Monday, April 30, 2007

Another Family Gets To Stay At Cinderella Castle Suite

Another lucky family wins a stay at the Cinderella Castle Suite.

The Cormier family became honorary Disney royalty for a day and night after Sheila Cormier exited the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction around 11 a.m. That was the randomly selected location and time determined by the Disney Dreams Giveaway computer to award the Cinderella Castle stay.

... and they all looked so happy too in that picture!



Pirates Premier Sold Out

I mentioned earlier about the charity premier of Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End for the Make A Wish Foundation. The tickets were selling at $1500 a piece. Well, if you haven't bought it yet, you're out of luck. They sold out in just 14 days!

The $3 million goal – in celebration of the third Pirates adventure – was set forth just two weeks ago. Disney started things with a donation of more than $1 million. Ticket buyers from countries such as Australia, Japan, Germany, Belgium, Canada and Mexico, and 35 U.S. states including Hawaii raced to log on to and purchased tickets to the event at $1,500 apiece. Ticket buyers making the trip to Anaheim next month for the event include a family from Chicago, where the father is having his kids volunteer at a children’s hospital so they can fully appreciate their tickets. A doctor from Canada is sending her mother as a thank you for working multiple jobs to put her through medical school. A soldier currently serving in Iraq is sending his parents from Oregon to let them know he loves and misses them.

So this is turning out not just a highly anticipated premier, but also becoming quite a special event.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tomorrowland At Night

One of my most favorite shots that I've taken anywhere in WDW. This is the entrance to Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom. Of course, one had to use a tripod for this. However, I remember that while I was shooting this, someone asked if he could borrow my tripod to take a picture. I was more than happy to let him use it for a few minutes, but he was aiming his camera in the opposite direction. So after a while, I told him to turn around and take the picture behind him. He did and gasped because he didn't realize what he was missing.

See, it is moments and small little memories like these that make such a visit so memorable. Many of the pictures, pins, and merchandise that I have come with such precious memories.


Relaxing Beyond The Parks

Most of us of course associate Walt Disney World with its glorious theme parks. However, this article lists the vitues of the place beyond the theme parks, including Downtown Disney and the Boardwalk.

I think that most people, especially those who only have a few days to spend at WDW, tend to miss these places outside of the theme parks. There are plenty to see at the above two locations, and at various Disney resorts. I remember taking a couple of people to dinner at Boma, and then showing them the wild life area of the resort. They were just utterly shocked at how much they enjoyed just looking at Animal Kingdom Lodge and the wild life, and didn't know such a thing existed.

So just because it is outside the theme parks, and it is free, doesn't mean that there's no entertainment value to it. Disney is certainly more than the sum of its theme parks.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Los Angeles Times Book Prizes awarded

The Los Angeles Times announced its 2007 Book Prizes award Friday evening at UCLA. Neil Gabler's biography of Walt Disney, for better or worse, won the award for best biography.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Euro Disney First Half Loss Narrows

EuroDisney, the corporation that owns Disneyland Paris, is still bleeding money, but at least it is bleeding less.

The net loss for the six months through March 31 narrowed to euro82 million ($111.7 million) from 101.8 million in the same period a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Sales rose 9.7 percent to euro512.6 million ($698.5 million).

Revenue was largely boosted by greater theme park attendance and hotel occupancy. Theme park attendance rose by 600,000 people to 6.1 million, while average spending per hotel room gained 5.1 percent.


New Chicago Tour Highlights 1893's World's Fair

Since I live in Chicago, here's a plug for the city.

The 1893 Chicago Colombian Exposition brought us the Ferris wheel, carbonated soda, picture postcards, The Pledge of Allegiance and Juicy Fruit gum.

And, oh yeah, it also brought belly dancing, camel rides, ostriches and the nation's first serial killer.

You can learn more about the impact the World's Fair had on Chicago and the nation, as well as a multitude of interesting anecdotes, through a new bus tour offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

"The Devil in the White City Tour" is a companion guide to Erik Larson's best-selling book of the same name.

But not to worry, there IS a Disney connection when you read the sidebar:

Walt Disney's father, Elias, worked at the fair as a laborer. Decades later, many would call Disney World, especially EPCOT, a permanent World's Fair.

So that's my excuse for including this on here. :)


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Michael Eisner Says That Micromanagement Is Key To Brand Quality

OK, first of all, I am not one of those people who bash Michael Eisner, even when I thought he made a terrible mistake by disbanding the animation unit. Even when he left Disney, I didn't join in to trample all over his "legacy". He clearly did a lot of good for the company by expanding it into its current considerable size and presence.

However, I think that he may be a bit "delusional" in this one.

Touting the virtues of micromanagement, the former head of The Walt Disney Co. said attention to every detail is the key to developing a successful brand.

For example, Michael Eisner, chief executive officer of Disney from 1984 to 2005, said that upon his insistence, Disney's line of cruise ships has shampoo bottles with big, easy-to-read print.

You can't use "anecdotal" examples and justify the validity of a whole philosophy. That is just illogical. One can easily counter this by pointing out that Bob Iger in fact has the opposite approach to this, and that he does not micromanage the company. Instead, he gives freedom for those in command to make their creative decision without his interference.

Iger calls it the Tom Murphy School of Management. "You put good people in jobs and give them room to run," he says. "You involve yourself in a responsible way, but not to the point where you are usurping their authority. I don't have the time or concentration--and you could argue maybe even the talent--to do that."

And how has the company done under this type of management since Eisner left? BRILLIANTLY, thankyouverymuch! So if I use the same logic as Eisner, I could easily say that NOT micromanaging is the key to the current Disney brand quality that WORKS!

Sometime I truly wonder how some people can come up with their conclusions....


Kurt Russell Confirms That Walt Disney's Last Written Words Are His Name

This certainly came out of nowhere. I wasn't even aware that there was an urban legend on this. If this is true, then it will make a hell of a trivia question!

Actor Kurt Russell has confirmed that his name was the last 2 words that Walt Disney wrote before Walt's death. Wow! Now if only we can get a confirmation from another independent source.

Russell has also been quoted as crediting Walt for his success as an actor.


Rift Between Disney and Anaheim May Endure

A report in today's Los Angeles Times predict that the once cozy relationship between Disney and the City of Anaheim may be over, and that the rift may last for quite a while as Disney will probably change its strategy and attitude towards the city.

I would not be surprised by this. I think this whole thing is ludicrous in the first place, and the developer is disguising this whole thing just to get to build those luxury housing.

And oh, one more thing. MOST of us do NOT get to live right next to where we work! The constant whining of "affordable housing" near Disneyland has none of my sympathy. Do Disneyland cast members deserve better wages? DEFINITELY. I've argued for that many times on here. But who says that they have the "right" to be within a few minutes of where they work? Since when do people, especially in Southern California, expect NOT to commute to work? I commute 31 miles each way to work everyday! This argument that Disney workers SHOULD be able to afford to live near Disneyland is hogwash and does nothing to persuade me to their cause.

Besides, why does the affordable housing must be within the 5% of the land already designated as the tourist area and generating most of your city's revenue? Why not bulldoze parts of the rest of your 95% of your land and build affordable housing there, if you are THAT concerned about "affordable housing".

This whole thing is stupid.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Disney Theme Park is NOT Coming to SW Missouri

I mentioned earlier about the rumors circulating that Disney is considering opening a theme park in SW Missouri based on the "address" of one of the participants. While the info is still sketchy right now, we have a more definitive report that Disney does NOT have any such plans.

But I like the comment left on that news page directed towards the news media:

So... are any of the journalists in this region capable of contacting Disney themselves for comment? I've seen two stories that debunk Disney's involvement, both of which hinge on Commissioner Jerry Carter's claim that he spoke to someone unnamed at Disney who said it's not true. That's abysmal reporting. Guys, Disney is listed in the phone book. 818 area code. Burbank, California. This story has *one* source -- Jerry Carter. Pathetic.

Right on! Don't media reporters do "research" on the validity of a story anymore?


Zagat Survey Publishes First Ever Guide on WDW

Hey, I was a part of this! :)

I mentioned earlier that I took the Zagat survey on the experience at Walt Disney World. The Zagat survey guidebook to WDW is now published.

They obviously got many of the die-hard, hardcore Disney fanatics (is there any other kind?).

Zagat surveyed 4,841 people by computer between Nov. 16 and Dec. 3. The average participant had been to Disney World 36 times. And 58 percent possessed annual or season passes.

I'm looking forward to getting a copy of this one, fer shure!


Anaheim Vote Could Put Low-Income Housing Near Disneyland

The "ever-wise" Anaheim city council voted 3-2 to allow the building of a 1500 housing units near Disneyland Resort that would include a paltry 225 "affordable" housing. Of course, this is final, especially with the pending Disney's lawsuit, and its effort to get this on the next ballot.

Honestly, if they are SO concerned about "affordable housing", why aren't they insisting that the developer build more than just THAT amount of affordable housing. I would have a different opinion about this if it has either all, or at least half. But 225? The city council can't see that the developer is using this JUST as a token to get them to approve of such a thing? Oy vey!

They have designated the zoning of the resort area. Now they change their minds under the pretense of "affordable housing" for a paltry number of "225". Really now! Who do they think they're kidding?


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' wins $25,000

This teenage girl won $25,000 for texting "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from Mary Poppins in, get this, 15 seconds!

I guess we all have to have SOME thing that we can be proud of. I'm not sure if *I* would consider this to be one of them. I'm surprised there's no "text speak" for that word. :)

She estimated that she sends more than 8,000 text messages a month to her friends and family.

The phone company must love her.


Spinning Disney's World

The Orlando Sentinel has an interview with Charles Ridgway, who was ".... a publicist at Disneyland in 1963, started the public-relations office at Walt Disney World in 1969, and stayed through 1993...." This interview is in conjunction with Ridgway new book Spinning Disney's World.


Monday, April 23, 2007

It’s Not a Sequel, but It Might Seem Like One After the Ads

New York times has an article on Disney-Pixar planned push and promotion for their upcoming movie Ratatouille. In fact, they will be running a promotion all over TV just so people will go to the Disney website to see the ad for the movie.

But not without some extraordinary effort. Next Tuesday, Disney will unleash an unusual all-day television advertising campaign, culminating with a 90-second spot on “American Idol,” intended to drive viewers to a nine-and-a-half-minute clip from the film at

In effect, the studio is promoting its promotion.

I suppose that is understandable. Ratatouille is a completely original story among a summer full of sequels. I am definitely looking forward to this to this after watching the trailer before Meet The Robinsons.


Meet The Robinsons Holding On Strong

In its 4 weekend of release, Meet The Robinsons is holding on strong at the box office. It came in 5th with $7.1 million, bringing its total to $72 million. At this rate, it will achieve the $100 million mark domestically.

Would be nice to know what percentage of that came from the 3D showing.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Disney Magic Can't Beat Quality Time With Family

This is not quite the trip from hell, but it comes close and it is pretty hilarious for those of us who did not go through it.

Maybe that's one reason why I probably won't have kids. I severely would had a mental breakdown going through something like that. :)


Reminiscing On Pirates of the Caribbean

This is a great story about Pirates of the Caribbean the ride and its history.

Francis X. Atencio remembers riding with Walt Disney through the dark swamp in Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride before it opened — from haunted caverns to a pirate galleon to a ransacked Caribbean seaport.

He turned to Disney and apologized as they drifted past a bustling marketplace scene, where a pirate auctioned off a woman to a crowd of rowdy buccaneers.

“I’m sorry we can’t hear all of their lines,” Atencio said.

Disney responded: “This way, each time people go through it, they’ll hear something new.”

This amazing attraction is 40 years old, and with the movies being wildly popular, it will continue to be popular for a very long time. I just wish that the WDW version is as extensive as the one at Disneyland. But I guess they all can't be identical.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Windy City Pin Traders April Event

I attended my first ever Windy City Pin Traders event last month. We had so much fun, we went again today for the April Meeting. That first time wasn't a fluke. We had A LOT of fun, mainly because we brought even more pins than that first time. So we managed to do quite a bit more of pin trading with fellow pin traders. Again, these are some of the nicest people around, and it felt very comfortable being around them.

The event this month had a very special guest. Tom Tumbusch, the publisher of Tomart's Disneyana Guide to Pin Trading, Tomart's Disneyana Collector Magazine and other publications was also visiting and trading pins. Any serious Disney pin collectors would consider the Pin Trading Guide book as the bible of pin trading. So it is obvious that this group of pin traders here in the Chicago area is quite well-known among pin trading activities throughout the country. It makes it even a more wonderful group to belong to.

Can't wait for the meeting next month. That would be just a week before we leave for our WDW trip. I've already promised a couple of people there that we would buy pins for them while we're at WDW. So I expect a shopping list by then. :)


Disney Theme Park in SW Missouri?

Rumors of a possible Disney theme park in southwest Missouri is being reignited by a $1.1 billion request for road improvement. Southwest Missouri? Would this be near Marceline?

The "connection" is rather a stretch, but it sounds almost like the "clandestine" operation that Walt took when buying up those swamp land in central Florida. Could history repeat itself?


Going to WDW is a Religious Experience?

Oh, you have GOT to read this article. It is written by Rabbi Jonathan R. Katz of the congregation Achduth Vesholom. It started out rather ominously.

More than 25 years ago at Disney World, I had a friend snap a picture of me swearing on a pretend Bible that, if blessed with children, I would never take them to “The Mouse.”

I can understand that. Many male teenagers probably do that! :) But then, things changed!

Well, one wife and kid later, my pledge bit the dust when our family recently spent four days at the vast vacation mecca. Maybe it’s that I’m more world-wearied, that my 5-year-old daughter cannot get enough of Cinderella, that when it was 5 degrees here it was 65 there, that fast passes for rides are now available or that I’m more comfortable embracing high-tech, fun-filled, child-inspired enchantments. Whatever the reason, when I entered the Disney bubble this time, notwithstanding the large dent it put in my bank account, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

And yes, I've seen that too. I've read my trip reports of people who either hated, or didn't care about Disney theme parks, being forced to go. Then they realized that they were having a tremendous time!

But here's where this article deviate from most of our experience, I think.

Beyond all the cheerful personnel at the airport, hotel and parks, terrific in-house transportation system, stunning propertywide landscaping, cleanliness, security and abundance of bathrooms, what struck me most about the mega complex was its sense of spirituality.

That may sound odd considering Disney, by design, has no religious face per se. But while nowhere on explicit display, I still thought I found religion in Mickey Mouse’s backyard. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples that to merit the kingdom of heaven they must “change and become like little children.” Isn’t this what Disney World encourages? That sensibility should also register with Jews because, after all, we refer to ourselves as the children of Israel. Remaining childlike even as we mature helps preserve a capacity for play that can prompt more authentic, dynamic and healthy human relations.

Entering the Magic Kingdom, MGM Studios or Animal Kingdom, one experiences a certain giddiness knowing that a kind of Promised Land of wonder and mirth has been reached. A warm sense of community is cultivated by the human scale buildings, consistently yet aesthetically engaging architecture, ambient music, ubiquitous Disney characters, elaborate stage shows and impromptu street skits.

Yowzah! Or maybe I should have said "Oy vey!"


Still, I think for many of us who love the place, there is a sense of joy and happiness while we are there, even when faced with long lines, outrageous food costs (should have taken that Disney Dining Plan!), boiling summer heat, and sore feet.

So next time those Southern Baptists protest or boycott WDW, I'll show them this article! :)


Friday, April 20, 2007

Theme-park Tilt-A-Whirl

I've posted many websites that sorta list some helpful hints and useful information about visiting a particular Disney theme park. But this one is interesting, because this person lives in Seattle, and discusses visiting three theme parks: Silverwood in Idaho, Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida.

If you want to just show up and enjoy the day, Silverwood fits the bill. Plus, it's a day's drive, at 350 miles east of Seattle. Disneyland in Anaheim involves more preplanning and preparation, but Walt Disney World takes the prize. You could spend your entire vacation reading blogs, Internet bulletin boards, Web sites, travel reviews and guidebooks about WDW and never step foot in Orlando.

Ain't that the truth! I lost count how many blogs and websites there are on Disney and on WDW in particular. I'm surprised there are people who actually read this blog considering just how many there are out there and the fact that there are plenty of more well-known ones.



Primate Training at Disney's Animal Kingdom

More scholarly research work done at Disney's Animal Kingdom:

Primate Training at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Hollie Colahan, Chris Breder
Disney's Animal Kingdom , Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Vol. 6, No. 3, Pages 235-246 (2003).

Abstract: A training program has been in place at Disney's Animal Kingdom since the nonhuman animals first arrived at the park. The Primate Team and the Behavioral Husbandry Team have worked together closely to establish a philosophy and framework for this program. This framework emphasizes setting goals, planning, implementing, documenting, and evaluating. The philosophy focuses on safety, staff training, and an integrated approach to training as an animal management tool. Behaviors to be trained include husbandry and veterinary as well as behaviors identified for specific species, individuals, or situations. Input from all the teams was used to prioritize these behaviors. Despite the challenges to maintaining such a program, the benefits to animal care and welfare have been enormous.

Online access to this paper can be found here.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Don't Blame Fairy Tales For Your Emotional Issues

I got a good chuckle while reading this article. It came from the University of Rochester's campus newspaper.

So while I was searching Facebook groups (we reflect on the anti-feminist groups article), I came across several "Disney gave me unrealistic expectations about love," with member counts rising above 114,000. Disney also gave several Facebookers unrealistic expectations about men, body image and my own personal favorite: physics.

And it's not just Disney. "The Notebook" and "Grey's Anatomy" are also to be blamed for our unrealistic expectations. I see where everyone is coming from. I am also aware that people don't have waists like that, and I understand why so many feminists and just normal people have a problem with Disney's promotions of traditional gender roles and reliance on white heteronormativity. I am also aware that many of the princesses are white, and even some of the multicultural ones (Mulan and Esmeralda) are not princesses at all.

I get all that. But I have a few things to say. First, seriously, take some responsibility, people. I literally grew up with Disney, and I know all the words to songs and have sung along to even some of the most anti-feminist ones - even "Me" in "Beauty and the Beast" and this gem from "Cinderella," "Leave the sewing to the women, you go get some trimming."

Yet, I don't think young impressionable me came away thinking, "Well only girl mice sew dresses." I also don't think I believed that people in coffins can be kissed back to health. While not defending Disney Corporation, I've also wondered why people didn't come away with Ariel singing, "Bet they don't reprimand their daughters, bright young women, sick of swimming, ready to stand…" which I always read as female independence, and instead got caught up in, "Some day my prince will come."

I think the topic is correct in terms of how people tend to blame other things rather than looking at themselves for the cause of their difficulties. I find the whole thing rather amusing because of my own situation. While I didn't get into Disney as a kid, and only became "indoctrinated" into the Ways of the Mouse rather late in life, I am now fully immersed into the whole Disney atmosphere (others may call it being "brainwashed". Whatever!) :) Anyone who has been in my place can tell you that, although it isn't even a fraction as bad as some of the things other Disney fans have done.

What is actually rather amusing (and contradictory to some people), is that I'm a physicist. My normal, everyday work deals with figuring out the workings of Nature, and doing experiments to make sure something is real and reproducible. In this part of my life, I go after pseudosciences, supernatural phenomena, and other "magical" events that have no valid scientific basis or evidence. Yet, I fully accept the "magical" idea and stories of Disney, especially when I'm at the Disney theme parks. Aren't fairies, fairy godmothers, magic, and other magical happenings the absolute opposite of physics?

Sure they are! However, I do not accept them as being "real" as in physically verified, but rather real in the emotional impact. These things are accepted within the framework of entertainment and FUN, as well as providing emotional relaxation and pleasure. There is a difference. It is when one does not differentiate between those two is when what is real physically and what isn't get blurred, resulting in people believing quackery.

It really is a relief to be a child, to be irrational, and to throw out, for a brief moment, the need to be analytical. Disney and Disney theme parks do those for me. Just to be able to appreciate the joy of having fun doesn't come very often. If one looks at it that way, then I don't see how anything Disney or things in the media could possibly be blamed for such negative impact in one's life.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Beauty and the Beast Celebrates its 13th Year

Beauty and the Beast on Broadway today celebrates its 13th and final anniversary today with special events all day long. The long-running and very successful broadway show will close this summer to be replaced by another Disney musical The Little Mermaid.

It is too bad that there is such a limited supply of theaters in the Broadway district that Disney has to close one so that another could be produced. Beauty can certainly run for several more years since it is still pulling in the crowds.


41 Days and Counting

Sigh..... It seems that it will never get here! That's how many more days left before we arrive at Walt Disney World. It seems that it has been FOREVER since our last trip (which was Sept. last year).

Actually, we will be leaving Chicago a few days earlier. We're flying off on the 25th of May to Virginia to spend the Memorial Day weekend there, and then fly off to Orlando on Memorial Day itself, where we will be there till the following Sunday. We will be staying at Old Key West, which we stayed at for the first time last Sept. Our friends from LA will be joining us the day after we arrive (they'll be bringing in pins from Disneyland, we hope!). They are WDW virgins! This will be their first time ever at WDW! So you can only imagine how excited I am to play tour guide once again!

All of us will be getting the Disney Dining Plan, so we fully intend to be stuffed to the gills by the end of this trip. Other than the first day and the last day, we have made table service reservations for every single day we are there. We will be dining at Liberty Tree Tavern, Boma (my MOST favorite place to eat in all of WDW), Marrekesh, and Crystal Palace. So two of those (Liberty Tree Tavern and Crystal Palace) will be character dining.

After going to WDW on 4 separate times in 2006, we were planning on going just twice this year. We are planning to go again at the end of Sept/early Oct, mainly to coincide with Epcot's 25th Anniversary on Oct. 1st. This means that for the first time in 3 years, we will skip the yearly pin event at Epcot. However, that may change. After attending our first Windy City Pin Traders event last month, it seems that everyone was urging us to not skip the pin event this year. We haven't decided on it yet, but there's a small possibility that we may just fly in for the 3 days of the pin event. I guess it will all depends on the pins that will be released at the event. It seems that from the logo and the theme that I've seen, it will be very heavy on Figment, not something I care about nor collect. But we shall see.

Man, is it still 41 days and counting? Sheeesh!!!


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Where in Walt Disney World?

OK, let's see if you can figure out where in Walt Disney World this is, AND, the name of the attraction.


Disney Dreamjob Winners

We finally have our 25 winners of the Disney Dream Job contest. Congratulations! It sounds like they will be fully immersed into the Disney training for that one magical day as honorary cast members.

I wonder if Disney is going to be doing this regularly. It certainly have gone over way better than even they had anticipated, I would guess. Maybe it will have to wait for the next "promotion" that they might run after this Year of a Million Dreams.


Disney Bridal Gowns to Debut in Bridal Week

Disney's collection of bridal gowns by Kirstie Kelly will make its debut at New York's Bridal Fashion Week. Here's your chance to take a peak of what will be offered at a select bridal gown stores.

Bridal gowns priced between $1,100 and $3,500 US dollars and a “Maidens” for bridesmaids collection will be available at specialty boutiques in North America, Japan and Europe beginning in June. The collection will soon expand to include “Jewels” that accessorize even the fairest of them all.

What about the groom? How come there aren't any Prince Charming outfit? :)


Monday, April 16, 2007

Earth Day Party

Animal Kingdom is having Earth Day party this weekend to promote conservation.

But scroll down the article and there's news about Hong Kong Disneyland getting a Pirate attraction. It is not going to be similar to Pirates of the Caribbean.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Robinsons Holding Steady at the Box Office

Meet the Robinsons is holding steady in 3rd place at the box office this week with $12.1 million. It did not have a dramatic drop in ticket sales from the previous week. If it keeps up with this pace, it can certainly crosses over the $100 million mark. The fact that it didn't drop significantly when compared to the previous week could either mean that there's word-of-mouth about the movie and/or most people are only going to the 3D version. It makes you wonder how much more they could have earned by now if they had released it in 3D in more theaters.


Another Combo HD Player

The world of high definition disk player is still having this insane dual format that are incompatible with each other. With one camp promoting HD-DVD and another with Blu-Ray, the consumer is in the middle of a tug-of-war game. Disney, in this case, while they have not ruled out releasing their movies in both format, has so far been fully entrenched in the Blu-Ray camp. They have released their biggest hits on Blu-Ray so far, including Cars and both Pirates.

Last time I wrote about this, a company called LG had just announced a combo Blu-Ray/HD-DVD player at this years Consumer Electronics show. This might be the one thing that would make this silly battle moot for the consumer. Now Samsung has followed suit by announcing a new combo player that will be released in time for this year's holiday season. No news on how much it will cost, though. If there are more of these combo player, maybe that will help to drive down the cost within a year or two.

If you are like me and already own at least one high-def TV, you'd know that the main shortcoming right now is not having a high-def DVD player and movies. We were one of the early adopters when DVD was released. But in the case of high-def DVD players, we have decided to not dive into it and choose one format over the other. The combo player will probably be the one we would buy if and when the price becomes reasonable. The lack of high-def DVD-writer for a "universal" format is also another why we haven't migrated to high-def camcorder. We have every intention to reshoot as many of the Disney videos that we currently have in high-def, but we're not going to start investing into it until there is a definite direction to where this format war is heading.

So, to both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD camps, I'd like to say that we don't need you, and we won't buy any of your product yet, until you guys sort this out.


Another Cinderella Castle Suite Story

Here's another family who were in the right place at the right time. They got picked to be treated like royalty for a day at the Magic Kingdom and got to stay for a night at Cindy's castle suite.

Lucky stiffs! I'm so jealous!



Disney Musicals Up

Variety is reporting that earnings at the 4 Disney musicals on Broadway were up over the Easter week, with Tarzan showing the largest increase. Not bad for the only Disney musical playing that got rather tepid reviews.

It seems that most of Broadway got a boost over that same week, especially the musicals. I can certainly understand that, since it is certainly the type of state show that I personally prefer.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Meet The Robinsons The Game

It's amazing how they release the game version of the movie almost at the same time as the movie itself. The PlayStation II version of Meet the Robinsons are now almost 2 weeks old, almost as old as the movie being released in theaters.

I gather other versions are also available, such as for Xbox and PC.


Friday, April 13, 2007

$1500 Ticket Price for Pirates III Premier

Yup. $1500 a pop to attend the world premier for Pirates of the Caribbean III - At World's End. But it is for a good cause. Disney hopes to raise $3 million for Make A Wish Foundation.

I can't wait for this, of course. In fact, we will be at WDW after the opening weekend of this movie. Not sure if we'll make time to see it there or wait till we get back. We'll decide there since we'll have the whole week.


Happy Birthday, Disneyland Paris!

Pictures and videos from the Disneyland Paris 15th Anniversary celebration. In addition, this is a concise history of the park, especially its troubled early years.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Adoption Agency Critical of Meet The Robinsons

After ranting against Disney in my previous post for their treatment of Epcot and its fans, here I come back in support of Disney. An adoption agency in Waltham, MA is advising parents not to bring children to see Meet the Robinsons. The reason?

I found the movie was distorted, unrealistic and innappropriate in terms of the story it tells about adoption," said Peterson.

"That setup has disturbed hundreds of adoptive parents and their children, stoking abandonment and rejection fears originating from a story that does not accurately reflect how adopted children are placed with families," Adam Pertman of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute told USA Today.

OK, so the time travel part and all those futuristic toys are "realistic" and "accurate"? Hello?

Sometime, you feel like throwing your hands up in the air and look in amazement at some people.


Upgrades For Spaceship Earth

Disney is planning a major upgrade to Spaceship Earth. We already know about the new post-ride show sponsored by Siemens that will occupy the now vacant exit area. Now word comes that Spaceship Earth will close early summer and will reopen in November, AFTER its 25th Anniversary!

Oy vey!

So it is not bad enough that they won't celebrate Epcot's 25th Anniversary, but they will also not have available the ride inside the park icon! Maybe I'm just reading this the wrong way, but are they making an effort to actually piss off their fans? Honestly? Because if they are, they are doing an awfully good job of it, for whatever the reason.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Short, Shining Moments With Disney

I love to hear wonderful stories people have with Disney theme parks. In the latest issue of Disney Insider, they have collected many short messages from people who have submitted their memorable stories. This is a fun read, and I hope they do this often.


2007 Free Disney Dining Plan

The free Disney Dining Plan that is included in a Magic Your Way vacation package this year will cover dates from Aug. 26 through Sept 22, 2007. So if you book a Magic Your Way package during this time period, you can ask for the free Dining Plan.

If this is not a deal, I don't know what is.

The only drawback to all of this is that, since a lot of people will be taking up on this offer, all the table service restaurants during this time period will tend to be booked to the gills. So if you got the dining plan and hoping to use your table service plan simply by walking to Liberty Tree Tavern on that very evening, for example, think again! Make your reservation at least a couple of months in advance for a table during that time period. If not, be ready to be flexible or be disappointed.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Disney's Passport on eBay?

You'll find everything on ebay lately. The latest one, and I am not sure if this is authentic or not, is Walt Disney's passport.

TMZ is reporting that someone is auctioning off Walt's passport that he used maybe only once.

How do people find these things?


CGI Pooh and Friends Ready to Make Their Debut

While the fight for the rights to Winnie the Pooh continues, Disney is preparing to debut the CGI version of Winnie the Pooh and his friends at the Hundred Acre Woods on the US Disney Channel. This marks the first time Pooh and his friends are created using CGI.

This would have been a wonderful occasion except for the fact that Disney went ahead with its plan to eliminate the character of Christopher Robin and replaced with with the little girl and her dog. Of all the reasons why I hope Disney continues to keep its rights to have Winnie the Pooh, this is NOT one of them.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Disney Cancels Mediaton Conference With Slesinger Inc.

Oh no, this does not sound good.

Disney canceled a mediation conference with Slesinger, Inc. regarding the fight over the rights to Winnie The Pooh. The Slesinger family will now go on with their suit to terminate the rights for Disney to continue to use Winnie the Pooh characters.

This would be awful if it gets to this. While it isn't a Disney original character, it certainly is tightly associated with Disney, and most of us fall in love with those characters due to Disney. It would be a sad day if this separation were to happen.


Companies Heeding Gripes About Long Lines

Here's an article people complaining about spending time in long lines, with the worst being at the DMV. However, there is a blurb about Disney and the long lines at its theme parks:

Larson says Disney is the master of making waiting in line magical.

At its theme parks, standing in line is part of the attraction for many.

"Disney properties, I believe, are the experts in the psychology of waiting in line," Larson observes. "Their idea is, as soon as you join the line, you may be waiting 45 minutes before you actually sit on the ride, but you actually start the experience while you're in the line, because of all the distractions and entertainment around you."

That is certainly true, and no more so than with Expedition Everest. As someone who was standing in line for at least 45 minutes during the Passholder/DVC Member preview, the time spent in line was actually quite fun, especially with all the artifacts along the way and the joyous crowd of Disney fanatics eagerly anticipating the ride, it was the most fun time in a line I've ever had.

We went a total of 3 times on Everest that preview weekend, and we would do the same thing again in a heartbeat.


Where In Walt Disney World?

Wow! The last 2 photos that I posted on here had correct answers in a jiffy! You guys know your stuff! I may have to find more difficult ones to post from now on.

Still, the previous pictures that I have posted still have no answers. So check out this, this, this, this, and see if you can some up with where in WDW these were taken.



"Robinsons" Holds On To Second Place

In a week filled with anticipated release of Quentin Tarrantino/Robert Rodriguez new movie "Grindhouse", "Meet The Robinsons" held strongly in 2nd place at the US box office. It's 10-day total so far has surpassed $52 million, and if it continues at this rate, it will cross the $100 million mark.

So far, people around me who have seen this movie (all in 3D) have raved about it - or maybe they didn't dare to tell me that they didn't like it! :) So if word-of-mouth is any indication, this movie should have legs for at least another 4 weeks or so.

If you haven't seen it, go see it, especially if you can see it in 3D.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Where In Walt Disney World?

The last "Where in Walt Disney World?" picture that I posted actually had a correct response to it! So well-done, Gary!

Here's another one. There are many impressive parts to this resort, including the ceiling. But the other most impressive thing is this huge picture window. Do you know where this is?


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros

Goodbye bad and outdated Mexican pavilion show, hello good and fun Mexican pavilion show.

It's no secret that many people found that old ride at the Mexican pavilion at Epcot to be rather outdated and in need of serious refurbishing. It has now been done and rethemed as the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. Finally, this will be something we will make an effort to see, because after seeing the old one a couple of times, we have skipped it ever since.

Pictures and videos of the new ride are now available, thanks to the Laughing Place.


Friday, April 06, 2007

“Dream” Jobs Blowing Into the Windy City

It was reported earlier that Disney is opening the first ever DVC preview center outside of Disney property in the Woodfield Mall outside of Chicago. It looks like they are already looking for cast member in the Chicago area AND who are also DVC members. We are starting to receive e-mail inviting DVC members in the Chicago area to apply for positions at this location.

Chicago is our kind of town, and Disney’s Doorway to Dreams is your opportunity to become part of the Disney Vacation Club Cast family without leaving your hometown.

Scheduled to open late this summer, Disney’s Doorway to Dreams will be an imaginative preview center in the popular Woodfield Mall, featuring a full-size, two-bedroom model Vacation Home representing Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas, a variety of interactive multi-media experiences and, most importantly, friendly and knowledgeable Cast Members committed to delivering the world-class Guest service for which Disney is famous.

This is where you come in!

You can learn more about the roles, and apply for consideration, online by clicking here and selecting Chicago under the "City" category. Interviews are scheduled to begin in Chicago in mid-April, so act now.

They also gave a hint that by indicating that one is a DVC member may get the applicant better attention, which would only makes sense.

Well, it was nice to be invited to apply, but I'm more looking forward to when the preview center will open. I hope they let us know the exact date.


Where In Walt Disney World?

Where in Walt Disney World can you find this?


Disney Transportation Collectors Card?

Oh no! No, no, no, no! I do not need another addiction. Pins was bad enough. But they now have collector cards of Disney Transportation? And you can only get them from the transportation cast member?

Oh, save me now!

This must have started during the Year of a Million Dreams, because we rode in the front of the monorail twice last early September and we didn't see any or hear about this. Man, there's just so many things to do for our next trip! Collectible


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Disney Gives Gay Couples 'Fairy Tale Weddings'

Wow! This is a very fast change-of-mind act by Disney, which I don't think happen very often at all. After a policy that does not allow same-sex couples to purchase the Fairy Tale Wedding package because they can't legally marry in the state of Florida, Disney has changed that policy.

We are updating our Fairy Tale Wedding guidelines to include commitment ceremonies," Disney Parks and Resorts spokesman Donn Walker said. "This is consistent with our policy of creating a welcoming, respectful and inclusive environment for all of our guests."

So now let's see if those Southern Baptists will start another boycott of the Mouse.


Snorting Remark by Keith Richards Doesn't Sit Well with Disney

Don't these people ever learn not to mess with the Mouse? :)

It appears that Keith Richards "humorous" remarks about "...snorting a mixture of cocaine and the cremated remains of his deceased father... " (eeeewwwww!) doesn't sit well with Disney. While his much-anticipated cameo appearance in the upcoming Pirates movie certainly is generating a lot of publicity (as if the movie needs any more generated publicity as it is), Disney may limit Richards appearance on behalf of the movie.

This may not necessary be a bad thing. I mean, have you SEEN Keith Richards in person and up close? Even with heavy make-up, he could scare any child under the age of 10!



Follow-up On 2006 Theme Park Attendance

More news on the 2006 Theme Park Attendance figures. Orlando Sentinel has a coverage on how the investment in Everest has truly paid off. Now, Universal Studios Orlando is planning on investing even more money into their theme parks to try and catch up.

That's interesting because here in the Chicago area, Universal Studios last year aggressively did quite a promotional blitz on TV that tried to "belittle" Disney and its fairy tale/princesses connection ("If I have to hug another princess, I'm going to puke.." or something to that effect). Obviously that didn't work, especially when they tried to aim for the teen market with the thrill rides at Island of Adventure (which saw a drop in attendance last year).

Moral of the story: if all you can do in your promotion is try to make the other theme parks look bad, it means that you don't have that much stuff of your own to sell.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

An "Awwwwww..." Moment

Meeting Beauty and the Beast at World Showcase in Epcot.


2006 Theme Park Attendance

Thanks to DisneyYorkian74 at WDWMagic for bringing this to my attention. The Disney theme parks in the US did very well in 2006, according to the attendance figures. Here are the top 10, which includes the attendance number, and the percentage increase compared to the previous year:

1.The Magic Kingdom 16,640,000 3.0%

2.Disneyland 14,730,000 1.2%

3.EPCOT 10,460,000 5.5%

4.Disney-MGM Studioes 9,100,000 5.0%

5.Disney's Animal Kingdom 8,910,000 8.6%

6.Universal Studios Orlando 6,000,000 1.2%

7.Disney's California Adventure 5,950,000 2.1%

8.Seaworld Orlando 5,740,000 2.5%

9.Islands of Adventure, Orlando 5,300,000 -4.8%

10.Universal Studios Hollywood 4,700,000 0.0%

It is highly impressive that Disney's theme park, even the much-maligned California Adventure, occupies 6 of the Top 7 positions. More impressively, all of them showed an increase in attendance, the largest being Animal Kingdom, thanks to Expedition Everest.

The whole report can be obtained here.


Keep Moving Forward

Thanks to John Frost at The Disney Blog for highlighting the blog entry at 2719 Hyperion on this now-famous phrase from Meet The Robinsons.

To me, this movie is almost like a love letter to Walt Disney. The salute to "Tomorrowland" being "Todayland", while very funny, certainly showed as a sign of affection. And of course, the very last frame of the movie, with this quote from Walt:

Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

... almost became the "running theme" of the whole movie. I've read so many people (Disney fans) online writing on how emotional it felt at this very end. For those of us who have fallen in love with Disney, this is highly understandable.

Whether it was intentional or not, Meet The Robinsons, to me, is a letter of love and affection to Walt Disney from the Walt Disney Company. And it was crafted via a wonderful movie.


Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea Post Record Attendance

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea posted record attendance for fiscal year 2006. The report attributed the attendance to the warmer winter, special events, and the opening of Tower of Terror at DisneySea.

Looks like the US and Japanese parks are doing very well. Now about the ones in Hong Kong and Paris.....


National Treasures: Book of Secrets Filming Comes of Alexandria

Nicholas Cage and the filming of the sequel to National Treasures will come to Alaxandria's George Washington Masonic Memorial this week.

I don't know why they're trying to keep their presence hush-hushed. It's not as if anyone is not going to blabber about it, especially when even the media gets hold of it.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tim Burton's Vincent To Be In 3D

Disney is teaming up with Tim Burton to revive one of Burton's early animation short "Vincent" into stereoscopic 3D. This version will be shown with the re-release of Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D this coming October.

The film will play on 3-D-ready digital-cinema screens as the opening attraction to screenings of "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D," which will be rereleased by the Walt Disney Co. in October.

Made in 1982, "Vincent" is a six-minute stop-motion film that tells the story of Vincent Malloy, a youth who imagines that he is like Vincent Price. The black-and-white short is based on a poem written by Burton, who was influenced by Price. Price narrated the film.

This is terrific! I haven't seen this yet. While I have seen Nightmare last year in 3D, I certainly would go see it again this year. Having this short movie along with it is a very pleasant bonus. If it is done as well as what they did to "Working for Peanuts" at the beginning of Meet the Robinsons, then the 3D effects would be outstanding.


The Mouse Invades Turkey

OK, so that was a cheap attempt at humor. Still, it's true, although not in the literal sense.

Disney is launching its Disney Channel in Turkey later this month. I'm sure this is part of their plan to expand their market into other parts of the world.

I have many friends in Turkey. So maybe this might give them the impetus to join me some day at Walt Disney World. :)


Monday, April 02, 2007

Rare Gems From The Disney Vaults Coming in December 2007

It's not time to drool or hyperventilate yet, but there are already nice things to anticipate by the end of this year. This is the press release from Buena Vista Home Entertainment:

Each 2-Disc DVD Set Includes Authenticity Certificate and Collectible
Lithograph Available in Limited Supply December 11

BURBANK, Calif., April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Walt Disney Home Entertainment continues the popular Walt Disney Treasures series with three new 2-Disc DVD sets featuring rarely seen footage presented with amazing color and sound. The seventh installment of Walt Disney Treasures will be available December 11, 2007 in a limited supply just in time for the holidays.

Predating even Mickey Mouse, the legendary and rarely-seen "Oswald The Lucky Rabbit" was Walt Disney's first big animated star, and having recently returned to the Disney fold, comes out of the vault for the first time ever on DVD. The silent shorts made from 1926 to 1927 with Walt's personal touch, are revitalized with a brand-new score specifically made for Walt Disney Treasures, Wave VII.

"Chronological Donald, Volume 3" features the most prolific of "Walt's Fab Five," the short-tempered but hilarious Donald Duck in rarely seen solo shorts dating 1947 through 1950.

"Disneyland: Secrets, Stories and Magic" is a comprehensive look at the "Happiest Place on Earth." The centerpiece of this volume is a new documentary with archival footage, including Walt's own words, as well as new interviews that reveal the magic and manpower behind one of the world's most famous destinations.

Each volume features noted film historian, author, and critic Leonard Maltin. Each volume is individually numbered, with an authenticity certificate, and an exclusive lithograph in the collectible, unique packaging tins and available just in time for the holidays, in a limited supply only.

Buena Vista Worldwide Home Entertainment, a recognized leader in the home entertainment industry, is the marketing, sales and distribution company for Walt Disney, Touchstone, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax and Buena Vista product, which includes DVD, Blu-ray Disc and electronic distribution. Buena Vista Worldwide Home Entertainment is a division of Disney Enterprises, Inc.

These press materials are available at
(C) Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc.

I was wondering when they'll start releasing stuff on Oswald ever since they got him back. Now I know. The only thing left is to see when they'll incorporate him into the theme parks.


Disney Film Starts 3D Revival

Disney is being credited with reviving the 3D format. A number of other studios will also be releasing movies in 3D this year after the successes of Disney's Chicken Little and the re-release of Nightmare Before Christmas, the latter will be re-released again this year around Halloween.

But what I've never considered was this factor:

The studios will spend an extra $15 million on each film to make them work in 3-D. The enhanced graphics, as well as 3-D's resistance to piracy, make the format attractive and worth the additional cost, studio and theater executives said.

This is interesting. Assuming that the studios did not release a "normal", non-3D version, it would be unappealing to copy the 3D version for sale. Still, I don't see this happening, i.e. studious releasing only 3D version, so this won't be a major factor in the piracy fight.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Meet The Robinsons Came in Second

Meet the Robinsons pulled in $25 million in the US box office this weekend. It came in second behind the Will Ferrell comedy Blades of Glory. But what is fascinating was this news report:

"Meet the Robinsons" played in about 3,400 theaters and did especially well in a 3-D version at 600 cinemas, said Chuck Viane, head of distribution for Disney. The studio did not have a precise breakdown, but cinemas reported that screens playing the 3-D version pulled in about double the grosses of theaters running the regular 2-D version, Viane said.

They should have released it in 3D in more theaters! But then again, that requires the theater owners to corporate.


Disney "Easter" Baskets

Not sure how new this is, but I certainly haven't seen it till recently.

I found these Disney "Easter baskets" at Walgreens near where I live (Lakeview neighborhood in Chicago). I haven't seen it before till recently, so I'm assuming that they brought them out for Easter, so that's why I called them Easter baskets. They are adorable! I only found Mickey, Minnie, and Pooh.

The strange thing is that I only found them at only this one particular Walgreens. I've been to 4 other Walgreens in and around Chicago, and never found them there. So I bought 2 of Mickey, and 2 of Minnie and I've cleaned them out (didn't buy the remaining Pooh). Not sure why these things are so rare (or maybe they got sold out a long time ago).

Anyway, if you're looking for them, the SKU number is: 4902234254. Both Mickey and Minnie have the same SKU number. Each of them costs $9.99. They would make a wonderful Easter basket gift to someone who is also a Disney fan!