Michaels to NBC/Universal" to get back Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Financially, this isn't a big financial advantage, but this shows that Iger isn't just someone who focuses on the bottom line. He also paid attention to the history of the company, and getting Oswald back to the Walt Disney company was the right thing to do. Certainly, it must have endeared him to Diane Disney Miller (I'm guessing) for bringing back one of her father's earliest creations.

4. Bought Pixar

This was the first major acquisition by Iger, and it was a brilliant move. He rebuilt the bridge with Steve Jobs, and managed to acquire Pixar to ensure a continuing supply of not only amazing movies, but also characters that fuel Disney's theme parks, merchandise, and other parts of the company. It is now very hard to not think of Disney and Pixar being together.

5. Bought Marvel

Now I have to admit that this came out of nowhere for me. I didn't see this one coming. But now, after all the blow-out success of the Marvel universe, and the potential for non-stop merchandise and theme parks tie-in, I can see myself saying "why, of course!" So this was definitely a blockbuster acquisition.

6. Bought Star Wars

While this was unexpected, it was not a surprise. After all, Star Wars attractions and Star Wars Weekend are already established at the theme parks. What was unexpected was George Lucas giving it up. But I suppose, if he wants to give it up, Disney is the most logical place that he would sell it to.

7. Shanghai Disneyland

Even though Iger opened Hong Kong Disneyland, the plan for that theme park were in place before he took over the company. Shanghai Disneyland, on the other hand, should be all his, and I expect that he will be there at the grand opening next year. This will seal the deal in Disney's continued attempt to establish the brand in China.

8. Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy

The decision to add two more ships to the Disney fleet was huge, both figuratively and literally. These are humongous ships, almost 50% larger than the older two ships. It was a bold move, especially since they both went into service during the economic slowdown, to established the Disney Cruise line even more.

9. Aulani

This is only the 3rd Disney resort outside of the existing Disney resort area (the other two being Vero Beach and Hilton Head). It not only expanded the Disney resort area, but also expanded the DVC arm into new territories.

There is still at least a year left in Iger's tenure, and he could easily pull out another surprise, but as of now, I consider these to be the biggest legacy he will leave behind with the Company. The Walt Disney Company is in a much strong position now, both financially and in its future outlook. Whoever the next CEO of the company will be, he/she has huge shoes to fill.


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Disney vs Dead Mouse has this article about a possible trademark action by Disney against Joel Zimmerman, who goes by the stage name of  Deadmau5 - pronounced "Dead Mouse".  Zimmerman has applied to the Trademark Office for a mark to appear on a wide variety of products, but the mark looks a lot like a certain mouse we all know. 
Disney could potentially argue that the Deadmau5 mark is misleading and will confuse the source of goods and services. Disney has requested and been granted 90 days to investigate the claim and file a notice of opposition.
One of the issues will be whether the consumer could confuse products bearing Mickey's likeness with products carrying the Deadmau5 logo. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Carying On The Pixar Spirit

This is a rather interesting article. It tracks down a few Pixar alumni who had left the company, but still carry on the Pixar spirit and philosophy in their new endeavors.

Pixar alums (many of whom joke that they're a small club, because no one wants to leave) have gone on to lead in a range of fields, from entertainment to consumer technology to healthcare. Fast Company spoke with more than a dozen executives, entrepreneurs, and storytellers from all eras of Pixar's three-decade history, all of whom have moved on but attest that Pixar's influence over their ongoing work is invaluable and profound. Whether they're selling healthy snacks, like Slatcher, or building potentially lifesaving technology for type 1 diabetics, like Tidepool founder and former Pixar VP of software Howard Look, these alums are applying Pixar's values in unexpected but highly successful ways.

There's a lot more in the article that discussed various principles and aims at Pixar that apply to other businesses.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Donald's Great Adventure

Hello my legions of fans! This is your lovable Donald Duck once again reporting from my most favorite place on Earth, the Walt Disney World! 

I'm staying at the Bay Lake Tower this time. I have plenty of towels, as you can see, even when they are all twisted and folded into this strange circular pattern.

First order of business, food! Breakfast at Cinderella Royal Table is just right for someone of my stature and stardom, don't you think? Wonder what I can do with this Wishing Star?

Ah, Cindy! My favorite girl! Have you missed me? Please don't show this photo to Daisy. She gets very jealous!

I'm having a fun day here at the Magic Kingdom.

That's all for now! I'll quack at you later!


Walt the adapter

Mice Chat has this article posted by Kevin Yee, talking about how Walt was more skilled at adapting existing ideas than creating new ones. 
...he has been lionized so much, and put on so high a pedestal, that I think we’ve lost sight of the true accomplishment. Walt was less of an “innovator” than he was an “adapter”. This is true not only for the theme park concept, but also other heralded innovations he is given credit for.
 The article goes into some detail to show how Walt's innovations were really adaptations of existing ideas.  The tone of the article is somewhat iconoclastic and often dismissive of Walt's achievements. The author goes to great lengths to show how concepts such as Disneyland were not original.
Students of Disney company history can name another inspiration: Greenfield Village. This outdoor museum is more than just a collection of authentic and reproduction houses from American history: it’s also got some key city-park features that will look awfully familiar to Disney fans. Namely, it had a train encircling the property, an island with a river around it, and a paddleboat cirumnavigating the river. When did Walt see this? In 1948, while on a train trip with animator Ward Kimball. Disneyland looks a little less original seen in this light.
But some things in the article are clearly incorrect, for example...
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs really WAS Walt being inventive and thinking of something no one else could conceive of – in fact, he was ridiculed for the vision before it came out .
In fact, the idea for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs appeared in a 1916 Paramount movie, which was based on a 1912 Broadway play, which itself was based on an old Grimm fairy tale. In 2007 an interesting exhibit about Walt Disney's artistic inspirations appeared in Montreal, after having shown in Paris.  It seems that not very many people from the U.S. saw the exhibit. That exhibit showed side by side comparisons of old silent movies and the modern adaptations that Walt made.  For example, Chernabog as well as Snow White were inspired by old movies.  Walt's interest in Gothic themes helped inspire Disney Villains. The other side of the coin, also shown at this exhibit, was how others adapted Disney themes.

Walt's genius was the ability to take inspiration from many sources and take on the risk of creating new and hugely successful modern ventures.  Because of Walt's "adaptations", Snow White goes from an obscure black and white movie to a central character in the TV series Once Upon a Time a hundred years later.  Often the biggest impact is made by people who can see the value in an idea and turn it into something better.. 

Kouzzina restaurant to close

DIS News reports that Cat Cora's Boardwalk restaurant Kouzzina will be closing on September 30.  A new restaurant is suposed to open in its place, but no details were given.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Corn Dogs

Today happens to be National Corn Dog Day. In keeping with the spirit of the day, Disney Parks Blog has posted this article about where you can actually get a corn dog at WDW and DLR. 
We still remember our first bite of a corn dog at the Little Red Wagon at the top of Main Street, U.S.A., in Disneyland park, slathered with mustard. It’s still the top spot, but you also can find corn dogs at Stage Door CafĂ© in front of Frontierland, and at Corn Dog Castle at Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure park.
The list includes some places at WDW, but there seems to be at least one omission.  Boardwalk Joe's, a food cart on the Boardwalk, has good corn dogs.  At least they used to.  This calls for a visit to Joe's to make sure the dogs are still on the menu.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Changes at Cosmic Ray's

WDW reports in this article that the outdoor patio at Cosmic Ray's is now enclosed and air conditioned.
The old patio area at Cosmic Ray's is now fully integrated into the main restaurant dining room, which provides a lot of additional indoor air-conditioned seating capacity.
Other changes happening at the Starlight Cafe include new menu items, a digital menu board and a refurbishment of Sonny Eclipse. The popular space alien performs all day at Ray's, and often says he didn't know the true meaning of happiness until he got married - then it was too late.

Fish Tank in T-Rex Restaurant Sprang A Leak

Oh my!

The T-Rex restaurant in Downtown Disney in Orlando sprang a massive leak.

The news report included a video (of course) made by a guest.

Hey, you can't get fresher fish!

I hate to think what would happen if this occurred at the Coral Reef restaurant.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Maleficent's Wings

The Orlando Sentinel posted this article about the upcoming movie "Maleficent".  According to the story she had wings at one time but they were stolen.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad reopens at DLR

Mice Chat reports that Big Thunder is about to reopen at Disneyland after over a year of refurbishment.
The imagineering team has added to the storyline of the attraction in a way that perfectly fits and helps add detail and nuance to this beloved classic. Boxes of explosives lead to our old pal the goat. His classic chew toy is the set up for a dynamite new climax to the ride.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Frozen is hot

This article in the Orlando Sentinel gives us an update on how well the movie Frozen is doing.  In addition to winning two Oscars, Frozen has reached the one billion dollar box office milestone.
Having earned an estimated $388.8 million Stateside and $611.5 million internationally since its late November release, "Frozen" is the second highest-grossing animated film of all time globally and the most profitable non-sequel animated pic ever.
Frozen is opening in Japan in a couple weeks, and this will push the box office even higher.   This is the seventh Disney movie to reach the billion dollar mark, the others include titles such as Pirates, Toy Story, Avengers, Alice and Iron Man.

Random WDW Picture