Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Goobye, Sorcerer Hat

... I'll miss you.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Did Disney Encourage You To Become A Scientist or Engineer?

We all know that what makes the Walt Disney World theme park different than not only other theme parks, but also other Disney theme parks, is that they actually have a very strong educational component to them. At Epcot and at Animal Kingdom, there are attempts to educate the public on various aspects of Biology, Ecology, Environment, Engineering, and Science. The two pavilions of Innoventions at Epcot are filled with such activities.

Still, I've often wondered if there are actually tangible effects out of all these. It is fine to say that you are educating people while they are having fun at a theme park, but where are the evidence that all these actually have a beneficial effects?

I think this is the first time I've actually read about something at a Disney theme park that encouraged someone to purse a career in science. Adam Ruben, a popular, and hilarious writer at Science, recounts his push into studying biology after a visit as a kid to "Living With the Land" attraction, or what was then called "Listen to the Land".

In one essay, I recalled a 1989 trip to Walt Disney World’s EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) Center near Orlando, Florida. That’s when I first rode “Listen to the Land,” a slow boat tour through futuristic greenhouses in which plants sprouted from Styrofoam, hung from floating rails, and thrived in symbiosis with tilapia farms. “It was the perfect field,” I wrote, “the implementation of technology to treat a widespread problem like world hunger.” (Somehow this response was not sufficient to admit me to a certain high-profile college whose name I won’t mention, not that I’m bitter. Let’s just say it starts with an “H,” and it’s in the Boston area, and it’s not Hult International Business School, Hebrew College, or Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.)

There was something about those plants, something inherently cool about the fact that you could grow lettuce in a nutrient broth or engineer a 9-pound lemon. It recalled similarly impressive horticultural achievements, like the hot dog tree from Big Top Pee-wee. And so, 8 years after my seminal visit to the “Happiest Place without Earth,” I applied to bioengineering programs with dreams of working in a futuristic greenhouse. (Later I’d drop the “engineering” part of bioengineering because, as I’ve said, engineering was too hard.)

In any case, I'm very much interested to read any other accounts similar to this. Or maybe you have a story with an opposite effect, that after visiting a Disney theme park, it turned you AWAY from doing science or engineering! :)


Friday, January 23, 2015

The Psychology Behind The Popularity of "Frozen"

Here's a conversation with two psychologist on why "Frozen" became so popular. Who would have thought that one of the reasons is that it had no witch!

My 4-year-old daughter told me that she also liked that it didn't have a witch. 

I wouldn't have thought that until she said it, but it made me more thoughtful about all the other movies -- great movies -- that have scary witches and themes in them.

This was something that little kids under 5 aren't going to have nightmares about. 


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Parks without hats

WDW Magic has this post about the removal of the famous sorcerer hat at Hollywood Studios. The hat has been at the Studios since 2001.  Speculation is that the hat would not fit in with the expanded Star Wars theme.

Polynesian DVC

DIS News reports that the new Polynesian DVC sections will be open on April 1, 2015.  Sales to DVC members have already started and the general public can book starting February 11, if rooms are not in use by DVC members. 
There will be 360 Deluxe Studios, the largest at Walt Disney World, that sleep five and can connect to a neighboring Deluxe Studio.  The Studios will have a split bathroom, one with a shower and sink and one with a sink and tub/shower.  There will also be kitchenettes in the units and a pull-down armoire bed that features Lilo and Stitch artwork.

The bungalows are new construction, while current hotel rooms are being converted to the Deluxe Studios.

All of the DVC units are available for rent when not reserved by Disney Vacation Club Members.
There are 20 of the new Bora Bora Bungalows that sit on the water.

Food and Wine Festival 2015

DIS News posted the information for the 2015 Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT, which will run from September 25 through November 16.  New to the festival is the Patagonia booth, featuring food from Argentina and Chile.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Stitch candy jar

Stitch with candy hanging out of his mouth, brought back from Hong Kong by ZapperZ

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Is the magic slip-sliding away?

This recent article in the Huffington post reporter Christy Heitger-Ewing describes her "vacation" to Walt Disney World.  For many reasons described by Christy and, frankly, experienced by many others lately, the stress levels at WDW are climbing and the fun is slipping away.The bottom line...
It's simply gotten too big, too commercial, too regimented.
The article goes into specific examples of the things causing high stress.  Frantically running around trying to meet the Fastpass+ schedule and trying to keep hungry kids happy is one example.  Large, no make that huge, crowds, and taking the enjoyment out of shows, stressing facilities and increasing the chances of getting sick - which is defnitely not a minor problem anymore.
I miss the days when I could go to Disney World, get up in the morning, and consult with the family about where and how to spend the day. We could make decisions based on mood, weather, and majority vote. But the "fly by the seat of your pants" approach simply can't be done anymore at Disney. Now you must plan out your every movement--from parks to rides to meals--and you must do so several months in advance.
So this is an example of a large company turning their back on repeat, loyal customers who are now finding it much more difficult to do the things they used to do.  Maybe Disney thinks there is an endless supply of first time visitors who are willing to submit a detailed project plan in order to have fun.  Many others do not find this fun.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

This Is Why You Didn't Get Your Christmas Presents

We now have an explanation on why some of you didn't get your Christmas presents from Santa this year.


Thursday, December 04, 2014

For The First Time In Forever, This Writer Did Not Enjoy Her WDW Trip

This writer on HuffPost wrote an article on why, for the first time in her life, she did not enjoy her WDW trip.

Just so we're clear, I've been a humongous Disney fan ever since I was a kid. I've probably visited Mickey's playground three dozen times in the past several decades, and for so long it really did seem like the most magical place on Earth. But no more.

In the past several years, I've encountered numerous changes -- changes for which I'm sure Disney big-wigs would claim have been implemented in order to make the experience more efficient and pleasurable. I'm here to tell you, however, that my most recent trip was neither efficient nor pleasurable.

You may read all the different reasons she listed. Most, if not all, is due to the implementations of the FastPass Plus and those MagicBands. I tend to agree with some of her points, and certainly the FastPass Plus is something that I am beginning to really not fond of.

However, I have a few issues with some of her complaints.

Magic Bands are in no way magical.
I think a more appropriate name would be Frustration Bands. Or Fickle Bands. Or Roll-the-Dice-Bands. Because sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. You'll feel like Katniss Everdeen each time you touch your wrist to the scanner: "May the odds ever be in your favor."

Based on her experience, and the experience of another guests, they certainly were having technical difficulties with those Magic Bands. She never describe if she had approached the front desk at her resort to sort this out, etc.

Now, there is a difference between having an issue with the technical aspect of something, versus an inherent fault of the philosophy of something. What she is having a problem with is the implementation of the philosophy, not the philosophy itself. In other words, if the Magic Bands didn't have a technical problem, will she still have an issue with it?

I've used the Magic Bands several times with not a single problem, and I find them to be highly convenient, so much so that I wish the Disney Cruise Line will  adopt it soon. So I am in favor of the whole idea of the Magic Bands. If Disney wishes to continue with it, they must tackle the technical difficulties such as the one described in the article. Otherwise, you'll have guests who will be annoyed like hell over it.

I don't enjoy cozying up to the crowds.
I'm all for making friends, but Disney has taken the concept to a whole new level. At every show we attended--from the Lion King to the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular--the following announcement was made: "We ask that you kindly slide all the way to the middle of the aisle to make room for others. And please don't stop until you are sitting uncomfortably close to the stranger beside you." Okay, so I added that second sentence, but the statement was implied. Disney peeps seem to think that if a packed house is good, a cramped house is even better. Not. 

So is this new? Her complaints were that there were changes to the theme park that is not for the better. For as long as I can remember, when you enter a show, they ALWAYS want you to either move all the way to the end of your row, or to the very center of the row, occupying every seat and space available, to make room for other guests. And Disney is NOT the only place where this is done. I was at a US citizenship oath ceremony a couple of months ago and they had them squeezed together on the seats to accommodate everyone.

Besides, it seems highly inconsiderate to spread out when it is busy and other guests would also like to attend the show.

So yes, while I think she has legitimate complaints against some aspect of changes done at WDW, I don't think these two are valid.


Random WDW Picture

At the Contemporary from last year. You can tell because there's no Frozen-themed elements in it for this year's display.