Saturday, March 31, 2007

Deep in the Wilds of Disney

We get many descriptions of various resorts throughout Disney, but we seldom get a report on a stay at the Disney Fort Wilderness Campground. This is one such report.

It sounds like this place gets a lot of very loyal and repeat guests.


Meet The Robinsons - My Review

Let's just get this out of the way, shall we?


Is that clear enough?

We saw it a the Village Crossing formerly Crown Theater in Skokie, IL with stadium seating, in 3D (of course). The 1:40 showing was PACKED. The 3D glasses they gave out is identical in shape and size to the ones you get for Nightmare Before Christmas.

First of all, the movie has a heart, a very BIG heart. It truly tugs at your heatstrings. It has a very good story line, much stronger than Chicken Little. You get to know about the central character Lewis very quickly, and emphatize with him very easily. I won't go into details about the story line because I don't want to give away anything. While the ending isn't a big surprise, it was also slightly unexpected and refreshing (and made me a bit verklempt!).

The 3D effects is OUT OF THIS WORLD! While Chicken Little didn't do that much with the 3D effects, this movie made full use of it. As with Nightmare Before Christmas, you forget that you are seeing a 3D movie because it appears so natural. They didn't resort to any cheap effects, but they were still very evident and effectively used throughout the whole movie. The texture and color of the movie were very, very warm and rich. It just simply looked very gorgeous!

Don't be fooled by the apparent "kiddy" nature of the movie. Adults will enjoy it very much because there were a lot of jokes and references that adults will find hilarious. The kids may not get it, but they won't be bored either because the visual effects will keep them captivated all through the movie.

Bottom line: I highly recommend this movie. It is a lot of fun, and it has a lot of heart!

As I've mentioned earlier, if you see Meet The Robinsons during the opening weekend, you can bring your ticket stub to any Disney Store and get your free kaleidoscope. We of course got ours right away after the movie.

If you are a Disney Rewards visa card holder, you would also have gotten in the mail a website you could go to AFTER viewing the movie and play the quiz there. You'll be asked 8 questions from the movie, and if you get it all correct AND you are the first 500 registered guests to do that, you get a FREE Meet The Robinsons soundtrack CD! If course, I've done that already, and my CD is on its way! Hooray!

Now, I don't know if they are showing this everywhere, but we got a preview of Ratatouille. It looks gorgeous and hysterical! Can't wait for that. But the best surprise was the showing of the short Working For Peanuts in 3D. Donald with Chip 'N' Dale were at their best in this, and that alone was worth the ticket price! I hope they include this in the DVD release of Meet The Robinsons.


Rumors of Pirates of the Caribbean IV?

For several months, rumors have been swirling that the Pirates franchise will go beyond the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean III - At World's End. This came about after Johnny Depp has expressed interest in continuing as the swishy Capt. Jack Sparrow.

Here are the 2 sites reporting on such rumors, and they aren't simply repeating what the others have said:

LA Times
The Disney Blog

I would love to see it continues, especially if the entertainment value is the same as (or better than) the first two.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Meet The Robinsons Opens Today

... and you should look for the 3D showings if you can.

This movie has been mentioned as the first test of John Lasseter's impact on Disney animation. Based on the rumor that has circulated within the past 6 months, he had a major influence in the reworking of the story line of the movie after it was shown to him the first time. So, whether it is fair or not, this will be the first Disney animation movie (as opposed to Pixar films) to have Lasseter's stamp.

Don't forget to go to a Disney Store if you will be seeing this during the opening weekend and get your free kaleidoscope!


Disney World For Disneyland Addict

This is a visit recommendation to Disney World from someone who is a Disneyland fanatic. What I still don't get is this:

Since visiting Disney World I have heard many other Disneyland fanatics saying that they could never go to Disney World; that it would be like the ultimate betrayal, a waste of time and money, a vacation not worth their effort, etc. etc.

Unfortunately, I've heard of similar "distaste" online towards WDW from Disneyland fanatic, and it boggles my mind on why. In fact, I don't quite understand why ANY true Disney fan would diss other Disney theme parks. I can understand if there are parts that may not hold up to some very high and lofty standards of Disney (California Adventure comes to mind), but at any given time, I would rather be in a Disney theme park than anywhere else. My goal eventually is to visit ALL 5 of the Disney theme parks all over the world. So I certainly do not understand someone not wanting to visit Disneyland, or WDW, because it would be a "betrayal". That is just utterly ridiculous, a misplaced and misguided "loyalty".


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Being Mickey's Boss

This public radio webpage has almost everything you can know about the Disney CEO Bob Iger, including several audio interviews. Even though he has been described as someone very private, you do get a bit of an insight on the person who runs the House of Mouse.


MySpace, Disney in Online Video Deal??!!!

Whoa! What the.... ?

When I read the news report, I was taken aback with the headlines because my first question was: What happened with iTunes?

Well folks, chalk this up to a very poor, cheap-stunt-at-attention-grabbing by some reporter or editor.

MySpace, the social networking site owned by News Corp, has made its biggest push yet into providing its millions of members with original video content after striking a deal with Michael Eisner, the former chief executive of Walt Disney.

.. and this is what allowed them to tie the Disney name into this? Give me a freaking break! How could they get away with that kind of a title? It is an outright false title. It is not even misleading!

I won't be surprised if someone at Disney tells them to cut out this silliness.


Where In Walt Disney World?

OK, where in WDW can you find this? It is called Goofy Pose-A-Matic.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Disney To Build Massive Arena

Being reported today, Disney is planning to build a huge sports arena named the Jostens Center. This 70,000-plus square-foot arena is being announced today as part of the 10th-anniversary celebrations for the Wide World of Sports Complex.

The announcement coincides with events planned to celebrate Disney's Wide World of Sport's 10th anniversary. From 12:15-12:45 p.m. today at the complex, Disney officials and athletes will be on hand to mark a decade in Central Florida.

The 220-acre complex, which hosts more than 180 events a year, has seen more than 1.5 million athletes come through the facility.

Right... and Epcot's 25th Anniversary is being IGNORED. And they wonder why many Disney fans are annoyed by this?


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Meet The Robinsons Opens This Friday, March 30, 2007

Meet the Robinsons will be the 2nd in-house digital animation movie from Disney (after Chicken Little). Let's hope the story line is stronger than Chicken Little. It will be the 3rd movie to also be shown in Disney Digital 3D, after Chicken Little and the re-release of Nightmare Before Christmas.

I have been looking for where Robinsons will be shown shown in 3D here in Chicago, but information seems rather sparse. So far, the 3D version are being shown only the theaters in the suburbs. I'm sure there has to be at least one theater in the city showing it in 3D, but I can't find it yet.

We will be heading out to the northern suburb of Skokie on Saturday to see it in 3D. BTW, in case you haven't been to the Meet the Robinson's page on the Disney website, note that if you see it during the opening weekend, you can bring the ticket stub to a Disney Store and get a free collectible kaleidoscope. I'm sure this has some connection to the movie that I will get after seeing it.


Haunted Mansion Disney Fans

So this may not be as outrageous as the man who tattooed his body with Disney characters, but it is still no less impressive in scope and size. A couple of Disney fans are very much into the Haunted Mansion attraction, which I can understand. Like the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, when something like that has been around for a long time, it develops a very loyal following, especially for those who have fond memories of being on it as a child. The Haunted Mansion is one such attraction. I've read other reports of fans memorizing the whole spiel on the ride from beginning to end.

It appears that this couple have accumulated quite a collection.

Their collection began with a large copy of the original Haunted Mansion attraction poster from Disneyland, and slowly grew from there. The Vines' estimate they have 250 to 300 items.

"It started where we just wanted the big collector pieces," said Carrie. "But at one point the sickness took over, and now we have to have everything Haunted Mansion related."

Ah yes, the sickness. Don't I know it! [Stares at his pin collection]



Keeping Disney's data secure is her job

Hey, now you know who is keeping all your info with Disney secure.

This is a short report on Anne Kuhns, who is the senior manager of IT Risk Management at Walt Disney World. She was honored recently for her efforts in the field of computer security by Executive Alliance.

I wonder if she is also responsible for those finger biometric scans? :)


Monday, March 26, 2007

Project Spaceship Earth

We get more details on the post-show attraction for Spaceship Earth. It appears that Siemens (who is now sponsoring Spaceship Earth) is collaborating with Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University.

According to the Siemens website, this project is part of a 12-year alliance between Siemens and Disney. Siemens is a technology company devoted to creating a wide range of products, including communications, transportation, and power technologies. Siemens has agreed to sponsor a post-show attraction for Spaceship Earth at Disney’s Epcot Center.

Oh please! Let's retire that Epcot "Center" already!

Still, it would be interesting to see how this will turn out. That space after the attraction has certainly been abandoned long enough, and it has been long overdue for something unique and ambitious, in keeping with the theme of the attraction and the geodesic building itself.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Disney's Family Deal Really Isn't One?

This article is really being nitpicky. I'll let you read it and see for yourself.

First of all, the writer really dissed Disney's Value Resorts. While they are certainly not the top-notch Deluxe resorts, I would certainly not call them motels, especially when they are well-themed. In fact, I know of many reports in which the kids rather like the value resorts a lot more due to their brilliant colors and fun designs. Just look at Pop Century.

The last part is where the writer made an omission.

Total so far: $1,578 for a week. That's still less than the $1,600 quoted by Disney's ads, and it not only includes a rental car, but it gets you unlimited admission to Universal, too.

The writer is comparing the costs having a week in Orlando with a 4-day Disney trip plus Universal Studios. He/she accounted all the expenses, including dirt-cheap car rental. But there is one part that seems to be missing - parking fees! Since this hypothetical family will be driving each of the 4 days to WDW, they will have to pay a total of $40 for each day of parking at the parks ($10/day). So if you add that to the total cost that has been arrived at, which was $1,578, you then end up with $1618. This is certainly NOT cheaper than the $1600 that Disney advertised. And we haven't included the parking fees at Universal Studios that these people had unlimited access to or any other theme parks that they would visit. So you end up paying MORE than what this writer has estimated.

No one is saying that a Disney vacation at a Disney resort is dirty cheap. However, one must also take into account what is being offered as part of staying at a Disney resort. For many Disney fans, the idea of the Disney theme carrying through their whole stay is worth paying for. And we have not even covered the conveniences that come along with it, such as the Disney Magical Express. Together, this is a deal that many are willing to pay for.


Disney Drink Accused of Corrupting Youth

I can somehow understand if this came out of somewhere in the US (Utah maybe?). But from Scotland?!!

Scottish health officials have accused Disney Partyfizz, a juice drink, of contributing to underage drinking because of its resemblance to champagne


.. and I suppose that the statistics of adult drinking in Scotland being one of the highest anywhere in the world has nothing to do with it? Honestly, people! Go bark at the right tree!


Disneyland Picture

I don't think I've posted any pictures from Disneyland lately, mainly because I don't go there as often as I go to WDW. So here's one. Can you tell if this is anywhere near to Shirley's Temple?



Disney Foes Consider Own Ballot Initiatives

Residents of Anaheim may end up with several initiatives to vote on. While Disney has started a campaign to include in the ballot an initiatives to stop any housing development in the resort area of Anaheim, its opponents are mulling over having their own initiatives in the ballot.

I'm beginning to think of the scenario of what would happen if (i) Disney wins and manages to stop the housing development, or (ii) Disney loses and the housing development goes on.

I think with (i), we might get to see plans for the 3rd Gate at the Disneyland Resort. With (ii), I have a feeling that they might rethink their plan and may even scale back what they have planned currently. This obviously is a no-brainer, but I wonder how many people have actually thought this thing through? I know this is all highly speculative, but the consequences of this action can have a very long-lasting impact on that region. The way this has been handled appears as if things are just being made up as they go along.

The thing that I want to know is, if the housing development does NOT include plans to set aside a portion as affordable housing, would this have gotten as much support from the Anaheim city council? I'm guessing it would not. So in essense, there is a need to preserve the resort area if it weren't for the availablity of affordable housing. Now, how much impact can 225 affordable housing make considering the number of people who actually work in that area (and not just Disney cast members, I might add)?

If the whole 1,500 units are designated as affordable housing, I'd say that would make a major dent in the housing problem and probably worth fighting for. But 225 AND alienating your biggest tax revenue generator? It sounds like the developer is using the affordable housing as the bait or even a token to get support for building luxury apartments that would never have been approved by themselves. So the issue here is then, is 225 units of affordable housing worth this fight?


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Disney's Animal Kingdom and Animal Kindgom Lodge

It's not often that a trip or news report focuses only on the Animal Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Lodge, but this is certainly one. I would certainly say that of all the Disney resorts, Animal Kingdom Lodge would be at the top of my list. Not only does it have all that is described in the article, but it also has my most favorite place to eat in all of WDW - Boma!

I can't wait for the DVC wing to be fully built.


Disney Is Possibly Considering Releasing Song of the South?

Tell me that I'm not dreaming!

Only earlier this month was there an article that explains why Disney won't be releasing Song of the South. It seems that in an effort to not create any more controvery with the movie, Disney wants to simply forget about it.

Now comes little morsel of hope that many Disney is reconsidering the decision. This is after the question by a few shareholders to Bob Iger about the movie during the last shareholders meeting in New Orleans.

"The question of 'Song of the South' comes up periodically, in fact it was raised at last year's annual meeting ..." Iger said. "And since that time, we've decided to take a look at it again because we've had numerous requests about bringing it out. Our concern was that a film that was made so many decades ago being brought out today perhaps could be either misinterpreted or that it would be somewhat challenging in terms of providing the appropriate context."

This is certainly better than the response we got last year.

I have never seen the whole movie, so you can imagine why I am eager to really see it, not only because I want to judge it for myself, but also because I've only gotten a glimpse of the theme based on the gazillion times I've been on Splash Mountain.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Expedition Everest Collage

A while back, I did an Expedition Everest Collage for an online contest. I didn't win, but I really ended up liking the resulting picture. I'm not that artistic in terms of doing this, so this is amateurish by comparision. Still, it's there, so I might as well share it.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mary Poppins, Tarzan and Beauty Hop Back onto Billboard Chart

I didn't know that Billboard has started last year with the Top Cast Album charts. I also didn't know that Wicked has been quite wicked in its stronghold on the very top of this chart.

In any case, the chart is reporting that the original London Cast Recording of Mary Poppins, and the Broadway Cast Recording of Tarzan and Beauty and the Beast albums have moved back into the Top 10 of this chart. Not bad for albums that have been out for a long time, especially for Beauty. In fact, the Beauty album may even shoot up higher as its final performances on Broadway near.


Disney Fan Colors His Skin

I always enjoy read about other Disney fanatics and to what extent they would do to express what they love. It makes what I actually do and collect so much more TAME! :)

I wrote earlier about a person who actually built a Disney playroom. It wasn't as outrageous as some of the other reports that we have heard. However, this one may rank way up there. For example,

1,643 tattoos of Disney characters from the base of his neck to the tops of his toes; a 4,200-square-foot house in Bethlehem, Pa., with 19,000 Disney collector pieces, and six honeymoons at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Take that, Disney amateurs! :) And do you want to know how one person can have 6 honeymoons? Here's how:

"My love for Disney comes first - that's why I've been through so many wives," he said last week at the Crown Plaza Anaheim Resort, headquarters for the NFFC meeting. "Both my daughters (ages 18 and 25) have moved out, too. They got tired of everything Disney."

Hint to future wives: when you marry someone who has 1643 tattoos of Disney character on the person, and 19,000 Disney collector pieces, there's a very good chance that you are not exactly #1 in his life. Just trust me on this, ladies! :)

However, he may not get one of his wishes though, no matter how many times he gets selected as part of the Year of a Million Dreams.

And when he finally leaves it all behind, his will calls for his ashes to be spread in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

That might just creep out some of the guests that Disney won't let it. Besides, won't it be more appropriate (not to mention, in theme) if he gets scattered in the Haunted Mansion?

Damn, I'm taking this waaaay too seriously and having waaaay too much fun with it.



Is Disney Ready To Make Big Thunder?

This LA Times piece essentially put in writing the predictions of what many of us Disney fanatics have either known, or suspected all along. Disney is hoping to expand the Disneyland Resort.

"It's about changing Anaheim into Orlando — making this into a national and international tourist space," said blogger Jim Hill, a Disney watchdog.

But Disney's ambitions are ruffling feathers in Anaheim, where some city leaders believe the corporate giant has tried to bully a town that has been its ally for more than 50 years.

Well, I don't think the city of Anaheim is going to be the only one whose feathers are ruffled here. I do know of many rabid Disneyland fans who do NOT want to see Disneyland Resort turning into the one on Orlando. For many of the locals, they like the fact that Disneyland is smaller, and that the local guests around the southern California region are the one that make up the largest number visiting the theme park. In other words, they want Disneyland to stay "local", and not become an international theme park like WDW.

I don't know if expanding it will change its character. It will certainly make it bigger, but I know for sure that it won't get to the size of Orlando. But if Disney wants people to stay longer by building a Third Gate and more hotels, then they will certainly plan on promoting the park to a wider audience than just the locals. Does that mean that soon, we in Chicago will start seeing Disney commercials promoting Disneyland? As far as I have seen, all Disney commercials here in the Windy City have only promoted WDW. Would Disney still promote Disneyland only along the West Coast even after an increase in capacity?


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

CNN.COM Readers Response to Disney's Black Princess

CNN.COM readers weigh in with their opinions. I suppose this could be a snapshot of the reaction all over the internet of Disney's announcement of its first black princess in The Frog Princess.


Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End

I mentioned earlier about the trailer to Pirates being shown on the last Dancing With The Stars. Yahoo video has the exclusive trailer to Pirates now available online, even in high def!

I'm assuming that this is the same one shown during Dancing.. As I expected, this looks awesome.

Pirates will open on the day we leave for our vacation. If we can steal away a few hours, we might try to see it at Downtown Disney, assuming that they haven't sold out already during that week.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Are Disney World Wage Scales Fair?

As the unions of a large part of WDW work force negotiate a new contract with WDW, along came a report that the 2-tier pay scale that WDW workforce had agreed to earlier may have hurt not only the wages being made, but also the local economy of Orlando and neighboring area. Does anyone know where I can find this report?

Still, this news article stated a point that may have made this assertion rather moot:

Disney World spokeswoman Jacquee Polak pointed out that the 1998 contract, as with all labor contracts, was a mutual agreement between the company and the unions, not a unilateral decision. She said the two-tiered pay system was abolished with the 2004 contract, so workers hired since then are not at any disadvantage.

If this is true, why are those two people commissioned a study of something that no longer exist? This is rather confusing.


Disney Seeks Ballot to End Land-Use

Disney is taking its fight against the housing development in the Anaheim resort district a step further. They are starting the initiative to have a ballot in February for Anaheim residents to vote to stop the building of the housing development within the resort district.

I guess the battle between two former "allies" are getting more intense.


Pirates Trailer

Unless you've been living under a rock the past few years, you'd know that the 3rd Pirates movie coming out this summer is one of the most highly anticipated movie this year. Unfortunately, for those of us who didn't watch Dancing With The Stars last night, we missed what sounded like one heck of a trailer for Pirates 3. Luckily, John Frost at The Disney Blog has all the details of it. It DOES sounds like it could be 3 1/2 hours long! Maybe we all might need that adult diaper that the astronaut wore to sit through this whole movie without missing anything.



Monday, March 19, 2007

Mickey Mouse iPod Nano

This is so not fair!!!

Being released only in Japan, an unbelievable special edition iPod nano version with Mickey Mouse looks to be a winner. Only 999 of these iPods will be released. And it has a collection of cool accessories also!

I want one! I already have an iPod Video, but I would gladly get this one. Why isn't something like this released here in the US? The Japanese always get all the cool toys!



The Ultimate Rule Maker

Motley Fool has a concise article on why Disney is the ultimate "Rule Maker". There are several obvious points on why Disney is such a very strong and
solid company right now for investors. In fact, it may be better than they think.

On the consumer-products side, has anyone here never seen -- or owned -- a stuffed Mickey Mouse doll? Park yourself outside a Disney World turnstile and watch families walk out with Disney balloons, pirate patches, and princess costumes.

Considering that a huge percentage of the Disney theme park guests stay at a Disney resort, most of them probabably make use of the complimentary send-to-the-resort package service when purchasing merchandise at the park (I know I do, all the time!). So even watching the number of families walking about with all of the merchandise isn't an accurate indicator - it is MORE than what can be observed!


Home Run Ball Hits Car At Disney

If you are watching the Atlanta Braves pre-season baseball at Walt Disney World, don't park too close to the field! :)

The Braves' Brian McCann hit a gigantic home run that landed on the adjacent parking lot and right on a Lexus owned by the Braves' own scout Paul Snyder. It caused a considerable dent in the luxury car's dent, but I think the owner would not have minded.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Back To Disney

This is a rather fun trip report. The person first made the comparision between the first time they went there in 1973, and now. They also made use of the Disney VIP Tour services, which costs a good chuck and change, but obviously worth it if you have a large group of people and a short amount of time.

... or you can just use my list! :)


Saturday, March 17, 2007

My First Windy City Pin Traders Meet

I'm a Disney pin collector (shock!). I got into it rather recently, and started to really collect Disney pins after the Pin event at Epcot in Sept. of 2005. I met many terrific people at that event, and a few of them were from Chicago, or moved from Chicago. They all told me of the local group in the Chicagoland area that regularly meet to do their own pin trading each month.

We haven't had the opportunity to attend one of them till today. So we attended our first Windy City Pin Traders meet. It was at a Fudruckers in suburban Addision. I only have one thing to say about it: IT WAS A LOT OF FUN! We were sorry that we didn't get to do this earlier.

We brought a few pins to trade, and got a lot of awesome pins. But more importantly, we made re-acquaintance with familiar faces and made several new friends. These are some of the nicest people you'll meet. To me, this is half of the fun of collecting pins - the meeting and interaction with people, be it other collectors, kids, or cast members.

Anyway, we had a wonderful time. Needless to say, unless something comes up, we look forward to attending the next one. If you're in the Chicago area and you collect pins (or even if you don't but just want to be around people who likes Disney theme parks), I would highly recommend coming to one of their meetings. They welcome everyone even if you don't have a single pin to trade. Check out the Windy City Pin Traders website for more info. You'll have a wonderful time!


Sunset At World Showcase

One of my favorite pictures: sunset at World Showcase at Epcot. I took this about 2 years ago.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Disney Scam Bilks Wary Woman

Sometime, you just can't protect people from their own stupidity.

How many times have you been told that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn't! Well, obviously this woman hasn't been told of that as often. She spent 45 minutes on the phone with a scam artist "querying the caller" after being told that she won a trip to Walt Disney World. Only after that, she was somehow convinced that it was legit and, get this, gave the caller her credit card number!


I hate to think what would happen if this woman gets the Nigerian Scam e-mail telling her that there's a fortune in her name waiting to be claimed! Oy vey!


Disney Guest Collapses and Dies at Water Park

A Disney guest collapsed and died while at Blizzard Beach on Thursday. While we hate to hear something like this happening, this one was clearly unrelated to any Disney ride. The person obviously had a pre-existing condition.

Condolences go to the man's family.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Insatiable Appetite for Disney Musicals

This is a news report on Disney's successes (and partial success as in the case of Tarzan) in their staging of various Broadway Musicals ranging from the trailblazing Beauty and the Best to the about-to-open The Little Mermaid.

There's not a whole lot of surprises here, but I'm still amazed at some of the really silly criticisms here (and lest we forget, I am not adverse to criticizing Disney myself). For example:

Others have criticized Disney for lacking originality and for pushing out independent producers.

'The concern with a lot of people is that they are recycling movies,' Wollman said. 'But that all gets confused with the fact Broadway has always been a commercial entity.'

Disney believes Broadway has room for a range of musicals, and that they have brought new audiences, said Schrader.

'It is easy for people to say 'Oh Broadway is now just about people translating films into musicals and now it is ruined',' he said, pointing to the range of musicals currently on Broadway. 'This just isn't true.'

Anyone who thinks that all one needs to do is take a hit movie, put it on stage, and bam, one has a hit musical needs to get a whack on the back of the head. Just look at The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, both the movie and the Broadway musical, and I rest my case! The artistry, ingenuity, and creativity required to translate these movies (and don't forget, these are ANIMATION movies), especially The Lion King, shows how difficult and DIFFERENT it is to do that. If it was that easy, we would have had several hit movies being staged on Broadway already from other companies. Shrek the Musical, anyone?


Putting Disney's Food To The Test

With all the publicity surrounding Disney's move for no trans-fat and healthier choices in their food offerings at the theme parks, someone decided to actually test the nutritional content of what's available. A news reporter and a nutritionist went to Disneyland to check out the food.

What they found was quite encouraging.

On the plus side, Gigliotti says she was pleased that healthy alternatives are equally available on the menus at most restaurants, that food portions aren't "huge," and that many healthy snacks are sold in an accessible form, such as carrots with dips, that can be carried while walking.

"Sometimes the problem when you get into a controlled environment is that you're really stuck with what they have there," says Gigliotti. "I thought given the environment that it is, that they did have a good range of choices. There were vegetarian items; there were some low-fat items."

She especially liked the vending carts loaded with items like freshly cut fruit, trail mixes, and water, and felt they were as accessible as the carts selling popcorn or ice cream bars.

However, Disney should stop being paranoid.

When I called Disneyland for comment, the media relations office initially set up an interview with Mary Niven, Disneyland Resort's vice president of food and beverage. But on the day of the scheduled interview Tucker called me to cancel the interview saying Niven was "ill" and he expressed concern with the type of column I would be writing.

Another news organization had done a similar experiment he said, tipping me off to a nutritional analysis commissioned by Bloomberg News last fall that found that Disney's Magic Kingdom in Florida serves food with more fat, salt and calories than even the McDonald's Corp. They discovered one reason some food is fattier than McDonald's is because Disney's serving sizes are bigger.

Bloomberg also found, for example, that a smoked turkey leg sold in Frontierland has almost a day's worth of fat and 1,092.5 calories.

Disney maintained that the Bloomberg study was unbalanced for focusing on a fraction of the food it offers. However, if it truly aims to promote healthier kids' diets, as its initiative claims, then shouldn't all its offerings be open to analysis?

Considering that this turned out to be a rather positive review of the nutritional content of the available food, Disney should have been more open to such scrutiny. It would have been a huge plus to have an independent source acknowledging that there are healthier choices available at the parks. It certainly would back up what they have been saying.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

St. Patrick's Day at Downtown Disney

If you're lucky enough to be in Downtown Disney this weekend, you can celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a number of cool events planned in that part of WDW. Foremost on that list is, of course, Raglan Road Irish Restaurant & Pub, which has planed a weekend-long, almost non-stop festivities to celebrate the occassion.

If you are going to be there, get a few pictures of the leprechauns, won't you?



DirecTV to Carry 4 New HD Disney-Owned Channels

DirecTV will carry 4 new HD Disney-owned channels in 2008. While I am not impressed with ESPNEWS HD (ESPN already has HD broadcast - I don't need to see the news in HD) and ABC Family HD, the ones that I am looking forward to are the Disney Channel HD and Toon Disney HD. Now those would be awesome, especially if they have true HD content for things like the House of Mouse and Winnie the Pooh.


Disney Targets Parents With New Website

I suppose they mean well, but still....

Disney is launching a new website for parents, especially moms. It is supposed to be full of parenting resources such as "... education, food, traveling with children, entertainment and shopping."

Again, I am sure they mean well, but it still sounds as if they're again making their brand more prominent with parents. They already got the kids.

Maybe I should just shut up until I get to actually see the website, no?



Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Disney: Delights and Doubts

This might be an interesting reading. It was published in the journal of Research for Consumers and studies the nature of how Disney theme parks present themselves to the consumer or "guests".

I'm sure I am totally bias on this, but some of the criticism towards the end of the article are rather simplistic. I mean, we ALL are aware that we tend to suspend reality while we are there, but never at any point are we disconnected to it. For example, I fully enjoy having interactions and having pictures with the characters. Often get into the whole spirit, but I still have, in the back of my mind, that these are real people dressed up in these costumes. Some time, a cigar is just a cigar, and some of these social researchers read way too much into things.


My "Happiest Office On Earth"

Or that's what one of my friends called it.

Since I spend most of my waking hours here, I thought I should make my office to be as happy and cheerful as I can. So you'll see plenty of Disney stuff since those make me happy.

Desk facing the window where I have my phone and few scrap papers and other junk.

This is my work desk where I have my computer. Someone once told me that I could probably use the Mickey ears on the hat as a microwave relay. I probably could! :)

This is my bookshelf that faces my work desk. I love sitting here and watching all of those stuff in front of me.

A physics office must have a blackboard. So I used it to draw a giant Mickey head! We try to do our work and equations around the head (none of my co-workers appear to want to write over it or erase it!) :)

I brought a small lounge chair just so Mickey can have his afternoon nap while I'm busy with work.

A few more stuff toys, and one of the Pirates posters that I recently got.


How Disney's Imagineering Develops New Rides

This is a rather interesting article. It describes how Disney's Imagineering division comes up with new ideas for various attractions. It includes the concept of "Blue Sky Studios":

Employees work for a department, such as R&D, Creative Development or Show/Ride Engineering, but often are assigned to a multi-disciplinary project team and spend most of their time there.

When Imagineers aren't on a current project, they will often work at the Blue Sky Studio. It's an open area, decorated with models of past projects, that's designed for dreaming up possibilities for future work. At any one time, about 50 people are involved in blue-sky projects.

It creates "an arsenal of things to choose from, a cauldron of ideas," says Eric Jacobson, Imagineering's senior vice president for creative development.

Imagineers need to be able to contribute ideas without worrying about whether they'll be implemented, Vaughn says.

That sounds wonderful. It almost sounds like the old days of Bell Labs, where people are given a lot of freedom to go off and think of creative things on their own.


P.S. This is a similar report, but with coverage on several attractions.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Meet The Robinsons To Be In Disney Digital 3D

To be released at the end of March, Meet The Robinsons will be the next Disney movie to be released in Disney Digital 3D after Chicken Little.

I'm actually looking forward to this one, because the little snippets of pictures and trailers that I've seen looked astounding. Let's hope there's a very good story that goes with the stunning visuals.


Disney Execs To Build Playground

Fresh from leaving New Orleans after a successful shareholders meeting, many Disney executives will be back in New Orleans to help build a playground in that city. Disney certainly should be commended for its generous support and contribution to the gulf area still recovering from that hurricane.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Disney World: Not For the faint of Foot

This is a rather amusing article. A newspaper writer decided to WALK through all 4 WDW theme park and see how far it takes (22 1/2 miles). He's also doing this in just one day (bad idea).

To be fair, hardly anyone visits all four Disney World parks in a single day. The Disney cartel recommends that families stay a week, so that the maximum fun and cash can be extracted by the two sides. But with the new one-day "park hopper" ticket that Disney World now offers, it's possible to cram the whole joint -- Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios and Magic Kingdom -- into a single day's visit.

No one is saying it can't be done, but this is one way to kill oneself and not enjoy anything about the parks. It will be even worse if you have young kids.


More on DVC Preview Center Opening in the Chicago Area

It was reported earlier that Disney will be opening a DVC Preview Center in the Chicagoland area, specifically at the Woodfield Mall in suburban Schaumburg. In the latest edition of the DVC newsletter, we get more information on this center:

Late this summer, Disney Vacation Club is scheduled to open Disney's Doorway to Dreams, a first-of-its-kind preview center in suburban Chicago's popular Woodfield Mall.

The 6,300-square-foot space will feature an interactive family vacation discovery zone, a children's play area and a full-scale, two-bedroom model Vacation Home representing accommodations at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas, the eighth and "wildest" Disney Vacation Club Resort.

Staffed by Cast Members and designed by Walt Disney Imagineering, Disney's Doorway to Dreams will aim to offer the warm and immersive experience Guests expect from Disney. Casting for this new location is underway, with Disney "talent scouts" searching for ideal candidates to fill a variety of sales and operations roles within the preview center. Interested candidates can learn more about available roles by visiting (Once in the site, click on the "Openings" link on the left side of the screen, and then select "Chicago" from the drop-down list of cities in the Job Search screen. The Disney Vacation Club openings will be among the roles listed.)

"This continued growth in our operation is made possible by the tremendous enthusiasm of our Member community," said Disney Vacation Club President Jim Lewis. "The most frequent comment we hear from new Members is that they wish they'd learned about Disney Vacation Club sooner. Disney's Doorway to Dreams is just one of the ways we're helping families discover that 'secret' as early as possible."

Certainly sounds like a place for Disney fans to go to during times when we're stuck up here. I wish they have a data on when it will be open.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Disney Fanatic's Neverland Room

I love it when I read about another Disney fanatic's collection or decorations, etc. It always seems to make mine obsession rather tame by comparison. Of course, there is a also a twinge of jealousy since these are usually things I would do if I could! :)

This is one just such example. A Disney fan built a Disney playroom for him, his wife, and their kids. From the description and the picture, this sounds way cool!

I think most Disney fans have a room (or rooms) devoted to their Disney collection. My Disney collection has to fight with my Tweety collection. OK, please don't hate me, but I truly love Tweety! It doesn't make me less of a Disney fanatic, I can assure you of that! :)

[OK, I'm beginning to sound like the Geico commercial where one of the caveman says to the other that it doesn't make him less of a caveman just because he bought Geico insurance.]


The Mouse Is Watching

Thanks to marni1971 at for pointing this out. It seems that Disney does surf the web to gauge the opinion and reaction of its fans and guests. In that video, several prominent Disney fan sites were shown, including and These and The Disney Blog are three of my most frequent sources of information and opinions.

I have kinda suspected that, and certainly am aware that people from Disney occasionally do visit this Blog (I'm honored - Hi Mickey!). Still, my original instinct when I notice that is "They're trolling to look for copyright violations!" :)

I can't help it, I'm often a pessimist! :)

So it is very heartening that they do go around various websites to get reactions and opinions of their fans. Not sure to what extent they act on what they gather, but it is still good to know that maybe, many of us here do actually help to make a difference, even small ones.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Hand Drawn Animation Will Have Black Princess

Disney revealed two major news yesterday, and they both came from the same movie.

Disney will release The Frog and the Princess that will be the first hand-drawn movie in years for Disney. Not only that, the movie will have Disney's first black princess, which will be set in New Orleans.

I actually am looking forward to this, and it might be a nice change from the recent flood of digital animation.


Accused Children Molester Cannot Go To Disney World After All!

Wow! It worked!

Frank Atherton, who is accused of sexually assaulting 3 children and then had the permission from a judge to go to Walt Disney World, will now have to make other plans. The judge who granted the permission earlier, changed his mind (duh!) and reversed his decision.

Gee... all the negative publicity surrounding this whole debacle didn't have anything to do with this sudden change of heart, did it? But was he too late?

But during a Thursday hearing, Sahlstrom said he was unaware Atherton planned on going to Disney World. He told Haughan to contact Atherton, who already had left on his trip, and tell him to not go to the theme park, the Sun-Times and Rockford Register Star reported.

The fact that this was approved a month ago, and all that time, nothing was done until the recent publicity surrounding this absurd decision makes me think that the reversal was in response to the negative publicity. He would have gone of to WDW if all this didn't happen.



UPDATE: This news report has a more detailed "explanation" given by the judge in question. Somehow, it doesn't make me feel any better (or safer) that such decisions can be made in such an informal manner. "Houston, we have a problem", comes to mind.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Problems With Pirates 3?

I don't know how valid this rumor is, it has been reported that Disney's head honchos are not happy with the early cut of Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and have sent it back for re-editing.

Could this force a delay in the May 25th opening?


More Spin on "I'm Going To Disney World" Promotion

"Frank D. Atherton, you've been accused of sexually assaulting 3 children! What you are going to do now?"

"Why, I'm going to Disney World!"

This would have been funny if it weren't so serious and, frankly, appalling.

First of all, my only source of information is this news report. So I certainly do not know all the details or even if there are missing pieces of information here. But simply by reading what has transpired, there are just a few things that made you say "huh"?

A judge is letting an accused child molestor to go to, get this, Walt Disney World with his family for his vacation.

First of all, they made a mistake that is one of my pet peeve:

Lombardo said her office was not consulted on Atherton's desire to go to Disney World, which court records mistakenly listed as Disneyland, which is in southern California.

Oy... But this is even more mind-boggling:

"We would have objected further had we known that was where he was going," Lombardo said. "Certainly, Disney World is a place known to be frequented by children."

Atherton is free because he paid 10 percent of his $100,000 in bail. One of the conditions of bail was that he not have contact with "any minor children," Lombardo said.

I may be dense, but what am I missing here?

But this one takes the cake:

Then Tuesday, when Atherton provided the court clerk with an itinerary, Associate Judge R. Craig Sahlstrom was called and authorized the 46-year-old felon's plans to spend three days of his trip at Walt Disney World.
Last year, Judge Sahlstrom disclosed he represented Atherton in a previous case, but prosecutors did not object, records show. Through an assistant, the judge said he could not comment on the pending case.

Has someone been asleep at the wheel here?


UPDATE: The judge has "clarified" that he cannot go to Disney World after all.

Disney And City of Anaheim to Battle In Court

It was reported earlier that Disney has sued the City of Anaheim to stop the housing development just outside the Disneyland Resort. It appears that both sides are heading for a battle. The City of Anaheim will fight the lawsuit that was filed in the courts.

It will be interesting to see if, regardless of the outcome, the cozy relationship between Anaheim and Disney will be affected by this court battle.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Different Spin On "I'm Going To Disney World" Promotion

"Mr Mohammad Salah! You have just been acquited from being a terrorist! What are you going to do now?"

"Why, I"m going to Disney World!"

OK, so that doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but that is what Salah is planning on doing with his family for a vacation, if he could get the permission from the judge.

BTW, and I'm sure this is just a coincidence and has no connection to this case, the word "salah" in Malaysian/Indonesian language means "wrong".

Like I said, no connection whatsoever.... :)


Ratatouille Preview has a synopsis of the upcoming Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouille. It sounds like a very compelling story line, and if the characters are as good as that story line, they should have another winner here.

The only other question left is, who will John Ratzenberger play in this movie!



Tuesday, March 06, 2007

More Muppet Mobile Labs

Laughing Places has an interview with Bruce Vaughn, Vice President of Research and Development for Walt Disney Imagineering, about the new Muppet Mobile Labs that is part of their new character interactions. They also have amazing pictures and videos. For those of us who can't make it to California Adventure to see this personally, this is all we get to see.


More On John Lasseter Saving The Magic Kingdom

Another news article on John Lasseter saving the Disney animation studios. I truly hope he doesn't read any of these things (which, I'm guessing, he doesn't). I mean, with all the accolades being given to him and what he can do, there is just way too much pressure and too high of an expectation for what he is expected to do to the Disney animation division. That is just not fair to a single person.

And I think media buildup like this one, and all that have appeared since the Disney-Pixar marriage, is simply setting him up to a very lofty position so that if something does go wrong, these same media will be the first one to crucify him and point out what was wrong with him. That is what they have been known to do.


Monday, March 05, 2007

Disney's First #1 Movie of 2007

Wild Hogs took in $38 million over the weekend to become Disney's first #1 movie of 2007. Not sure if they can top last year's unbelievable results (even with the 3rd installment of Pirates coming out this summer), but they do need these smaller movies to be breakout hits to be able to match last year's success.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Why Disney Won't Re-Release "Song of the South"

This is a terrific news article on why Disney won't re-release "Song of the South".

Personally, I think they should release it. Warner Brothers have done a wonderful thing recently with their Looney Tunes collections. They have included those politically-incorrect episodes in these collections, but included commentary by people like Whoopy Goldberg on the context of these cartoon, when they were released, etc. It is important to acknowledge that these were done and released, rather than simply to sweep then under the rug and pretend that they didn't exist.

Disney should do the same thing. After all, they continue to reap the benefits out of Song of the South with the Splash Mountain attraction. Release it and put commentaries by prominent figures to put the movie in perspective. But to pretend that it didn't exist is just puzzling.


The Most Injury-Prone Job at Disney

What is the most injury-prone job in all of Disney? Stunt performer? Dancer? Jungle Cruise Skipper?

No, it's those costumed characters that we all love so much! I've said this before and I'll say it again, I have nothing but utter admiration to many of the cast members who do this. I can only imagine how unweildy those heavy costumes (especially the large heads) can be. On top of that, some of these characters go out in the stiffling heat, or have to walk around in tight spaces around dinning tables in a restaurant with people sitting and whizzing by all the time.

I do hope Disney does more with trying to reduce or even prevent such injuries to these cast members. The meeting with characters is a big part of going to the parks, especially for younger children, and even some adults (ME!). I do hope, though, that the new technology with the live character initiative does not replace the costumed characters.


Disney Debut "Live Character Initiative"

The Disney Imagineers are at it again. The recent debut of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his nervous assistant, Beaker, is breaking new grounds in character interactions at Disney theme parks. Called the Live Character Initiative, this appears to be similar to the interaction we get during Turtle Talk with Crush, except the interaction is with a "live" character rather than the one on screen.

It is terrific to hear things like this. The imagineers are truly thinking up new stuff, and this pushes the envelope of animatronics that Disney pioneered a long time ago. I can't wait to see this myself when I get there in late May. Maybe now there's more of a reason to walk all the way to that area of Disney/MGM Studios, rather than just do Tower of Terror and Rock 'N Roller Coaster, and then leave!


Edit: ARGH! I just realized that this is only at California Adventure and not at MGM Studios. Oy! I should not do speed reading too often.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Walt Disney World Underground

This link provides the full article of the history and layout of the utilidors at the Magic Kingdom. It actually is quite informative and entertaining. It would have be even more of an interest if you had taken one of the Magic Kingdom backstage tours (such as Keys to the Magic Kingdom which we took a couple of years ago) and had gone into the utilidors.

The author did pose the same question that I had, which was:

However impressive the end result, the Disney Corporation declined to duplicate the system installed for the Magic Kingdom either in its additions to Disney World such as Epcot Center or Disney-MGM Studios or in the European and Japanese parks; whether this was due to prohibitive cost, as one backstage guide has suggested, or for other reasons is not clear.

I've always wondered why it was never duplicated at any of the other parks.

The next of trivia is well-known among Disney fans, especially if one has see any of those Travel Channel/History Channel/etc documentaries:

The 1.25 miles of Magic Kingdom tunnels cover an area of nearly 400,000 ft2, arranged in a rough hexagon with a central corridor allowing a short cut between the main wardrobe (under Fantasyland) and personnel (under Main Street U.S.A.) areas. The system incorporates Disney World’s sophisticated automatic vacuum collection garbage collection system, the first in the United States and the largest in the world, capable of collecting and compacting three tons per hour through pneumatic tubes. It also includes covered access roads for deliveries, emergency vehicles, and the Brinks armored truck; the digital animation control system (DACS) that every second synchronizes over 72,000 individual functions of the Audio-Animatronics figures in the Magic Kingdom, not to mention doors, lifts, lighting, curtains, detection and alarm systems; dressing rooms for the employees, or “cast members”; “costume stores” for their uniforms; cafeterias; and everything else that would be unseemly to appear aboveground.

There are lots more fascinating stuff to be found in that article.


[Edit: The link no longer provides a free access to the article. Sorry.]

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Tussle at Hippo Pond Was Over A Card Game?

Man, that must have been one card game!

It appears that the incident over the hippo pond at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge between 2 Disney contractors was over a freaking card game!

The Disney union is trying to use this to highlight the problem with using contracted workers, something Disney has been using more and more of lately with a number of outsourcing jobs. Unfortunately, I don't think this is a rather good example, though, as explained in that news article.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Disney Helping LA For Olympics Bid

A Disney-produced film will be shown as part of LA's bid to be the US city to host the 2016 Olympics.

......the Mayor and Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook will unveil a short bid film created by Disney that answers the question "Why L.A.?”. The film is to feature some of L.A. 2016's biggest stars.

As a Chicago resident, I have mixed feelings about this, especially since LA and Chicago are the two final cities. I'd like Chicago to win the bid, but I'm dreading all the traffic and commotions associated with hosting such an event IF (and that is a very big if) the city actually does win this in the end.


Fight At Disney's Hippo Pond

Gee, I wonder what could have caused such a fight like this in the first place? You must be really mad at someone to want to torch that person.

Still, I wonder if there were any hippos around, because such behavior is really an embarassement to other species.